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The Carnival Grinch’s Kind of Christmas

On the 12th day before Christmas, it became official: The Grinch didn’t steal Christmas after all. He brought it early.

If this doesn’t touch you, well, maybe nothing will…

The Grinch is a Dr. Seuss character who, according to legend and a book of the same name, stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss, now a corporation and not an author, has authorized the use of Seuss characters on Carnival cruise ships for more than a year.  During the weekend, The Grinch showed up at facilities where sick kids live in Baltimore and Charleston to bring smiles to little faces that need all the smiles they can get.

Why Baltimore and Charleston? Because the Carnival Pride homeports in Baltimore, and the Fantasy in Charleston.

At both Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital in Charleston and Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore, The Grinch and his entourage – which included crew members from both ships — put on shows with happy endings to celebrate the coming of Christmas. Among the memories for the kids was a Seuss-theme gift bag, accompanied by list of “good deed suggestions to allow them to, just like The Grinch, grow their heart ‘three times its size.’”

It’s one of the perks of having a Carnival ship live in your city…a perk that can never be measured by how much it means to the economy.

CA-GrinchIn the news…

• Windstar first cruise line to visit Montserrat since volcano buried capital oil 1995
• Arsenal of ‘water toys’ for passengers for Crystal Esprit’s maiden voyage next week
• MSC Musica makes maiden call at its new homeport of Abu Dhabi in the UAE

Today at portsandbows.com: So what about those river-ship balconies?

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
January 18, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $351
Cost per day: $70

Grand Princess, Grand Return

The other day, there was a small fire on the Grand Princess as the big ship was circumventing Hawaii. It was caused by a circuit breaker in the ships’ electrical switchboard. There was some smoke. Nobody was hurt. As these things go, it was relatively minor.

The Grand Princess got the worst of it. Because it was a propulsion circuit breaker, the ship lost some power. Not all, just some. The result is the ship is now on its way back to San

Grand Princess at sea on May 6, 2011 Grand Princess - Princess Cruises

Francisco, at a slower speed than normal. Other than being slowed, it’s fine. No safety concerns, no manoeuvreability concerns.

Passengers were marginally inconvenienced. Two ports — one on Kauai, one on Maui — had to be skipped. The power outage meant emergency lights had to be used, briefly. Air conditioning was temporarily limited.

So what does Princess do?

This was a 15-day cruise. Passengers who wanted to leave Hawaii were flown home, at the cruise line’s expense. Passengers who stayed on board  were given credit towards another Princess cruise, plus a full refund.

Kind of makes you wish you were on the Grand Princess, doesn’t it?

In the news…

• Seven months before first ship arrives, Crystal inaugural river cruises hot tickets

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Carnival Pride
13 nights
January 2, 2017
Baltimore, Grand Turk, Amber Cove, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Limon, Mahogany Bay, Cozumel, Tampa
Oceanview: $929
Cost per day: $71

Crown Tour Educating Passengers

ON BOARD THE CROWN PRINCESS — Ten things we learned yesterday during the Ultimate Ship Tour ($150) of the Crown Princess, somewhere on the sun-stroked waters of the Gulf of Mexico:

1. This era of more sensible eating hasn't really impacted the ratio of the 20 to 25 tons of food consumed each day, but it has resulted in soy milk moving from the list of "dietary items" to the main menu. Veggies and meats are still ordered and prepared in the same proportion, although the passenger demographics affects salt content. The salt consumed by a ship full of Americans is double that of the salt consumed by Europeans.

2. Performers recruited for shows in the Princess Theater have to be multi-talented — How many people do you know who can sing and dance to hip-hop, jazz, tap, disco and ballet? — and spend four to six weeks rehearsing at the cruise line's studio adjacent to headquarters in Santa Clarita. Princess claims it has more space devoted to entertainment per ship than any other line.

3. X-rays taken in the medical center are transmitted to a radiologist in Texas for interpretation, and returned to ship doctors within 24 hours.

4. Bakers make between 20,000 and 24,000 rolls every day.

5. Almost everything you don't see happening on a ship — food preparation to laundry to photo processing to cleaning — is going 24/7.

6. The ship's anchor is not what keeps it in place when it parks to tender passengers ashore, as it will this week in Belize, so much as the chains that drop the anchor to a depth of about 180 feet…and, while this doesn't apply to cruise ships, the anchor well (right) on cargo ships is a popular place for stowaways to hide.

7. Helicopter evacuation for critically ill patients is far from automatic. The ship has to be inside 350 miles of helicopter service, the weather has to be good enough for 'copters to fly and the patient has to be capable of surviving a helicopter transfer.

