Bob & Nancy on January 27th, 2015

The first time we watched the Disney movie Frozen — when you have a three-year-old granddaughter you tend to watch things like this more than once — it was obvious to us that it was destined to be a stage show.

Now it is…in a way.

The stage show isn’t on Broadway, nor in London, nor even in Orlando. It’s on the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, half the fleet of the company’s cruise ships, or it’s going to be this summer.  

It’s also not a full production number, because 90 minutes to two hours is too long for cruise-ship entertainment, which means either cruisers have shorter attention spans or Frozen showcruise lines don’t want to keep them away from the bars and casinos that long, although that doesn’t completely apply to Disney, which has no casinos on ships.

The stage show Frozen — this is surely only it’s first iteration because Disney’s calling it the “debut” — is a three-song show that was “inspired by the animated hit” with interactivity that extends beyond the ships. For example, the experience includes a deck party, meeting and greeting the cast and “storybook adventures” in ports.

The ships will also be decorated with appropriate Frozen artifacts and daily themes that Disney does better than anybody, such as “freezing” the ship’s atrium with sparkling icicles so that it feels like Queen Elsa’s ice palace (brr-r-r-).

And if you’ve never been asked by Anna or Elsa “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” there’s even a chance you’ll be able to build one…

You just have to pretend you’re a kid.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
February 9, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau, Coco Cay, Key West
Inside: $187
Cost per day: $46
www.royalcaribbean.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 26th, 2015

While everybody’s talking about deflated footballs, in advance of the Super Bowl, are you interested in a tale of inflated sportsmanship?

If so, read on…

After the Seattle Seahawks won their trip to Phoenix for Sunday’s big game, one of their fans (PJ LeDorze) noticed a disconsolate Green Bay Packers fan outside Seattle’s 171144CenturyLink Field. It should be mentioned that all Packers fans were disconsolate after the Seahawks’ incredible comeback, but most of them were not so visible.

LeDorze was wearing a Seahawks jersey. He felt badly for the “opposition” so he gave the jersey to the young Green Bay fan. In Seattle, this is called the “spirit of the 12s” because Seahawks fans are all considered the team’s 12th player.

And now, LeDorze has two tickets for the Sail with the 12s Seahawks Fan Cruise on the Crown Princess in June. The ship spends a week going from Seattle to Alaska and back, and with Seahawks players and ex-players on board for chalk talks, meet-and-greets and all kinds of “spirit of the 12s” events, it doesn’t get much better for one of their fans.

Especially LeDorze.

"I've never been on a cruise,” he told Princess Cruises. “I’ve never been to Alaska. This is unbelievable!"

His gesture was a fatherly thing to do for a young football fan experiencing such a low. Fittingly, the Crown Princess sail on Father’s Day.

Today at portsandbows.com: Features of the Carnival Vista

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
March 2, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $65
www.celebritycruises.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 23rd, 2015

You don't have to appreciate fine art to enjoy some of the works you encounter in traveling the world on cruise ships — and there is art of some sort virtually everywhere you go. This is a collection of artistic impressions that have caught our eyes, or at least the lens of our cameras…

LimaLove is grand, isn't it?…even when it's on display on the waterfront for South American-bound cruisers when they stop in the metropolis of Lima!

ChicagoThis was in Chicago, on the way to a cruise, and it's not Mrs. O'Leary's famous cow — it's the one made famous by baseball broadcaster Harry Caray, whose pet expression was "Holy Cow!"

ValenciaNot quite sure what to make of this somewhat provocative work of art, in one of our favorite Spanish ports, so we simply gave her a name: Valentina of Valencia.

VigoYou'll find this on the streets of Vigo, Spain — where we'd stopped while on the Celebrity Eclipse — and our impression was somewhere in there must be a cowboy.

MexicoThe beaches of Mexico, and throughout Central America and the Caribbean, are a great source of statues like this that mean more to the locals than the visitors.

