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Managing Pets On Board

Firstly, we must come clean: We LOVE dogs. We had a Corgi for 16 years and she traveled almost everywhere with us, many times on planes.

The other day, while disembarking from a plane, we walked by a seat occupied by a dog. He/she was standing on all fours in the middle seat, which didn’t appear to be spoiled nor a repository for something more solid, with the owner in the window seat. Since the dog’s kennel was in the overhead bin, we could only assume either the dog spent the flight held in place by a seat belt or in the overhead bin, neither of which is allowed.

Most airlines allow pets on board. Most cruise lines do not. Cunard is an exception…more on that later.

Back to the plane.

Many hours after leaving the aircraft, we discussed dogs-in-flight with two other dog lovers in our family. The vote was unanimous. Not allowed. We all remembered how the Corgi Hummersurvived all her flights in the luggage compartment, which was temperature controlled, and the process seemed to be fine with her, as it was with us.

Times have really changed.

In checking to see what the pet regulations were on this particular airline (Alaska), we were astounded. Shocked. Speechless. Not only are dogs and cats allowed in the cabin — we once saw a dog running up and down the aisle — but so are rabbits and household birds. What if your household bird is a parrot? Wouldn’t that strain your patience to hear “Polly wants a cracker” for three hours. And rabbits. If the flight’s long enough, they could multiply!

If the pets produce offensive odors or too much noise, according to Alaska, they’re taken off to the baggage compartment. Really? And who’s going to step outside and take them there? And what about other passengers who may have pet allergies. It’s not okay to have nuts on a plane because of allergic reactions, but it is okay to have pets that could cause allergic reactions. Talk about nuts!

Then there’s Cunard.

If you’re going to allow pets to travel, do it right…and Cunard does. On all Transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2, pets are allowed. In a kennel. With a kennel master. Full-time, which means he walks and feeds them and does…other things. The kennel’s open all day, allowing pet owners to visit often, and kennel capacity is 12 (unless they can share a bunk).

It’s not exactly Noah’s Ark. All breeds are welcome. There is only one stipulation, besides having “parents” willing to pay the rack rate for having pets in a cruise ship kennel.

They must have a pet passport.

In the news…

• Carnival Miracle changes itinerary to avoid Troipical Storm Blanca
• Norwegian unveils new promotion: Freestyle Choice Spectacular

• Carnival Corp's AIDA Cruises celebrates 20th birthday in Germany

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Celebrity Solstice
7 nights
July 17, 2015
Seattle (return): Ketchikan, Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria
Oceanview: $945
Cost per day: $135
www.celebritycruises.com

The Majors: Cruise Ship Roll Call

Those of us who write about cruising sometimes take for granted that those of you who read about cruising are as familiar with cruise lines and cruise ships as we try to be. We assume that you know how many ships Carnival has, which new ship will be next for Royal Caribbean, and what the biggest ship is in the Norwegian fleet.

So we thought it might be interesting to give you a little clarity…and brush up on it ourselves!

What follows is a list of the mainstream lines, accompanied by a little comparative information, as a snapshot. They are listed alphabetically. Call it a cruise scorecard…

Carnival

Ships in fleet — 23

Magic

Biggest ship — Magic (3,720)
Oldest ship — Fantasy (1990)
Newest ship — Breeze (2012)*
Next new ship — Vista (2016)
* Sunshine (2013) rebuilt from Destiny

Celebrity

Ships in fleet — 11
ReflectionBiggest ship — Reflection (3,046
Oldest ship — Century (1995)*
Newest ship — Reflection (2012
Next new ship — None announced
** Leaving fleet next year

Holland America

Ships in fleet — 15***
Nieuw AmsterdamBiggest ship — Nieuw Amsterdam (2,106)
Oldest ship — Prinsendam (1988)
Newest ship — Nieuw Amsterdam (2010)
Next new ship — Koningsdam (2016)
*** Two ships leaving next year

Norwegian

Ships in fleet — 13
Breakaway-Dick ElbersBiggest ship — Breakaway (4,500)
Oldest ship — Spirit (2000)
Newest ship — Getaway (2014)
Next new ship — Escape (2015)

Princess

Ships in fleet — 18
RoyalBiggest ship — Royal Princess (3,600)
Oldest ship — Sun Princess (1995)
Newest ship — Regal Princess (2014)
Next new ship — No name yet (2017)

Royal Caribbean

Ships in fleet — 22
Oasis of the SeasBiggest ships — Oasis/Allure of the Seas (6,360)
Oldest ship — Monarch of the Seas (1991)
Newest ship — Allure of the Seas (2010)
Next new ship — Quantum of the Seas (November)

Those are the “Big Six” of major cruise lines, because they the most passengers.

Another day, the upscale and specialty lines.

-Norwegian Breakaway photo by Dick Elbers

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Celebrity Solstice
17 nights
October 5, 2014
Honolulu, Lahaina, Papeete, Bora Bora, Auckland, Bay of Islands, Sydney
Inside: $1,199
Cost per day: $70
www.celebritycruises.com

Eating Healthy on a Cruise? There's a Challenge!

Cruise lines are always looking for an excuse to promote a cruise (it's called marketing 101) but it's not always one that could be described as good for your health. Especially if it involves Valentine's Day. Boxes of chocolates. Rich desserts. Pile of the frosting. Candies galore. Not to mention washing it all down with something that will be a test for your liver, or at least your calorie count.

