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Golden Year For Princess Cruises

This isn’t excluding TMZ reporting, but is anybody out there concerned about the health of Tori Spelling because she has a job to do for Princess Cruises the first week of November?

The daughter of famous producer Aaron Spelling is scheduled to emcee a reunion of The Love Boat cast on the Regal Princess when it docks in North America on November 5. In Tori Spellingthe meantime, there have been (TMZ) reports that she was quarantined in a hospital “like an ebola patient” with what is now believed to be a sinus infection.

Such things generally take time to disappear and the countdown until the Princess event in Florida is currently 12 days. If she’s unable to make it (her dad produced The Love Boat), there will be plenty of talent on hand. The six major cast members from the legendary TV show are all going to be in Fort Lauderdale to christen the Regal Princess…and to be the ship’s “godparents.”

That would be Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki). And if any Love Boat crewof them is too busy smashing the champagne against the Regal’s bow, many other talented talkers are scheduled to be on deck, among them Florence HendersonDiane LaddDick Van PattenFrank Sinatra Jr.MacKenzie Phillips and Jack Jones.

Talk about bench strength!

* * *

On the subject of love on a boat…

Princess is marketing newlyweds to spend their honeymoons on a cruise ship by introducing a Honeymoon Wishes Registry, where couples can sign up and choose from a list of options that range from shore excursions to drinks by the pool. The cost of their choices is applied as an on-board credit to the honeymooners’ account.

This is the cruise line that made maritime and marriage history 16 years ago by having the captain join a bride and groom in marriage. According to Princess, it was the first time a ship’s captain had performed a wedding ceremony, and it has led to many weddings at sea, a “Tie The Knot” program on the ship and in ports and annual Valentine’s Day cruises of renewal vows.

And now…the Honeymoon Wishes Registry.

* * *

On the subject of anniversaries…

This is a big one for Princess. The cruise line’s 50th year begins the day after the Regal Princess is christened, November 6. The first Princess ship sailed down the coast of Mexico — like The Love Boat did so many times — on November 5, 1965.

The Golden Anniversary will be marked throughout 2015 with a lot of 50th anniversary themes. There will be Love Boat Disco Parties all year long. A golden balloon will drop in Regalthe atriums on every cruise. A special craft beer has been especially brewed for all Princess ships in the coming year and, along with inventive cocktails, will raise a toast called “Cheers To 50 Years.” Two 50th anniversary chocolate desserts have been created by the noted chocolatier Norman Love (hmm, did his surname help land this job?).

The campaign will be launched on the Regal Princess in 12 days.

Will Tori Spelling be able to enjoy it?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
10 nights
April 28, 2015
Baltimore (return): Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $783
Cost per day: $78

The Crazy World of Carnival Cruises

BreezeDo you hear the one about the cruise line that was being sued by the lawyer for passengers on a ship's "cruise from hell" even though the passengers weren't really on the ship?

It's not a joke. It's true. And here's one for the Ripley archives…yes, Carnival.

A Houston attorney named John Bruster Loyd — who must be important because a Google search prompts 18 quick hits — filed a suit against Carnival this month on behalf of clients Luke Cash and Ami "Summer" Gallagher, claiming they had been on the Triumph in February, when it spent five days more or less lifeless in the Gulf of Mexico.

Luke and Summer were in Texas at the time. They had a pre-paid wedding in Cozumel scheduled on a future Triumph cruise, which was canceled. The attorney forgot his clients hadn't been on the ship and, in the end, uttered those two words seldom uttered by a lawyer.

Mea culpa.

Only in Carnival's world.

* * *

And then there are the people who really want Carnival. Badly. They live in DominicaDominica, an island nation in the south-east Caribbean, and they haven't seen a Carnival ship in three years after their 21-year relationship went south.

They say the price of gas cut Carnival's commitment to Dominica and that there's no sign the absence of ships will change any time soon. For a nation that depends heavily on tourism and agriculture, this is a troubling situation.

The former tourism minister calls Carnival was the island's "most important economic partner." Given the "wanted" lists that Carnival seems to be on for all the wrong reasons, maybe the cruise line should think about going back to where its ships really are missed the most.

* * *

And one final note on Carnival…

It's the first major cruise line to implement a widespread reduction of fees that single travelers have to pay, with more deals than ever on multiple ships and multiple itineraries for the solo crowd.

Two questions:

1. Will more major lines follow suit?

2. Given that cruise lines rarely do these things if they're sold out, does this mean Carnival is simply trying to put more heads in more beds?

Norwegian Pearl
20 nights
April 18, 2014
Miami, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Puntarenas, Puerto ChiapasHuatulcoPuerto VallartaSan DiegoLos AngelesSan FranciscoVictoriaVancouver
Inside: $1,359
Cost per day: $67

Brangelina's Wedding Cruise

Breaking news…Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are hoping to get married on a cruise ship.

Not so fast, star chaser.

It's not a cruise ship you're going to be on, unless you're among the 50 people who are the invited guests. That's right…five-oh…50.

And if you think this most celebrated bride and bridegroom are leasing Oasis of the Seas — or more appropriately the "Celebrity" Solstice — for the event, think again.

