Tag-Archive for » Cruise ships «

Everyone on the pool deck!

Midst the snow and the cold of late winter, the upper decks of cruise ships provide a welcome escape, even if only in pictures. Today’s selection is the pool decks of some ships we’ve been on, to see if you think a deck is a deck is a deck…so, do you?

NavigatorThere’s always color and sunshine on pool decks and this one, on Navigator of the Seas, even includes a grandstand for spectators to watch!

CrownOn the Crown Princess, the adults-only area called the Sanctuary features the hot tubs that are capped with thatched roofs, adding to the ambiance of heat.

RivieraDecks (and ships) tend to be an oasis on the ocean, or in this case on the Mediterranean Sea on the Oceania Riviera, a ship that caters largely to adults.

EpicThe Norwegian Epic has always been famous for being different and as one of our favorite ships it delivers a pool area that is — like the Epic itself — unusual.

BreezeWhen ships are in port, as the Carnival Breeze was here in Miami, the rallying cry of “Everybody in the pool!” is still waiting to be heard.

EclipseThe Celebrity Eclipse’s top deck was a welcome respite when we crossed the Atlantic on her and nobody was swimming laps in this clearly divided pool.

CoralPools are welcome even in the ice fields that are the glaciers of Alaska…but it was the “hot” pools on the Coral Princess that were popular with passengers.

Friday File: Favorite Cruise Ships

We’ve often been asked: “What’s your favorite cruise ship?” It’s a question often asked of anybody who cruises a lot by people who cruise a little, or less. Our answer, one we borrowed from the late John Maxtone-Graham, is always the same: “The one we’re on.” That’s pretty much how we feel. When you love cruising, you rarely go on a cruise that you don’t enjoy. At the risk of sounding like Pollyannas, to us cruises are just varying degrees of good. Having said that, over the last six years, these are the six cruise ships we enjoyed the most, for a variety of reasons…


Norwegian Epic: Critics always trash it, but in two cruises we’ve found the complaints mostly trivial.


Allure of the Seas: It’s hard to believe anybody who is objective could find fault with this ship-that-has-it-all.


Coral Princess: In our world, she’s the queen of Alaska, with a feel we call “comfortable in every way.”


Costa Diadema: When you like all things Italian, as we do, you like the flagship of Italy’s main cruise line.


Celebrity Eclipse: When you spend six days at sea, you either love or hate a ship — we loved the Eclipse.


Norwegian Sun: This has everything to do with our longest cruise, 19 days, on a ship that became “home.”

In the news…

• Carrie Underwood joins Carnival Live!  in November to raise funds for vets
• Upcoming SS United States Conservancy announcement to save the ship
• Fog in Tampa once again causes chaos for Carnival Paradise, AidaVita

Today at portsandbows.com: What’s next for Princess Cruises

Carnival Fantasy
4 nights
April 25, 2016
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $239
Cost per day: $59

New ship No. 9 — Genting Dream

Ninth in a series of new ships for 2016

Don’t stop the presses for this new ship, because it may or may not arrive when announced. The ship — Genting Dream — is the first of two ships for a new cruise line, Dream Cruises, which is owned by Genting Hong Kong, which also owns Crystal Cruises, Star Cruises and 28 per cent of Norwegian, which owns Oceania and Regent Seven Seas. Translation: It’s big. It’s also big because a ship of this size — somewhere north of 3,400 passengers — is competition for all the mainstream lines that are hustling ships off to Asia.