KetchikanIt's hard to imagine that there's a larger carving of a bald eagle than this one where the Coral Princess — and all cruise ships — are docked in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Today aportsandbows.com: Carnival's new Vista

Celebrity Constellation
13 nights
April 9, 2015
Fort Lauderdale, Funchal, Gibralter, Alicante, Rome
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $53
www.celebritycruises.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 22nd, 2015
Slots

 

The subject nobody likes to talk about (or confess to) on cruise ships is gambling. Because of its addictive possibilities, because of its seamy stories of the past, because of its long odds…gambling is something that only others seem to do.

Okay, so we’re others.

We have gambled on cruise ships and lost. We have gambled on cruise ships and won. We have never been left with the impression that the “odds” of winning are any different than they are in land-based casinos — they’re never great — and yet there are people who insist the odds are different.

This week we read a Q-and-A answer in the Detroit Free Press, by Mark Pilarski. He seems to know more about gambling than we do, which is fine, but there’s a few things in his response to a reader’s question about slots on ships that we found…interesting and/or curious.

For example:

• “It is far more difficult to know who is setting and enforcing the laws at sea. There is an organization called the International Council of Cruise Lines that offers some regulatory control. If you have a dispute, you won't likely find an ICCL agent.”

While there are rules and regs for EVERYTHING on cruise ships, this is fair comment. Our experience is that the people who operate the casinos at sea are not casino people they’re ship people, so the way they do things is not exactly Las Vegas.

• “Cruise ships have no competition, just a confined audience. The casino knows you're a one-timer on a holiday and that your pockets are full of cash. It isn't looking for repeat business because you're probably never coming back. As a one-time player, you can plan on a bruising when cruising.”

Not true. All cruise lines want you to come back, if not to that ship, to another one ofd theirs and if you’re guaranteed to take a “bruising” you not only will avoid the casino on that ship, you won’t gamble on any of their ships.

• “Avoid playing slot machines…there are plenty of other activities to enjoy besides pulling handles.”

Partly true. There are plenty of other activities, but probably none which give you even a “chance” of helping to pay for your cruise…okay, maybe bingo, also gambling. However, rare is the cruise ship that has slot machines with handles.

And what do you think?

Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian Escape — what's new

Holland America Veendam
7 nights
March 7, 2015
San Diego (return): Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.hollandamerica.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 21st, 2015

You know you’re getting old when it catches your attention that Crosby, Stills and Nash are going to be performing…because they’re getting old (Crosby 73, Stills 70, Nash 72). What really makes you feel that way is that they’re performing on ships from the fleet of Cunard, the most staid and proper cruise line of all.

Who has moved the dial the most is open to debate, but the gap between three-quarters of the rebellious and arguably most anti-establishment band of the ‘60s and the ultra-CSNestablishment ships of Sir Samuel Cunard has been bridged. By time, for sure, but also by clientele.

The Cunard customers of today remember Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young from their youth, and while these rockers can still rock, they also have become mellow enough to attract a crowd that’s far more sedate than the ones they played to 45 years ago. Their last album, Looking Forward, is suitable evidence — and it’s 15 years old!

And after all, Graham is a member of the Order of the British Empire.

Indeed.

CSN will board the Queen Mary 2 on September 4 for her one-week cruise from Southampton to New York. The group will perform three times while crossing the Atlantic, and answer questions from and give autographs to their aging groupies. Whether the three Grammy Award-winning artists will dress in tuxes for dinner remains to be seen. Without Neil Young, there is perhaps a chance it could happen.

It is, after all, a long way from Woodstock.

Today at portsandbows.com: The Windstar expansion

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas
7 nights
May 15, 2015
Vancouver, Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Anchorage  
Inside: $595
Cost per day: $85
www.royalcaribbean.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 20th, 2015

Normally, we let our “Daily Deal” deliver some value cruises for you to consider but once in a while there’s something extraordinary that deserves an even better treatment…A couple Allureof days ago we had one — you do notice that’s past tense, right?…It was a Transatlantic trip on Allure of the Seas, the (starting) price was $659 with 50 per cent off for the second guest, plus up to $200 for an on-board credit…For 12 days, it worked out to less than $50 a day on one of the two biggest cruise ships in the world, as long as bookings were made by January 31…Well, guess what?…Today is January 20, and it’s no longer available…Obviously, eagle-eyed consumers snapped up the rooms but it does leave you wondering how many Royal Caribbean made available in the promotion.

