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Friday File: Some Ships of Carnival

It’s only fitting that the biggest cruise line in the world has the most recognizable funnel in the world. Carnival does. The unmistakable fire-engine red funnel can be seen far and wide on the oceans and in ports, and often more than one at a time. Carnival currently has 23 ships — No. 24, the Vista, arrives next year — a fleet size rivalled only by Royal Caribbean. But Carnival ships seem to be everywhere, at least around North America. Here are some we’ve photographed, and where they are as you read this…

1-Destiny Sensation Ecstasy

Destiny (now Sunshine), Sensation, Ecstasy: Together then — currently cruising for 5 days (Sunshine) to the Eastern Caribbean, for 3 days (Sensation) to Nassau and for 4 days to Key West and Cozumel.

2-Freedom in Grand Turk

Freedom, a favorite ship picture of ours at Grand Bahamas — currently on a 5-day cruise from Galveston with stops in Cozumel and Progreso.

3-Magic

Magic, one of the fleet’s flagships, until the Vista arrives — currently on a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise from Galveston to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and back.

4-Legend:Triumph

Legend and Triumph, a graphic example of the difference in size — one currently (Legend) in Hawaii on a 19-day cruise to Australia and the other (Triumph) may see the Freedom in Cozumel and/or Progreso.

Fascination

Fascination, even on shore Carnival ships look like fun — currently on a 5-day Caribbean cruise from Jacksonville with port calls in Nassau and Freeport.

6-ImaginationImagination, leaving Fort Lauderdale with “your” imagination — currently cruising from Los Angeles to the Baja, a 4-day Mexico trip with stops at Catalina Island and Ensenada.

In the news…

• Suite Class upgrades coming for Celebrity"s Infinity and Summit
• Dawn Princess moving to P&O, Golden Princess staying in Australia
• Third berth opened by Carnival at Cozumel's Puerta Maya pier

Today at portsandbows.com: How Cruise Critic UK ranks ships and service 


Celebrity Eclipse
5 nights
December 13, 2015
Miami (return): Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59
www.celebritycruises.com

Friday File: Women Of The Sea

This week, Kate McCue was chosen to become the first American woman to captain a cruise ship for one of the mainstream lines. Next month, she’ll slide behind the wheel (or joystick) of the Celebrity Summit to break yet another gender barrier. That is the ultimate position for a woman on a cruise ship, of course, and women on ships everywhere are celebrating the occasion. Here are female crew members we’ve met, some of them even firsts…

Epic-Julia Koravcova-1st

On the bridge of the Norwegian Epic, Slovakia’s Julia Koravcova was the First Officer, and that was almost five years ago.

RC-Margaret Aitchison

Margaret Aitchison, from Canada, one of those indispensable executives who was key to everything on Allure of the Seas.

PR-Lisa Ball

Lisa Ball, an Englishwoman and the first female cruise director (toughest job on a ship) we’ve seen, on the Crown Princess.

CB-Ingrid Falavera

From the Celebrity Eclipse, the first woman we encountered to work as a sommelier, Ingrid Falavera from the Philippines.

CA-Ana Klacinski-

Carnival’s Ana Klacinski was in charge of Camp Ocean, the Seuss at Sea kids’ area first expanded on the Freedom.

RC-Barbara Florek-1st

Barbara Florek, who calls Poland home, was Allure's Second Officer when we were on the ship's bridge last summer.

In the news…

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas to have 10-story water slide called Abyss
• New all-inclusive packages on 11 itineraries in the Tropics for Windstar Cruises
• Upgrades to Disney Magic to include Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for 3-to-12-year-olds

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in airline seat design…ouch!

Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
September 14, 2015
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $47
www.carnival.com

The Death Of A Sea Salesman

The Orator of the Seas is silent. John Maxtone-Graham, who entertained cruisers with ship stories on whatever line would hire him, died of old age last week. He was 85.

