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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

Carnival Live — Who’s Next?


News item: Carnival Live will return in 2016.

This is good news. Carnival cruisers clearly enjoyed paying modest fees to attend the concerts on ships while in port. Entertainers must have liked the idea of flying into a port, performing for a night or two, and flying home — or they wouldn’t keep coming back. Jennifer HudsonThe cruise line surely found what was perhaps a reason to cruise on a Carnival ship turned into an additional revenue stream that has the potential to grow.

So the shows will be back for a third season in 2016.

But who will the headliners be?

So far, Carnival representatives are only saying the show will return. Names of performers to come. It’s funny that the 2015 performers were announced last October and here we are in November this year and not a single entertainer for shows on cruises next spring, which many people would be booking by now.

What’s the delay?

Nobody’s saying, but maybe there aren’t enough big names yet and Carnival wants to wait until the cast is complete before aligning performers and ports. Or, conversely, Heartmaybe Carnival Live is going to be connected with something big — like the Grammys or the CMAs (which happened to have been last night) or even the Oscars — and the cruise line wants to make a big splashy announcement.

The Carnival Live alumni includes Jennifer Hudson, Chicago, Styx, .38 Special, Foreigner, Gavin Degraw, Jewel, Kansas, LeAnn Rimes, Olivia Newton-John, REO Speedwagon, Lady Antebellum, Daughtry, Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, Journey, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Smokey Robinson, Rascal Flatts, Boston, Lionel Richie, Heart.

Who’s going to be new to this impressive cast? Only Carnival knows…and Carnival’s not saying.


In the news…

• Norwegian's 20-month deal with The Grammy Experience ends
• Anthem of the Seas arrives at permanent home in New York
• Dining room menu items with a fee now on Norwegian ships

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest floatout of a 2016 ship

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
December 21, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $79

Richest Of The Rich In Cruising

In trying to give you a personal look at things that happen in cruising, we’re always on the prowl for interesting subjects, people, places, opinions, prices and just stories. Sometimes the stories are so good — either in writing or content, or both — that we think you should Gene Sloansimply be directed to them.

Today, we have one to share with you.

It’s from USA Today, where Gene Sloan is the cruise expert. He’s an intelligent and hard-working writer who stays on top of everything that’s happening in cruising. This one caught our eyes because it’s about the richest people in cruising, and the rich and famous are always interesting.

Rather than tell you what he has to say, we thought it best to send you right to the source:

Click here.

In the news…

• Norwegian's sending its next Breakaway Plus ship to China in 2017
• Star Cruises to quadruple deployment to Vietnam next year
• Four Carnival brands to have ships in Chinese waters within two years

Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian, Princess ships with Chinese names

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
December 7, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59

Love, Love, Love — That’s Princess  

Princess has a perk that only this cruise line can legitimately offer: free love stories for passengers to enjoy while cruising. Only Princess has a well-known history that includes “The Love Boat.”

The cruise line has always made the most of the TV show of the same name. Gavin MacLeod, aka Captain Stubing, has been a public relations giant for Princess for years. Frequently, there are or have been events ranging from building “The Love Boat” with The Love BoatLego to re-creating the old ship’s inaugural cruise down the West Coast to celebrating its 50th anniversary by rounding up as many of the TV show’s stars as possible.

It even extended to being fortunate enough to have the world’s two most-beloved princesses — Diana and Kate — as ship godmothers.

This is The Love Boat line.

In about a week, Princess passengers will be able to enjoy three short love stories — Kiss Me Maybe by Heather Burch, To Catch a Bouquet by Carolyn Brown and Once Upon a Night at Sea by Barbara Longley — all of which were inspired by each author's cruise on a Princess ship.

There’s one catch.

Because this is being done in partnership with Amazon’s Kindle Love Stories…obviously you must have a Kindle.

But it’s a nice touch, as love stories always are.

In the news…

• Carnival 36-hour $50 per person per day sale ends at midnight tonight
• Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to host Seabourn cruise through Panama Canal
• Oceania OLife guests getting free Internet, gratuities, shore excursions

Today at portsandbows.com: Owen Wilson, a star with P&O Cruises

Celebrity Constellation
9 nights
November 28, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): St. Barts, St. Maarten, St. Croix, San Juan, Labadee
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $66

A River Cruise With A Purpose

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Almost every year, at least, we are reminded of the Holocaust. Seldom, if ever, are we reminded of the “Cambodian Holocaust.”

Need a refresher?

It was the mid ‘70s. It started as the Vietnam War ended, in 1975. It was a grass-roots rebellion headed by Pol Pot and it was intended to improve life for all Cambodians. It turned into four years of murder.

Until we ventured into Southeast Asia to cruise the Mekong River with AmaWaterways, AmaDara-xxwhat little we knew of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge we’d long forgotten. In more than three days on (and off) the AmaDara, we learn more than we expected…probably more than we want to learn.

The conventional wisdom has always been that the Khmer Rouge killed two million Cambodians…and Vietnamese who lived in Cambodia.

Nyphea“That,” says Nyphea Khun, the articulate and intelligent tour guide hired by Ama, “is how many deaths were registered. The population of Cambodia went from about eight million to about four and a half million. What happened to almost two million people? Did they just disappear?”

There is a lost generation in this warm and now-friendly country. Children grew up without knowing how to be mothers, because they had none. Grandparents didn’t exist. The knowledge base was undermined — Khmer Rouge soldiers were instructed to kill anybody they thought was educated. A simple thing like wearing glasses was a death sentence.

We meet one educated survivor, in the small village where he lives, not far from here. His name is Oum Son Thon and he survived by pleading ignorance…more ignorance than pleading. He messed up his hair. He escaped into the countryside. He developed callouses on his hands, to look more like a worker, doing what he was told and pretending to be a Oum Son Thonsimple man with no education. He told the Khmer Rouge he was a worker and didn’t know how to write.

He was, in fact, a teacher. 

Somehow he survived. By 1993, after the “outside world” came to Cambodia’s rescue, Thon returned to his village, by then a shadow of what it had been. He had one shirt and one pair of shorts. He taught, for free. Eventually, four of his students graduated from university. Today, he is 81 and he regularly tells his story to passersby, like visitors on a river cruise.

Had we not been on the AmaDara’s inaugural cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, we’d never have met Oum Son Thon, who speaks no English. We’d never have met Nyphea Khun, the guide. We’d never have learned about the Cambodian Holocaust.

That would have been our loss.

Tomorrow: Prison and The Killing Fields

In the news…

• European rivers Danube and Elbe still struggling with low water levels
• Carnival promotion until Sunday: $40 to spend on board per day per room

Today at portsandbows.com: River cruising in the U.S.

Celebrity Constellation
3 nights
January 4, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Nassau, Key West
Inside: $259
Cost per day: $86

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