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Brothers In Arms On Disney Ship?


This is about two brothers, born 13 months apart in the ’70s. 

The elder of the two became an advocate of Star Wars. Actually, advocacy is too weak a word. He became a Star Wars fanatic, to the point that to this day he still buys light sabers. Invite him to a masquerade party and he’ll find a Darth Vader costume.

The younger of the two went a slightly different direction, as brothers so close in age are wont to do. His passion became Disney…anything Disney. He grew up wishing upon stars, and even got a job at Disney World. There, he met his wife-to-be.

Despite their fanatical differences, today they are as close as two brothers living 1,500 miles apart can be. Next year, however, they may become even closer.

image001Star Wars is going on a Disney cruise.

Maybe they will, too.

When the Disney Dream emerges from dry-dock in October, it will have a Star Wars-themed area added to its Oceaneer Club, including its own Millennium Falcon. It’s for kids 3 to 12, so the elder brother may have a little trouble sneaking in but, hey, he does have a light saber. The refurbished Dream’s first cruise will be October 26 from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas.

There’s another Star Wars option (and likely more in the planning stages)…

For at least eight sailing in the first four months of 2016, there will be a Star Wars Day At Sea on the Disney Fantasy, during a one-week cruise to the Western Caribbean. Passengers will have the opportunity to experience The Force in a galaxy far far away, to meet characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Darth himself, to participate in Stars Wars activities and to watch the only at-sea screenings of Episode VII. If you don’t known what Episode VII is, then you also don’t know anybody with December 18 blocked off on their movie calendars to be among the millions planning to watch the first on-land screening of what is this year’s most-anticipated big-screen event.

For the elder brother, the magnet at sea is Star Wars. For the younger…Disney Dream…Disney Fantasy…Disney anything.

Big Brother has an added incentive: He never did forgive his parents for selling his Millennium Falcon in a garage sale.

Today at portsandbows.com: The world's third-largest ship coming

Holland America Zaandam
17 nights
September 20, 2015
Vancouver, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Kona, Hilo, San Diego
Inside: $1,899
Cost per day: $111

At Sea…The Sound Of Princess

Clever. That’s what Princess Cruises is….and not just because Princess people can sing “the seas are alive, with The Sound of Music” when the iconic movie is being screened on all 18 ships, starting this month.

The first line of the press release announcing it is clever enough. What makes it even better is that the cruise line and the movie are both 50 years old in 2015. Naturally, Princess is turning this into a theme that will be carried, with contests on the ships, all year long.

Can you say brilliant?

Passengers on Princess ships will have the opportunity to watch the movie just once on each cruise, poolside at Movie Under The Stars. They’ll also have the opportunity to win a Sound of Musicfree cruise (for two), once every month, by playing The Sound of Music trivia, one of the theme-related activities. The cruise comes with a $500 gift card. A sing-along stage version of the movie will attract passengers with a good voice or a will to participate, or both.

In a business where finding ways to attract families is always vital, could there be a more appropriate movie? It could only be better if Princess found a way to have Julie Andrews (Maria von Trapp) and Christopher Plummer (her on-screen father) to spend time on their ships during this 50th anniversary year. After all, he was called “Captain” von Trapp!

Or maybe they’ll just do that as a Golden Anniversary climax.

On the Golden Princess, of course.

Today at portsandbows.com: Two ships making news

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
7 nights
June 28, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $869
Cost per day: $124

Regent’s Smithsonian At Sea

The last time we were at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, about a year ago, we re-discovered what an intimidating place it can be. You think you can “do” the Smithsonian in a day when, in fact, you need a week…even when you have a high-energy teenage grandson at your side.

Starting in July, Regent Seven Seas is taking the Smithsonian to sea, in a manner of speaking.

Called The Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys, here’s basically what it is:

Sunburst• On the ship, lectures by “charismatic” experts — there are 14 historians, authors and diplomats listed on Regent’s website — followed by “spirited” discussions

• On the shore, select shore excursions with a lecturer to become fully immersed in the history of the destination

This kind of thing isn’t for everyone, of course. It promises, however, to be similar to the kind of enrichment you get from visiting the Institution itself. It will be on the majority of sailings, more than 80, this year and next, on itineraries throughout the world.

The cruises seem to range from 8 to 24 nights, on a premium ship. That’s the good news. The bad is that it costs a lot more than visiting the Smithsonian Institution — even for a whole week.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
September 6, 2015
Galveston (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth
Inside: $356
Cost per day: $50

Magic To Do Just For Princess

The nice thing about new music and shows and entertainment in general is that they never end. There are always creative minds that come along with something fresh and this is Stephen Schwartz-3-Magic to Doespecially true in cruising, an industry always eager to find a unique way to entertain thousands of passengers on cruise ships.

The pendulum of innovation now strikes Princess.

It’s called Magic To Do.

This is an original musical that will make its debut on the Crown Princess in the fall. There’s always a risk in creating original shows, for the simple reason that they’ve never been accepted, or popular, or award winners. To minimize the risk, you find a proven talent.

Stephen Schwartz-2-Ralf RühmeierLike Stephen Schwartz.

Proven? Three Academy Awards and six Tony Awards. Proven? The only songwriter in history to have three shows run on Broadway for 1,900 performances — Wicked, Pippin and Godspell.

Schwartz has been doing this for 40 years so Princess believes he’s a safe enough bet to sign him to a multi-year contract. Like most cruise lines, it has ship theaters that are capable of handling Broadway-style productions, which have already captivated passengers with long-running shows on Royal Caribbean (CATS and Mamma Mia! and Chicago and We Will Rock You) and Norwegian (Rock of Ages and Legally Blonde).

Princess says Schwartz, now 67, has had a life-long fascination with magic and that the new show will combine that with some of his famous songs and one he’s writing  exclusively for the cruise line. That’s about all that’s being said right now about Magic to Do, the first of four productions that will surface on the Princess fleet in the years ahead.

There are no guarantees they’ll be hits…but that’s show business, isn’t it?

- Stephen Schwartz photro by Ralf Rühmeier

Today at portsandbows.com: More details on Princess entertainment

Carnival Fascination
4 nights
April 30, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $289
Cost per day: $72

Eclectic Entertainment on the Escape

Like we always told our kids through their teenage years, nothing good happens “after midnight.”

Today, we are making a public retraction.

On the Norwegian Escape, which will be the cruise line’s 14th ship when it arrives in November, two Broadway musicals will be added to the entertainment for which Norwegian is so well-known and one of them is called…

After Midnight.

How do we know it will be good? Because we’ve seen enough Broadway shows over the Million-Dollar Qtyears to know that there’s rarely a bad one, at least in our books. Besides that, After Midnight won four awards — including a prestigious Tony — for choreography before recently completing its eight-month run on Broadway. It’s a musical with big-band, jazz and dancing that brings Harlem’s Cotton Club to life.

Also in the Escape Theater will be Million Dollar Quartet, another Tony Award winner (actor) that tells the story of four Memphis musicians who rose from a famous impromptu recording session to world-wide fame. The four were Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. The show is currently playing in Chicago and Las Vegas, and on the road touring America.

Frankly, this one sounds the more appealing to us because it caters to the musical tastes of our era.

Besides, the other one is…”After Midnight.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Tulip Time for AmaWaterways

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
5 nights
February 21, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Cozumel, Nassau
Inside: $388
Cost per day: $76

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