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Carnival Cruisers Get a Taste of Appies


Before there were apps, there were appies. We love appies. Probably more than we love apps.

So now along comes Carnival Cruise Lines with the latest attempt to appeal to our palettes. Free appies and, yes, we know that there are lots of free apps, too. But when was the last time you ate one?

Starting with the Miracle, currently sailing round trips from New York to warmer climes (Caribbean), there will be free appies on Carnival ships when you buy a drink in the accompanying dining venue.

For example, a blue margarita in the Blue Iguana Cantina comes with "roast pork tacos with green chili salsa and aged cotija cheese, and chicken, avocado, and lime tortilla soup." Buy a $5 Manhattan cocktail at the American Steakhouse and your appie will be "short rib croquettes with chipotle aioli and guava and tomato relish, served with pumpkin bisque with sour cream."

And so on.

While the 8-year-old Miracle is the first ship, Carnival plans to have free appies — officially, it's called The Taste Bar — on all 24 by next year. That includes the Breeze, which will be break water in June in Venice.

Now, if you don't think it's worth five bucks alone for elaborate appies like these…maybe stick to the apps.

Oceania Nautica
10 nights
May 14, 2012
Athens, Santorini, Ephesus, Taormina, Amalfi, Rome, Florence, Marseille, Barcelona
Inside: $2,049
Cost per day: $205

Cruise Passengers and Tuxedos

It's not easy buying a tux. It's not easy wearing a tux, or so I'm told. The tuxedo-wearing man I live, cruise and do everything with is no easy study, either. I could count the times in four decades that he's worn one. On my fingers. One hand. No, not even on our wedding day.

It used to be that cruise ships demanded men wear tuxedos to the dining room, if not all the time at least part of the time. In these days or permissiveness in virtually every walk of life, even the queens of stuffiness at Cunard had to relax their "formal wear" mantra, now limited to three formal evenings, two semi-formal and one elegant casual. Cunard passengers aren't forced to wear tuxedos ("formal dark suit and black tie" will do), but many choose to dress to the nines.

You may see men in tuxes in other ships, not in response to a dress code, but just because they want to be. Not my man.

However, everything in life is cyclical. Maybe even mandatory tuxedos on cruise ships. I haven't sprung this on him yet, but I probably won't have to, now that he knows there is a company that rents tuxedos exclusively for wearing on cruise ships. It's called, strangely enough, Cruiseline Formalwear.

As with all clothing, there is a wide range of quality and prices. For $85, you (he) can get the basics, with either a black or white jacket. For $130, he can wear a Calvin Klein and for $160, both black AND white jackets.

If a guy's worried about having his wardrobe reviewed, he might want to BUY a tuxedo. Again, a huge range. The basics can be bought online for $130 but you have to get the pants hemmed (I can do that). On the other hand, if you buy into the recommendation from GQ Magazine, you'll buy plenty — $2,890 for a tux (Burberry), $495 for the shirt (Dior), $170 for the bow tie (Burberry) and $590 for the shoes (Ferragamo).

Who says only a woman can spend a fortune shopping?

Celebrity Silhouette
12 nights
June 12, 2012
Rome, Naples, Catania, Athens, Mykonos, Ephesus, Rhodes, Santorini, Chania, Venice
Inside: $1,329
Cost per day: $110

Cunard Cruise Ships All 'Apple Up'

How long, somebody was asking us the other day, have you been "Mac people"? How long is forever?

It was a high school teacher who introduced us to the world of Apple. If only the people at Cunard had met Gordon DeVito when we did.

By our estimation, it was at least 20 years ago that he began the arduous task of explaining "desktop publishing" to us on something called a MacPlus. Fast forward to today. Apple has blossomed, to say the least. The richest company in the world now enables us to create pages of everything from documents to books on MacBooks and iPads, to put all of our music on a mini-computer called an iPod that fits in our pocket or purse, and to reach the Internet (who knew there was an Internet?) on a telephone called the iPhone that's smaller than most wallets.

And, in the case of Cunard, to offer courses and seminars to people on all its cruise ships so that they'll better understand the world of Apple.

That's the "i" world, of course.

As if there is anything left to preface by the "i" letter, Cunard has come up with iStudy. The workshops were on the Queen Elizabeth when it was launched in 2010, which must have been the best-kept secret in cruising. Now that the iStudy is also on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2, it's time to tell the world that Cunard is in bed with, or at least being romanced by, Apple.

Says Peter Shanks, President of Cunard: “The concept is great for those who are already confident with Apple products as well as for those who want to try out an iPad or learn how to get the best out of devices they already own.”

That's more or less what Gordon DeVito said a couple of decades ago.

Carnival Glory
6 nights
May 15, 2012
Norfolk, VA (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $529
Cost per day: $88

Cruise Ship Port: To Drive or To Fly

One of the problems when trying to get to a cruise port is — often — deciding whether it's better to fly or drive.

We found a helper.

It's called Travel Math (or travelmath if you insist on precision) and it calculates, in rough terms, what you need to know to make that decision. Or at least to make it easier.

Let's take an example. Say you live in Memphis and want to catch a cruise from the Port of Miami.

Driving takes 16 hours. Flying, including estimate driving time to and from the airport and check-in time, takes 3 hours and 27 minutes.

Driving costs $303.61, using gas prices of $3.85 a gallon. Flying costs $296. However, the driving cost includes only for gas, not meals and motel and parking in Miami.

Driving covers 986 miles. Flying 872 miles.

In this example, flying is the way to go. In fact, adjusting for the current price at the pump probably makes it even better. On the other hand, you do have to endure the baggage, security and general annoyances of flying.

Travel Math — that's travelmath.com — isn't conclusive, but it helps.

And it's free.

Diamond Princess
7 nights
June 2, 2012
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $555
Cost per day: $79

Once a Millennium, Celebrity Millennium

We met less than two years ago. If it wasn't love at first sight, it was at least affection. She was a beauty, and she introduced us to all kinds of nice people. A helpful Puerto Rican named Leo…a friendly Colombian named Sandy…an old friend from Little League days…the Panama Canal…and Saravan the Sommelier, the best at his craft we've ever met.

No wonder we like the Celebrity Millennium.

Now here she is, just 12 years old, and they say she needs a facelift. She's going in April 22 to get Solsticized, in Celebrity speak, and when she emerges next month she'll be better than ever.

Hard to imagine.

What may be better is what she can introduce us to next, and that would take some doing, too. After making another west-bound trip through the Canal, the Millennium is making a 5-night wine cruise from San Diego to Vancouver. There is no mention of Saravan.

Then she's spending the summer in Alaska, or going back at forth from her new Canadian home. There are worse ways to spend a summer, Millennium or not. In the fall, when she heads south again…another wine cruise. This one takes 8 nights. That sounds better than the first…wine is meant to be consumed slowly, and savored. At least that's what Saravan says.

Two more trips through the Panama Canal, and then the Millennium's off to Hawaii and points beyond. That would be across the Pacific in 20 days, to Sydney, followed by 17 more seeing the ports of Australia on the way to Singapore.

If this all sounds delightful and romantic and desirable, that's probably because it is, even if it isn't do-able for most of us.

But remember, it is the Millennium at her best.

Holland America Veendam
7 nights
September 22, 2012
Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, St. Lawrence Seaway, Quebec City, Montreal
Inside:  $1,039
Cost per day: $148

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