Midst the snow and the cold of late winter, the upper decks of cruise ships provide a welcome escape, even if only in pictures. Today’s selection is the pool decks of some ships we’ve been on, to see if you think a deck is a deck is a deck…so, do you?
Tag-Archive for » Royal Caribbean «
We’ve often been asked: “What’s your favorite cruise ship?” It’s a question often asked of anybody who cruises a lot by people who cruise a little, or less. Our answer, one we borrowed from the late John Maxtone-Graham, is always the same: “The one we’re on.” That’s pretty much how we feel. When you love cruising, you rarely go on a cruise that you don’t enjoy. At the risk of sounding like Pollyannas, to us cruises are just varying degrees of good. Having said that, over the last six years, these are the six cruise ships we enjoyed the most, for a variety of reasons…
Norwegian Epic: Critics always trash it, but in two cruises we’ve found the complaints mostly trivial.
Allure of the Seas: It’s hard to believe anybody who is objective could find fault with this ship-that-has-it-all.
Coral Princess: In our world, she’s the queen of Alaska, with a feel we call “comfortable in every way.”
Costa Diadema: When you like all things Italian, as we do, you like the flagship of Italy’s main cruise line.
Celebrity Eclipse: When you spend six days at sea, you either love or hate a ship — we loved the Eclipse.
Norwegian Sun: This has everything to do with our longest cruise, 19 days, on a ship that became “home.”
In the news…
• Carrie Underwood joins Carnival Live! in November to raise funds for vets
• Upcoming SS United States Conservancy announcement to save the ship
• Fog in Tampa once again causes chaos for Carnival Paradise, AidaVita
Today at portsandbows.com: What’s next for Princess Cruises
This is a blog about Royal Caribbean, Haiti and reading between the lines. A lot of people are doing that these days following what appeared to be a fairly innocent incident this month: ships skipping Labadee because of a group of protesters on the water offshore.
Little more than that was said…at first. What has been said since may turn into a much bigger snowball by the time it gets to the bottom of the hill, as the analogy goes.
According to people on ships that turned around, Royal Caribbean officials said the protests had to do with upcoming (and postponed) elections in Haiti. After passengers dug deeper, they found the protesters were holding up signs because Royal Caribbean was not living up to its promise to build schools, hospitals and self-esteem in one of the world’s most impoverished countries.
As a result, more people than ever are re-examining the cruise line’s “private resort” known as Labadee. As a result, critics like maritime lawyer Jim Walker are ripping Royal Caribbean in commentaries — logically presented — for making excessive profits at the expense of Haitian people who thought they were going to benefit from the development of Labadee.
As a result, now people are questioning why Royal Caribbean ships have returned to Labadee, as they did this week. More and more the answer appears to be money. Period. Going to another port deprives the cruise line of an enormous revenue stream. The “private resort” is waterfront property the cruise line bought for a song and it’s surrounded by barbed-wire fencing to protect passengers who spend millions zip-lining and lounging in cabanas or renting equipment to use on the water, and to keep out poor Haitians who want to sell their crafts and try to escape their poverty.
“Royal Caribbean pays no actual rent of any kind…but its passengers pay a $10 to $12 head tax,” writes Walker, who is a well-known thorn in the side of cruise lines but who has probably touched a raw nerve this time.
If the head tax goes to the government as “rent” then fees for the “world’s longest zipline” and most of passengers spend in Labadee is likely pure profit for Royal Caribbean. A conservative estimate is that’s about 10,000 visitors every week.
We’ve only been to Labadee once. One of us was sick. We never ventured far enough from Allure of the Seas even to see the fence around Labadee. We never met any of the locals, as we usually do. All we really know about it is what we’ve learned from Royal Caribbean, including how it’s dedicated to helping poor Haiti.
That’s called PR…for public relations. The return of its ships to Labadee solved one problem, but now Royal Caribbean appears to have another.
A PR problem, and clearly it’s growing.
In the news…
• A $450 million multi-year product innovation and ship renovation for Princess
• Two new ships to push Royal Caribbean capacity to four million passengers a year
• Five Norwegian ships — the most ever — going to Europe for summer 2017
Today at portsandbows.com: The new Princess restaurant SHARE
For 20 years, Disney and Kimberly-Clark have been in a relationship. Disney gave Kimberly-Clark — primarily a company of paper products — the right to use Disney characters to sell Kleenex, and Huggies diapers, among other things. Well, maybe “gave” is not the right verb but if you’ve seen Mickey and Minnie on your box of tissue papers or diapers, you get the idea.
After two decades, the relationship is entering a new phase. K-C is going to provide products wherever Disney has customers (like theme parks, cruise ships and probably movie sets). Disney is going to give Kimberly-Clark the right to re-brand its baby care centers — they’ll now be called Huggies Centers — on cruise ships and in theme parks, and to sell its products in the centers…once again, “license” might be the right verb.
K-C is also sponsoring Disney’s Junior Live on Stage performances wherever they’re held.
“It really seemed to make sense, as the relationship has evolved, to take the next step,” said a spokesperson from Kimberly-Clark. “It expanded the licensing agreement into an alliance.”
Doesn’t it sound a bit like being engaged for 20 years (licensing agreement) before getting married (alliance)?
Photo: David Roark/Disney photographer
In the news…
• Norwegian Getaway to cruise summer 2017 from Warnemunde, Germany
• Royal Caribbean, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) partner on ocean conservation
• Holland America’s new Koningsdam successfully completes sea trials
Today at portsandbows.com: AmaWaterways ramps up excursions
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 will 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.
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.com: Star Wars Days on Disney Fantasy