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Shaking Hands With Cruise Captains

This is a sign of the apocalypse: Don’t shake hands with the captain of your cruise ship.



According to a recent story in London’s Daily Mail online edition, captains have been warned about shaking hands with passengers, lest they be infected with the dreaded Captain-Princessgastrointestinal illness that we are encouraged to believe only happens on cruise ships.

Oops. We’re guilty. We’ve met captains on almost every cruise ship we’ve been on, usually for an interview, and without fail we have shaken hands probably before and after the interviews. We may be just doing elbow bumps in the future.

The Mail’s story included this message from Crystal Cruises to its guests who may be attending a reception attended by the captain.

“While the captain is pleased to meet you, he and the other staff receiving you refrain from shaking hands in order to provide the most effective preventative sanitary measures.”

Apparently, this has been Crystal’s policy for seven years. Unlike norovirus, it hasn’t spread through the industry, but it could. Or common sense could prevail because, in the words of the Cruise Lines International Association: “You are 750 times more likely to get norovirus on land than on a cruise ship.”

There is another alternative to avoid spreading germs: Wash your hands before meeting the captain.

But that’s old-fashioned and most un-apocalyptic.

In the news…

• Cruise ships bypass Bermuda because of Hurricane Joaquin
• Multi-year partnership for Carnival and New Orleans Saints
• Severe weather delays start of New Zealand cruise season

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Sun
17 nights
November 4, 2015
San Diego, Huatulco, Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Quetzal, Puntarenas, Salaverry, Lima, Arica, Coquimbo, Santiago
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $35

Good Times For Cruise Business

It seems like every time we turn around, we’re finding yet another person (or couple) who has discovered what great value cruising is, in general. The latest came during a weekend visit to friends who just completed their second cruise, and these “newbies” are grandparents of seven.

After two cruises, they’re committed.

Yesterday, this trend was confirmed. Again. The Cruise Lines International Association, which monitors trends of all kinds on behalf of the cruise lines, announced its “State of the NassauCruise Industry Report.” If you’re one of the people who believed cruising was in serious trouble after the Costa Concordia and the Carnival Triumph, it is in the best interests of your education to read on…

According to CLIA’s research:

• There is likely to be a 60 per cent increase in cruise passengers this year.

• Cruise lines intend to launch 22 new ships in 2015, covering the oceans, rivers or specialty (adventure) destinations to explore.

• The roll call of ports, worldwide, has climbed to 1,000.

• It’s possible these increases will account for a million jobs for the first time.

• More than ever, passengers are demanding and receiving that cruise lines cater to their needs with innovations to accommodations like WiFi ship-wide, phone connectivity and multigenerational cruises.

And here’s a nugget that might surprise you. In this age of doing everything ourselves online, seven of every 10 cruise passengers uses a travel agent.

Cruising has never enjoyed such popularity. Some of us have just been lucky enough to enjoy it earlier.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Spirit
10 nights
March 16, 2015
Barcelona (return): Casablanca, Funchal, Santa Cruz, Arrecife, Malaga
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $44

New Threats To Cruise Passengers

This is one of those stories we don’t want to tell, and shouldn’t have to tell, but there is really no choice.

It’s about terrorists.

You know how your life has changed when boarding planes, with security personnel checking everything but the dirt under your fingernails? You know how when you’re walking the streets of a big city, or even a small town, you’re supposed to be aware not just of your surroundings but also the people who inhabit them? You know how in the interests of public safety, you have to be suspicious of virtually everybody?

Well, shipmates, get ready.

According to the Associated Press, would-be jihadists are booking tickets on cruise ships. They’re using ships to get them to Turkey, specifically, so they can join the battles in Syria and Iraq. The news surfaced at an Interpol conference this week in Monaco and the conclusion was for accelerated screening at transportation hubs…”airports and, more and more, cruise lines.”

The intelligentsia say that the terrorists, because they know it’s getting tougher for them to board planes, are taking to the seas. A statement from Cruise Lines International Association, to which almost all cruise lines belong, maintained that cruise-ship security is taken as seriously as airline security, and that passengers manifests are shared with U.S. authorities.

What is left unsaid is the threat that these unwelcome jihadists will use cruise ships for more than transportation…instead, as a final destination.

Either way, that terrorists are known to be boarding ships is dreadful news for the passengers, and for the industry.

Today at portsandbows.com: Closer look at Royal Caribbean's new ship

Holland America Zaandam
14 nights
December 8, 2014
Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Port Stanley, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn, Sarmiento Canal, Chilean Fjords, Puerto Montt, Santiago
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $42

New Name For Cruise Sales' Big Week


Once a year, the entire cruise industry stages its biggest promotion, when everything goes on sale but the ships themselves. It’s hyped as the “World’s Largest Cruise Sale” because it’s time for — drum roll, please — Cruise Lines International Association’s National Cruise Vacation Week.

Now there’s a mouthful.

Or was.

Starting next week, when the 2014 sale begins, it will be called CLIA Cruise Week. Bet that one day we’ll just be calling it “Cruise Week.”

This is all about branding, marking and words that don’t fill your mouth. CLIA’s acronym has become better known in public. The words “National” and “Vacation” were unnecessary or redundant or both, especially since the promotion is going more international. And it is only one week every year so if everybody in cruising  knows what happens the first full week of October, Cruise Week should suffice.

Nobody calls it World Series Week, do they?

Today at portsandbows.com: One special cruise from Houston

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
October 13, 2014
Miami (return): Nassau, Coco Cay, Key West
Inside: $119
Cost per day: $29

Cruising's Not All About Luring Youth


Question: How can seniors avoid that terrible curse of the elderly wrinkles?

Answer: Take off their glasses.

Ah, seniors. We are the butt of thousands of Internet jokes. We are disregarded by marketers obsessed with the 25 to 49 crowd. Even cruise ships, once the haven of the nearly elderly, have become playgrounds for the young and rich.

But hold the phone!

We are not forgotten.

Cruise Lines International Association research shows the average age of cruisers has dropped to an all-time low (48 years), because of the aforementioned catering to youth that has made them realize what their elders have known for years: “Cruising is irresistible.” Yet despite the CLIA figures, it’s clear that cruise lines still count on their primary market because all of them have strategies that are essentially only for Golden Agers:

• Longer itineraries are everywhere, and it’s retirees who have the time to book them.

• Exotic cruises are plentiful for a demographic that often focuses on the ol’ Bucket List…like seeing the Panama Canal, cruising the Mediterranean, or crossing an ocean in a ship.

Rock climbing• Upscale lines like Cunard, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania cater to seniors because that’s usually the crowd with the most disposable income and the fewest financial obligations.

• River cruising’s growth in popularity is unquestionably because of seniors, for the same reason, but also because older folks like us are more interested in history, lectures and less-strenuous (i.e. do-able) activities like climbing rock walls…is it because we’re weary of climbing the wall?

• The major cruise line best suited to retirees, they say, is Holland America. The ships are smaller, there are fewer “family-style” adventures and its reputation includes rules about lights out by nine (just kidding).

And there’s always a place on the mainstream, family-oriented cruise lines for seniors…and generally the prices are more reasonable. If you’re among the crowd that would prefer a big ship and a more sedate experience, here’s one small tip:

Go when the kids are in school.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Sensation
3 nights
October 30, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $163

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