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Hawaii-Disney Relationship On Again

Photos: Disney Cruise Line

As courtships go, "paradise" and the "happiest place on earth" have had an on-and-off relationship.

Next year, it's on again, albeit for little more than a one-night stand.

The lovers are Hawaii and Disney, respectively, but you already knew that didn't you?

The Disney Wonder will take the cruise line for kids back to "paradise" in September of 2015, for the first time in three years. This will be an itinerary change for the Wonder, which this summer is on the Vancouver-to-Alaska run. When that itinerary runs its King Kamehamehacourse in September, the Wonder will sail down the Pacific Coast, heading for the Panama Canal and, eventually, Florida.

Next year, the Wonder will delay its Panama Canal cruise by about three weeks. On September 7, it will head west to Hawaii for a 10-day cruise, then leave Honolulu for the return trip on September 17. After that, down the coast…through the Canal…back to its Florida home.

And if you don't think going from Vancouver to the land of King Kamehameha's Hawaii and back is a good idea (does Disney ever have a bad one?), consider this:

According to the Disney website, these two cruises (September 2015) are already sold out!

Maybe now, these two "lovers" will make their relationship long-term.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: A novel way to see Hawaii

Carnival Valor
7 nights
August 31, 2014
San Juan (return): St. ThomasBarbadosSt. LuciaSt. KittsSt. Maarten
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67

Tea Party for Tots Turns into Disney's Royal Tea

News item: The Royal Court restaurant aboard the Disney Fantasy is getting graced with Disney Princess presences as Disney Cruise Line debuts a new character offering dubbed “Royal Tea.”

Last Sunday, one of our granddaughters celebrated her 2nd birthday. One of the gifts she unwrapped was a teapot, with cups. Instinctively, without a word of direction from her parents, she took it in hand and pretended to pour "tea" into one of the cups.

Is tea making a comeback?

A generation from now, maybe "High Tea" will be fashionable again, once all these little tea grannies have grown up to be tea princesses, because that's certainly what Disney is selling to its pre-teen clientele.

Royal TeaListen to this:

• Guests are greeted by Lady Chamomile, the Royal Tea Hostess

Chef Brule, the Royal Pastry Chef, presents — with his Lady — the young princes and princesses with tea sandwiches, pastries and cupcakes

• Then the two for them entertain by singing Disney songs and dancing Disney dances

• All of that is a prelude to the arrival of Cinderella, Belle and Tiara, the real Disney Princesses, to do meet-and-greets

As with authentic "High Tea" it's hardly a matter of dropping a teabag in the pot, waiting for it to steep and sipping it from your fine china (or your coffee cup). This is an event and, as an event, tickets go for $279 per couple. A couple is one adult and one child.

So if tea does make a comeback, not that it ever really went away, remember that it all starts with those little tea parties for little two-year-olds…and expect that the consumers will be happy to pay more for it than their forefathers.

Or even their grandparents.

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
December 14, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $39

Typhoon Haiyan Elicits Belated Response from Cruise Lines


All of us who've been on a major-market cruise ship have met and perhaps befriended somebody from the Philippines. Last Friday, Typhoon Haiyan wiped more than 1,800 Filipinos from the face of the earth and the death count is unquestionably going higher, ravaging extending families of many people who serve your meals, make your beds and do your laundry when you're on a cruise. 

How is the industry that employees thousands upon thousands of people from the Philippines reacting?


The typhoon hit on Friday. It was labelled as potentially the worst storm in the history of the world. It was evident that tragedy was imminent and that tragedy would be a modest word for what was about to unfold. The photo above was how it looked from the International Space Station.

It was three days — Monday — before most cruise lines took a public position on anything to do with Typhoon Haiyan. In some cases it was Tuesday. In other cases…still nothing. By then it was being referred to us "the end of the world" for some Filipinos.

Here is a sampling and how six dealt with it in press releases or on social media:

Norwegian — Almost immediately on Facebook, it issued a sympathetic statement about its Filipino employees and announced a fund would be set up, details to follow. That was later amended to an appeal for donations, from crew members and guests. There was no mention of a corporate financial contribution.

Cunard — Its latest press release announces that Cunard has been "recognized as top midsize ship cruise line."

