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Friday File: AmaDara, A River Intro

While we’re far from experts on river cruising, our trip on AmaWaterways’ new ship (the AmaDara) quickly brought the similarities with — and differences from — ocean cruise ships into focus. Because everything is much smaller, even though river cruises are less modest in price they are more modest in the size of, well, everything — except service, of course, because the crew-to-passenger ratio is so much better. When you spend a week on a river ship, chances are if you don’t know everybody you will at least have a nodding recognition. From our week in Southeast Asia, today’s pictures will give you an idea of what it’s like on board…

AmaDara
AmaDara is one of the bigger (higher) ships on rivers and it comfortably carries 164 passengers.

Entertainment

Five entertainers who entertain only when the ship is in a port, in an all-purpose room on the ship.

The Pool

That is THE pool…the only one, so clearly river cruisers don’t expect to get bronzed by the pool.

Gym

Yes, there is a gym and what you see of it here is pretty much what you get — yet it’s rarely busy.

Internet

While ocean ships devote rooms for Wi-Fi, the AmaDara’s Internet connections come from here.

Lifesaver

Every ship has one lifesaver, at least, and fortunately for all it’s almost always just a decoration.

Stateroom-1

Our stateroom…a little larger and more plush than a comparable category on the ocean.

Suite-1

This comparative photo shows you what a suite — of which there are few — looks like.

Towels

Some things don’t change when you’re on any kind of cruise ship: room stewards’ creativity.

In the news…

• P&O's Pacific Eden to be christened, sail maiden voyage, this weekend
• Vancouver, Boston latest ports to report banner years with crusing

Today at portsandbows.com: Australia — very much a cruising hotspot


Celebrity Millennium
8 nights
May 12, 2016
Vancouver, Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Anchorage
Inside: $619
Cost per day: $77
www.celebritycruises.com

Friday File: Cruising And Works Of Art

Wherever your cruise ship takes you, one thing you can be certain of is that you will encounter local artwork. It may be a statue, or a mural, or a sandcastle or something that you’re not quite sure what it is, but it will always be interesting. In years of cruising, we’ve admired (okay, at least looked at) a variety of such works of art…

Puerto RicoOn this street in San Juan, Puerto Rico…a powerful message open to interpretation.

Alaska museum

If you can't find the real thing in Alaska, and often you can't, there's always a museum version.

Arica

The pretty town of Arica in northern Chile always has to make its statues earthquake-proof.

Valencia

In Valencia, Spain, a colorful expression of nations sends travelers looking for their 'home' statue.

Murals-Pier 39

If you've ever departed from or arrived in San Francisco, you know all about this part of Fisherman's Wharf.

Bermuda

Bermuda has no shortage of works like this, which add to the charm of a charming island.

In the news…

• Tampa port recognized by NOAA as "storm ready" for extreme weather
• Huge Princess sale offers $300 savings on cruise plus $300 on airfare
• MSC Lirica last of four ships to be 'stretched' to add 800 cabins

Today at portsandbows.com: Suite news for Holland America fans


Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
3 nights
December 11, 2015
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $56
www.royalcaribbean.com

Friday File: Why Cruisers Go To Alaska

As another Alaska cruise season comes to a close, it’s appropriate to reflect on what draws cruisers in particular and tourists in general to the 49th state. The main attractions — at least from our two visits, the most recent on the Star Princess — are mountains, glaciers and wildlife…and not necessarily in that order. The mountains, of which there are so many that it’s easy to lose track, are headed by mighty Denali, and so is our photo essay of Alaska…

Denali

Denali, now officially named after a century as Mount McKinley, at its most majestic.

Denali2

A different look at Denali, from about 9,000 feet and out the window of a small plane.

Sea lion at rest

A sea lion, relaxing in the sunshine on ice from a glacier, waiting for tourists to leave.

Breeching whale

Juneau’s the hot spot for whale watching tours, and rarely do you not see one breech.