We met him once, on the Celebrity Eclipse. It was both our good fortuneand our misfortune … to have met him at all, and to have met him only once. He was a delightful speaker who captivated us enough during his lecture in the ship’s theater that we wanted to interview him.

Off the stage, he was just as delightful.

We are among hundreds, perhaps thousands, who met this delightful man. Many of us have one of his books, signed with a personal message, because that’s what he did. He Maxtone-Grahamwrote 30 books, maybe more. It seemed that his first was his favorite, The Only Way To Cross (1972), perhaps because of all things cruising that he was passionate about, nothing compared to being on a ship crossing the ocean. He refused to call them cruises because they weren’t, they were “crossings,” and the fewer stops the better.

“Ships were meant to be at sea,” he said. “Draw a line from A to B. That's what cruise ships were for, to carry immigrants from A to B.”

He was born in New Jersey, lived in New York and spoke with a British accent, having been raised on both sides of the Atlantic by his Scottish father and American mother. A former stage manager on Broadway, he graduated from Brown, served with the Marines in Korea, worked on Broadway as a stage manager and became an author, lecturer and maritime historian.

He became a writer by accident when asked to author a book about ships that cross the ocean, a trip he first made at the age of six months. His two sons became writers, one for The Simpsons, the other for Beavis and Butthead.

Maxtone-Graham’s books – more eloquent than the works of his offspring — will be his legacy, but to us he was more captivating and spell-binding as an orator.

“I play it like a piano,” he said. “I know what works and what doesn't work”

Some people went on ships if they knew Maxtone-Graham be speaking. We didn’t. We just lucked out. He was 81 at the time, and it was appropriate that the Eclipse was “crossing” from Miami to Southampton. It was his kind of cruise, although there probably wasn’t a cruise that wasn’t.

He was often asked to name his favourite ship.

“The one I’m on,” he would say.

We thought it was ironic that his passing came during the height of Cunard’s 175th anniversary celebrations. Morever, he died as the Queen Mary 2 was “crossing” the Atlantic in a recreation of the famous cruise line’s first Transatlantic voyage, on July 4, 1840. It would have been even more ironic if he’d been able to be on the ship this month…if he’d passed away on board…if they’d buried him at sea.

From our one meeting, we think John Maxtone-Graham would’ve found that a fitting crossing to the after-life, for the Orator of the Seas.

In the news…

• Keel laying ceremony for new Princess ship going to China in 2017
• Spain's cruise visitors January to May up 6 per cent over last year
• NTSB looking for flight-seeing accounts from Alaska passengers

Today at portsandbows.com: Oceania's new early-booking promotion

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
14 nights
October 9, 2015
Barcelona, Crete, Ashdod, Suez Canal (cruising), Petra, Dubai
Inside: $533
Cost per day: $38
www.royalcaribbean.com

Friday File: Food More Than A Thought

Food is such a focal point of cruising, for at least two reasons. One is that the quality and/or amount of food consumed justifies the cost of the cruise. The other is that cruise lines traditionally have special events for food lovers — sometimes at an extra cost (specialty restaurants) and sometimes free. The photos today give you a taste (ahem) of a little of both those options from our cruises…

1-Millenium-Andrew Harris

Staff often gets personally involved — as Celebrity Hotel Director Andrew Harris did here on the Millennium,

2-Freedom-Seuss-1

Kids love all things Seuss, including the most unusual ice sculpture we’ve seen, on Carnival Freedom's Seuss at Sea.

3-Riviera-Kathryn K

Cookin’ with Chef Kathryn Kelly on Oceania ships is an experience worth the modest cost.

Crown-chef's table

Radishes never looked so appetizing as during this Chef’s Table experience on the Crown Princess.

5-Epic-Teppenyaki Michael-1

At Teppanyaki on the Norwegian Epic, Michael from the Philippines was so quick his hands were a blur.

6-Eclipse-elegant tea

What’s ‘elegant tea at sea?’ This is what it looks like on the Celebrity Eclipse — and it tastes better.

