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Cunard Cocktails…And All That Jazz

A good part of being successful in the cruise business, or any business for that matter, is knowing your clientele.

For Cunard that means The Savoy, Jack Daniel’s and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

It may be news to you, as it was to us, that “The Savoy” stands for Savoy Beaufort Bar — last year chosen the Best International Bar and now the inspiration for Age of Discovery. What’s Age of Discovery? A specially created (by the team at The Savoy), barrel-aged, limited edition cocktail.

Clearly, that appeals to Cunard’s clientele.

That’s where Jack comes in. One of Jack’s barrels will be on the Queen Mary 2 and from it Dee Dee Bridgewaterwill be poured the Age of Discovery. This will happen on the ship’s four-month World Voyage, 50 weeks from now, and if you’re thinking that one barrel of Jack Daniel’s won’t last four months, welcome to the club.

The barrel holds 300 litres, and you can only assume Cunard will have a generous supply of Age of Discovery to re-fill it.

Dee Dee Bridgewater?

She’ll be on the Queen Mary 2 as well, but not next January. She’s part of a different Cunard theme, the one that attracts jazz lovers to cruise ships. An industry icon with three Grammys, a Tony and credentials as a United Nationals Goodwill Ambassador as part of her resume, the jazz legend will board the ship in New York for one of its crossings to Southampton.

During the 7-night cruise the last week of October, she’ll play three intimate shows in a week designed to attract the jazz crowd. In a career now more than four decades long, she recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and played Billie Holiday on stage.

Also performing will be the International Jazz Artist of the Year, Gregory Porter. If his name is unfamiliar, it matters little. The jazz aficionados know and that is Cunard’s clientele…at least for the last week of November.

In the news…

• Holland America’s Eurodam passengers first to experience upgrades
• Royal Caribbean scraps some improvements for Majesty of the Seas
• Protests in Haitian waters forces Freedom of the Seas to take a pass

Today at portsandbows.comStar Wars Days on Disney Fantasy

Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas
3 nights
April 4, 2016
Miami (return): Nassau, CocoCay
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $73
www.royalcaribbean.com

Cruise Industry Bracing For Zika?

You may have heard of zika but if you haven’t, you should, especially if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, or even thinking of it. Especially if you’re pregnant, or even thinking about it.

Zika can be deadly, so read on…

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly, and travellers should now take extra precautions against mosquito bites. At this time of year, that means the Latin American countries of the Caribbean. At this time of year, that means cruising.

The CDC alert was upgraded late Friday to a “Level 2 travel notice” which presumably requires more attention than a Level 1 and not as much as a Level 3, which is the highest. Without pressing the panic button, pregnant or pregnant-to-be women are being advised to consider avoiding travel to the affected areas.

The nervousness you hear is the cruise industry.

At a time when cruise lines are pulling out all stops to make their demographics younger, along comes zika. At a time when the “babymoon” business (bonding with unborn baby in a relaxed atmosphere) is flourishing, along comes zika.

At the very least, cruises are being cautioned to take precautions by avoiding mosquito-infested areas (can you say jungles?) and loading up on mosquito repellent. Cruise lines, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, are continuing to publishing not just zika, but any issues relating to health and safety, in each ships’ daily bulletin.

While all of that may be re-assuring, in an era when pregnant women have become accustomed to avoiding a wisp of cigarette smoke or a sip of alcoholic beverages in the interests of protecting their babies, it’s hard to believe anything but a significant impact on travel in general and cruising in particular.

In the news…

• ‘Star Wars Day At Sea’ on eight select sailings on Disney Fantasy
• Acapulco comeback — best tourist season in years: 83 per cent hotel occupancy
• Two Turkey ports skipped by Crystal Symphony amid security concerns

Today at portsandbows.com: Ocean ship for Scenic Cruises


Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
November 6, 2016
Miami (return): Roatan, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $569
Cost per day: $81
www.ncl.com

New ship No. 10 — AIDAprima

Last in a series of new ships for 2016

If you think you’ve read about this “new” ship before, well, you have. Right here, one year ago, when the AIDAprima was to be among the class of 2015. Well, it wasn’t. Originally scheduled to be launched last spring, AIDA Cruises announced in October that the AIDAprima’s delivery date will be “announced at a later date” with a maiden voyage in the spring, subtly pointing the finger at the Mitsubishi shipyard where it’s being built, in Nagasaki. The first cruise for sale is the end of April. When it arrives, the AIMAprima is expected to introduce its mostly German clientele to a “new age of cruising.”

