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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. 4 — Carnival Vista

Fourth in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Vista

Carnival hasn’t had a new ship in either three years or four, depending on whether you consider the re-building and name change of the Sunshine a new ship. When the Vista comes along this spring, it will launch a new class of the same name and it will give Carnival its biggest ship with almost 4,000 passengers…and obviously a more modern ship than the last totally new one, the Breeze in 2012.

Launch date: May 1

Capacity: 3,954

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: Dubrovnik to Barcelona (13 days)

Home port: Miami

Ships then in Carnival fleet: 24

Interesting: The world’s biggest cruise line is getting into the boardwalk-style of design by “bringing you closer to the sea” at the Havana Bar & Pool, SkyRide at SportSquare and Seafood Shack. It also claims to have the first IMAX theater at sea and staterooms designed for “Cuban culture lovers” sailing the Caribbean…hmm, could this become Carnival’s first cruise ship for Cuba one day? Like almost all new ships, its first sea days will be in Europe, crossing the Atlantic to settle at home in Miami by year’s end. The first Vista Class ship will also have a 450-foot waterslide, 20 places to eat and/or drink and a working micro-brewery at the RedFrog Pub.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Grand Princess
10 nights
February 23, 2016
San Francisco (return): Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

New ship No. 2 — Holland America Koningsdam

Second in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Konigsdam

It’s been six years between new ships for Holland America, so imagine the anticipation leading up to the launch of the Koningsdam. It will be the first ship in the Pinnacle Class (presumably there are more to follow) and the biggest ship in the Holland America fleet, which will shrink by a ship when the Koningsdam arrives, having despatched the Ryndam and Statendam to another member of the Carnival Corporation family, P&O Australia.

Launch date: April 8

Capacity: 2,650

Sister ships: None yet

Maiden voyage: Rome return (7 days)

Home port: Fort Lauderdale

Ships then in Holland America fleet: 14

Interesting: Since the Nieuw Amsterdam was the last new ship in 2010, it’s safe to assume this will be unlike any of the 13 siblings, starting with the fact it carries 500 more passengers, is one deck (12) higher and weighs 13,000 tons more than Holland America’s last newbie. Besides a more contemporary look and feel, there’s also more of an attempt for passenger participation, with BLEND a wine-making program designed in conjunction with the well-known Chateau Ste. Michelle, and the Culinary Arts Center for hands-on creations at individual cooking stations during classes conducted by celebrity chefs. Holland America has also joined the club in dining with “As You Wish” choice of seating and time.

In the news…

• Norwegian’s new slogan to attract cruiser customers — “Feel Free!”
• Carnival to charge as much as $6 per plate fleet-wide for new room-service items
• Star Cruises positioning ship in near Hong Kong, in Guangzhou, China

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
February 15, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada
Inside: $179
Cost per day: $44
www.carnival.com

Elvis…Far From The Mississippi

It’s 1974. You’re Elvis Presley — many wished that for almost two decades. You’re not at the height of your career, but you’re still packing them in wherever you go. Some people actually are “Elvis Presley”…as impersonators are beginning to pop up. Your country is in an awful war (like there are any other kind), in Vietnam.

Fast forward 42 years.

Elvis is long gone. The impersonators are not. In fact, there are more Elvis look-a-likes than ever. Some of them are even pretty good performers, not just in Vegas and assorted venues ranging from small theaters to street corners.

One is doing it in Vietnam.

His real name is Damian Mullin and he’s an Australian…crikey! He’s the best of Australia’s Elvis impElvis impersonators, having won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and he has the seal of approval from Elvis Presley Enterprises, which means The King’s company has a financial interest in the performances in…Vietnam.

The event will take place over eight days in September, on board La Marguerite, a river cruise ship that sails under the flag of AmaWaterways through its Australian partners, on the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam.

“It’s an opportunity to present something different with a more intimate atmosphere,” said Jodie Quick, director of The Cruise Gallery, the Australian agency that’s selling the tour. “Most music cruises are on larger ships…[this one] gives passengers the chance to travel somewhere more adventurous and exotic with the comfort of Elvis’ crooning!”

The cruise is called Rockin’ the Mekong.

You can only imagine what Elvis would be thinking.

Today at portsandbows.comCelebrity Solstice back to Australia for 2017-18


Carnival Magic
7 nights
January 31, 2016
Galveston (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.carnival.com

Canned Applause For Carnival

The record will show that in Monday Night Football this week, the winners were the Detroit Lions. The disappointing Lions went into New Orleans and beat the equally disappointing Saints 35-27.

But the Lions weren’t the only winners, thanks to Carnival Cruise Line, which saw to it that a lot of New Orleans people did not go away as empty-handed as their Saints.

As the local football team’s “official cruise line” Carnival will provide more than 75,000 meals to hungry families and/or homeless people in the Louisiana mecca during the

Volunteers from the Second Harvest Food Bank work on the world's largest Carnival cruise ship made of cans. (Photo by Peter G. Forest)

Volunteers from the Second Harvest Food Bank work on world’s largest Carnival cruise ship made of cans. (Photo by Peter G. Forest)

holiday season, in a joint initiative. It didn’t happen overnight — neither did MNF’s win and loss for the NFL teams — and it involved students from New Orleans-area schools. Carnival and the Saints provided the incentives (from pizza parties to autographed footballs free cruises for the schools that collected the most cans of food).

Monday night was the celebration, at half-time.

To mark it, Carnival volunteers created “the world’s largest cruise ship built of canned food.” The 17,000 cans of food were part of the haul that will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank in time for Christmas.

There are currently two Carnival ships based in New Orleans — the Dream and the Elation  with the Triumph arriving in the spring to replace the smaller Elation. So the cruise line has a vested interest in being the good corporate citizen. At Christmas, many people in The Big Easy are grateful for that.

In the news…

• Disney drops Greece, Turkey from 2016 Mediterranean cruises
• Grounding damages Windstar’s Star Pride in Panama; cruise canceled
• Carnival Corporation to use 100 per cent cage-free eggs on ships

Today at portsandbows.comDiana Ross on the Carnival Breeze


Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
February 29, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada
Inside: $179
Cost per day: $44
www.carnival.com

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