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When Is The Biggest Ship Biggest?

There is always debates when the subject of “biggest cruise ships in the world” is raised. Some people (like us) tend to think the biggest ship is the one that carries the most people, not the one that weighs the most or is the longest from tip to stern or has the most bow thrusters.

However, passenger counts are fluid, because they are fundamentally based on two people times the number of cabins. There are not always two people in a cabin — sometimes as many as four — and there are suites that accommodate more than two. Or can.

So that’s probably not the right measurement.

OasisIndustry experts use gross tonnage, we are told. That being the case, here are the 10 biggest cruise ships right now:

1. Allure of the Seas* (225,282 gross tonnes)

2. Oasis of the Seas (225,282)

3. Anthem of the Seas (168,666)

3. Quantum of the Seas (168,666)

5. Norwegian Escape (164,600)

6. Norwegian Epic (155,873)

7. Freedom of the Seas (160,000)

7. Liberty of the Seas (160,000)

7. Independence of the Seas (160,000)

10. Queen Mary 2 (148,528)

The list is soon going to change. In the spring and early summer, both Ovation of the Seas (168,666) and Harmony of the Seas (226,000) will move into the top 10. That will give Royal Caribbean nine of the 10 biggest ships.

Allure and Oasis are likely to remain firmly entrenched at the top for the foreseeable future. Part of making ships more energy efficient, just like making cars more energy efficient, is to make them lighter.

You may have noticed the asterisk next to Allure of the Seas. That’s because while it weighs the same as Oasis of the Seas, Allure is two inches longer.

So much for making gross tonnage the criteria!

In the news…

• Crystal Serenity heading to North America following world cruise in 2017
• First robot to read human emotions, Pepper, going on Costa ships next year
• First details about Harmony of the Seas thrill water slide, Ultimate Abyss

Today at portsandbows.com: AmaWaterways announces 2017 schedule

Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
January 18, 2016
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $74


Tiny Baby Conquers First Cruise…Plus!

You may have read or heard about a baby born on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas this month. In case you hadn’t, this is a really nice story with a happy ending, at least so far.

And incidentally, it’s a story about everybody doing the right thing.

The baby’s mother, Emily Morgan, was given permission by her doctor to go on the cruise. She was about five months’ pregnant. On the second day of the cruise, her Haiden Morgan-3maternal instincts — along with her labor pains — told her the little one was soon to arrive. In the middle of the night, as the pains became more intense she and her husband Chase called the ship’s doctor, who said they were 14 hours from the nearest port, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The baby, who would be called Haiden, was born half an hour later.

The Morgans were told it was a miscarriage, and the baby was dead. Two doctors arrived 45 minutes after that to say the baby was alive but wasn’t expected to live long. Mother and doctors fought to keep him alive and when the ship’s captain called with condolences, he heard the baby crying.

“He said we are going as fast as we can and we'll port two hours early in San Juan and we'll get you guys to the hospital,” his mother told TV station KSL in Salt Lake City (the Morgans live nearby, in Ogden), “but he said that's as fast as I can get you there.”

The Independence of the Seas did arrive two hours early. The baby did get to the hospital quickly, and a few days later was transferred to a neonatal unit in Miami. At birth, the Independence of the Seasbaby weighed one and a half pounds…just 24 ounces. His feet were less than three inches long. His lungs fully developed, Haiden Morgan made it through the night, and the next night, and…today, he is 27 days old. He’ll stay in Miami until his due date, December 19.

The expenses that evolved from what was supposed to be a 7-day cruise have been understandably staggering, and a website — Haiden’s Medical Journey — was quickly set up to help with the cost. The target was $37,000. As of last night, contributions totalled $35,711.

Another happy ending-to-be.

– Baby photo courtesy of the Morgan family via KSL

In the news…

• First international ship launches huge summer season in Australia
• One less ship in South America, more in Asia, for MSC in 2016-17

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
3 nights
November 27, 2015
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $173
Cost per day: $57

Walker Stalker Cruise For Zombies

Even though we’ve never once seen a minute of The Walking Dead on TV, we do have two immediate family members who drove 10 hours so they could run and climb and slip and slide and generally be zombies…or be attacked by them. So we do know a little bit about the world of zombies, which is what (or whom) a TWD theme cruise is designed to attract.

The cruise will be on the Norwegian Pearl for four days (and worse yet, nights) in January 2016. The trip from Miami to Nassau will be called the Walker Stalker Cruise and eight Walking Dead-The Walking Dead-AMCPhoto credit: The Walking Dead-AMC

members of The Walking Dead cast will be on board, including Norman Reedus (Daryl), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Emily Kinney (Beth) and Soniqua Martin-Green (Sasha).

