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The World’s Youngest Cruise Blogger?

A few days ago, we discovered there's a boy who is surely the youngest cruise blogger in the world. His name is Theo Robson and he is the grandson of close friends of ours, and for some reason cruising is his passion, to the point that he writes blogs about his cruise interests.

And he is 11.

Theo’s website is called “This Kid Knows Cruises!” and while he doesn’t write every day — there is something called school, after all — he clearly spends a lot of time researching his subjects. For example, Theo can tell you the 55 biggest cruise ships in the world and all their vital statistics (gross tonnage, length, how many passengers, number of staterooms). He can tell you which cruise lines are best at responding to an 11-year-old who’s looking for information (Seabourn is his first choice). He can provide you with links to cruise lines and webcams that involve cruise ships.

Theo started down this path when he was just 18 months old. That’s when he first went on a cruise ship. That’s when the business of cruising began to get into his blood, which should tell cruise lines not to dismiss the value of having kids, even little kids, on their ships.

This kid is bound to be a cruiser for life.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest news about Venice

Carnival Valor
7 nights
February 15, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49

Lessons All-round On Carnival Cruise

Even in this electronic age, books are valuable. Good books, that is. You read it, you pass it along, and somebody else reads it. The chain continues and with each passage of literature comes education…especially for kids, especially for kids who don’t have books.

Literacy is supported in many places. On Sunday, when the Carnival Valor returned to San Juan, it was lighter by 2,000 books. They’d been left behind in St. Croix by passengers, for the kids of the island.

This particular literacy project is the creation of an organization called Blue World Travel Agency. Every year, the agency promotes a one-week cruise called Festival At BoysandGirls-BVISea and passengers are asked to buy one book (at least) to donate to the designated “community service destination.”

This year, it was St. Croix. Every year, destinations are from the Caribbean, South Africa or Hawaii.

The Valor passengers booked by the agency bought more than 2,000 books. A group of children from the Boys and Girls Club of St. Croix accepted them on behalf of all the island’s kids. In each book the names, cities and states of each passenger was inscribed. That, too, was designed to educate the recipients.

School superintendent Gary Molloy explained it this way to Fiona Stokes, staff writer for the Virgin Island Daily News:

“This is certainly a great lesson in gratitude for our children to see that people that know nothing about them picked out these great books for them.”

Also a great lesson for the passengers, too, isn’t it?

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
September 8, 2014
Miami (return): NassauCocoCayKey West
Inside: $279
Cost per day: $49

Puerto Rico Plans to Market Cruisers

News item: Puerto Rico is doubling the number of hotels, and doubling the number of hotel rooms, over the next decade because of an annual increase in tourist traffic of three per cent (2013) that is topping out at 1.6 million.

For the cruise community, Puerto Rico is San Juan. In a one-year period, San Juan visitors will include eight ships from both Carnival and Holland America ships, seven from Royal Caribbean, four from Norwegian, Celebrity and Silversea, three from Old_San_JuanOceania, two from Regent Seven Seas and one from Disney, Princess, MSC Cruises and Crystal.

You get the idea.

Almost half of that 1.6 million tourists arrive (and leave) on a cruise ship. To fill those hotel rooms, Puerto Rico's tourist people say they need to convince cruise passengers to stay for two or three days. This, of course, is only possible if you either board or get off your ship in San Juan.

Not many cruises start in San Juan. We flew there four years ago to get on the Celebrity Millennium for a cruise through the Panama Canal. That's the kind of thing that will convince cruisers to go a few days early or stay a few days late. Looking ahead for the next year-plus schedule, we couldn't find one major cruise line starting or ending a cruise in San Juan.

So Puerto Ricans might want to change their marketing strategy as the hotels increase, and convince cruise passengers to come back to this island jewel…or convince cruise lines to start and end more cruises in their charming port.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Valor
7 nights
July 6, 2014
San Juan (return): St. ThomasBarbadosSt. LuciaSt. KittsSt. Maarten
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61

Hawaii-Disney Relationship On Again

Photos: Disney Cruise Line

As courtships go, "paradise" and the "happiest place on earth" have had an on-and-off relationship.

Next year, it's on again, albeit for little more than a one-night stand.

The lovers are Hawaii and Disney, respectively, but you already knew that didn't you?

The Disney Wonder will take the cruise line for kids back to "paradise" in September of 2015, for the first time in three years. This will be an itinerary change for the Wonder, which this summer is on the Vancouver-to-Alaska run. When that itinerary runs its King Kamehamehacourse in September, the Wonder will sail down the Pacific Coast, heading for the Panama Canal and, eventually, Florida.

Next year, the Wonder will delay its Panama Canal cruise by about three weeks. On September 7, it will head west to Hawaii for a 10-day cruise, then leave Honolulu for the return trip on September 17. After that, down the coast…through the Canal…back to its Florida home.

And if you don't think going from Vancouver to the land of King Kamehameha's Hawaii and back is a good idea (does Disney ever have a bad one?), consider this:

According to the Disney website, these two cruises (September 2015) are already sold out!

Maybe now, these two "lovers" will make their relationship long-term.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: A novel way to see Hawaii

Carnival Valor
7 nights
August 31, 2014
San Juan (return): St. ThomasBarbadosSt. LuciaSt. KittsSt. Maarten
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67

Cruise Lines, Passengers In A Fog In Texas


The current four-letter word for cruise-ship passengers in Texas is F-O-G. Ordinarily, it's a three-letter word that nobody on a cruise ship cares much about…

Until your ship can't leave and consequently that Caribbean port you badly wanted to visit is now off the itinerary.

Until your ship can't return when it's scheduled to return, and by then your plane has left, you have to spend a night in a hotel and you're in danger of missing Sunday dinner at Aunt Clara's.

Until it impacts on safety, and in this era that rarely happens but it could happen in Houston's ship channel (above) where cruise and cargo vessels don't have a lot of elbow room — or margins of error.

At various times this January, ships in Houston-Galveston waters have been on fog lockdown, either stuck in port or out in the bay waiting to get back. Visibility at both Houston airports has ranged between 1/16th and 1/8th of a mile. This is not a new problem. Talented travel writers Harry and Joan Shattuck has lived in Houston for 43 years (and we've been friends almost all of that time) and have become so accustomed to foggy Januarys that Harry can't remember one without fog. 

Also some Februarys, Marchs…

The good news this week is, now that the Pacific Northwest cold front that caused all this has left, Texans expect to have clear skies by the weekend.

Almost three years ago, Carnival President Gerry Cahill told Harry that Galveston was an attractive place to cruise from but its port officials "had to get a handle on fog to make things work long-term."

At that time, there were no ships in Houston. Princess started sailing from Houston this winter and, at last count, the Caribbean Princess had cruises delayed four times. Norwegian will be there next year. When you think of the logistical nightmare that fog can cause for the cruise lines, not to mention its passengers, it begs the question:

How long can they afford to continue running mid-winter cruises from Texas?

Photo by Louis Vest

Carnival Valor
7 nights
May 11, 2014
San Juan (return): St. ThomasBarbadosSt. LuciaSt. KittsSt. Maarten
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $65

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