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Cruise Lines Update On Hurricane Impacted Islands



If there’s one question cruisers booked on Caribbean cruises are asking on a daily basis, it’s “How much has the port I’m heading for been impacted by a hurricane?” Today, several big hitters in the cruise industry hosted a conference call designed to specifically address those concerns. The basic consensus: Everyone’s working as quickly as possible to get things back to normal.

Hurricane Assessment By Cruise Lines


“We know some people are wondering if it’s a good time to go to the Caribbean,” admitted Arnold Donald, President and Chief Executive Officer for Carnival Cruise Lines, “or if they should wait. And the answer is simply that it is a great time to go to the Caribbean. Most of the region…was untouched by the storm.”

“Of the 50 ports in the Caribbean that our brands call on,” pointed out Royal Caribbean’s President and Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldstein, “only four were significantly affected: St. Martin, St. Thomas, St. Croix and San Juan,” all of which expect to be welcoming guests back by the end of November. “So we really have a very optimistic view, even in the short-term.”

Added Michele Paige of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, “When travelers spend their hard-earned dollars for a great cruise vacation, they are also supporting recovery and building across the region.” She also pointed out that, if there is a positive, it is that “the cruise industry doesn’t need the infrastructure that land-based tourism does,” making it easier for cruiselines to begin bringing their passengers back on an earlier timetable.

“Shore Excursions… Need To Be Available”

Both cruise line execs cautioned that it would not benefit them or anyone else to return to the ports prematurely. “There’s a wide range of shore excursion elements that need to be available in order for us to experience a guest-satisfying experience at a port,” said Goldstein. “There’s no point in going to a port if we can’t deliver a guest-satisfying experience.”

Agreed Donald, “The No. 1 thing is to exceed our guests’ expectations. So we’re not going to take them any place where they can’t have a great experience. The excursions that guests love have to be up and operating in a fashion that is going to absolutely exceed their expectations.”

To that point, Carnival’s exec spoke of a zipline adventure experience they have created in St. Martin. “That excursions will be up – I’m not sure if the port will be or not, but that excursions will be up and operating by December 1st, for certain.” He also spoke of their private destination on Grand Turk that would be “up within the next 30 days or so and fully operational.”

All of the participants on the call recognized that there was still much to be done. “There’s a lot of clean-up to do in St. Martin,” confirmed Donald, “but I would be surprised if by January, or even before Christmas, St. Martin isn’t up and running at a level that would, again, exceed guest expectations.” Paige mentioned that the region was expecting to be “fully operational for all the tours” by November 11th.

The Truth About San Juan

Asked if there was a disconnect between what the cruise lines were saying about conditions in San Juan and how the situation is being portrayed in the media, Goldstein acknowledged that it was rather like discussing the differences between apples and oranges. “If you are a resident almost anywhere on the island,” he pointed out, “it’s a difficult existence if you don’t have electricity.”

Having just visited San Juan, Goldstein marveled at the “people who are acting in a completely professional capacity during the normal work hours of the day… knowing that they are going back home at night to a home that is dark and hot and not the way that it should be. Yet they continue to strive every day for improvement.

“That’s a different situation, for the most part, than what we are looking at in terms of our ability to contribute to their economic recovery,” he continued. “When you drive around the old town of San Juan, it looks completely fine. Del Morro, the fortress, obviously by definition it’s been there 500 years, it’s completely fine.” And that, he said, was why it was important to “understand the distinction between the long road that Puerto Rico has ahead of it to fully recover from the impact of these storms and what we need to do to deliver a guest-satisfying experience that contributes to the economic recovery of the island.”

As a result, Goldstein said that shore excursions would, for the time being, see “more emphasis on the city core than there has been in the past,” adding that the “El Yunque rainforest was particularly damaged… so that will take longer to recover than anything in and around the city core.”

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An Update On St. Thomas


Carnival Breeze, St. Thomas

“Charlotte Amalie, the downtown area, is looking in good shape,” said Goldstein, who recently paid the port a visit, describing merchants and shore excursion guides as “bullish” on the progress that has been made so far, recovery-wise. “There’s still road clearance that has to take place in and around the hills of St. Thomas, and that’s happening every day now. And Magens Bay, which is one of the key beach areas of the island, is something that I can vouch for Royal Caribbean International taking a very strong posture of involvement of the restoration of that beach area. And that, together with the other beach restoration efforts that are going on, will have St. Thomas back in good order very shortly.”

For more on the status of the ports in question, visit


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Instagram Posts Reveal Cruise Secrets



According to a new study, if you’ve sailed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, there’s a pretty good chance you not only took a lot of pictures but posted them to Instagram. The same can be said for folks who sailed on Carnival Cruise Line, who reportedly Instagrammed the second most photos. But those same posts reveal all kinds of information about who’s going where… and what they’re doing once they get there.

Over 1.8 Million Cruise Photos Were Studied

Harmony of the Seas docked in Nassau.

By studying nearly two million photos, the booking site SeaHub was able to figure out now only which lines had the biggest representation on the wildly popular photo-sharing app, but extrapolate info regarding popular destinations, which group is more likely to party and how long people tend to spend on shore while in port.

As of early January, Royal Caribbean cruisers had posted over 630,000 photographs to Instagram, while Carnival’s passengers clocked in at just under 500,000. Rounding out the top five were Disney (319,000), Princess (112,000)  and Celebrity (102,000). Breaking things even further down, SeaHub was able to determine which ship within the various fleets was most popular with Instagrammers… and which were the least popular.

