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The Modern Problem Of Picking A Port

With each day, and each violent activity often linked to terrorism, reasonable people who like to travel get even more reasonable. Or concerned. Or paranoid. Or even scared.

Pick an adverb. The uncertainty of traveling abroad — be it in one direction to Europe or in the other to Asia — understandably may leave North Americans more likely to pick a cruise ship departing and returning to a North American port. Not that there are any guarantees that doing so will keep you from being an unsuspecting victim of terrorism.

But even seasoned travelers are at least having second thoughts. Why fly internationally to get on a cruise if you can fly domestically, or better yet drive or take ground transportation to a port of departure?

This is good (okay, more comforting) news for cruise lines with ships that primarily visit the Caribbean, or assorted other warm-weather spots in the Western Hemisphere. Since a Caribbean cruise still out-ranks all others, that would be most of them, yet many have shifted their investments — and some of their ships — to Asia the last couple of years, which in today’s world could mean counting on a local (Asian) clientele.

For North Americans, there is no shortage of options. A quick count shows that there are 21 cruise homeports in this continent: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Galveston, Houston, Charleston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Bayonne, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Anchorage, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Montreal.

So if you’re an avid cruiser who’s reluctant to fly afar to get to a ship, pick a port.

You may find many kindred spirits.

In the news…

• Two biggest ships (both Royal Caribbean) in southern hemisphere meeting in Sydney

Today at portsandbows.comChristmas markets with Viking in Europe

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Miami (return): Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, George Town, Cozumel
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92

New Ship, New Look For New Jersey

From our one visit to Bayonne, New Jersey, the best thing you can say about this cruise port is the view.

Of New York, on the other side of the harbor.

Of the Verrazano Bridge.

Of whatever ship it is you’re boarding.

But not of Bayonne.

Now, that’s changing. When Quantum of the Seas arrives in a couple of weeks, its passengers will disembark into a new, state-of-the-art terminal, the start of a $55-million port expansion that’s going to, well, dress up this part of New Jersey.

This is industrial property, more or less, and it has all the attractions that come with industrial property. Faceless warehouses. Cranes to move freight. If you see people, Cape Liberty-2they’re either ship workers or taxi drivers or cruise employees, and nobody seems to stay there long. If you see a store or shop, it likely has limited hours because at the port, that’s really all there is.

If ever a cruise port was in need of an upgrade, that port is Cape Liberty, its sexier name. At this point, it’s a good start for “your closest point to sea” to become more attractive, or even just a little attractive. The fact that Royal Caribbean contributed to the Port Authority’s cause tells you how important this was for the Quantum Class ships that are going to call it home.

It starts with the flagship on November 10. Quantum of the Seas, replacing Explorer of the Seas, will only stay until spring before heading off to its Asian home, Singapore. Next up Quantumwill be its class sibling, Anthem of the Seas. Both ships are capable of carrying almost 5,000 passengers, so it’s important for new, state-of-the-art, classy ships to live in upscale neighborhoods.

And not just look at them across the harbor.

Today at portsandbows.com: Bermuda cruises on the rise

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
November 10, 2014
Los Angeles (return): Catalina, Ensenada
Inside: $129
Cost per day: $32

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