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Princess Lands ‘The Voice of the Ocean’

On September 21, The Voice returns to NBC for Season 9. On October 3, The Voice of the Ocean goes on Princess Cruises for Season 1.

The competition on Princess ships is the same concept as in the TV studio. Blind auditions followed by coaching. Performances behind the three rotating chairs occupied by the “coaches.” For any number of reasons, starting with logistics, the chairs won’t be occupied by Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams or Gwen Stefani.

Because Voice of the Ocean will be on 11 ships and 24 cruises between October and next  May, those coaches will be “charismatic” people who might also be guest performers on the ships, or hotel managers or even captains.

The contestants?

That’s you!

Passengers with talent will be invited to auditions. With mentors by their sides, they’ll be polished and accompanied by back-up singers and musicians. The coaches will pick their The Voice-2teams, just like they do on TV, and on the last night of the cruise members of the audience will vote with remotes to determine who wins The Voice of the Ocean Trophy.

The first show will be on the Regal Princess when it departs from New York. That will be followed by The Voice of the Ocean performances on the Royal, Caribbean, Emerald, Ruby, Golden, Island, Coral, Crown, Grand and Star Princesses with the final departure from Vancouver to Alaska on May 14.

The inaugural cruise, on the Regal, will sail up the coast and into Canada and back during the autumn colors. The cruise is from New York, return. 

Hey, if the winners are good enough, they can go straight to Broadway!

In the news…

AmaWaterways christens AmaSerena on banks of the Danube
• Viking Star: one cruise cancelled, one delayed by mechanical repair
• Low water on European rivers still haunting ships and cruisers

Today at portsandbows.com: More big money people in cruising

Carnival Ecstasy
3 nights
September 18, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $63

Lion Eyes Part Of New Ship’s Custom

Lion danceEverybody who’s interested in cruises knows that the playing ocean, as opposed to the playing field, is shifting in the direction of Asia. More cruises, more ships, even more cruise lines are re-locating.

With the shift come new customs.

The traditions that come with new ships include a bottle of champagne, a hull and a godmother. She smashes the bubbly against the bow and, voila, the ship has good luck. Most times, there is no evidence that it doesn’t work.

Will that tradition be honored in Asia?

Maybe not.

The keel for the new Princess ship, due in 2017 and destined for China, was laid in Italy last week. The character on the left was part of the occasion and, just like the ship, he has no name yet. He does come with good luck, according to Chinese traditions, and he likes to dance. Admittedly, this was not the christening ceremony that will inevitably come when or before the ship hits the water.

But for a ship going to China, it was an important occasion.

“The lion dance has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years and is Keel Layingperformed on various auspicious occasions and celebrations,” said Cherry Wang, country director of Carnival China. “According to traditional Chinese belief, the lion signifies courage, wisdom and good fortune and brings happiness, longevity and good luck. We believe this special ceremony will bring prosperity and good fortune to Princess Cruises and our guests.”

Another part of this ceremony is to paint the lion’s eyes. She and Anthony Kaufman, Senior Vice-President of Asia Operations for Princess, were given the brushes. Painting the eyes awakens its spirit and blesses the lion.

Like we said…new locations, new ships, new customs.

In the news…

• Problems in Greece could impact on 11,000 jobs cruises bring
• Costa, Airitalia to collaborate on "fly and cruise" with 100,000 seats
• Princess latest cruise line to bring beverage packages to ships in Australia

Today at portsandbows.com: 'Only On Carnival' Tours

Royal Princess
15 nights
September 6, 2015
London, Rotterdam, Paris, Vigo, Lisbon, Ponta Delgada, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $66

Friday File: Beaches of Beauty

If you think a beach is a beach is a beach, which people who don’t lie in the sun might feel inclined to do, then you haven’t met our son-in-law. He will structure his family’s vacations around the quality of the beaches. Prompted by his discriminating eye, we’re re-visiting some that we’ve at least seen in our cruise travels…

TulumTULUM: This picture is taken from the ancient ruins of Tulum, and its accompanying beach provides an alternative for cranky teenagers (or adults) more interested in sunshine than sun gods.

GREAT STIRRUP CayGREAT STIRRUP CAY: This is Norwegian’s private island, which means this is Norwegian’s private beach, available only to its cruise-ship passengers. It has everything you might want, especially people.

BarcelonaBARCELONA: You don’t expect to find palm trees, or beaches like this, in Barcelona…at least we didn’t. The lack of beach-goers had more to do with the time of year (May) than the quality of sand. 

Huatulco-2HUATULCO: A nice spot frequented mostly by the locals who live near this pretty place in southern Mexico, and just a short cab ride from the Celebrity Millennium…well worth whatever it cost us.

