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New ship No. 8 — Seabourn Encore

Eighth in a series of new ships for 2016

Seabourn is an ultra-luxury cruise line that has been around for 30 years but effectively became a player in 2009 when the revolutionary Seabourn Odyssey arrived. With selling older ships Pride, Spirit and Legend to Windstar, the Encore is now Seabourn’s fourth ship and will be followed by a fifth in 2018 — the Ovation. So how does “ultra luxury” move to something better, such as “infinite luxury?” It hires a master designer named Adam D. Tihany, who is known for his elegant design of high-class resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Launch date: December 4

Capacity: 604

Sister ships: None (yet)

Maiden voyage: Athens to Dubai

Home port: Several in Asia and Australia

Ships then in Seabourn fleet: 4

Interesting: The plan is what will be this small-ship line’s biggest ship at 40,000 gross tonnes is for it and the Ovation to be regarded as kings of the luxury business. Yet as Seabourn points out that architecturally it will not be significantly different than the other three ships, the Encore designed by Tihany will be “softer” and “curvaceous” with unexpected surprises and subtle transformations that “are not meant to be described but rather discovered.” In other words, seasoned Seabourn customers will expect the traditional exclusivity and privacy traits that has made the line ultra luxurious, but find a few new touches to what will be a larger private yacht than they’ve previously experienced.

In the news…

• High-diving comedy among shows planned for Harmony of the Seas
• Norwegian’s Harvest Caye opening delayed nine months until November
• Azamara’s first world cruise — 61 ports, 29 countries — set for 2018

Today at portsandbows.com: Another new ship coming for AmaWaterways


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 19, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97
www.royalcaribbean.com

If Sick, May It Be On A Cruise Ship

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been at least three reports of airlifting cruise passengers from ships for medical reasons…obviously emergencies.

A week ago, on the Carnival Triumph, an eight-month-old baby was having seizures and had to be airlifted to Houston.

Earlier in the month, a 51-year-old woman on the Carnival Magic was taken from the ship by helicopter 180 miles from Galveston after suffering from respiratory problems.

Also last month, near New Zealand, a 23-year-old passenger had a suspected heart attack and was flown from the Seabourn Odyssey to a hospital.

The bottom line is what one ship’s doctor told us last year.

“The best place to have a heart attack, or many other medical problems, is on a cruise ship,” he said. “You pick up the phone in your stateroom, call the medical center, and we’re in your room within minutes. And we have all the equipment needed to deal with such emergencies.”

And when necessary, to bring in a helicopter.

That doesn’t mean medical emergencies always have happy endings. It just means there’s a good chance that they will.

And of course this applies to the thousands of people who work on ships, too.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas
3 nights
April 24, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau, Coco Cay
Inside: $284
Cost per day: $94
www.royalcaribbean.com

Island Competition for Pride of America?

Perhaps like you, one day we'd like to cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. In our world, it's like cruising in paradise.

Typically, this means booking passage on Norwegian's Pride of America, which for seven years now has been in the rather unique position of being able to navigate a couple of old laws that almost every other ship can't. Because Pride of America is (mostly) built in the U.S., because it's owned by an American company (NCL America) and because its crew members are either Americans or "legal" aliens, it qualifies.

Almost every other cruise ship is registered in another country, and almost every other cruise ship employs international crew members. There are other cruise lines sailing around the islands, but all their cruises begin on the U.S. mainland and make a port stop in another country, usually Mexico.

But now Pride of America is getting some competition.

Or is it?

The Safari Explorer (American Safari Cruises) began inter-island cruising in Hawaii last year and has a full slate of 7-night cruises called Hawaiian Seascapes available from November to April this year and next, between Lanai and the Big Island. Business must be good because in November 2013, American Safari's Wilderness Explorer will start a different itinerary called AdventureBound Hawaii between Oahu and the Big Island.

This would seem to be a winner for cruisers, because competition is always good.

However…

Using the cheapest fare available as a benchmark, a 7-night cruise on Pride of America, round-trip from Honolulu, will cost $1,100 per person. To that, you add taxes, gratuities and shore excursions.

A 7-night cruise on Safari Explorer will cost $5,000, and it includes everything. However, you still have to get to Lanai or the Big Island to board the ship. A 7-night cruise on Wilderness Explorer will cost $2,500, and just about everything seems to be included. Again, you do have to fly to or from the Big Island at the beginning or end of your cruise.

Will this cut into Pride of America's dominance in the market?

What do you think?


Seabourn Odyssey
7 nights
October 20, 2012
Venice, Sibenik, Kotor, Corfu, Argostoli, Pylos, Nauplion, Athens
Balcony: $2,199
Cost per day: $314
www.seabourn.com

New Ships: MSC Divina

There will be eight new cruise ships launched this year, two of them refurbished ships that have been given new names. As 2012 gets underway, we’re giving you a snapshot of all of them…

Launch date: May 26

Capacity: 3,959

Staterooms: 1,739

Sister ships: Splendida, Fantasia

Maiden Voyage: Marseille

Home Port: Venice

Ships now in MSC fleet: 12

Interesting: The great Italian actress Sophia Loren told MSC owner and close friend Gianluigi Aponte that she always wanted to have a cruise ship named after her, so Aponte immediately changed Fantastica — the chosen name — to Divina, which means “divine” which to Italians more aptly describes Sophia.

DAILY DEAL:
Seabourn Odyssey
12 nights
March 21
Transatlantic: Fort Lauderdale, Madeira (Portugal), Lisbon
Oceanview Suite $2,499
www.seabourn.com

Carnival's Spirit of Australia

Photo by Jean-Philippe Boulet

When you take something and give it an authentic Australian flavor, are you “Aussifying” it…or “Australizing” it…or just putting it on the barbie?

Whatever it is, that’s what Carnival is doing to the good ship Spirit, in preparation for its winter Down Under in 2012.

So what exactly is Aussifying?

In the world of cruise ships, it’s banning tipping, which might be enough to lure all of us who love to cruise to do it in Australia. It’s improving the quality of coffee, which means changing the coffee machines and re-training the baristas. Again, a tactic worth spreading. And it’s about serving beer on tap instead of the American way, in bottles. Now this may sound a little chauvinistic, but is there anything more disagreeable than seeing a woman drink beer out of a bottle?

So, no tipping, better coffee, no beer bottles.

Those are the changes that don’t require a contractor. The ones that do are making more rooms connect, because Aussies have bigger families than Americans (it’s in the water), and installing slot machines, ATMs and laundry machines that are compatible with Australian coins. Tweaking the slots so that you win more would also keep the cruisers happy, but nobody mentioned anything about that.

And yes, mate, the Spirit will have a barbie. No mention of Ken.

DAILY DEAL:
Seabourn Odyssey
10 nights
November 29, 2011
Rome to Malaga (seven stops)
Balcony $2,299 (regular $19,425)
www.seabourn.com

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