panama

 

 

 

 

Panama Canal Season Begins

The Panama Canal cruise ship season has “officially” begun with the transit of the Coral Princess, on a repositioning voyage from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale. The Panama Canal Authority said it expects approximately 200 cruise ships to transit through the canal during this season that spans from October 2014 to April 2015.

 

Local Banks to Finance Port of Galveston Cruise Terminal Expansion

Three Galveston County community banks have worked together on financing for a $13 million expansion of the Port of Galveston’s Cruise Terminal No. 2. Texas First Bank, HomeTown Bank and Moody National Bank each pitched in for the unique funding package for the expansion of Cruise Terminal No. 2 to accommodate larger vessels and more passengers.Galveston

When completed next spring, Cruise Terminal No. 2 will feature 150,000 square feet of space and have a seating capacity of 1,600 passengers. The port currently handles over one million cruise passengers a year and is the 4th busiest cruise port in the nation–and ranks among the top 20 in the world.

 

Princess Launches 50th Anniversary “Inspiring Stories” Contest

Princess Cruises has announced that it is inviting past guests to join in celebrating its 50th anniversary by participating in an “Inspiring Stories” essay contest, sharing a moving experience that occurred on a Princess cruise vacation. The winner will ride on the line’s first-ever float in The Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

The author of the winning entry, and up to three guests featured in the story, will be awarded a four-day trip to Pasadena, Calif., to join the cast members of The Love Boat as they “cruise” down the five-and-a-half-mile parade route on January 1, 2015.

 

First Tattoo Theme Cruise Set for April 2015 on Royal Caribbean

The first-ever tattoo-themed North American cruise, Ink or Swim, will sail April 16 – 20, 2015 from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. The first annual cruise will offer guests the exclusive opportunity to sail the high seas while getting ‘fresh ink’ from some of the most in-demand artists in the country, as well attend exclusive Ink or Swim events including onboard Burlesque shows, tattoo contests, complimentary photo shoots and a private beach party in Cozumel.

 

Holland America to Mexico and Hawaii this Coming Season

cruises-hawaii_596x334
Holland America Line is promoting its cruises to Hawaii and Mexico on a variety of itineraries ranging from seven to 18 days from this fall through spring (2015).

 

 

Carnival Announces Spring Live Concerts

Cruising has never sounded so good, according to Carnival Cruise Lines, which today unveiled its new Carnival LIVE Concert Series roster for spring 2015, bringing more of “the best live music to sea from some of most popular and highly requested music acts.” Coming onboard in the first part of next year will be Journey, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Smokey Robinson, and Styx, back by popular demand for the second season, Carnival said.

 

P&O Offers Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights

P&O Cruises is offering an opportunity to witness two natural phenomena in one holiday; to see a total solar eclipse and, with luck, spot the elusive aurora borealis. Exclusively for adults, the Oriana’s will sail 14 nights roundtrip from Southampton on March 17, 2015 to the Faroe Islands and northern Norway.

(News compiled from cruise company press releases, Cruise Industry News and Tourism Boards)

Here is a brief recap of headlines from the cruise industry, for the past week:

Princess Mobile App

Regal Princess guests will have the opportunity to connect with their fellow cruisers with the debut of Princess@Sea Messenger, a free mobile messenger feature offering guests an easy way to share updates and make plans during their cruise vacation.

The Princess@Sea Messenger is integrated in the complimentary Princess@Sea mobile app, accessed via a smartphone or tablet browser. It debuts on Regal Princess in November and will be rolled out to all cruise ships in the entire fleet by the end of 2015.

Norwegian Escape Goodies

She'll be here before you know it!

She’ll be here before you know it!

Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week that Norwegian Escape will incorporate The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place.

This concept includes an oceanfront boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars and shops, combined with three expansive, flowing decks of dining, bars, entertainment, gaming and more.  The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place have taken cruising to new heights and offer an unparalleled experience with a unique connection to the ocean.  Norwegian Escape is currently under construction and is scheduled for delivery in October 2015.

