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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
www.hollandamerica.com

Which Ships Are Best…And To Where?

Because they're so subjective, cruise ship awards and surveys can be construed as somewhat meaningless, not to mention redundant. Whose "best cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 passengers in the Caribbean on the third Saturdays of January" means the most. (Weak attempt at humor.)

So when Cruise Critic reveals its latest Cruisers' Choice Awards, as it did this week, you have to take it with a grain of salt…as our buddy Phil Reimer did at Ports and Bows by pointing out in today's blog there's a "caveat" at play here.

Having said all that, there's one category in the Cruise Critic awards that we hadn't seen before, which doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't there.

Destination ships.

That's not which ships are destinations, as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas — and no doubt their followers — are sometimes called. It's which ships are considered the best ones to take going to or from different parts of the cruising universe. Clever. Helpful even, for the first time cruisers who would like something — anything — to help them decide on which ship to sail to the Caribbean.

Rhapsody of the SeasGoing to Alaska?

Cruise Critic readers recommend Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas (right).

Bahamas?

The Disney Dream.

Caribbean?

Disney Fantasy.

Mediterranean?

Celebrity Silhouette.

Sailing from the Northeast?

Try Explorer of the Seas, from Bayonne, New Jersey.

Across the ocean out of England?

Celebrity Eclipse.

From Florida?

Disney's Fantasy, again.

From the West Coast?

Sapphire Princess.

Nobody says why these ships are the best ion category, of course, so if you buy into the thinking it's because so many people picked these ships.

Just remember one thing.

It is subjective.

Sapphire Princess
4 nights
March 19, 2014 
Los Angeles (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $82
www.princess.com

Carnival's Bridging The Entertainment Extremes

You know, when it comes to concerts — and we've been to a LOT of them — there are two extremes. 

One, you can pay top dollar and take your binoculars so that you can actually see the artist you can't hear because you're screaming your lungs out, for reasons that can never be articulated to anyone with a brain.

Two, you can pay excessive dollars to see your favorite artist(s), who can be heard above the pin dropping in the theater, which if you're lucky is in a setting with some intimacy.

Carnival is bridging the gap.

With a new entertainment strategy called Carnival Live, the cruise line will import first-class entertainers to places where eight of its ships will be visiting (Cozumel, Nassau, Catalina Island), have them perform in the main show lounge (intimate) and give passengers an opportunity to buy tickets for $20 to $40. There is a limited number of VIP tickets, which include meets-and-greets, photo ops, prime seats and a laminated concert pass.

ONJ-homepage-stampSlice_02First-class entertainment?

Check this list:

Jennifer Hudson 
Lady Antebellum
REO Speedwagon 
Martina McBride 
Foreigner 
LeAnn Rimes 
Chicago
Daughtry 
38 Special 
Jewel 
Kansas 
Olivia Newton-John (right)
STYX 
Trace Adkins

All of them could command ticket prices beyond $40 in traditional concerts.

There's a couple of interesting names on the list of artists who this year will perform 49 times on Carnival ships. One is Jennifer Hudson, who happens to be the Godmother of the Dream…not the Carnival Dream but the Disney Dream. The other is Trace Adkins, who last week left the Norwegian Pearl to enter rehab for alcohol addiction.

Just interesting, that's all.

Carnival Miracle
7 nights
March 1, 2014
Long Beach (return): Puerto VallartaCabo San Lucas
Inside: $559
Cost per day: $79
www.carnival.com

Family reunion right now for Disney ships

 

While it was conceived in California, the magical machine that is Disney belongs — essentially — to Florida. First it was the theme park that tilted east, with more people pouring into Disney World than Disneyland, the foundation that old Walt built almost six decades ago.

And for the last 15 years, the extension of the Disney empire has continued to lean to the east. Never is that more evident than right now.

All four Disney ships are currently based in Florida.

The last to return to the family breeding waters was the Wonder. After a summer sailing to Alaska, it stopped off in Galveston for a few months on the way home. There it will stay, in Miami, until heading north to Alaska again in the spring.

Meanwhile, the Magic has moved up the coast from Miami to Port Canaveral for a family reunion of sorts…or a vacation with her sisters Dream and Fantasy, which never leave home. The two newest ships in the fleet spend the entire year on mostly cruises from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean. They always stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, to help the family financial fortunes.

Over the last seven years, the Magic has established a following by operating from her second home in the summers, Barcelona. Except for that and five Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico, that's it.

In fact, from now until April 2015, we could only find 33 Disney cruises that did not embark somewhere in Florida. That's for all four ships and includes two repositioning cruises to bring the Wonder back from Alaska next year and the Magic back from Europe. If you calculate that ships operate 7-day cruises on average, that means 33 of approximately 260 cruises.

Or, 12 per cent.

Florida is Disney, and vice-versa.

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
February 15, 2014
Miami (return): St. MaartenSt. ThomasNassau
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85
www.ncl.com

Carnival Latest: What's In A Name?

Give Carnival at least a "B" for imagination in announcing that its newest ship, due in 2016, will be called Vista. That makes Carnival first to the Vista well of names.

This is an age when cruise lines sometimes appear to be running out of names. Witness Norwegian, using contests to ask passengers for proposing names of its lasttwo (and probably next three) ships. Witness the Carnival Dream, Disney Dream, Pacific Dream and SeaDream, not to mention Carnival Liberty and Liberty of the Seas…and Norwegian Sun and Sun Princess.

Copycatting is acceptable.

Vista is new…more or less. Avalon has a river cruiser called Vista. Holland America has a Vista Class of ships but "dam" the word in this fleet because all the names end in "…dam" (Rotterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, etc.).

Vistadam just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

So Carnival comes up with the Vista, and that might be the extent of imagination with this 4,000-passenger newbie. Since it's the only ship Carnival has on order for the next three years, a Vista Class of ships is unlikely, at least for now, because apparently Carnival officials sounded confused when asked about which class of ship this would be. Other than the name, the best the cruise line could do in the Imagination Department was explain the name this way:

"We're starting to use the ship names as a touchstone for how we think about the design. A lot of what we are thinking about for the design and the inspiration is the views out to the ocean."

Views…as in vista.

The new ship will be like the Carnival Breeze, but different from the Breeze (above), and nobody at Carnival is saying what those similarities and differences might be. That's for another day.

And another press conference.

Carnival Freedom
6 nights
September 29, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestGrand CaymanOcho Rios
Inside: $294
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

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