Tag-Archive for » Navigator of the Seas «

The Ups and Downs of Cruise Ships

Last week, there were countless reports about a young couple who fell (or jumped) from a cruise ship in waters near Australia. In the days that followed, there were no reports that the two people were found, and they were presumed to have drowned.

Every story mentioned they were in a Carnival ship, which is fine, and that Carnival has been "plagued by a series of issues"…or words to that effect, as if the cruise line was somehow responsible because two people disappeared.

On the weekend, two men on a disabled sailboat were rescued in the Atlantic Ocean miles from Bermuda and taken on board a cruise ship that was 35 miles away from the sailboat. The ship diverted from its course to make the night-time rescue and was taking the survivors to its next port, the Azores.

The ship was the Nieuw Amsterdam. It belongs to Holland America, which is owned by the world's biggest cruise corporation. It's called Carnival.

In one case, two people disappear and a cruise ship is implicated, by innuendo. In the other case, two people are rescued at sea. Now be honest…if we hadn't told you, what are the chances you would have even known about the rescue?

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
July 7, 2013
Rome (return): Messina, Athens, Ephesus, Crete
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $81

Hurricane Victim a Hurricane Victim?

If you're smarter than we are, and bajillions of people are, you might be able to figure out what we're about to tell you. But we can't.

It comes from WABC-TV in New York.

A woman named Joanne Keating was a victim of Hurricane Sandy, which eliminated her home less than a week before she was to take her grandsons and her mother on a Norwegian Jewel cruise to the Caribbean. Having lost virtually everything, she appealed to the cruise line — and its CEO, Kevin Sheehan — for either a refund or a re-scheduling. She was turned down.

"How can you go on a vacation when you lost every single thing you own?" she rhetorically asked WABC.

That was last November.

About six weeks later, TV star Katie Couric surprised 150 women who were Hurricane Sandy victims by announcing on her show (Katie) that they were all going — with their families — on a three-day cruise to Bermuda, free of charge. It wasn't spelled out whether the benefactor was Katie or the cruise line, or both, but it was a magnanimous gesture for people who had been victimized by the hurricane.

Guess which cruise line?


The TV station's calls to the cruise line were unanswered. Eventually, probably to find out what a competing cruise line would have done, WABC called Royal Caribbean. Ironically, the PR person who took the call was not only sympathetic but was from the New York area devastated by the storm.

And now, the woman who lost her home is taking the grandsons and her mother on a similar cruise, courtesy of Royal Caribbean, on Explorer of the Seas.

So why would Norwegian make a big deal of Katie's Sandy story and turn its back on another Sandy victim?

You tell us.

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
July 14, 2013
Rome (return): Messina, Athens, Ephesus, Crete
Inside: $669
Cost per day: $95

Cruise Trips of a Lifetime?

Three items we thought would be of interest as you head into the weekend…

* * *

Royal Caribbean is giving everyone a chance to win "your vacation of a lifetime" by answering four harmless questions online and giving the cruise line your email address.

What, exactly, is your vacation of a lifetime?

To Royal Caribbean's marketing people, it's a one-night inaugural cruise on the newly named but not-yet-built Quantum of the Seas, due in 2014, plus a one-week Caribbean cruise on either Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas. Oh yes, and you get to meet Quantum's Godmother, Kristin Chenoweth.

While it's always worth entering a credible contest like this — as they say in the lottery business, you can't if win you don't have a "ticket" — it does leave us wondering about the vacation of a lifetime pitch. In this household, the vacation of a lifetime would be something exotic like two weeks on a ship to Hawaii (Rhapsody of the Seas) or a ship crossing the Atlantic (Navigator of the Seas)…but those are more about the trips than the ships.

You can enter until April 7.

* * *


Now there's a trip of a lifetime. Polynesia is paradise, right?

It is for Windstar Cruises, which will sail a one-week Deams of Tahiti itinerary from May to November 2014 on its newly renovated 148-passenger yacht, Wind Spirit (left). The ship will visit five Tahitian islands and passengers will be able to do everything from savor Tahitian dishes to scuba dive to kayak.

Yes, there will be dancers.