How about the Hebridean Princess?

This is a ship that regularly sails in and out of Scottish ports and celebrity guests are not new to it. Queen Elizabeth paid a reported £125,000 to take her Royals on a family vacation three years ago, and four years before that when the whole gang was on board to help her blow out 80 candles.

There is no date for the wedding…there never is for celebrities of this caliber, in the hope that nobody will notice. Their plans were to make it official later this summer in France, where they live, until their 11-year-old son Maddox suggested a Scottish cruise. It's possible that "this summer" will require a date change, or appeasing Hebridean Princess guests not on the 'A' list because cruises for this one-time car ferry are currently being sold  on the website right into September.

Brangelina, as the world calls them, are said to be paying more than twice as much (£300,000) as the Queen did and, more than her, they hope to avoid the paparazzi, because they can't swim and take pictures at the same time. They can, however, ride on boats in the same waters and take pictures so you can be sure there will be a rush on small-craft rentals once the departure date leaks out, and it will.

Just as news of Maddox's plan did.

Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie photo by Eva Rinaldi

Carnival Legend
12 nights
September 13, 2013
London (return): Stavanger, Edinburgh, Invergordon, Glasgow, BelfastDublinParis
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $58

Cruise Clientele Luck of the Draw?

A few years ago we were on the Carnival Ecstasy and noticed there was a wedding party on board. It's fairly typical for Carnival to have a lot of parties on its ships, wedding and otherwise, so it came as no surprise that a young couple decided to tie the knot on a ship.

On the same ships were a significant  numbers of gays.

"Great," the bride was overheard to say in a not-so-stage whisper. "I'll be able to go home and tell my friends I had a bunch of gays at my wedding."

Her remark was uncalled for and insensitive, to say the least. But it is an example of not knowing, when you board a cruise ship, who else might be on board.

Like this one…

A family of four — husband, wife, son, daughter — was on the 3,600-passenger Freedom of the Seas. The cruise was to celebrate Mom's 50th birthday. Also at "her party" were 2,500 bikers, there to celebrate their "High Seas Rally."

Now bikers have as much right to go on a cruise as any of us, and for the most part these things are luck of the draw. However, the birthday girl's description of events would likely evoke sympathy from even the most insensitive of passengers.

Here's what she claimed the bikers did:

• Wore explicit T-shirts

• Fought

• Had sex in hot tubs

• Monopolized the swimming pools with rowdy competitions

• Generally made an excessive amount of noise

• Participated in heavy drinking, day and night

• Caused a departure to be two hours late because so many bikers were still on shore

The family, which was from England and flew to board the Freedom of the Seas in Florida, thought it would have been proper for Royal Caribbean to have warned one-third of the passengers that two-thirds of the passengers were bikers without their Harleys.

Where does that end?

Should a cruise line caution passengers that a ship will have a huge number of kids on board? Or nuns? Or lawyers? Or ethnic groups — pick one? Or teenagers? Or old people? The list goes on and on. In the end, it is luck of the draw and it's not the responsibility of the cruise line to decide, in advance, who might be offended when a large group is on a ship.

The only thing Royal Caribbean did wrong, in our view, was hold the ship for the bikers who were late for the departure time.

Then again, would you make bikers mad?

Norwegian Gem
7 nights
October 5, 2013
New York (return): Halifax, Saint John, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport
Oceanview: $439
Cost per day: $62

Getting Married the Cunard Way

If we didn’t know better, we’d say with just a drip of sarcasm that the reason it took Cunard 172 years to do weddings on their ships, it’s because they wanted to get it right.

The real reason, however, is that British law prohibited weddings on British ships. When one of its stablemates, Carnival, had more than two thousand wedding ceremonies on its ships the people at Cunard realized what they’ve been missing. So they re-registered their three ships (Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth) in Bermuda, allowing them to bypass British law.

If you want to ask why it took Cunard 172 years to realize that, go right ahead.

Despite the uproar (relatively speaking) in Great Britain — the ships were, after all, named after and christened by members of the Royal Family — Cunard and its three “Bermuda” ships are now offering couples the chance to get married the Cunard way.

What’s the Cunard way?

Only one wedding per day. This is an exclusive club, and two would erode that exclusivity. A wedding co-ordinator to hold the hands that will bear the rings. A hairdresser, make-up person and manicurist. Photographers to capture the moments digitally, both still and video. A reception, of course.

Oh yes, and luxury, because that is always the Cunard way.

More couples are turning to the sea for their wedding days. Cruise-ship demands are up 60 per cent over the last decade, and often the reason is financial. A Cunard wedding costs $2,500 plus $575 for the marriage license, and no doubt there are avenues of up-sell…i.e., a harpist. But, like all weddings at sea, you find out who really wants to be a guest when they pony up the cost of going on a cruise so they can be there for your big day.

And if you do it the Cunard way, it really is…well, a “royal wedding.”

Holland America Zaandam
22 nights
April 15, 2012
Kobe, Kagoshima and Nagasaki (Japan), Busan (South Korea), Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk, (Russia), Kodiak, Glacier Bay and Sitka (Alaska), Prince Rupert (BC), Inside Passage, Vancouver
Inside $1,649

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