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Friday file: The 'Rich Port' Of San Juan

Of all the ports in the Caribbean, and there are hundreds it seems, one that keeps attracting more attention is San Juan, Puerto Rico (translation: “rich port”). Strategically positioned just east of the Dominican Republic, it can be either a port to visit on the way to the Southern Caribbean or a place to embark on a Panama Canal cruise. We have done both and today’s photos reflected our visits to Old San Juan…

Pina Colada

Shouldn’t we all know the who-when-where of the whole pina colada thing?


From inside San Cristobal, and what it must have felt like a few centuries ago.


Also inside the fort, another era’s “weapons of mass destruction” remain.

Seahorse sculpture

The first statue of a seahorse that we’ve seen in the Caribbean (or anywhere).


In Old San Juan, seats in Starbucks are rare, and everybody’s on a device.

Free trolley-1

Free trolley the best way to get around Old San Juan, where you need a day.


If bus is too crowded, there’s always the (not free) horse and buggy option.

Arturo Somohano Portela-musician

Conducting an orchestra in perpetuity: Arturo Somohano Portela. Google him.

Today at portsandbows.com: Another 'Port' (Canaveral), one that's getting more options for passengers

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
October 16, 2015

Boston (return): King’s Wharf 
Inside: $629

Cost per day: $89

A Disney Story Worth Assessing

Earlier this year, the story of a family forced to leave a Disney ship in the Bahamas was told in the Naples Daily News. It’s worth reading.

MickeyDisney told four of 31 family members they had to disembark in the Bahamas because their four-month-old baby, who had seen the ship’s doctor after “spitting up,” wasn’t supposed to be on the ship. Disney’s current policy is that children under six months are not allowed.

Our initial interpretation was that the family tried to pull a fast one. After reading the entire story, we changed our minds. It appears Disney dropped the ball, big time.

Click on the link to read the whole story and see what you think…then let us know:


Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's getting excited

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
May 1, 2015
Boston (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78

That’s A Million For New Orleans

Photo by Win Henderson

In Texas, the battle cry has for 180 years been “Remember The Alamo.” In New Orleans, for the last decade (10 years in August), it has been “Remember Katrina.”

Remember, indeed.

Close to 2,000 people died. Waves 20 feet high crashed into the Louisiana seaport. The world watched in horror as the largest hurricane ever threatened to wipe the city from the map…some even thought it might not be a bad idea, given that it’s below sea level.

At the time, cruising was thriving in New Orleans. In three years before that, it had grown dramatically and was heading towards a million passengers a year when Katrina ravaged New_Orleanseverything, including the cruise industry. For a city known as The Big Easy, nothing was.

Last year, New Orleans hit the million.

The perception of the city after Katrina was one of apprehension, destruction and fear. Only people who wanted to help wanted to go there, even if helping meant pumping a few dollars into the sagging economy. There can be no doubt today that cruising has contributed to the rebuilding of New Orleans, and is benefitting from it.

“Eighty per cent of all our cruise passengers are from out of state and they spend two-and-a-half nights," Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange told radio station WWL. "The average cruise passenger's direct spending at most other ports around the world is 95 dollars a day…in New Orleans they spend 332 dollars a day."

Today, New Orleans is the sixth-largest cruise port in the U.S. The 10th-largest in the world. Cruise ships generate $323 million in total income for locals. Four ships — Carnival’s Dream and Elation, Norwegian’s Dawn and Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas — call the Port of New Orleans home. Cruise Critic calls it the “Best North American Homeport.” Porthole Magazine readers ranked it the “Friendliest Homeport” for the last two years.

New Orleans has come back, hoping that Katrina (or her descendants) never will.

Today at portsandbows.com: Baking with Mary Berry

Grand Princess
15 nights
February 17, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Ensenada 
Inside $1,169
Cost per day: $77

On The First Day After Christmas…

If you're on a cruise ship today — or if you've ever been on a cruise ship the day after Christmas — chances are you're happy not to be surrounded by white stuff (unless it's wakes or sand) and chances are that's part of the motivation for being on a ship. Chances are, too, that you're in the Caribbean and, if that's the case, you have an opportunity to see how locals decorate for Christmas with snow.

Here's a selection of pictures we've taken from some of the warm-weather places we've been on the last week of the year…and one from Royal Caribbean's horticulturists:

St. Maarten-2


Punta Gorda


FrostyCentral Park

Today at portsandbows.com: New adventures for Un-Cruisers

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
February 1, 2015
New Orleans (return): CozumelBelizeRoatanCosta Maya
Inside: $359
Cost per day: $51

Unusual Reason For Canceling A Port Call

There are two cruise ports named Sydney. One is in Australia, the other in Canada. Norwegian ships don't go to the former and, as of October 6, they won't be visiting the latter until further notice…and you'll never guess why.

Because of buses.

If you can believe it, Norwegian is taking a pass on Sydney, Nova Scotia, for the next two years because there aren't enough buses to transport passengers to shore excursions. There is finger-pointing as to who's at fault — the local agent for not Norwegian Dawngetting enough buses or the government for making it difficult to import buses from outside Nova Scotia — but the bottom line is Norwegian couldn't satisfy its passengers.

According to locals, the cruise line was going to drop Sydney this year but gave the city a grace period to find a solution. Its not just norwegian, either, as other cruise lines have expressed concerns about meeting the needs of cruise tourists.

In the case of this year, it's not a huge deal because the Norwegian Dawn is only stopping in Sydney twice  — September 22 and October 6. 

However, once the cord is cut…

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

Norwegian Breakaway
7 nights
June 1, 2014
New York (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $69


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