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Cruise World Getting New Anthem

The newest cruise ship coming to America is, in reality, more than six months old. Among other things, that means Anthem of the Seas will have any little glitches eliminated by the time it heads off on its first Caribbean cruise a week from today.

Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum Class ship arrives in New York (actually, across the river in New Jersey) this week to be introduced to media, travel agents and assorted VIPs on this side of the Atlantic. Our colleague Phil Reimer is among the invited guests and will be delivering his impression of the ship at Ports and Bows.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 8.23.11 PMHow is Anthem of the Seas different from her sister, Quantum of the Seas, which turned a year old yesterday?

For starters, Anthem’s accessible. She will sail permanently from Bayonne’s Cape Liberty port, and Quantum is stationed — also permanently — in Singapore. And while Quantum’s Godmother is the gifted and effervescent Kristin Chenoweth, Anthem was christened by Emma Wilby, who is widely known on the other side of the Atlantic as an author and historian (and singer) but who could likely walk through Central Park without anybody knowing her.

Other than that, according to all reports, there’s not a lot to choose between the two ships except that Anthem of the Seas has the benefit of being tweaked, technologically and otherwise, following Quantum’s year of service.

Both have the North Star to take passengers out over the water in a pod. Both have RipCord and SeaPlex for passengers who want the sensation of sky diving and the grit of bumper cars, respectively. Both have virtual balconies, robots who pour drinks in a bar, a 270-degree view from the trendy multi-level entertainment room called Two70, and four dining rooms from which to choose. The dining difference is that Quantum’s rooms were all — to steal a word from Norwegian — freestyle with no set dining times, seating arrangements or formalities, while Anthem of the Seas’ dining rooms will also have the traditional options.

The new ship will carry almost 5,000 passengers, making it No. 3 in that department between big sisters Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. That and all its similarities to Quantum of the Seas will be more or less immaterial when it makes cruise headlines this week.

In the news…

• Crystal Cruises orders five yachts for 2016 launch into river cruise market
• Norwegian's Freestyle Choice offers back for November, December bookings
• Fathom to visit six U.S., two Canadian cities to market Dominican, Cuba cruises

Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's new partners

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
November 16, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49

What It's Like To Captain A Cruise Ship

Capt. Ravera-9

All cruise ship captains have stories to tell about life as a captain. Some tell, some don’t.

Captain Stefano Ravera of the Star Princess has a few he’s willing to share…

About what happened in Papeete, in the South Pacific:

“We were supposed to receive the food for the first leg of the world cruise. The ship bringing the container over from New Zealand was two days late because of bad weather. We started our cruise but we did not have enough food so when the container arrived, we were already at the second island. We rented a small boat capable of transporting a truck with the containers; we took it to the next island, Moorea.  We were using tenders for the passengers so I dedicate one tender for provisions. I said: ‘Since we all eat, I need people from all departments. We took ten people from every department, and we loaded 20 tons of food. It took just a good afternoon.”

About a funny response in Dakar (Senegal):

“They wanted us to send ashore only the people on tours. When I asked why, they said: ‘Oh, we don’t know if they will want to go back on the ship.’ I said: ‘I’m very sure that they won’t stay.’ We had quite a long discussion with the authorities. They thought passengers Capt. Ravera-4wanted to stow away in the car. I said I don’t really think that they will.”

About what it takes to be a captain:

“Lots of people think my only challenge is the nautical side, which is not really true — this challenge is everywhere and anywhere. It can go from nautical to receive the food supply, like that time in Papeete.”

About all the ships in his resume:

“This is number 12. Yes, you do get attached. My first command was the Dawn Princess. Then to the Ocean Princess, which was the Tahitian — she will be sold in 2016 — because I was four years with her. I was very sad.”

About the Gulf War of 1991:

“I was working on a military ship as a liaison offer for Italian merchant navy, to organize and assess preparation for navigation in the gulf for our expedition there, because I had experience in the Gulf previously with the merchant marine. One time I was on a cargo ship that was hijacked, but we were released after a relatively short time. Militarily, let’s just say we were involved to a certain degree…”

About why cruise ships generally enjoy smooth sailing:

“Various reasons, such as the distribution of weight…the provisions…number of passengers and crew. The center of gravity is always monitored…and we must comply with an extra safety margin taking into account rough weather. The ship will be comfortable, and aways safe. The vessel may move but we will have gentle movements, especially for first-time cruisers. Stabilizers tilt at positive and negative angles to achieve the dampening effect to smooth down the rolling of the vessel. The pitching of the vessel — back and forth, front to back — cannot be dampened by any instrument or equipment, only by changing the course of the ship.”

About his scariest day in the Italian Navy:

“Thank God I didn’t die. We were sent out to rescue people. It was August 2, 1982. We capsized — and I woke up in the hospital.”

