April 20, 2019

Anne Vipond

About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.

New HAL Pinnacle ship to be fourth Ryndam

Holland America’s new Ryndam will be a 99,500 ton ship carrying 2,666 guests


In a nod to its long line of historic ships that helped build the foundation for cruising as we know it today, Holland America Line announced that its next Pinnacle Class ship will be called Ryndam. The newbuild, due for delivery in May 2021, will be the fourth ship in the company’s history to carry the name.

Ryndam will be similar to sister ships Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, weighing 99,500 tons and carrying 2,666 guests. As the third in the series, Ryndam will feature enhanced Pinnacle Class amenities and innovations, along with Holland America Line hallmarks that drive one of the highest guest repeat rates in the industry.

“Holland America Line honors the timeless tradition of cruising while also embracing new innovations for today’s travelers, and the name Ryndam reflects the unique history of this company while honoring previous ships that were progressive in their time as this last Ryndam will be,” said Orland Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “From the first Ryndam more than 100 years ago to the most recent, the namesake ships have been beloved by our guests. The next Ryndam will bring new life to one of the most notable series of vessels in our history.”

The steel cutting for Ryndam, signifying the official beginning of the building process, was held March 13, 2019 at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera, Italy. This will be the 17th ship constructed for Holland America Line by the Italian shipbuilder, which most recently delivered Nieuw Statendam.

Holland America Line’s Historic Ships Named Ryndam
The first Ryndam was part of the Holland America Line fleet from 1901 to 1929, starting as Rijndam before receiving the English spelling in 1923. In 1927 Ryndam I became the first Holland America Line ship to sail a world cruise, although it was chartered as a floating school at sea for that voyage. The second Ryndam served from 1951 to 1973, and the third sailed in the fleet from 1993 through 2015, when it was transferred to sister brand P&O Australia and now cruises as Pacific Aria.

Windstar begins massive ship-lengthening project in Italy

Windstar’s Star Legend accommodates just 212 guests.


Seattle-based Windstar Cruises has begun their ambitious project lengthening three of their ships at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Trieste, Italy. Steel was cut for the first of three new ships sections as part of Windstar’s $250 Million Star Plus Initiative in early April.

The $250 Million Star Plus Initiative is the most complex and comprehensive small ship lengthening, engine replacement, and renovation project undertaken in cruising. Windstar will take half of its entire fleet – Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride – and renovate each ship in succession. The work on the first of the three ships begins on Star Breeze in October 2019 and shall end with the departure of the Star Pride from the yard in November 2020. This steel cutting marks the beginning of true project construction. The popular ships will be cut in half to allow the installation of a new stepped mid-body section that will lengthen each vessel by approximately 25 meters. The total capacity of the “new” expanded ships will be 312 guests, and additional staff will be hired in order to maintain the line’s impressive 1.5 to 1 guest-to-service staff ratio.

The new sections will be built in Trieste and then will be transported south by barge to the Fincantieri yard in Palermo, Sicily, Italy to be inserted into the iconic Windstar ships along with the new engines. The timeline requires the new sections to be fabricated from April through September, shipped in October, and then inserted into Star Breeze so that she can be completed in time for her arrival for re-inaugural activities at the port of Miami on March 19, 2020.

Cunard unveils 2021 voyages

Cunard’s beautiful Queen Mary 2.


Luxury cruise brand Cunard today unveils their Oceans of Discovery voyage program for November 2020 through May 2021, featuring Full World Voyages and in-depth itineraries in Japan and Australia. The Cunard fleet, including Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, and flagship liner Queen Mary 2, will call at 94 destinations in 38 different countries, including four exciting maiden calls in Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand.

Cunard pioneered the concept of world cruising in 1922 and has since undertaken more world voyages than any other passenger line. In 2021, Cunard will continue the tradition of world cruising by operating Full World Voyages on two ships: Queen Mary 2 will offer the classic East-West voyage to Australia and Asia, Southern Africa, the Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean; Queen Victoria will travel the globe with a westbound circumnavigation via the Panama Canal. Queen Elizabeth will carry out exotic voyages with regionally-focused itineraries in Australia and Japan.

Whether traveling on a two-night short break or a full 113-night world voyage, the Cunard 2021 program will offer a mix of the most celebrated cities along with smaller, off-the-beaten-path but equally charming destinations. Itineraries have been thoughtfully created to offer longer, more enriching days in port as well as plenty of time at sea to enjoy everything Cunard ships have to offer.