Glacier Bay from pool deck

Almost every cruise ship goes into Glacier Bay, and this is a snapshot of the scenery.

Mendenhall - better
Unique Mendenhall Glacier, seen by thousands from around the world every cruise season.

In the news…

• Carnival achieves $5 million goal for St. Jude's two years ahead of schedule
• No more free lobster in dining room on formal nights during short Carnival cruises

Today at portsandbows.com: WestJet in the mix for Europes


Carnival Triumph
10 nights
November 4, 2015
San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Antigua, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Galveston
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $42
www.carnival.com

Friday File: All Cruisers On Deck

In case you think a pool deck is a pool deck is a pool deck…well, it’s not true. Cruise aficionados who spend a lot of time soaking up the rays or jumping into pools large and small — or both — believe part of the appeal of a cruise ship is its pool deck. While we’re neither sun worshippers nor avid swimmers, we always take pictures of the pool deck because, well, we never know when we’ll need them for a day like today…

1-Allure

This was when Allure of the Seas was showing its pool deck to North Americans for the first time, in Fort Lauderdale.

2-Diadema

You’d probably never use “Italian” to describe this rather modest pool area, but it’s the Costa Diadema and very Italian.

Epic pool

“Unique” has always applied to the Norwegian Epic, and you won’t likely see this kind of artwork in another cruise deck pool.

AmaDara pool deck

On river ships, the pool area is usually secondary and frequently unpopulated, as it usually is on AmaWaterways’ new AmaDara.

5-Ecstasy

“Busy” is always a good descriptor for a Carnival ship’s pool deck, and that was certainly the case on the Carnival Ecstasy.

6-Reflection

A “peaceful” area on the Celebrity Reflection enhanced by huge artwork on the walls of a ship know for its artistic impressions.

7-Riviera
On the Oceania Riviera, the upper deck is tasteful and understated, with a pool meant for dipping more than swimming.

In the news…

• Mobile, Alabama negotiating to be Carnival homeport for first time since 2011
• Amber Cove port on schedule to open October 6 in Dominican Republic
• Danube, Elbe low water levels still a challenge for river cruisers in Europe

Today at portsandbows.com: Bermuda more popular with Carnival


Carnival Sensation
4 nights
November 1, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $57
www.carnival.com

Friday File: Smile, You're On Cruise Camera!

Among the many benefits of seeing parts of the world from cruising is the happy people you encounter along the way. In North America, photo subjects are often reluctant to smile for the camera — in some cases, permission is requested or demanded. In many countries outside our continent, the smiles come readily from all walks of life, and often you can see from the pictures if they’re genuine, as they usually are…

1-Brenda

Brenda Purcell, who takes tourists on her little tour bus in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

2-Dominican

In Dominican Republic, a man happy to be making the biggest cigars we’ve ever seen.

3-Hotel

It must be the cigars…this man in the basement of Nassau’s Graycliff Hotel.

4-Veramonte

Margarita, not the drink but a hostess in Santiago’s Veramonte Winery tasting room.

5-Gavin

Once he was known as Captain Stubing…now in his 80s, he’s Gavin MacLeod of California.

6-Huatulco

Owners of a Mom and Pop restaurant in Huatulco, near the Mexico-Guatemala border.

7-Belize
A vendor named Rose in Belize City, happy to pose for shoppers who weren’t shopping.

8-Sandy

Nobody we’ve met has a bigger smile or bigger heart than Sandy Cuadrado in Cartagena.

In the news…

• Security concerns cancel Celebrity Reflection's port call at Istanbul
• Carnival Pride going back to Tampa to operate 5-to-14-day cruises
• Canadian Port of Saint John to deepen harbor and extend window for ships

Today at portsandbows.com: Regent Seven Seas world tour big hit

Holland America Eurodam
7 nights
November 15, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand Turk, San Juan, Philipsburg, Half Moon Cay
Inside: $519
Cost per day: $74
www.hollandamerica.com

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