IMG_0338While innovative programs, like Norwegian Cruise Line’s single traveler cabins, are popping up, some lines offer other options for solo travelers. Holland American Line is one such cruise line!

Holland America Line’s Single Partners Program provides a way for a solo guest to share a stateroom with
another same-sex single, so each pay only the per-person, double occupancy rate!

  • If a partner is not available, the guest cruises solo at the agreed-upon double-occupancy fare
  • The program applies to selected staterooms on all ships in the fleet
  • Single guests who prefer not to share a stateroom may book a double stateroom for 150 to 200 percent of the double occupancy fare, depending on the cruise and stateroom category
  • The Single Partners Program is not available on Grand Voyages (Grand World Voyage, South America & Antarctic Voyage and Mediterranean & North Africa Voyage) or Alaska Land+Sea Journeys.

The program lets singles connect with each other through special events and activities onboard and creates a camaraderie that makes it easy to meet other singles. Highlights of Holland America Line’s Single Partners Program include:

  • Solo travelers party for singles to meet each other early during their cruise, hosted on all Holland
    America ships
  • Mixers, cocktail parties and games to let singles connect with each other
  • More than 40 activities to meet other singles such as exercise classes, computer instruction, enriching lectures (select sailings), line dance class, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, Team Trivia contests, the daily quiz and sports challenges
  • Social Hosts to welcome single women guests to dinner and provide dancing partners on select cruises 40 days or longer, excluding Collector’s Voyages
  • Dinner seating with other singles by advance request

Cruise Lines International Association (C.L.I.A.) reports that the Cruise Industry is going to invest $8 billion on 24 new cruise ships through 2015! C.L.I.A. noted that its global fleet is now comprised of 410 ships, up from 393 one year ago, and the introduction of 24 additional ships will meet growing demand. This $8 billion capital investment will add capacity for another 37,546 passengers. By the way, if you count river cruising, the number goes up to 49 new ships between now and the end of 2015 (note: several river cruise ships will be removed from service).

Click for larger view.

Click graphic for larger view.

The Busiest Ports

Most of the world’s busiest ports remain in the Caribbean Sea, which were featured on more than a third of all global itineraries last year. The Mediterranean (19% of the market) and Northern Europe (12% of the market) were not far behind. Australia, with 22% growth, and Asia, with 32% growth, are catching up.

Where Are You Coming From?

C.L.I.A. also reports that 55% of all cruise passengers (last year) were from North America. International source markets demonstrated accelerated demand for cruising, and with a staggering 185% growth over the past five years, Scandinavia has seen the largest increase in interest, followed by Australia (130%), Brazil (85%) and Germany (80%).

 

The view from aboard the Allure of the Seas as she departs from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The view from aboard the Allure of the Seas as she departs from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The Cruise Customer Experience includes so many factors: research, the booking process, on-board experience, flight (getting to the port) and much more. But, what about the time leading up to your next cruise, the period from the time you make deposits (or final payments) to the time you begin your trek to the port? Sure, there’s dieting (maybe?), shopping, researching ports of call and excursions, online check-in, but, what if you could get a bit of a cruise fix in between times of the actual cruise?

If you live near a port city, you can actually visit port inlets and view the cruise ships as they depart for their journeys. You can view them as they arrive, too, but that is typically before the sun comes up! There is also YouTube, of course, where thousands of cruise videos can be found. Videos ranging from corporate marketing pieces to those created by passengers and crew.

Then, there’s my favorite…Live Webcams, particularly cams providing live, moving video. Below I have provided links to several active webcams. The PortCams are particularly interesting, as they are in HD and provide Live Video, great for cruise ship fans and boating/yachting buffs alike. Enjoy!

PORT WEBCAMS

CRUISE SHIP WEBCAMS

Note: With some of the Cruise Line links above, you will have to choose the ship first, then, if the ship has a Cam, click on the Cam link.  Once again, Enjoy!!

