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Cunard Cocktails…And All That Jazz

A good part of being successful in the cruise business, or any business for that matter, is knowing your clientele.

For Cunard that means The Savoy, Jack Daniel’s and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

It may be news to you, as it was to us, that “The Savoy” stands for Savoy Beaufort Bar — last year chosen the Best International Bar and now the inspiration for Age of Discovery. What’s Age of Discovery? A specially created (by the team at The Savoy), barrel-aged, limited edition cocktail.

Clearly, that appeals to Cunard’s clientele.

That’s where Jack comes in. One of Jack’s barrels will be on the Queen Mary 2 and from it Dee Dee Bridgewaterwill be poured the Age of Discovery. This will happen on the ship’s four-month World Voyage, 50 weeks from now, and if you’re thinking that one barrel of Jack Daniel’s won’t last four months, welcome to the club.

The barrel holds 300 litres, and you can only assume Cunard will have a generous supply of Age of Discovery to re-fill it.

Dee Dee Bridgewater?

She’ll be on the Queen Mary 2 as well, but not next January. She’s part of a different Cunard theme, the one that attracts jazz lovers to cruise ships. An industry icon with three Grammys, a Tony and credentials as a United Nationals Goodwill Ambassador as part of her resume, the jazz legend will board the ship in New York for one of its crossings to Southampton.

During the 7-night cruise the last week of October, she’ll play three intimate shows in a week designed to attract the jazz crowd. In a career now more than four decades long, she recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and played Billie Holiday on stage.

Also performing will be the International Jazz Artist of the Year, Gregory Porter. If his name is unfamiliar, it matters little. The jazz aficionados know and that is Cunard’s clientele…at least for the last week of November.

In the news…

• Holland America’s Eurodam passengers first to experience upgrades
• Royal Caribbean scraps some improvements for Majesty of the Seas
• Protests in Haitian waters forces Freedom of the Seas to take a pass

Today at portsandbows.comStar Wars Days on Disney Fantasy

Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas
3 nights
April 4, 2016
Miami (return): Nassau, CocoCay
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $73
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

 

Musical Match for Queen Mary 2

Of all the cruise lines that have matched entertainers with their demographic, it’s unlikely any of them has done it better than Cunard.

Herbie HancockHerbie Hancock plays the Queen Mary 2.

The child prodigy is 75. It stands to reason that many of the cruise passengers who will be enamoured by his music are of the same vintage. Maybe 65. Maybe even 55. But 75 for sure.

Hancock is of another era, of course, one in which the lyrics were audible and the notes melodic. Presumably his band members are of another era, too, because it was them who convinced him to take a ride on the Queen Mary 2 last month. Maybe they were scouting Cunard’s Blue Note voyages for a man who plays not only blues but also jazz, classical, R&B, funk, bebop, pop and just about any genre of music imaginable.

By ear.

At age 11, he played Mozart. At 20, he begged another self-taught jazz pianist from Chicago (Chris Anderson) to take Hancock under his wing. Within three years, he was playing with Miles Davis. Today, he is renowned for his work on anything with a keyboard…a Grammy Award winner 14 times, an Academy Award winner once and owner of a long list of jazz awards.

Despite his age, he will regale Queen Mary 2’s passengers with three 45-minute shows QM2-NYduring the Transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York the first week of August, because the great ones always regale their audiences.

Especially when it’s such a good match.

Today at portsandbows.comCrystal river cruises a big hit


Norwegian Jade
7 nights
January 9, 2016
Houston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $449
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

Managing Pets On Board

Firstly, we must come clean: We LOVE dogs. We had a Corgi for 16 years and she traveled almost everywhere with us, many times on planes.

The other day, while disembarking from a plane, we walked by a seat occupied by a dog. He/she was standing on all fours in the middle seat, which didn’t appear to be spoiled nor a repository for something more solid, with the owner in the window seat. Since the dog’s kennel was in the overhead bin, we could only assume either the dog spent the flight held in place by a seat belt or in the overhead bin, neither of which is allowed.

Most airlines allow pets on board. Most cruise lines do not. Cunard is an exception…more on that later.

Back to the plane.

Many hours after leaving the aircraft, we discussed dogs-in-flight with two other dog lovers in our family. The vote was unanimous. Not allowed. We all remembered how the Corgi Hummersurvived all her flights in the luggage compartment, which was temperature controlled, and the process seemed to be fine with her, as it was with us.

Times have really changed.

In checking to see what the pet regulations were on this particular airline (Alaska), we were astounded. Shocked. Speechless. Not only are dogs and cats allowed in the cabin — we once saw a dog running up and down the aisle — but so are rabbits and household birds. What if your household bird is a parrot? Wouldn’t that strain your patience to hear “Polly wants a cracker” for three hours. And rabbits. If the flight’s long enough, they could multiply!

If the pets produce offensive odors or too much noise, according to Alaska, they’re taken off to the baggage compartment. Really? And who’s going to step outside and take them there? And what about other passengers who may have pet allergies. It’s not okay to have nuts on a plane because of allergic reactions, but it is okay to have pets that could cause allergic reactions. Talk about nuts!

Then there’s Cunard.

If you’re going to allow pets to travel, do it right…and Cunard does. On all Transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2, pets are allowed. In a kennel. With a kennel master. Full-time, which means he walks and feeds them and does…other things. The kennel’s open all day, allowing pet owners to visit often, and kennel capacity is 12 (unless they can share a bunk).

It’s not exactly Noah’s Ark. All breeds are welcome. There is only one stipulation, besides having “parents” willing to pay the rack rate for having pets in a cruise ship kennel.

They must have a pet passport.

In the news…

• Carnival Miracle changes itinerary to avoid Troipical Storm Blanca
• Norwegian unveils new promotion: Freestyle Choice Spectacular

• Carnival Corp's AIDA Cruises celebrates 20th birthday in Germany

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Celebrity Solstice
7 nights
July 17, 2015
Seattle (return): Ketchikan, Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria
Oceanview: $945
Cost per day: $135
www.celebritycruises.com

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