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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

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

Cruising…What’s Not To Like?

To state the obvious: We LOVE cruising! Our longest cruise, 19 days, left us wishing we were staying on board a little longer. We’d found a home away from home. We would cruise almost anywhere. 

So when friends recently asked us what we didn’t like about cruising, we had to stop and think. As you’d expect our list is not long…

1. The continuous up-sell tactics in the spas, and that’s virtually all spas on all ships: Whether it’s another spa service, a brush, a cream or a potion, we MUST need it! The consequences of not buying something we think is over-priced at best or unnecessary at worst are terminal, or worse. To be clear, we’re not real “spa” people. We don’t “spa” much on land, so our experience is somewhat limited and perhaps a little jaded.

2. Arriving at the dining room in which we are told beforehand that we can dine anytime we choose, and with anyone we choose, and eat anything we want on the menu: We Deck chairsusually ask for a table for two, and the frequent response we get is this: “Would you mind joining others?” Our response is always the same…NO! If we had wanted a group table, that is what we would have requested.

3. Passengers who still insist on saving the el primo lounge chairs for several hours while they are otherwise occupied on the ship: The towel and water glass sitting on the lounger for a couple of hours, unoccupied, is usually the tip-off. Since cruise lines don’t want to designate “towel police” to enforce something that will alienate even a small percentage of their passengers, it’s un-solvable. Maybe they should hold classes on manners.

4. Cold toast…kind of picky, we know: We have been told by high-ranking kitchen staff that logistics makes this virtually impossible. In all our cruises, the only place we’ve found hot toast is on the Norwegian Epic, in O’Sheehan’s Pub of all places, because we actually watched them make the toast and bring it straight to our table. Thanks, Kevin O’Sheehan!

And that’s all.

Today at portsandbows.com: The battle of Galveston and Houston

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
October 19, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada
Inside: $159
Cost per day: $39
www.carnival.com

Costa’s ’Tiara’ Jewel Of The Fleet

ON THE COSTA DIADEMA — The first thing you should know about Costa Cruises, if you don’t already, is that this is not some obscure cruise line that nobody ever heard of before one of its ships — the Concordia — became a graveyard for 32 of its passengers.

Costa is big.

So big that it has more than half the European market in an industry that was growing until 2008 happened. To give that a little perspective, Carnival and Royal Caribbean TOGETHER don’t have 50 per cent of the North American market, which in part is because the two American cruise lines have more competition than Costa does.

In the world of corporate cruise real estate, Costa “owns” Europe.

This 67-year-old cruise line — its roots go back 161 years to the freighters on which it was founded — has the second-newest cruise ship in the world and 15 in the fleet. TheCosta DiademaDiadema arrived a month before Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, which will be replaced in the “world’s newest” category when P&O’s Britannia comes along later this month.

The Diadema’s name comes from the Italian word for “tiara” not “diamond” as might be logical. Nonetheless, it is the cruise line’s “jewel” and will be Costa’s flagship for years. News of its successor will come much sooner…in fact, company President Neil Palomba intimated to reporters on the Diadema this week that an announcement about the next Costa ship was weeks away.

This is a fun ship, which shouldn’t be a surprise since Costa is part of the Carnival conglomerate and “FunShips” are Carnival’s trademark. It's wildly colorful and gregarious Diadema poolin a clientele that's 90 per cent Europeans. They clearly love it and North Americans probably would if it ever crosses the ocean. 

Because it has such a busy Mediterranean port schedule, spending five days on it — as we are — clearly isn’t long enough.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll tell you why.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival ships on the move

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
May 4, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina, Ensenada
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $54
www.carnival.com

Cruise Curiosity: Some Questions

 

Just some things that we’re curious about…

The other day, Port Canaveral had six ships in port at the same time…Although there was no mention that this was any kind of record, officials said Canaveral was hoping to overtake Miami as the world’s No. 1 cruise port…In 2017, there might even be some seven-ship days…Hmmm…Currently, 11 ships from four cruise lines depart from the port most closely associated with Orlando and Disney World, including three of the four in Disney’s fleet…At the moment, 25 ships call Miami home during the Caribbean season, from 10 cruise lines…Carnival and Norwegian alone have 12 ships in Miami…It seems Port Canaveral has a ways to go…And what makes Miami No. 1 in the world, since Fort Lauderdale currently has 42 ships with cruises initiating from Port Everglades?

On Saturday, Anthem of the Seas departs from the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Germany for sea trials and final touch-ups to the interior, some of which will be done during the trials…AnthemBy the time it emerges again for its official launch, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship will have been under construction for just 16 months, so the question is: Are builders working faster than in previous years or are they just getting better at assembling enormous cruise ships in that short a time?…Anthem, by the way, will have an original Royal Caribbean production on stage…It’s called “The Gift” and is described as “a musical journey of fantasy and illusion that begins one stormy night with the arrival of a magical gift”…It’ll be interesting to see what the reviews are like.

More cruise lines are making more staterooms available for solo cruisers at a more reasonable rate, making this the best time for people who want to travel alone to book a cruise…Carnival is the latest, with more single-occupant cruises than ever on sale this year…The next one available is on the Carnival Dream, leaving New Orleans on March 15 for a week in the Caribbean…Carnival has eight cruises scheduled this year that are good deals for solos, and the growth of single cabins and fairer pricing raises this question: How long will it be until one of those “meet your match” programs winds up on cruise ships?

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
March 9, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina, Ensenada
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

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