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Cruising In The Sun A Time To Be Cautious


A visit to the family dermatologist (doesn't everybody have a family dermatologist?) raised the sometimes-uneasy spectra of using sunscreen. Few places is that more important than it is on a cruise ship…out in perpetual sunshine for long periods of time, frequently closer to the equator than normal.

As an aside, a Florida-based skin care company — in Cocoa, of all places — cleverly made a deal with Carnival to provide passengers on four ships this month (BreezeLibertyTriumph and Sunshine) with complimentary sunscreen. There are gallon-size pumps and sampling stations plus individual packets. If the marketing campaign attracts enough customers to its Ocean Potion (also clever), the partnership with Carnival could go well beyond the four-ship test.

But back to the family dermatologist.

During the inevitable waiting period, patients can self-educate. Like by reading at least parts of a sun-protection brochure — by another skin care company — and discovering some valuable information. Seriously.

Given that another doctor told us everybody needs 15 minutes of Vitamin D (sunshine) a day, let's talk about the UV Index. Does anybody not working in dermatology or for skin care companies really know what it means? 

For example, if it's between 0 and 2 (low), you're safe in the sun for an hour, providing you wear sunglasses. Between 3 and 5, you need to wear hats, sunscreen and sunglasses if outside for more than half an hour. At 6 or 7, it's sunburn time and that means skin damage. Between 8 and 10, you can burn quickly so it's time to bring on the protection army to keep from burning quickly. A UV Index of 11 or higher can mean damaged skin and burns in minutes.

What's relative?

Check the Environmental Protection Agency website to see what the index is where you are. And if where you are is on a Caribbean cruise, or when you are, the UV Index is likely to be 9.

That's considered "very high." That means a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a shady place to sit.

Ask the family dermatologist.

Sea Princess

14 nights

February 27, 2014 

Brisbane (return): AucklandTaurangaNapierWellingtonAkaroaDunedin

Inside: $1,999

Cost per day: $142


Carnival 'knows' how difficult it can be to find a good PR vehicle…unless it's a nose

The nose. We sniff with it. Sometimes we blow it, or pick it, stick it in other people's business. The nose can make the difference in a horse race or in the career of a celebrity, aka Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope or Michael Jackson. The most famous one of all may belong to a mystical reindeer who can fly. And is there anybody, anywhere, who thinks their nose is small?

For all its uses, the focus of an advertising campaign would be far down the list, or perhaps off it.

Then, along came Carnival. Yes, the cruise line. The one everybody loves to ridicule even if they didn't know it existed until there was a reason to ridicule it. So maybe an ad campaign with a nose as the feature attraction was just the right size, or fit.

This story began innocently enough. A PR firm in Australia, named Ogilvy, "highjacked an iconic moment on the Australian calendar." More than a Spirit-AU 580 2moment…a whole day. Red Nose Day. They put it together with a local charity (SIDS and Kids) and invited everybody within sight to "get silly for a serious cause."

The origins of Red Nose Day seem to be in England, where it has become — as the Brits would say — a massive fundraiser. How massive is $100 million in 2013 alone? It was started by an organization called Comic Relief and the slogan every March is to "do something funny for money" so Carnival and Australia simply changed a few words.

They also built a nose bigger than Durante's. A red one, even bigger than Rudolph's: 7 metres (23 feet) in diameter. Then they stuck it on the bow of the Carnival Spirit, lit it up and sailed the ship past Sydney's greatest landmarks, The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Passengers on the ship participated. people on the shore participated. Internet users entered a chance to win a cruise by "red nosing themselves" at rednoseme.com. The whole thing went…viral.

How viral?

• International impressions that reached 178 million
• Free coverage on 250 TV stations in Australia
• A photo gallery on The Daily Mail's website, which has a huge…no, massive, reach
• 144,400 Facebook friends
• A popularity rating of 100%

All of this exceeded Carnival's expectations, and it all started with a nose. 

Or somebody who had one that smelled success.

Norwegian Pearl
7 nights
January 5, 2013
Miami (return): Great Stirrup CayOcho RiosGrand CaymanCozumel
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

The Commonwealth and Cunard

In another era, cruise commentators would say Cunard was sending its entire fleet of ships to Australia because it was part of the British Commonwealth and it was Cunard's "duty" to visit Commonwealth countries every now and then.

Well, Cunard IS sending its entire fleet to Australia this "summer" and it has nothing to do with political obligations. Nobody talks much about the Commonwealth these days and Cunard's only "duty" is to send its ships to where the action is. This is a business.

Besides that, Cunard isn't owned by the Brits…it's owned by Carnival, which is predominantly American.