In more Cunard news, the company announced the world class team of designers recruited to create the interiors for its eagerly anticipated new ship set to launch in 2022. Working in concert with the project’s world renowned Creative Director, Adam D. Tihany, will be award-winning designers Simon Rawlings of David Collins Studio, Terry McGillicuddy of Richmond International and Sybille de Margerie from her eponymous design company.

“Cunard has amassed the most talented interior designers in the industry to bring our new ship to life. Each member of the team brings a unique skill set to the project and working in symphony with legendary Adam D Tihany will ensure a product that is one-of-a-kind and uniquely Cunard,” said Josh Leibowitz, SVP Cunard North America.

Carnival Cruise Line adds sailings from San Francisco for 2020

Carnival Miracle will sail out of San Francisco to Hawaii and Alaska.


Following tremendous response to Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever cruises from San Francisco, the line is adding five voyages from the port to Carnival Miracle’s previously announced inaugural schedule in 2020.
Including the five new voyages, Carnival Miracle will now offer a total of 27 voyages within the wide-ranging program which includes four-day long weekend sailings to Ensenada, Mexico, 10-day cruises to Alaska and 15- and 16-day voyages to Hawaii from March to September 2020. All voyages are now open for reservations.
These newly added sailings are part of Carnival’s ongoing expansion in the West Coast. Carnival carries more passengers from California than any other cruise operator and will further bolster its leadership position with the debut of the new Carnival Panorama from Long Beach in December 2019 and new cruise programs from San Diego beginning in December 2019 and San Francisco in 2020.
Today’s announcement coincides with the San Francisco debut of the Carnival AirShip, a 128-foot-long blimp which, after a busy month of flying across California, will now pass over iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Port of San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf, and other hotspots throughout the city.
“After seeing the incredible reaction to Carnival Miracle’s initial San Francisco sailings announcement last month, we knew we had to continue to Choose Fun and bring even more options to the West Coast,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “And what better time to announce this amazing news than while the Carnival AirShip is flying over the city?”

Dealing with hurricane season in the Caribbean

A cruise through the Caribbean is usually tranquil.


Everyone in the Caribbean breathes a collective sigh of relief when the annual Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close at the end of November. Some years are worse than others for catastrophic storms and the path and intensity of these tropical cyclones is always unpredictable. However, the Caribbean is a vast sea, covering a million square miles, and in any given year only a few of its hundreds of islands are hit by a hurricane.

The islands can’t dodge bad weather but cruise ships can avoid approaching storms during hurricane season. In some cases a ship will completely bypass one port for another. One November our ship’s scheduled stop at St. Thomas was changed to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands due to damage the U.S. Virgin Islands had sustained from a recent hurricane. When we returned to the Caribbean a few months later, our ship call at St. Thomas revealed little evidence of the earlier storm and it was business as usual as we toured the tropical island and visited postcard-perfect beaches.

When disaster does strike during hurricane season, the cruise industry is one of the first to come to the aid of these small island nations, often delivering supplies and providing shelter and transportation in a storm’s immediate aftermath. Port facilities in the Caribbean have been built for hurricane resistance, so that ship piers and terminals can weather these storms.

The port of St. Maarten recovered quickly from Hurricane Irma.


The 2017 hurricane season was particularly devastating for several Caribbean destinations. While the other islands continued to receive visitors, the affected islands rebuilt and are once again open for business. St. Maarten’s recovery efforts began immediately and its cruise calls have returned to pre-hurricane numbers. The BVIs have also rebounded and are now receiving more cruise passengers than ever, as is Puerto Rico, which was hard hit by Hurricane Maria. St. Thomas and St. Croix have also been busy repairing and rebuilding in preparation for this winter’s cruise season.

Magens Bay on St. Thomas remains one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.


With its expansive size and diversity of destinations, the Caribbean is a resilient cruising area. All of the major cruise lines deploy ships to the region, especially during the winter months. With more than 60 different ports in 28 countries or territories to choose from, the selection of cruise itineraries is varied, exhaustive and competitively priced.

Hurricane seasons come and go, but the appeal of the Caribbean – the world’s largest market for cruise vacations – remains strong year after year.

Solving a problem like Maria

The lush grounds of the iconic Caribe Hilton in San Juan.