Now here’s a clever idea: When the AIDAsol arrived in Vietnam this week, immigration AIDAsolofficials boarded the ship at Buoy 1, three hours before docking at Tan Cang-Cai Mep, to process the 2,176 passengers, most of them German…By the time the AIDA ship reached the port, the process was finished and passengers were able to disembark right away…On their most recent health inspections, in Fort Lauderdale, two Holland America ships — the Noordam and the Zuiderdam — were perfect (100) in scores by the Centers for Disease Control.

The line-up for the Olympics has begun…The Norwegian Getaway is first in the line-up of cruise ships for Rio de Janeiro, where the Summer Games will be staged in 2016…The Getaway will be impersonating a hotel from August 5-21 next year, just like its smaller Getawaysibling, the Jade, did at the 2012 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia…With a capacity close to 4,000, the Getaway will help take some of the stress off Rio’s hotels, at the same time providing its “passengers” with luxurious accommodation and presumably earning a few “reals” — you didn’t know that’s what Brazilian currency was called, did you? — for the cruise line…The Getaway has experience at this, having served as a floating hotel at last year’s Super Bowl in New York…It doesn’t hurt that Getaway’s ambiance and treatment are decidedly Spanish.

Super BowlFile this one in the “When Will It End?” drawer…In a major Canadian newspaper (Toronto Star) there was a story about Carnival’s advertising on TV during the Super Bowl next week, and the second paragraph read: “Carnival, of course, is the line whose ship, Triumph, became a PR disaster in early 2013, when it got stuck at sea for almost a week due to an engine fire”…Seriously?…That was two years ago and, after all the things Carnival has done to restore its public stature, the cruise line hardly needed a Super Bowl ad to make image amends.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's latest technology

Carnival Triumph
10 nights
February 20, 2015
San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Croix, Falmouth, Galveston
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $54
www.carnival.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 19th, 2015

Any parent will likely agree nothing good can happen when a baby cries and cries and cries in the middle of the night.

Until now.

Heather and Daniel Felton of Louisville took their 13-month-old daughter on a Disney cruise. In the middle of a January night, little Katherine delivered one of those early wake-up calls that exhaust parents, and in this case a trip out onto the deck seemed wise, if only to keep from waking the neighbors.

And that’s when the unimaginable happened…

It was early enough that only the three of them were on the deck of the Disney Magic. The ship was off the coast of Mexico, near Cozumel. The Feltons heard a noise from the water. Disney MagicThen they heard it again. They ran to the rail and looked down, where a man in the water was going by and calling for help.

She alerted the crew. Within 30 minutes, the ship had turned around and launched a (hopefully) rescue operation.

"The odds of him being rescued, being seen…it was a little too much…I know Heather got emotional," Daniel told Lexington TV station Lex18.com.

Crew members jumped into a small rescue craft, found the victim, identified as Frank Jade, and brought him on board. He’d fallen off Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. He’d been in the water for five hours. When he left the Magic at Punta Lagosta, one of Cozumel’s piers, Jade was reported to be stable with no serious injuries.

While in the water, Jade said he was shocked nobody noticed that he’d gone overboard. Cruise law attorney Jim Walker said Royal Caribbean should be embarrassed that “it lost a passenger at sea” and that the cruise line “has made no efforts to comply” with [safety rules] which require “the installation of overboard systems” on Oasis of the Seas.

Meanwhile, Baby Katherine is being celebrated as the world’s first 13-month-old lifesaver.