In the news…

• Carnival's 'fathom' designed for cruisers who wish to participate in 'social impact travel'
• Celebrity Infinity returns to Nanaino (Vancouver Island) for first time in four years
• Vietnam's six-day 'cruise of a lifetime' to visit disputed reefs and islands

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival unveils its '10th brand'
 

Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas
3 nights
November 14, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau, CocoCay
Inside: $381.50
Cost per day: $127
www.royalcaribbean.com

Photo Essay: Captains of the Seas

We’ve only met, over the years of cruising, one ship’s captain we didn’t like — and that's likely because he never gave us the chance to like him (“I don’t do interviews”). This is a colony of mostly men who are all personable, often funny, always accommodating and forever fascinating.

These are our top ten, in no particular order — hey, what's wrong with having 10 favourites? — and we've included something about them that we hope you'll find interesting:

1-Capt. Gustavsen-Sky

Captain Roger Gustavsen (Norway), Norwegian Sky 
The first captain to invite us to watch departure from the bridge, he once had his mother there on the Norwegian Dream while negotiating the Kiel Canal: “You know how mothers always like to tell their sons what to do. She wanted to tell me how to drive the ship!”

2-Capt. Manetas-Eclipse

Captain Dimitrios Manetas (Greece), Celebrity Eclipse 
He watched ships come and go from his home in Piraeus, near Athens: “
I knew when I was a teenager, about 15, that I would be on the sea. it always inspired me. I was always curious for the unknown.”

3-Henrik Loy-Explorer

Captain Henrik Loy (Norway), Explorer of the Seas 
​One of the youngest (38) captains anywhere, he met his wife Karina, now a mother of three, when she was a dancer on Liberty of the Seas when they met and he calls it: “A true love boat story. We are really on the same page and we make it work.

4-Frank Juliussen-Epic

Captain Frank Juliussen (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
He had to overcome seasickness and bad days at sea: “
I don't have bad days and I have learned to enjoy this. You meet a lot of nice people. The world is full of nice people, and a lot of them do what they call ‘dirty work’ on cruise ships.”

5-Capt. Amitrano

Captain Fabio Amitrano (Italy), Coral Princess  A seaman for more than four decades since he left Ischia, a resort island with hot springs: “All the ladies come there to look younger. It must work, because they keep coming back!” 

6-Capt. Viacama-Ecstasy

Captain Andrea Viacava (Italy), Carnival Ecstasy 
A character with an easy laugh and a sense of humor: "
When I am stressed, I go down in the galley and cook a meal. I cook something every day. Gnocci, risotto with pumpkin…sometimes I cook for 40 persons.”

7-Capt. Dahlgren-Navigator

Captain Patrik Dahlgren (Sweden), Navigator of the Seas 
He’s still not 40, he’s now Royal Caribbean’s Vice-President of Marine Operations for Quantum of the Seas Technology, after serving for years as the youngest captain anywhere on the ocean: “I started when I was 12.”

8-Capt. Manzi-Coral

Captain Luca Manzi (Italy), Oceania Riviera 
When he visits his roots in Italy: “I still have to explain what I do for a living. My friends ask what I do — ‘Sailing?' In Italian, it's the word used to surf the Internet, so now I say I do nothing for a living."

9-Capt. Vorren-Epic

Captain Trygve Vorren (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
Not long before he died suddenly, he shared thoughts on the size of ships: “What will catch people’s attention will be the future. Look at the last 20 years…we developed technology we never imagined. What did we do, not in cruising but in life, before the Internet?”

10-Capt. Tore-Allure

Captain Tore Grimstad (Norway), Allure of the Seas 
Now sharing the captain’s chair on the Allure with close friend Johnny Faevelen, he was once on an American-Russian-Norwegian ship with the capability of launching rockets, near the equator: “I was captain, not a rocket scientist!"

Today at portsandbows.com: Reflecting on the cruise news of 2014

Carnival Glory
7 nights
January 24, 2015
Miami (return): Half Moon CaySan JuanSt. Thomas
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $42
www.carnival.com

 

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