For all we knew they could be from The Walking Dead or The Grateful Dead, another zombie-themed phenomenon we managed to miss (escape). Coincidentally, The Grateful Dead put an end to a 50-year career last night at Soldier Field in Chicago, where the four living members played for the last time at the last place they played when there were five of them (Jerry Garcia died in 1995).

The other “Dead” is just getting started.

The TV show (and yes, the zombies in our family watch it religiously) is just getting started. Its next season will be number six, so by “Dead” standards some of them will still be doing this –  or something like it — in the year 2060. That might be cruising, a pastime in which cast members are getting an early start.

The Pearl is probably as good a name as possible for The Walking Dead cruise, given that cruise ships rarely have anything but upbeat names, for obvious reasons. Participants will Pearlhave a chance to be zombies in themed games, costume contests, concerts, doing make-up and as wannabes when meeting the show’s stars at panel discussions and photo-ops.

At what cost?

From January 15 to 18, inside rooms run $750 to $875 per person. Oceanviews are going for $875 to $1,000. Balconies $1,150 to $1,350. The same four-day cruise on the same ship in November has prices of $249 (inside), $379 (oceanview) and $469 (balcony).

We must ask our resident zombies to help us understand that…

In the news…

• Cruise lines evaluating risk day-to-day on cruises to Tunisia for 2015 and 2016
• Number of Antarctic (Soputh Georgia) cruisers up 15% to all-time high of 8,142
• First Princess whisky bar, Magnums, selling 63 varieties on Dawn Princess

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrity spins of 123Go promotion

Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
7 nights
August 16, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $69

Royal Caribbean’s Zumba Cruise

Until our daughter-in-law Frances announced she was going to become an accredited Zumba instructor, this was a word that may never have crossed our lips. Zumba, not Zumbainstructor. We may have thought it was the name of a Greek restaurant or the latest battle cry used by kids as they loaded the newest war game on their Xboxes.

Now we know better.

Zumba is everywhere, even on cruise ships. Next year, Royal Caribbean will have its Zumba Cruise on Independence of the Seas. It’s five days of zumba-ing at sea, disembarking in Falmouth, Jamaica, and on “Zumba Island” — formerly known as the cruise line’s private port in Labadee, Haiti.

There will be 300 Zumba-theme classes in five days. There will be 130 celebrity instructors to teach passengers how to squat, mambo, hip-hop, lunge and salsa with the best of them. Independence of the SeasOne of the instructors will be “Beto” Perez, the Colombian creator of Zumba and one of The Three Albertos who founded the craze about 20 years ago (the others are Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion).

If you think those numbers are high, then you should also know there are 15 million people who take Zumba classes in 185 countries at 140,000 gymnasiums, fitness centers or wherever else groups can gather to be guided through the exercise(s).

The ship leaves Fort Lauderdale on January 30, and this is likely just the beginning.

What does “Zumba” mean? Whatever you want it to mean…except a Greek restaurant or a war cry on Xbox.

In the news…

• Million people in Liverpool for Cunard's three Queens on Monday
• Celebrity Eclipse first Solstice Class ship with 'World Class Bar'
• Disney to return to New York for five cruises in October 2016

Today at portsandbows.com: Christening the Viking Star

Carnival Elation
5 nights
August 22, 2015
New Orleans (return): Cozumel, Merida
Inside: $309
Cost per day: $61

Panama Canal A Place To Grow!

Once again this week, we became advocates for taking a Panama Canal cruise, as we have been since our inaugural cruise across the Isthmus of Panama in 2010. This time, it was reassuring friends who leave on a Panama Canal cruise today that they would never regret it.

On our trip, construction was underway for the Canal expansion that was going to be completed…on the waterway’s 100th anniversary in 2014…and then in late 2015…and now sometime early in 2016. The delays have been caused by cost over-runs (now there’s a surprise), strikes (another surprise) and a mix-up in the concrete mix for the locks (that is a surprise).

When it does open, the Canal will accommodate ships that are close to 1.5 times larger than today’s limit. These are called “post-Panamax” ships, and several cruise ships fit the Panama Canalcategory, but that doesn’t include — according to post-Panamax measurements — Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the two biggest cruise ships in the world. Nor does it include Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class ships (Freedom, Liberty and Independence).

Sticking with Royal Caribbean as the example, its two newest ships — Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, which is being launched this week — both will fit in the new Panama Canal.

At the moment, half Royal Caribbean’s fleet doesn’t.

But help is on the way. There is now talk of a fourth set of locks across the Isthmus, which will take $17 billion (for now) and 15 years. So by 2030, Oasis and Allure could probably make maiden voyages through the Panama Canal.

If they’re still around, that is.

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrity's creative shore excursions

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
May 30, 2015
Miami (return): St. Thomas, Tortola, Nassau 
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78

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