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Princess Royalty For Entertainers

It won’t rank with American Idol or any of TV’s music reality shows, but competing for AJ-JamalEntertainer-of-the-Year on a Princess cruise ship can be a step in the right direction. And in March, four finalists will compete for votes to win the accolade on the Caribbean Princess after it leaves Houston on a 7-day cruise.

The four are comedian A.J. Jamal (right); magician Alex Ramon (left) singer, dancer and musician Nathan Foley (below right); and piano player and keyboardist John Dressler (below left). The winner will be the fifth Entertainer-of-the-Year for Alex RamonPrincess, as chosen by cruise-ship passengers.

Three years ago, we were on the Crown Princess to see number 2, singer Tony Tillman, above with Cruise Director Lisa Ball. This week’s announcement had us wondering what became of him and his three finalists from 2013: a comedian and overall entertainer named Sarge, a comedy duo named Alfred and Seymour; and mentalist Wayne Hoffman.

Today, Tony Tillman (now 69) is still listed with a talent agency and available for performances as a recent vintage of Sammy Davis Jr. Sarge seems to be booked as much as he wants to be, Nathan-Foleymostly in comedy concerts, mostly in Florida. Alfred and Seymour, who calls themselves the The Black StreetBoyz, entertain passengers regularly on Princess ships. Wayne Hoffman has a website.

All were talented, just as all four of the 2016 finalists surely are.

Jamal, calls himself the “King of Clean” which infers family comedy, has been on The Tonight Show. Ramon is among only 20 illusionists to win one of The Christopher Awards (for work that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit”) and John-Bresslercreated a magical accompaniment for Taylor Swift at the American Music Awards. Foley has 23 years of stage and TV experience in Australia, where he won a slew of awards. Bressler is multi-talented and Princess describes his show as a “must-see.”

Anybody who has been to shows on cruise ships knows these people don’t get there without being good. What nobody really knows is how good.

Winning Entertainer-of-the-Year is worth $5,000 but for them, it’s not about the money. It’s more about what it could mean to their careers.

In the news…

• Double the ships, double the sailings for Windstar over the last 18 months
• Lindblad Expeditions adding two new 100-passenger ships for 2017 and 2018

Today at portsandbows.comThe ultimate ‘going green’ — Ecoship

Celebrity Eclipse
14 nights
March 20, 2016
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Aruba, Curacao
Inside: $1,399
Cost per day: $99

Friday File: Beaches With A Difference

So many places visited by cruise ships have beaches, or beaches nearby, because — let’s face it — everybody’s thinking about finding somewhere warm with the coming months of winter. But beaches are more than just silk sand and warm water, as you will see from a few that we’ve discovered from cruising…

St. Maarten

Perhaps the only beach in the world where you get this close to an airplane in flight, and a regular tourist attraction when cruisers visit Philipsburg, St. Martin​.


This beach is often empty, like this, but 70 years ago on the northern coast of France Juno Beach was populated with thousands of soldiers in World War II.


When Carnival sends its Fantasy to sail out of Mobile next year, one of its three ports of call will be a pretty place called Progeso on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Grand Turk

At Grand Turk, there’s an uncommon shady spot close to the water for cruisers who like going to the beach without being obsessed with getting a suntan..


Cruisers going to Alaska from Vancouver, like the ones this Holland America ship, always pass Ambleside Beach after crossing under the Lions Gate Bridge.

Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen heads the growing popularity of Riviera Maya's beach properties on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, a short ferry ride from Cozumel.

In the news…

• Cunard offering free balcony upgrade on Transatlantic crossings starting October 29
• P&O's first alcholic beverage package on Pacific Pearl may extend to fleet of five ships

Today at portsandbows.com: The return of Carnival to Mobile, Alabama

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
January 17, 2016
Houston (return): Cozumel, Roatan, Belize
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Cruise Itinerary Interruptions

There have been three major itinerary changes on cruise ships in three parts of the world lately — two caused by weather and the other by a fire — and the reactions of passengers have been interesting, to say the least.

See what you think…

In the Far East, passengers on Quantum of the Seas were so unhappy when the captain changed ports to avoid Typhoon Goni that when the ship returned to Shanghai, many of them refused to disembark. Some, according to the Shanghai Daily, had to be carried off the ship. More than 300 protested Royal Caribbean’s compensation offer for going to South Korea instead of Japan: free WiFi and lobster for dinner.

