Tag-Archive for » Make-A-Wish Foundation «

Celebrity Toasted By Wine Spectator

CellermastersIn case you were wondering…

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Celebrity has, arguably, the premier wine reputation among cruise lines. We won’t argue the point. Our best and most complete wine experiences have been on Celebrity ships, starting with a knowledgeable sommelier from (of all places) Mumbai. Knowledgable sommelier…aren’t they all?

Anyway, the Wine Spectator has enhanced the reputation by awarding 10 Awards of Excellence — of a possible 12 — to Celebrity for its wine lists. It’s an instant replay.

Last year, Celebrity also won 10.

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Cruise lines are being encouraged to equip their ships to use shore-based electricity in port and burn less diesel fuel. However, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right is doing with regards to the ports.

When the Carnival Miracle stopped in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, it was unable to hook up to shore power even though the ship is equipped for it.

The reason?

The ship’s hook-up is on the starboard side. The Port of Vancouver assigned the Miracle a port side connection. Consequently, the ship was forced to burn diesel during its stay in one of the world’s most ecologically sensitive cities.

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When Quantum of the Seas leaves on its two-night, pre-inaugural cruise after arriving in North America in November, it will be making special wishes.

The Make-A-Wish chapters from New Jersey and New York are selling passage on the new ship to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, long an active charity on Royal Caribbean ships. Quantum leaves Bayonne, New Jersey at 4 p.m. on November 14 and returns at 7 a.m. on November 16, so you’re on the ship for about 39 hours.

Passage is for balcony cabins, at $1,495 for obstructed and $1,995 for unobstructed.

In other words, it’s pretty much a donation in return for being first to sail on Quantum of the Seas in North America.

Today at portsandbows.com: Opera on the rivers

Celebrity Century
8 nights
November 11, 2014
Sydney (return): Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Lincoln
Oceanview: $835
Cost per day: $104

Family, cruise line: heart-wrenching story

News item: The Colucci family books a cruise. A dozen days before departure, 5-year-old Nicolas Colucci is found to have liver cancer and needs surgery. Family did not sign up for travel insurance and asks the cruise line (Norwegian) about re-scheduling the cruise. Norwegian says no.

This is a tough one. This is also extremely polarizing. And it’s all over the Internet.

One faction of the public, upon hearing this story, condemns the cruise line for being insensitive, for lacking compassion and for not bending its rules.

One faction of the public is just as adamant that when you don’t buy travel insurance, this is what can happen. Tomorrow is a gift. How does a cruise line separate exceptions?

As a result of the online controversy, Norwegian contacted the family, assigned a personal contact to stay in touch with the family and revealed that “one of our travel partners” offered to make sure the family went on its cruise, without divulging any details. Norwegian also contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which specializes in granting wishes for hundreds of children.

As a result of the online controversy, another cruise line — rumored to be Celebrity — offered the Coluccis a free cruise. Would Celebrity have circumvented its own travel insurance policy if this had happened to a family on a Celebrity cruise? No one knows.

In the end, there are no winners here.

Norwegian is between a rock and a hard place. It’s not about the money…it’s about the precedent being set by covering a cruise not covered by insurance, and about being fair to all the passengers who do buy insurance.

The family may lose its cruise but, far more importantly, is faced with helping a five-year-old recover from cancer. The hope of rescheduling the cruise was going to be part of inspiring little Nicolas in his recovery.

Sometimes life isn’t fair…for anybody.

What do you think?

Today at portsandbows.com: Princess for chocoholics

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
August 25, 2014
Jacksonville (return): NassauCocoCay
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $39

Breast Cancer Survivors Make 'Pink' Headlines Again with Holland America


Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote a blog about Holland America and breast cancer. About how breast cancer survivors were invited on board when the Oosterdam was in port in Seattle, where Holland America's head office is located. About how this cruise line has raised millions to help those who think pink in trying to defeat the disease. Because there are other cruise lines with fundraising causes, it hadn't been our intention to make's cause an annual event here, and then…

And then breast cancer became more personal.

This summer, our niece was diagnosed with breast cancer. The fact that she is our niece, or anyone's niece, means she is too young. Too young to face this challenge. Too young to find out you have cancer. And yet, cancer never checks out your birth certificate, does it?

