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Cruise Advertising From Customers

In an era when every-day baseball statistics now are WHIP, WAR and OBP, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that measuring success for the cruise industry now includes statistics from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For example:

Norwegian is publicizing the fact that in one 20-day period on the Escape, its customers logged 576,896 Facebook posts, 14,150 tweets and 11,367 Instagram posts, which somehow added up to 159 million impressions. This broke Norwegian’s in-house record for social media usage at sea.

Welcome to “new age advertising.”

If a cruise line can reach 159 million people in 20 days thanks to passengers who are surely posting 95 per cent (or more) positive messages, think of how much said cruise line Escape-Arno Redeniuscan save on advertising costs. The trickle-down effect on society is that fewer dollars spent on TV advertising morphs into higher cable or satellite costs for users, or poorer-quality television shows…or both. The same would be true for newspapers if that hadn’t already happened.

The good news is that because this becomes such an important vehicle for cruise lines, they will spare no cost when it comes to upgrading Internet access so that the passengers can do their thing as advertisers.

What’s next?

How about points for being a frequent tweeter?

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean locks up 10-year port agreement with U.S. Virgin Islands

- Photo by Arno Redenius

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 5, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $590
Cost per day: $84
www.royalcaribbean.com

Cruise Prompts Costa Rica Re-visit

Playa Potrero-2

One of the nice things about cruising is that when you stop in a country for the first time, it gives you a sense of whether you might like to go back. A taster, as it were.

Graven&TeaganIt happened to us with Costa Rica.

While cruising on the Norwegian Sun, we first visited Costa Rica when the ship made a port stop at Puntarenas, on the Gulf of Nicola and about 60 miles due west of San Jose (the capital). While our visit was typically short — cruise stops seldom exceed eight hours — we made a mental note that this was a country we’d like to see again.

Last week, we did….but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit a little coaxing from a cute 4-year-old granddaughter had something to do with it, too.

We went to a part of the country (Playa Potrero, whose residents include our two new best friends, Walter and Graven), to a place unlikely to ever see a cruise ship, unless it’s with high-powered binoculars as one passes in the waters of the Pacific. It’s beach country, in the north-west area known as Guanacaste. If you’ve never heard of Playa Tamarindo and Playa Coco and Playa Grande, get ready to…judging by the number of expats who have already discovered it.

While Costa Rica typically has — like most tropical countries — a rainy season, this part of the country does not. Well, okay, it gets Version 2less rain. In the winter (December to May), it gets almost no rain. In fact, the green landscape turns brown and locals call it a desert, and not because of its sandy beaches.

It’s a long drive from San Jose or Puntarenas. Mind you, sometimes it’s a long drive from village to village in this welcoming tourist destination. You get there by flying to Liberia (not that one!) and driving for roughly an hour. A growing number of airlines now include Liberia on flight schedules.

However, with our passion for boating, we needed more than beaches.

That’s where Walter and Graven come into the picture. They were co-captains of our “ship” — probably an 18-foot skiff that took us (our family of five) snorkeling. Since we’d never gone snorkeling from a cruise ship, it was a welcome alternative as experiences go, but not nearly as welcoming as Walter (the pineapple man), Graven (sharing a thumbs-up) and assorted full-time residents who reap the benefits of the tourist industry.

Without the Norwegian Sun, we may never have met.

Version 2

In the news…

• Tiffany’s boutique opens in Central Park on Oasis of the Seas
• Crystal Symphony makes maiden call at Santo Domingo
• TV’s Jeff Corwin on Panama Canal cruise with Windstar

Today at portsandbows.comArles, Avignon get A’s in France


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
9 nights
December 10, 2015
Tampa (return): Key West, St. Maarten, San Juan, Labadee
Oceanview: $739
Cost per day: $82
www.royalcaribbean.com

Norwegian, The Frank Del Rio Way

Frank Del RioWhen Frank Del Rio became CEO of the company that owns Norwegian Cruise Line, everybody who has seen him in action knew there would be more action to see. Outgoing, perhaps even flamboyant, gregarious and entertaining, he seems to stand still for nothing unless it’s for the next idea to pop into his head…within minutes, or seconds.

This week, engaging reporters on the new Norwegian Escape, here’s what Del Rio revealed to Cruise Critic’s Brittany Chrusciel…

• Every older ship will go into dry dock in 2016 and 2017, except the Jewel, which is already scheduled for 2018. By our count, that’s nine refurbishing in two years, 10 if Pride of America is part of the deal. Del Rio wants the older ships to become more popular, like the 16-year-old Regent Seven Seas Navigator is for one of his other cruise lines.

