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Company For World's Top Cruise Ports

Miami…Fort Lauderdale…Port Rashid…

Notice the apparent disconnect?

Well, not so fast.

The acknowledged kinds of cruise ports are  Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Proven to send more than eight million people off on their favorite cruise ships every year. Gateways to the Caribbean, primarily, and that’s still where most people go on their first cruise. Also their second, third, fourth…

Port Rashid?

That’s the new, world-class cruise port in Dubai. It opened on Friday. It is the largest cruise terminal in the world, and there’s a lot of that kind of thing happening in the Port Rashidoil-rich United Arab Emirates, probably for decades now. It’s capable of handling 14,000 passengers every day. Joining two older terminals at the port, it’s capable of handling more than seven million passengers every year.

That’s almost Miami and Fort Lauderdale combined.

Granted, it’s still speculation…and this is the Middle East.

Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) was Porthole Cruise Magazine’s “Best Domestic Port” and “World’s Top Cruise Port” in 2013. It was home to nine cruise lines, 43 cruise ships and several times broke daily records for number of passengers processed.

Is there a challenger on the horizon?

Today at portsandbows.com: Amber Cove…coming in 2015

Crown Princess
3 nights
January 3, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $49
www.princess.com

Escape For Cruising Parrotheads

Time for a confession. Maybe even an apology. I've known since Friday that Jimmy Buffett’s people had made a deal with Norwegian’s people. As someone who’s supposed to be relaying cruise news to you, I was a little slow on the uptake.

Jimmy BuffettIt took me a couple of days to recover.

You don’t even have to be one of Jimmy’s famous Parrotheads (yes, Parrothead is a proper noun to us and that’s why it’s capitalized) to understand this really is “earth-sharking” news. Okay, ocean-sharking news. Jimmy Buffett on a cruise ship…well, his “stuff” will be on the Norwegian Escape when it arrives but, really, isn’t it just a matter of time until The Man Himself shows up? 

Hey, I was even excited when “Jimmy” was one of the Legends In Concert on the Norwegian Epic!

Four people in our family, maybe five, would go out of the way to see Jimmy Buffett…and I’m at the front of the line. That’s more than a third of the family, and another third is too young to know what they’re missing. As for the other third, I’m working on them, hoping they’ll go out of their ways to see Jimmy in concert before he takes his margaritas and goes home to stay.

The fact that he’s made a “new” deal as he approaches his 68th birthday (of course I know it’s Christmas Day!!) and the fact that it’s with a cruise line is encouraging. For now, only his “Margaritaville” and his “5 O’clock Somewhere Bar” and his “Hurricane drinks” are going to be on the Escape — and eventually other Norwegian ships.

That’s a good start. 

For one thing, it means if I’m cruising in the Caribbean with Norwegian, I won’t have to get off the ship to find one of the many Magaritavilles the corporate Jimmy has built on the beaches. 

For another, it’s one more thing that makes it harder for that third of my family to “escape” Jimmy Buffett.

Today at portsandbows.com: Preview of Regent's new Explorer

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
January 12, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $109
Cost per day: $27
www.carnival.com

Cruise Critic Editors' Best Of…Cruising

 

Anybody who has been on more than a few cruises is inevitably going to be asked: “What’s your favorite…ship…destination…cruise…port…activity…restaurant…?”

There are no correct answers, given that everybody’s cruising taste is different in every area. Sometimes, it’s incredible how much stock all of us put in recommendations of others, qualified or not.

Cruise passengers pay attention to “awards” and that’s why we write about them. Among the most credible awards are Cruise Critic’s — some of them determined by cruisers, some by editors. The latter is the latest, announced this week.

The editorial staff at Cruise Critic is nameless, identified only as an ”international team of editors.” The awards they just announced — 18 of them —  cover everything from new ships to itineraries to romance, and we thought a sampling of them would be appropriate today. 

So…

If you’re looking for the best new ship from 2014, head for Bayonne, N.J. and board Quantum of the Seas.

