Tag-Archive for » Celebrity Infinity «

Chilling Out On Norwegian’s Escape

The new Norwegian Escape has now left its birthplace in Germany and is en route to its home in Miami, following a short stop in Southhampton. At 5,000 or so passengers, it is now Norwegian’s largest ship and among the top half-dozen biggest ships in the world, and it comes with some innovations.Ice Bar-1

Like a cold room.

This is a curious addition to a cruise ship. The room’s actually being called the “Snow Room” and it’s part of the ship’s spa facility. Its temperature is 14 degrees Fahrenheit and snowflakes fall from the ceiling while passengers watch and…shiver. Spa reps say this is healthy — “good for aches and pains” — but if you were trying to sell your neighbour on going on a cruise this winter and touted the Snow Room there’s a good chance your neighbour would stay home.

The whole concept of a Caribbean cruise is to, pardon the pun, “escape” from wherever you live to a temperate, sunny climate.

Norwegian tried a variation of this concept five years ago on the Epic, which until last week was the cruise line’s biggest ship. It was called The Ice Bar, kind of a play on words since bars usually include ice to cool the drinks. Well, in The Ice Bar there were icicles everywhere but in the drinks. It was so cold that you had to bundle Ice Bar-2up before entering. It wasn’t exactly the North Pole, but 10 minutes was long enough, in the interests of survival…or at least comfort. The bar has survived, too…with a little Ice Bar-3sponsorship input from Svedka (vodka) and Inniskillin (ice wine), but it seemed a strange juxtaposition for the conventional concept of what a cruise delivers.

Once the novelty wears off, maybe the Snow Room will be a bigger hit. The old hot-cold treatment thing, you know. There are people, dozens perhaps, who think that’s good for the body even if it doesn’t feel good. To some of us, these people are known as masochists. Who knows if they’re right? Who will ever know?

Or maybe spa people are just like golfers. They’ll buy anything that they think is going to make them better.

In the news…

• New Orleans, usually a homeport, becoming popular with port calls
• Dawn Princess to be renamed Pacific Explor for P&O Australia in 2017
• MSC Lirica to be customized for Chinese market when it arrives next year

Today at portsandbows.com: Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016


Celebrity Infinity
4 nights
October 23, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key West, Nassau
Inside: $272
Cost per day: $68
www.celebritycruises.com

Friday File: Entertainment Cruise Style

After umpteen cruises, we've discovered that it's not that easy to get good pictures of entertainers on ships. For one thing, they're shy…just kidding. Let's try that again…for one thing, photography is usually not allowed when there are shows in a ships' theater. For another, the performers are rarely seen on ships when they're not on stage, and even if they are, it's not "in costume" which makes them tough to spot. As an example, take a look at the first pictures to see what we mean…

Eric Reid-1Eric Reid-2On the left is Eric Reid, relaxing on the Oceania Riviera, and on the right is Eric Reid, on stage as Elton John (he also does Billy Joel).

Things

Now this is a very different duo, known to fans of Dr. Seuss simply as Thing 1 and Thing 2, entertaining kids young and old on Carnival ships, this time on the Freedom.

Dancer-Ama

On the river cruiser AmaDara, Cambodian dancers came on board along the Mekong River and this drummer, part of a six-person troupe, was highly animated as drummers often are.

Slam Allen

Slam Allen packed 'em in on the Norwegian Epic, night after night, and what made it even better for us was sitting down and discovering that besides being talented, he's a friendly giant.

Allure-piano

This gifted pianist is Seth Gibson, who opened Carnival's show for "more popular" colleagues, yet he enthralled listeners in a bar later — and his "more popular" colleagues were in the audience.

Michael

This will hardly be a surprise to find out Michael Jackson he is not — only somebody trying to be Michael Jackson. William Hall did a good job as one of the stars of Legends In Concert on the Epic.

In the news…

• Norwegian's biggest ship, Escape, headed for inaugural cruise
• P&O ships being refurbished to become Pacific Aria, Pacific Eden
• Pullmantur ship Empress returning to Royal Caribbean next year

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Live series returning in 2016


Celebrity Infinity
4 nights
October 23, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key West, Nassau
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59
www.celebritycruises.com

Friday File: Statues Live For Eternity

The thing about statues, which anybody who cruises sees in any number of places, is that they’ll take you as far as you want to go. Just admiring the talent it took to make it can be enough. Go a little deeper and read the inscription, if there is one. Or go whole hog and find out why the person was famous enough to warrant a statue. We’ve done a little of all of that in showing you some people you may have heard of, and some you may not know at all…

1-Van GoghIf ever a famous man appears to have been captured just as he was, that man might be Vincent Van Gogh, whose statue is in the courtyard of the insane asylum where he was imprisoned for 10 months in Saint-Remy, France.

2-New Orleans

New Orleans is a popular departure port for Caribbean cruisers, and New Orleans means the French Quarter, where you’ll find memorialized this trio of jazz or blues legends — Fats Domino, Al Hirt and Pete Fountain.

3-Columbus

In Barcelona, Christopher Columbus stands high above the street pointing to the sea, and what humored us is that because the city's on the east coast of Spain, so is the sea and Columbus is pointing AWAY from America.

4-Lima

She lived in the Casa de Aliaga in Lima, Peru and the city’s oldest mansion is featured on many cruise shore excursions…but we have no idea who she is or why she’s cast like this for eternity — can anybody out there help?

5-San Juan

Arturo Somohano (1910-1977) went from child prodigy to founder of the San Juan Symphony Orchestra after a composition he played for U.S. troops during World War II (“Songs of the Americas”) became a U.S. Army anthem.

