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What ‘V’ Word Means For Mexico


At the risk of sounding like apologists for Mexico, a country we have visited many times and hopefully will visit many more, our observations on the latest reports of cruising-vs-violence in Puerto Vallarta are based on these facts:

• Attacks from Mexican drug cartels on the government in the state of Jalisco on May 1 included fires set in Puerto Vallarta, with the worst of the violence was in Guadalajara.

• The Celebrity Infinity bypassed a scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta on May 10.

• Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas did the same thing on May 12.

• Disney’s Wonder skipped the port, too.

• Tourism officials meeting with cruise executives in Florida said yesterday that the events of that Friday morning were isolated, quickly contained and resolved.

• Both parties in Florida agreed to “improve and increase communications to ensure the cruise lines are kept better informed and receive updates in real time.”


It appears that Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Disney were reacting on mis-information from who knows where…probably the Internet? And did it take a week for the cruise lines to find out they shouldn’t stop there nine days later?

It also appears that cruise lines, and passengers, are spooked the moment the “V” word and Mexico are mentioned in the same breath, or Internet page. Because there is a violent event in Gaudalajara it doesn’t mean Puerto Vallarta (pop. 200,000) is unsafe. If there was a violent event in Oakland, would a cruise ship abandon San Francisco — and they are much closer than Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara (almost 200 miles)?

It also appears Mexican tourism officials are going to have to implement unimaginable means to try and keep the cruise business for Puerto Vallarta, by literally tracking the Puerto Vallarta-Stan Shebs

– Stan Shrebs photo

whereabouts of all passengers once they leave the ship. The city “will work with local tour operators, taxi drivers and other tourism service providers to employ new measures that inform the ships of their passengers’ location.”

For visitors to Mexico, this is the new level of fear.

Violent events can happen anywhere, of course…BaltimoreNewtown…Columbine High School and so on.

But when it’s Mexico, there’s an accelerated level of distrust. Based on our visits to many parts of Mexico, we think that’s wrong.

In the news…

• Automated passport machines at Vancouver cruise terminal
• Azamara Quest refurbishment bigger…and later (April 2016)

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Viking's first ocean cruise ship

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
July 13, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $124

Disney Launching ‘Frozen’ At Sea

The first time we watched the Disney movie Frozen — when you have a three-year-old granddaughter you tend to watch things like this more than once — it was obvious to us that it was destined to be a stage show.

Now it is…in a way.

The stage show isn’t on Broadway, nor in London, nor even in Orlando. It’s on the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, half the fleet of the company’s cruise ships, or it’s going to be this summer.  

It’s also not a full production number, because 90 minutes to two hours is too long for cruise-ship entertainment, which means either cruisers have shorter attention spans or Frozen showcruise lines don’t want to keep them away from the bars and casinos that long, although that doesn’t completely apply to Disney, which has no casinos on ships.

The stage show Frozen — this is surely only it’s first iteration because Disney’s calling it the “debut” — is a three-song show that was “inspired by the animated hit” with interactivity that extends beyond the ships. For example, the experience includes a deck party, meeting and greeting the cast and “storybook adventures” in ports.

The ships will also be decorated with appropriate Frozen artifacts and daily themes that Disney does better than anybody, such as “freezing” the ship’s atrium with sparkling icicles so that it feels like Queen Elsa’s ice palace (brr-r-r-).

And if you’ve never been asked by Anna or Elsa “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” there’s even a chance you’ll be able to build one…

You just have to pretend you’re a kid.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
February 9, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau, Coco Cay, Key West
Inside: $187
Cost per day: $46

The Impact of Frozen and Friends

Frozen cruises. Now there’s an oxymoron. With the exception of adventurous expeditions to the Poles, cruises are generally for warm-weather people. Lie on the Disney ship-Frozendeck, swim in the pool, sit in the moonlight on the balcony. None of these things works on a “frozen cruise.”

Unless it’s Disney.

Everybody knows Frozen, the movie…while we did hear a movie critic claim she had never heard “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” Perhaps she doesn’t get out much. So okay, almost everybody has heard of Frozen…the movie, the music, the characters. To the surprise of no one, Frozen characters are going on Disney ships.

Anna and ElsaNo  dates yet, but one Florida travel agency is reporting that Princess Anna and Queen Elsa will be making appearances on three of Disney’s four ships: the Magic, the Wonder and the Fantasy. It will be on cruises to the Caribbean and — here’s another shocker — Alaska.

Disney, meanwhile, is reporting that for the first time it will be cruising to Scotland, Iceland and Norway, the animated “country” that was the movie’s set…and the impact Frozen Norwayon the real Norway has been nothing short of astounding. Disney is implementing guided tours called “A Full Frozen Package” that include fjord visits, trout fishing and a visit to Bergen. Since the movie’s release, traffic to the VisitNorway website has tripled, traffic is up 52 per cent on Norwegian Air Shuttle, searches for Norwegian flights are up 153 per cent and hotel bookings are up 37 per cent.

Frozenmania is widespread. We know people who like everything Frozen.

In a manner of speaking, that is.

Today at portsandbows.com: Copenhagen’s copious attractions

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
September 13, 2014
New York (return): Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $409
Cost per day: $58

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

Family reunion right now for Disney ships


While it was conceived in California, the magical machine that is Disney belongs — essentially — to Florida. First it was the theme park that tilted east, with more people pouring into Disney World than Disneyland, the foundation that old Walt built almost six decades ago.

And for the last 15 years, the extension of the Disney empire has continued to lean to the east. Never is that more evident than right now.

All four Disney ships are currently based in Florida.

The last to return to the family breeding waters was the Wonder. After a summer sailing to Alaska, it stopped off in Galveston for a few months on the way home. There it will stay, in Miami, until heading north to Alaska again in the spring.

Meanwhile, the Magic has moved up the coast from Miami to Port Canaveral for a family reunion of sorts…or a vacation with her sisters Dream and Fantasy, which never leave home. The two newest ships in the fleet spend the entire year on mostly cruises from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean. They always stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, to help the family financial fortunes.

Over the last seven years, the Magic has established a following by operating from her second home in the summers, Barcelona. Except for that and five Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico, that's it.

In fact, from now until April 2015, we could only find 33 Disney cruises that did not embark somewhere in Florida. That's for all four ships and includes two repositioning cruises to bring the Wonder back from Alaska next year and the Magic back from Europe. If you calculate that ships operate 7-day cruises on average, that means 33 of approximately 260 cruises.

Or, 12 per cent.

Florida is Disney, and vice-versa.

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
February 15, 2014
Miami (return): St. MaartenSt. ThomasNassau
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

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