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Cruise Advertising From Customers

In an era when every-day baseball statistics now are WHIP, WAR and OBP, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that measuring success for the cruise industry now includes statistics from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For example:

Norwegian is publicizing the fact that in one 20-day period on the Escape, its customers logged 576,896 Facebook posts, 14,150 tweets and 11,367 Instagram posts, which somehow added up to 159 million impressions. This broke Norwegian’s in-house record for social media usage at sea.

Welcome to “new age advertising.”

If a cruise line can reach 159 million people in 20 days thanks to passengers who are surely posting 95 per cent (or more) positive messages, think of how much said cruise line Escape-Arno Redeniuscan save on advertising costs. The trickle-down effect on society is that fewer dollars spent on TV advertising morphs into higher cable or satellite costs for users, or poorer-quality television shows…or both. The same would be true for newspapers if that hadn’t already happened.

The good news is that because this becomes such an important vehicle for cruise lines, they will spare no cost when it comes to upgrading Internet access so that the passengers can do their thing as advertisers.

What’s next?

How about points for being a frequent tweeter?

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean locks up 10-year port agreement with U.S. Virgin Islands

- Photo by Arno Redenius

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 5, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $590
Cost per day: $84
www.royalcaribbean.com

When Is The Biggest Ship Biggest?

There is always debates when the subject of “biggest cruise ships in the world” is raised. Some people (like us) tend to think the biggest ship is the one that carries the most people, not the one that weighs the most or is the longest from tip to stern or has the most bow thrusters.

However, passenger counts are fluid, because they are fundamentally based on two people times the number of cabins. There are not always two people in a cabin — sometimes as many as four — and there are suites that accommodate more than two. Or can.

So that’s probably not the right measurement.

OasisIndustry experts use gross tonnage, we are told. That being the case, here are the 10 biggest cruise ships right now:

1. Allure of the Seas* (225,282 gross tonnes)

2. Oasis of the Seas (225,282)

3. Anthem of the Seas (168,666)

3. Quantum of the Seas (168,666)

5. Norwegian Escape (164,600)

6. Norwegian Epic (155,873)

7. Freedom of the Seas (160,000)

7. Liberty of the Seas (160,000)

7. Independence of the Seas (160,000)

10. Queen Mary 2 (148,528)

The list is soon going to change. In the spring and early summer, both Ovation of the Seas (168,666) and Harmony of the Seas (226,000) will move into the top 10. That will give Royal Caribbean nine of the 10 biggest ships.

Allure and Oasis are likely to remain firmly entrenched at the top for the foreseeable future. Part of making ships more energy efficient, just like making cars more energy efficient, is to make them lighter.

You may have noticed the asterisk next to Allure of the Seas. That’s because while it weighs the same as Oasis of the Seas, Allure is two inches longer.

So much for making gross tonnage the criteria!

In the news…

• Crystal Serenity heading to North America following world cruise in 2017
• First robot to read human emotions, Pepper, going on Costa ships next year
• First details about Harmony of the Seas thrill water slide, Ultimate Abyss

Today at portsandbows.com: AmaWaterways announces 2017 schedule


Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
January 18, 2016
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $74
www.royalcaribbean.com

 

Chilling Out On Norwegian’s Escape

The new Norwegian Escape has now left its birthplace in Germany and is en route to its home in Miami, following a short stop in Southhampton. At 5,000 or so passengers, it is now Norwegian’s largest ship and among the top half-dozen biggest ships in the world, and it comes with some innovations.Ice Bar-1

Like a cold room.

This is a curious addition to a cruise ship. The room’s actually being called the “Snow Room” and it’s part of the ship’s spa facility. Its temperature is 14 degrees Fahrenheit and snowflakes fall from the ceiling while passengers watch and…shiver. Spa reps say this is healthy — “good for aches and pains” — but if you were trying to sell your neighbour on going on a cruise this winter and touted the Snow Room there’s a good chance your neighbour would stay home.

The whole concept of a Caribbean cruise is to, pardon the pun, “escape” from wherever you live to a temperate, sunny climate.

Norwegian tried a variation of this concept five years ago on the Epic, which until last week was the cruise line’s biggest ship. It was called The Ice Bar, kind of a play on words since bars usually include ice to cool the drinks. Well, in The Ice Bar there were icicles everywhere but in the drinks. It was so cold that you had to bundle Ice Bar-2up before entering. It wasn’t exactly the North Pole, but 10 minutes was long enough, in the interests of survival…or at least comfort. The bar has survived, too…with a little Ice Bar-3sponsorship input from Svedka (vodka) and Inniskillin (ice wine), but it seemed a strange juxtaposition for the conventional concept of what a cruise delivers.

Once the novelty wears off, maybe the Snow Room will be a bigger hit. The old hot-cold treatment thing, you know. There are people, dozens perhaps, who think that’s good for the body even if it doesn’t feel good. To some of us, these people are known as masochists. Who knows if they’re right? Who will ever know?

Or maybe spa people are just like golfers. They’ll buy anything that they think is going to make them better.

