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Grand Turk Update From Jack’s Shack



In the wake of the devastating hurricanes which tore through some of our favorite ports, many cruisers have found themselves not only keeping the residents in their thoughts, but worrying about some of the locals who have over time become like members of their extended family. With that in mind, we reached out to Topher — the world’s most photographed dog — and his human pal Jack (of Jack’s Shack) for an update on Grand Turk.

Grand Turk Update

grand turk

For those who’ve not yet had the pleasure, Jack’s Shack is a bar located a short walk from the Grand Turk cruise port. A favorite among visitors, the bar is known as a great place to meet friendly strangers who’ll likely become lifetime friends as well as the aforementioned Topher. No stranger to bad storms, Jack has seen his share of hurricanes… and the damage they can do to the island. “I went through Ike, a category 4 hurricane, in 2008,” he writes.

“Although Irma was a category 5, in some ways the damage was less. The electric polls were not all down like in Ike. It took us 26 weeks to get power back at Jack’s Shack after Ike.”

This time around, he reports that “it looks like lots of the power should be back in late October.”

Because the two hurricanes hit so close together, there was no time for residents to really regain their footing between the attacks. “Irma was worse because we lost both telephone and internet for a week,” Jack says. “Maria was the frosting on the cake, causing a little bit more damage and lots more dampness, with winds hitting the other side of the island that Irma had not impacted.”

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“Everyone Is Out Of Work”

Grand Turk

The view from Jack’s Shack.

In the aftermath of the storm, Jack says that the “damage is devastating to the islands. Almost every home had water driven into it, making for wet clothes, mattresses… and potential mold everywhere.” If there is a bright side, he says it’s that “the week after the storms are usually dry and hot.”

But what the islands really need is for things to get up and running as soon as possible. “As tourism is our only industry to speak of and everyone is out of work for practically two months,” the barkeep explains, “the devastation has to be solved with savings. For those who lost their whole home, the situation is bleaker. For those with minor damage and generators, life still involves clean-up and paying for gasoline with money you can’t spare.”

The good news? “No one was hurt or died,” he says. “The island has had assistance from other governments and charities, so no one is starving. Building materials are scarece, so instant rebuilding is not realistic.”

“We Are All Hoping The Cruise Ships Will Return Soon”

As far as Jack’s Shack goes, the much loved hot spot emerged relatively unscathed, at least when compared to what others have experienced. “Jack’s Shack has only minor damage,” he reports. “It should take a week of clean-up, re installation of sun shades and tiki hut roofing, which we took down to avoid losing. The kitchen was not damaged, [it] just as 12 inches of sand in it.”

Now, he — like his fellow islanders — just wants things to go back to normal. “We are all hoping the cruise ships will return soon so we can start making salaries again and having fun with our cruising friends!”

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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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