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Carnival Latest: What's In A Name?

Give Carnival at least a "B" for imagination in announcing that its newest ship, due in 2016, will be called Vista. That makes Carnival first to the Vista well of names.

This is an age when cruise lines sometimes appear to be running out of names. Witness Norwegian, using contests to ask passengers for proposing names of its lasttwo (and probably next three) ships. Witness the Carnival Dream, Disney Dream, Pacific Dream and SeaDream, not to mention Carnival Liberty and Liberty of the Seas…and Norwegian Sun and Sun Princess.

Copycatting is acceptable.

Vista is new…more or less. Avalon has a river cruiser called Vista. Holland America has a Vista Class of ships but "dam" the word in this fleet because all the names end in "…dam" (Rotterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, etc.).

Vistadam just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

So Carnival comes up with the Vista, and that might be the extent of imagination with this 4,000-passenger newbie. Since it's the only ship Carnival has on order for the next three years, a Vista Class of ships is unlikely, at least for now, because apparently Carnival officials sounded confused when asked about which class of ship this would be. Other than the name, the best the cruise line could do in the Imagination Department was explain the name this way:

"We're starting to use the ship names as a touchstone for how we think about the design. A lot of what we are thinking about for the design and the inspiration is the views out to the ocean."

Views…as in vista.

The new ship will be like the Carnival Breeze, but different from the Breeze (above), and nobody at Carnival is saying what those similarities and differences might be. That's for another day.

And another press conference.

Carnival Freedom
6 nights
September 29, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestGrand CaymanOcho Rios
Inside: $294
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

Experience from River Cruisers

A friend of a friend was reading Cruising Done Right one day recently when he discovered, as all of you have, that we are neophytes when it comes to river cruising.

So he offered to help.

His name is Brian Forst and he went to the trouble of passing along a few thoughts for those of you who, like us, have little or no experience on the ships that cruise the rivers.

Brian and his wife have been river cruising for a decade and they have no intention of stopping now — this year they’ll be on the Rhone River in France. Here’s some information we all might find useful…

“We chose to do one of their shorter trips at first, the Moselle River in Germany. It’s worth Googling the sites and sights on these tours. For instance, at the beginning (or end) of the Moselle cruise is the oldest city in Germany, built by the Romans and called Trier. Who’d have thought it.

“We enjoyed that trip so much, we decided the next should be longer, Amsterdam to Vienna. The stops along the way with the inclusive walking tours were unforgettable. Part of most tours include a couple days at the point of origination…and usually three days at the end. They include the best hotels and of course, tours in these cities.

“We recently did Viking’s Prague-to-Paris cruise, extending our stay in Paris, which eclipsed Vienna as the most impressive European city for me. And our last trip with Viking was 17 days on the Yangtze River, Shanghai to Beijing…with side trips to The Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors.

Uniworld is supposed to be very much like Viking, including the price. You can step up to Avalon and Scenic Tours if you’re willing to pay more but they have the same stops and tours…and you can’t beat Viking’s dining. Some offer bigger windows and out-door decks for more money.

“Normally, the lower deck is less costly than those above (usually three levels). The windows are a little smaller but most of the time, the room is only for sleeping anyway. The only little thing to watch when booking is…to stay away from the stern of the boat to avoid engine sound.”

DAILY DEAL:
Carnival Victory
7 nights
February 19, 2012
San Juan: (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside $579
www.carnival.com

Education on Cruise…Menu

Something that comes with going on cruises of any kind is education. It could be from meeting people of different races, it could be from experiencing geography never before seen, or it could just be a history lesson.

Take the Danube River.

You don’t have to take a river cruise on the Danube to find out that it passes through 10 countries, that you can hear a dozen languages on its banks and that it’s the second-longest river in Europe. You don’t have to be on an Avalon or Viking or Scenic Tours ship to know that it runs through more capital cities (four) than any river in the world, or that all four capitals are on the upper Danube because the lower Danube has always been known for flooding.

You don’t even have to take a river cruise to learn that the Avalon, Viking and Scenic Tours (or other) ships to realize that the Danube begins in the Black Forest and ends in the Black Sea…hmm, shouldn’t it be called the “Black” Danube, or is that where “Black and Blue” originated?

On the other hand, only by going on a Danube River cruise can you enjoy “apfelstrudel” in Durnstein or Polish sausage in Budapest. And surely when these cruises start there’s a little “Black Forest cake” on the menu.

Education, right?

DAILY DEAL:
Carnival Glory
7 nights
September 15, 2012
New York (return): Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside $499
www.carnival.com

Pendulum Swings Up The River

Either there’s been a dip in the advertising by major cruise lines, or it just seems that way. Everybody’s just a little gun shy about promoting cruises when bodies are still being discovered off the shores of Italy.

The cruise pendulum continues to swing towards river cruising, and there is no shortage of advertising these days by the river cruisers, almost all of which are adding ships to their fleets.

Meanwhile, the ocean-going companies are taking heat.

Carnival, for example, was heavily criticized for commercials that ran on NFL playoff telecasts two days after the tragedy involving a ship from a cruise line it owns, Costa. Given that the accident was Friday night and the telecasts were Sunday afternoon, the criticism seems a little harsh…nevertheless, scheduled ads were pulled from NBC by Tuesday.

Yesterday, Carnival spokesman Vince Gullicksen told examiner.com:

“We are actively evaluating marketing across the brands and geographic regions with each brand being sensitive to their specific audiences. For the Carnival Cruise Lines brand, we have suspended broadcast and digital advertising, as well as direct mail marketing for the time being.”

Princess and Avalon are offering an ocean-river cruise combo, giving passengers a chance to get a taste of both worlds and do some head-to-head comparison. The two cruise lines tested the market last summer and obviously found it to be fertile.

In May, the Emerald Princess leaves Copenhagen on a tour of Baltic and Scandinavian cities, returning to the Danish port 11 days later. Passengers who take the new “cruisetour” are transported to an Avalon Waterways ship to cruise the Rhine River, from Basel to Amsterdam, for a week.

Since the Emerald carries 3,000 passengers and Avalon ships carry fewer than 150 passengers, it’s not for everyone.

Like all innovations, it will likely be copied, for the benefit of both ocean and river cruise lines.

Passengers, too.

DAILY DEAL:
Celebrity Infinity
7 nights
September 7, 2012
Seattle (return): Ketchikan, Juneau, Tracy Arm/Inside Passage (cruising), Skagway, Victoria
Inside $809
www.celebritycruises.com

River Cruising: Time Has Come

Here’s one of the New Year’s resolutions made in our house: By the end of 2012, we hope we will no longer be able to say we’ve never been on a river cruise.

Clearly, river cruising is becoming a significant part of the “cruise community” and it’s time for us — so that we can properly serve you — to get on board, so to speak.

Besides, there are more choices than ever.

On the Danube, Avalon River Cruises has two new ships arriving in May, the Vista and the Visionary, and calling them the latest “Suite Ships.” Avalon will then have 18 ships in its fleet.

On the Rhine, as well as the Danube, Viking plans to have six new ships on the water before the end of 2012. They call them “the longships.” By then, there will be 31 Viking river cruisers.

On the Mississippi, there are three river cruise companies and two new ships — one of them the Queen of the Mississippi — mark the return of paddle wheelers to the river for the first time in two decades. The message is that cruising the Mississippi is making a comeback.

Geographically, that would make the most sense for us. However, there is one caveat. It’s those tales of Mississippi gamblers…

DAILY DEAL:
Royal Caribbean Voyageur of the Seas
7 nights
February 11, 2012
New Orleans (return): Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside $469
www.royalcaribbean.com

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