St. MaartenST. MAARTEN: The bar from which this shot is taken does a booming business all day, thanks mostly to cruise tourists from Philipsburg, 20 minutes away from being this close to landing jets.

MIAMI: There are places that lay claim to being the most famous of beaches, but is there one better known than Miami Beach (okay, Fort Lauderdale) and its view for passing cruise ships?
ArubaARUBA: White sandy beaches that stretch seven miles along this tiny island, flanked by some of the most expensive hotels you’ll find. The good news is the beaches are all public — it’s the law.
Costa MayaCOSTA MAYA: A popular Mexican port still recovering from Hurricane Dean (2007) doesn’t have a lot to do within walking distance of the ship, but this beach near the pier is a hotspot for passengers.

Today at portsandbows.com: Koningsdam coming to America

Royal Princess
14 nights
April 25, 2015
Fort LauderdalePonta DelgadaCorkRotterdamBrusselsSouthampton
Inside: $696
Cost per day: $49


The Skinny On Building New Ships

When a cruise line that already has two new ships still being built announces that it is building two more, as Norwegian did on Monday, there's a tendency to think this is an unprecedented construction explosion.

It's not.

Aggressive…yes. Unheard of…no.

Starting with the Breakaway Class, by 2019 Norwegian will have launched six ships in seven years. The Escape will introduce the Breakaway Plus Class next year, followed by the Bliss in 2017 and two more as-yet unnamed ships in 2018 and 2019. Coupled Breakaway Pluswith the Breakaway (2013) and the Getaway (this year), that'll be six in seven.

Time for a little history lesson.

In one seven-year period (1998-2004), Princess launched 11 ships. In the same seven years, Carnival and Royal Caribbean both introduced 10 ships. From 1995 to 2003 (a nine-year stretch, Royal Caribbean's fleet increased by 14 ships.

The record for the "longest consecutive launching streak" belongs to Royal Caribbean: 10 straight years from 1995 to 2004. Second is Carnival with eight (1998 to 2005).

In fact, Norwegian's most productive period before the upcoming one was six ships in four years, from 2004 to 2007. That was followed by a relative drought, when only the Epic was added to Norwegian's fleet over five years.

The longest any of the so-called "big four" has gone without adding ships is four years. Before the Royal Princess was christened last year, the Ruby Princess was the line's last new ship, in 2008. Holland America, with 15 ships, has built only one ship in eight years and Celebrity, with 11, finished five in a row in 2012 and has no apparent plans to expand.

What Norwegian will accomplish by the end of this decade is it will have pretty well kept pace with its three principal rivals. From the start of the 21st century, Norwegian will have built 17 ships…Royal Caribbean 18, Carnival 16 and Princess 12. 

Unless, of course, more announcements are to come.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Expedition cruising the Seabourn way

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
September 5, 2014
AnchorageHubbard GlacierJuneauSkagwayIcy Strait PointKetchikanVancouver
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

A Quiet Princess Slips into Cruise Waters

If you do Google "Regal Princess" (as we did), you will find that most of the results on the first page are about a ship that "will" make its debut in 2014. Even Wikipedia writes of it in the future tense. So it may surprise you to learn that the Regal Princess is already here…here being the cruise waters of the world.

It happened last week. It happened in Italy. It happened quietly, or so it appears for everybody who couldn't hear the horn's first blast in Venice.

This is the 18th ship in the Princess fleet. It's a full sister to the Royal Princess, which means you can't tell them apart if you don't see the name. Ironically, the Royal Princess made her debut almost a year ago, also in Europe (Southampton), but to much greater fanfare which included the world's most prominent mother-to-be, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is more widely known simply as Princess Kate.

The new ship has everything her elder sister has…SeaWalk over the ocean, a bigger-than-ever atrium, the innovative Chef's Table Lumiere, the Princess Live TV studio, and Regal-WC-Scorcolano copyPhoto courtesy of Wikipedia Commons: Scorcolano

more. It carries 3,560 passengers, which means it takes a back seat there to its Royal sibling, which can handle 40 more passengers.

Together, they're the biggest Princess ships. They are not together these days, but they're at least in the same hemisphere. 

After spending the winter in the Caribbean, the Royal Princess is in Northern Europe for the summer and will return to North America — by way of Iceland and New York (25 days) — in late September. It will dock in Fort Lauderdale on November 4.

The Regal Princess is spending its inaugural months in the Mediterranean and will cross the Atlantic for the first time (Princess is calling this the ship's "Maiden Voyage") in October. This ship will arrive in Fort Lauderdale on November 3…the day before big sister.

At least then she'll be "first" for a day, and you can be sure more will be made of the "new" ship's North American debut.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
5 nights
December 13, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco CayNassauGrand Bahama Island 
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59

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