Princess — The biggest news is that the cruise line has a new president and the Princess cruise to support veterans had just departed in time for Veterans Day.

Royal Caribbean — On Monday, noting that there are 12,800 Filipinos employed by Royal Caribbean and 60,000 on all 41 ships in affiliated cruise lines, pledged to match employee donations, dollar for dollar.

Disney — On Tuesday, having said nothing, it announced itineraries for 2014 and 2015.

Holland America — News of the week remains winning eight Readers Choice Awards at Conde Nast Traveler.

So, now you can be the judge of whether cruise lines have reacted appropriately.

This, of course, is something of a moving target. Late yesterday, for example, Carnival covered off its 11 brands — as well as the Miami Heat — by pledging a million dollars on behalf of all of them. Today, maybe another cruise line will do more, perhaps to one-up Carnival. In the end, that's good for the poor victims of the Philippines, even if it did get off to a slow start.

Ruby Princess
4 nights
January 9, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $57


Ships Becoming Sound Specific

When the Royal Princess makes its grand entrance next month in Southampton, the ship's horn will play the theme song from The Love Boat…and if you don't know the tune you weren't watching TV in the '70s.

Princess calls it "a whimsical decision." Until now, to the best of our knowledge Disney was the only cruise line to play "the horn" with any regularity — you can hear When You Wish Upon A Star whenever a Disney ship is leaving a port. Some Princess ships have played The Love Boat theme after the original "Love Boat" (Pacific Princess) left the fleet.

Could this become a trend?

Think about it…

The Norwegian Breakaway has a wide choice of artists: Art Garfunkel, Kelly Clarkson, Kris Kristofferson, The Beach Boys and Donna Summer all recorded songs called Breakaway.

Celebrity's Reflection happens to belong to a company based in Miami, home of Christina Aguilera. whose song of that title was her first single to chart in the U.S.

From Cunard's three ships, we could be listening to We Three Queens…even when it's not Christmas.

The Carnival Glory could play a few bars from Glory, a rap song which Jay-Z calls his “greatest creation” written after little Blue Ivy Carter made parents of him and Beyonce.

Royal Caribbean's "Rhapsody" of the Seas is a natural for Queen's signature song, even if the passengers aren't Bohemenian.

If Princess tires of hearing its Love Boat music, there's always a Frankie Valli song for the "Dawn" Princess, and a Kenny Rogers favorite for the "Ruby" Princess.

And then there's the Carnival "Ecstasy"…but we really don't want to go there.

(photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet)

Norwegian Gem
7 nights
November 25, 2013
New York (return): San Juan, Philipsburg, St. Thomas, Samana
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97

New Ship 'Breezes' into Miami


The class of ’12 is almost complete. With the arrival of the Carnival Breeze in Miami yesterday, there's only one new ship left to make its debut this year (debut being an operative word, since a ship's arrival is incomplete until it has touched down in North America).

Yesterday, the Breeze was as much turkey as cruise ship. Do you think Carnival might have purposely timed its itinerary to climax on Thanksgiving Day?

Never miss a photo-op, right?

This is the "turkey with no name" and Carnival customers are competing in a contest to give it one between now and Saturday, a social media contest in which they use the hashtag #TurkeyOnDeck to try to win a $500 gift card.

The new ship has been sailing in Europe — without the 50-foot turkey that decorated its deck yesterday — since its first inaugural cruise in June. It's not the largest Carnival ship (its sister, the three-year-old Magic, carries about 900 more passengers) but it's the largest Carnival ship to set up shop in Florida.

When the Breeze sailed for the first time in June, it was Carnival's 24th ship. When it arrived in Florida, it was the 23rd member of the world's biggest cruise line…the Spirit has joined Carnival Australia, a different branch of the family tree which now appears to have a fleet of one. At any rate, the Spirit has been de-Carnivalized in North America ship counts.

The Breeze is the eight new ship of 2012. Five of them are familiar to North Americans — Disney's Fantasy (March), Oceania's Riviera (April), MSC's Divina (May) and Celebrity's Reflection are the others.

The Reflection completes the process when it arrives in Miami next week.

Presumably, without the turkey.

Holland America Volendam
7 nights
May 8, 2013
Vancouver (return): Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

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