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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

Cruise numbers continue to grow in Bermuda


We won't tell you how many years it took us to discover Bermuda, other than  to say "a lot." Our first trip there was on a cruise ship, earlier this year. As a tourist destination, Bermuda has been around for a few hundred years…or just a little longer than we have.

Now, and this year more than ever, others are discovering it as we did, on a cruise.

By year-end, there will have been almost 350,000 passengers to visit Bermuda, undoubtedly some of them for the first time. Next year, it will be more, and they'll come not just from all kinds of ships, but from all kinds of directions.


There have been the usual ships, like Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas and Norwegian's Dawn, making regular calls to the Royal Naval Dockyard at this, Great Britain's oldest overseas territory. Then this year, along came the Norwegian Breakaway, from New York every week, ands with it another 90,000 tourists.

Princess will be making a stop with three ships next year — the Ruby Princess, Emerald Princess and Ocean Princess. Carnival will pop in with the Spirit and the Splendor for the first time.


Most ships have been coming from the New York and Boston areas. In 2014, they'll also come from South Carolina, and Bermuda's plan to expand on that include courting Aida, a little-known German cruise line that has a limited presence in North America. The next thing you know, they'll be coming to Bermuda straight from Europe.

If you've been there that won't surprise you. If you haven't, go.

Carnival Sunshine
7 nights
February 2, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key WestFreeportNassau
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61


Long and Round…and No Flights

Flying is (or can be) a pain, right? When's the last time you took a long flight that was flawless? Impeccable, aggravation-free experience from check-in at one airport to check-out of another? No delays, either on the way to the plane or on the tarmac? Free of cramped quarters, free to eat what you want when you want? Smiles all around, especially on your face?

Maybe it's just us, but there seems to be a trend towards more "long" round trips on cruises these days, to take the flight and all that comes with it right out of the equation, not to mention out of your holiday.

You can find lots of examples of this, but one that really caught our attention was identified by our pal at Ports and Bows, Phil Reimer, who mentioned it in his blog yesterday.

A Transatlantic round trip?

It's in October, on Holland America. The Maasdam leaves Fort Lauderdale for Italy (and assorted other countries on the way there and back), returning to Florida six weeks later (yes, 42 days). It goes for less than $100 a day if you can get by without a balcony, and you visit 20 ports. Next summer, the Veendam will cross the Atlantic from Boston and come back. This journey is 35 days, round trip, and is billed as the Voyage of the Vikings. These are both one-time experiences. 

Trial runs, maybe?

Now if you don't live in Fort Lauderdale or Boston, or close enough to drive, you may still have to fly. However, you can travel around for five to six weeks and escape almost all of the aggravations, big or small, that come with getting on a plane.

If nothing else, it's an interesting concept.

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas
13 nights
October 27, 2013
BostonSt. KittsSt. LuciaBarbadosCuracaoArubaTampa
Inside: $725
Cost per day: $55

Batter Up for the Celebrity Sox

I love cruising. I love baseball. When Celebrity announced yesterday that it's now the "official cruise line of the Boston Red Sox", for me there was only one thing I didn't like about it.

Wrong Sox.

When I was a still a second-grader, my parents took me to Chicago (Palatine, Ill. actually) and introduced me to big-league baseball. It happened that the White Sox and not the Cubs were home that week, planting the seed for a lifelong attachment to a team that has won the World Series fewer times than Boston in the last century — which is to say one time.

But the Red Sox are the darlings of Fenway. There's something romantic about all things Boston but especially the Red Sox. Before they broke their 85-year curse for trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees, sympathy poured over the Red Sox and there were widespread celebrations when the jinx mercifully ended in 2004.

The next year, the "other Sox" ended their 88-year drought by winning the Series. Outside of Chicago, did anybody but me really care? Were there any distant celebrations beyond the champagne cork that popped on our patio?

So it figures that when Celebrity went looking for a "celebrity" big-league team, it would be the Red Sox, who by the way have won two World Series since 1918 yet still are more popular than teams far more successful. The new marketing arrangement 

between the two means a 2014 Red Sox Fan Cruise with former (unnamed) Boston players and announcer Joe Castiglione. The Silhouette leaves Fort Lauderdale on January 12 for a week in the Western Caribbean.

Not everybody will pay to be there. At four home games every month before then, Celebrity will give Fenway fans a chance to win a trip for two on the special cruise. Every time the Red Sox turn a double play at home this season — Boston's averaging one DP a game so far — one fan will get $200 off a Celebrity cruise. There will be special events with giveaways and appearances by Red Sox legends throughout the season, and it won't be hard to find a Celebrity sign at Fenway.

The timing of the announcement couldn't be better for the cruise line: The Red Sox have the best record in baseball and they have rabid fans from "Red Sox Nation" ready to line up for World Series.

But they still have the wrong Sox.

Carnival Glory
7 nights
September 28, 2013
 New York (return): Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney
Inside: $369
Cost per day: $52

Big Guy in Alaska for Princess

We spent almost two weeks looking up to Guy Glaeser, and the fact that he’s six-foot-six was only part of the reason.

He’s a nice man who runs cruise tours in Alaska for Princess. Being nice doesn’t make him good at his job any more than being six-six makes him a basketball player, but it’s hard to imagine anybody being better at educating non-Alaskans about Alaska than Guy Glaeser.

What little he doesn’t know about the 49th state, he will find out. Not now, right now. He knows so much about Alaska because right from the beginning he had impeccable credentials. Right?

“I had ‘outdoor, Northwest’ experience,” he laughs.

The outdoor came from enjoying things like hiking, camping and biking. The Northwest came from having lived in Oregon and Seattle most of his life. The job that has been Glaeser’s every tourist season for more than 15 years now was almost an accident. A friend of his college roommate suggested he apply.

“It was dumb luck,” he says now.

A communication and psychology major at college, he could never have imagined applying those skills to his current position, but he does. Nor, for that matter, does being a recruiter and corporate trainer for UPS qualify you to be an Alaskan tour guide, but it did.

Guy explains it this way:

“I was raised by an art history professor and a librarian, so I’d been dragged into a lot of museums by the time I was 12. I have a passion for history, and a passion for information. The greatest privilege with tours is being able to be responsible for sharing. You try to be entertaining but you feel like an ambassador, to have that role with a group.

“There are so many components. I’m just a component. Once you establish your presence, I’m just part of it. My component provides continuity, comfort and fun. That’s the best part. If I’m not having fun, my guests aren’t having fun.”

Spending 16 summers in Alaska came with an added benefit. Her name is Robin, who for the last nine years has been Guy’s wife and now mother of their three-year-old. They met in Kenai, just south of Anchorage.

“We were co-workers,” he recalls. “I was impressed by her smile. I was fortunate to train her in Alaska. That was on the Kenai Peninsula and it was wonderful because there will never be another trip like it.”

There have been many trips since then, for both of them, including six months in  South America and Cuba. They settled in Portland but every May through September, Guy is back in Alaska, doing what he does best in a state that he says is “worthy of studying.”

If he hasn’t perfected running cruise tours in 16 years, probably nobody has. Among other things, he has the right demeanor, and he has developed this philosophy:”What you see is what you get with me. The hardest part of your tour should be recognizing me, and I’m six-six.”

One good reason to look up to him, right?

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
October 14, 2011
Boston (return), Bermuda (3 nights)
Inside $349

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