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Majestic Princess…majestic port stays

There was an announcement from Santa Clarita, California yesterday and when cruise announcements come from this pretty city north of Los Angeles, that almost certainly means Princess Cruises has something to say.

What Princess had to say yesterday was that people who want to cruise on its new ship, the Majestic Princess, can now start to make plans. That the cruise line’s first ship in three years, since the Regal Princess, will spend its first (2017) summer in Europe, which is always a nice place to spend your summer. That passengers will be able to choose from 64 itineraries, 153 departures, 27 countries and Mediterranean cruises from five to 28 days. And that bookings can be made next Thursday, December 3.

Good stuff.

But the most interesting part of the announcement, at least in our corner of the cruise Majestic Princessworld, was that Princess ships — or at least this one — will be staying longer in ports. Overnights, even.

This is one of the growing trends for ocean ships, picking up on what river ships have long been doing…and, yes, that is a different game for many reasons. Over the past couple of years, cruise lines have started to schedule more late-night departures and some overnight stays because…surprise, surprise…the passengers like them.

How many times have you been in an interesting city and felt that your visit was being cut short because last call for the ship was four o’clock in the afternoon, which meant you probably had to start heading there at three? How many times have you wished you could have dinner and not lunch at one of the local restaurants, perhaps recommended by a local? How many times have you thought it would be nice to stay for a theatrical performance or a sports event that started after you were back at sea?

Princess is getting more into the game.

The Majestic Princess (or its seaworthy siblings) will, in a program called More Ashore, offer passengers a chance to stay in 15 European countries until 9 p.m. or later…defeating the theory that the only people on cruise ships are old, tired and in bed by dark. It will also be staying overnight in places such as Dublin, Stockholm and St. Petersburg.

So this was not only news from Santa Clarita yesterday…it was good news.

In the news…

• Record year of cruising expected for New South Wales
• Cunard’s ‘The Ultimate Upgrade’ available until November 30
• Ponant’s evacuated Le Boreal being towed to shore after fire

Today at portsandbows.comCrystal Cruises more up in the air

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
Jan 9, 2016
San Juan (return): Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78

Princess Cruising With Cat Greenleaf

Maybe we’ve been living under a rock, but we’d never heard of Cat Greenleaf. Or maybe it’s because in the morning our TV station of choice is CNN, not NBC. Or maybe it’s just because we don’t live in New York, or go to the Emmys.

So finding out something about Cat Greenleaf was…interesting.

Our motivation was that Princess Cruises is sharing — with anybody who cares to watch — a series of videos with the host of Talk Stoop, an Emmy Award-winning interview show with more than 12 million viewers, or more than live in New York City, her home. The videos are about the first cruise for her family: husband Mike, two small boys and mother-in-law (aka, babysitter).

There are 20 of them — don’t be intimidated, they’re short — and they’re well-done, because Princess always seems to do things well…or even better. They highlight all the good things about what first-time cruisers (and sometimes long-time cruisers) experience Cat Greenleaf-2in booking, sailing, enjoying and leaving a ship. It’s not clear which Princess ship this television celebrity was on, but it was the Regal Princess, which carries “5,000 people” — 3,500 plus crew.

That Princess came up with the idea is impressive. 

This is a multi-racial, two-parents-who-work family with a career-driven life that’s too busy to escape on a week-long cruise. Or has been. Sound familiar? There are many such families these days, so Princess is tapping into a large segment of what is already a large segment — first-time cruisers. We can assume, because this was a promotion for the cruise line, that this busy family didn’t pay for the cruise and that, in return, Princess got exactly what it wants the rest of us to see.

For people who have cruised a lot, a couple of things were intriguing. Who knew that a ship like this has 300 routers positioned in all corners to accommodate Wi-Fi? Did Cat Greenleaf really hurt her foot, necessitating a trip to the ship’s doctor and an opportunity to talk about the “hospitals” at sea? And how did she manage to wander through the kitchen without wearing one of those antiseptic white coats the rest of us have worn on kitchen visits?

But the concept is clever, to say the least, and Princess did a service not just for its brand but for the entire industry with this first-person, one-person videos to let the rest of the world in on why cruising is the vacation choice of millions. Plus, it’s good for Cat Greenleaf far beyond a happy cruise experience, because now she has more people who know of her and Talk Stoop.

At least two.

In the news…

• Anthem of the Seas makes Martinique port call amid joy, sorrow, silence
• Celebrity Exclipse to return to Southampton for seventh straight summer
• Top-selling romance book authors on Princess Valentine's Day cruise

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival and craft beer

Celebrity Equinox
14 nights
April 15, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Ponta Delgada, Lisbon, Seville, Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona
Inside: $899
Cost per day: $64

Princess Lands ‘The Voice of the Ocean’

On September 21, The Voice returns to NBC for Season 9. On October 3, The Voice of the Ocean goes on Princess Cruises for Season 1.

