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Mass Market of a Billion Cruisers?

Undoubtedly, you have heard the joke, or a variation of it. The (full in your favorite football team) made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose on a last-second field goal by…

The punch line is: "And a billion people in China didn't even notice."

Well, until recently a billion people in China didn't care much about going on a cruise, either. That, however, is changing and Princess Cruises — for one — is reacting accordingly.

Five new Princess offices are being opened in China, one of the emerging Asian nations that are starting to get into cruising. As Princess CEO Alan Buckelew put it: 

"The cruise vacation market is in its infancy in China, and…the new offices will support marketing efforts to increase the number of Chinese passengers sourced for our global cruises.”

It's not that Princess (and other lines) haven't been selling cruises before now. The woman appointed "country director" has been the international sales agent for Princess and Cunard for the last eight years. It's just that opening five offices takes a cruise commitment to another level.

And where are the offices?

Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Chengdu.

For people in the cruise industry, mentioning the names of those five cities used to mean as much as the names of the Super Bowl teams did to a billion Chinese people. Hmm, maybe that will change one day, too…

Holland America Ryndam
22 nights
October 26, 2013
RomePalermo, La Goulette, FlorenceMonte CarloMarseilleBarcelonaMalaga, Cadiz, LisbonHalf Moon CayTampa
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $59
www.hollandamerica.com

No Time to Get Sick Cruising

The Right Price………………………………………………………….$471
Ship: Caribbean Princess, Southern Caribbean, 7 days
Departure: April 10 or April 24, 2011, return from San Juan, Puerto Rico
Ports: St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Domenica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba
Contact: Princess Cruise Lines

* * *

Being sick on a cruise ship is always a problem. One or more of four things is going to happen:

(1) If you’re sick when you go through the embarkation process, you may not get past the medical officer, and there goes the $900 you spent on your cruise.
(2) If you get past the medical officer with a “clearance to continue” you may be quarantined and spent your week-long vacation in your cabin, plus have to pay for medical treatment.
(3) If you get sick after the ship leaves, cabin confinement and cost come into play again, unless it’s Norovirus, in which case cruise lines generally cover the cost of treating “outbreak” illnesses.
(4) If you’re sick before or during a cruise, you’re going to feel like spending too much time in your cabin.

And now it’s mea culpa time.

On at least three of our cruises, one of us (we’ll let you guess which one) boarded the ship while feeling “under the weather.” The under-the-weatherness was diagnosed as sinusitis and it wasn’t contagious. We know this because the person sharing the stateroom with him (oops) never caught it. Also because one of the doctors consulted (off the ship) said so.

But frankly, the contagiousness of the condition was overshadowed by the costliness. We’re just like everybody else. We didn’t go all that way and spend all that money to be turned away at the gangplank because of congestion, coughing or a case of the sniffles. We didn’t know that we would be turned away, we only knew that we could be.

The alternative? Take out insurance to cover that eventuality, and add “hundreds” of dollars to the cost of your vacation. Each. As we said, we’re just like everybody else.

Which ships? Which cruises? Are you kidding? We still don’t want them to know…would you?

Walking on Water — Fitness at Sea

My husband has been telling me for years that I can “walk on water.” Not sure what he means by that. Maybe just that I can walk a cruise ship’s promenade deck, or spend 30 minutes on its treadmill. That I have done.

A couple of cruises ago, I decided it was time to get fit…you know, better late than never! Long a walker and treadmill-er, I’d never had any advice from anyone for a “personalized” fitness routine.

After visiting the Norwegian Spirit’s fitness center a few times, I made an appointment with Rodleigh, the fitness director.  After a couple of (paid) consultations, my new-found fitness guru prepared that personalized plan, dependent on my personal goals. It was a plan I was supposed to follow forever. I’m still working on the forever part!

Cruise ship fitness centers are usually set up with floor-to-ceiling windows, making workout time more enjoyable than looking at four walls or, worse yet, four mirrors. It’s also possible to walk or run on an outdoor promenade deck, and there’s usually a sign somewhere to let you know how many laps make a mile.

On Norwegian and Princess ships, fitness centers are open 24 hours a day. Most lines have set hours, and a state-of-the-art selection of workout machines on virtually all ships — some may be only for state-of-the-art bodies. There’s often the option to attend fitness, pilates, yoga, aerobics and body conditioning classes. Sometimes with a fee, but it’s usually nominal. If you’ve started a fitness routine at home, there’s no need to give it up when cruising. No built-in excuses for beefing up at the buffet!

This week, NCL announced that it was teaming up with wellness expert Jillian Michaels (she of the state-of-the-art body). The female tiger on NBC’s The Biggest Loser show will run a four-day Wellness Cruise, leaving Miami on October 21st.

Hmm, I didn’t think about making wellness expert one of my goals!

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