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Godmother Breakaway from Tradition

Long known for its ability to change the culture of cruising, Norwegian Cruise Line is now leading the change in the culture of cruise ship godmothers, who until now have been largely celebrities, dignitaries and famous women willing to serve as figureheads…or all of the above. Their responsibilities begin with smashing bottles of bubbly against the bows of "their" ships and saying all the right things to all the right people.

Oh yes, and almost without exception, they are singular. One Godmother per ship.

Norwegian is changing that.

The new ship Breakaway, which arrives next spring, has been shaped into being New York's ship. The Godmother of the Breakaway, or Godmothers, are the Rockettes and the culture of the cruise ship Godmother is now part of marketing the business.

At both ends.

This is not a case of just honoring a famous woman by inviting her to be a ship Godmother. It's opening another lane of marketing. Rockettes will sail on the Breakaway with regularity. An 11-foot replica of the ship will sit in Radio City Music Hall, home of the Rockettes. The new Godmothers do meet-and-greets with cruise passengers but do you really think at some point that they won't be performing, too? Meanwhile, back at the Music Hall, customers will have an opportunity to win a Christmas cruise for four.

And so on.

Prior to yesterday's announcement, people interested in these things were guessing who the new Godmother would be for the largest ship ever to home-port in New York. Mariah Carey? Barbra Streisand? Liza Minelli? After all, NYC is the entertainment capital of the world and Norwegian is the cruise line that's synonymous with entertainment…and so it stood to reason that the Godmother would be an entertainer, from New York, of course.

Nobody saw the Rockettes coming.

They're not individually famous — can you name one? — but they're collectively a group of interchangeable stars. And they have longevity. They've been around for 87 years and when one leaves the show, another one takes her place.

In this era of political correctness and gender equality, and now that Augusta has admitted women to golf's most prestigious boys club, how long will it be until there's a male Godmother in cruising?

Or Godfather.

Holland America Prinsendam
29 nights
October 17, 2012
Rome, Stromboli, Dubrovnik, Split, Ravenna, Venice, Gallipoli, Valletta, Sorrento, Rome, Alicanti, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon, Horta, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $1,899
Cost per day: $65

The Bizarre World of Cruising's Johns

Truth is almost always stranger than fiction. John Heald, who can be so outrageously funny that some may accuse him of thriving on fiction, has had a big-time dose of reality-cum-fiction this month.

Now this information comes from another John (Honeywell), aka Captain Greybeard. Since there have to be some privileges in being a greybeard, even if I’m neither a Captain nor a John, using the popular cruisaholic from The Mirror in London as a source is surely acceptable.

Captain Greybeard was feeling sorry for Carnival’s chief cruise director, who’s also a regular cruise blogger. Here are some of the reasons John Heald was deserving of a little sympathy…

Case No. 1:
A passenger was upset with Carnival because the ship she was on did not dock in Rome, and she was told it would be within walking distance of the Vatican. Rome’s cruise-ship terminal is in Civitavecchia, about 50 miles away. It’s a long walk. She wanted to know what Mr. Heald was going to do about it. Really?

Case No. 2:
An irate guest blamed John Heald because he said to be aware of pick pockets in Rome. As a result, she and her son took no cash ashore and were surprised to find they had to pay to get into the Colosseum and the Vatican. Having taken a Rome On Your Own tour, they saw nothing and demanded compensation from Carnival. Or Heald. Really?

Case No. 3:
A female passenger complained when she found herself on the Carnival Magic after her travel agent sold her the wrong information by telling her she would be on a Celebrity ship. She wanted to disembark from the Magic in Monaco and receive a full refund from the Cruise Director. Really?

Yes, really.

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