8. The Crown Princess burns about 1,000 tons of fuel on a typical seven-day cruise like this one to the Western Caribbean, at a cost of approximately $100,000 per day, and requires about 220 liters of clean water for each passenger every day.

9. Costumes for the 17 theater performers — and there 1,600 of them (costumes, that is) are made to be long-lasting and flexible. That's flexible, as in size. Two seamstresses can change costume sizes to go up or down by several sizes. Going up might be a service Princess can offer customers who eat too much.

10. The reason the funnels are the dirtiest part of the ship is that for safety reasons it's off limits to crew except when all the engines are shut down, and that can only happen in three North American ports — Alaska, Vancouver and San Francisco — where electrical systems can be kept running by plugging into outlets on the shore. And the closest any passenger can get to the funnels is just above Deck 16, some 190 feet above the water, and the only way you'll get that close on the Crown Princess is on the Ultimate Ship Tour.


Carnival Pride
7 nights
April 21, 2013
Baltimore (return): Port Canaveral, Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67


Carnival Making the Best of Sandy


If you like last-minute deals, if you're close enough that you can get to Baltimore by tomorrow and if you've always wanted to go on a cruise to nowhere…well, you can.

The Carnival Pride spent the last three days in nowhere waters, which is to say sitting by the Baltimore cruise port and waiting for Hurricane Sandy to leave. That wiped out the weekly cruise to Florida and the Bahamas, so rather than sit for the rest of the week until Sunday's departure, Carnival is sending the Pride "to nowhere" for two nights: Friday and Saturday.

The deal?

Inside cabins are $129, balconies $179, and there are probably many people in that part of the country who'd just like to get away from it all.

And go anywhere…or nowhere.

Carnival Glory
7 nights
January 6, 2013
Miami (return): Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, Grand Cayman
Inside:  $429
Cost per day: $61

This Time, Cruising Hit by Hurricane

Get ready for the hurricane.

Not Sandy, the "hurricane" of stories that we're going to hear from cruisers who have been stranded while trying to reach their ship, tossed around on ships, left at sea, compensated by airlines/cruise lines, not compensated by airlines/cruise lines, missed ports, missed ships, had their cruise shortened, had their cruise lengthened…

This may go down as the week that the cruise ship industry was most affected by hurricanes. One hurricane.

With at least 20% of the entire U.S. population affected by Hurricane Sandy, here's a rough re-cap of how some cruise ships were impacted (as reported by Cruise.Co, Cruise Critic and a myriad of news sources on the Internet):

• Five ships yesterday were caught in or near 30-foot seas churned by Sandy — Norwegian Jewel, Carnival Miracle, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, Aida Luna and the Queen Mary 2 (trying vainly to escape Sandy's path as it headed east for England).

• Holland America's Eurodam had to change its departure from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville, bussing all its passengers over 320 miles in windy conditions.

• Disney's Fantasy finally made it to Port Canaveral with a shipload of scared and sick passengers tossed around while the Fantasy sustained damage to restaurants, bars, shops and stateroom furniture.

• One ship, Carnival Pride, was forbidden to depart from Baltimore by the U.S. Coast Guard and the cruise was canceled.

• Passengers on another Carnival ship, the Glory, were issued refunds because the Norfolk (Virginia) cruise terminal is behind a flood gate that closed on the weekend.

• Eight other Carnival ships on the East Coast were forced to delay departures or arrivals and skip or change ports for other stops, or add an extra sea day.

• Three other Norwegian ships were affected…the Gem is sitting out in calmer Atlantic waters until the hurricane passes, which could turn a 9-day cruise into 12, while the Dawn and the Sky also shuffled departures and ports.

• The Emerald Princess escaped rough seas by stopping in Port Saguenay (Quebec) instead of Bar Harbor (Maine), and three other Princess ships changed itineraries.

• Four Royal Caribbean ships — Enchantment, Jewel, Majesty and Monarch of the Seas — also changed schedules or added sea days to escape Sandy's wrath.

Blessed with modern technology, cruise ships are almost always able to escape hurricanes. This one, because of its mushrooming size and force, may turn out to be the exception. And with compensation packages reaching far into the future, not to mention far into the bank accounts of cruise lines, the effects could be felt for a long, long time.

In the days ahead, expect to hear many first-person and harrowing accounts of life on a cruise ship during a hurricane.

Celebrity Silhouette
15 nights
April 14, 2013
Fort Lauderdale, Coco Cay, San Juan, St. Maarten, Madeira, Rome
Inside: $789
Cost per day: $52

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