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Signs of the Times…from Cruise Ports

One of the interesting things about visiting foreign countries — and there’s no better way to see many of them than from a cruise ship — is the number of photo ops. Signs quickly became a subject we kept an eye open for, and below are some we found “interesting” for a variety of reasons…

NassauNot sure that this one requires any explanation, other than to say it was on the side of a building in downtown Nassau, close to Norwegian Sky’s 2,000 passengers.

Hell-2That’s where you go in Grand Cayman…at least many first-time visitors do, and locals turn Hell into business opportunities — better than having a business go to Hell.

Alaska-3In Alaska, there are many things of which you cannot be certain — mosquitoes, wildlife, weather…and whether there will be enough water on the waterfall trail.

Guy Fieri'sOn the Carnival ships (this one the Freedom), Guy Fieri’s presence goes beyond his food — serving counters and tables are decorated with interesting signage.

Costa Rica-2Is it possible that Costa Ricans think visitors have to be told of danger lurking in its waters? Or maybe that just says something about the tourists!

Coquimbo-2The people of Coquimbo, Chile have seen enough walls of water to know that this sign means they’re on high enough ground to be safe from tsunamis.

GuatemalaOne Central American country that thrives on its coffee industry is Guatemala, even in remotae plantations where sign makers know their market.

Friday File: Cruising And Works Of Art

Wherever your cruise ship takes you, one thing you can be certain of is that you will encounter local artwork. It may be a statue, or a mural, or a sandcastle or something that you’re not quite sure what it is, but it will always be interesting. In years of cruising, we’ve admired (okay, at least looked at) a variety of such works of art…

Puerto RicoOn this street in San Juan, Puerto Rico…a powerful message open to interpretation.

Alaska museum

If you can't find the real thing in Alaska, and often you can't, there's always a museum version.


The pretty town of Arica in northern Chile always has to make its statues earthquake-proof.


In Valencia, Spain, a colorful expression of nations sends travelers looking for their 'home' statue.

Murals-Pier 39

If you've ever departed from or arrived in San Francisco, you know all about this part of Fisherman's Wharf.


Bermuda has no shortage of works like this, which add to the charm of a charming island.

In the news…

• Tampa port recognized by NOAA as "storm ready" for extreme weather
• Huge Princess sale offers $300 savings on cruise plus $300 on airfare
• MSC Lirica last of four ships to be 'stretched' to add 800 cabins

Today at portsandbows.com: Suite news for Holland America fans

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
3 nights
December 11, 2015
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $56

A Merry 'Chilean' Christmas!

poni3SantiagoBest wishes 
from Cruising Done Right!

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Cruising to Chile — Past and Future

We stopped for lunch yesterday at a restaurant that specializes in soups. It’s owned by a man from Chile.

“We had a great bottle of wine from Chile last night,” we told him.

“You didn’t get sick?” he deadpanned.

He knows better, of course, but often when we see him his native country is discussed. He is one of our connections to Chile, a country we tasted — along with its wine — in a 10-day period during and after a South American cruise.

If you get the impression we like Chile, go to the front of the class…or go and buy the best Chilean wine you can find.

Our cruise to Chile (Valparaiso) was more than two years ago. Since then, it has almost fallen off the cruise-ship radar. The ship we sailed to Chile on, the Norwegian Sun, no longer goes there. Many cruise ships no longer go there and, Chile’s resulting financial wounds are mostly self-inflicted.

Or were.

Yesterday, about the same time we were eating Chilean soup (okay, soup made by a Chilean), we learned that things are looking up. The excessive port taxes imposed by Chile’s government, to capitalize on its cruise business, are being slashed. In some ports, the cut is as deep as 80 per cent.

We were in two ports on the way to Valparaiso, which is about a two-hour drive from Santiago. We loved them both. Arica, near the Atacama Desert, welcomed us to the country and Coquimbo introduced us to some excellent food.

Soup, as a matter of fact.

Another government imposition is being re-examined, and probably tossed. For some reason that makes no sense to us, ships sailing in Chilean waters were not allowed to operate casinos. Once they were within about 20 kilometers of the coast, the ships were deemed to be in Chilean waters.

There’s now a bill to rescind that ruling. Maybe it, and even the port taxes, are too late to bring cruise ships back to Chile. Some of us hope not. The more ships that sail down the west coast of South America, the more options there are for us.

The more options, the better the prices.

Cruise Ship Coolness Concern to Chile

Our colleague Phil Reimer, whose Ports and Bows columns and blogs are a must-read for cruisers, had an especially interesting commentary on his website yesterday. It was about gambling in international waters. Here’s what he had to say:

I was sailing along the coast off Chile about five years ago when all of sudden the casino closed. You must understand that I am not a very good blackjack player but I like to try and usually the cruise line is more than happy to take my money. But under Chile’s law, the casino had to shut down. Keep in mind when sailing along the coast that we are not in Chilean waters.

Tighten up the economy and see your cruise passenger numbers drop in half — could that be why the government is now considering a bill to allow coast casino operations on international ships?

Cruise lines cite high costs and the loss of casino revenues while in the waters off Chile’s long coastline as reasons for reducing their capacity up and down the west coast of South America, according to Waldo Caroca H., manager of the cruise ship agency.

“There is no good reason to keep the restriction when the vessel is sailing,” Economic Secretary Juan Andrés Fontaine told Santiago’s La Tercera newspaper. “We are very concerned about the matter because this affects our competitiveness as a touristic country.”

Juan, you have that right. The casino is not taking one nickel out of Chile’s economy. When cruisers in that part of the world hit port they’re not looking for a casino. They are in Chile to see the wonders of your country.

So open up the casinos and let me spend at least a little of the kids’ inheritance…or on a good day make a little for the inheritance pot.

Intrigued by Phil’s content, we did a little digging. It seems this law has been in effect since 2005, whereby cruise ships had to shut down their casinos when within 13.8 miles (why 13.8?) of the shore.

The reason for trying to repeal it is $$$$$. By next year, the number of cruise ships stopping in Chile will have dropped by 32% in two years. The number of passengers by 52%. The dollars in Chile’s bank account by $10 million, also more than 50%. For cruisers like us, who enjoyed this wonderful country enough to go back again…and again, this is sad.

The reason — compounded by excessive ports taxes — was of particular interest to us because we gambled off the coast of Chile two years ago…shhh, don’t tell anybody. As a matter of fact, we multiplied the pennies in our jeans at the casino, for a change. But we’re mystified why we got away with it and Phil didn’t.

Ah, of course. That’s it. Our ship must have been 13.9 miles from the coast. Can’t you tell by the picture?

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