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‘Greased Lightning’ Coming To Harmony

Olivia Newton-JohnWhen you go to see Olivia Newton-John perform, as we did last week, there’s some baggage that comes with it. Friends and relatives who are less enlightened will say — or at least infer — that you’re living in the past. One was astounded that you passed up watching the World Series to see a 67-year-old “has-been” sing songs from another century. Some may even keep their distance, for fear of being tarred with the nostalgia brush.

We didn’t care. We loved Olivia’s show and, unless our hearing is going, she sounded as good as the last time we saw her 33 years ago.

Furthermore, we love Grease. One of us has seen it so many times she’s lost count. Her husband has to admit it’s a classic, too. What’s not to love?

In the movie, Olivia Newton-John plays Sandy Olsson. John Travolta plays Danny Zuko. If you don’t already know that, you’re probably not interested in knowing that Sandy and HarmonyDanny are going to be performing Grease on Royal Caribbean’s third (and next) Oasis Class ship, when Harmony of the Seas is launched next year.

That means they’ll be singing Greased Lightning, Summer Nights and Beauty School Dropout together, just like Olivia and one of her back-up singers (no Travolta, but very good) did last week in Las Vegas.

On Harmony of the Seas, Grease will be the main theater entertainment.

As it should be.

In the news…

• Norwegian Escape christened by 'Godfather' Pitbull in Miami
• MSC, Cirque du Soleil in long-term partnership for Meraviglia Class ship shows
• Star Princess ends successful cruise season for Canada's Victoria Harbour

Today at portsandbows.com: Anthem of the Seas — Part Two


Carnival Dream
7 nights
January 31, 2016
New Orleans (return): Roatan, Belize, Cozumel  
Inside: $419
Cost per day: $59
www.carnival.com

New Orleans: Big Growth Not Easy

New Orleans-4

Anniversaries are always reason for reflection, good or bad. It's now 10 years since Katrina.

One word. That's often the case with things that are unforgettable — Hiroshima, Elvis, LeBron — because one word is all it takes.

Katrina.

It was the last week of August 2005. The hurricane that destroyed a city. In the New Orleans-1aftermath, they said New Orleans would never be the same. They said the people wouldn't go back…not to live, not to visit, not to cruise.

But they have.

In 2006, Carnival resumed its New Orleans operations with one ship, the Fantasy. Sixteen thousand passengers. It was a start.

Fast forward.

This year, after gradually increasing the size and number of ships plus the frequency of the cruises, Carnival expects to carry 450,000 passengers from New Orleans. One of its biggest ships, the Dream, is based in New Orleans, taking up to 3,646 passengers on New Orleans-2week-long Caribbean cruises all year long. That's complemented by the Elation, running 4-and-5-day cruise to Mexico. Next spring, another increase…the 2,758-passenger Triumph replaces the Elation, shuttling 700 additional passengers off to sea every four or five days.

It's not all Carnival, of course. Norwegian, Azamara and Crystal also cruise from The Big Easy. But Carnival is biggest, a commitment that has led to port improvements.

Next year, Carnival's 3,000,000th passenger will pass through New Orleans since Katrina.

A decade ago, nobody would have predicted that.

In the news…

• Regent Seven Seas trumpets new Explorer as "most luxurious ship ever built"
• Viking River Cruises going back to the Ukraine after two-year absence

Today at portsandbows.com: Green light for Greenwich


Norwegian Jade
7 nights
December 5, 2015
Houston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $479
Cost per day: $68
www.ncl.com

Carnival, Dr. Seuss, Kids & Friends

There are probably some general misconceptions about the professional athlete of today. One, that he is so rich he doesn’t care two slam-dunks about his fellow man and fellow woman. Two, that his only meaningful skill is playing his sport so well that things like education are secondary.

Evan Longoria is one poster man (and there are many) for what the pro athlete is.

He cares. He reads. He gives back.

This week, before the Tampa Bay Rays who pay him millions of dollars to swing a round stick at a round ball left town on their current road trip, the star third-baseman dropped by the Carnival Paradise. The ship was moored, as it often is, in the west Florida city and Longoria wasn’t going on a cruise…he was reading stories to kids.

In a project Carnival partners with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Longoria was recruited to read — for one of the first times anywhere — a book called What Pet Should I Get? It’s the newest Seuss book and it’s not newly written…it’s newly discovered. The author, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) has been gone for many years and the book was re-discovered in his La Jolla, California home and published last week.

While Longoria was reading it to kids in Tampa, Angela Hill was reading to kids on the Carnival Dream in New Orleans, where she is a broadcasting legend.

The book-reading events were fund raisers. Carnival is making a donation to the Tampa and Louisiana chapters of the SPCA for animal rescue operations.

