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A Quantum Leap From April 2014

It was just one year ago. In New York City, home to Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean unveiled its newest and greatest ship at a press conference. The head honchos from the cruise line, Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein, were there. So was Kristin Chenoweth, the new ship's Godmother-to-be.

There was one word on everyone's lips or, for the writers among us, in everyone's vocabulary.


Fast track 12 months. It's April again. Quantum of the Seas, still several months from leaving the shipyard, is making news again. And there's that word again.


The newest and greatest ship from this mainstream cruise line is going to leave North America almost as soon as she arrives. Okay, Quantum will be in New York from November to May, not even long enough to consummate the relationship. Then she'll be leaving New York a jilted lover, and running off to Shanghai.

Talk about a Shanghai surprise!

To be fair, she'll be sending her almost-twin sister as a stand-in. The Anthem of the Seas will become New York's Royal Caribbean new ship later in 2015, with all the same curves and attributes and flash.

When Quantum arrives in Shanghai, will Kristin Chenoweth be on deck? If she is…


Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Rotterdam
14 nights
May 24, 2014
Rotterdam (return): CopenhagenBerlinTallinnSt.PetersburgHelsinkiStockholmAarhus
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $71

How Liberty of the Seas Launched the Career of a Teenager from Florida


Sometimes you wonder how life can continue to be stranger than fiction, and yet it does. Many times, in a nice way. Like the story of Xana-Kai Nash, a Florida teenager who parlayed a first-time experience on a cruise ship into what are — as of this season — two world championships.

We stumbled across her story while reading a blog written by Adam Goldstein, the President of Royal Caribbean. In reality, his blog was written by her. It related how she was coaxed by the hotel director on Liberty of the Seas to try out the ship's Xana-Kai Nashnew FlowRider in 2008 and how five years later she is the two-time World Flowboard Champion.

No, we didn't know there was a World Flowboard Championship either, but there is. It comes at the end of each year's Carbon Flow Tour that in 2013 began in Phoenix and wound up in Beach Haven, New Jersey. Just 15, Xana-Kai went undefeated and became the youngest world champion in history…finding how deep "history" goes is somewhat debatable.

But the story stands, as she explains in the Goldstein blog — check here to read it for yourself.

Whether Royal Caribbean's FlowRider led to world championships for the sport isn't clear. What is clear is that the 10-year-old, somewhat-intimidated cruise ship rookie of 2008 is now a professional at the craft, with three sponsors (not Royal Caribbean), a self-styled cause (Support Young Women) and a school schedule that is "virtual" because of her travel schedule.

Five years ago, when her parents took Xana-Kai on Liberty of the Seas and stayed on the ship that fortunate day she was introduced to FlowRider, could they have ever imagined this?

"It changed my life," she told Goldstein.

Norwegian Sun
7 nights
May 26, 2014
VancouverKetchikanJuneauSkagwayGlacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Anchorage
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

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

Into The Heads at the Top

It’s hard for anybody to get into the heads of the people who run cruise lines to find out “What are they thinking?”

Unless “anybody” is USA Today, whose cruise writers Gene Sloan and Veronica Gould Stoddart had both the foresight and the opportunity to spend an hour with five CEOs/Presidents from the cruise industry.

For anybody interested in cruising, the result is compelling reading. Among the issues they addressed…

• How safe are people on cruise ships?
• Misconceptions about cruising
• Big ships getting bigger
• The cruise demographic
• Too much or too little to do on a cruise ship
• Cruising’s hot spots

You can find the article by clicking here. See if there’s anything you would have asked, if you had an hour with these five cruising “heads of state.”

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