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Lion Eyes Part Of New Ship’s Custom

Lion danceEverybody who’s interested in cruises knows that the playing ocean, as opposed to the playing field, is shifting in the direction of Asia. More cruises, more ships, even more cruise lines are re-locating.

With the shift come new customs.

The traditions that come with new ships include a bottle of champagne, a hull and a godmother. She smashes the bubbly against the bow and, voila, the ship has good luck. Most times, there is no evidence that it doesn’t work.

Will that tradition be honored in Asia?

Maybe not.

The keel for the new Princess ship, due in 2017 and destined for China, was laid in Italy last week. The character on the left was part of the occasion and, just like the ship, he has no name yet. He does come with good luck, according to Chinese traditions, and he likes to dance. Admittedly, this was not the christening ceremony that will inevitably come when or before the ship hits the water.

But for a ship going to China, it was an important occasion.

“The lion dance has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years and is Keel Layingperformed on various auspicious occasions and celebrations,” said Cherry Wang, country director of Carnival China. “According to traditional Chinese belief, the lion signifies courage, wisdom and good fortune and brings happiness, longevity and good luck. We believe this special ceremony will bring prosperity and good fortune to Princess Cruises and our guests.”

Another part of this ceremony is to paint the lion’s eyes. She and Anthony Kaufman, Senior Vice-President of Asia Operations for Princess, were given the brushes. Painting the eyes awakens its spirit and blesses the lion.

Like we said…new locations, new ships, new customs.

In the news…

• Problems in Greece could impact on 11,000 jobs cruises bring
• Costa, Airitalia to collaborate on "fly and cruise" with 100,000 seats
• Princess latest cruise line to bring beverage packages to ships in Australia

Today at portsandbows.com: 'Only On Carnival' Tours

Royal Princess
15 nights
September 6, 2015
London, Rotterdam, Paris, Vigo, Lisbon, Ponta Delgada, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $66

Creepy Eaties in Southeast Asia

When it comes to food — and we come to food often — one of us is a little fussy and one of us will eat just about anything. We'll let you guess.

As we cruise to places we've never been, and meet locals we've never seen, we often try to enjoy some of the local delicacies on the shore. Even if it's something that has never been our radar, never mind our table.

But spiders?

We were reading a diary-of-sorts from some people who booked a cruise through cruise.co.uk and were reporting back on their experiences, for the benefit of readers, even ones so far from the UK that we'd never book a cruise with that agency. These people had been on a Southeast Asian cruise to Vietnam and Cambodia.

One day's entry was entitled: A Tasty Tarantula.

There was a photo of a local woman with a plate of them, clearly for sale to passersby. There was a picture of the author, about to sink her incisors into a long, black spider. This was either a day after the travelers had been to Angkor Wat, which is a Hindu temple complex that apparently is a must-see the next time you're in Cambodia.

Either that, or it's what you say — "Angkor Wat!!!" — after you eat a tarantula.

Holland America Zaandam
7 nights
May 26, 2013
Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Anchorage
Oceanview: $449
Cost per day: $64

High-end Cruising, High-end Success

When the principal shareholder has a reported net worth of $6 billion, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise when one of his offspring — like Windstar Cruises — shows an anticipated increase in sales of 60 per cent increase during the first year of his ownership.

In such frugal economic times, somebody's doing something right and Philip Anschutz, arguably the world's least-known billionaire, has such a history.

Last week, this three-ship high-end ($$$$) cruise line reported sales for 2013 are 60 per cent ahead of 2012. This comes just before completion of the company's $18 million renovation of its ships. If Windstar was in need an upgrade, that wasn't lost on the passengers who are filling the small ships at a time when the cruise industry shows signs of struggling.

This is a cruise line that's 28 years old. As recently as two years ago, it was owned by a company in bankruptcy, that after Windstar was sold by Carnival four years earlier for an estimated $100 million. Xanterra Parks and Resorts (Philip Anschutz) picked it up for as a relative bargain: $39 million.

The message in all of this is: If you're interested in sailing on one of these large "yachts" that make their way into small ports, don't wait for a deal.

Now that they're looking much better, the Wind Star, Wind Surf and Wind Spirit are hot.

Holland America Volendam
14 nights
January 7, 2013
Singapore, Ko Samui, Bangkok, Sihanoukville, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hanoi, Hong Kong
Inside: $870
Cost per day: $62

A Chinese Ship to be Super?

In China, there are plans to build a "super cruise liner." It will likely be accompanied by a new cruise terminal and shipping business center, all of which will cost several billion yuan — or about $3 billion.

What's interesting about this item is the perception.

The 100,000-ton luxury cruise ship, which will take about four years to build, will carry a little over 2,000 passengers.

Is that a super cruise liner?

The company that will operate the ship has a development partnership with Royal Caribbean. That's the same company that built Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Each of those ships weighs about 225,000 gross tons. Each carries somewhere between 5,400 and 6,300 passengers.

Isn't that what a super cruise liner is?

Holland America Prinsendam
15 nights
October 31, 2012
Rome, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon, Horta, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $53

Tiring Refrain About Ship Accidents

Is it just us, or do media people seem to get some vicarious satisfaction out of reporting the misfortunes of businesses often associated with the rich and famous…businesses like Disney…and Starbucks…and the cruise industry?

"Another cruise ship accident…"

This came a couple of days ago, on CNN. The accident was a minor collision between the Silver Shadow and a Vietnamese container ship, near Halong Bay in Vietnam. The Silver Shadow suffered a few dents, the container ship started to roll before righting itself, and nobody was hurt.

Yes, it could have been much, much worse. But it wasn't.

The collision was essentially caused by heavy fog, according to reports. While the elements can never be used as an excuse, these things do happen, to ships of all shapes and sizes, in wherever there is fog.

But the bottom line is it wasn't serious, yet CNN devoted three minutes of valuable air time telling its world that there had been "another cruise ship accident."

Maybe that it involved a cruise ship was enough to attract this type of overkill, or maybe it's because we're in that three-month gap between two real tragedies: the Costa Concordia and the 100th anniversary of the Titanic.

For the next Daily Deal, click back at 2:59 p.m. EDT

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