As of late April, 2020, world cruising came to a complete halt, when the MSC Magnifica ended its epic voyage around the world that began way back on January 5, just about four months and a lifetime ago.
At the time, there were relatively few public stirrings about a mysterious virus apparently emanating from Wuhan, China, and passengers were treated to several stops in South America before rounding Cape Horn and heading to the South Pacific.
The rest of the Magnifica‘s voyage didn’t exactly go as planned (though, ironically, free of coronavirus, it was actually one of the safest places to be on the planet).
Rejected by some Pacific islands — the virus by now had struck several other cruise ships, which were all seeking safe havens and, in many cases, being turned away —… Continue reading
How many days in advance should you book a cruise to get the best price?
In part that depends on your destination, according to the website Cruisewatch.com, which uses artificial intelligence to study trends in worldwide cruising. In this case, says a Cruisewatch press release, they undertook a “massive study [that] examined 18,983 sailings by region with departures in 2017.”
They also conducted an “intensive analysis of over 18 million data points” (which are, of course, too numerous to detail in a press release or just about anywhere for that matter, but we are nonetheless grateful for modern technology).
Cruisewatch says the massive study found a “surprising trend: as the date of departure approaches, cruise prices fluctuate to a greater extent.” Some regions, they note, show as much as a 71… Continue reading
For your next trip, should you take a cruise, a train, a plane, drive a car — or try something different, like taking a cargo ship or long-distance passenger ferry?
That depends to a large degree on where you’re going and what kind of travel experience you hope to have. Different areas of the world — as well as differing expectations — lend themselves to different forms of transportation.
In this series, we’ll take a look at different options for getting around various areas of the world — starting with the Caribbean.
Navigating The Caribbean
This one is easier than most, or so it seems at first glance.
If you’re headed to one island in search of a beach resort or some cultural… Continue reading
Every year brings advances to the world of cruising: new ships and amenities, breakthrough technologies, more enticing itineraries.
As cruise lines jostle to stay one wave or river bend ahead of the competition, they grow ever more creative – and passengers reap the rewards.
In 2017, that means more personalized experiences, a more varied choice of destinations, and more “Wow!” factors than ever. Happy sailing!
A Techno-Gizmo That Does It All, Almost
Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, has announced plans to begin rolling out a techno-marvel medallion in 2017 that will do almost anything for you on board except mix your drinks (for that, you’ll need to sail on Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship the Harmony of the Seas, which sports cocktail-preparing robots in its Bionic Bar).
Paired with an optional app for maximum… Continue reading
If romance is the universal language — and who says baby boomers have lost their sense of romance? — a Caribbean cruise is sure to spice it up with a potpourri of accents:
Perhaps a dose of “Yeah, mon” Jamaican hospitality one day, a Dutch treat on St. Maarten on another, and a dash of French joie de vivre on St. Bart’s on a third.
Or you could go British on Grand Cayman or all-American with a Spanish twist in Puerto Rico.
Stir in the Caribbean’s trademark turquoise waters, soft breezes, palm-fringed beaches, steel-drum beats, and alluring tropical ambiance, and you have the recipe for an unforgettable voyage.
Still, Caribbean cruises are as varied as the islands themselves, so you’ll need to make some decisions.
One is the itinerary.
Caribbean islands are… Continue reading
Viking Cruises — which already operates the world’s largest and most popular river cruise line with almost 60 ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia– is now moving into ocean cruising in a big way.
Viking launched its first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star, in 2015, and in April 2016 launched its second, the Viking Sea. (I’m looking forward to a voyage on the Viking Sea this fall in the eastern Mediterranean).
And it’s launching more ocean-going vessels, the Viking Sky, Sun, and Spirit, in 2017 or 2018. A sixth unnamed ship is on order for 2020, and if Viking’s explosive growth in river cruising is any indication, other ocean-going cruise lines may want to watch their backs.
Viking’s ocean-going vessels hold a maximum of 930 passengers and, in… Continue reading
I just returned from a week-long cruise to Cuba aboard the Greek ship Celestyal Crystal, in the company of 776 fellow passengers, many of them from the United States.
Along with some journalists who were guests of Celestyal Cruises, the Americans were aboard under the auspices of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a Riverhead, New York-based “People to People” program promoting U.S.-Cuba relations.
The ship was also filled with Canadians, Germans, French, English and other nationalities who had been free to visit Cuba for years, mostly for Caribbean beach vacations.
Americans, on the other hand, have been highly restricted in travels to Cuba for decades, though things are now loosening up following President Obama’s recent rapprochement with Raul Castro.
As of March 16, 2016, just prior to Obama’s historic visit to Havana, Americans can now… Continue reading
“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”
“Less Planning, More Experiencing”
“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”
These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)
In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.
“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading
On the first day of our Caribbean cruise aboard the Sagitta – a 24-passenger Island Windjammers ship sailing out of St. Lucia through the French West Indies – my watch stopped.
Though it seemed inconvenient at the time, it proved to be a good omen. This was one of the most relaxing trips I’ve had in years, and while I admit that I glanced at my left wrist from time to time over the course of a week’s cruise expecting to view my now packed-away watch, I didn’t really need to know the hour – or sometimes, it seemed, even the day.
The ship’s bell rang at mealtimes – 8 a.m. for breakfast, noon for lunch, 5 p.m. for snack-and-cocktail hour, 7 p.m. for dinner – so the critical times of the day were accounted for.
All my wife,… Continue reading
Two of my favorite cruise lines, Star Clippers and CroisiEurope, have just come out with Valentine’s specials, and with Cupid Day coming right up, you’ll have to move quickly to take advantage of them.
Star Clippers, whose fleet consists of three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels, has a Valentine’s Day offer of French Champagne, sweet treats, and a one-hour massage for two for all new bookings made by February 15, 2016, based on double occupancy.
If you’re traveling solo, you can treat yourself to one massage along with the Champagne and sweets as well.
The offer is good for select Mediterranean sailings between April and October of this year. To review European itineraries and to book, go to the Star Clippers website or call 1-800-442-0551.
Note: I was on one… Continue reading