Tag-Archive for » Charleston «

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

The Modern Problem Of Picking A Port

With each day, and each violent activity often linked to terrorism, reasonable people who like to travel get even more reasonable. Or concerned. Or paranoid. Or even scared.

Pick an adverb. The uncertainty of traveling abroad — be it in one direction to Europe or in the other to Asia — understandably may leave North Americans more likely to pick a cruise ship departing and returning to a North American port. Not that there are any guarantees that doing so will keep you from being an unsuspecting victim of terrorism.

But even seasoned travelers are at least having second thoughts. Why fly internationally to get on a cruise if you can fly domestically, or better yet drive or take ground transportation to a port of departure?

This is good (okay, more comforting) news for cruise lines with ships that primarily visit the Caribbean, or assorted other warm-weather spots in the Western Hemisphere. Since a Caribbean cruise still out-ranks all others, that would be most of them, yet many have shifted their investments — and some of their ships — to Asia the last couple of years, which in today’s world could mean counting on a local (Asian) clientele.

For North Americans, there is no shortage of options. A quick count shows that there are 21 cruise homeports in this continent: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Galveston, Houston, Charleston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Bayonne, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Anchorage, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Montreal.

So if you’re an avid cruiser who’s reluctant to fly afar to get to a ship, pick a port.

You may find many kindred spirits.

In the news…

• Two biggest ships (both Royal Caribbean) in southern hemisphere meeting in Sydney

Today at portsandbows.comChristmas markets with Viking in Europe

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Miami (return): Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, George Town, Cozumel
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92

Conservationists, Cruisers Do Charleston

Something’s becoming clear to those of us with a fundamental ignorance of Charleston, South Carolina. This southern city is just different. Possibly different from anywhere else in America, a fact which gets the attention of people who like cruising, ahem, because of the recent Carnival ship shuffle.

But first, a little history lesson.

Charleston has had the same mayor, Joseph Riley, for 35 years. That alone makes the place a little unusual, to say the least.

Charleston claims to be the first U.S. city with a tourism ordinance, passed 26 years ago, limiting the number of buses, carriages, people and tour-guide licenses in its historic district.

Charleston, in the eyes of some observers, has a siege mentality that has erupted again when Carnival sent its Fantasy there to begin a year of regular cruises to the Bahamas and Florida. Previously, Carnival and Celebrity both used the port part-time.

It’s the conservationists versus the tourism industry, and it’s probably not a new debate in Charleston. In the event you think this couldn’t happen in your backyard, well, if you live in or near a cruise-ship port, it could.

The conservationists fear Charleston’s reputation as a quality tourist destination will be irreparably damaged by more pollution, more traffic and more tourists, an estimated 110,000 of them from Carnival ships. Those who see the increased cruise traffic as a positive, among them Mayor Riley, believe Charleston can handle the increase and retain its charm for tourists and quality of life for residents.

In any case, Charleston won’t become a cruise ship hub like Fort Lauderdale or even New Orleans. Its current terminal, and the one being planned to replace it, can only handle just one cruise ship of “modest size” at a time. Sounds like a reasonable compromise.

Why should you care?

Cruisers and conservationists clash everywhere. Cruising continues to grow. Environmentalists demand that ships be responsible caretakers. If they aren’t, cruise lines will lose battles in ports, and that could impact on the number of port choices you have.

What’s more, Charleston sounds like a nice place to visit.

That’s it, we’re done.

Cruising's Nautical Notebook

This just in…

IS THE PRICE RIGHT?…………….$479 (oceanview $587)

October 3-24-31, December 12; Los Angeles to Mexico (return), 7 nights, Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean.

Bonus: onboard credit. Contact: travelocity


All prices are per person based on double occupancy and available at time of posting.

* * *

There was a changing of the guard a few days ago at the Alabama Cruise Terminal in Mobile, when one Carnival ship was replaced by another. The Fantasy was pulling out for the last time (to be re-located in Charleston, SC) just about as the Elation was sailing in to take her place.

The Mobile Press Register had a great picture of the ships passing in the night…oops, it was 12 noon not midnight. Mobile Mayor Sam Jones, who has been stumping for Carnival to make his city a two-ship port, told the paper: “See, we can handle two ships very, very easily.”

The Fantasy had been in Mobile since November and was now being positioned for year-round cruises in Charleston, the first time a cruise line has made that city a permanent port. The Elation came east from San Diego to make 74 departures a year from Mobile to Mexico.

Last week, Carnival made another city its port for the first time — Seattle — when the Carnival Spirit embarked on its first of 17 cruises to Alaska.

* * *

Since its introduction of Freestyle Cruising, Norwegian has adopted “innovative” as an adjective unto itself. The latest claim to changing the face of cruising is enabling passengers to book onboard entertainment online, before they even board the ship.

Going on the Epic, still more than a month away from hitting the water? If so, you can pre-book some of their shows up to 45 days prior to embarkation. Shows eligible for pre-booking include Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams & Dinner, Legends in Concert and the Second City Comedy Troupe. Details are on NCL’s website.

Still undisclosed is which shows require a cover charge.

* * *

Did you know…

That cruise lines provide Homeland Security with a passenger and crew manifest for every ship in a U.S. port, to be compared with a terrorist watch list?

* * *

When the Enchantment of the Seas ports in Portland, Maine, on its way to Halifax, NS, on June 20, it will be the first large cruise ship to visit the Forest City. By the end of October, Portland will have been visited by 69 smaller ships and more than 75,000 tourists.

* * *

More news is emerging on the soon-to-be newest member of Royal Caribbean’s family, Allure of the Seas, scheduled to make its grand entrance December 4. There are even small changes — could there be improvements? — from the biggest cruise ship in the world, Oasis of the Seas, thanks to feedback from passengers.

For those of us who have grown up in the Mac world, the most appealing might be iPod docks in all the staterooms!

  • Categories

  • Archives