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Signs of the Times…from Cruise Ports

One of the interesting things about visiting foreign countries — and there’s no better way to see many of them than from a cruise ship — is the number of photo ops. Signs quickly became a subject we kept an eye open for, and below are some we found “interesting” for a variety of reasons…

NassauNot sure that this one requires any explanation, other than to say it was on the side of a building in downtown Nassau, close to Norwegian Sky’s 2,000 passengers.

Hell-2That’s where you go in Grand Cayman…at least many first-time visitors do, and locals turn Hell into business opportunities — better than having a business go to Hell.

Alaska-3In Alaska, there are many things of which you cannot be certain — mosquitoes, wildlife, weather…and whether there will be enough water on the waterfall trail.

Guy Fieri'sOn the Carnival ships (this one the Freedom), Guy Fieri’s presence goes beyond his food — serving counters and tables are decorated with interesting signage.

Costa Rica-2Is it possible that Costa Ricans think visitors have to be told of danger lurking in its waters? Or maybe that just says something about the tourists!

Coquimbo-2The people of Coquimbo, Chile have seen enough walls of water to know that this sign means they’re on high enough ground to be safe from tsunamis.

GuatemalaOne Central American country that thrives on its coffee industry is Guatemala, even in remotae plantations where sign makers know their market.

Big Doin's In Big D On Sunday

Dallas StadiumIf you’re watching the Cowboys and the Giants from Texas on Sunday, there’s a couple of performers at the “palace in Dallas” (actually, Arlington) that you probably won’t see. Both of them have to do with cruising (actually, Carnival).

One is Rascal Flatts. The award-winning country band is doing a pre-game show. The Carnival connection is that next year Rascal Flatts will be doing shows as part of Carnival Live — dates and places still unknown.

The other is Guy Fieri. He’s also doing a pre-game show — well, sort of — but it’ll be out in the parking lot, where all good hamburger chefs belong when there’s a tail-gate party and they can sell some product. This Carnival connection here, of course, is that Señor Fieri’s burgers are consumed in great numbers on all 24 ships.

Carnival has hitched its wagon (they do a lot of that in Texas) to the Cowboys in the promotional department because that’s one of the synergies, as they say, that seems to work for cruise lines and football teams alike. In one form or another, each sells its product to the other’s customers, not all of whom overlap.

This isn’t entirely new.

Carnival already co-promotes with the New Orleans Saints (at least they and the Cowboys can never meet in the Super Bowl) and has a long association with the Miami Heat. Norwegian is the “official cruise line” of the Miami Dolphins, and has a working relationship with the New York Knicks. Celebrity has been tied to the New York Rangers. And last month, Princess announced it was becoming a proud sponsor of NFL teams in Seattle, Houston and San Francisco.

The difference this time is that Carnival is marketing in a big way with a team in Dallas, which is not a cruise port.

Then again, the Cowboys are “America’s team.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Some of the Oasis changes

Carnival Dream
7 nights
December 14, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $47
www.carnival.com

Pick 'em: Blue Iguana, Guy's Burgers

Choosing where to eat out is not always easy for us.

One of us likes — no, loves — Mexican food. She would have it every day. Every meal. It must have started the day, many moons ago, that her husband said she was his “little chiquita.” She’s even bilingual, sort of, because her Spanish vocabulary includes all the Freedom-Iguanaimportant words…enchiladas, tacos, tortillas, carne, huevos, salsa, tequila…you get the idea.

Her better half is, well, kind of meat-and-potatoes. Or hamburgers and French fries. Calories aren’t among the things he counts in life as critical. His major concession is “Diet” Coke. It’s not that he doesn’t like Mexican, but how many times a week (or day) can you enjoy rice and beans?

The Carnival Freedom made it easy…as simple as pushing “9″ on the elevator for the Lido Deck.

On the right, you have Blue Iguana. She was in her element. Freshly made tortillas for lunch (or breakfast) waiting to be stuffed with Mexican sausages, heuvos or chiles. Top it off with a choice of 10 sales ranging from wimpy-mild to screaming hot. Burritos or tacos with a huge assortment of fillings of meat, cheese, guacamole, veggies and sauces. Seldom a line-up. Always fresh. Always hot.

On the left, mere steps away, you have Guy’s Burger Joint. Her husband never watches the Food Network but he knows Guy Fieri is the cook with bleach-blond electric hair and a Freedom-Fierishape that is, if not admirable at least acceptable. Not everybody needs a six-pack, right? His customers build their own burgers and, like Blue Iguana…always fresh, always hot. You don’t have to eat junk food to only live once, but since you only live once, junk food is okay…and, anyway, who’s going to tell Fieri to his face that his food is junk?

