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A Quantum Leap From April 2014

It was just one year ago. In New York City, home to Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean unveiled its newest and greatest ship at a press conference. The head honchos from the cruise line, Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein, were there. So was Kristin Chenoweth, the new ship's Godmother-to-be.

There was one word on everyone's lips or, for the writers among us, in everyone's vocabulary.


Fast track 12 months. It's April again. Quantum of the Seas, still several months from leaving the shipyard, is making news again. And there's that word again.


The newest and greatest ship from this mainstream cruise line is going to leave North America almost as soon as she arrives. Okay, Quantum will be in New York from November to May, not even long enough to consummate the relationship. Then she'll be leaving New York a jilted lover, and running off to Shanghai.

Talk about a Shanghai surprise!

To be fair, she'll be sending her almost-twin sister as a stand-in. The Anthem of the Seas will become New York's Royal Caribbean new ship later in 2015, with all the same curves and attributes and flash.

When Quantum arrives in Shanghai, will Kristin Chenoweth be on deck? If she is…


Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Rotterdam
14 nights
May 24, 2014
Rotterdam (return): CopenhagenBerlinTallinnSt.PetersburgHelsinkiStockholmAarhus
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $71

Red Sox and Celebrity Celebrating

You could say Celebrity Cruises knew something last spring when it became the "official cruise line" of the Boston Red Sox or, if you are cynical, you could say Celebrity was playing the sympathy card by attaching itself to a city in mourning from the murders at the Marathon…unlikely because such co-promotions don't usually happen within two weeks, the span between the Marathon and the announcement.

Whether Celebrity was clairvoyant or not, the arrangement could not have worked Celebrity Solsticeout better. In case you haven't heard, the Red Sox are the champions of baseball. They did have the best record in the game when the announcement was made but nobody anticipated they would go from the worst team of 2012 to the best of 2013.

But they did.

En route to their third championship season in a decade, the Red Sox (and Celebrity) made winners of fans. Four times every month, they entered a draw to win a trip for two on the Red Sox Fan Cruise. Every Fenway Park double play gave a fan $200 off a Celebrity cruise. And while the January 12th cruise — Big Papi won't be on the Silhouette but former Red Sox players are supposed to be — still has space available, if it's not sold out it will be a small miracle.

Kind of like the one that took place on the field this season.

Holland America Rotterdam
11 nights
November 30, 2013
AthensIstanbul, Dikili, Ephesus, Marmaris, Crete, Valletta, CataniaNaplesRome
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $45

Carnival Latest: What's In A Name?

Give Carnival at least a "B" for imagination in announcing that its newest ship, due in 2016, will be called Vista. That makes Carnival first to the Vista well of names.

This is an age when cruise lines sometimes appear to be running out of names. Witness Norwegian, using contests to ask passengers for proposing names of its lasttwo (and probably next three) ships. Witness the Carnival Dream, Disney Dream, Pacific Dream and SeaDream, not to mention Carnival Liberty and Liberty of the Seas…and Norwegian Sun and Sun Princess.

Copycatting is acceptable.

Vista is new…more or less. Avalon has a river cruiser called Vista. Holland America has a Vista Class of ships but "dam" the word in this fleet because all the names end in "…dam" (Rotterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, etc.).

Vistadam just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

So Carnival comes up with the Vista, and that might be the extent of imagination with this 4,000-passenger newbie. Since it's the only ship Carnival has on order for the next three years, a Vista Class of ships is unlikely, at least for now, because apparently Carnival officials sounded confused when asked about which class of ship this would be. Other than the name, the best the cruise line could do in the Imagination Department was explain the name this way:

"We're starting to use the ship names as a touchstone for how we think about the design. A lot of what we are thinking about for the design and the inspiration is the views out to the ocean."

Views…as in vista.

The new ship will be like the Carnival Breeze, but different from the Breeze (above), and nobody at Carnival is saying what those similarities and differences might be. That's for another day.

And another press conference.

Carnival Freedom
6 nights
September 29, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestGrand CaymanOcho Rios
Inside: $294
Cost per day: $49

Movie Makes Cruise Ships Move

This, indeed, is a sign of the Apocalypse.

An amateur filmmaker makes a bad movie and, because things can now go viral on YouTube, the controversy the bad movie creates has an impact on a multi-billion-dollar industry, like the one that takes people on cruises.

Hard to believe, isn't it?

The "movie" that triggered violence in the Islamic world has surely affected more multi-billion-dollar industries than cruising…but who'd have thought that because of this bad movie (and there seems to be unanimity on that adjective), at least three cruise lines have cancelled port stops.

Mariners of the Seas will take its Royal Caribbean passengers to Sicily and Malta instead of Alexandria, Egypt.

Holland America's Rotterdam skipped Tunisia a couple of weeks ago and went to Sardinia, Italy, instead.

The people of Alexandria also missed out on seeing Queen Elizabeth (the ship), not to mention the economic benefits that cruisers bring, when Cunard opted to send the cruise to Rhodes, Greece.

And there could be more.

The main reason is that, while the safety of ALL passengers is critical to cruise lines, all these ships carry many Americans…and the targets that radicals place on the backs of Americans are bigger than ever.

The main reason for bigger targets is a bad movie.

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
November 17, 2012
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays, Curacao, Aruba
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

Cruise scenery — and the best is…?


You know how this works. You get on a cruise ship, sail into some exotic port, are blown away by the scenery and take pictures. The next day, or maybe two, the ship sails into another exotic port…and you start the process all over again.

So which is more scenic? In the bigger picture, which are most scenic?

For most of us, this is like trying to choose between dark chocolate and red wine, a no-hitter and a grand slam, a Lamborghini and a Maserati. What do you like better?

As for cruise itineraries, what's the most scenic cruise you've ever sailed? Alaska? The Mediterranean? The Caribbean? Asia? South America? As an aside, despite all the places we've cruised, we were stunned by the scenery when sailing on the Coral Princess into our former hometown, Vancouver.

There is so much gorgeous scenery in the world that it's a tough call, even if you've seen it all…whatever "it all" is. And even if you have, there's the subjectivity. One man's treasure is another's junk, and vice-versa.

Frommer's, the long-standing expert on travel, has prompted and promoted such a discussion by listing its 10 most scenic cruise itineraries.

Check it out at www.frommers.com/slideshow/?group=1011 and see what you think.

Holland America Rotterdam
14 nights
August 25, 2012
Rotterdam (return): Edinburgh, Invergordon, Lerwick, Geiranger, Alesund, Skjolden, Bergen, Kristiansand, Oslo, Copenhagen
Inside: $1,499
Cost per day: $107

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