In the news…

• New Orleans, usually a homeport, becoming popular with port calls
• Dawn Princess to be renamed Pacific Explor for P&O Australia in 2017
• MSC Lirica to be customized for Chinese market when it arrives next year

Today at portsandbows.com: Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016


Celebrity Infinity
4 nights
October 23, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key West, Nassau
Inside: $272
Cost per day: $68
www.celebritycruises.com

Angkor Wat: Compelling In Cambodia

SIEM REAP, Cambodia — We’d only walked a few hundred yards into Angkor Wat, the city of temples that everybody visiting Cambodia makes a point of seeing, when we were approached by a young man who wanted to sell us a book. There aren’t many street vendors in this city, but there are some, so this was our lucky day.

“Only twenty dollars,” he said.

We negotiated, because that’s what you do in countries like Cambodia. It’s a game, we’re Angkor Wat-3told. We bought the book for ten bucks. As he walked away in pursuit of his next client, we looked inside the front cover and discovered the book was 12 years old.

Oh well, if nothing about Angkor Wat had changed in 900 years, what could have changed in the last 12?

While it’s all so old, it’s new to first-time tourists. It’s also intimidating. There’s no place like it, although in India the government is building a quasi-replica after seeing how many tourists this one attracts. Only the devout students of architecture and/or history would Angkor Wat-7make the trek to Cambodia just to see Angkor Wat but anybody who happens to be here would feel compelled to see what the fuss was about, since it’s the country’s No. 1 tourist attraction.

We happen to be here because we’re en route to taking our first river cruise, on the AmaDara, the new AmaWaterways ship making its first trip south on the Mekong River from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Because we’re here, Angkor Wat becomes a must.

What is it?

We’ve visited old temples in many places and even to our uneducated eyes, this is unique. It’s Templeland, which means — like Disneyland — you have to consider a three-day pass Angkor Wat-8that costs $40. Since we only have two days, we opt for the one-day pass of $20. For that, you get a taste of Angkor Wat, a 200-square tract of land in the Cambodian countryside that has more temples than even a marathoner could see in 72 hours.

It opens at 5:30 every morning, 365 days a year, and many people go that early to catch the sunrise behind the signature temple, called (surprise, surprise) Angkor Wat. Estimating Angkor Wat-2the size of crowds is impossible but it’s safe to say there are many, many thousands of visitors every day. Many of those are first-timers, like us.

The main temple is a healthy walk from the entrance, made healthier if you climb its 47 steps to the third (top) level. But since most of us only go this way once, who’s going to stay at the bottom?

You will see paths leading off to the surrounding forest…the one we took introduced us to young monks that we playfully called Little Monkees, plus some interesting buildings that Angkor Wat-6couldn’t rival the temples, plus some peace and quiet. You will also likely see elephants at work, giving tourists rides. And, unfortunately, you will see fellow tourists who don’t respect the “rules” of solitude, of removing hats in the temples, of covering shoulders and knees, and of leaving their luggage at home.

Cambodian officials tolerate the offenders.

“If you don’t come,” said one, “I don’t have a job.”

The photos of this and other temples tell you more about them than our words can. What we can tell you is that the preferred mode of travel, in our opinion, is by tuk-tuk. The Angkor Wat-4Cambodian version of the taxi will take you to the park (or city) from Siem Reap (about seven miles away), and from one temple to the next, in some cases a mile or more apart.

Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Nary, spoke passable English but not enough to be a tour guide. Each temple has people who do that, for a fee of course, but we didn’t feel inclined, since we were there for more of an overview than for specific facts about temples.

Besides, for that, we had our book.

In the news…

• Costa Luminosa to kick off Panama Canal cruise season October 3
• Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter on Queen Mary 2 in October
• MSC raises $4.5 million for UNICEF with 'Get On Board For Children'

Today at portsandbows.com: What's happening with Silversea in  2017


Norwegian Escape
10 nights
October 29, 2015
London to Miami
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64
www.ncl.com

More Breaks For Single Cruisers

 

Cruise times are changing. They always are. Here’s one of the latest…

Cunard announced a refurbishment of the Queen Mary 2, and with it comes news that 15 single staterooms will be added. The rationale from Cunard is that single rooms are necessary because not only are more people cruising solo, but there are more family groups traveling together that include singles. There are already single staterooms available on fleetmates Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria

There is no single supplement for these cabins. In other words, you pay the same per-person price as you would if two to a cabin.

Other cruise lines have been ahead of that curve for some time. The Epic, with 128 solo cabins (some connecting) was the first in the Norwegian fleet with the highly-popular option for single travelers. There’s also a Studio Lounge, for the exclusive use of passengers who book in the solo cabins. With no single supplement they sell out quickly. Surprisingly, there are fewer single cabins on Norwegian’s latest ships, the Getaway and the Breakaway (59 on each). 

The Escape, being launched in the fall, will have 82. 

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas each have 28 single staterooms, and Ovation of the Seas, also arriving this fall, will apparently also have 28 solo cabins. No single supplements apply.

Costa Cruises has 17 solo cabins on at least two of its ships, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa. There is a single supplement, although not exorbitant.

Carnival does offer some value-priced solo cruise fares, with some supplements as low as five per cent.

One thing is certain: In the cruise world, singles are being heard.

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrity's 'Evenings Around The World'

Norwegian Jewel
5 nights
May 1, 2016
Los Angeles, Astoria, Victoria, Vancouver
Inside: $309
Cost per day: $61
www.ncl.com

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