So, with our plates of personal preferences and with no cuisine compromising, we sat together and enjoyed what, for each, was the perfect meal. Can it get any better!

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise news and views you can use

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
October 4, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Princess Cays, Roatan
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.princess.com

Carnival Heats Up Ice Bucket Challenge

You’ve heard, no doubt, about the Ice Bucket Challenge. How celebrities and non-celebrities are dunking themselves with buckets of ice to raise awareness — and money — to fight ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

It’s spreading much faster than the disease. That’s good.

The first cruise line to get involved is Carnival. It will surely not be the last. It started with a clever Carnival cruise director named Matt Mitcham. On the Breeze, he drenched himself with 150 gallons of icy water, then challenged other Carnival cruise Ice Bucket-Cahilldirectors to do the same thing. The “challenge” is to pour a bucket of ice water over your head, or make a donation to ALS within 24 hours.

Many do both.

Mitcham’s move went up and down the Carnival food chain. You had to know the most famous of cruise directors, John Heald, would be first in line. He was on the Miracle at the time, in Alaska. When it comes to Alaska, there’s ice…and there’s ice. Brave is the person who has an ice shower in the 49th state.

Heald did, of course. As did President and CEO Gerry Cahill, albeit in the temperate climate of  Miami, in front of company employees at Carnival headquarters. Celebrities connected to Carnival — comedian George Lopez, deejay DJ Irie, food guru Guy Fieri — are all complying.

This phenomenon is world-wide.

Ice Bucket-CrosbyCelebrity participants run from 27-year-old hockey superstar Sidney Crosby (somewhere under the blue box) to 86-year-old famous family matriarch Ethel Kennedy (86) — see video — and she challenged President Obama to get in line. Perhaps strangely, Obama opted only to make a donation. Perhaps the White House was short of towels.

And just last night former major league star Ken (Hawk) Harrelson, now a Chicago White Sox broadcaster and soon to be a member of the club, said this about the phenomenon:

“It’s unstoppable.”

The seed is believed to have been planted by Pete Frates. The Boston College star athlete was diagnosed with ALS more than two years ago. He first issued the challenge on social media. Today, he has been silenced and unable to swallow by the disease that made a famous major league ballplayer from 80 years ago even more famous in death.

Along the way, the idea picked up celebrities, and nothing makes an idea grow faster. In the last month, ice-bucketing has raised $2.3 million for the ALS Association. For this year, that figure has climbed to $15.6 million, compared to $1.8 million for the same period in 2013.  One of the 300,000 contributors this year is Carnival Cruise Lines, which added $100,000 to the pot. Besides the money, the campaign has delivered millions more in awareness.

Participants join the Ice Bucket List, giving a new twist to everybody’s Bucket List.

And beating ALS is on everyone’s.

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise news, views and gossip…from the ships at sea

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
7 nights
September 21, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco Cay, San Juan, St. Maarten
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.royalcaribbean.com

Carnival Liberty an hors d'oeuvre

Our cruise blog teammate Phil Reimer, who has been writing about ships and ports and the eateries and people on both, has spent this week on the Carnival Liberty. His impressions are posted daily on his cruise blog, portsandbows.com.

The Liberty is the first Carnival ship to go 2.0.

In Celebrity’s world, this is called “Solsticizing.” In Carnival’s world, it’s called “Fun Ship 2.0″ and the idea must be that it’s more intuitive for the young people that is Carnival’s client base.

This is a huge project — the price tag is $500 million — and that’s only for the first phase, which won’t be completed until 2015. It includes personal endorsements or participation from celebrities Guy Fieri (a food man), DJ Irie (a dance man) and George Lopez (a laugh man).

Our pal Phil, who loves food and laughter, is a cinch to enjoy at least two of them. During his week on the Liberty, he was able to get a taste of Fieri.

“I don’t claim to be a burger expert but Guy’s Ringer ranks with the best I’ve ever enjoyed,” Phil says.

The Liberty is simply the hors d’oeuvre when it comes to Fun Ship 2.0. The main course is the Carnival Breeze, still a few months away from its launch. It will have all the features that eventually will become upgrades, and don’t be surprised if Fieri, Irie and Lopez are all there to break a bottle of bubbly on the bow.

Besides the food, which Carnival hastens to point out is almost all included with the cruise fare, Phil seems enamored with Deck 9 on the Liberty. It’s the “funnest” place on this Fun Ship — he calls it “party central.”

Hmm…maybe he’ll like the dance man, too.

DAILY DEAL:
Carnival Pride
7 nights
February 5, 2012
Baltimore (return): Port Canaveral, Nassau, Freeport
Inside $449
www.carnival.com

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