If you’re into luxury, you have to go a little further…to France, because that’s where Ponant is based (Marseille) and where you can cruise on one of three small ships and enjoy authentic French cuisine, among other things.

If you’re after the best bang for your buck, it’s Carnival.

Best dining? Oceania, which features Jacques Pepin and Kathryn Kelly.

Best entertainment? Norwegian…think Blue Man, Legends in Concert, Rock of Ages.

If a few more inches and a few more amenities in a standard stateroom is important, check out Holland America.

And if you wonder which cruise line has the best itineraries, Cruise Critic’s editors like Princess — for the second year running.

What it all adds up to is an educated guess at what you’re going to like best (or better), as long as your taste is similar to the critical eyes of Cruise Critic.

Today at portsandbows.com: Special news from Silversea

Crown Princess
3 nights
January 6, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $129
Cost per day: $43
www.princess.com

Norovirus — The Navy’s Solution

The latest norovirus episode on a cruise ship — 172 people ill on the Crown Princess in Los Angeles this weekend — has raised an old story about the U.S. Navy. It’s about how the Navy more or less prevents such outbreaks on its ships.

With more than 3,000 sailors and marines on ships, the Navy adopts the preventive strategy.

Here’s how:

* Sailors are required to report to sick bay if they feel ill

* Supervisors force sick sailors who are reluctant

* If they’re sick, they’re isolated

* The Navy does a “cleaning station” of the ship every morning

* Preventive medicine technicians inspect galleys many times a day

* Sailors swab, inspect, scrub and scour every day

For the most part, it works. Thinking it would work on a cruise ship is a much different theory.

Nobody on the ship can monitor 3,000 passengers to see if anybody’s not feeling well. It’s unlikely cruise lines would designate “preventive medicine technicians” whose sole purpose is to inspect galleys, although regular inspections are common. And having cleaners underfoot all day long throughout the ship would be a negative for people on their vacations, especially when more than 90 per cent of the time there’s no threat.

But here’s the biggest reason comparing naval ships and cruise ships is apples and oranges:

Sailors must follow orders, and there are consequences when they don’t.

Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's new look

Carnival Inspiration
2 nights
December 18, 2014
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada 
Inside: $101
Cost per day: $50
www.carnival.com

New Ship, New Look For New Jersey

From our one visit to Bayonne, New Jersey, the best thing you can say about this cruise port is the view.

Of New York, on the other side of the harbor.

Of the Verrazano Bridge.

Of whatever ship it is you’re boarding.

But not of Bayonne.

Now, that’s changing. When Quantum of the Seas arrives in a couple of weeks, its passengers will disembark into a new, state-of-the-art terminal, the start of a $55-million port expansion that’s going to, well, dress up this part of New Jersey.

This is industrial property, more or less, and it has all the attractions that come with industrial property. Faceless warehouses. Cranes to move freight. If you see people, Cape Liberty-2they’re either ship workers or taxi drivers or cruise employees, and nobody seems to stay there long. If you see a store or shop, it likely has limited hours because at the port, that’s really all there is.

If ever a cruise port was in need of an upgrade, that port is Cape Liberty, its sexier name. At this point, it’s a good start for “your closest point to sea” to become more attractive, or even just a little attractive. The fact that Royal Caribbean contributed to the Port Authority’s cause tells you how important this was for the Quantum Class ships that are going to call it home.

It starts with the flagship on November 10. Quantum of the Seas, replacing Explorer of the Seas, will only stay until spring before heading off to its Asian home, Singapore. Next up Quantumwill be its class sibling, Anthem of the Seas. Both ships are capable of carrying almost 5,000 passengers, so it’s important for new, state-of-the-art, classy ships to live in upscale neighborhoods.

And not just look at them across the harbor.

Today at portsandbows.com: Bermuda cruises on the rise

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
November 10, 2014
Los Angeles (return): Catalina, Ensenada
Inside: $129
Cost per day: $32
www.carnival.com

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