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Cruising Robots And Fruit Flies

Signs of the cruise apocalypse…or just interesting anecdotes about cruising:

The r2d2 effect

In case you thought you would only see this on the big screens playing the record-breaking latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, guess again. If next year you’re on a Costa ship, as we were fortunate to be this year, there’s a good chance you’ll be talking to a robot. And the robot will be talking to you.

Costa Cruises will begin placing “emotional robots” on its ships after New Year’s, starting with the Diadema and the AIDAprima, a Costa brand. The robot’s name is Pepper and he, Diademashe or it will greet passengers as they board and help them find their way to restaurants and entertainment.

Pepper is apparently the world’s first robot capable of recognizing major human emotions and responding accurately in real time. So we are officially in the “talk with a robot” age.

The people who will be most nervous about hearing this news?

Walmart greeters.

21st century X-rays

A few years ago, we met a scientist who was commissioned to dissect the brain of a fruit fly, so we know that with fruit flies anything is possible.

Even X-rays.

That’s what is happening at four New Zealand cruise ports. A mobile X-ray machine is X-raymachinebeing installed to keep destructive pests from infesting the country…not rats or bats or snakes, but the dreaded Queensland fruit fly.

Areas near Auckland have been under strict restrictions to prevent the Australian pest from disembarking. To that end, the “biosecurity” machines will X-ray the bags of 260,000 or so cruise passengers next year to make certain there is no fruit inside that could be carrying the fruit fly to shore. Presumably, passengers will be warned about putting apples and oranges in their pockets and purses before leaving the ship.

The object is to make New Zealand “fruit fly free.”

In the news…

• Empress of the Seas returning to Royal Caribbean after 8-year absence
• Costa back in Port Everglades for winter season with the Deliziosa
• New 62-passenger Crystal Esprit christened in the Seychelles

Today at portsandbows.comOceania kicks off Wave Season

Vision of the Seas
7 nights
April 9, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $560
Cost per day: $80

New ships: Le Lyrial, Mein Schiff 4, AIDAprima

Fourth in a series about new ships


Ponant’s Le Lyrial

If you’d like to know how the wealthy French cruise, this could be as close as it gets. The Ponant ships are like large yachts, with a crew-to-passenger ratio better than 2-to-1, with a promise that every guest will be pampered, entertained and enlightened, and an idea of cruising synonymous with French elegance…beyond cuisine and fine wines, of course.

Launch date: April 18
Capacity: 264
Sister ships: Le Soleal, L’Austral, Le Boreal
Maiden voyage: Istanbul to Venice — 21 days
Home port: Venice
Ships now in Ponant fleet: 5

Interesting: Le Lyrial’s contemporary decor was inspired by the blue light of the Vega star in the Lyra constellation. All guests will have spectacular ocean views and access to a fitness center, library, swimming pool, beauty salon and all the usual amenities, only French style. After summering in the Mediterranean, it’s apparently heading to Antarctica, an unusual destination for French elegance.


Mein Schiff 4

TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 4

The second new-build from German-based TUI Cruises, a joint venture with Royal Caribbean. The other ships in the TUI fleet were purchased from Celebrity and re-named, the first the former Galaxy (2009) and the second the Mercury (2011), becoming Mein Schiff 1 and 2, respectively. The first new-build was Mein Schiff 3, which arrived last year.

Launch date: June 6
Capacity: 2,506
Sister ships: Mein Schiff 3
Maiden voyage: Eight days, from Kiel (return) to the Baltics
Home port: Kiel
Ships then in TUI Cruises fleet: 4

Interesting: By the time TUI is finished, there will be five sisters, once Mein Schiff 8 arrives in 2019, all of them new-builds and probably all like the first one, Mein Schiff 3. That means, like Mein Schiff 4, they’ll be environmentally friendly, carry 2,506 passengers, and have 15 decks, 11 restaurants and 82 per cent of its cabins with balconies.


AIDA Prima


The artwork on the hull is probably the tip-off that this 18-year-old German-based line is designed for young, fun-loving, German-speaking and physically active cruisers. Like Norwegian, it’s ultra-casual in both its dress code and dining options, and the AIDAprima will be its largest ship, the first of two, the second due to arrive next year. As yet, No. 2 is unnamed but it will be AIDAsomething.

Launch date: October 1
Capacity: 3,250
Sister ships: (Coming in 2016)
Maiden voyage: In two stages, the first from Tokyo to Dubai (49 days), the second from Dubai to Hamburg (38 days)
Home port: Hamburg
Ships then in AIDA fleet: 11

Interesting: Built for Germany’s largest cruise line at Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, AIDAprima will have 18 decks and 75 per cent of the rooms will come with balconies and one of its many activities is ice skating. With an opening voyage almost three months long, you can be sure the German cruise masters will have everything just right.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's 12th FunShip 2.0

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
January 31, 2015
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

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