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Cruise for a Cause — a $600,000 exercise

They're everywhere. Some of them can be spotted by their license plates. Or maybe because they're wearing a cap that is their identity. Or maybe, sadly, because they're wearing a prosthetic. Sometimes, more than one.

They are veterans.

Vets are thanked, supported and decorated all over the country. Even on cruise ships. And no cruise ships do more for veterans than the ones flying the Princess Cruises flag.

In November, the Caribbean Princess sailed a 5-day cruise from Houston that was dedicated to veterans. Princess called it Cruising for a Cause and on board were guest speakers, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman (Admiral Mike Mullen), US Navy-VietnamMoving Wallretired senior officers from all walks of military life and a war correspondent (Joe Galloway) whom Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf called "the finest combat correspondent of our generation" for carrying soldiers to safety in Vietnam.

How's this for support?

The cruise was a fundraiser for Operation Homefront and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. A portion of each passenger's fare was dedicated to the cause. Passengers were invited to show their support in fundraising activities. This week, Princess CEO Alan Buckelew — a Vietnam Vet — delivered a check for $300,000 to Operation Homefront. An identical check was already in the coffers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Total: $600,000.

It fell short of the cruise lines expectations of $1 million. Maybe the passengers weren't as generous as expected. Maybe Princess was over-zealous in its ambitions. But it's $600,000 that wounded warriors and veterans' causes like The Wall in Washington (above) and families in need didn't have last month.

Walk by a former soldier who's struggling to get out of a car or into a grocery store. or just get through the day, and Cruising for a Cause — and programs like it — are not just admirable.

They're vital.

Holland America Noordam
14 nights
March 21, 2014
Fort LauderdalePonta DelgadaCadizMalagaCartagenaBarcelona
Oceanview: $699
Cost per day: $49
www.hollandamerica.com

Mass Market of a Billion Cruisers?

Undoubtedly, you have heard the joke, or a variation of it. The (full in your favorite football team) made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose on a last-second field goal by…

The punch line is: "And a billion people in China didn't even notice."

Well, until recently a billion people in China didn't care much about going on a cruise, either. That, however, is changing and Princess Cruises — for one — is reacting accordingly.

Five new Princess offices are being opened in China, one of the emerging Asian nations that are starting to get into cruising. As Princess CEO Alan Buckelew put it: 

"The cruise vacation market is in its infancy in China, and…the new offices will support marketing efforts to increase the number of Chinese passengers sourced for our global cruises.”

It's not that Princess (and other lines) haven't been selling cruises before now. The woman appointed "country director" has been the international sales agent for Princess and Cunard for the last eight years. It's just that opening five offices takes a cruise commitment to another level.

And where are the offices?

Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Chengdu.

For people in the cruise industry, mentioning the names of those five cities used to mean as much as the names of the Super Bowl teams did to a billion Chinese people. Hmm, maybe that will change one day, too…

Holland America Ryndam
22 nights
October 26, 2013
RomePalermo, La Goulette, FlorenceMonte CarloMarseilleBarcelonaMalaga, Cadiz, LisbonHalf Moon CayTampa
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $59
www.hollandamerica.com

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