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Signs Of The Apocalypse…They're Everywhere!

Every week, the nation's best sports magazine, Sports Illustrated, prints what it calls "A Sign of the Apocalypse."

Here's a couple of recent ones…

Team Canada had a Molson beer refrigerator at its Olympic House that could only be opened by scanning a Canadian passport.

In a promotional deal, Tonga's first Winter Olympian, luger Fuahea Semi, legally changed his name to that of a German underwear company, Bruno Banani.

A Kansas City woman traded her wedding ring for six Chiefs tickets on Craigslist.

A group of Bosnian fans intending to see their country's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania went to Latvia by mistake.

Okay, here's a "sign of the Apocalypse" for cruising…

The famous soccer player David Beckham wants to build a new stadium in Miami, near the cruise port, for his new Major League Soccer franchise. According to the Daily Mail, one cruise line (Royal Caribbean) plans to file an official objection because it may have to re-locate its parking garage, employee gym and daycare center.

Today at portsandbows.com: Crimea becoming off limits for cruise ships

Carnival Imagination
3 nights
June 5, 2014
Long Beach (return): Ensenada
Inside: $314
Cost per day: $104

Ship to Car in Miami easier — perhaps

If there's ever a cruise port that could use an association with a car rental company, that port is Miami. And if there's ever a cruise line to jump when it sees an opportunity to do the obvious, that cruise line is Norwegian.

Forever first at recognizing that passengers don't ALWAYS want to eat at the same time, and don't ALL want to go home and talk about how many people they had Avis cardinner with, Norwegian came up with Freestyle Cruising. Pick a time to eat…pick a table.

Now, Norwegian has an association with Avis, in Miami, because that's where the new Getaway will be early in 2014. It's a good idea. Will it work? Who knows?

Having rented a car in Miami more than once, finding one near the port is not an easy chore. The closest we could find was right over there — so close you felt like you could walk there if it wasn't for the luggage…but that's another story, right, dear? A $20 cab ride later, not including the tip to handle all that luggage, we were almost there.

Cruise passengers who want to get off a ship and spend some time driving in MIamiFlorida have two choices. Do what we did and take a taxi to the nearest car rental office, which isn't near at all, or catch a ride to the airport and rent a car there.

Neither is desirable. Nor easy. Nor cheap.

Norwegian/Avis may be what's needed, but it may not. The only thing mentioned in the announcement was "pre-tour" packages. That does nothing for passengers after their cruise…but then, the cruise lines are done with you then, aren't they?

Crown Princess
7 nights
January 11, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess CaysCuracaoAruba
Inside: $502
Cost per day: $71

Norwegian Mirrors its Ships of a City with Getaway, Miami and Latino Influence


When Norwegian's Getaway makes its grand entrance — Norwegian ships always do — come January in Miami, it will mirror its sister Breakaway in many ways…starting with philosophy. Breakaway is New York's ship and Getaway is Miami's ship and because they're from the same generation of the family, the features will be legendary.

So will the connection to the respective cities.

There is no mistaking that Breakaway is a New York ship — the tip-off is the Manhattan skyline and statue of Liberty, painted on the bow. On the bow of Breakaway Hullthe Getaway, it's more subtle that this is a Miami ship…perhaps because Miami has so many ships. The bow artist (Cuban-American David Le Batard) appears to have skipped the skyline and opted for the South Beach sun, water and mermaid effect.

On board, the decor will feature Miami's past, with nostalgic photos of Miami Beach in its heyday. Nostalgic photos are a specialty of Norwegian's boss, Kevin Sheehan, something that impressed us on the Epic, which might be called every city's ship. It's easy to spend an hour or more perusing them, and memories of Miami are certain to decorate the Getaway.

The same goes in the kitchens.