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READ MORE: 7 Gorgeous Pics Of Sunsets At Sea

Where Royal Caribbean was concerned, Harmony of the Sea proved to be the most popular ship, with Rhapsody of the Sea coming in last place. For Carnival, Vista took the top spot while Ecstasy was on the bottom. Norwegian Cruise Line saw their Escape in first place, with the Bliss in dead last. And while this at first seems surprising, given how much buzz there is regarding the new ship, it’s important to remember that the rankings are based on photos posted, and those are few-and-far-between where the new build is concerned!

Carnival Claims The Party Prize

Carnival Vista

By looking at the hastags and terminology used in the posts, the informal study was able to reveal which cruise lines were associated with certain buzzwords. Carnival took the top spot when you looked at the word “party”, but Norwegian knocked them off the throne if you instead looked at “drinks.” When it came to “food” and “dinner”, Princess was the big winner… but “breakfast” went to Carnival. And while it sometimes seems as if lobster is the most talked-about menu item on cruise ships, it only ranked No. 5 when SeaHub analyzed what food is most posted/buzzed about on ships. (To be fair, “seafood” came in at No. 1, and that could include lobster.) The rest of the top 5 food items? Dessert was second, chocolate clocked in at No. 3 and the ubiquitous buffet earned the fourth spot.

What are you most likely to post pictures of when you cruise? 

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Cruise Line Cuts Ship In Half [PHOTOS]



Well, here’s something you don’t see every day: A cruise ship being sawed in half like a magician’s assistant. Why? So that a new 49-foot segment can be inserted.

What Does It Take To Cut A Ship In Half?

Silversea Cruises

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

This week in Palermo, Italy, the folks at the Fincantieri Shipyard have been executing the kind of thing you sort of have to see to believe: Thanks to the marvels of modern engineering, they are cutting Silversea’s Silver Spirit right down the middle, separating the two halves and then inserting a pre-built block into the ship before welding the whole thing together in so seamless a fashion that none will be the wiser.

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

So what does it take to accomplish such a feat? Well, breaking it down by the numbers, here’s what you get:

  • Over 500 workers
  • 450,000 man hours
  • 846 tons of steel
  • 360,892 feet of cabling
  • 26,247 feet of piping

And why would one undertake such a monumental task? Believe it or not, it’s actually cheaper than buying an entirely new ship… and will result in the Silver Spirit being able to increase their capacity by 12 percent. At the same time, she’ll undergo a massive refurbishment that will in essence transform her into an entirely new vessel.

How The Ship Will Be Refurbished

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

The entire project was inspired by the line’s flagship, Silver Muse (which not coincidentally was built at the same shipyard) and is serving as the focal influence of a fleet-wide renovation. “The lengthening and refurbishment of Silver Spirit will replicate the modern elegance of our latest vessel to make for a more luxurious travelling experience,” said Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer for Silversea. “This ambitious project will amplify the onboard features that matter most to our guests.”

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Photo via Silversea Cruises.

That includes dining options, which will see several dining options introduced, resulting in an 8-restaurant configuration. Up on the sky deck, the pool area will also be expanded from 98 feet to 148 feet to not only offer more space for sunworshippers, but also add a new aerobics area. The renovation will also see two new public spaces added, The Arts Cafe and Dolce Vita. Finally, all of the suites will be refurbished and upgraded.

And how cool is this? Just before arriving in Palermo to undergo her surgical procedure, the Silver Spirit stopped in Chaina, Crete, so that furniture that was being replaced could be donated to some of the charities on the island.

The ship will return to service on May 6, 2018, with 7-day sailings between Civitavecchia (Rome) and Barcelona. For more on the ship and her itineraries, click here.

“Witnessing these breathtaking phases of the Silver Spirit lengthening project has filled us with pride and excitement,” said Muckermann. And now you, too, can be wowed by the scope of the project by watching the video below.


Featured Photo via Silversea Cruises.

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Cruise Trends: What’s Topping Travel Wish Lists



When it comes to trends in cruising, Alaska is hot… and so is living the suite life. That’s according to newly released data based from the Travel Trends Survey. What else did the survey reveal about the places cruisers want to go — and what they want to do when they get there? Read on to find out.

Alaska Claims The Top Spot

Un-Cruise Adventure

While in the past, land-based vacations to places like Las Vegas and Orlando claimed the top domestic spot, the survey of over 1,300 travel agents (conducted by Travel Leaders Group) showed that Alaskan cruises are the current hot ticket. In looking at international travel, cruises to the Caribbean came in at the No. 1 spot, while there was also a sharp rise in the level of interest travelers expressed toward river cruises. The results certainly indicate that the cruise industry’s efforts to convince the public that cruising is a better value than land-based vacations seem to be paying off in spades. “Cruises are continuing to soar as a popular vacation choice for North Americans,” said Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Planning An Alaskan Cruise

The survey also revealed that interest in cruises to Cuba has increased about 10 percent over last year, which is certainly reflected in how the various lines are approaching the port. While there was some concern that recent changes in the political arena might have a negative impact on the cruise industry where Cuba was concerned, execs at the recent Seatrade Global Cruise Convention said the opposite is proving true. Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said that his line would be doubling their capacity to the region in 2018, adding, “Cuba has been great for the industry.”

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Cruisers Like The Suite Life


Photo via Carnival.

The survey also indicated that when it comes to suites, more and more passengers are booking the higher-end staterooms. In fact, 30 percent of the travel agents responding to the survey indicated that they had seen an uptick in suite bookings. Meanwhile, when asked what type of question cruisers ask most often, the respondents said shore excursion-related queries topped the list, which again is very much in keeping with what executives have indicated is happening industry-wide. During quarterly earnings calls, numerous executives from the cruise lines have indicated that when they look at onboard spending, passengers are increasingly spending their money to purchase experiences as opposed to material things.

While 72 percent of the travel agents surveyed indicated put shore excursions as the No. 1 question, other topics they were frequently grilled on by clients included shipboard activities, pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements and specialty restaurants.

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