Launch date: Late Autumn

Capacity: 3,400

Sister ships: Unnamed, to come in 2017

Maiden voyage: Unknown

Home port: Asia

Ships then in Dream Cruises fleet: 1

Interesting: The most recent information from Star Cruises (that’s the Star Pisces in picture) is that this first ship for Dream Cruises will have the highest crew-to-guest ratio (2,000-to-3,400) of any Asia Pacific ship. What’s more intriguing is that it will have two submersibles to take passengers 20,000 leagues under the sea…okay, on an underwater adventure “to discover the treasures of the ocean,” four passengers at a time. The ship will also serve as a bridge, between Genting’s luxury brand (Crystal) and its mass-market brand (Star), a category that the parent company calls “premium.” The Genting Dream and the sister ship that’s expected to follow late next year are being positioned as “mega ships” and there are reports the second one will carry 4,500 passengers. But don’t take that to the bank!

In the news…

• Holland America Koningsdam to feature micro greens grown onboard
• Fathom adds four new voluntourism activities in Dominican Republic
• Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection ramps up push for the family market

Today at portsandbows.comHarvest Caye opening delayed nine months

Carnival Fantasy
4 nights
May 9, 2016
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $62

New ship No. 8 — Seabourn Encore

Eighth in a series of new ships for 2016

Seabourn is an ultra-luxury cruise line that has been around for 30 years but effectively became a player in 2009 when the revolutionary Seabourn Odyssey arrived. With selling older ships Pride, Spirit and Legend to Windstar, the Encore is now Seabourn’s fourth ship and will be followed by a fifth in 2018 — the Ovation. So how does “ultra luxury” move to something better, such as “infinite luxury?” It hires a master designer named Adam D. Tihany, who is known for his elegant design of high-class resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Launch date: December 4

Capacity: 604

Sister ships: None (yet)

Maiden voyage: Athens to Dubai

Home port: Several in Asia and Australia

Ships then in Seabourn fleet: 4

Interesting: The plan is what will be this small-ship line’s biggest ship at 40,000 gross tonnes is for it and the Ovation to be regarded as kings of the luxury business. Yet as Seabourn points out that architecturally it will not be significantly different than the other three ships, the Encore designed by Tihany will be “softer” and “curvaceous” with unexpected surprises and subtle transformations that “are not meant to be described but rather discovered.” In other words, seasoned Seabourn customers will expect the traditional exclusivity and privacy traits that has made the line ultra luxurious, but find a few new touches to what will be a larger private yacht than they’ve previously experienced.

In the news…

• High-diving comedy among shows planned for Harmony of the Seas
• Norwegian’s Harvest Caye opening delayed nine months until November
• Azamara’s first world cruise — 61 ports, 29 countries — set for 2018

Today at portsandbows.com: Another new ship coming for AmaWaterways

Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 19, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97

New ship No. 7 — Seven Seas Explorer

Seventh in a series of new ships for 2016

A year and a half ago, Regent Seven Seas became the luxury wing of Norwegian Cruise Holdings, which owns two other cruise lines, Norwegian and Oceania. The Explorer will become Regent’s poster child for luxury, according to parent CEO Frank Del Rio, who said the Explorer will be “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built, boasting one of the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios ever seen in the modern era of cruising.”

Launch date: July 20

Capacity: 738

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: Monte Carlo to Venice (14 nights)

Home port: None

Ships then in Regent Seven Seas fleet: 4

Interesting: The Explorer, physically, is about 15 per cent bigger than the fleet’s largest ship, the Seven Seas Mariner, which years ago became the first all-balcony, all-suite cruise ship in the world. However, Explorer will carry only 38 more passengers (738) and will display luxury at every turn: exotic stones and polished woods in its design, six gourmet restaurants, a Culinary Arts Kitchen that mirrors world-renowned French cooking schools, and wine-and-food Gourmet Explorer Tours in the south of France that can run as high as $799 per person. For most rank-and-file cruisers, it’s too affluent unless they win Powerball tomorrow night.

In the news…

• Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian 1-2-3 in passenger capacity for 2016
• MSC Opera to cruise from Havana, Cuba year-round beginning next year
• Two consecutive years of processing a million passengers for New Orleans

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise advertising slogans

Crown Princess
7 nights
February 27, 2016
San Francisco (return): Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $509
Cost per day: $72

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