So that makes it appropriate to re-visit Holland America. On every sailing on every ship, there is a 5-kilometer walk to raise funds for breast cancer. Entry is $20 and $16 of it goes to cancer organizations around the cruise line's world. Royal Caribbean does the same type of thing for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This month, the Oosterdam was in Seattle for its now-annual invitation to breast cancer survivors. This is the sixth year they've been invited for lunch. And to celebrate. The captain, Arjen Van der Loo, told a writer who was among the invitees that every week on the Oosterdam there are four to six breast cancer survivors among the passengers.

The cruise line doesn't make a big deal of this. There is no press release, at least none that we saw. The only fanfare and publicity seems to be generated by the survivors. Yet it's worthy of mentioning, and supporting, time and again.

It can never happen too often. Ask any family.

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
December 21, 2013
San Juan (return): St. CroixSt. Kitts, Roseau, TortolaSt. Thomas
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $114

Walk For A Wish a Good Start


Every time we go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, we make a point of participating in the ship's fund raiser for the Make A Wish Foundation. It just seems like the right thing to do and while clearly we are not alone, you have to wonder why more people don't do it.

Three days before the Explorer of the Seas returned to New York, it was "Walk For A Wish" Day on the top deck. Passengers pay $10, get a quality tee-shirt, follow the captain and senior officers on five tours of the deck and feel like they've made a small contribution to making somebody's life a little better. All monies raised go to the cause.

Now, don't get us wrong. The fact that Royal Caribbean raised over $6,000 on this cruise is admirable. The millions the cruise line must have raised — Royal Caribbean doesn't advertise this, it just quietly goes about fulfilling wishes — since this all started about four years ago has enabled untold numbers of kids suffering from disease to dream, if only for a day or two.

If you estimate 21 company ships each do 50 cruises a year, that's 1,000-plus cruises. At the Explorer's rate, that's $6 million a year. None of this could be confirmed by Royal, and maybe our math's a bit on the high side, but the first time we participated was three and a half years ago. So, we're talking millions.

Passengers line up to register for the walk. On this day, more than 500 passengers participated, either by walking or with their wallets, or both. Explorer of the Seas, when full, carries 3,800 passengers. The ship felt full, so let's say there were 3,700 passengers. 

That's 15%.

This is not a taxing walk. For most people, it's a 20-minute stroll in the sunshine. It's not a "run for a cause." We saw several people who have great difficulty putting one foot in front of the other make it through at least one lap. One man walked five laps with the help of a crutch, with the ship's hotel director, Dean Bailey, anonymously by his side. Another did it in a wheelchair.

Anybody can participate.

You know how quickly you can spend ten bucks on a cruise ship. One semi-exotic drink. Great service from a room steward. Two minutes at a slot machine.

Don't you think 15% is…just a good start?

Diamond Princess
7 nights
May 25, 2013
Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Anchorage  
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85


Captain and Kid — Make A Wish

What does the captain of a cruise ship do on a sea day, when your vessel is more or less on auto pilot, in a body of water so large there is no land to be seen in any direction?

If you’re Patrik Dahlgren, master of Navigator of the Seas, you walk a mile with an 11-year-old San Francisco boy to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Royal Caribbean’s principal corporate charity.

Well, that’s what Capt. Dahlgren did yesterday, somewhere in the Caribbean Sea en route to Fort Lauderdale.

“It started on treadmills in the gym when the ship was leaving Europe, from Tanarife in the Canary Islands,” says the captain, who works out in the ship’s gym every day. “We had two treadmills set up in the promenade, and I was on one of them at the start. I was sweating and people kept coming by and speeding it up!”

Passengers sponsored walkers or runners for $1 a mile. That was the main fundraiser on the crossing, but not the only one. Bridge tours were “sold” for donations, as were dinners with the captain.

“We had the treadmills going 24/7,” Captain Dahlgren says, “and by the time we arrived in Fort Lauderdale we’d raised $20,000.”

Adds Hotel Director Tony Muresu: “That’s four wishes at sea, for a family.”

This Atlantic crossing, which preceded the five-day Western Caribbean cruise that ends today in Florida, was the fourth time the Navigator crew got on the treadmill for Make-A-Wish.

“This one was the best, because there was a creative aspect to it,” says Dahlgren.

In yesterday’s walk, he and Matthew Hagedorn led about 75 participants around the five laps of Deck 12 that make a mile. Everybody chipped in $10 for a shirt, and $8 of it goes to Make-A-Wish.

Yes, including us.

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