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Show Goes on for Quantum of the Seas

NEW YORK — It was sunny yesterday in Lower Manhattan, just like it was on that fateful Tuesday more than 11 years ago, when the landscape of not just Manhattan but the world changed.

Yesterday was another sunny Tuesday when nobody in America had much to cheer about, and Royal Caribbean had little choice but to try. It had a new ship to show off, or at least the concept of a new ship. In the midst of increased security in this city and gripping news reports from the bombing in Boston, Royal Caribbean brought Quantum of the Seas to life on a big screen in a modern-looking building called IAC.

Outside was a sky-diving simulator, where guests were invited to experience what cruisers on Quantum of the Seas will experience – what it feels like to skydive, only on a cruise ship.

Inside was the ship's Godmother, Kristin Chenoweth. The tiny entertainer played a huge role while introducing "my godchild." She narrated an eight-minute movie in which she participated as a skydiver, a basketball player, a bumping car driver, a table tennis player and a passenger in a pod that goes over the side of the ship when it isn't sitting high above the ship.

"I deserve an Oscar for this!" she laughed.

Royal Caribbean's new ship won't go live until a year from November. When it does, she'll be on board and passengers will be doing all the things she did, if they choose. The fact that they can choose to do them without paying a nickel more than they paid to be on Quantum of the Seas gives new meaning to all-inclusivity on a cruise ship.

Both company CEO Richard Fain and President Adam Goldstein, who accompanied the Godmother on stage and on screen, say the two attractions are do-able for just about anybody. No age restrictions for people who collect pensions. Fain and Goldstein have tested North Star and Rip Cord, as they're called, and yesterday they arrived by driving bumping cars onto the stage.

They addressed any issues the assembled media wanted them to, even the matter of increased cruise-ship security because of Boston. It was mostly party-line stuff because, really, nobody knows what the latest terrorist event is going to impact getting on and off cruise ships.

On any other day, on a better day, nobody would likely have asked.

Costa Favolosa
7 nights
May 27, 2013
Savona (return): Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Valletta, Catania, Naples
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

Cruise Ship Safety Moving to New Level

Again, a sobering moment about cruising. Again, a news item that makes people nervous about going…anywhere. Again, a reminder about the world we live in today.

In case you missed it, police in Germany questioned a 22-year-old Austrian who a year ago this month was returning from Pakistan and discovered — after weeks of breaking codes of digital information he was carrying on him — that one al-Qaeda plot was to attack cruise ships.

As reported on CNN, investigative journalist Yassin Musharbash — a reporter with the German newspaper Die Zeit — was the first to report that one plan was to "hijack a passenger ship and use it to pressurize the public."

The plan would include dressing passengers in orange jump suits, as if they were al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and then videotape their executions.

If that makes you nervous about cruising, think how the cruise lines feel…and the ship captains. And in case you're inclined to "jump ship" remember that in today's world, it seems you're really not 100% safe anywhere any more.

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
May 27, 2012
Long Beach (return): Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta
Inside: $619
Cost per day: $88

What Would You Have Missed If…?

This week, the U.S. government issued a travel warning for Americans who planned to be in Europe. As you have undoubtedly heard, it’s pretty vague. However, given the number of cruise ships in European waters and given that Americans have to fly to get there, it’s worth noting.

On the other hand…

If we were afraid to visit a country known for its drug lords, we’d have stayed on the ship in Cartagena, Colombia, and never met the nice man who showed us the sights of his city, Sandy Cuadrado (right).

If we feared muggers, we’d never have walked in Central Park.

If we had refused to fly after 9/11, we’d have missed the Burgess family in England, the McConnells and Jean-Marie Berge (left) in France, Mona Lisa in the Louvre, a wonderful winery called House of Morande in Chile.

If we wanted to make sure we could never be caught in a hurricane, we’d know less about the joie-de-vivre of the French Quarter, the origin of Who Dat?, the fascinating swamplands near New Orleans.

If we never went where earthquakes have been, we wouldn’t have golfed in the Coachella Valley, visited a coffee plantation in Guatemala, flown into or out of LAX.

If we never went to a country with political upheaval, we wouldn’t have heard the sweet songs of an indigenous woman (right) on a bus in Ecuador.

If we didn’t want to risk a chance — however small — of contracting the norovirus, we would never board the gangway of a cruise ship…and we wouldn’t be writing this blog.

The point is, do we want to live our lives in fear? The government isn’t recommending that we do, only that we be diligent, and use common sense.

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