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The Grinch Now A Cruise Character

The Grinch is going to have ample time to steal Christmas on Carnival ships next month, and guess what? It won’t happen, because it never has.

The Dr. Seuss villain will appear on all Carnival cruises in December. He’ll be trying to keep Christmas from happening, and stealing Christmas items from crew members on all the Grinch Bookships because, well, that’s how The Grinch made his name.

What started out as a moral attack on the commercialization of Christmas in a kids’ book that was written 58 years ago became two movies (1966 and 2000), and one of the most famous of many famous books written by Theodor Geisel, or Dr. Seuss.

In the original story, The Grinch took Christmas-themed items from the people of the fictional Whoville. On the ships, he’ll pop up here and there in Seussville (among other places), wearing his green “Santy Claus” costume and trying to be “cuddly as a cactus” and “charming as an eel.”

He’ll be playfully disruptive, in the words of Carnival’s people, and the kids on board will try to drive him crazy by making Grinch-themed Christmas ornaments and painting Grinch-like faces. In short, they’ll be trying to turn him into a Christmas figure, which is what happened in print in 1958.

In this age of political correctness and destroying traditions that offend the vocal minority, Carnival is turning Christmas on board into what Christmas has always been on shore.

A celebration…and a time to change — as The Grinch did when he became the guest of honor at Christmas dinner in Whoville.

In the news…

• CDC awards ninth straight perfect score for Holland America Eurodam
• Crystal Cruises purchases Boeing 777 to join Dreamliner in Crystal Air
• Not a single ship exceeded emission standard in Victoria during 2015

Today at portsandbows.com: River cruising in Burgundy


Carnival Sensation
3 nights
January 14, 2016
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau
Inside: $179
Cost per day: $59
www.carnival.com

Friday File: All Cruisers On Deck

In case you think a pool deck is a pool deck is a pool deck…well, it’s not true. Cruise aficionados who spend a lot of time soaking up the rays or jumping into pools large and small — or both — believe part of the appeal of a cruise ship is its pool deck. While we’re neither sun worshippers nor avid swimmers, we always take pictures of the pool deck because, well, we never know when we’ll need them for a day like today…

1-Allure

This was when Allure of the Seas was showing its pool deck to North Americans for the first time, in Fort Lauderdale.

2-Diadema

You’d probably never use “Italian” to describe this rather modest pool area, but it’s the Costa Diadema and very Italian.

Epic pool

“Unique” has always applied to the Norwegian Epic, and you won’t likely see this kind of artwork in another cruise deck pool.

AmaDara pool deck

On river ships, the pool area is usually secondary and frequently unpopulated, as it usually is on AmaWaterways’ new AmaDara.

5-Ecstasy

“Busy” is always a good descriptor for a Carnival ship’s pool deck, and that was certainly the case on the Carnival Ecstasy.

6-Reflection

A “peaceful” area on the Celebrity Reflection enhanced by huge artwork on the walls of a ship know for its artistic impressions.

7-Riviera
On the Oceania Riviera, the upper deck is tasteful and understated, with a pool meant for dipping more than swimming.

In the news…

• Mobile, Alabama negotiating to be Carnival homeport for first time since 2011
• Amber Cove port on schedule to open October 6 in Dominican Republic
• Danube, Elbe low water levels still a challenge for river cruisers in Europe

Today at portsandbows.com: Bermuda more popular with Carnival


Carnival Sensation
4 nights
November 1, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $57
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

An Epic Journey Ending In Caribbean

Barnacled and bruised, and beleaguered since birth, the Norwegian Epic is riding off into the sunset next spring. Perhaps the sun will be kinder to the big ship in Barcelona because, on this side of the ocean, the sun appears to have done melanoma-like damage.

EpicAmong the critics, that is.

The Epic arrived in New York in the summer of 2010. Despite her size (4,100 passengers minimum and close to 6,000 maximum), she was never the biggest. She was never the prettiest, sometimes derisively described as the ship with a box-top hat. She was never duplicated and when the idea of a potential sibling was aborted before Norwegian spent any more on the plan it only added to her unpopularity.

