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Kevin Sheehan No Undercover Boss Now

As our colleague Phil Reimer always says — and he is The Expert, after all — corporate news about cruising is usually as interesting to people on cruises ships as what the captain had for breakfast.

SheehanThe Kevin Sheehan story, we think, is different.

On Friday, Sheehan resigned/was fired/left as the head of Norwegian Cruise Lines. The “s” on “Line” has applied since Norwegian purchased Regent Seven Seas and Oceania. It’s always been a complicated or complex relationship because Apollo Management owned half of Norwegian and all of Oceania, but the long and short of it is that Sheehan’s replacement is Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania.

But that’s probably not what should interest you (and us).

This should…

It was Kevin Sheehan who elevated Norwegian from being just another player to a high-profile member in the club of major cruise lines, albeit a junior member. He spent seven years at Norwegian, becoming CEO in 2010, when he had to stickhandle through the mess created by a ship the industry — but not the passengers — have often ridiculed as a misfit, the Epic.

Once the economy showed signs of recovery, Sheehan turned Norwegian into an entertainment icon at sea, and became part of a show not at sea when he appeared on Sheehan-UndercoverUndercover Boss, which at least gave the impression he was very hands-on and very much the public face of Norwegian Cruises. He also embarked on a four-ship expansion that will be something of a legacy, once the third (Escape) and fourth (Bliss) arrive in his absence. At least two of the four Breakaway and Breakaway Plus ships have his signature pub (O’Sheehan’s) so you could say his footprint remains on Norwegian, but nowhere is it more obvious than on the Breakaway.

It was the first cruise ship to be anchored in New York for year-round sailings, and it was always presented as “New York’s ship.” Sheehan, you should know, is a New Yorker. Under Breakawayhis direction, the Breakaway has a “New York” Boardwalk, New York godmothers (The Rockettes), Broadway entertainment (Rock of Ages), a New York hull artist (Peter Max) who painted a New York skyline, and a famous New York chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, whose restaurant adorns the ship’s eateries.

The Breakaway was the blueprint for the Getaway, which has everything Miami, which is Sheehan’s other home.

Or was until Friday.

So if you like what you see on the newest Norwegian ships, you probably have Kevin Sheehan to thank for it.

Now the questions that remain are: (1) Will he surface with another cruise line that likes what he did? and (2) Will O’Sheehan’s still be called O’Sheehan’s?

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Norwegian's news

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
10 nights
March 30, 2015
Baltimore (return): Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten  
Inside: $682
Cost per day: $68
www.royalcaribbean.com

 

Photo Essay: Captains of the Seas

We’ve only met, over the years of cruising, one ship’s captain we didn’t like — and that's likely because he never gave us the chance to like him (“I don’t do interviews”). This is a colony of mostly men who are all personable, often funny, always accommodating and forever fascinating.

These are our top ten, in no particular order — hey, what's wrong with having 10 favourites? — and we've included something about them that we hope you'll find interesting:

1-Capt. Gustavsen-Sky

Captain Roger Gustavsen (Norway), Norwegian Sky 
The first captain to invite us to watch departure from the bridge, he once had his mother there on the Norwegian Dream while negotiating the Kiel Canal: “You know how mothers always like to tell their sons what to do. She wanted to tell me how to drive the ship!”

2-Capt. Manetas-Eclipse

Captain Dimitrios Manetas (Greece), Celebrity Eclipse 
He watched ships come and go from his home in Piraeus, near Athens: “
I knew when I was a teenager, about 15, that I would be on the sea. it always inspired me. I was always curious for the unknown.”

3-Henrik Loy-Explorer

Captain Henrik Loy (Norway), Explorer of the Seas 
​One of the youngest (38) captains anywhere, he met his wife Karina, now a mother of three, when she was a dancer on Liberty of the Seas when they met and he calls it: “A true love boat story. We are really on the same page and we make it work.

4-Frank Juliussen-Epic

Captain Frank Juliussen (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
He had to overcome seasickness and bad days at sea: “
I don't have bad days and I have learned to enjoy this. You meet a lot of nice people. The world is full of nice people, and a lot of them do what they call ‘dirty work’ on cruise ships.”

5-Capt. Amitrano

Captain Fabio Amitrano (Italy), Coral Princess  A seaman for more than four decades since he left Ischia, a resort island with hot springs: “All the ladies come there to look younger. It must work, because they keep coming back!” 

6-Capt. Viacama-Ecstasy

Captain Andrea Viacava (Italy), Carnival Ecstasy 
A character with an easy laugh and a sense of humor: "
When I am stressed, I go down in the galley and cook a meal. I cook something every day. Gnocci, risotto with pumpkin…sometimes I cook for 40 persons.”

7-Capt. Dahlgren-Navigator

Captain Patrik Dahlgren (Sweden), Navigator of the Seas 
He’s still not 40, he’s now Royal Caribbean’s Vice-President of Marine Operations for Quantum of the Seas Technology, after serving for years as the youngest captain anywhere on the ocean: “I started when I was 12.”

8-Capt. Manzi-Coral

Captain Luca Manzi (Italy), Oceania Riviera 
When he visits his roots in Italy: “I still have to explain what I do for a living. My friends ask what I do — ‘Sailing?' In Italian, it's the word used to surf the Internet, so now I say I do nothing for a living."