Princess Cruises has come up with one that IS good for your health.

It's called Cruising for a Cause and the cause is a healthy heart for Valentine's Day, which beats having a heart broken either physiologically or emotionally. The cruise is on the Ruby Princess, from Fort Lauderdale, leaving February 10th…four days before the traditional day of hearts and flowers. To show that the cruise line is serious about heart health, they are dedicating a portion of each passenger's fare to the American Heart Association — for the second year in a row — and lining up some expert guest to educate passengers who may be unaccustomed to preventative measures until the unhealthy heart comes calling.

Princess estimates the passenger contribution will be $500,000, which the cruise line will match, dollar for dollar.

There will be seven speakers on the ship, all of them with a connection to the human heart. Dr. Kathy Magliato is a cardiothoracic surgeon who's recognized as an expert on heart disease in women. David and Karen Gamow are co-authors of Freedom from Stress. Marc Anthony Bynum is a Food Network Celebrity Chef whose specialty, at least on this cruise, is cooking healthy.

Diana von Welanetz Wentworth is a heart-attack survivor who turned her misfortune into a career as an author and speaker on the subject. Jesse Sapolu played 15 years in the National Football League, somewhat anonymously because he was an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, and his biography is called I Gave My Heart To San Francisco…but more importantly, he is a spokesman for the AHA — at 6-4 and close to 300 pounds, he might be considered a poster boy for the importance of heart health.

And then there is Bernie Kopell. You might say he's there to pull on the heart strings…for a decade he was known as Doc Bricker on The Love Boat, aka the Pacific Princess, whose TV passengers were in his "care."

Presumably, this will not be a typical Valentine's Day cruise. The last one we were on — with Princess — was high on calories, which means it was low on ways to have a healthy heart.

Celebrity Solstice
18 nights
February 3, 2014
AucklandBay of IslandsTaurangaAkaroaDunedinDusky SoundDoubtful SoundMilford SoundSydneyMelbourneAdelaideEsperancePerth
Inside: $1,599
Cost per day: $88
www.ncl.com
www.celebritycruises.com

Interactive Touch Screens Latest 'Freestyle' Innovation for Norwegian

Ever the innovator, Norwegian is staying state-of-the-art in cruising, this time with interactive signs to make the cruising experience even more modern and potentially more satisfying.

It's called staying with the times.

We have a 16-month-old granddaughter who knows, even before her second birthday, that the way to make things happen on Grandma's iPhone is to swipe the screen…and she knows Norwegian Breakawaywhat to expect when you swipe. The point is that in the modern age, interactivity is everything, whether it's reading a book on a phone or phoning a book-ie…okay, a relative…from the car.

Interactivity is giving a whole new meaning to touchy-feely. Nowhere is that more prevalent on cruise ships than the ones with those loud decorative works of art on their hulls.

Norwegian has a history of innovations, and if touch-screens in the public areas isn't one of them, being able to do everything from order dinner to book entertainment or shore excursions is.

The head honcho, Kevin Sheehan, puts it this way:

"All of our guests can take advantage of this exciting technology. With the introduction of these screens, Freestyle Cruising is taken to a whole new level, allowing guests to further Kevin Sheehancustomize their vacation on their time. It’s all about freedom and flexibility.”

Freestyle is a Norwegian signature and, co-incidentally, Freestyle Cruising brought us back to cruising after a 16-year absence (Norwegian Star)…but that's another story. We can't imagine this freestyle option would be that dramatic but having 30 to 50 static screens on a ship so that you can do things that would otherwise have to be done on the phone is just another way to help bring our demographic into the 21st century.

And, dare we mention, to attract younger customers.

That's what Norwegian's new ships, first the Breakaway and next February the Getaway, are designed to do. The touch screens that are part of it were introduced on Breakaway and now will be floated out to the other 11 ships in the Norwegian fleet.

So far, they've resisted saying it enables customers to keep in touch.

Celebrity Solstice
12 nights
November 4, 2013
SydneyMelbourne, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Tauranga, Auckland
Inside: $1,499
Cost per day: $124
www.celebritycruises.com

Change in Plans for the Century

 

Here's a twist…a cruise ship is being un-Solsticized before it's Solsticized.

You won't find that word in the dictionary, and you won't find that news in Celebrity's news channels…or even see that it has been validated by the cruise line.

However, here are some facts…

• The last time we were on a Celebrity ship (the Reflection) it was crystal clear from cruise-line officials that the entire fleet was going to be raised to the standards of the remarkable and popular Solstice.

• The Century, oldest ship in the fleet (age 18), had four sailings canceled for next February, when it was scheduled to go into dry dock for a month to be refurbished.

• Yesterday, Celebrity confirmed that the Century will be in dry dock for just seven days — long enough to change the carpets and the upholstery, polish the marble and paint the walls — while simultaneously re-scheduling three sailings.

So much for Solsticizing the Century.

It could still happen, of course, but what's more likely is that the last ship of the Century Class will be sold…just as the Galaxy (2009) and Mercury (2011) were. With the success that Celebrity has had with its classy ships, this doesn't sound like a financial issue.

It sounds like the Century is an 18-year-old ship that just lost its chance to drink from the fountain of youth.

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
14 nights
October 13, 2013
Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Ponta Delgada, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $49
www.hollandamerica.com

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