Today at portsandbows.com: First looks at new river cruiser AmaDara

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
October 5, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $279
Cost per day: $55

Making That Final Resting Place At Sea

People have been buried at sea, by choice and by misfortune, since the beginning of time. Is it a sign of the apocalypse that more people are requesting that their final resting places be where there will never be a headstone.

Apparently so.

In fact, Carnival provides burials at sea as a service. It's a serious business, as it should be, except that it's not a business at all. Carnival regularly arranges such ceremonies at no charge and it's becoming more, er, popular.

But if you think it's just a matter of taking poor ol' dad's ashes in your checked luggage Carnival Freedomand gently slipping them into the ocean, think again. There are rules and regulations to be followed:

• The ashes must be brought in board in a sealed urn, where they must remain until the ceremony
• There must be a death certificate
• A document certifying that the cremation was performed at a licensed U.S. crematorium
• The ship must be at least 12 miles from land

The ceremony is private, so other passengers will be oblivious to it. When it's over, the captain gives the survivor(s) a signed document with the longitude and latitude coordinates of where the loved one was buried.

Carnival's Senior Cruise Director John Heald told USA Today's Fran Golden that he gets at least one inquiry a week for burials at sea. Carnival arranges about 200 such ceremonies each year.

This type of burial at sea was unheard-of a few years ago. Despite its growth, it' is safe to assume people aren't standing in line because nobody's in hurry to join that crowd.

Photo courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

In the news…

• Blue Man Group, Geoffrey Zakarian gone from Norwegian ships
• Chefs Cat Cora and Suzanne Tracht on 4-day Princess cruise
• Princess announces Room With A View Getaway Sweepstakes

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival invests $33 million in Barcelona

Carnival Fascination
7 nights
September 7, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $35

Friday File: Mount McKinley From The Air

DENALI, ALASKA — The best way to Alaska’s biggest — physically, for sure — tourist attraction is up close. Unless you think 40 miles is “close enough” that means hopping on a fixed-wing plane or a helicopter that will take you to the base or higher of mighty Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. So yesterday, we did, as part of a Princess Cruises Cruisetour…


North America’s most-photographed mountain, distinctive and recognizable even from 60 miles away when you're in the air.

PlaneBuilt in Canada, the de Havilland Beaver is one sturdy, safe and successful aircraft — delightfully slow by modern standards.


Pilot Chris Palm’s grandfather taught him to fly when he was 15 — now ever since he has logged time flying all over the 49th state.


Glaciers run (literally) from head to toe (literally), constantly moving to create fields of ice, moraines and silt.


This wall is part of the world’s deepest gorge: 5,000 feet above the glacier and 4,000 feet of ice below the surface.


Often under glaciers there are rivers, and the sun’s reflections makes parts of the glacier appear blue, as with swimming pools.


Tourists/climbers regularly land on Ruth Glacier, set up camps and perhaps plan to reach the summit, or maybe just try.


Jaw-dropping scenery is everywhere out the windows of aircraft and it leaves passengers stunned and speechless.


Even this month, there’s no shortage of snow on McKinley and its partners mountaintops — in fact, it snows there in June.

In the news…

• Carnival video a chance to watching the building of new ship Vista
• Holland America, again, wins Port of Vancouver Blue Circle Award
• Silversea passengers latest to get free WiFi for everybody

Today at portsandbows.com: Cunard's 175th anniversary cruise

Carnival Fascination
4 nights
October 1, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $239
Cost per day: $59

Carnival Tunes In Top Vocal Group


Come Sunday night, a lot of us will be watching the Academy of Country Music Awards because, well, we like them. Also because it always seems to be more about the music than the awards.

Enter Carnival.

The world’s biggest cruise line is writing a huge success story with its Carnival Live series, in which well-known performs board ships in port, then perform one or two concerts for which passengers are happy to pay, given the sizes of the venues.

There are the old standbys — Journey, Styx, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie — from yesteryear. There is a sprinkling of current performers: Rascall Flatts, Little Big Town, Martina McBride.

And now, the series’ summer/fall line-up includes The Band Perry, for three concerts in Nassau on Carnival ships Sensation, Fascination and Magic.

On Sunday night at the ACMs, these two brothers (Neil, Reid) and older sister (Kimberly) are nominated for “Top Vocal Group” which they won in 2014. That was a year that began by performing at the Super Bowl pre-game show, then touring with Blake Shelton. This year, they won a Grammy and now they’re headliners on tour.

Get the message?

The Band Perry is hot in country music and that makes Carnival a winner. Make that, more of a winner. Older passengers enjoyed seeing the stars of the past. Now they’ll be joined by younger, hipper spectators…because of The Band Perry.

Today at portsandbows.com: Deals from AmaWaterways, Avalon

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
May 10, 2015
Galveston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

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