Launch date: March

Capacity: 3,300

Sister ships: Unnamed in 2016, or 2017, or…

Maiden voyage: Yokohama to Dubai

Home port: Hamburg

Ships then in AIDA fleet: 11

Interesting: The first ship to operate year-round from Hamburg, the AIDAprima will offer 7-day vacations  with “guaranteed sunshine” with 4 Elements and the AIDA Beach Club. In both, water, air, earth and fire will guarantee such a climate under an expandable membrane roof that allows UV rays in and that is “almost invisible” to the eye. Besides physically resembling Norwegian ships with colourful bow designs, AIDA is also introducing more of a “freestyle” concept on board, with dinner reservations not necessary and casual dress the norm. The AIDAprima, with 18 decks and 13 restaurants, will have novel balcony rooms — walk-in closets, two bathrooms and room for two loungers on the deck. Now, about that launch date…

In the news…

• Multimillion-dollar renovation for Carnival Inspiration starts Monday
• All new shows coming for Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
• Cunard ships partnering with the Savoy Beaufort Bar and Jack Daniel’s

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise awards from readers of USA Today 


Celebrity Summit
7 nights
April 9, 2016
San Juan (return): Tortola, Fort-de-France, Roseau, St. Kitts, St. Thomas
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $69
www.celebritycruises.com

New ship No. 9 — Genting Dream

Ninth in a series of new ships for 2016

Don’t stop the presses for this new ship, because it may or may not arrive when announced. The ship — Genting Dream — is the first of two ships for a new cruise line, Dream Cruises, which is owned by Genting Hong Kong, which also owns Crystal Cruises, Star Cruises and 28 per cent of Norwegian, which owns Oceania and Regent Seven Seas. Translation: It’s big. It’s also big because a ship of this size — somewhere north of 3,400 passengers — is competition for all the mainstream lines that are hustling ships off to Asia.

Launch date: Late Autumn

Capacity: 3,400

Sister ships: Unnamed, to come in 2017

Maiden voyage: Unknown

Home port: Asia

Ships then in Dream Cruises fleet: 1

Interesting: The most recent information from Star Cruises (that’s the Star Pisces in picture) is that this first ship for Dream Cruises will have the highest crew-to-guest ratio (2,000-to-3,400) of any Asia Pacific ship. What’s more intriguing is that it will have two submersibles to take passengers 20,000 leagues under the sea…okay, on an underwater adventure “to discover the treasures of the ocean,” four passengers at a time. The ship will also serve as a bridge, between Genting’s luxury brand (Crystal) and its mass-market brand (Star), a category that the parent company calls “premium.” The Genting Dream and the sister ship that’s expected to follow late next year are being positioned as “mega ships” and there are reports the second one will carry 4,500 passengers. But don’t take that to the bank!

In the news…

• Holland America Koningsdam to feature micro greens grown onboard
• Fathom adds four new voluntourism activities in Dominican Republic
• Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection ramps up push for the family market

Today at portsandbows.comHarvest Caye opening delayed nine months


Carnival Fantasy
4 nights
May 9, 2016
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $62
www.carnival.com

New ship No. 8 — Seabourn Encore

Eighth in a series of new ships for 2016

Seabourn is an ultra-luxury cruise line that has been around for 30 years but effectively became a player in 2009 when the revolutionary Seabourn Odyssey arrived. With selling older ships Pride, Spirit and Legend to Windstar, the Encore is now Seabourn’s fourth ship and will be followed by a fifth in 2018 — the Ovation. So how does “ultra luxury” move to something better, such as “infinite luxury?” It hires a master designer named Adam D. Tihany, who is known for his elegant design of high-class resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Launch date: December 4

Capacity: 604

Sister ships: None (yet)

Maiden voyage: Athens to Dubai

Home port: Several in Asia and Australia

Ships then in Seabourn fleet: 4

Interesting: The plan is what will be this small-ship line’s biggest ship at 40,000 gross tonnes is for it and the Ovation to be regarded as kings of the luxury business. Yet as Seabourn points out that architecturally it will not be significantly different than the other three ships, the Encore designed by Tihany will be “softer” and “curvaceous” with unexpected surprises and subtle transformations that “are not meant to be described but rather discovered.” In other words, seasoned Seabourn customers will expect the traditional exclusivity and privacy traits that has made the line ultra luxurious, but find a few new touches to what will be a larger private yacht than they’ve previously experienced.

In the news…

• High-diving comedy among shows planned for Harmony of the Seas
• Norwegian’s Harvest Caye opening delayed nine months until November
• Azamara’s first world cruise — 61 ports, 29 countries — set for 2018

Today at portsandbows.com: Another new ship coming for AmaWaterways


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 19, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97
www.royalcaribbean.com

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