Cruise Ship Arrivals to Puerto Vallarta Increase by 43 Percent

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board announced that the Pacific seaport city of Puerto Vallarta will see 118 cruises call on its shores this year, 43% over 2013 when 81 cruises called the port.

Puerto Vallarta!

Puerto Vallarta!

Puerto Vallarta will welcome 52 cruises from September through December of this year, which added to the 64 already touched Vallarta waters will reach a total of 116, 81 more than the received arrivals last year.

A total of 141 cruises have already confirmed stations to Puerto Vallarta for 2015, including Carnival will call on the destination throughout the year with the Coral Princess being the first on September 26. Carnival represents 34% of arrivals; Princess 20%; Norwegian 19% and Holland American 16%.

Royal Asian Cruises, New Cruise Line, Set to Start Service from Sri Lanka

Royal Asian Cruises has signed an agreement with the Board of Investment in Sri Lanka to launch a luxury cruise line in Sri Lanka.

Royal Asian Cruises [RAC], which currently has offices in the US and in India, will invest US$200 million over the years in the Sri Lankan venture. It will also acquire and operate two vessels over the course of 2016.

Carnival Miracle to Start Year-Round Mexican Riviera Program Next Week

Carnival Miracle departed Saturday, Oct. 4 from Long Beach, Calif., on the first voyage of a new year-round cruise program to the Mexican Riviera.  The ship will be the first to call at Cabo San Lucas on October 6 following Hurricane Odile and will be loaded with relief supplies provided by Carnival for local residents.

Carnival Miracle’s new year-round Mexican Riviera program will encompass three different week-long itineraries, including a new three-port, seven-day cruise featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival Corp. Releases Results of Multi-Year Fuel Conservation Program

Carnival Corporation & plc the world’s largest cruise company, released the results of its multi-year Fleet Fuel Conservation Program that by the end of 2014 will have saved more than one billion gallons of fuel and reduced fleet carbon emissions by 12 billion kilograms over a seven year period.

By the end of 2014, Carnival Corporation’s Fleet Fuel Conservation Program will have improved the fleet’s overall fuel efficiency by 24 percent compared to 2007, while saving approximately $2.5 billion in fuel costs, the company’s single biggest expense. Carnival Corporation announced the results of its fuel conservation efforts in conjunction with a National Press Club event celebrating world tourism today in Washington, D.C.

Carnival to Create New ‘Spin U’ DJ Academy For Teens

Carnival Cruise Lines has teamed up with DJ IRIE – the official DJ of Carnival and the Miami HEAT – to create Spin U, a new shipboard DJ academy exclusively for teens ages 15-17.

carnival

Queen Mary 2 to Bring Home a Very Special Cargo

When Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 arrives in Southampton on Wednesday October 8, she will bring home a very special cargo item – the final sandbag to make the journey from the First World War cemeteries in Belgium, containing soil from those cemeteries to create a Flanders Field Memorial Garden.

Four Carnival Ships Earn Perfect 100 Health Inspection Scores in Past Month

Four Carnival Cruise Lines ships have earned perfect 100 scores on their most recent public health inspections this past month.

Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph each scored 100 on their respective United States Public Health (U.S.P.H.) inspections, while Carnival Splendor earned a perfect score during its inspection by Health Canada.  This marks the 12th time a Carnival ship has earned a perfect health inspection score this year.

Princess Delivers Relief Supplies to Cabo San Lucas

Star Princess called on Cabo San Lucas this past Saturday, Oct. 4, for the first time following Hurricane Odile and brought needed relief supplies to area residents impacted by the storm. The Princess cruise ship delivered pallets of bottled water, milk and paper products, among other supplies.

(News compiled from cruise company press releases, Cruise Industry News and Tourism Boards)

It seems Bermuda has a plan; one which it hopes will help lure additional amounts of cruise ships to visit the beautiful island.

Next time, there will be people in this photo!

