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Freighter Cruising A World Of Its Own

There’s something curious and funny about what might be called the latest trend in cruising.

Take a freighter.

This seems to be an “industry” that’s growing, although nobody’s racing to build new freighters, or rush them off to the nearest tourist hotspots, or find the latest water slide to lure people on board. In fact, the owners of freighters with the space and the inclination to accept passengers number on the dozens…maybe.

That’s what makes it so funny.

This is an age when cruise lines are enhancing the cruise experience with everything from celebrity chefs to high-speed WiFi to gizmos that appeal to the thrill seekers among us. Yet Global Freighter copythere are people who for about the same price just want to be at sea, who just want a place to sleep and three squares as they go from continent to continent.

Call them cruise rebels.

They might be the only two passengers on a ship carrying hundreds of containers. They might have perhaps as many as a dozen fellow passengers. They might have no one to talk to except the ship’s crew, no one to wait on them hand and foot, no one even to make their beds every day for the simple reason that linens are not changed daily.

They see some of the sights “regular” cruisers see, and some they could never see. They might be out of touch for days or weeks, probably without the Internet, and their journey will take…well, as long as it takes. And the cruise will last as long as…well, as long as it lasts.

The people who do this know there are plenty of websites they can research. They know it might be days before departure before they know if they’ve been “accepted.” They know that the cost is likely to be about $100 per day, per person. And they know there will be no frills, no gourmet meals, no prompting to go on expensive shore excursions.

The list is endless, to the delight of cruise rebels.

In the news…

• New Regent Seven Seas ship, the Explorer, emerges from Italy shipyard
• P&O ship departure delayed by deep cleaning after norovirus outbreak

Today at portsandbows.com: World cruises starting in…Australia?


Holland America Zuiderdam
10 nights
November 20, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Panama Canal, Gatun Lake, Colon, Puerto Limon
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $60
www.hollandamerica.com

The Denali Debate Known To Cruisers

Denali

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Alaska twice, in 2009 and earlier this year, both times while cruising on Princess ships, first the Coral Princess and then the Star Princess

On both occasions, we heard the tale of the Mount McKinley versus Denali name debate, which was new to us. On both occasions, we concluded that the vast majority of the people of Alaska thought the mountain should be called Denali, its native and original name. And on both occasions, we came away thinking the stalemate was such that it wouldn’t happen in our lifetime.

Last week, in case you hadn’t heard, it happened.

Denali it is.

As another Alaska cruise season concludes this month, passengers currently extending their time on land tours are the first to see Denali with its “new” name.

This has been a never-ending political debate. McKinley was a Republican U.S. President who never visited Alaska but who had the misfortune of being assassinated 114 years ago. Alaskans started trying to re-instate Denali — “The Big One” to the Athabaskan people — 40 years ago, when the name of the national park became Denali. Through various means, mostly technicalities, it was blocked by a congressman (Ralph Regula) from Ohio, President McKinley’s home state.

In layman’s terms, the statute of limitations ran out on the stalemate, and last week President Obama instructed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to change the name to Denali. Yet the political debate never dies. Yesterday on CNN, there was former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, dismissing (or dissing) the loss of the McKinley name.

Palin is, of course, Republican.

Cruise passengers who get to see “The Big One” in person and who listen to guides and Alaskans alike know that last week’s decision was not so much political as it was the will of the people.

They’ve known the mountain as Denali for a long, long time.

In the news…

• Norwegian Epic's winter home to be Fort Lauderdale, not Miami
• Puerto Rico Quality Service Program to enhance tourism service
• Royal Caribbean President's Cruise set back a week to Sept. 18, 2016

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Holland America Zuiderdam
17 nights
December 11, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Bonaire, Panama Canal, Colon, Puerto Limon, Fort Lauderdale, Half Moon Cay, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $1,360
Cost per day: $80
www.hollandamerica.com

Deal Too Good, Too Late To Be True

Normally, we let our “Daily Deal” deliver some value cruises for you to consider but once in a while there’s something extraordinary that deserves an even better treatment…A couple Allureof days ago we had one — you do notice that’s past tense, right?…It was a Transatlantic trip on Allure of the Seas, the (starting) price was $659 with 50 per cent off for the second guest, plus up to $200 for an on-board credit…For 12 days, it worked out to less than $50 a day on one of the two biggest cruise ships in the world, as long as bookings were made by January 31…Well, guess what?…Today is January 20, and it’s no longer available…Obviously, eagle-eyed consumers snapped up the rooms but it does leave you wondering how many Royal Caribbean made available in the promotion.

Now here’s a clever idea: When the AIDAsol arrived in Vietnam this week, immigration AIDAsolofficials boarded the ship at Buoy 1, three hours before docking at Tan Cang-Cai Mep, to process the 2,176 passengers, most of them German…By the time the AIDA ship reached the port, the process was finished and passengers were able to disembark right away…On their most recent health inspections, in Fort Lauderdale, two Holland America ships — the Noordam and the Zuiderdam — were perfect (100) in scores by the Centers for Disease Control.

