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The Modern Problem Of Picking A Port

With each day, and each violent activity often linked to terrorism, reasonable people who like to travel get even more reasonable. Or concerned. Or paranoid. Or even scared.

Pick an adverb. The uncertainty of traveling abroad — be it in one direction to Europe or in the other to Asia — understandably may leave North Americans more likely to pick a cruise ship departing and returning to a North American port. Not that there are any guarantees that doing so will keep you from being an unsuspecting victim of terrorism.

But even seasoned travelers are at least having second thoughts. Why fly internationally to get on a cruise if you can fly domestically, or better yet drive or take ground transportation to a port of departure?

This is good (okay, more comforting) news for cruise lines with ships that primarily visit the Caribbean, or assorted other warm-weather spots in the Western Hemisphere. Since a Caribbean cruise still out-ranks all others, that would be most of them, yet many have shifted their investments — and some of their ships — to Asia the last couple of years, which in today’s world could mean counting on a local (Asian) clientele.

For North Americans, there is no shortage of options. A quick count shows that there are 21 cruise homeports in this continent: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Galveston, Houston, Charleston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Bayonne, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Anchorage, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Montreal.

So if you’re an avid cruiser who’s reluctant to fly afar to get to a ship, pick a port.

You may find many kindred spirits.

In the news…

• Two biggest ships (both Royal Caribbean) in southern hemisphere meeting in Sydney

Today at portsandbows.comChristmas markets with Viking in Europe

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Miami (return): Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, George Town, Cozumel
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92

Cops, Airline Aid Missing Passenger

Victoria Harbour

Sometimes, it’s just nice to be able to tell a nice story. Like the one that appeared this week in The Province, one of Vancouver’s two daily newspapers, about a passenger who went missing from Jewel of the Seas.

The 65-year-old woman disembarked in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in mid-morning earlier this month. When the ship was ready to leave for Seattle late that afternoon, the final leg of a week-long Alaska cruise, there was no sign of her. Eventually, after waiting a reasonable time as ship captains are wont to do, Jewel of the Seas had to leave.

Police in Victoria contacted the woman’s family in Buffalo and discovered she had been having symptoms of dementia. Disoriented, she showed up in a downtown hotel and police took her to a nearby hospital to be assessed.

All’s well that ends well, right?

The story gets better. 

One of the cops, Constable Andre Almeida, arranged for her to fly to Seattle in time for her scheduled flight home to New York. He paid for the flight on his own credit card with the idea that he’d be able to cover it with his “points.” And when he was asked about doing that, the constable issued this statement:

“There was no other way to ensure she would make it back home. She needed help. It could be my mom stranded somewhere and I would hope someone would help.”

There’s more.

After a night in hospital, the woman was taken to the airport by the police for her Alaska Airlines flight. The airline reimbursed Constable Almeida, and saw to it that she made her connecting flight to her family.

These days, two segments of society that seem to take a regular beating are police and airlines, so it’s also nice that they’re being recognized for doing something…nice.

Today at portsandbows.com: No more Dancing With The Stars: At Sea

Carnival Magic
7 nights
September 27, 2015
Galveston (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61

Sail-ers, Seahawks on Crown Princess

A week from Saturday, June 20, the Crown Princess will leave Seattle for Alaska with a passenger load dedicated to “sailing with the 12s.” 

It’s entirely possible that many cruise passengers have no idea what that means, if they aren’t football fans and are unaware the Seattle Seahawks had 12 players on the field in the last two Super Bowls…the “12th” being the Seahawks’ fan base.

So now the 12s — it is not politically correct to say 12th men — are going on a  cruise with some of their favorite people, which is to say anybody with a past, present or future with their beloved football team. As you might expect, there’s enough fervor to sell out three of Seahawks Fan Cruisethe five stateroom categories, with only inside and oceanview accommodation left, 10 days before the cruise.

Who’s going? Among the Seattle celebrities…

• Warren Moon, who briefly quarterbacked the Seahawks after spending most of his career in Texas (Houston) and Canada (Edmonton) on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and who is now on the ‘Hawks’ radio broadcast.

• Defensive end Gregg Scruggs and tackle Justin Britt, members of what the 12s say will be three straight Super Bowl teams, along with safety Jordan Babineau and lineman Edward Bailey, who played on pre-championship Seattle teams.

• Jim Zorn, who spent nine years with the Seahawks and was the first quarterback to take them to the playoffs.

At last report, there was no sign of current quarterback Russell Wilson or running back Marshawn Lynch or defensive back Richard Sherman or head coach Pete Carroll, whose goal-line strategy in the final minute last February still angers some of the 12s.

But hey, there’s always next year. The 12s are in it for the long run.

In the news…

• Capsized Chinese cruise ship cited for safety problems two years ago (Fox News)
• Australia's 10-year market growth 533 per cent (Cruise Industry News)
• Third terminal quietly opened in Germany's biggest port, Hamburg

Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's Panama Canal cruises

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
September 14, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau, CocoCay, Key West
Inside: $287
Cost per day: $71

Cruise For Football Fan With Heart

While everybody’s talking about deflated footballs, in advance of the Super Bowl, are you interested in a tale of inflated sportsmanship?

If so, read on…

After the Seattle Seahawks won their trip to Phoenix for Sunday’s big game, one of their fans (PJ LeDorze) noticed a disconsolate Green Bay Packers fan outside Seattle’s 171144CenturyLink Field. It should be mentioned that all Packers fans were disconsolate after the Seahawks’ incredible comeback, but most of them were not so visible.

LeDorze was wearing a Seahawks jersey. He felt badly for the “opposition” so he gave the jersey to the young Green Bay fan. In Seattle, this is called the “spirit of the 12s” because Seahawks fans are all considered the team’s 12th player.

And now, LeDorze has two tickets for the Sail with the 12s Seahawks Fan Cruise on the Crown Princess in June. The ship spends a week going from Seattle to Alaska and back, and with Seahawks players and ex-players on board for chalk talks, meet-and-greets and all kinds of “spirit of the 12s” events, it doesn’t get much better for one of their fans.

Especially LeDorze.

"I've never been on a cruise,” he told Princess Cruises. “I’ve never been to Alaska. This is unbelievable!"

His gesture was a fatherly thing to do for a young football fan experiencing such a low. Fittingly, the Crown Princess sail on Father’s Day.

Today at portsandbows.com: Features of the Carnival Vista

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
March 2, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $65

Will Holland America Fly Flag Of A Winner?

Ships and their flags? The days of skull-and-crossbones are long behind us…but for the occasional Johnny Depp movie. Cruise ships aren't identified so much by the flags they fly any more, although all of them fly flags, usually of the country in which they're registered. 

For Holland America ships, that would be the flag of The Netherlands. That figures, doesn't it?

This weekend, not so much. This weekend, Holland America ships in the Caribbean will (also) be flying the 12th Man Flag. Why, you ask, would ships registered in The 12thNetherlands be flying the flag associated with one of the teams playing in the Super Bowl?

If you have to ask, then you don't know that Holland America's head office is in Seattle…that the Seahawks are underdogs against the Denver Broncos on Sunday…and that the 12th Man is a tribute to Seattle's fans, noisy enough to be considered as influential as a 12th man in a game which plays only 11. 

Lots of them will be waving the flags in East Rutherford, New Jersey at 6 p.m. (EST) on Sunday…if they're not frozen stiff. And some cruisers will likely be watching the 12th Man Flag flap in the breeze.

And the only thing frozen will be the ice cubes in their drinks.

Royal Princess
7 nights
February 23, 2014 
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess CaysSt. ThomasSt. Maarten
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

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