When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico in September 2017, the devastation resulted in thousands of lives lost and an infrastructure in ruins as communities struggled without power or running water. Emergency aid to this U.S. territory was slow in coming but Oxfam America stepped in to help, as did others. Among those who assisted with relief aid was Alex Cora, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is the manager of the 2018 world champion Boston Red Sox.
There are many reasons to visit the scenic island of Puerto Rico, including the opportunity to embark on a Caribbean cruise from the Spanish-founded port of San Juan. This vibrant city’s historic walled town – Old San Juan – contains one of the best-preserved fortresses in the Americas and its cobbled streets are lined with intriguing shops and restaurants.

When embarking on a cruise from San Juan, I always spend a few extra days there and my hotel of choice is often the Caribe Hilton. Situated at the edge of Old San Juan, on a peninsula with a secluded beach and lush gardens, this hotel resort opened in 1949 and was the first property operated by Hilton Hotels outside the continental U.S.

Famous guests at the hotel’s grand opening included Gloria Swanson and David Rockefeller, and the hotel became the setting for Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary. An early bartender is credited with inventing Puerto Rico’s official drink – the Pina Colada – when he served guests a new cocktail containing rum with coconut cream and pineapple juice.

On my most recent stay at the Caribe Hilton my drink of choice was champagne by the glass. While live salsa music pulsated through the open-air bar, my husband and I strolled outside to sip our drinks beneath the swaying palm trees that dot the manicured grounds.

Our mornings were spent visiting some of the city’s historic spots, including the massive El Morro fortress, and strolling along La Princesa – a waterfront promenade which winds past outdoor cafés and fountain-filled plazas. We would return to the hotel for relaxing afternoons spent poolside.

The hotel is completing a $100 million property-wide renovation and will reopen in time to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2019. Its beach lost sand during Hurricane Maria but regained it a few months later during a storm tide.

As for Maria, the name has been retired from the rotating lists of the World Meteorological Organization due to the extensive damage and loss of life wreaked by this deadly storm. Maria will never again be used to name an Atlantic hurricane.

Princess looks ahead to 2020 Alaska cruises

Princess has great plans for their ships to Alaska in 2020.


The cruise line awarded “Best Cruise Line in Alaska”1 unveiled its 2020 Alaska season with cruises and cruisetours, on sale starting November 15. The season features eight ships offering 11 cruise-only itineraries, plus 25 cruisetour itineraries, giving guests the bucket-list opportunity to see the top two attractions in Alaska – Glacier Bay National Park, with up-close glacier viewing and Denali National Park, home to North America’s tallest mountain peak.

Highlights of the 2020 Princess Cruises Alaska season that runs from May through September include:
Golden Princess debuts a full season of 14-day Inside Passage voyages, sailing round-trip from Los Angeles with a visit to Hubbard Glacier.
Royal Princess returns as the largest ship sailing in the Gulf of Alaska on the seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, along with Grand Princess, Coral Princess, and the return of the intimate Pacific Princess.
Sister ships Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess, sail on seven-day Inside Passage voyages out of Seattle, and Star Princess sails from San Francisco on 10-day Inside Passage voyages.
Award-winning enrichment program, North to Alaska, immerses guests on board and ashore in all things Alaska, such as meeting real Alaskans who come on board to share their stories and feasting on fresh Alaska seafood.
Exclusive Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions, giving guests opportunities to catch a glimpse of Alaska wildlife, including bears, whales, bald eagles and more.
Cruisetours:
With 25 cruisetour itineraries, guests can enjoy a seamless vacation experience by combining a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise, plus three or more nights in the Alaska wilderness, including scenic rail travel and stays at Princess-owned lodges. New for 2020, Princess offers a 17-night Ultimate Cruisetour, with 10 nights on land that includes two nights at each Princess Wilderness Lodge.
Only Princess Cruises offers exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service between the ship in Whittier and the Denali-area and custom-built wilderness lodges on the doorsteps of legendary national parks.

The Truth about Gratuities

Service on most cruise lines is good, but when it’s not what to do?


(Cruise Critic) In a bygone era of cruising, passengers showed their appreciation for crew member service by tipping those who went above and beyond the call of duty. These days, if cruise gratuities aren’t prepaid, most non-luxury lines automatically add tips of anywhere from $14 to $20 per person, per day, to passengers’ shipboard accounts, usually depending on the type of cabin in which passengers are booked.

