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New ship No. 4 — Carnival Vista

Fourth in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Vista

Carnival hasn’t had a new ship in either three years or four, depending on whether you consider the re-building and name change of the Sunshine a new ship. When the Vista comes along this spring, it will launch a new class of the same name and it will give Carnival its biggest ship with almost 4,000 passengers…and obviously a more modern ship than the last totally new one, the Breeze in 2012.

Launch date: May 1

Capacity: 3,954

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: Dubrovnik to Barcelona (13 days)

Home port: Miami

Ships then in Carnival fleet: 24

Interesting: The world’s biggest cruise line is getting into the boardwalk-style of design by “bringing you closer to the sea” at the Havana Bar & Pool, SkyRide at SportSquare and Seafood Shack. It also claims to have the first IMAX theater at sea and staterooms designed for “Cuban culture lovers” sailing the Caribbean…hmm, could this become Carnival’s first cruise ship for Cuba one day? Like almost all new ships, its first sea days will be in Europe, crossing the Atlantic to settle at home in Miami by year’s end. The first Vista Class ship will also have a 450-foot waterslide, 20 places to eat and/or drink and a working micro-brewery at the RedFrog Pub.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Grand Princess
10 nights
February 23, 2016
San Francisco (return): Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

Grand Princess, Grand Return

The other day, there was a small fire on the Grand Princess as the big ship was circumventing Hawaii. It was caused by a circuit breaker in the ships’ electrical switchboard. There was some smoke. Nobody was hurt. As these things go, it was relatively minor.

The Grand Princess got the worst of it. Because it was a propulsion circuit breaker, the ship lost some power. Not all, just some. The result is the ship is now on its way back to San

Grand Princess at sea on May 6, 2011 Grand Princess - Princess Cruises

Francisco, at a slower speed than normal. Other than being slowed, it’s fine. No safety concerns, no manoeuvreability concerns.

Passengers were marginally inconvenienced. Two ports — one on Kauai, one on Maui — had to be skipped. The power outage meant emergency lights had to be used, briefly. Air conditioning was temporarily limited.

So what does Princess do?

This was a 15-day cruise. Passengers who wanted to leave Hawaii were flown home, at the cruise line’s expense. Passengers who stayed on board  were given credit towards another Princess cruise, plus a full refund.

Kind of makes you wish you were on the Grand Princess, doesn’t it?

In the news…

• Seven months before first ship arrives, Crystal inaugural river cruises hot tickets

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Carnival Pride
13 nights
January 2, 2017
Baltimore, Grand Turk, Amber Cove, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Limon, Mahogany Bay, Cozumel, Tampa
Oceanview: $929
Cost per day: $71
www.carnival.com

Princess Lands ‘The Voice of the Ocean’

On September 21, The Voice returns to NBC for Season 9. On October 3, The Voice of the Ocean goes on Princess Cruises for Season 1.

The competition on Princess ships is the same concept as in the TV studio. Blind auditions followed by coaching. Performances behind the three rotating chairs occupied by the “coaches.” For any number of reasons, starting with logistics, the chairs won’t be occupied by Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams or Gwen Stefani.

Because Voice of the Ocean will be on 11 ships and 24 cruises between October and next  May, those coaches will be “charismatic” people who might also be guest performers on the ships, or hotel managers or even captains.

The contestants?

That’s you!

Passengers with talent will be invited to auditions. With mentors by their sides, they’ll be polished and accompanied by back-up singers and musicians. The coaches will pick their The Voice-2teams, just like they do on TV, and on the last night of the cruise members of the audience will vote with remotes to determine who wins The Voice of the Ocean Trophy.

The first show will be on the Regal Princess when it departs from New York. That will be followed by The Voice of the Ocean performances on the Royal, Caribbean, Emerald, Ruby, Golden, Island, Coral, Crown, Grand and Star Princesses with the final departure from Vancouver to Alaska on May 14.

The inaugural cruise, on the Regal, will sail up the coast and into Canada and back during the autumn colors. The cruise is from New York, return. 

Hey, if the winners are good enough, they can go straight to Broadway!

In the news…

AmaWaterways christens AmaSerena on banks of the Danube
• Viking Star: one cruise cancelled, one delayed by mechanical repair
• Low water on European rivers still haunting ships and cruisers

Today at portsandbows.com: More big money people in cruising

Carnival Ecstasy
3 nights
September 18, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $63
www.carnival.com

Norwegian, Nickelodeon To Part Ways

Some of us with grandchildren are going to be troubled with the news that Norwegian and Nickelodeon are getting a divorce. Okay, the grandchildren are going to be troubled.

It’s been five years that people have been getting ”slimed” on Norwegian ships, starting with the Epic…five years of having breakfast with Dora The Explorer, her buddy Diego and SpongeBob SquarePants. And now it’s over…or it’s going to be, finally and officially, at DiegoDorathe beginning of January.

Happy New Year. Oh darn.

On one of the Epic’s voyages — the partnership also spread to older ships Jewel and Gem and newer ships Breakaway and Getaway — we had breakfast with Nickelodeon, along with 200 of our closest friends who seemed to be enjoying it more than us. Even thought a couple with two kids would pay $50 for the event, it was clearly a popular promotion but, like everything else, it had a life.

At another Nickelodeon event, also three times on a weekly cruise, passengers would get “slimed” with, well, slime…green stuff that looked yucky and probably felt like it, too. Those days are also over.

Sigh.

In recent months, Norwegian has started to change direction under new CEO Frank Del Rio, obviously hoping to become a little more upscale without sacrificing its family motif. Dora and friends will no longer be part of it, although the cruise line promises to “continue to raise the bar on family entertainment at sea.”

While the announcement comes without explanation, if Norwegian plans to climb the luxury ladder of cruise lines…getting slimed is a bad fit.

In the news…

• Silversea adding ninth ship to fleet, Silver Muse, in 2017
• Weather webcams installed eight years where Alaska plane crashed

Today at portsandbows.com: Mighty Mount McKinley

Grand Princess
7 nights
August 8, 2015
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

Alaska Wildfire Cautions Cruisers

Alaska fires

ANCHORAGE — If there’s one thing Alaska has learned to deal with, it’s uncertainty. Day One of an 11-day experience for us — like many cruisers, four on land and seven on the Star Princess as part of a Princess Cruisetour — was waiting with just such an introduction.

On the eve of the height of the cruise season, the smoke signals spewing from 80 miles north were from the Hotel Captain Cook. They delivered a potentially ominous message to everyone with land excursions before or after Alaska cruises:

Wildfires and highway closures.

That’s highway, singular, because here in The Last Frontier, there is only one that connects north and south, the George Parks Highway. Smoke from the Sockeye Fire, now spread over more than 6,500 acres, has closed the road intermittently. This could leave cruisers wondering if they’ll complete their land excursions if they’re going north, or get to their cruise ship on time if they’re heading south.

Late yesterday, the traffic light was still green. There is reason for optimism…buses and trains were getting through but, like almost everything in Alaska, Mother Nature is in charge. This week, in fact this spring, she has been full of surprises. 

A worker at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport put it this way: “It’s too hot for us Alaskans. Yesterday we broke an all-time record for June 15.” 

The temperature, as he spoke…78 degrees.

In the news…

• Carnival sends Breeze to Galveston, Magic to Port Canaveral
• Costa Fascinosa to join in South America for 2015-16 season

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Grand Princess
7 nights
August 8, 2015
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.princess.com

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