So much for that feel-good story…

Nonetheless, the three Queens of Cunard — Victoria, Mary 2 and Elizabeth – will all be in Australian waters in the same season, which is February and March "Down Under." In addition to having a family reunion, they'll be part of the largest deployment of cruise ships to Australia, ever.

Between the southern hemisphere's mid-spring (October 1) until its mid-autumn (April 30), there will be 34 cruise ships in and around Australia. They'll make 588 port calls, up about five per cent over last year, when 33 ships were visiting. It's expected these records will continue to change each year, for the foreseeable future.

The reason for the cruise explosion is, well, Australians. Last year, almost 700,000 of them went on a cruise, another record that keeps changing.

So it's not because they're getting a lot of visits from their Commonwealth cousins.

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
February 1, 2014
San Juan (return): St. CroixSt. Kitts, Roseau, GrenadaSt. Thomas
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78

It's a ship's life out there

Sometimes cruise ships can be like convicts. They have a lot of aliases.

It's not criminal for ships to undergo name changes, although sometimes it might seem criminal for a great old ship to become known as something else, and something else…

Like the Song Of Norway.

One of the people we encountered told us he started his career on Song of Norway. This is a ship with a rich history and we didn't know much about it, so we wereintrigued. Besides the fact that it now has at least eight aliases, we think you'll find this as interesting as we did.

Let's start with the fact that it was the first ship made for Caribbean cruises. That was in 1970, when the cruise clientele was just a fraction of what it is today. Song of Norway was Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship…so how many passengers do you think such a vessel would be built to carry in 1970?

Try 724.

This first ship to service Labadee, now Royal Caribbean's private port in Haiti, became a vital part of the expansion of cruising. By the time she was only eight years old, she had to be lengthened by 85 feet to accommodate the mushrooming crowd of people who wanted to go on a "Caribbean cruise."

That increased Song of Norway's capacity by 65 per cent…to 1,196 passengers.

The ship stayed with Royal Caribbean until 1997 when, at the age of 27, it began going under cover…isn't that what happens when people (or ships) need an alias? It was sold  to Sun Cruises and became the Sundream. Then the Dream Princess…the Dream…the Clipper Pearl…the Clipper Pacific…the Festival…the Ocean Pearl…so many names, in so many places.

What started in the Caribbean ended, more or less, last year when her owners — by then Happy Cruises — unhappily filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations. Today, you'll find "Song of Norway" in the water near China, where she is, of all things, a floating casino.

Her name, alias number eight, is Formosa Queen.

Celebrity Millennium
17 nights
November 20, 2013
Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin, Benoa, Singapore
Inside: $1,399
Cost per day: $82

From a Glassblower to a Godmother

The last time we were on a Celebrity ship — the Eclipse — on a cold and windy day somewhere in the Atlantic, we witnessed the amazing artists from the Corning Museum of Glass at work.

The next time we'll be on a Celebrity ship — the Reflection — we will again see the Hot Glass Show, but this time it will be quite a different story…and not just because it's unlikely to be cold and windy.

One of the glassblowers is one of the Reflection's Godmothers.

Her name is Megan Mathie. She is one of four Godmothers of the Reflection, as Celebrity made an unprecedented break with tradition. Yes, the Norwegian Breakaway will have a whole cast of Rockettes as Godmothers come next spring, but Celebrity's decision is much more touching.

When the ship is christened in Miami at the beginning of December, the Godmothers who preside over the ceremony will all have a connection to breast cancer. In Megan's case, she was selected as one of them because of the part she has played in breast cancer awareness. In Megan's case, it's almost as close to home as you can get.

Both her sister and her mother were both diagnosed with the dreaded disease earlier this year. After a short leave, she was persuaded by them to return to cruising and her work, which changed direction. She became a promoter of breast cancer awareness, and now she auctions a one-of-a-kind "pink glass" at the end of each of her cruises. The proceeds go to the fight to eradicate the disease.

The other three Celebrity employees chosen as Godmothers — spa manager Jovanka Goronjic, community relations manager Helen O'Connell and special events team manager Rosey Rodriguez — all have been touched in some way by the disease. Their identities were announced earlier this month, annually designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Said Celebrity President and CEO Michael Bayley: “These impressive women personify the qualities we admire among our Solstice Class Godmothers: remarkable strength and courage, along with optimism, warmth and genuine care for others.”

As one of the four glassblowers who entertained us on the Eclipse, Megan has since worked on the Solstice, so she'll have been on three of the five ships in what is arguably cruising's most beloved groups of ships. Having Godmothers who crusade for a cause like this will just make the Reflection the perfect way to complete the class.

With class.

Holland America Oosterdam
11 nights
January 26, 2013
Sydney (return): Ile des Pins, Port-Vila, Vanuatu, Lifou, Noumea
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $90

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