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Adults Only On A Cruise Ship?

We probably should have known there was something politically incorrect about the cruise line known as Fred.Olsen when it put a period where most of us would put a space…okay, so it’s at least grammatically incorrect. It’s not like it’s being used to separate http and www.

Now there is more evidence that this little-known, British-based cruise line of four ships is sailing upstream, as they say, at least in the eyes of North Americans.

You may have noticed that just about every major cruise line is trumpeting the fact that it’s targeting families more than ever because, as more than one of them is happy to point Black Watchout, kids bring parents onto cruise ships and also grandparents otherwise known as Baby Boomers. So they’re promoting cruise pricing as family values.

Fred.Olsen is promoting adults.

Here’s what the press release says:

“A total of 20 adults-only cruises, for passengers aged 18 or above, are offered to guests who would rather cruise with people of a similar age.”

That’s a nice way of saying kids aren’t welcome unless they’re of adult age, in which case they’re adults.

Hopefully.

Since Fred.Olsen’s four ships — Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch — visit 84 countries and 253 destinations, it’s not exactly like throwing out the babies with the seawater. Families are still welcome on most of the company’s cruises…kids, too. But the fact that 20 cruises are only for adults is an indicator that Fred.Olsen sees there’s an untapped market and it wants to be first to exploit it openly.

Period.

In the news…

• Carnival's fathom brand first to get green light for Cuba cruises, starting spring 2016
• Cruise lines to Alaska to get chance to continue to Russians when pier built this year
Today at portsandbows.com: Canadians to get cruise company in Cuba

Crown Princess
4 nights
January 25, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada
Inside: $379
Cost per day: $94
www.princess.com

China Cruising Wave of Future

Good friends of ours are going to China in a little over a month. This is not something on our bucket list but if that ever happens, we’d probably do what our friends are doing.

They’re going on a cruise.

It could be our friends are ahead of their time. The way things are going in the cruise industry, when you gaze over the horizon it’s possible there will one day be more cruise ships in Asia than in North America.

Impossible?

Think again.

Unless it’s just a trend that will runs it’s course (unlikely), the mini-exodus of cruise ships to the other side of the world is likely to continue. Consider these few facts…

• Presently five Royal Caribbean ships (yes, five!) are scheduled to have home ports in QuantumChina next year — Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Legend of the Seas and two of the newest ships, Quantum of the Seas (leaving in May) and Ovation of the Seas (2016). The new ships will be permanently based in Shanghai and Tianjin, respectively.

• A new cruise terminal is in the planning stage for Krabi, a little-known city and the fourth most visited place in Thailand.

• South Korea this month passed two laws related to cruising, one of them to allow foreign casinos to operate on ships.

• Japan is now allowing Chinese tourists to visit without a visa, providing they are traveling on specific cruise ships (including three from Costa Cruises and Mariner of the Seas) approved by the Japanese minister of justice.

• According to a recent study, there is the potential for 83 million cruise passengers from China alone. To give this some perspective, last year the number of cruise passengers on ships world-wide — according to another study — was just over 20 million.

It seems people in China are discovering what many of us discovered long ago, that cruising is a great way to vacation, and the growth of the Chinese economy is allowing them to experience it. Since there are millions more Chinese than North Americans, get ready for the shift of ships.

And maybe a new bucket list.

Today at portsandbows.com: Disney jolly over England

Carnival Imagination
4 nights
April 26, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada 
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $49
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

Common 'perceptions' or 'misconceptions' on cruising

We have members of our family (they shall remain nameless, in the interests of harmony) who would not go on a cruise unless it was free, and even then it would likely be kicking and screaming. They have probably been influenced as much by the "common perceptions" of cruising that can be heard anywhere, but most often on TV.

Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek identified seven such remarks from conversations involving non-cruisers. In some cases, these are "common misconceptions" — but we'll let you (and them) be the judges…

1. The ships are too crowded, with long lines everywhere.

This is not true, although judging something as being too anything is always going to be subjective. We've never been on a ship "too crowded" and while we have been in Liberty of the Seas at Sealines — primarily embarking or disembarking — these are the exceptions not the rules, and cruise lines go out of their way to try making it seamless.

2. Cruises are full of morbidly obese people.

While we are not "morbidly" or even mildly obese, we disagree. There are overweight people everywhere, and probably a higher percentage on cruise ships. But to say ships are full of such passengers is a morbidly gross over-reaction.

3. Do we really need more buffets in the world?

We agree 100 per cent…okay, at least 90. But supply and demand dictates this, and obviously there is a demand.

4. Cruise ships are floating cesspools and pollute the environment.

This is a belief borne of ignorance. But that belief, along with growing environmental responsibility, has resulted in cruise ships that are increasingly sensitive to being custodians of the oceans that are their homes. Go on a ship's tour and see for yourself all of the ways (too many to list here) that this industry has gotten into line. If ships were "floating cesspools" cruising would be dying, and it's not.

5. Cruises are for old people.

There is some validity in this, yet cruise lines are constantly being built to attract families. How many "old people" zip-line or shoot down water coasters or climb rock walls? Having said that, with an estimated 22 million people on cruise ships, it's a fair assumption that the majority of passengers with both the resources and the time are retirees.

6. Cruises are full of obnoxious teenagers.

Well, if cruises for for old people, who let the teenagers on the ship? It's true that teenagers can be obnoxious but that doesn't mean all of them are. Frankly, we've seen more obnoxious grandparents than teenagers on cruise ships.

7. Who wants to be stuck on a boat for a week?

This is highly subjective. We all have different tastes, different pleasures. Our answer would be: Who doesn't?

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Mid-ships returning to Bermuda

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
July 6, 2014
Cape Liberty (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85
www.celebritycruises.com

Cruisers misbehaving…refusing to act their age

Cancun parasailingThis is not your mother's…hairspray…morals…nor her idea of cruising:

• In Mexico, an 84-year-old male cruise passenger disembarks from a Norwegian ship in Cozumel to go on a shore excursion, gets strapped under parasail and goes airborne from the back of a speedboat before landing on the beach while his 50-something children watch in horror.

• A 62-year-old woman who can't swim and who is afraid of heights gets off the Coral Princess cruise ship and climbs onto a float plane — in the co-pilot's seat yet — and flies to the top of Alaska's Mount McKinley, landing on a glacier where she spends 15 minutes frolicking in the snow.

• In Costa Rica, during a Caribbean cruise a 90-year-old great-grandmother leaves the ship on a shore excursion that takes her into the jungle and onto one of the zip lines for which that country is famous, despite the fact she has led a life which also brought her heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.

Gone are the days of nodding off in the library while deep into a hardcover, or having high tea on the deck, or playing cards or one of the board games that 

George Bush 41almost nobody seems to play anymore. Cruise passengers may be old but many don't act old. 

This old-acting-young phenomenon should probably be blamed on the Bushes, who get blamed for everything it seems. The former President Bush (41, not 43) celebrated his 85th birthday four years ago by jumping out of a plane and letting gravity take him to 100 miles an hour before landing safely on the ground in Maine.

"Just because you're an old guy, you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner," Bush said. "Get out and do something. Get out and enjoy life."

More cruise passengers than ever feel the same way.

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
January 6, 2014
Miami (return): Grand BahamaNassauGreat Stirrup Cay
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $39
www.ncl.com

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