• Norwegian will start the migration towards smoke-free casinos, and the Escape will be first to become 50 per cent smoke-free. The last four Norwegian ships launched — the Epic (2010), Breakaway (2013), Getaway (2014) and Escape — have all fielded complaints about “drifting smoke” from the casinos.

Escape• Complimentary dining in the new Jimmy Buffett restaurant, Margaritaville At Sea, may be short-lived. There were long line-ups once the Escape arrived in “Jimmy Country” and when something is that popular it’s only a matter of time until it becomes an additional revenue stream. As an aside, as people who have waited in line to get into several  Margaritavilles, we get it.

What Del Rio is doing, since replacing Kevin Sheehan at the helm, is turning Norwegian into a cruise line that turns more heads.

There’s every indication that he knows exactly how to do it.

In the news…

• Viking orders two more ocean ships — fledgling fleet to be six strong by 2020
• Harmony of the Seas to combine attributes of Oasis and Quantum Class ships
• 'Tangled The Musical' world premiere on Disney Magic in Miami
• MSC Divina arrives in Florida to begin year-round cruises to Caribbean

Today at portsandbows.com: Guess where Liberty of the Seas is going?


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
January 30, 2016
Tampa (return): Key West, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel 
Inside: $560
Cost per day: $90
www.royalcaribbean.com

Only Azamara Cruisers in Normandy on D-Day

Tomorrow, on the shores of northern France, the free world will remember. It will remember that 70 years ago, armies of four nations (Great Britain, France, Canada and the U.S.) stormed the beaches of Normandy in what turned out to be the beginning of the end of World War II.

D-Day.

The armies left behind a trail of tragedy: thousands of dead soldiers, disabled and sunken vessels and code names that became familiar names of the beaches — Utah, Juno BeachJuno, Omaha, Gold and Sword — that are in the French vocabulary and on maps of France to this day. It is good to remember and, for those who still can, it is also painful.

And this has what to do with cruising?

Cruise ships occasionally land at Cherbourg, a pretty city not far from the beaches. Ironically, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day tomorrow, there will be but one ship in port: Azamara's Journey. Cherbourg isn't exactly a hotspot for cruise ships and only a handful of big ones are still on the schedule for 2014: Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Holland America's Prinsendam, Celebrity's Constellation and two from Costa Cruises.

Our visit, four years ago, was during the Celebrity Eclipse's re-positioning cruise to begin its 2010 European season. It gave us a chance to do something we'd often talked about doing: visit the beaches.

They're up to 90 minutes from the port and the only way, really, to visit them is by renting a car. So we did, getting as far as Juno Beach, where we spent so much time Normandythat we barely made it back to the Eclipse before it left to cross the Straits of Dover. Both our fathers had crossed the ocean to fight in World War II and, while neither was in Normandy on D-Day — if they had, maybe we wouldn't be here — our visit made for a moving day in towns and villages occupied by people who never do forget.

Somehow, we don't think our Dads crossed the ocean in anything remotely resembling the palatial vessel that is the Eclipse. They certainly weren't sitting in a breakfast buffet 13 stories above the water wondering what kind of croissant to have with their coffee in the morning, and we can only guess they could likely feel every whitecap hitting the hull that encased their cramped sleeping quarters.

The Eclipse was in port for maybe eight hours. Tomorrow, the Journey will be in Cherbourg for 18 hours, from six in the morning until midnight.

On D-Day, how appropriate is that?

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
4 nights
July 31, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $99
www.royalcaribbean.com

Cruise Lament: The Queen Has Left New York

Sadly, we had an email from a good friend who was going across the Atlantic on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 this week. Sadly, because he "was" going.

Our friend had a flight into New York on Friday morning. Because of weather and heavy traffic in the New York area, his flight was cancelled. No problem. There was another flight that would get him there in time…just in time, but in time nonetheless.

Fifteen minutes before the flight left, another announcement. Another delay. This one was two hours. End of travel day, end of cruise.

The ship left at 5 p.m., without him on board.

"I checked later and found out that flight got to New York at 7:45," he wrote. "By then the Queen Mary 2 was well on its way past the Statue of Liberty and heading out to the Queen Mary 2Atlantic. I know these things happen but it's always to the other guy, not me. Very disappointing and still can't believe it. I have had nothing but good luck and good times on the 10 cruises I have taken in the past six years…until now."

Ouch.

As we lamented his misfortune this weekend, we reminded ourselves to make sure — especially on long but also on short flights — to make sure we arrive in the city of departure the day before our cruise.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Negotiating the "Middle" Rhine River

Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
10 nights
August 18, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return):  CharlestonKing’s WharfNassauCoco Cay
Inside: $819
Cost per day: $81
www.royalcaribbean.com

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