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Celebrity Toasted By Wine Spectator

CellermastersIn case you were wondering…

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Celebrity has, arguably, the premier wine reputation among cruise lines. We won’t argue the point. Our best and most complete wine experiences have been on Celebrity ships, starting with a knowledgeable sommelier from (of all places) Mumbai. Knowledgable sommelier…aren’t they all?

Anyway, the Wine Spectator has enhanced the reputation by awarding 10 Awards of Excellence — of a possible 12 — to Celebrity for its wine lists. It’s an instant replay.

Last year, Celebrity also won 10.

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Cruise lines are being encouraged to equip their ships to use shore-based electricity in port and burn less diesel fuel. However, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right is doing with regards to the ports.

When the Carnival Miracle stopped in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, it was unable to hook up to shore power even though the ship is equipped for it.

The reason?

The ship’s hook-up is on the starboard side. The Port of Vancouver assigned the Miracle a port side connection. Consequently, the ship was forced to burn diesel during its stay in one of the world’s most ecologically sensitive cities.

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When Quantum of the Seas leaves on its two-night, pre-inaugural cruise after arriving in North America in November, it will be making special wishes.

The Make-A-Wish chapters from New Jersey and New York are selling passage on the new ship to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, long an active charity on Royal Caribbean ships. Quantum leaves Bayonne, New Jersey at 4 p.m. on November 14 and returns at 7 a.m. on November 16, so you’re on the ship for about 39 hours.

Passage is for balcony cabins, at $1,495 for obstructed and $1,995 for unobstructed.

In other words, it’s pretty much a donation in return for being first to sail on Quantum of the Seas in North America.

Today at portsandbows.com: Opera on the rivers

Celebrity Century
8 nights
November 11, 2014
Sydney (return): Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Lincoln
Oceanview: $835
Cost per day: $104

Norwegian's All-Inclusive Cost Confusing

Norwegian’s often first with innovations and this month brings another one: A new twist on an all-inclusive cruise package.

It’s available on all Norwegian ships but Pride of America in 2015, but bookings must be made by August 29. Also excluded are European and United Kingdom cruises.

The cruise line is quick to point out that its all-inclusive package delivers more than $2,400 in value, per stateroom. Everything from signature dining every night, alcoholic NCL inclusivebeverages, unlimited soda, Internet access (250 minutes), shore excursion credits, gratuities…

It applies on cruises of three to 14 days.

The cost is $899.

What the cruise line didn’t make clear in the announcement was whether that’s $899 per stateroom or $899 per person. There was no mention of “per person” and the benefits of $2,400 were “per stateroom.” Logical that the cost would also be “per stateroom.”

Not so fast.

A little digging on Norwegian’s website produced the only line that gives it all away: “save up to $600.” So do the math — $2,400 in benefits per stateroom minus $1,800 per stateroom in charges…

Once again, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrity’s Signature Sailings

Celebrity Century
8 nights
October 22, 2014
Sydney (return): MelbourneAdelaidePort Lincoln
Inside $399
Cost per day: $49

How Dementia Can Turn A Cruise Into An Ugly Scene

About five months ago, an Australian couple was not allowed back on the Celebrity Millennium after it docked at Cairns, Australia. This is a story that has gone, as they say, viral in the world of social media where it was certain to stimulate some interesting and conflicting opinions.

Here are the facts, as reported:

• The woman, Adry Arnold, suffers from dementia.

• Her husband (no name has been given) went ashore in Cairns and left her alone on the ship.

• The Millennium's staff found Mrs. Arnold confused and trying to find their cabin.

• She was taken first to the medical facility and then to the dock, until her husband returned.

• When he returned, they were not allowed back on the ship and had to find their own way home (no town mentioned).

The treatment of Mrs. Arnold sounds unfair at best, and cruel at worst. We've never had the stress of dealing with dementia close at hand but another blogger — he goes by "Stan the Man" and can be found at 4dreamtravel.com — has. He agrees that Mrs. Arnold was abandoned but has some interesting, personal thoughts about who was at fault.

We thought it was worth reading, which is why we're making it available to you today at 4dreamtravel.com.

Let us know what you think, okay?

