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Turkey Ports A Victim Of Fear

We’ve never been on a cruise ship that stopped in Turkey. Now, chances are we never will. Such is the cruise climate in this volatile part of the world, even though Istanbul and Kusadesi aren’t in the same area code as places bordering on Syria, where there are daily fears of terrorist attacks.

On the weekend, Crystal Cruises announced Turkey was persona non grata. The Crystal Symphony was scheduled to call at the two popular Turkish ports in late April and early May, but not now. The itineraries have been revised due to the “safety and peace of mind Espritof our guests” and the Symphony will make two more stops in Greece instead. The same goes for Crystal Esprit, a future ship (above) with itineraries that were going to include Turkey. The same goes for Disney cruises that once included Istanbul.

If there’s any irony in this, it’s that avoiding Turkey isn’t exactly the antidote for safety. It’s true that a suicide bomber killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul this month, an act that was obviously the trigger for Crystal’s decision. It’s also true that tourists have either been murdered or in danger of being murdered in Tunisia, and in Paris.

Tourists feel danger everywhere, because murderous attacks strike fear in the hearts and minds of the free world’s population. But it’s all about playing the odds, isn’t it? And in a country that’s geographically close to the troubled Middle East, the odds of being a victim seem higher.

Such is life in today’s world.

In the news…

• Sea trials completed for Holland America Koningsdam
• More Australians than ever booking cruises on P&O ships

Today at portsandbows.comTwo ships coming for Emerald Waterways

Star Princess
7 nights
May 14, 2016
Vancouver (return): Sitka, Glacier Bay, Juneau, Ketchikan
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99

Christmas Trifecta for Princess Cruises

Three reasons for Princess Cruises to feel like Christmas has already arrived this year, which happens to be the cruise line’s 50th anniversary…


The Ruby Princess left Vancouver yesterday. No big deal…the Ruby Princess has been cruising in and out of the Canadian West Coast city all year. But December 15 is the latest Rubydate any Princess ship — maybe any cruise ship — has finished the season in Vancouver. If it were sports, you’d call this making the playoffs.

In a year that started earlier and ended later, Vancouver welcomed 32 ships and 800,000 cruise passengers. In addition to the annual Alaska cruises, there were some to Hawaii or the California coast by Princess ships. What happened yesterday was a winner for both Vancouver and Princess.


Cruise Fever fans picked Princess for “best Alaska cruise” for the second year in a row. Considering that Cruise Fever has only been polling its readers for three years, this is significant.

Having been on an Alaska cruise this year on the Star Princess, it’s easy to understand why the voters feel the way they do. With seven ships going to Alaska from three ports (Seattle and San Francisco are the others), Princess has developed a reputation for quality of not just cruises but also the cruisetours that feature lodges owned by Princess.


This one’s a sleeper. Literally.

{01bb855c-e9ba-430a-b5bb-4fc192d6dafb}_se5ms116_luxurybed_hdr_ta_v5Princess ships will have 44,000 new beds for heads to relax in, starting in February on the Coral Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess. The beds have been developed in conjunction with a certified sleep expert (did YOU know there were certified sleep experts?) and utilize the latest in mattress technology.

It will take about two years to outfit all 44,000, turning staterooms into sleep sanctuaries with a “sleep-friendly sensory experience” with “luxurious linens to soothing ocean sounds and relaxing aromas” — you get the idea.

Now if the Princess Luxury Beds are as comfortable as Westin’s Heavenly Beds

Hmm, a sleep-off?

In the news…

• Norwegian unveils ship deployments for summer of 2017
• Cruises on sale for MSC’s new Seaside, two years before sailing
• Extensive refurbishing for Emerald Princess early in 2016

Today at portsandbows.com: A taste of Ho Chi Minh City, port of the future

Carnival Triumph
7 nights
February 6, 2016
Galveston (return): Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67

Drinking On Disney No Downer

Okay, so maybe it’s not as dramatic as Snow White dating Dracula, or Mickey Mouse getting a DUI…but who ever thought Disney would be the first cruise line to relax the rules on alcohol?

There’s a new wine and beer policy for passengers who want to bring bottles onto Disney ships, and it’s the most realistic (i.e. forgiving) one we’ve seen.

Each adult cruising with Disney can bring two bottles of wine or champagne, or six bottles of beer, in carryon luggage — not in checked bags.

