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Holland America Crowns 'King' Of Ships

Kudos to Holland America for moving into the 21st century…make that the 20th century. For the first time since 1873, a Holland America ship is getting an original name.

It’s the ms Koningsdam.

The ship will arrive in 2016 and be the biggest in Holland America’s aging fleet. Of the 15 ships currently still part of the fleet, four are at least 20 years old and all but three are at least 10 years old. The last new ship will be age six by the time the Koningsdam arrives. ms KoningsdamThe comparable in people years would be about age 33…so imagine being 33 and getting a new sister!

Koningsdam?

The name means “king” in Dutch. The timing is ideal because it pays tribute to King Willem-Alexander, who last year became the first king of the Netherlands in more than 100 years. The last male Dutch male baby was Prince Alexander, who was born in 1851…and that’s today’s history lesson.

Clearly, Holland America was waiting for another king to come up with another original name for a ship. Hmm, wonder if this ship will have a “godfather” when its name becomes official?

The Koningsdam will carry 2,650 passengers. The average Holland America ship carries 1,650 and the Nieuw Amsterdam — the last new ship in 2010 — has a capacity of 2,106. By today’s standards, all are far from being classified as “mega ships.” In advance of the Koningdam’s arrival, two other Holland America ships — the Ryndam and the Statendam — will be departing (in 2015) for Australia to sail under the P&O flag.

The familiar three-letter suffix at the end of all Holland America ships remains intact. One thing nobody’s been able to say about this cruise line for a long time is that it’s adding another “dam” ship.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
7 nights
November 30, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.royalcaribbean.com

James Taylor: smooth singing, sailing

Today, the Queen Mary 2 leaves New York for its traditional Atlantic crossing to jolly ol’ England. This is one Cunard cruise that is guaranteed to be smooth.

Even if the big ship encounters choppy waters, the smooth and silky voice of James Taylor will soothe the expected 2,500-plus passengers roaming her decks. This is five years after Taylor first performed on the QM2 and he joined a list that includes giants of the genre: James TaylorRod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz and the late Dave Brubeck.

On his last Queen Mary 2 sailing,Taylor played to standing-room audience although, to be fair, on a cruise ship with fewer than 3,000 passengers that’s not as big a deal. If he played to a crowd of 3,000 on the shore, critics would say he’s done.

Which Taylor is not.

Besides being gifted, he’s clever. The Taylor troupe will play on the ship, probably twice, and then parlay their Transatlantic cruise into a 17-city tour that ends, coincidentally, in London’s Royal Albert Hall on October 8. (November 12 return). Too bad he couldn’t find a cruise ship on which to perform for the trip home to Massachusetts.

We searched for him.

The best we could find was the Celebrity Infinity, which leaves Harwich on October 13, and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which departs Southampton two days after that. Both cruise companies are owned by Royal Caribbean International.

Cunard might not understand.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Ryndam
15 nights
November 1, 2014
Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Ponta Delgada, Tampa
Oceanview: $822
Cost per day: $54
www.hollandamerica.com

Disney Dolls In Demand — Five's Your Limit

Did you know you can only buy five singing Olafs? You don’t know what a singing Olaf is, or why you would want to buy…one…him?

Then you don’t know Frozen.

If Anna is the apple of your eye, no matter how many granddaughters you have, five is mBwt0fnYk5chKKq4-bgv9Jwyour limit. The same goes for Elsa — she’s the other Sparkle Princess. And Sven’s the same, not because he talks.

These are the characters from Frozen, the hit movie from Disney, and it has everything to do with cruising because Disney has cruise ships that Moms and Dads and Grandmas and Grandpas go on and buy these toys. For the grandchildren, you understand.

The demand has been so great (think Cabbage Patch Dolls) that Disney has had to restrict purchases. Imagine…restricting how much Disney anything you m-gZvB3H0TuB1eHPzkG2DQgcan buy! And because Olaf and Anna and friends are so hot, they’ve become an industry for speculators.

Yesterday, we checked ebay. There were 1,692 Olafs available for sale. And 8,058 Elsas and Annas. As a duo, the girls were being offered by one seller for $18.99 and there were 206 “watchers.” Any one for them could have bought the dolls for $19 on the spot but they are watching because they want to see if they can make a buck on sales of their own.

Meanwhile, back at Disney — which also likes to make a buck — the limit on Frozen purchases also applies at all theme parks and Disney Vacation Club locations.

There’s no indication when the Frozen mania will thaw.

Today at Phil Reimer’s portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Ryndam
7 nights
June 7, 2014
London (return): OsloKristianstadStavangerUlvik
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99
www.hollandamerica.com

Things That Aren't Going Well In Cruise Industry

There are two news items that continue to make the rounds this week which are not especially flattering to the cruise industry.

One…

A Holland America ship, the Veendam, arrived back in Fort Lauderdale from a cruise with more than 100 passengers ill with norovirus. 

Comment: As we have long pointed out, this gastrointestinal sickness can happen wherever large groups of people assemble. It is not unique to the cruise business, which constantly has to re-assure worried passengers in advance. However, the perception is that you're more likely to contract norovirus on a cruise ship, out of context or not, and this is a problem for cruise lines. 

Two…

The trial regarding the Carnival Triumph is underway in Miami. While the judge ruled Carnival is liable for the fire on the ship, one of his other rulings is that cruise line did not breach its contract because "the contract ticket makes no express guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions."

Comment: Isn't it time for cruise lines to quit hiding such important facts in the fine print?

Holland America Ryndam
27 nights
April 6, 2014
Fort LauderdalePonta DelgadaMalagaCartagena, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca,  BarcelonaValencia, Alicante, Motril, GibralterCadizLisbon, La Coruna, Bilbao, Portland, London
Inside: $1,499
Cost per day: $55
www.hollandamerica.com

Mass Market of a Billion Cruisers?

Undoubtedly, you have heard the joke, or a variation of it. The (full in your favorite football team) made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose on a last-second field goal by…

The punch line is: "And a billion people in China didn't even notice."

Well, until recently a billion people in China didn't care much about going on a cruise, either. That, however, is changing and Princess Cruises — for one — is reacting accordingly.

Five new Princess offices are being opened in China, one of the emerging Asian nations that are starting to get into cruising. As Princess CEO Alan Buckelew put it: 

"The cruise vacation market is in its infancy in China, and…the new offices will support marketing efforts to increase the number of Chinese passengers sourced for our global cruises.”

It's not that Princess (and other lines) haven't been selling cruises before now. The woman appointed "country director" has been the international sales agent for Princess and Cunard for the last eight years. It's just that opening five offices takes a cruise commitment to another level.

And where are the offices?

Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Chengdu.

For people in the cruise industry, mentioning the names of those five cities used to mean as much as the names of the Super Bowl teams did to a billion Chinese people. Hmm, maybe that will change one day, too…

Holland America Ryndam
22 nights
October 26, 2013
RomePalermo, La Goulette, FlorenceMonte CarloMarseilleBarcelonaMalaga, Cadiz, LisbonHalf Moon CayTampa
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $59
www.hollandamerica.com

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