Tag-Archive for » Norwegian Sky «

Story Telling at Denali National Park

​DENALI, Alaska — She stands, proud and alone, at a place 16 miles into Denali National Park called Primrose Ridge. She is a small woman and her bright blue sweatshirt fits loosely below the long greying hair that tells you she is probably a grandma. Miniature carvings hang from her ears, another one from her necklace.

Her name is Linda Reid.

When she speaks, it is with clarity. When she sings, as she does briefly after greeting and educating a busload of passengers from the Star Princess, it is the sweet voice of history. She is there, or one of her people are, to give visitors a look at a family with roots deeper than many of the trees around them.

“I’m here on behalf of all native Alaskans,” she says with feeling. "The Eskimos from Barrow and Nome — they don’t want to be called Eskimos…the Klinket from the southeast, Sitka and Juneau…the Haida from the southeast…the Athabaskan from the interior — that’s what I am and we’re related to the Navajo… and the Aliut from the south — they’re half Russian. We speak different languages but today, I speak for all of us."

Linda Reid-8Linda Reid goes on to tell her story, and everybody has one.

“Four generations ago, one person came up here and made it…or I wouldn’t be here,” she says softly.

That would be her great-grandfather. He came north in the 19th century, became chief of the Arrowhead tribe and founded Minto, on the Tanana River. His son (her grandfather) traded with the Hudson’s Bay Company and taught his family members they had three seasons to get food off the land so they could make it through the winter.

She pauses, and smiles.

“Later in life, he was deaf and my Grandma was blind. When the phone would ring she’d say ‘Answer that noise’ so he did, and when she asked who it was he would say ‘Nobody home.’”

Her parents raised 10 children in a one-room log home. Her father was chief, council member and store manager. He hunted for meat, fished, picked berries, mushed dogs and built sleds and snowshoes. All were skills he passed along.

“He died five years ago,” she says. “They were together for 63 years. She made a potlach for him last fall and four months later she died at 84.”

This is her interpretation of her culture. She passes it along now every winter, as a volunteer teacher, passing it along to the little ones.

“And,” she says with a big grin, “I am the proud Grandma of ten little Indians.”

Before the Princess Cruisetours visitors leave, she sings a short song from her great-grandfather’s era and passes along a few words of Athabaskan.


Thank you, my friend.

There, you learned something new today, and so did we.

In the news…

• Italian culinary expert Fabio Cucchelli to update Costa menus
• Guy Harvey artwork being applied to Norwegian Escape
• Wider variety of shore excursions coming for AIDA Cruises

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
October 12, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
Inside: $259
Cost per day: $64

Celebrate-ing Overnight Departures


It was in Willemstad, which is in Curacao, which is close enough to the northern part of South America that you can see it from there. 

There we experienced what it was like to be on a cruise ship that was leaving after dark. Among other things, this enabled us to have a late dinner on shore 20 minutes from the port, to walk the streets of Willemstad in the evening and to take that picture of the ship…you may have noticed we like taking pictures of ships, almost always in broad daylight.

The ship was the Carnival Freedom and we had to be on board by 10 p.m. for an eleven o’clock departure. 

Frankly, we loved it…but it could have been better.

This is pertinent — okay, appropriate — today because Celebrity Cruises is going to do some serious experimenting with overnights in Caribbean ports. It will happen on 43 itineraries in 2016. The experiment will be in six places where, presumably, Celebrity has negotiated a good deal on port fees: Cartagena, St. Maarten, Barbados, Cozumel, Aruba and…yes, Curacao.

All six are places we’ve visited and would love to see after sunset but, so far, that’s only happened at Curacao.

Why would you want to be in a cruise port at night? Any number of reasons…experience local entertainment from music and dancing to theatrical performances…enjoy the port’s cuisine when it really is dinner time…even take in a sporting event. Think about the last day of your cruise from the Bahamas to Florida, for example: Would you rather be on a ship traveling slow enough it could be going in circles to kill time (and sometimes is) or on the streets of Freeport?

This philosophy has been common in Europe for a long time — the cost must be less — but it’s relatively new to the Caribbean. So while our late-night departure was good, overnights are better.

There’s no curfew.

In the news…

• Cozumel cruise visitors: 7 per cent increase in first four months of 2015
• Oceania Marina launches cruise season in Corner Brook, Newfoundland
• Sales today: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland America

Today at portsandbows.com: Another view of Celebrity's port strategy

Norwegian Sky
3 nights
July 10, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $99

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

Drinks For Free On Norwegian Sky


Oh, for the days when going on a cruise meant once you paid for your ticket, that was it…everything was included but shopping for souvenirs, and taxes and tips.

Are those happy days starting to make a comeback?

They are in Norwegian’s world. Well, in one corner of Norwegian’s world. Okay, one neighborhood…bar.

Starting in 2016, cruises on the Norwegian Sky, an 11-year-old ship that goes from Miami to the Bahamas and back will be so inclusive that you won’t pay for drinks. From margaritas to wine (even premium) to beer to soft drinks…nada. 

“We’re taking freestyle cruising to the next level,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian’s President and COO.

“Freestyle cruising” is the umbrella under which Norwegian introduced the non-traditional seating in dining rooms, allowing passengers to pick their times and tables. Following an era in which passengers felt they were being nickled and dimed at every turn, Norwegian announced that the Sky’s passengers will  “enjoy an even more all-inclusive cruise experience with dining, entertainment and now free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits included.”

However, if you think “dining” includes the Sky’s three specialty restaurants (Il Adagio, Cagney’s Steak House and The Bistro)…guess again. What it includes in dining is what is already included: the dining room.

For anybody too young to drink…free soda. Now that’s a first for an ocean cruise ship.

It’s likely another test. If “free drinks for everybody” fills up its ships, expect that it will be extended beyond the Sky’s horizon.

After that, who knows?

Today at portsandbows.com: Entertained on Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas
14 nights
June 11, 2015
Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin, Benoa, Singapore
Inside: $974
Cost per day: $69

What Price For Ship’s Room Service?

News item: Norwegian to charge up to $7.95 (per order, not per person) for room service, while providing an enhanced menu on two ships.


Is this a glass half-empty or half-full? Will passengers feel it’s another example of being nickeled-and-dimed, or will they happily pay for the convenience of having freshly cooked eggs for breakfast?

Since it’s only on the Breakaway ($7.95) and the Getaway ($4.95) is Norwegian testing the market before adding the charge to its entire fleet? Or is it an attempt to make room NCL Room Serviceservice expensive enough that it can be removed entirely?

If room service becomes a thing of the past, does that cut jobs at Norwegian? How many? One per ship? Two? Given the potential for backlash, is it worthwhile?

Since Norwegian has been charging $3.95 for room service between midnight and 5 a.m., is it customer feedback (or lack of) that has triggered this experiment? Will other cruise lines follow this precedent, as they often do when Norwegian comes up with a novel idea not widely practiced elsewhere?

Does anybody else think it’s strange that any member of an industry doing so well financially, as cruising is, would dare to appear to be nickeling-and-diming the people responsible for its success?

And finally…what do you think?

Today at portsandbows.com: A look at Uniworld's Maria Theresa

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
April 27, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $49

  • Categories

  • Archives