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Cunard Cocktails…And All That Jazz

A good part of being successful in the cruise business, or any business for that matter, is knowing your clientele.

For Cunard that means The Savoy, Jack Daniel’s and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

It may be news to you, as it was to us, that “The Savoy” stands for Savoy Beaufort Bar — last year chosen the Best International Bar and now the inspiration for Age of Discovery. What’s Age of Discovery? A specially created (by the team at The Savoy), barrel-aged, limited edition cocktail.

Clearly, that appeals to Cunard’s clientele.

That’s where Jack comes in. One of Jack’s barrels will be on the Queen Mary 2 and from it Dee Dee Bridgewaterwill be poured the Age of Discovery. This will happen on the ship’s four-month World Voyage, 50 weeks from now, and if you’re thinking that one barrel of Jack Daniel’s won’t last four months, welcome to the club.

The barrel holds 300 litres, and you can only assume Cunard will have a generous supply of Age of Discovery to re-fill it.

Dee Dee Bridgewater?

She’ll be on the Queen Mary 2 as well, but not next January. She’s part of a different Cunard theme, the one that attracts jazz lovers to cruise ships. An industry icon with three Grammys, a Tony and credentials as a United Nationals Goodwill Ambassador as part of her resume, the jazz legend will board the ship in New York for one of its crossings to Southampton.

During the 7-night cruise the last week of October, she’ll play three intimate shows in a week designed to attract the jazz crowd. In a career now more than four decades long, she recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and played Billie Holiday on stage.

Also performing will be the International Jazz Artist of the Year, Gregory Porter. If his name is unfamiliar, it matters little. The jazz aficionados know and that is Cunard’s clientele…at least for the last week of November.

In the news…

• Holland America’s Eurodam passengers first to experience upgrades
• Royal Caribbean scraps some improvements for Majesty of the Seas
• Protests in Haitian waters forces Freedom of the Seas to take a pass

Today at portsandbows.comStar Wars Days on Disney Fantasy

Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas
3 nights
April 4, 2016
Miami (return): Nassau, CocoCay
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $73

Around the World for How Much a Day?

If we're reading this correctly, you can go around the world in 180 days on the Oceania Insignia — that's 44 countries and 89 ports —  in an all-in cruise that includes 2-for-1 fares, first-class airfare, pre-paid gratuities, free luggage valet and free medical service on the ship.

For $40,000.

Now before you choke on your oatmeal, think about what you would spend if you didn't go around the world in 180 days.

May we hypothesize…

Food: Two people for six months? In our house, that's about $600 a month. Savings for six months…$3,600.

Accommodation: More assumptions to make, and these will vary wildly by where you live. But let's say your mortgage payment is $2,000 a month and that you can rent out your home for the same amount. Or if you happen to be "between homes" you would save all of that plus maintenance, minus the cost of storing your furniture. Either way, projected savings for six months…$12,000. 

Transportation: It's reasonable to assume that driving your car costs $500 a month for gas, $100 a month for insurance. Even with no repairs, savings for six months…$3,600.

Entertainment: Again, everybody is different. Restaurant meals, green fees, the odd theater or concert ticket…would $300 a month be reasonable? Savings for six months…$1,800.

Medical: Depending on the depth of Oceania's medical coverage, you could cancel that travel insurance that's costing you $100 a month. Savings for six months…$600.

Vacation: Perhaps you'd take a two-week holiday once every six months and a rough guess us you'd spend a couple of hundred dollars a day more than you would spend if you stayed home. Savings for six months…$2,800.

Yes, it's highly subjective. Highly speculative. Highly unlikely those exact figures would apply to you. But it doesn't take a mathematician to figure it out for yourself.

Using these hypothetical savings, you're at more than $24,000. Now the price tag for that all-world cruise is suddenly $16,000 a couple ($8,000 each)…to see 44 countries and 89 ports.

That's less than $50 per day, per person.

The Insignia leaves Lisbon on January 10, 2015, and all those extra apply only if you book it by the end of August, six weeks from now.

Yes, there are shore excursions, but you can control that. There may even be some costs that aren't readily identified by Oceania.  However, when you look at the bang for your buck, this cruise has great appeal.

It just means doing a 180…for a 180.

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
September 6, 2013
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, JuneauSkagway, Icy Strait Point, KetchikanVancouver
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Long Cruise…Short List of Passengers

Not long ago we read about a passenger who went on a "Love Boat" cruise..to 18 countries…on a ship that carries just 710 passengers…for 87 days. This was on a P&O ship, the Adonia, and it prompted us to see what the ship is currently offering in theway of a cruise where so few people are together for so long.