Of course, you can't experience this trip of a lifetime by winning a contest…and you do have to get to Tahiti and back.

* * *

Ah, we always knew the Queen's birthday was in May, even though Elizabeth II was born in April. She is not, after all, the only queen in England.

Cunard has three and one of them, the cruise ship known as QM2, will be 10 years old on May 9th. That party will take place in Southampton, with her siblings, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth (not that one).

Once the candles have been blow out, Queen Mary 2 will celebrate by flitting off to New York and back, taking 3,000 or so of her closest friends with her on these "Birthday Crossings."

Trip of a lifetime? For some.

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
May 31, 2013
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Celebrity Dining: Two Opposites


This is a tale of two restaurants that happen to be on a cruise ship.

The restaurants are called the Tuscan Grille and Qsine, and the ship is the Celebrity Reflection, which made its North American debut last week in Miami.

The Tuscan Grille, as you might ascertain, is of Italian lineage and costs $30 per person. The first time we tried it was on the Celebrity Eclipse a couple of years ago, and it is a staple on all Solstice Class ships. The problem is that, despite its name and obvious cuisine, it strikes us that this is a restaurant with an identity problem. Start with billing it as an "Italian steakhouse" which could be taken as something of an oxymoron.

Long-time lovers of Italian food, we were convinced by the waiter to have steak on our Eclipse visit. Last week on the Reflection, it happened again…although the steak was much better the second time than the first. Must have been the aging. Its authenticity as an Italian restaurant is undermined by not having "primo piatto" and "secondo piatto" — pasta or meat/seafood, not a little of each as the Italians do. You CAN have both, but they're both main courses.

One of the appetizers (goat cheese) was on the menu two years ago, then it was gone, now it is back. The menu seems to be fluid, which is not necessarily bad, but at the Tuscan Grille you get the idea it is ever-changing. Is it truly Italian or not?

Qsine is another story.

Introduced as a quirky kind of place where you order tapas-style dishes from an iPad, it's also a Solstice Class staple. We never considered ourselves to be quirky people — we have friends who might disagree — but we loved this place on the Eclipse and again during a brief sampling on the Reflection. You pick five to seven dishes (seven is usually too many) on your iPad by scrolling through and picking your list of favorites.

Everything comes in small bites and anybody of our vintage appreciates that. The food was worldly, not to mention out of this world. Popcorn fish and chips came in a popcorn box. Lobster was teamed with escargot. Disco shrimp had flashing lights. It was introduced on Eclipse but is spreading fleet wide. The specialty price is $35, but that's probably going to change.

And here's the kicker…the menu has not changed at all.

No identity problem here.

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
February 2, 2013
New Orleans (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

Oasis, Allure to get a sister?

It will soon be three years since Oasis of the Seas raised the bar on the size of cruise ships, by many hundreds of berths and millions of dollars.

Perhaps like no other ship before it, Oasis became known as the "biggest cruise ship in the world" — a title other vessels have worn with less fanfare, not to mention size. The Oasis, technically, became No. 2 when its near-identical sister, Allure of the Seas, was launched 363 days later.

News item: There is talk that a little sister (or at least third one) will arrive in 2016, to join Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class. According to CEO Richard Fain, if the order is placed — and while it's no guarantee it's likely to happen — the ship will be built at "a lower cost, with better energy efficiency" and will be a ship that "is very consistent with our balanced goals of prudent growth, return improvement and debt reduction."

At least until then, Allure of the Seas will maintain the title — it is about six inches longer than Oasis.

That and the name that's stenciled and painted onto the bow and stern is the only difference. Both can carry up to 6,296 passengers and 2,394 crew members, according to the independent "news" source known as Wikipedia. From a population standpoint, we have lived in towns smaller than that.

The arrivals of these mega ships raised the obvious question: Could cruise ships ever become destinations?

It's a question we have asked of ship captains, hotel directors and cruise-line executives. The answers run from "it will never happen" to "that's a possibility" to "they already are."

So, take your pick.

If the "BCSITW" was sitting in warm waters for a week, never visiting a port, would that be an attraction?

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
February 9, 2013
New Orleans (return): Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

  • Categories

  • Archives