9-Capt. Vorren-Epic

Captain Trygve Vorren (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
Not long before he died suddenly, he shared thoughts on the size of ships: “What will catch people’s attention will be the future. Look at the last 20 years…we developed technology we never imagined. What did we do, not in cruising but in life, before the Internet?”

10-Capt. Tore-Allure

Captain Tore Grimstad (Norway), Allure of the Seas 
Now sharing the captain’s chair on the Allure with close friend Johnny Faevelen, he was once on an American-Russian-Norwegian ship with the capability of launching rockets, near the equator: “I was captain, not a rocket scientist!"

Today at portsandbows.com: Reflecting on the cruise news of 2014

Carnival Glory
7 nights
January 24, 2015
Miami (return): Half Moon CaySan JuanSt. Thomas
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $42
www.carnival.com

 

Cruise Ships And Entertainment

Almost every cruise ship has entertainment. Here are some of our favorite entertainers over the years…

Allure-ChicagoThe signature production on Allure of the Seas reminded us what a terrific musical Chicago is — guess that's why it's been around for almost 40 years!

Riviera-FlamencoNot actually "on" the Oceania Riviera, this Flamenco dancer turned everyone's head at the then-new ship's christening ceremony on the Barcelona waterfront.

Navigator-Unexpecteds The Unexpected Boys, from an organization of tribute acts (The Four Seasons), on Navigator of the Seas

Unexpected Boys…and off-stage, where they have real names (left to right): Nick Celona, Aaron Young, Doug Carpenter and Scott Pearson.

Crown- Tony Tillman, named Princess Entertainer-of-the-Year on the Crown Princess, was inspired by the late Sammy Davis Jr. and has made a career playing him.

Blue Man Until seeing Blue Man Group on the Norwegian Epic, we might have considered this one scary act…but what a funny, entertaining show.

Glory Dayz-1A talented group from Rhode Island, Glory Dayz seemed headed for a bright future in cruising after spending a week auditioning on Explorer of the Seas.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

MSC Divina
7 nights
March 7, 2015
Miami (return): St. MaartenSan JuanBahamas
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49
www.msccruisesusa.com

Cruise Line Captures Cool Idea

In case you missed the memo, Frozen is hot. That’s Frozen the movie, plus all the Frozen-moviemerchandise that comes with it …can you say “What’s under the Christmas tree this year?” In fact, Frozen is so hot that it’s on the high seas, in a way.

The one-year-old movie that appeals to all-year-olds is not going to be on any of the big screens that ships now have, with the possible exception of Disney. Olaf will not be your maitre d’— although he could be a Scandinavian ship captain if that happens to be his name. Elsa is not likely to be the girl by the pool taking drink orders. There will not be a reindeer ride on Sven, at least not yet.

Frozen-OceaniaFrozen is on Oceania.

Clearly hoping to catch your eye by capitalizing on the movie’s fame, the promotional line reads like this: “With Oceania Cruises, Frozen describes only the refreshing tropical drink in your hand…as you leisurely sail from one sun-drenched Caribbean island to another.”

The come-on is called “Frozen…a la Oceania Cruises.”

So, there is Frozen…and there is Frozen. 

And that’s how you mix your drink with a movie.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas
7 nights
January 25, 2015
San Juan (return): BarbadosSt. LuciaAntiguaSt. MaartenSt. Croix
Inside: $382
Cost per day: $54
www.royalcaribbean.com

Cruise Critic Editors' Best Of…Cruising

 

Anybody who has been on more than a few cruises is inevitably going to be asked: “What’s your favorite…ship…destination…cruise…port…activity…restaurant…?”

There are no correct answers, given that everybody’s cruising taste is different in every area. Sometimes, it’s incredible how much stock all of us put in recommendations of others, qualified or not.

Cruise passengers pay attention to “awards” and that’s why we write about them. Among the most credible awards are Cruise Critic’s — some of them determined by cruisers, some by editors. The latter is the latest, announced this week.

The editorial staff at Cruise Critic is nameless, identified only as an ”international team of editors.” The awards they just announced — 18 of them —  cover everything from new ships to itineraries to romance, and we thought a sampling of them would be appropriate today. 

So…

If you’re looking for the best new ship from 2014, head for Bayonne, N.J. and board Quantum of the Seas.

If you’re into luxury, you have to go a little further…to France, because that’s where Ponant is based (Marseille) and where you can cruise on one of three small ships and enjoy authentic French cuisine, among other things.

If you’re after the best bang for your buck, it’s Carnival.

Best dining? Oceania, which features Jacques Pepin and Kathryn Kelly.

Best entertainment? Norwegian…think Blue Man, Legends in Concert, Rock of Ages.

If a few more inches and a few more amenities in a standard stateroom is important, check out Holland America.

And if you wonder which cruise line has the best itineraries, Cruise Critic’s editors like Princess — for the second year running.

What it all adds up to is an educated guess at what you’re going to like best (or better), as long as your taste is similar to the critical eyes of Cruise Critic.

Today at portsandbows.com: Special news from Silversea

Crown Princess
3 nights
January 6, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $129
Cost per day: $43
www.princess.com

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