In the Tropicana Room, a complimentary restaurant on Deck 7, featured menu items will reflect the favor of Miami — ceviche de camaron, churrasco com chimichurri (steak), arroz con pollo. In the Flamingo Bar & Grill, a complimentary restaurant on Deck 16, Latin food will be served all day.

Of the watering holes, the Sunset Bar on Deck 8 is a Hemingway haven. The renowned author had a permanent residence in Key West, where he drank Ernest Hemingwaymany a daiquiri (it was no secret he was a heavy drinker), and one he's said to have inspired is on the menu. At the Sugarcane Bar, there is a Cuban influence — coincidentally, Hemingway also had a home in Havana — with banana leaves on the walls and mojitos on the menu. No, no cigars.

To cater to its clientele, every ship's cook pays attention to appropriate menu items. Then there are clients like us…we enjoy eating just about anything.

One of us loves Mexican food. If there was only one type of food available on earth, Mexican would be fine. The "other half" smiles and goes along with the idea, so long as it's not every day of every week of every year. And it wouldn't be a stretch to say that the lover of all Mexican offerings would have her taste buds dancing over anything with a "Latino" culinary influence.

Dancing? Can the flamenco be far behind?

Norwegian Epic
7 nights
December 8, 2013
Miami (return): St. MaartenSt. ThomasNassau
Inside: $459
Cost per day: $65

So Who Is Watching the Carry-on Bags When Passengers Go Through Security?

News item from Cruise Critic: Two Port of Miami security guards were arrested this month for stealing from cruise ship passengers, then selling the items. As reported by the Miami New Times, the guards were arrested after police reviewed footage showing one of the suspects taking an iPad from a passenger's bag after it was X-rayed and placing it into the rear of his pants underneath his shirt.

800px-VTBS-luggage_screening copy

When we're going on a cruise, we travel with two computers, two iPhones, two cameras and two iPads. You can debate whether as intrepid cruise writers we need all of that equipment if you like, but it's a debate you'll lose.

And as we've been going through airport security, we've often wondered — when we've been delayed going through the human scanner and our equipment has cleared the bag scanner — who's watching?

It never occurred to us the same fear could be applied when boarding a cruise ship.

The basic problem is the same: when you are separated from your hand luggage for whatever reason, nobody is assuming the responsibility of whatever you have in carryon.


Golden Princess
3 nights
December 1, 2013
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $66


Three Times a Godmother

Unquestionably, there are people who envy or resent the Arison family. It comes with their territory. Wealthy beyond any normal person's means. Owners (or part-owners) of 11 cruise lines under the Carnival banner. Owners of the NBA's champions for the last two years. High up on the list of Miami's rich and famous.


So there is bound to be that same anti-Arison sentiment when — in New Orleans on November 17 — the family matriarch, Lin, becomes the Godmother of the Carnival Sunshine. She'll also become the only person to be Godmother of three ships — the previous iteration of the Sunshine (Carnival Destiny) and the Carnival Holiday being her other godchild ships.

To which we say…good for her!

Mrs. Arison's late husband, Ted, had an enormous cruising impact that affects all of us who go on ships today. He was part-owner of the cruise line that really introduced the affordable Caribbean cruise. It was called the Norwegian Line and Arison left it after six years to found Carnival, which became a corporation that also owns Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Costa and half a dozen smaller cruise lines.

He was a child of wealth and he parlayed it into greater wealth. His son Mickey became the face of Carnival, the world's 169th wealthiest person and the man who signs the paychecks for Lebron James. His mother has been mostly anonymous, except in Miami. There she is known as a philanthropist, especially for the arts, which she obviously loves. She has dedicated her life to advancement of the arts for young people and last year President Obama awarded her the National Medal.

With such people of privilege often comes a responsibility to help others. But it's not a given. If there were no wealthy people like this, who would step up to help others, in a myriad of ways. Mrs. Arison made doing so her responsibility.

When she wasn't giving "berth" to three ships.

White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
7 nights
October 6, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel
Inside: $749
Cost per day: $107

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