In Australia, passengers on the Carnival Spirit have filed a class-action suit against the cruise line because the cruise that was supposed to go north-east from Sydney to New Caledonia instead went south to Hobart and Melbourne. The reason was Cyclone Pam, Spiritchurning through waters to the north-east. They are suing for “misleading or deceptive conduct” because Carnival waited until three hours after leaving port to tell the passengers, who claim they could have cancelled the cruise and received a full refund instead of a $150 credit and future discount.

In the Caribbean, a fire in the engine room of the Carnival Liberty stranded the ship in St. Thomas, its cruise cancelled and its passengers left with two options. One, if the ship is cleared to return under less-than-full power to San Juan (departure port) and make it easier to fly home. Two, they can stay on the disabled ship if it can’t leave and enjoy the Virgin Islands city until the weekend, when Carnival will fly them home. Either way, the passengers will get a full refund, a 50 per cent discount on their next cruise and a $150 on-board credit.

No complaints there, at least not yet.

What do you think?

In the news…

• Costa's new TV deal with Sky Italia satisfies rabid soccer fans in ships
• Fathom plans to begun cruising to Cuba on May 1 at the latest

Today at portsandbows.com: Mobile to be home to a cruise ship again

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
November 15, 2015
Houston (return): Roatan, Belize, Cozumel
Inside: $406
Cost per day: $58



Google ‘Cruise’ And Be Careful

In this age, when people Google everything from a cure for cancer to buying castor oil (honest!), somebody who has never been on a cruise might be inclined to Google that.

Be careful.

In this age of words perpetually shortened at the expense of proper spelling or grammar, it’s import to spell correctly when searching.

For example…

“Cruise” — if you make an atypical mistake and use a capital C — could easily bring a Tom Cruisedeluge of stories and websites about Tom Cruise, who is an actor and not a ship.

“Crews” is the word that categorizes the groups of people who serve you in so many ways on ships, but could also deliver a Rockstar Games Social Club or even an ex-football player-turned-actor.

“Cruze” is a car made in South Korea for General Motors.

“Cruz” is an American politician who would love to preface his name with “President Ted” as of November 8 of next year, and is also the call letters of a radio station in Canada and Australia, plus the surname of women who are (a) a pro wrestler (b) the Mrs. Universe in the Philippines, and (c) a Spanish actress once in a relationship with that other Cruise.

The one who’s an actor, not a ship.

So, in the end, watch your Ps and Qs when you write “cruise” into Google…or maybe that should be your Ss and Zs…or just put “going on a” before you enter the magic word.

Today at portsandbows.com: River water woes around the world

— Tom Cruise photo by Georges Biard

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
December 6, 2015
Houston (return): Majahual, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $475
Cost per day: $67

Friday File: Always Five O’clock On Ships

We have no problems with spending time at bars on cruise ships — it’s just something we’ve never done a lot. So today’s glimpse of some of the facades and ways that cruise lines try to encourage passengers to visit their “neighborhood” bar, or one of them, is hardly the work of experts. It’s just some of the bars that we thought looked interesting, for any of a number of reasons…

Allure-moving bar

The Rising Tide on Allure of the Seas is an elevator of sorts, moving three floors up and down at one end of the ship’s promenade.

Epic - OSheehans

On the Norwegian Epic, there’s an Ice Bar that’s very cool but we found O’Sheehan’s more comfortable in more ways than one.

Carnival Ecstasy

This could be any bar but it happens to be an eagle’s nest view of a bar on the Carnival Ecstasy — it shall be nameless here.


Then there's just a bar that looks nice, and classy…which is what Oceania tries to do on all its ships, in this case the tasteful Riviera.

Cruise ship Celebrity Reflection

On the Celebrity Reflection, the innovative Molecular Bar is where you “participate in Mixology 101” and learn new concoctions.


If you’re into bar conversation, it’s minimal from Quantum of the Seas robots, who needn’t worry about translation with their ship now in Asia.

Carnival Freedom

Carnival’s signature places to imbibe, here on the Freedom, and on some ships there’s a pub, a bar and beer with the RedFrog brand.

In the news…

• Holland America, Dancing With Stars to split after January 10 cruise
• No more fireworks shows on Norwegian ships Breakaway, Getaway
• Crystal Cruises owner considering buying into Lloyd Werft Shipyard

Today at portsandbows.com: New port on the River Thames in London

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
November 15, 2015
Houston (return): Cozumel, Roatan, Belize
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67

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