Tag-Archive for » Grandeur of the Seas «

Friday File: Signs, signs, everywhere…

When you travel on cruise ships, you often encounter signs that have strange, double or hidden meanings. Or maybe they’re just clever, prompting the shutterbugs to snap a few photos. And that’s what we’ve done, for your enjoyment (and ours) this week…


This was in Lima, Peru and we didn’t need a Spanish-English dictionary to get the picture, but maybe we should’ve because it probably doesn’t mean what you’re thinking.


Everybody on a shore excursion takes a bus, often trying to find the right one — this Alaska bus driver for Star Princess passengers had a with a sense of humor.


Truly the only time any of us want to visit Hell, which is in the Grand Cayman Islands, and — yes — it’s re-assuring we’ll be able to send postcards back home.


At a snack bar in Aruba, near the “Natural Bridge” the primary tourist attraction until it collapsed 10 years ago — and now home to a sign that speaks for itself.

Costa Rica

A sign from the wilds of Costa Rica and our first thought was of a feeding frenzy so we didn’t know if it was wise to proceed — except for the women, of course.


In case you’re wondering what the dietary desires are for the locals in Valencia, Spain, these eels are always on the menu and in the butcher’s (?) shops.

In the news…

• Fourth of July sales for many cruise lines a reason to pause the celebrations
• Incentives for booking early on Oceania include new ship Sirena in 2016
• Work stoppage at Fincantieri's Shipyard where Carnival Vista is being built

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruising through glaciers to Vancouver

Grandeur of the Seas
8 nights
September 17, 2015
Baltimore (return): Portland, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $804
Cost per day: $100

Kevin Sheehan No Undercover Boss Now

As our colleague Phil Reimer always says — and he is The Expert, after all — corporate news about cruising is usually as interesting to people on cruises ships as what the captain had for breakfast.

SheehanThe Kevin Sheehan story, we think, is different.

On Friday, Sheehan resigned/was fired/left as the head of Norwegian Cruise Lines. The “s” on “Line” has applied since Norwegian purchased Regent Seven Seas and Oceania. It’s always been a complicated or complex relationship because Apollo Management owned half of Norwegian and all of Oceania, but the long and short of it is that Sheehan’s replacement is Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania.

But that’s probably not what should interest you (and us).

This should…

It was Kevin Sheehan who elevated Norwegian from being just another player to a high-profile member in the club of major cruise lines, albeit a junior member. He spent seven years at Norwegian, becoming CEO in 2010, when he had to stickhandle through the mess created by a ship the industry — but not the passengers — have often ridiculed as a misfit, the Epic.

Once the economy showed signs of recovery, Sheehan turned Norwegian into an entertainment icon at sea, and became part of a show not at sea when he appeared on Sheehan-UndercoverUndercover Boss, which at least gave the impression he was very hands-on and very much the public face of Norwegian Cruises. He also embarked on a four-ship expansion that will be something of a legacy, once the third (Escape) and fourth (Bliss) arrive in his absence. At least two of the four Breakaway and Breakaway Plus ships have his signature pub (O’Sheehan’s) so you could say his footprint remains on Norwegian, but nowhere is it more obvious than on the Breakaway.

It was the first cruise ship to be anchored in New York for year-round sailings, and it was always presented as “New York’s ship.” Sheehan, you should know, is a New Yorker. Under Breakawayhis direction, the Breakaway has a “New York” Boardwalk, New York godmothers (The Rockettes), Broadway entertainment (Rock of Ages), a New York hull artist (Peter Max) who painted a New York skyline, and a famous New York chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, whose restaurant adorns the ship’s eateries.

The Breakaway was the blueprint for the Getaway, which has everything Miami, which is Sheehan’s other home.

Or was until Friday.

So if you like what you see on the newest Norwegian ships, you probably have Kevin Sheehan to thank for it.

Now the questions that remain are: (1) Will he surface with another cruise line that likes what he did? and (2) Will O’Sheehan’s still be called O’Sheehan’s?

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Norwegian's news

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
10 nights
March 30, 2015
Baltimore (return): Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten  
Inside: $682
Cost per day: $68


Nov. 11: Remembering Audie Murphy

Audie MurphyYesterday was a day for remembering war vets. In Canada, people wear poppies and attend services, and poppy sales were at an all-time high this year. In the U.S., war heroes are celebrated and the never-ending list of people serving in the Armed Services are saluted.

People like Audie Murphy.

Who's Audie Murphy?

There are probably two generations of North Americans who haven't a clue, including many from our generation. Those who have heard of him likely think of the Hollywood actor who for two decades played mostly cowboy type roles on the big screen, which meant his real story as a soldier was lost on many.

Not on Viking Cruises.

One of the shore excursions on one of the Viking itineraries includes a trip to the Audie Murphy Memorial. That would be in France, near a small town called Holtzwihr. The people of Holtzwihr — there are fewer than 2,000 living there today Holtzwihr Memorial to Audie L. Murphy— never forgot him. Thirteen years ago, they built the memorial. An American hero, an American movie star, a soldier's soldier as they say…celebrated to this day in the French countryside where he lived what might be called the day he became a legend.

And speaking of legends…the most popular one is that he held off, injured and killed dozens of enemy soldiers that day, almost single-handedly. He climbed onto a burning German tank, turned it on the enemy and held them at bay until he ran out of ammunition, returning on a wounded leg to his company, which he then led into battle. It was one of the turning-point battles in World War II.