Cruise line President Christine Duffy said in a statement:

“Carnival is the number one cruise line for families and we’re delighted to team up with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring the joy of reading to kids with these special presentations. The Angela Hillkids were absolutely thrilled to have been treated to a reading of the first new Dr. Seuss book in 25 years and our most sincere thanks to Evan and Angela, as well as the SPCA, for the valuable work they do each and every day,”

Carnival’s also matching Longoria’s donation of $100 to the Pet Pal Animal Shelter for every home run he hits this season. With the one he hit yesterday afternoon in Chicago, Longoria has 12 and has hit between 22 and 33 for most of his eight-year career.

The book is one of two manuscripts discovered two years ago. It has no title…yet. Undoubtedly it will. And if Dr. Seuss Enterprises is looking for somebody to give it that first reading, Carnival has a couple of candidates with experience.

In the news…

• Norwegian Holdings applies for three licenses to cruise to Cuba
• U.S. Coast Guard's 225th anniversay celebrated on a forever stamp
• Norwegian Jade program announced for Tampa Bay in 2016-17 fall/winter

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival settles disability issue

Norwegian Jade
7 nights
November 28, 2015
Houston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $479
Cost per day: $64
www.ncl.com

That’s A Million For New Orleans

Photo by Win Henderson

In Texas, the battle cry has for 180 years been “Remember The Alamo.” In New Orleans, for the last decade (10 years in August), it has been “Remember Katrina.”

Remember, indeed.

Close to 2,000 people died. Waves 20 feet high crashed into the Louisiana seaport. The world watched in horror as the largest hurricane ever threatened to wipe the city from the map…some even thought it might not be a bad idea, given that it’s below sea level.

At the time, cruising was thriving in New Orleans. In three years before that, it had grown dramatically and was heading towards a million passengers a year when Katrina ravaged New_Orleanseverything, including the cruise industry. For a city known as The Big Easy, nothing was.

Last year, New Orleans hit the million.

The perception of the city after Katrina was one of apprehension, destruction and fear. Only people who wanted to help wanted to go there, even if helping meant pumping a few dollars into the sagging economy. There can be no doubt today that cruising has contributed to the rebuilding of New Orleans, and is benefitting from it.

“Eighty per cent of all our cruise passengers are from out of state and they spend two-and-a-half nights," Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange told radio station WWL. "The average cruise passenger's direct spending at most other ports around the world is 95 dollars a day…in New Orleans they spend 332 dollars a day."

Today, New Orleans is the sixth-largest cruise port in the U.S. The 10th-largest in the world. Cruise ships generate $323 million in total income for locals. Four ships — Carnival’s Dream and Elation, Norwegian’s Dawn and Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas — call the Port of New Orleans home. Cruise Critic calls it the “Best North American Homeport.” Porthole Magazine readers ranked it the “Friendliest Homeport” for the last two years.

New Orleans has come back, hoping that Katrina (or her descendants) never will.

Today at portsandbows.com: Baking with Mary Berry

Grand Princess
15 nights
February 17, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Ensenada 
Inside $1,169
Cost per day: $77
www.princess.com

Big Doin's In Big D On Sunday

Dallas StadiumIf you’re watching the Cowboys and the Giants from Texas on Sunday, there’s a couple of performers at the “palace in Dallas” (actually, Arlington) that you probably won’t see. Both of them have to do with cruising (actually, Carnival).

One is Rascal Flatts. The award-winning country band is doing a pre-game show. The Carnival connection is that next year Rascal Flatts will be doing shows as part of Carnival Live — dates and places still unknown.

The other is Guy Fieri. He’s also doing a pre-game show — well, sort of — but it’ll be out in the parking lot, where all good hamburger chefs belong when there’s a tail-gate party and they can sell some product. This Carnival connection here, of course, is that Señor Fieri’s burgers are consumed in great numbers on all 24 ships.

Carnival has hitched its wagon (they do a lot of that in Texas) to the Cowboys in the promotional department because that’s one of the synergies, as they say, that seems to work for cruise lines and football teams alike. In one form or another, each sells its product to the other’s customers, not all of whom overlap.

This isn’t entirely new.

Carnival already co-promotes with the New Orleans Saints (at least they and the Cowboys can never meet in the Super Bowl) and has a long association with the Miami Heat. Norwegian is the “official cruise line” of the Miami Dolphins, and has a working relationship with the New York Knicks. Celebrity has been tied to the New York Rangers. And last month, Princess announced it was becoming a proud sponsor of NFL teams in Seattle, Houston and San Francisco.

The difference this time is that Carnival is marketing in a big way with a team in Dallas, which is not a cruise port.

Then again, the Cowboys are “America’s team.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Some of the Oasis changes

Carnival Dream
7 nights
December 14, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $47
www.carnival.com

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