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Carnival Ships Join China Surge

MiracleThere was a time, not that long ago, that the only places you could take Carnival ships was from a port city in North America. The one caveat was when the world’s biggest cruise line built a new ship in Europe, and it had to get to North America by crossing the Atlantic.

Then Carnival started dabbling in the Mediterranean. Then in Australia, going so far as to establish a base there. Now, Carnival’s going to China.

There is no choice. Everybody else is, too.

In 2017, the Carnival Miracle (above) will be in China year-round. A year later, the Carnival Splendour (below) will be in China year-round. Cruise ships from Carnival Corporation have been visiting Asian ports for a decade, but not year-round. And the Splendormother line wasn’t there at all. Other cruise lines have gradually been gaining a presence, but nobody really started taking the Chinese market this seriously until Royal Caribbean sent its newest ship — Quantum of the Seas — to establish a home port in Shanghai. 

If that didn’t get the cruise executives’ attention, it surely woke up the media.

Maybe it wasn’t that big a deal to Royal Caribbean, which has since launched Anthem of the Seas and has another Quantum Class ship coming next year, Ovation of the Seas. But this was the flagship of the class and its first cruise season was from New York (Cape Liberty), not exactly a secondary market. As it turned out, that was its ONLY season of sailing from New York to the Caribbean. Almost exactly one year after it arrived, Quantum was gone.

For good.

Since then, the other mainstream cruise lines have been despatching ships to Asian waters. It will likely never rival the Caribbean as a cruise destination, but it’s definitely a player. And in 18 months, the team of ships stationed there will include Carnival.

In the news…

• The Salty Dog Gastropub makes its debut on Crown Princess
• Costa signs three-year partnership agreement with Italian airline Neo

Today at portsandbows.com: Cunard planning them cruises for 2016

Carnival Imagination
3 nights
January 14, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $56

Celebrities With Cruise Appeal, Too

Kathie Lee Gifford Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines/Ray Stubblebine

If you think society at large is tiring of celebrities who fail to live up to the lofty standards placed upon them by…well, society, think again.

Celebrity sells. Still. 

That’s why Carnival is partnering with Kathie Lee Gifford, known to her millions of TV fans simply as Kathie Lee. She has a winery, or at least some wines, as do a growing number of movie stars, TV stars and sports stars. Her partnership with Carnival isn’t news, but her latest wine is.

GIFFT Pinot Noir Rose.

Kathie Lee’s wines — the red blend and chardonnay are already being poured on all Carnival ships — are from Monterey County in California. If the idea wasn’t working, and if the wine wasn’t good, there’d have been no Pinot Noir Rose uncorked yesterday in Miami, an event she toasted (above) with Candeloro Donato, captain of the Splendor.

Celebrity sells. Still.

That’s why Princess is partnering with another TV personality, chef Curtis Stone. His presence will also be felt on the entire fleet, which for Princess means 18 ships. His Curtis Stonebusiness is food, naturally, so he has TV shows (All-Star Academy and Beach Eats), restaurants (Maude, in Beverly Hills), not to mention how-to books.

On the Princess ships, his “Crafted by Curtis” menus will be savored in the main dining rooms and perhaps more elaborately by passengers who sign up for the Chef’s Table or visit the new specialty restaurant, his first at sea. The fun with his food starts on the Golden Princess in a couple of months, and fleet-wide by the end of the year.

All of it to appeal to the public’s appetite for celebrities.

In the news…

• Carnival, Justice Department settle over disabilities investigation
• AIDA Cruises achieves environmental protection milestones
• Steel cut at shipyard for new Silversea ship the Silver Muse

Today at portsandbows.com: French billionaire buying into cruising?

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, George Town, Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $615
Cost per day: $87

Carnival Stops Carry-on Drinks


It was in the port of Manta, Ecuador that we saw a fellow passenger buy a family-sized bottle of coke, then empty most of it so he could re-fill it with rum or some other spirit before getting back on the cruise ship.

