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The Last of the Seven Wonders of the World is…

This is one of those "Who's writing their stuff…" routines. Specifically, who's writing for Oceania Cruises.

In a press release we received this week, to promote 2-for-1 fares with free airfare on Holy Lands cruises on either the Riviera (May 2014) or the Insignia (June 2014), it reads as follows:

"Before the time of Anno Domini, a collection of seven wonders enthralled travelers of the ancient world. While all but one no longer exists, just one of these wonders has the distinction of having been twice built and twice destroyed. First burned and Temple of Artemislater plundered, remaining relics for the goddess were uncovered by archaeologists of the mid-18th century. Which wonder of the ancient world is this?"

We'll save you the trouble of going to find out — it's The Temple of Artemis.

Naturally, Oceania has a ship that goes close enough (Ephesus) that you can skip over to see the remains of Artemis.

Now, technically, Oceania's statement is correct. there is only one of the original Seven Wonders of the World left. But it's not the Temple of Artemis, which is the impression you get when giving the promotion a quick read. It sounds like you're going to see the only remaining original Wonder, doesn't it?

The Temple was destroyed for the second (some say third) and final time 16 centuries ago…401 AD. Oceania shows a photo of its "remains" yet in Istanbul there is a replica of the Temple of Artemis.

Ironically, that's the departure port for the two Oceania ships on their Holy Land cruises.

The only surviving Seventh Wonder?

It's The Pyramids, in Egypt. But you already knew that, didn't you?

Grand Princess
15 nights
January 19, 2014
San Francisco (return): HiloHonoluluLahaina, Nawiliwili,  Ensenada
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $66

Noordam Passes on Israel


When it comes to cruising in the Middle East, clearly some things will never change. On Monday, Holland America directed the Noordam past a scheduled stop in Haifa, Israel. On Tuesday, the same thing in Jerusalem.

Cruising to Middle Eastern countries is as predictable as talks between the Palestinians and Israelis…as what Syria might do next…as which country is the newest hotspot for Al Qaeda.

This week, it was Syria.

"As a result of the uncertainties of possible military action against Syria and the potential of resulting Syrian attacks on Israel, we have cancelled the scheduled calls of ms Noordam to Israel."

That was not a statement from a high-ranking diplomat. That was a statement from a Holland America spokesperson.

The cruise line added two stops in Turkey and one in Greece to make up for missing Israel. It also refunded shore excursions and gave passengers a 15 per cent credit for a future cruise. None of that makes up for missing a chance to see the Holy Land.

The Noordam's next visit to Haifa is scheduled for October 25.

But as always, who knows?

Carnival Conquest
8 nights
November 16, 2013
San JuanSt. KittsDominicaSt. MaartenAntiguaGrand TurkMiami
Inside: $359
Cost per day: $44


Fears Stone Jade's Port Schedule

A short news item the other day revealed that Norwegian has cancelled all port stops in Egypt from November to April. While the final decision was made by the cruise line, in situations like this it's really the passengers who decide.

The sometimes-turbulent situation in Egypt makes it appear unsafe to cruise customers. Consequently, cruise customers don't buy tickets. Ships operate with passenger loads decidedly below capacity. Cruise lines make changes to accommodate their customers.

It's called common sense.

In Norwegian's case, it means when the Jade ports in Alexandria and Port Said on November 10 it will be for the last time. Instead, future Jade cruises will go to Istanbul and Naples.

Until the customer speaks again.

Celebrity Solstice
11 nights
April 25, 2013
Honolulu, Lahaina, Hilo, Kilauea, Kona, Lahaina, Ensenada
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $118

Constellation Changing Its Stars

In our haste to tell you last week about seven wine cruises on the Celebrity Constellation next year in Europe, we neglected to dig beneath the news and tell you why this is happening.

It’s because of the Holy Land where, believe it or not, they do like wine…we have a bottle of red from Tel Aviv to prove it. That notwithstanding, the wine cruises are replacing already planned trips on the Constellation to ports in the Holy Land and Greece/Turkey.

It just happens those areas have been subject to unrest in recent weeks, and that can’t be a coincidence. Travelers on cruise ships can be extremely adventurous but when you’re talking fear for their safety — real or imagined —they’d rather go somewhere else.

That’s the message Celebrity was apparently getting.

So even though cruise lines schedule itineraries two years or more in advance, they can respond to what the customer wants on relatively short notice…these modified or changed cruises all run from May to November, 2012.

Nine “Holy Land” cruises turned into eight Mediterranean cruises, with more ports, overnight stays in Venice for all eight, and the option of a full refund for those who’d already booked. There are still ports in Greece, though not in Turkey, but the real jewel in the change is being able to spend two days in Venice.

Anybody who has stayed there knows hotel rooms in what is arguably Italy’s most compelling city come at a premium.

And did we say there’ll be no shortage of wine?

Holland America Volendam
14 nights
November 21, 2011
Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia
Inside $989

Passenger Fears, Cruise Cancelations

A while ago, Norwegian announced its Jade — which sails in Europe year-round — was canceling 15 Holy Land cruises this winter because of passenger concerns about unrest in the Middle East.

In light of last weekend’s horrific tragedy in Oslo, will travel to Norway suffer?

Who knows? It’s only been a few days, and already the Costa Magica is bypassing Oslo for another Norwegian port, for this week at least.

There are threats all over the world. Mexico. Honduras. Greece. If cruise passengers (or travelers of any description) feel they’re going to be at risk by visiting a foreign country, many will choose to take a pass. That’s what happened to people booking — or not booking — passage on the Jade.

It’s all about the odds, isn’t it? What is the likelihood you’ll be a victim? Nobody could have foreseen the actions of one extremist in such a peaceful country as Norway. Chances of such an incident are slim. Chances that you, as a visitor, will be in the wrong place at the wrong time in Norway are even slimmer.

Yet every time a bomb goes off, or a semi-automatic weapon kills, the guard goes up again. Travelers get the jitters. Cruise lines get the jitters, and so does everybody connected to the travel industry.

Fortunately, it’s not often that a ship like the Jade, or Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, cancels a season of sailing. The Jade, incidentally, will go into dry-dock for an upgrade instead, then sail 12-day Canary Islands cruises out of Barcelona instead. NCL’s plan is to return the Jade to the Holy Land market next year.


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