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Drinking On Disney No Downer

Okay, so maybe it’s not as dramatic as Snow White dating Dracula, or Mickey Mouse getting a DUI…but who ever thought Disney would be the first cruise line to relax the rules on alcohol?

There’s a new wine and beer policy for passengers who want to bring bottles onto Disney ships, and it’s the most realistic (i.e. forgiving) one we’ve seen.

Each adult cruising with Disney can bring two bottles of wine or champagne, or six bottles of beer, in carryon luggage — not in checked bags.

Here’s the kicker…

Each adult can do the same thing at each port!

That makes Disney the first cruise line we know of to allow beer or wine to be purchased in ports and consumed on ships. Most lines confiscate any on-shore purchases and keep them until your cruise ends.

The new policy has regulations, of course. Exceed your limit and you won’t see the bottles until your cruise ends. Take a bottle to a restaurant and you’ll pay corkage. Bring liquors or spirits…boom, gone until end of your cruise. Forget to pick up your confiscated bottles…bye-bye.

And finally, your wine or beer can only be consumed in restaurants or state rooms — not in public areas.

After all, who wants to be Goofy?

In the news…

• Carnival Conquest passengers spot debris that may be from sunken ship
• Gratuities going up by at least 13 per cent on Princess ships in January
• Disney bookings for 2017 Caribbean cruises open to the public tomorrow

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Victory christens Amber Cove


Star Princess
4 nights
November 8, 2015
Vancouver, Victoria, Los Angeles
Inside: $139
Cost per day: $34
www.princess.com

What ‘V’ Word Means For Mexico

 

At the risk of sounding like apologists for Mexico, a country we have visited many times and hopefully will visit many more, our observations on the latest reports of cruising-vs-violence in Puerto Vallarta are based on these facts:

• Attacks from Mexican drug cartels on the government in the state of Jalisco on May 1 included fires set in Puerto Vallarta, with the worst of the violence was in Guadalajara.

• The Celebrity Infinity bypassed a scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta on May 10.

• Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas did the same thing on May 12.

• Disney’s Wonder skipped the port, too.

• Tourism officials meeting with cruise executives in Florida said yesterday that the events of that Friday morning were isolated, quickly contained and resolved.

• Both parties in Florida agreed to “improve and increase communications to ensure the cruise lines are kept better informed and receive updates in real time.”

So…

It appears that Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Disney were reacting on mis-information from who knows where…probably the Internet? And did it take a week for the cruise lines to find out they shouldn’t stop there nine days later?

It also appears that cruise lines, and passengers, are spooked the moment the “V” word and Mexico are mentioned in the same breath, or Internet page. Because there is a violent event in Gaudalajara it doesn’t mean Puerto Vallarta (pop. 200,000) is unsafe. If there was a violent event in Oakland, would a cruise ship abandon San Francisco — and they are much closer than Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara (almost 200 miles)?

It also appears Mexican tourism officials are going to have to implement unimaginable means to try and keep the cruise business for Puerto Vallarta, by literally tracking the Puerto Vallarta-Stan Shebs

- Stan Shrebs photo

whereabouts of all passengers once they leave the ship. The city “will work with local tour operators, taxi drivers and other tourism service providers to employ new measures that inform the ships of their passengers’ location.”

For visitors to Mexico, this is the new level of fear.

Violent events can happen anywhere, of course…BaltimoreNewtown…Columbine High School and so on.

But when it’s Mexico, there’s an accelerated level of distrust. Based on our visits to many parts of Mexico, we think that’s wrong.

In the news…

• Automated passport machines at Vancouver cruise terminal
• Azamara Quest refurbishment bigger…and later (April 2016)

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Viking's first ocean cruise ship

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
July 13, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $124
www.ncl.com

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
www.hollandamerica.com

A Disney Story Worth Assessing

Earlier this year, the story of a family forced to leave a Disney ship in the Bahamas was told in the Naples Daily News. It’s worth reading.

MickeyDisney told four of 31 family members they had to disembark in the Bahamas because their four-month-old baby, who had seen the ship’s doctor after “spitting up,” wasn’t supposed to be on the ship. Disney’s current policy is that children under six months are not allowed.

Our initial interpretation was that the family tried to pull a fast one. After reading the entire story, we changed our minds. It appears Disney dropped the ball, big time.

Click on the link to read the whole story and see what you think…then let us know:

http://www.abc2news.com/news/world/disney-cruise-line-forces-family-off-ship.

Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's getting excited

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
May 1, 2015
Boston (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.ncl.com

Norwegian Gratuities On the Rise

 

If you’re booked to take a Norwegian cruise on a ship that leaves after Saturday, prepare for a little inflation.

Starting Sunday on all sailings, Norwegian’s daily gratuity charges are going up to $12.95 per person ($14.95 if you’re cruising in a suite) and applies even if your cruise is already booked. The increase is less than a buck a day (95 cents) and it’s this cruise line’s first such increase since 2009.

Where does that leave Norwegian in an industry where gratuities are sometimes one of life’s little surprises, except for seasoned cruisers?

Celebrity charges $12 a day, and $15.50 in suites. Carnival also charges $12 and breaks it down for you: $3.90 for stateroom crew, $6.10 for dining room crew and $2 for crew members in the galley, guest services, entertainment. Princess, from the Carnival family, charges $11.50 as does Cunard, another Carnival sibling. Disney does it a little differently, suggesting amounts and breaking them down by length of cruise but in the end — whether it’s three days, four days or seven days — the suggested daily gratuity is $12.

So Norwegian appears to be the first of the mainstream lines to bump it up. There is one break for Norwegian passengers already booked: It stays at $12 if you pre-pay your tips.

Gratuities are always discretionary, but who wants to be the person arguing with the guest services people about why they shouldn’t pay what is already charged to your room?

Today at portsandbows.com: Princess plans for Europe 2016

Carnival Magic
7 nights
April 12, 2015
Galveston (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com

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