How tacky, we thought.

Today, Carnival is being accused of being tacky, for preventing passengers from doing just that. No more bottles of liquid of any kind can be brought onto ships from ports and, with few exceptions, from embarkation points. The exceptions are that passengers are each allowed to bring a bottle of wine, up to 12 cans (unopened) of water or soda and — to ease the pain of the people who are pains — the price of pre-ordering a 12-pack of water is being cut from $4.99 to $2.99.

The cruise line’s philosophy is that the step is being taken to (a) make its passengers safer and (b) to speed up the embarkation process that is being slowed by checking every bottle with fluid that shows up in luggage.


We are left to presume that “safety” has to do with the smuggling of explosives, the same reason airlines don’t allow liquids from outside security areas. And the embarkation process is only going to be faster if people stop bringing as many bottles as they hope will slip past security people and cameras.

Naturally, the people are upset and are accusing Carnival of driving up profits by forcing people to buy more (liquids) on the ship. They’re also saying the cruise line will back down on this, because eight years ago non-alcoholic drinks were banned and it was later retracted.

A more logical explanation is that Carnival is instituting the policy because too many people are breaking the rules…just like the guy with the bottle of “coke” in Manta.

In the news…

• New Zealand latest market to report cruise boom (Yahoo)
• Disney Magic sails into Norwegian fjord that inspired 'Frozen'
• Newest Princess sale 'Great Getaways' good through July 7

Today at portsandbows.com: Un-Cruises expanding south

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
September 6, 2015
New York (return):  Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $389
Cost per day: $55

Friday file: Open Season On Alaska

The Alaska cruise season is underway, so many of you are perhaps packing your bags and your cameras for the adventure. And Alaska is an adventure, one that is almost universally endorsed as a bucket-list item. This week’s essay of photos from our archive will give you an idea of some of the things you can anticipate seeing…

Mt. McKinley

The closest we’ll ever be to the top of Mount McKinley, North America’s highest point.


Grizzlies are grizzlies, whether in the wild or at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.


There are many things that are “must-sees” — and calving glaciers is one of them.


Wildlife is never a guarantee in Alaska, and often it seemingly pops out of nowhere.


If your cruise is in September, these are the kinds of colors in Denali National Park.


Shore excursions to find crabs, even on a rainy day, can produce spectacular photos.

Chugach National Park

Chugach, the “other” national park, is near Anchorage and well worth seeing.

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Scenic's new river ship, the Jasper

Carnival Splendor
8 nights
May 24, 2015
New York, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Maarten, San Juan
Inside: $479
Cost per day: $59

Work On The Buffet Waistlines

It’s that day again, isn’t it? Monday. The go-on-a-diet day. It comes around every week, of course, and is overshadowed only by January 2…the ultimate GO-ON-A-DIET day.

This Monday, Labor Day is a good name for going on a diet, because it is laborious. It’s also a good time to bring up what’s happening at Celebrity Cruises.

Smaller plates.

We’re talking cruise buffets. You know what it’s like, cut from the all-you-can-eat part of the menu. In trying to help passengers be more calorie responsible, Celebrity is Eclipse-buffettrying to serve everything as individual portions, on individual plates, instead of leaving it to us to serve ourselves (as much or as little) as we choose. It’s only being tried on one ship…so far.

Will it help?

““Guests are eating less, it’s all psychological,” Chef John Suley told the Cruise Industry News. “It was human nature with a large plate to take the things you wanted to try. Now they are portioned and our guests are also thinking about the health conscious aspect.”

Celebrity has discovered its overall food consumption has dropped, the chefs are enjoying make their dishes more visually appealing and fewer passengers have been freed from doorways in which they were stuck…just kidding.

There is one flaw.

What if you take a second helping?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
September 20, 2014
New York (return):  Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $369
Cost per day: $52

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