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Princess Cruising With Cat Greenleaf

Maybe we’ve been living under a rock, but we’d never heard of Cat Greenleaf. Or maybe it’s because in the morning our TV station of choice is CNN, not NBC. Or maybe it’s just because we don’t live in New York, or go to the Emmys.

So finding out something about Cat Greenleaf was…interesting.

Our motivation was that Princess Cruises is sharing — with anybody who cares to watch — a series of videos with the host of Talk Stoop, an Emmy Award-winning interview show with more than 12 million viewers, or more than live in New York City, her home. The videos are about the first cruise for her family: husband Mike, two small boys and mother-in-law (aka, babysitter).

There are 20 of them — don’t be intimidated, they’re short — and they’re well-done, because Princess always seems to do things well…or even better. They highlight all the good things about what first-time cruisers (and sometimes long-time cruisers) experience Cat Greenleaf-2in booking, sailing, enjoying and leaving a ship. It’s not clear which Princess ship this television celebrity was on, but it was the Regal Princess, which carries “5,000 people” — 3,500 plus crew.

That Princess came up with the idea is impressive. 

This is a multi-racial, two-parents-who-work family with a career-driven life that’s too busy to escape on a week-long cruise. Or has been. Sound familiar? There are many such families these days, so Princess is tapping into a large segment of what is already a large segment — first-time cruisers. We can assume, because this was a promotion for the cruise line, that this busy family didn’t pay for the cruise and that, in return, Princess got exactly what it wants the rest of us to see.

For people who have cruised a lot, a couple of things were intriguing. Who knew that a ship like this has 300 routers positioned in all corners to accommodate Wi-Fi? Did Cat Greenleaf really hurt her foot, necessitating a trip to the ship’s doctor and an opportunity to talk about the “hospitals” at sea? And how did she manage to wander through the kitchen without wearing one of those antiseptic white coats the rest of us have worn on kitchen visits?

But the concept is clever, to say the least, and Princess did a service not just for its brand but for the entire industry with this first-person, one-person videos to let the rest of the world in on why cruising is the vacation choice of millions. Plus, it’s good for Cat Greenleaf far beyond a happy cruise experience, because now she has more people who know of her and Talk Stoop.

At least two.

In the news…

• Anthem of the Seas makes Martinique port call amid joy, sorrow, silence
• Celebrity Exclipse to return to Southampton for seventh straight summer
• Top-selling romance book authors on Princess Valentine's Day cruise

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival and craft beer

Celebrity Equinox
14 nights
April 15, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Ponta Delgada, Lisbon, Seville, Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona
Inside: $899
Cost per day: $64

Malta’s Day Sign Of Cruise Future

Valletta Grand HarbourPhoto by John Haslem (Wikimedia Commons)

Somewhere we read that 1 in 4 people don’t know where Malta is. That means three-quarters of us do and, while we couldn’t have come up with the co-ordinates on a map, we knew it was in the Mediterranean Sea — well, sort of — and that there must be falcons there because there once was a movie called The Maltese Falcon.

Whether that qualifies us to be 1 of the 3 in 4 or not, one thing we do know is that more people on cruise ships are finding Malta.

Take yesterday.

In Valletta, the capital of Malta, there was a record number of cruise ships — five — and 14,000 tourists were on them. This is a city of 6,444 residents, according to a 2014 census. The equivalent of that is having a million people arrive in Miami on the same day. Can you just imagine what the waterfront was like when the MSC Fantasia, Norwegian Jade, Celebrity Equinox, Costa neoRiviera and the CDF Zenith (?)  were all sending passengers ashore?

This tidbit comes from Cruise Industry News, one of the websites we regularly monitor for information on cruising. To say that CIN is the bible of cruising is probably not inaccurate, and purchasing that “bible” — its annual report — costs $895. 

The bottom line is when Cruise Industry News reports, everybody in the industry reads.

That brings us to another tidbit. In that annual report, and this part is free, it says “the average big-ship new-build” will carry between 4,000 and 5,000 passengers. That means the average ship of the future is going to carry a minimum of 4,000…think Quantum of the Seas, Norwegian Epic…maybe even Oasis of the Seas.

And they’ll probably all be going to Malta, right?

By the way, it’s south of Italy, about where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Adriatic. But you knew that, didn’t you?

In the news…

• Princess partners with TV celebrity chef and best-selling author Curtis Stone
• Bookings open for Holland America's ship Koningsdam, coming in April
• Royal Caribbean loyalty program taking new members before they cruise

Today at portsandbows.com: Royal Caribbean's special-interest shore excursions

Norwegian Epic
7 nights
October 18, 2015
Southampton, Vigo, Lisbon, Grenada, Cartagena, Barcelona
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

Drowning At Sea: Everyone Loses

Yet another child has died on a cruise ship. Yet another child has, allegedly, drowned. Yet another plea is going to be issued for cruise lines to station lifeguards by pools all the time they are open.

And once more there is a chance of misplaced responsibility.

The victim of this family tragedy is a 10-year-old girl. The Norwegian Gem’s medical team responded to a poolside call on Sunday, the day after the Gem left New York for Florida. Despite CPR and emergency efforts, the young girl did not respond.

Everybody loses when this happens.

Especially the parents, who lose their child. The ERT loses a patient. The cruise line — in this case Norwegian — loses public confidence. None of them deserves to lose.

When you become a parent, among your responsibilities is providing safe care for your children until they are able to do so themselves. This is especially true around places to Norwegian poolswim, be they beaches or swimming pools. Whether the pool is in a park or on a beach or at a hotel or on a cruise ship, the primary responsibility for a child rests the parent.