Today at portsandbows.com: Silversea stepping up

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
February 7, 2015
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64
www.ncl.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 16th, 2015

One of the interesting things about visiting foreign countries — and there's no better way to see many of them than from a cruise ship — is the number of photo ops. Signs quickly became a subject we kept an eye open for, and below are some we found "interesting" for a variety of reasons…

NassauNot sure that this one requires any explanation, other than to say it was on the side of a building in downtown Nassau, close to Norwegian Sky's 2,000 passengers.

Hell-2That's where you go in Grand Cayman…at least many first-time visitors do, and locals turn Hell into business opportunities — better than having a business go to Hell.

Alaska-3In Alaska, there are many things of which you cannot be certain — mosquitoes, wildlife, weather…and whether there will be enough water on the waterfall trail.

Guy Fieri'sOn the Carnival ships (this one the Freedom), Guy Fieri's presence goes beyond his food — serving counters and tables are decorated with interesting signage.

Costa Rica-2Is it possible that Costa Ricans think visitors have to be told of danger lurking in its waters? Or maybe that just says something about the tourists!

Coquimbo-2The people of Coquimbo, Chile have seen enough walls of water to know that this sign means they're on high enough ground to be safe from tsunamis.

GuatemalaOne Central American country that thrives on its coffee industry is Guatemala, even in remotae plantations where sign makers know their market.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Pacific Princess
6 nights
May 19, 2015
Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, Anchorage
Inside $549
Cost per day: $91
www.princess.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 15th, 2015

Mark SpitzBefore Michael Phelps, there was Mark Spitz.

Seven swimming gold medals at an Olympics the world almost wished had never happened…Munich, 1972. At the Games where 11 men of his faith perished at the hands of terrorists, Spitz set world records in all his events, an achievement which surely would have dominated Munich.

Spitz parlayed his fame into becoming a motivational speaker. An actor on TV and in the movies. An ongoing spokesman for any number of products. A real-estate tycoon of sorts.

And now, an exclusive host with an exclusive cruise line.

Spitz is the first celebrity host Windstar Cruises has signed up for its “Private Event” program. In two weeks, shortly before his 65th birthday, he’ll be in the Caribbean on a Windstar ship, entertaining and educating the Wind Surf’s 310 guests. It’s the launch of an itinerary called Yachtsman’s Caribbean.

The 7-day cruise begins, and ends, at Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It takes in ports none of the world’s big ships can get close to, such as Prickly Pear Beach in the British Virgin Islands and the site of his signature event. He’ll conduct swimming classes for guests who want to improve their (you name it) stroke. He’ll do a lecture on the Wind Surf. He’llWind Surfdine with some guests. And he’ll just be there, being Mark Spitz, for passengers who want to rub shoulders with a great Olympian.

Michael Phelps, not long retired and still dabbling with the idea of a comeback, might take note.

Forty years down the road…

Today at portsandbows.com: Greatest of all luxury ships?

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
February 28, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Croix, St. Kitts, Roseau, Grenada, St. Thomas
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64
www.celebritycruises.com

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Bob & Nancy on January 14th, 2015

A few days ago, we discovered there's a boy who is surely the youngest cruise blogger in the world. His name is Theo Robson and he is the grandson of close friends of ours, and for some reason cruising is his passion, to the point that he writes blogs about his cruise interests.

And he is 11.

Theo’s website is called “This Kid Knows Cruises!” and while he doesn’t write every day — there is something called school, after all — he clearly spends a lot of time researching his subjects. For example, Theo can tell you the 55 biggest cruise ships in the world and all their vital statistics (gross tonnage, length, how many passengers, number of staterooms). He can tell you which cruise lines are best at responding to an 11-year-old who’s looking for information (Seabourn is his first choice). He can provide you with links to cruise lines and webcams that involve cruise ships.

Theo started down this path when he was just 18 months old. That’s when he first went on a cruise ship. That’s when the business of cruising began to get into his blood, which should tell cruise lines not to dismiss the value of having kids, even little kids, on their ships.

This kid is bound to be a cruiser for life.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest news about Venice

Carnival Valor
7 nights
February 15, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

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