The line-up for the Olympics has begun…The Norwegian Getaway is first in the line-up of cruise ships for Rio de Janeiro, where the Summer Games will be staged in 2016…The Getaway will be impersonating a hotel from August 5-21 next year, just like its smaller Getawaysibling, the Jade, did at the 2012 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia…With a capacity close to 4,000, the Getaway will help take some of the stress off Rio’s hotels, at the same time providing its “passengers” with luxurious accommodation and presumably earning a few “reals” — you didn’t know that’s what Brazilian currency was called, did you? — for the cruise line…The Getaway has experience at this, having served as a floating hotel at last year’s Super Bowl in New York…It doesn’t hurt that Getaway’s ambiance and treatment are decidedly Spanish.

Super BowlFile this one in the “When Will It End?” drawer…In a major Canadian newspaper (Toronto Star) there was a story about Carnival’s advertising on TV during the Super Bowl next week, and the second paragraph read: “Carnival, of course, is the line whose ship, Triumph, became a PR disaster in early 2013, when it got stuck at sea for almost a week due to an engine fire”…Seriously?…That was two years ago and, after all the things Carnival has done to restore its public stature, the cruise line hardly needed a Super Bowl ad to make image amends.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's latest technology

Carnival Triumph
10 nights
February 20, 2015
San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Croix, Falmouth, Galveston
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $54
www.carnival.com

Rhapsody of the Seas…is this music to its ears?

You have to wonder what Rhapsody of the Seas thinks about this: In 2015, Royal Caribbean is sending it to Turkey instead of Alaska. Did anybody ask the ship how it feels about sacrificing a summer in The Inside Passage for a summer in Istanbul?

Rhapsody of the Seas in AlaskaFurthermore….

Two lengthy cruises that were scheduled before it even reached Alaska have been changed. In April 2015, Rhapsody was scheduled to sail for 16 days from Australia to Hawaii. Not any more. Following that, it was slated to leave Honolulu on a 13-night trip to Vancouver. That's past tense…was.

How would you if somebody told you that you'd be spending a month in the (South) Pacific, and then you wouldn't?

Admittedly, leaving Sydney for Singapore on a 16-nighter isn't a bad alternative, and following it up by coupling a two-week cruise to Dubai and a 15-night sailing to Istanbul is, well, interesting or even fascinating. But skipping Hawaii is like skipping Christmas.

Rhapsody has been around for 16 years, so she's probably seen it all. There are no surprises. She's even been tucked and tweaked a couple of times (in Hollywood they're called facelifts), most recently the year before last at a cost of $16 million. 

The change in plans also affects passengers booked on Rhapsody, but Royal Caribbean is giving them a full refund or a South Pacific cruise on another ship, Radiance of the Seas.

That's probably small consolation to Rhapsody. Taking Hawaii and Alaska away from her is kind of…un-Rhapsody-like.

And without even asking.

Holland America Zuiderdam
11 nights
December 9, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon CayArubaCuracaoCartagenaPanama CanalColonPuerto Limon
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $49
www.hollandamerica.com

What to expect at Cruising Done Right

In case you haven't figured this out for yourself during the past three and a half years, we thought it might be a good time to enlighten you about what to expect, and what not to expect, when you click on cruisingdoneright.com, as you just have.

Expect to read something written with care, with a dedication to factual accuracy, clarity and devoid of typos (we had one yesterday, picked up by a reader).

Don't expect that this will be a source of breaking news about cruises. That's precisely what Cruise Critic in the U.S. and Phil Reimer in Canada (at portsandbows.com) do better than anybody.

Expect to find a a deal every day…a carefully-researched cruise bargain, five times a week.

Don't expect to find a photo essay of a ship — while we love to cruise we don't go on THAT many ships.

Expect to enjoy (hopefully) a story about cruising with personality, perhaps a little (subjective) humor and often a personal view — every cruiser has a story.

Don't expect stinging critiques of cruise lines, ships or people just for the sake of being a critic.

Expect that everything you read will be in good taste and that your comments will be published as long as they are in good taste and not just promoting whatever product or cause you are "selling."

Don't expect us to be experts. We are merely cruise passengers who research, read about and go on cruises as often as we can. Maybe you think that makes us experts…we think it makes us cruise writers.

Expect to read about cruise people from time to time. Because everybody has a story, and because cruise lines are always trumpeting that it's their people who make the difference, we think this is important and we spend hours on every cruise interviewing people who have a story, from the captain to the laundry room attendant.

Don't expect us to jump all over the latest cruise controversy. We'll do so once we determine it's important to do so.

Expect that we will be here, writing every Monday through Friday, as long as you demonstrate that you want us to be here.

Holland America Zuiderdam
11 nights
November 18, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon CayArubaCuracaoCartagenaPanama CanalColon, Puerto Limon
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $45
www.hollandamerica.com

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