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Airline competition can lower the cost of cruising

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
May 24, 2014
Jacksonville (return): NassauHalf Moon Cay
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $37

Cruising In The Sun A Time To Be Cautious


A visit to the family dermatologist (doesn't everybody have a family dermatologist?) raised the sometimes-uneasy spectra of using sunscreen. Few places is that more important than it is on a cruise ship…out in perpetual sunshine for long periods of time, frequently closer to the equator than normal.

As an aside, a Florida-based skin care company — in Cocoa, of all places — cleverly made a deal with Carnival to provide passengers on four ships this month (BreezeLibertyTriumph and Sunshine) with complimentary sunscreen. There are gallon-size pumps and sampling stations plus individual packets. If the marketing campaign attracts enough customers to its Ocean Potion (also clever), the partnership with Carnival could go well beyond the four-ship test.

But back to the family dermatologist.

During the inevitable waiting period, patients can self-educate. Like by reading at least parts of a sun-protection brochure — by another skin care company — and discovering some valuable information. Seriously.

Given that another doctor told us everybody needs 15 minutes of Vitamin D (sunshine) a day, let's talk about the UV Index. Does anybody not working in dermatology or for skin care companies really know what it means? 

For example, if it's between 0 and 2 (low), you're safe in the sun for an hour, providing you wear sunglasses. Between 3 and 5, you need to wear hats, sunscreen and sunglasses if outside for more than half an hour. At 6 or 7, it's sunburn time and that means skin damage. Between 8 and 10, you can burn quickly so it's time to bring on the protection army to keep from burning quickly. A UV Index of 11 or higher can mean damaged skin and burns in minutes.

What's relative?

Check the Environmental Protection Agency website to see what the index is where you are. And if where you are is on a Caribbean cruise, or when you are, the UV Index is likely to be 9.

That's considered "very high." That means a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a shady place to sit.

Ask the family dermatologist.

Sea Princess

14 nights

February 27, 2014 

Brisbane (return): AucklandTaurangaNapierWellingtonAkaroaDunedin

Inside: $1,999

Cost per day: $142


Eating Healthy on a Cruise? There's a Challenge!

Cruise lines are always looking for an excuse to promote a cruise (it's called marketing 101) but it's not always one that could be described as good for your health. Especially if it involves Valentine's Day. Boxes of chocolates. Rich desserts. Pile of the frosting. Candies galore. Not to mention washing it all down with something that will be a test for your liver, or at least your calorie count.

Princess Cruises has come up with one that IS good for your health.

It's called Cruising for a Cause and the cause is a healthy heart for Valentine's Day, which beats having a heart broken either physiologically or emotionally. The cruise is on the Ruby Princess, from Fort Lauderdale, leaving February 10th…four days before the traditional day of hearts and flowers. To show that the cruise line is serious about heart health, they are dedicating a portion of each passenger's fare to the American Heart Association — for the second year in a row — and lining up some expert guest to educate passengers who may be unaccustomed to preventative measures until the unhealthy heart comes calling.

Princess estimates the passenger contribution will be $500,000, which the cruise line will match, dollar for dollar.

There will be seven speakers on the ship, all of them with a connection to the human heart. Dr. Kathy Magliato is a cardiothoracic surgeon who's recognized as an expert on heart disease in women. David and Karen Gamow are co-authors of Freedom from Stress. Marc Anthony Bynum is a Food Network Celebrity Chef whose specialty, at least on this cruise, is cooking healthy.

Diana von Welanetz Wentworth is a heart-attack survivor who turned her misfortune into a career as an author and speaker on the subject. Jesse Sapolu played 15 years in the National Football League, somewhat anonymously because he was an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, and his biography is called I Gave My Heart To San Francisco…but more importantly, he is a spokesman for the AHA — at 6-4 and close to 300 pounds, he might be considered a poster boy for the importance of heart health.

And then there is Bernie Kopell. You might say he's there to pull on the heart strings…for a decade he was known as Doc Bricker on The Love Boat, aka the Pacific Princess, whose TV passengers were in his "care."

Presumably, this will not be a typical Valentine's Day cruise. The last one we were on — with Princess — was high on calories, which means it was low on ways to have a healthy heart.

Celebrity Solstice
18 nights
February 3, 2014
AucklandBay of IslandsTaurangaAkaroaDunedinDusky SoundDoubtful SoundMilford SoundSydneyMelbourneAdelaideEsperancePerth
Inside: $1,599
Cost per day: $88

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