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When Iceland makes insurance wise

Beware Bardarbunga!

This warning is for all travelers who might be headed for Europe, and that includes people flying to or returning from cruises. Can you say cruise travel insurance, anyone?

This is not a joke.

Bardarbunga is the name of the next Icelandic volcano, which has yet to surface. Last weekend, there were 2,600 earthquakes under Iceland, prompting meteorological experts to speculate another volcano could spew ash into the skies over the country, as was the case in 2010.

That was no joke.

We have friends who spent several days in Amsterdam airport, on the way to a cruise they never took. The flight they needed to take in order to board the ship was Eyjafjallajökullgrounded in Amsterdam because of the lack of visibility caused by the volcanic ash. That volcano was Eyjafjallajokull, now that you ask, and it’s part of the same glacier as Bardarbunga.

The last time Bardarbunga erupted was 114 years ago, so you could say it’s due. Scientists have discovered an increase in seismic activity. There was an earthquake Monday that was the strongest in Iceland in 18 years. Volcanic eruptions are more likely if the magna movement occurs less than 10 kilometers from the surface, and last weekend’s activity was mostly at a depth of 5-10 kilometers.

That sounds like a recipe for possible volcanic ash, and that’s a good reason for people flying to or from Europe to make sure they’re covered by travel insurance.

Today at portsandbows.com: More Carnival options with FunShip 2.0

Carnival Sunshine
7 nights
September 13, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya
Inside: $289
Cost per day: $41

Cruising In The Sun A Time To Be Cautious


A visit to the family dermatologist (doesn't everybody have a family dermatologist?) raised the sometimes-uneasy spectra of using sunscreen. Few places is that more important than it is on a cruise ship…out in perpetual sunshine for long periods of time, frequently closer to the equator than normal.

As an aside, a Florida-based skin care company — in Cocoa, of all places — cleverly made a deal with Carnival to provide passengers on four ships this month (BreezeLibertyTriumph and Sunshine) with complimentary sunscreen. There are gallon-size pumps and sampling stations plus individual packets. If the marketing campaign attracts enough customers to its Ocean Potion (also clever), the partnership with Carnival could go well beyond the four-ship test.

But back to the family dermatologist.

During the inevitable waiting period, patients can self-educate. Like by reading at least parts of a sun-protection brochure — by another skin care company — and discovering some valuable information. Seriously.

Given that another doctor told us everybody needs 15 minutes of Vitamin D (sunshine) a day, let's talk about the UV Index. Does anybody not working in dermatology or for skin care companies really know what it means? 

For example, if it's between 0 and 2 (low), you're safe in the sun for an hour, providing you wear sunglasses. Between 3 and 5, you need to wear hats, sunscreen and sunglasses if outside for more than half an hour. At 6 or 7, it's sunburn time and that means skin damage. Between 8 and 10, you can burn quickly so it's time to bring on the protection army to keep from burning quickly. A UV Index of 11 or higher can mean damaged skin and burns in minutes.

What's relative?

Check the Environmental Protection Agency website to see what the index is where you are. And if where you are is on a Caribbean cruise, or when you are, the UV Index is likely to be 9.

That's considered "very high." That means a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a shady place to sit.

Ask the family dermatologist.

Sea Princess

14 nights

February 27, 2014 

Brisbane (return): AucklandTaurangaNapierWellingtonAkaroaDunedin

Inside: $1,999

Cost per day: $142


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


Venice Fatality Fuels Controversy

The controversy in Venice began when environmentalists claimed large cruise ships were causing erosion of the city's precious soil — and it is precious. This sounded like a story with some merit.

The criticism escalated when the same committee claimed large cruise ships were traveling dangerously close to small vessels in the lagoon while going to and from the dock that is their port, specifically the Carnival Sunshine. This was vigorously refuted by Carnival. There were witnesses who supported both sides.

Now there is more.

In August, a German tourist died when crushed against a dock by one of the hundreds of water taxis. This tragic accident occurred by the famous Rialto Bridge, in the heart of Venice's canal system. The lobbyists are blaming large cruise ships, or at least inferring this would never have happened but for the big ships.

This is at least a stretch, and perhaps an injustice.

From reading about the death of the tourist, cruise ships are being implicated because of the traffic congestion in the canals. If you've ever been to Venice, you know where the Rialto Bridge is, and how many small craft surround it. You also know how congested the canals are, especially that one. Imagine rush hour in a major city, but on water. In tourist season, the canals are congested even if there is no cruise ship going past St. Mark's Square. They are congested even if there is no cruise ship in Venice.

The gondolas and water taxis are at the heart of Venice tourism. More tourists, more passenger boats.

So you can blame the cruise ships for bringing the tourists — but does Venice want tourists to stay home? You can blame the cruise ships for the part they play on soil erosion, or for directly causing or endangering small boats in the lagoon, when validated.

But to suggest cruise ships had a role in a fatality on a canal into which no cruise ship could fit, a fatality that appears to have been caused by boat congestion or driver error, is reaching. If an environmental lobby wants to make its points count, it needs to maintain credibility.

Norwegian Epic
13 nights
October 20, 2013
Barcelona, Funchal, St. ThomasMiami
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $30

Three Times a Godmother

Unquestionably, there are people who envy or resent the Arison family. It comes with their territory. Wealthy beyond any normal person's means. Owners (or part-owners) of 11 cruise lines under the Carnival banner. Owners of the NBA's champions for the last two years. High up on the list of Miami's rich and famous.


So there is bound to be that same anti-Arison sentiment when — in New Orleans on November 17 — the family matriarch, Lin, becomes the Godmother of the Carnival Sunshine. She'll also become the only person to be Godmother of three ships — the previous iteration of the Sunshine (Carnival Destiny) and the Carnival Holiday being her other godchild ships.

To which we say…good for her!

Mrs. Arison's late husband, Ted, had an enormous cruising impact that affects all of us who go on ships today. He was part-owner of the cruise line that really introduced the affordable Caribbean cruise. It was called the Norwegian Line and Arison left it after six years to found Carnival, which became a corporation that also owns Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Costa and half a dozen smaller cruise lines.

He was a child of wealth and he parlayed it into greater wealth. His son Mickey became the face of Carnival, the world's 169th wealthiest person and the man who signs the paychecks for Lebron James. His mother has been mostly anonymous, except in Miami. There she is known as a philanthropist, especially for the arts, which she obviously loves. She has dedicated her life to advancement of the arts for young people and last year President Obama awarded her the National Medal.

With such people of privilege often comes a responsibility to help others. But it's not a given. If there were no wealthy people like this, who would step up to help others, in a myriad of ways. Mrs. Arison made doing so her responsibility.

When she wasn't giving "berth" to three ships.

White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
7 nights
October 6, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel
Inside: $749
Cost per day: $107

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