6-Michaelangelo-Florence

Italians know Michelangelo wherever his work is found, and his most famous statue (David) is found in Florence, where on the street is this replica of the original marble statue that was started 40 years earlier by another artist!

7-Bermuda

In his time, the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Admiral Sir George Somers was known as a British naval hero from the Anglo-Spanish War but when a hurricane drove his sinking ship ashore, he became the founder of Bermuda.

In the news…

• Norwegian considering two options: a ship to Asia…and a ship for Asia
• Low water levels on European rivers forcing more itinerary changes
• Six millionth cruise ship passenger recognized in Victoria, B.C.

Today at portsandbows.com: The next two mega ships going to Costa

Celebrity Infinity
7 nights
October 29, 2015

Fort Lauderdale (return): CozumelRoatanBelizeCosta Maya
Inside: $609
Cost per day: $65
www.celebritycruises.com

Friday File: The Name's Tall-keet-nah

This is a town you would never choose to visit, until you have. In winter, its population shrinks to the level of Alaska’s small towns, of which there are many. It’s fairly flat, but climbers must go there to scale North America’s highest mountain. It has two streets, one called Main and the other just “Talkeetna.” It’s had the same mayor for 18 years, and wait ‘till you see him. It’s on every Princess Cruises land tour, and you’ll soon see why……

Main street

You’re looking down Main Street, from one end to the other. Behind the camera is a gift shop and at the far end, one of the three rivers that connect in Talkeetna humor.

The Mayor
Here he is…Mayor Stubbs, selected in 1997 and here’s why this cat’s the mayor: “because we’re not big enough to be incorporated so we can do whatever we want.”

Mayor's office
You can call this Nagley’s — where “if we don’t have it you don’t need it” — or you can call it the Mayor’s Office, because that’s where Stubbs holds his council meetings.

Moose
There’s no shortage of wildlife in Alaska, you just have to find it, and if you don’t spot a moose there the locals will just make one, in psychedelic colors that define the town.

Chaga
You can buy Chaga here and if you don’t know what that is, according to one of the locals it’s reputed to cure everything, sometimes even cancer.Rangers
The starting point for everyone who tries to climb Mount McKinley (over 1,000 per year) because rangers certify climbers in case of defects, physical or emotional.

McKinley
Mighty McKinley only allows half its climbers to reach the summit and the best view you’ll get on land is the deck of the Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

Twister Creek
The second-largest beer company, called Denali, started just seven years ago in this building, which now includes Talkeetna’s upscale restaurant, Twister Creek.

Food stand
Down the road — remember, there are only two — and around the corner is Shirley, who for a couple of decades has been engaging tourists at Shirley’s Burger Barn.

WalMike's
And on the way out of Talkeetna, a few miles along the Parks Highway, is this part of Alaska’s answer to WalMart, otherwise known as WalMike’s.

In the news…

• Free Internet coming for Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas next year
• Princess all-inclusive beverages (Sip & Sail) on 350-plus cruise vacations in 2016
• MSC drips Tunisian port La Goulette for one in Malta next winter

Today at portsandbows.com: Shorter cruises for Royal Caribbean's Majesty

Celebrity Infinity
12 nights
August 23, 2015
Vancouver, Sitka, Tracy Arm, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria, Astoria, San Francisco 
Inside: $876
Cost per day: $73
www.celebritycruises.com

What ‘V’ Word Means For Mexico

 

At the risk of sounding like apologists for Mexico, a country we have visited many times and hopefully will visit many more, our observations on the latest reports of cruising-vs-violence in Puerto Vallarta are based on these facts:

• Attacks from Mexican drug cartels on the government in the state of Jalisco on May 1 included fires set in Puerto Vallarta, with the worst of the violence was in Guadalajara.

• The Celebrity Infinity bypassed a scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta on May 10.

• Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas did the same thing on May 12.

• Disney’s Wonder skipped the port, too.

• Tourism officials meeting with cruise executives in Florida said yesterday that the events of that Friday morning were isolated, quickly contained and resolved.

• Both parties in Florida agreed to “improve and increase communications to ensure the cruise lines are kept better informed and receive updates in real time.”

So…

It appears that Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Disney were reacting on mis-information from who knows where…probably the Internet? And did it take a week for the cruise lines to find out they shouldn’t stop there nine days later?

It also appears that cruise lines, and passengers, are spooked the moment the “V” word and Mexico are mentioned in the same breath, or Internet page. Because there is a violent event in Gaudalajara it doesn’t mean Puerto Vallarta (pop. 200,000) is unsafe. If there was a violent event in Oakland, would a cruise ship abandon San Francisco — and they are much closer than Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara (almost 200 miles)?

It also appears Mexican tourism officials are going to have to implement unimaginable means to try and keep the cruise business for Puerto Vallarta, by literally tracking the Puerto Vallarta-Stan Shebs

- Stan Shrebs photo

whereabouts of all passengers once they leave the ship. The city “will work with local tour operators, taxi drivers and other tourism service providers to employ new measures that inform the ships of their passengers’ location.”

For visitors to Mexico, this is the new level of fear.

Violent events can happen anywhere, of course…BaltimoreNewtown…Columbine High School and so on.

But when it’s Mexico, there’s an accelerated level of distrust. Based on our visits to many parts of Mexico, we think that’s wrong.

In the news…

• Automated passport machines at Vancouver cruise terminal
• Azamara Quest refurbishment bigger…and later (April 2016)

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Viking's first ocean cruise ship

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
July 13, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $124
www.ncl.com

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