GetawayCamera2smallYesterday during a ceremony in Bremerhaven, Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the 145,655 gross ton cruise ship, Norwegian Getaway, from Meyer Werft after a building period of only 15 months. This is the second of two Breakaway-class ships, and is being delivered only nine months after the launch of sister ship Norwegian Breakaway. The ship will be christened in Miami on February 7.

Before her arrival into Port of Miami, Norwegian said it had arranged a private charter of the 4,000-passenger ship in New York from January 29 to February 5. Those dates overlap with the 2014 Super Bowl, which is being played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, on February 2. Her first week-long cruise (and inaugural Caribbean cruise from Miami), takes place on February 8 (Saturday to Saturday).

Here are Some Additional Highlights

  • Nestor Torres

    Nestor Torres

    Latin GRAMMY® Award winner Nestor Torres will headline Norwegian Getaway’s GRAMMY® Experience at Sea.  Torres is the first artist to join Norwegian’s newest ship as part of the line’s partnership with The Recording Academy® that named the line “Official Cruise Line Partner of the GRAMMY Awards®

  • Norwegian Getaway will feature a new lunchtime entertainment experience for guests, WINE LOVERS THE MUSICAL
  • Norwegian Getaway will feature several restaurants and bars that evoke the tropical feel of Miami and South Florida. The Tropicana Room, Flamingo Bar & Grill, Sunset Bar and Sugarcane Bar will be new and unique additions to the largest ship to homeport in Miami year-round
  • Master Baker Buddy Valastro, star of the popular TLC television series “Cake Boss” and “Next Great Baker,” will open his second Carlo’s Bake Shop at sea on the new Norwegian Getaway
  • Entrance into the Illusionarium

    Entrance into the Illusionarium

    Seven-time Tony Award nominated musical LEGALLY BLONDE will be featured on Norwegian Getaway, along with an additional Broadway show: the dance sensation BURN THE FLOOR, and an all-new stand-up comedy program in partnership with Levity Entertainment Group, the largest producer of comedians in the world.  The line also introduced all of the varied and exciting entertainment acts and venues that will debut on the ship, including Howl at the Moon at Headliners Comedy Club. These exciting entertainment experiences are in addition to Norwegian Getaway’s Illusionarium and Grammy Experience.

These are just a few of the highlights and innovations on board the Norwegian Getaway. You can experience much more at Norwegian Cruise Line’s website!

fclogotitleembeddedOne of our previous Facebook polls centered around how you arrive to the home port. While many of you live close to major cruise port cities, the majority of our FB fans fly in a day or two early. We found a great web resource which focuses on topics that directly affect your aviation custome experience! It is flightchic.com. Check it out!

Duty-free shopping!

Duty-free shopping!

Here is a brief refresher for veteran cruisers, and potentially new information for those new to cruising. Having this knowledge with regards to U.S. Customs declarations (when cruising round-trip from the U.S.) can only help to enhance your Cruise Customer Experience, and eliminate unwanted surprises. If you do cruise out of the U.S. and return to the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), you’ll need to clear Customs at the end of your cruise.

Cruise lines usually distribute Customs forms on the second to last day of your trip. You need to fill out a form identifying yourself (one form per family/household), declaring how much you spent abroad on items that you are bringing into the U.S. Play it safe and keep receipts for items you are bringing back.

The process of clearing Customs at the port is usually easy and rather quick; you hand off your form and walk through! However, there are restrictions regarding what you can bring in.

The standard duty-free allowance is $800 per person (it raises to $1,600 for goods purchased in the U.S. Virgin Islands). If you spend greater amounts, you’ll need to declare it and pay the duty. Alcohol is limited to 1 liter per adult. Cigarettes are limited to 1 carton per adult while cigars are limited to 100 total (no Cubans, or you will face stiff fines if caught!). Fresh fruit and vegetables (including those from the ship), plants and most meats and meat products are not permitted whatsoever.

For specific instructions, visit the U.S. Customs website.