Next time, there will be people in this photo!

In their most recent attempt at allowing cruise ships’ casinos to open while in port, the Bermuda Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013 passed last October. On-board casinos can now operate between 9pm and 5am, in return for a license fee per ship payable to the Bermuda Government. Smaller ships, with a passenger capacity not exceeding 2,000, would not be charged the fee. It is interesting because Bermuda has seen a decline in attracting smaller, high-end cruise ships. The Parliament feels the exemption would encourage more visits.

Bermuda from above!

Bermuda from above!

At the same time, Bermuda does not want to discourage the larger, newer vessels; ships like the forthcoming Quantum-class of Royal Caribbean, for example. In the news recently, Parliament is investigating ways in which narrow channels can be widened to enable mega-cruise ships to visit Bermuda. In order to allow bigger liners access, Parliament is considering realigning either the North or South Channel or upgrading the existing route of the South Channel.

Whether you are a fan of mega-ships or not, the real news here is the fact that Bermuda is open to all of this. In past years, Bermuda has had some of the most stringent policies regarding what cruise companies may and may not do while visiting. It seems the  Bermuda Cruise Ship (Casino) Act is a sign of things to come.

We have some news, with the help of Cruise Industry News, coming out of 2014 Cruise Shipping Miami yesterday:

4th Quantum Class Ship for Royal Caribbean?

RCCI's Quantum Class cruise ship.

RCCI’s Quantum Class cruise ship.

It isn’t a done deal, but it was overheard that a contract for a fourth Quantum-class ship may become reality.
Our thoughts: We like the Quantum-concept, but hopefully Royal Caribbean will find a way to give each sister ship her own identity. The Oasis and the Allure, for instance, are pretty close to being identical twins, versus fraternal twins.

Norwegian Escape Home Port and Hull Art

Norwegian Escape with its hull art to be designed by Guy Harvey. She'll homeport in Miami year-round.

Norwegian Escape with its hull art to be designed by Guy Harvey. She’ll homeport in Miami year-round.

NCL announced the Norwegian Escape will home port year-round in Miami, and that the hull art is to be designed by Guy Harvey.
Our thoughts: One of the nicer, less gaudy works of art for the hull. And, when is NCL going to position a ship in Fort Lauderdale, even if for half the year?  And we thought Carnival took forever on this.

Faster Internet Delayed

A diagram of the O3b satellite.

A diagram of the O3b satellite.

The much hyped O3b satellite internet was destined to launch on the Oasis and Allure of the Seas in late 2013. A bit behind, but still on target to debut aboard, according to a source familiar with the start-up satellite firm. Low-orbiting satellites have been launched and provide more bandwidth and less latency, but are extremely complicated to operate and manage. Royal Caribbean expects to introduce its O3b service later this year.
Our thoughts: Better late than never. High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but an everyday part of life for many, particularly those with the means to spend money on travel. This should have been done, on all brands, a long time ago.

The Port of Newcastle, Australia

Port of Newcastle, Australia.

Port of Newcastle, Australia.

The Port of Newcastle in Australia is going after itinerary planners with a new stunning coffee table book presenting the port (check it out here). Among top layout and photography, the book presents a number of arguments to bringing a ship to Newcastle – showing off the Australian destination’s features.
Our thoughts: We love new. We love different. In addition to customer service, the two best ways to lure repeat passengers is to provide innovations fleet-wide and exciting, new itineraries.

The NCL Sky did have an atrium, but you still couldn't "cross-over" to some areas without going up one deck, then back down.

The NCL Sky did have an atrium, but you still couldn’t “cross-over” to some areas without going up one deck, then back down.

Well, I think it is, if it is used properly. I am speaking of cruise ships, of course, and the ongoing debate on passengers’ preferences with regards to ship size and passenger space.

I’ve maintained mixed feelings about this for years, ever since setting foot on the first 100,000-plus ton cruise ship, the Carnival Destiny. But, this past weekend after sailing onboard the Norwegian Sky, I think I’ve made up my mind.