The competition on Princess ships is the same concept as in the TV studio. Blind auditions followed by coaching. Performances behind the three rotating chairs occupied by the “coaches.” For any number of reasons, starting with logistics, the chairs won’t be occupied by Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams or Gwen Stefani.

Because Voice of the Ocean will be on 11 ships and 24 cruises between October and next  May, those coaches will be “charismatic” people who might also be guest performers on the ships, or hotel managers or even captains.

The contestants?

That’s you!

Passengers with talent will be invited to auditions. With mentors by their sides, they’ll be polished and accompanied by back-up singers and musicians. The coaches will pick their The Voice-2teams, just like they do on TV, and on the last night of the cruise members of the audience will vote with remotes to determine who wins The Voice of the Ocean Trophy.

The first show will be on the Regal Princess when it departs from New York. That will be followed by The Voice of the Ocean performances on the Royal, Caribbean, Emerald, Ruby, Golden, Island, Coral, Crown, Grand and Star Princesses with the final departure from Vancouver to Alaska on May 14.

The inaugural cruise, on the Regal, will sail up the coast and into Canada and back during the autumn colors. The cruise is from New York, return. 

Hey, if the winners are good enough, they can go straight to Broadway!

In the news…

AmaWaterways christens AmaSerena on banks of the Danube
• Viking Star: one cruise cancelled, one delayed by mechanical repair
• Low water on European rivers still haunting ships and cruisers

Today at portsandbows.com: More big money people in cruising

Carnival Ecstasy
3 nights
September 18, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $63

The World Of Carnival — And More


The accepted definition of the word “carnival” — at least in North America — is as follows: “a traveling amusement show or circus.”

Unless you cruise on a Carnival ship.

And then, maybe it does mean a traveling amusement show or circus” — and much more.

With that in mind, here are some “more” things that Carnival is…

• If you’re used to taking “quickie” cruises on Carnival, you will have some longer options. Next year, four ships are testing 11 cruises up to two weeks long, something that until now hasn’t been in Carnival’s playbook.

• The world’s largest cruise line is launching more than ships. Its marketers plan to float the concept of “an interactive marketing campaign” to create more of a demand for its product among people who don’t cruise…people who use social media…people who are younger. Can a cruise crowd get any younger than Carnival’s?

• Carnival portends to be the most popular cruise line on water (where else would a ship be?)…and also “on line.” Last month, three prizes (including vacations) were given away every three hours during a 24-hour Fun-A-Thon. Why three? Carnival now has three million friends on Facebook.

• If you have a player’s card at a Tropicana casino in Laughlin, Atlantic City, Aruba, Greenville, Baton Rouge or Lake Tahoe, you can use your comp dollars or points on a Carnival cruise. Hmm…there is a Tropicana in Las Vegas, isn’t there?

• When Porthole Cruise Magazine announced its Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014, Carnival won five, running its 16-year total to 135. There are two ways of looking at this. On the upside, no other cruise line has won 135 since 1999. On the downside, prior to 2014, Carnival was averaging more (eight) per year.

But hey, Carnival’s “a traveling amusement show or circus”…right?

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Regal Princess
3 nights
April 12, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays
Balcony: $349
Cost per day: $116

Princess Floats With Fun Idea

Ahoy, ye landlubbers! You’ve seen cruise ships sitting on the top of cliffs impersonating hotels. You’ve seen the innards of cruise ships outside a football stadium, attending tailgate parties.

How about “sailing” down Colorado Boulevard in Los Angeles?

That’s where the Regal Princess — or a reasonable facsimile of it — will be on New Year’s Day. The ship (it doesn’t arrive in North America until November 10) has been turned into a float in a parade. Now there’s a double entendre of sorts…the ship’s a-float, and the ship’s a float.

Rose Bowl floatThis will be the first time Princess has been in America’s best-known parade, which serves as a prelude to its best-known college football game. It will be just a little smaller than its matron — 60 feet long, 24 feet high — and it will be made of flowers, because that’s what floats are in the Rose Bowl Parade, when the six original cast members of The Love Boat will be riding on the “deck.”

This “Regal Princess” has already been christened, two weeks ahead of the one that doesn’t cruise down Colorado Boulevard. That means she already has a Godmother, Princess Vice-President of PR Julie Benson, who as she smashed a bottle of bubbly (or confetti) on the float’s bow declared: “I name this float Regal Princess. May God bless her and all who cruise down Colorado Boulevard on her.”

In addition to seizing a photo op that will be viewed by 80 million TV watchers on January 1, Princess is clearly having some fun with the concept.

Maybe the next step will be to have her on display on a Princess ship.

They can call it The Love Float.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas
4 nights
November 17, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $37

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