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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

Cops, Airline Aid Missing Passenger

Victoria Harbour

Sometimes, it’s just nice to be able to tell a nice story. Like the one that appeared this week in The Province, one of Vancouver’s two daily newspapers, about a passenger who went missing from Jewel of the Seas.

The 65-year-old woman disembarked in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in mid-morning earlier this month. When the ship was ready to leave for Seattle late that afternoon, the final leg of a week-long Alaska cruise, there was no sign of her. Eventually, after waiting a reasonable time as ship captains are wont to do, Jewel of the Seas had to leave.

Police in Victoria contacted the woman’s family in Buffalo and discovered she had been having symptoms of dementia. Disoriented, she showed up in a downtown hotel and police took her to a nearby hospital to be assessed.

All’s well that ends well, right?

The story gets better. 

One of the cops, Constable Andre Almeida, arranged for her to fly to Seattle in time for her scheduled flight home to New York. He paid for the flight on his own credit card with the idea that he’d be able to cover it with his “points.” And when he was asked about doing that, the constable issued this statement:

“There was no other way to ensure she would make it back home. She needed help. It could be my mom stranded somewhere and I would hope someone would help.”

There’s more.

After a night in hospital, the woman was taken to the airport by the police for her Alaska Airlines flight. The airline reimbursed Constable Almeida, and saw to it that she made her connecting flight to her family.

These days, two segments of society that seem to take a regular beating are police and airlines, so it’s also nice that they’re being recognized for doing something…nice.

Today at portsandbows.com: No more Dancing With The Stars: At Sea

Carnival Magic
7 nights
September 27, 2015
Galveston (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com

Carnival Tunes In Top Vocal Group

 

Come Sunday night, a lot of us will be watching the Academy of Country Music Awards because, well, we like them. Also because it always seems to be more about the music than the awards.

Enter Carnival.

The world’s biggest cruise line is writing a huge success story with its Carnival Live series, in which well-known performs board ships in port, then perform one or two concerts for which passengers are happy to pay, given the sizes of the venues.

There are the old standbys — Journey, Styx, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie — from yesteryear. There is a sprinkling of current performers: Rascall Flatts, Little Big Town, Martina McBride.

And now, the series’ summer/fall line-up includes The Band Perry, for three concerts in Nassau on Carnival ships Sensation, Fascination and Magic.

On Sunday night at the ACMs, these two brothers (Neil, Reid) and older sister (Kimberly) are nominated for “Top Vocal Group” which they won in 2014. That was a year that began by performing at the Super Bowl pre-game show, then touring with Blake Shelton. This year, they won a Grammy and now they’re headliners on tour.

Get the message?

The Band Perry is hot in country music and that makes Carnival a winner. Make that, more of a winner. Older passengers enjoyed seeing the stars of the past. Now they’ll be joined by younger, hipper spectators…because of The Band Perry.

Today at portsandbows.com: Deals from AmaWaterways, Avalon

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
May 10, 2015
Galveston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.royalcaribbean.com

Norwegian Gratuities On the Rise

 

If you’re booked to take a Norwegian cruise on a ship that leaves after Saturday, prepare for a little inflation.

Starting Sunday on all sailings, Norwegian’s daily gratuity charges are going up to $12.95 per person ($14.95 if you’re cruising in a suite) and applies even if your cruise is already booked. The increase is less than a buck a day (95 cents) and it’s this cruise line’s first such increase since 2009.

Where does that leave Norwegian in an industry where gratuities are sometimes one of life’s little surprises, except for seasoned cruisers?

Celebrity charges $12 a day, and $15.50 in suites. Carnival also charges $12 and breaks it down for you: $3.90 for stateroom crew, $6.10 for dining room crew and $2 for crew members in the galley, guest services, entertainment. Princess, from the Carnival family, charges $11.50 as does Cunard, another Carnival sibling. Disney does it a little differently, suggesting amounts and breaking them down by length of cruise but in the end — whether it’s three days, four days or seven days — the suggested daily gratuity is $12.

So Norwegian appears to be the first of the mainstream lines to bump it up. There is one break for Norwegian passengers already booked: It stays at $12 if you pre-pay your tips.

Gratuities are always discretionary, but who wants to be the person arguing with the guest services people about why they shouldn’t pay what is already charged to your room?

Today at portsandbows.com: Princess plans for Europe 2016

Carnival Magic
7 nights
April 12, 2015
Galveston (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com

Carnival’s Voices Of Freedom

In quasi-military vernacular, what happened in Galveston on the weekend might be called the “perfect storm.”

Operation Homefront, recognizing the troops. A country singer, because country singers are the most prominent pro-military entertainers. And a ship called “Freedom.”

This was Carnival’s Freedom, of course, and it was in Galveston to begin operations from its new home-port. It was also Carnival’s Martina McBride, the country superstar who has Freedom-Galvestonbeen performing in the cruise line’s wildly popular entertainment series called Carnival Live.

And both of them were there to pay tribute to troops.

A check for $100,000 was cut for Operation Homefront, the nonprofit that supports military families, some of whom were the audience for what was called an exclusive Carnival Live concert by the winner of 14 Grammy Awards. She sang from the upper deck of a ship that last year underwent a $70-million refurbishing that enhanced its family features, such as Seuss At Sea and Camp Ocean, where kids enjoy 200 marine-themed activities.

The consensus was that McBride gave a show-stopping performance. For those of us who have seen her (twice now), this is not a surprise. She was the consummate professional the first time we saw her, in 1996, and again in 2013. All the succeeding years did was make her even better.

“Performing for these military families was an incredible honor,” she said in Galveston. “I’m so glad I was asked to be part of it.”

Carnival now has three ships based in Galveston — the Triumph, the Magic and the Freedom. While it may not be a stretch to make a military connection to the names of all three, nothing speaks to the troops like the Freedom does.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas
14 nights
May 4, 2015
Tampa, Norfolk, Cork, Cherbourg, Brussels, London
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $57
www.royalcaribbean.com

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