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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



Carnival Cruise Line

Inside The Party For Carnival Horizon [PHOTOS]



Given that Queen Latifah is the Godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, you had to know a good time was going to be had by all at the Carnival Horizon’s official naming ceremony. Held in New York City on a picture-perfect afternoon, the event featured plenty of food, lots of drink, singing, dancing and even a pretty substantial charitable donation.

Welcome To Flavortown

Things got under way with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as celebrity chef Guy Fieri welcomed guests to the latest outpost of Flavortown, the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse. With live music playing, servers dished out hearty helpings of the venue’s signature foods, including trashcan nachos, dragon chili cheese fries and a pecan pie that was, according to the genuine Southern belle at our table, “to die for.”

Guy Fieri and brewmeister Colin Presby, doing the honors.

After that, the traditional naming ceremony kicked off with Brand Ambassador John Heald offering up a tip of the hat to “the one man to blame” for the fact that “I now have X’s in the back of everything I’m wearing,” Fieri.

Next up was the traditional prayer of blessing, followed by Carnival president Christine Duffy welcoming everyone aboard before discussing the very special bond between the cruise line and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Speaking proudly of the $16 million dollars raised by Carnival since the partnership first began in 2010, Duffy then presented the hospital with a check for another $100,000 and directed everyone’s eyes to the 24-foot Dreamscape, which anchors the atrium and now features among it’s displays 33 pieces of art created by St. Jude patients.

Artwork done by St. Jude patients lit up the Dreamscape.

Next up was the ship’s Godmother, Queen Latifah, who also happens to be a major supporter of St. Jude. After thanking the crowd “for looking so good,” Latifah asked everyone to take another look at the artwork-adorned Dreamscape. “My mom was an art teacher,” she said of her recently-deceased parent, “so I appreciate what the kids do. I know what it does for a child’s heart to create like that.”

Of being Godmother to a cruise ship, Latifah admitted it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to be a part of in my life!” She was then joined on stage by Captain Luigi De Angelis and, together, they poured an oversized bottle of champagne (“This is the only time the captain will hold a bottle of champagne like this,” quipped Heald) over the ship’s inaugural season bell.

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“Only at Carnival Cruise Line,” quipped Heald of the ceremony, “do we water the plants with Moet.”

With the official business of the day out of the way, it was time for the fun to start in the Liquid Lounge, where Latifah battled Philadelphia Eagles player Jake Elliot in an epic Lip Sync Battle hosted by popular Carnival cruise director Matt Mitcham. But before the main event could begin, the crowd was in for an unexpected treat when Duffy was joined on stage by Carnival Corp’s President and CEO, Arnold Donald, for a lip synched performance of The Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”

Duffy and Donald proved they definitely choose fun.

With Duffy cheering on Elliot, and Donald firmly in the Queen’s corner, the main event began. And while footballer Elliott took the pumped-up crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbangers Ball by donning a massive wig to perform Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” this was Latifah’s battle to lose. And if you know anything about the singer/actor/businesswoman — who also happens to be a past Lip Sync Battle champion — it’s that she does not come to lose. The moment she and the Playlist Productions performers took to the stage to perform “It’s Raining Men,” it was all over but the cheering. Of the stripping background dancers, Mitcham joked that Latifah’s performance was “like Baywatch and Magic Mike went wild,” while Donald said that the dancers “inspired me to keep my shirt on!”  

Elliott put up a good fight, but he couldn’t dethrone the Queen.

Before being crowned the winner, Latifah admitted there was one thing about her new role which she’d found disappointing. “Shouldn’t Godmother’s have a wand?” she asked… only to promptly be presented one, with which she sprinkled “love dust over the crowd, even my sworn enemy Jake.”

The evening ended with a bang… or, more precisely, a whole lot of bangs.

With the scheduled events of the evening over, invited guests dispersed to enjoy the live entertainment taking place all around the ship, as well as movies in the Imax and Thriller Theaters, a party on the Lido deck, a midnight buffet and an impressive fireworks display that was, appropriately enough, set in part to the tune “New York, New York.” 

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June Special: Kids Sail Free to the Bahamas



With summer around the corner, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has a special deal for families traveling with kids. Valid for all June cruises, those 16 and under will sail free if they’re staying in the same stateroom with two paying parents.

With the school year wrapping up and Father’s Day on June 17, it’s the perfect time for a quick escape to the Bahamas. Both of the line’s ships, Grand Classica and Grand Celebration offer a number of activities for guests on their way to the island. There are youth clubs divided by age, swimming pools, multiple dining options, a mini movie theater, mini rock climbing wall, a ball pit, and more.

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There’s also a number of shore excursions that families can take part in once they arrive, including snorkeling, a beach day, cruising the beach in an open-top Jeep, swimming with dolphins, parasailing, kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours, and more.

For more information, visit

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Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Take Annual Photos on Cruise Ship



The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders have officially wrapped up their 2018 annual photo shoot, and this year a Miami-based cruise ship was the backdrop.

Over 20 of the cheerleaders sailed to the sunny Caribbean this month aboard MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaside, donning a number of clothing styles for the photos while capturing the ship’s iconic design. The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Annual is set to be released at the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Fashion Show this fall.

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The cheerleaders also took part in photo shoot in ports along the way, including St. Maarten, San Juan, and Nassau. During the voyage, the cheerleaders engaged with guests throughout the cruise during a variety of activities, including at the sail away party, hosting youth cheer clinics, posing for photo ops, and doing special performances to entertain guests. To kick off the cruise, they provided a warm Miami Dolphins welcome by taking over the terminal with mascot “TD” to cheer guests into their vacation.

The annual photoshoot onboard MSC Seaside came on the heels of the Dolphins’ first ever Fan Cruise onboard the same ship in March. The voyage included football legend guests of honor including Kim Bokamper, Terry Kirby, Sam Madison, Nat Moore, Joe Rose and Patrick Surtain, for a week of themed activities. The team will be hosting their second cruise in 2019.

The Miami Dolphins and MSC Cruises are in the midst of a three-year partnership, which resulted in the Fan Cruise. It will be hosted annually over the next three years.

Photos: Miami Dolphins

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