They’re a back-up. Would you want your child’s fate to depend solely on a lifeguard? Some beaches have lifeguards, some don’t. Most public pools in parks or buildings do. Hotels usually don’t. Apartment buildings never do. The same goes for cruise lines except for Disney, which carries the most kids.

Ten people a day drown accidentally in the U.S., about two of them younger than 14. It is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death. Those statistics alone should be a wake-up call when their kids go swimming.

Wherever it is.

In the news…

• Latest Princess sale on U.S. departures ends on Memorial Day
• Norwegian Dawn temporarily without power, runs aground near Bermuda
• Norwegian announces second public offering of 20 million shares 

Today at portsandbows.com: Combo cruise from Disney and AmaWaterways

Celebrity Equinox
7 nights
July 18, 2015
Istanbul, Mykonos, Valletta, Catania, Naples, Rome
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $114

Hotel Director As Great As His Ships

There are people in the Royal Caribbean family who firmly believe that Raimund Gschaider is the “hotel director of all hotel directors” and that’s at least part of the reason why his workplace is known as Allure of the Seas. So in our ongoing quest to provide you with the human-interest side of people on cruise ships, we sat in the hotel director office of all hotel director offices with that in mind.

It quickly became clear that Raimund is more at ease and more animated in talking about his offspring than himself.

The offspring that weighs 100,000 tons.

Yes, Allure of the Seas and her older sibling, Oasis of the Seas. In the years he spent preparing for, participating in and celebrating their arrivals, it’s entirely possible he did feel like he’d been giving birth.

“It takes a lot out of you,” he says. “It is your sole force. That is very demanding, and very rewarding and very amazing, for all the right reasons, but it keeps you involved Raimund Gschaiderall the time. You don’t have the same down time. I recommend it to anybody. Very few get to take part in something that is revolutionizing an industry.”

And now that the big ships are three and four years old, he is like any proud parent.

“Once you’ve been on an Oasis Class ship, it’s difficult to go on any other ship,” adds Gschaider, who has worked for Royal Caribbean for 31 years, the last two decades as a hotel director on ships. “It is a most amazing property. It has everything. It simply has everything. There are so many options, and so much space. Everything on the ship is decentralized. It’s such an open place…less density than on any other ship.”

And there’s more:

“It’s a great destination that takes you to great destinations. It has more than Vegas, Orlando, the Caribbean and New York can offer you — a little bit of everything for everyone. Everybody has a space and a place on board. More experience and activities and culinary options…more to do, even on a rainy  day. You have so much more to do so much more — Broadway, aqua shows, Shrek, Dreamworks…”

And he’s still getting warmed up.

“There are six different pool areas. Go from the top down and see who’s where. There’s a different energy level in each area. It’s magic, pure magic. It’s like going to five different parts of a city. That is what these ships are. Even when we started, I was blown away.”

Raimund, as he is widely known, was the project director for both ships. He was responsible for, among other things, the organizational chart that made sure the right people were in the right places on a ship with a bigger population than many towns. Having started working on cruise ships as a waiter after leaving his native Austria, Gschaider was promoted to restaurant manager at 26. His next step up was food and beverage manager, on the way to managing 2,160 crew members.

What makes a hotel manager so good…or a good hotel manager?

“On a cruise ship, you’re dealing in a very dynamic environment,” he explains. “There’s a structured element to it. You have to be quick to react to all circumstances, but you are surrounded by an amazing group of people who share my passion to provide great vacations. We are all here to make that happen. It’s not the ‘me’…it’s the ‘we’.”

Gschaider was in Finland when the first plate was cut for Oasis of the Seas, which floated out in 2010. He was there for Allure of the Seas, which arrived a year later. He won’t be there for the arrival of Quantum of the Seas this fall, and not for two more Oasis Class ships expected in 2017 and 2018 (I’m too old for that”). Those ships are following in a wake created by Oasis and Allure.

Expectations were exceeded.

“Absolutely!,” he says emphatically. “And EVERYBODY will tell you that. Richard Fain [Royal Caribbean’s CEO] mentioned that when he ordered the fourth ship.”

There is, of course, a human interest side to Raimund Gschaider. He worked at the Four Seasons in St. Moritz after attending hospitality school and before attending business school in Salzburg. He now lives in Miami. He has two 30-something sons who live in London. He and his wife like to vacation in beautiful places and golf courses are personal magnets.

“My wife is taking lessons,” he says. “I’ve had my share of lessons and I’m no good either. When I’m off, I play two or three times a week…when I’m working, two or three times in four months.”

Working, after all, means looking after one big family.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Celebrity Equinox
11 nights
December 1, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Colon, Puerto Limon, Belize, Cozumel
Inside $1,054
Cost per day: $95

News: Ruby Princess Takes 'Short' To New Heights

Ruby with Nieuw Amst copyShort has many meanings. When one of us asks the other why she is "short" (as in curt) she says she can't help it because her parents were short (as in height). Laugh. Short also applies to not having enough cash. Or distance, from A to B. And now, more than ever, it applies to cruises.

In response to public demand (or at least preference), Princess is adding more "short" cruises — moistly four days long. For example, the Ruby Princess is sailing four of them as Caribbean getaways in the month of December, and there is talk Princess will ramp up the number right into 2015.

We've been on a couple of shorties, three or four days, but they wouldn't be our choice. When we cruise, the idea of a "getaway" is a chance to relax, which usually takes most people more than a few days.

However, times have changed. Maybe the fast-food, quick-hit, short-clip world is starting to impact the cruise business.

Or maybe "short" was just looking for another definition.

Celebrity Equinox
14 nights
November 25, 2013
BarcelonaCartagenaMalagaCadizTenerifeFort Lauderdale
Balcony: $849
Cost per day: $70

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