The newer, larger ships are quite simply easier to navigate, to get to where you want to go. Sure, there is more walking involved, but for the most part the public spaces are accessible without having to master the art of the maze.

This past weekend alone brought back memories to cruising yesteryear, when you had to go up a deck, cross over, and then back down to get to, say, one of the dining rooms. We had to do this on the NCL Sky, a ship built “way back” in 1999. While the ships today are getting larger (a downer for some), a direct shot to all of the public spaces is pretty much the standard.

What do you think?

Holland America Line's Veendam

Holland America Line’s Veendam

Well, news has surfaced that a Holland America ship returned with a NoroVirus outbreak. You know from my post last week that I don’t think it’s news, since Norovirus is an extremely common issue in the United States alone. I know…I know…why am I writing about it if I feel this way?

I reiterate…outbreaks occur on cruises mostly because of an infected person coming on board in the first place. Think about it…you put in for vacation time and save up money to take a cruise vacation with your family. The cruise is drawing near, and finally, the day has come…it’s go time. But, you feel a little something…a tingle in your throat, a nagging cough, or perhaps something else. You hand in your bags and go park the car, and you finally make your way to the first counter, where you have to fill out the Health Declaration Form. What are you going to write? Are you going to disclose that you possibly have the onset of flu, or something else? Are you going to risk being turned away, placing the entire trip (for you and your party) in jeopardy?

I am not condoning an omission…I am merely being realistic!

And, speaking of the mandatory Health Declaration Form, let’s take a look at the signing process. Thousands of people signing an “Okay To Sail” clearance form, using the same (provided) pens! So, if there are passengers hiding something, there is the potential to spread (whatever it is) during the embarkation process alone, regardless of your ship’s CDC Grade for cleanliness! Ah, the irony…potentially becoming ill, while signing that you are not!

MEDIA SPINNING A STORY…AGAIN

The article about the Veendam is quick to mention that the ship received a failing grade (as part of the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program) back in September. What the article does not mention is that there were no reported illnesses at that time, and that this most recent report comes after Holland America’s Veendam received a score 99 (out of 100). Yet, passengers still fell ill.

OK, cue my eye roll.

It’s going to be short and sweet today. I’m just tired of the media making a big deal every time a person (or persons) get sick on a cruise ship. Here are a couple of figures from the CDC:

The average number of people who get Norovirus (annually)  in the United States is 19-21 MILLION.
The number of people (passengers AND crew) who got sick on cruise ships in 2013…2,315.  Once again, 2, 315!

It’s awful, and you feel miserable when it happens…I get it. I understand that! But what about city subway systems? Libraries? Airplanes? Department stores? I could go on. And, it is going to be very difficult to convince me that any of these (and other) places are monitored for cleanliness greater than cruise ships! No matter where, we are having to rely on human beings to stay away from others when sick…and that seldom happens! OK, rant completed…almost…

2,315!

We have lots of Royal Caribbean 2015 deployment news today, so that you may begin your long range planning. Please find it all listed below, categorized by ship:

Independence_of_the_SeasIndependence of the Seas:

  • April 19 (6-nights) Western Caribbean (Round trip Ft. Lauderdale/Georgetown, Grand Caymen/Falmouth, Jamaica/Labadee, Haiti)
  • April 25 (8-nights) Eastern Caribbean (Round trip Ft. Lauderdale/Philipsburg, St. Maarten/Basseterre, St. Kitts/San Juan, Puerto Rico/Labadee, Haiti)
  • May 3-October 25 (7-nights alternating East/West Caribbean, Round trip from Ft. Lauderdale)
    East: San Juan, Puerto Rico/Philipsburg, St. Maarten/Basseterre, St. Kitts
    West: Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cozumel, Mexico
  • November 1 (6-nights) Western Caribbean (Round trip Ft. Lauderdale/Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman

oasisOasis of the Seas:

  • June 6-October 31 (7-nights alternating East/West Caribbean, Round trip from Ft. Lauderdale)  (except October 17, 2015)
    East: Nassau, Bahamas/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas/Philipsburg, St. Maarten
    West: Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Cozumel, Mexico
  • October 21 (3-night Bahamas Getaway round trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas)

Freedom of the Seas:

  • June 7-October 25 (7-nights alternating East/West Caribbean, Round trip from Port Canaveral, FL.)
    East: CocoCay, Bahamas/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas/Philipsburg, St. Maarten
    West: Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cozumel, Mexico

Grandeur_of_the_SeasGrandeur of the Seas:

  • 5/8; 5/22; 6/5; 6/19; 7/13; 7/17; 7/31; 8/14: (7-night Bermuda fr. Baltimore with 2-nights at King’s Wharf, Bermuda)
  • 5/15; 5/29; 6/12; 6/26; 7/10; 7/24; 8/7; 8/21 (7-night Bahamas fr. Baltimore/Port Canaveral, FL./Nassau, Bahamas/CocoCay, Bahamas)
  • 8/28; 9/11; 9/25; 10/9 (6-night Bermuda fr. Baltimore/Kings Wharf, Bermuda for 2-nights)
  • 9/3; 9/17; 10/1 (8-night Canada & New England fr. Baltimore/Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/St. John, New Brunswick-Bay of Fundy/Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • 10/15 (9-night Canada & New England fr. Baltimore/Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/St. John, New Brunswick-Bay of Fundy/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Boston, MA.)

Brilliance of the Seas:

  • 9/18 (9-night Canada & New England fr. Boston, MA/Portland, Maine/Rockland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Sydney, Nova Scotia)
  • 9/27; 10/4; 10/11; 10/18 (7-night Canada & New England fr. Boston, MA/Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/St. John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy)/Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Serenade of the Seas:

  • 9/15 (10-night Fall Foliage Northbound fr. Cape Liberty, NJ to Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) stopping in Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Saguenay, Quebec)
  • 9/25 (12-night Fall Foliage Southbound fr. Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) to Cape Liberty, NJ stopping in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Halifax, Nova Scotia/St. John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy)/Bar Harbor, Maine/Rockland, Maine/Portland, Maine)
  • 10/7 (12-night Fall Foliage Northbound fr. Cape Liberty, NJ to Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) stopping in Boston, MA/Portland, Maine/Rockland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
  • 10/19 (14-night Snowbird Migration fr. Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. stopping in Saguenay, Quebec/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Sydney, Nova Scotia/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Bar Harbor, Maine/Portland, Maine/Boston, MA/Charlotte, South Carolina)

Allure of the Seas:

  • 4/18 (12-night Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona, Spain, with one stop in Malaga, Spain)

With these 7-night Western Mediterranean itineraries, Choose Your Embarkation Port: BARCELONA, SPAIN or ROME (Civitavecchia), ITALY

allure-europe

  • 10/22 (3-night Short Western Mediterranean fr. Rome, to Naples/Capri, Italy, ending in Barcelona, Spain)
  • 10/25 (12-night Ocean Voyage from Barcelona, Spain, one stop in Malaga, Spain, ending in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)

As always, we can help! Visit our website at CRUISECX.COM.

 

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costa2shipsAh, if only every cruise line would do this…

Costa Cruises has announced the launch of “MyCosta Mobile”, a new application for smartphones and tablets that is designed to allow Costa guests to call and text onboard at no cost.

“MyCosta Mobile” is free of charge and user friendly.

Before the start of your cruise, simply download the free application from the App Store or Google Play Store. Once on board, all you need to do is connect to the ship’s WiFi network, register and launch the app, at no cost whatsoever. Once you have registered, “MyCosta Mobile” is ready for use, again free of charge: you can socialize with other cruise guests and get in touch by phoning or texting whenever you like, and you can also use the App to contact a cabin or any of the numerous shipboard amenities such as the restaurants, Spa, tour office and much more besides.

Read the rest here.