Here’s the kicker…

Each adult can do the same thing at each port!

That makes Disney the first cruise line we know of to allow beer or wine to be purchased in ports and consumed on ships. Most lines confiscate any on-shore purchases and keep them until your cruise ends.

The new policy has regulations, of course. Exceed your limit and you won’t see the bottles until your cruise ends. Take a bottle to a restaurant and you’ll pay corkage. Bring liquors or spirits…boom, gone until end of your cruise. Forget to pick up your confiscated bottles…bye-bye.

And finally, your wine or beer can only be consumed in restaurants or state rooms — not in public areas.

After all, who wants to be Goofy?

In the news…

• Carnival Conquest passengers spot debris that may be from sunken ship
• Gratuities going up by at least 13 per cent on Princess ships in January
• Disney bookings for 2017 Caribbean cruises open to the public tomorrow

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Victory christens Amber Cove

Star Princess
4 nights
November 8, 2015
Vancouver, Victoria, Los Angeles
Inside: $139
Cost per day: $34

Friday File: Why Cruisers Go To Alaska

As another Alaska cruise season comes to a close, it’s appropriate to reflect on what draws cruisers in particular and tourists in general to the 49th state. The main attractions — at least from our two visits, the most recent on the Star Princess — are mountains, glaciers and wildlife…and not necessarily in that order. The mountains, of which there are so many that it’s easy to lose track, are headed by mighty Denali, and so is our photo essay of Alaska…


Denali, now officially named after a century as Mount McKinley, at its most majestic.


A different look at Denali, from about 9,000 feet and out the window of a small plane.

Sea lion at rest

A sea lion, relaxing in the sunshine on ice from a glacier, waiting for tourists to leave.

Breeching whale

Juneau’s the hot spot for whale watching tours, and rarely do you not see one breech.

Glacier Bay from pool deck

Almost every cruise ship goes into Glacier Bay, and this is a snapshot of the scenery.

Mendenhall - better
Unique Mendenhall Glacier, seen by thousands from around the world every cruise season.

In the news…

• Carnival achieves $5 million goal for St. Jude's two years ahead of schedule
• No more free lobster in dining room on formal nights during short Carnival cruises

Today at portsandbows.com: WestJet in the mix for Europes

Carnival Triumph
10 nights
November 4, 2015
San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Antigua, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Galveston
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $42

The Denali Debate Known To Cruisers


We’ve been lucky enough to visit Alaska twice, in 2009 and earlier this year, both times while cruising on Princess ships, first the Coral Princess and then the Star Princess

On both occasions, we heard the tale of the Mount McKinley versus Denali name debate, which was new to us. On both occasions, we concluded that the vast majority of the people of Alaska thought the mountain should be called Denali, its native and original name. And on both occasions, we came away thinking the stalemate was such that it wouldn’t happen in our lifetime.

Last week, in case you hadn’t heard, it happened.

Denali it is.

As another Alaska cruise season concludes this month, passengers currently extending their time on land tours are the first to see Denali with its “new” name.

This has been a never-ending political debate. McKinley was a Republican U.S. President who never visited Alaska but who had the misfortune of being assassinated 114 years ago. Alaskans started trying to re-instate Denali — “The Big One” to the Athabaskan people — 40 years ago, when the name of the national park became Denali. Through various means, mostly technicalities, it was blocked by a congressman (Ralph Regula) from Ohio, President McKinley’s home state.

In layman’s terms, the statute of limitations ran out on the stalemate, and last week President Obama instructed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to change the name to Denali. Yet the political debate never dies. Yesterday on CNN, there was former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, dismissing (or dissing) the loss of the McKinley name.

Palin is, of course, Republican.

Cruise passengers who get to see “The Big One” in person and who listen to guides and Alaskans alike know that last week’s decision was not so much political as it was the will of the people.

They’ve known the mountain as Denali for a long, long time.

In the news…

• Norwegian Epic's winter home to be Fort Lauderdale, not Miami
• Puerto Rico Quality Service Program to enhance tourism service
• Royal Caribbean President's Cruise set back a week to Sept. 18, 2016

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Holland America Zuiderdam
17 nights
December 11, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Bonaire, Panama Canal, Colon, Puerto Limon, Fort Lauderdale, Half Moon Cay, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $1,360
Cost per day: $80

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