Murphy was decorated with every known military combat medal and award for courage and valor — 33 of them. He was wounded three times. After returning from France at age 21, he suffered mightily from what today is known as PTSD. He died at age 45 in a plane crash in Virginia, 43 years ago.

Yesterday was a reminder to remember him, as a symbol of war veterans — all gave some, some gave all.

Viking Cruises is part of that.

– Photo of Audie Murphy Memorial by Conrad SickowViking Prestige

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's unique and upgraded WiFi

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
8 nights
January 16, 2015
Baltimore (return): Port Canaveral, Nassau, CocoCay, Key West
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $62

Golden Year For Princess Cruises

This isn’t excluding TMZ reporting, but is anybody out there concerned about the health of Tori Spelling because she has a job to do for Princess Cruises the first week of November?

The daughter of famous producer Aaron Spelling is scheduled to emcee a reunion of The Love Boat cast on the Regal Princess when it docks in North America on November 5. In Tori Spellingthe meantime, there have been (TMZ) reports that she was quarantined in a hospital “like an ebola patient” with what is now believed to be a sinus infection.

Such things generally take time to disappear and the countdown until the Princess event in Florida is currently 12 days. If she’s unable to make it (her dad produced The Love Boat), there will be plenty of talent on hand. The six major cast members from the legendary TV show are all going to be in Fort Lauderdale to christen the Regal Princess…and to be the ship’s “godparents.”

That would be Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki). And if any Love Boat crewof them is too busy smashing the champagne against the Regal’s bow, many other talented talkers are scheduled to be on deck, among them Florence HendersonDiane LaddDick Van PattenFrank Sinatra Jr.MacKenzie Phillips and Jack Jones.

Talk about bench strength!

* * *

On the subject of love on a boat…

Princess is marketing newlyweds to spend their honeymoons on a cruise ship by introducing a Honeymoon Wishes Registry, where couples can sign up and choose from a list of options that range from shore excursions to drinks by the pool. The cost of their choices is applied as an on-board credit to the honeymooners’ account.

This is the cruise line that made maritime and marriage history 16 years ago by having the captain join a bride and groom in marriage. According to Princess, it was the first time a ship’s captain had performed a wedding ceremony, and it has led to many weddings at sea, a “Tie The Knot” program on the ship and in ports and annual Valentine’s Day cruises of renewal vows.

And now…the Honeymoon Wishes Registry.

* * *

On the subject of anniversaries…

This is a big one for Princess. The cruise line’s 50th year begins the day after the Regal Princess is christened, November 6. The first Princess ship sailed down the coast of Mexico — like The Love Boat did so many times — on November 5, 1965.

The Golden Anniversary will be marked throughout 2015 with a lot of 50th anniversary themes. There will be Love Boat Disco Parties all year long. A golden balloon will drop in Regalthe atriums on every cruise. A special craft beer has been especially brewed for all Princess ships in the coming year and, along with inventive cocktails, will raise a toast called “Cheers To 50 Years.” Two 50th anniversary chocolate desserts have been created by the noted chocolatier Norman Love (hmm, did his surname help land this job?).

The campaign will be launched on the Regal Princess in 12 days.

Will Tori Spelling be able to enjoy it?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
10 nights
April 28, 2015
Baltimore (return): Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $783
Cost per day: $78

Cruise Port — San Juan, In The Heart Of Cruises

This week, we're featuring ports you may find on your cruise itinerary, to give you a snapshot of what it's like, what ships usually go there and what some of the options are once you get off the ship. Today it's San Juan, Puerto Rico.

San Juan-1 copyTwice we've had the pleasure of being on a cruise ship in San Juan, once to depart and once as a port stop. And it is a pleasure because, among other things, the place where our ships docked was in the heart of Old San Juan.

Like, almost across the street.

That means, if you're flying in to catch a cruise, you can stay at the Sheraton Old San Juan and — depending on how close your ship is — roll your luggage down the street…you also can, if so inclined, also spend some time (and money) at the casino in the hotel's lobby.

That means you can take your own walking tour of Old San Juan and visit places from San Cristobal Castle to San Felipe Del Morro Castle to the Governor's San Juan-Gov Res copyResidence (easy to find), where there are two free tours a day.

That means there's a Starbucks in the heart of the old city so that if you're not hooked on the coffee you can still hook into free WiFi for a cyberspace update, and the streets are filled with people, shops and restaurants. Even better, a hop-on, hop-off shuttle takes you from one end of town to the other, if you get tired of walking.

Between our visits, the Puerto Ricans made the waterfront area even more appealing and safety is generally not an issue. In a restaurant late one evening, we met a server who said she regularly walked home alone after her shift ended at 1 a.m., and even at that hour she felt completely safe.

While there are many cruise lines going in and out of San Juan, we were on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships. The last time, we were on Explorer of the Seas and did notice that a sister ship, Grandeur of the Seas, was moored on the other side of San Antonio Canal from Old San Juan.

To us, that was their loss, although one that could be overcome with a short cab ride around the water.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Crown Princess
7 nights
September 13, 2014 
VancouverVictoriaSeattleAstoriaSan FranciscoSanta BarbaraLos Angeles
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99

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