Yet we loved the Epic.

We were fortunate enough to cruise on her twice. She was the biggest “freestyle” ship anywhere, and that helped. She introduced Blue Man Group to the seas, and that was better than we anticipated. With a somewhat unorthodox traffic flow, there were pre-launch predictions of line-ups everywhere, but they never materialized. Only on the Epic was serious attention paid to accommodation for singles, and that made her a trend-setter.

Maybe it was because her first master, Trygve Vorren, was as nice a captain as we’ve ever met after being told he wouldn’t be, and because we had a chance to know him a little, not many months before he boarded the big cruise ship in the sky. And that his successor, Slam AllenFrank Juliussen, was just as warm, as honest and as entertaining…two years later. Maybe it was because Slam Allen blew us away with his performances at Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club on the Epic, even though we’re not huge fans of fat cats, jazz or blues.

The disaster in the cabins — sort-of see-through bathroom doors — was so much a non-starter with passengers that two years ago (when she was a two-year-old) readers of Travel Weekly picked the Epic as the “best overall individual cruise ship” for the third year in a row, and that same year Porthole Magazine named her the “Best Mega Ship.”  She has also been decorated for her entertainment, new restaurants, gambling venue and family appeal.

In what has to be an unusual marketing ploy, Norwegian is promoting her final Caribbean cruises as the Epic’s “Farewell Tour in the Caribbean” when her cruising days there end next April. Judging by the ship’s passenger popularity, it’s probably a certainty to sell out.

Why is the Epic leaving?

Norwegian has launched two ships (Breakaway and Getaway) since the Epic and two more (Escape and Bliss) are coming. The place to start new ships is always in the Caribbean, the world’s cruising hotspot, and there is a limit to a cruise line’s capacity. So it is time for the Epic to move on, perhaps to calmer waters.

It’ll be interesting to see how Europeans take to her. Undoubtedly, the Epic will undergo some changes to cater to Europe’s tastes and culture. They’ll have her for three years, minimum, and probably longer. However, if she’s not welcome, there’s a lot of us who would take her back.

Anytime.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Sensation
4 nights
November 16, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $119
Cost per day: $29
www.carnival.com

Cruising's Not All About Luring Youth

 

Question: How can seniors avoid that terrible curse of the elderly wrinkles?

Answer: Take off their glasses.

Ah, seniors. We are the butt of thousands of Internet jokes. We are disregarded by marketers obsessed with the 25 to 49 crowd. Even cruise ships, once the haven of the nearly elderly, have become playgrounds for the young and rich.

But hold the phone!

We are not forgotten.

Cruise Lines International Association research shows the average age of cruisers has dropped to an all-time low (48 years), because of the aforementioned catering to youth that has made them realize what their elders have known for years: “Cruising is irresistible.” Yet despite the CLIA figures, it’s clear that cruise lines still count on their primary market because all of them have strategies that are essentially only for Golden Agers:

• Longer itineraries are everywhere, and it’s retirees who have the time to book them.

• Exotic cruises are plentiful for a demographic that often focuses on the ol’ Bucket List…like seeing the Panama Canal, cruising the Mediterranean, or crossing an ocean in a ship.

Rock climbing• Upscale lines like Cunard, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania cater to seniors because that’s usually the crowd with the most disposable income and the fewest financial obligations.

• River cruising’s growth in popularity is unquestionably because of seniors, for the same reason, but also because older folks like us are more interested in history, lectures and less-strenuous (i.e. do-able) activities like climbing rock walls…is it because we’re weary of climbing the wall?

• The major cruise line best suited to retirees, they say, is Holland America. The ships are smaller, there are fewer “family-style” adventures and its reputation includes rules about lights out by nine (just kidding).

And there’s always a place on the mainstream, family-oriented cruise lines for seniors…and generally the prices are more reasonable. If you’re among the crowd that would prefer a big ship and a more sedate experience, here’s one small tip:

Go when the kids are in school.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Sensation
3 nights
October 30, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $163
www.carnival.com

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