The best (?) one we found is from Southampton to Southampton. In between are 48 ports in 26 countries and almost four months on the ship. Still with 710 passengers.

This is P&O's Asian Grand Adventure and if "Grand" to you means visiting places called Ceuta (that's in Spain), Aqaba (Jordan), Yangon (Burma) and Nha Trang (Vietnam)…well, you're both more erudite and wealthier than we are. For sure, this would be "an experience" and the price for this one starts at $10,229 pounds. Or $15,669.48. Per person.

Now if that sounds like a lot of money, break it down to a per diem. How does $139.91 per-person, per-day sound?

That's hardly outrageous when you think about going from England to Japan and back. Even three and a half months on a ship is okay. It's just the 710-passenger thing…

By the time you get back to Southampton, you'd be like family…and who wants a family that big?

Okay…the Adonia leaves January 7.

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
August 24, 2013
Jacksonville (return): Half  Moon CayNassau
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $44

Photo credit: Trondheim Havn

Who Cruises for 115 Days?

If you have been reading us for a while, you may or may not recall that the longest cruise we’ve been on was 19 days. You may even remember that we liked it, and felt a little melancholy at being separated from our home on the water, the Norwegian Sun.

In short, we didn’t think it was too long.

This week, we came across a news release from Holland America, promoting its Grand World Voyage in January 2013 (cruise lines like to give you lots of time to plan). The Amsterdam (above) leaves Fort Lauderdale on the sixth day of the New Year, docking at the same place 40 ports and 115 days later.

Think about that…115 days. That’s six times longer than our longest cruise. Six times!

Who goes on these cruises?

People who are between homes? Between spouses? Lonely? Trying to escape reality?

One thing they are is rich. Holland America’s cheapest state room, presumably an inside room, costs $20,000 for that little junket, and that’s only if there are two of you in it. That’s $174 a day. Each. It doesn’t include gratuities or taxes or insurance or getting to and from Fort Lauderdale.

Just for fun, we checked the cost of one of these around-the-world voyages on Cunard, the most regal and often most expensive of cruise lines. A 106-day cruise on the Queen Mary 2 (above) in January 2013 starts at $20,000, or $188 per day. Yes, each.

The Amsterdam has circled the globe eight times. In 2013, that number will be 10. Grand Voyage No. 9 is about eight weeks from now, from Fort Lauderdale, and the price is about the same for 112 days — $20,899. If you’d like an oceanview it’s $4,000 more. A balcony is $18,000 more.

There’s still space available…if you have 20 grand and think you can survive three months in an inside state room with somebody else.

By comparison, 19 days was a piece of cake.

Seabourn Sojourn
14 nights
December 5, 2011
Santiago to Buenos Aires
Oceanview $3,999

Six Cruise Lines' Look at the World

When Holland America announced the other day its 2011 and early 2012 “Grand Voyages”, the first question that popped into our minds — given that like most North Americans we do have a travel budget so we’re always shopping for bargains — was this:

“How do you know if one of these exotic, expensive, multi-month cruises is a good deal?”

So we did a little research on “world” cruises. Unless we’ve missed someone, there are five other cruise lines that offer something that could be described as a universal cruise, while not necessarily a trip around the world.

The other five are Cunard, P&O, Princess, Regent and Seabourn. To qualify, a cruise line had to offer itineraries of 100 days or more.

While all offer different ports, countries, experiences, dining options, shore excursions, etc., we made it just a dollars-and-cents issue. How much to get on the ship?

At times it felt a bit like comparing rowboats and aircraft carriers, and perhaps at times we did. However, everybody who’s been on one knows that cruise ships are rarely, if ever, bad, so there’s a certain comfort with the level of quality. Given that, here were the top five “world cruises” based on per-night, per-person costs:

1. P&O Oriana (above), January 2012, 97 days, $122
2. P&O Aurora, January 2012, 98 days, $124
3. P&O Arcadia, January 2012, 109 days, $128
(Are you seeing a trend here?)
4. Holland America Amsterdam, January 2011, 110 days, $162
5. Holland America Amsterdam (below), January 2012, 112 days, $178

Obviously, we’re also talking about ships of different sizes, and some people prefer the bigger Amsterdam to the P&O cruise ships, or vice-versa.

Cunard’s best performer is the Queen Mary 2, at $195 a night for a January 2012 cruise that lasts 108 days. Princess’s Pacific is just over $200 for 2011 and 2012 cruises of 107 days. Regent’s top performer is a 145-day Voyager cruise that includes air and a bunch of extras. Luxury, small-ship brands Seabourn and Crystal are both well over $400 a night for world cruises.

You think there’s no market for this type of cruising? For the P&O cruise that leaves Southampton next month, there’s not a stateroom available on the Oriana.

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