Most lines — with the exception of Norwegian, which requires cruisers to file a reimbursement request after the cruise ends — allow passengers to adjust or remove automatic tips by visiting the front desk. But just because you can remove gratuities doesn’t mean you should. Below, we explore the pros and cons of tipping versus not tipping on a cruise and consider times when passengers might or might not think about removing cruise auto-gratuities.

Why You Might Remove Automatic Cruise Gratuities
1. You’ve Received Subpar Service
It’s rare that all areas of service are lacking onboard, but it’s certainly not out of the question. If you notice a problem that makes you think twice about tipping, be sure to speak with someone at the front desk who can try to resolve your issue before removing tips becomes necessary. If you truly feel as though the crew has performed below an acceptable standard, you reserve the right to ask for a refund of the amount charged to your account for tips or to decrease it as you see fit.

What Our Members Say: “I withdrew the standard tip on a recent cruise due to horrible service. All I asked is that the restaurant where the horrible service occurred would not receive the tip and even asked that they reassign that tip to the cabin stewards. It was a point of principle. We were told no and we had to withdraw all. We did this but tipped individually the appropriate people as advised by guest relations and indeed to excess.” –Pavovsky

2. You Prefer to Recognize Specific Individuals for a Job Well Done
With auto-gratuities, tips are pooled, and a portion goes to each person who helps to make your sailing special — even those behind-the-scenes folks (laundry staff, cooks, etc.) you never get to meet in person. If you feel strongly that you’d rather recognize your room steward or waiter individually for stellar service, feel free to do it the old-school way — by presenting him or her with an envelope full of cash.

What Our Members Say: “I prefer the personal exchange of handing a nicely filled envelope to those who have served me well.” –Mamabean

3. You Don’t Agree With or Aren’t Accustomed to Mandatory Cruise Tipping
Tipping on cruises is a hotly debated topic, and no article about it would be complete without a mention of those who feel gratuities are supposed to be extra, rather than implied. In some countries and cultures, gratuities are neither the norm, nor are they expected. Even in America, where tipping is a way of life, some people resent being forced to pay a daily charge for services that might be considered the standard duties of one’s job.

To avoid issues, some lines that cater to passengers in regions where tipping isn’t customary — the U.K. and Australia, for example — simply roll any such service charges into the overall cruise fares. However, most cruise lines are based in the U.S., where the crew members’ pay structure is based on tips — whether you like it or not. If you refuse to tip on principle, you are impacting the salaries of the people who have served you well onboard.

What Our Members Say: “I don’t tip. Do I feel bad for it? No… I’m British.”

CLIA Debuts New Online Courses for Agents

NCL’s Norwegian Bliss


Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced two new online courses, as well as three updated courses, to its professional development program available to travel professionals.
“CLIA is dedicated to providing the travel professional community with training and courses that will grow their abilities to sell cruise and further their business goals.” said Stephani E.D. McDow, MCC-s, Director, Professional Development & Membership. “We are continuously looking for new opportunities to provide the best possible training and enhance our already top-notch programs and online courses.”

Descriptions of the new and updated course offerings are as follows:

(NEW) Building Client Loyalty: No business can grow and prosper without repeat business. This CLIA course will show you how to generate loyalty among your customers. You’ll learn how to uncover hidden client needs, apply quality service and implement the 10 fundamentals to building and maintaining client loyalty.

(NEW) Power Selling Techniques: Take your sales skills to the next level! Building upon the foundation of Power Selling Skills course, learn additional techniques that will truly turn you into the power selling travel consultant you can be. This course provides additional tips, such as the five mini steps of sales and six super selling skills. If you want to be a top-seller, you cannot afford to miss this course.

(UPDATED) Cruising 201: Learn where the popular cruise regions are and types of itineraries that are common with cruise line products. Explore more in-depth details regarding cruise pricing and what is included in a cruise fare as well as how to position the value of a cruise vacation. You will also learn about the different types of ships and how the size and personal space onboard matter to your clients.

(UPDATED) World Geography- Western Hemisphere: Dive into Western Hemisphere cruise geography with this highly participatory workshop. You’ll feel as if you are visiting the popular destinations, ports and itineraries in the Western Hemisphere, viewing beautiful photos and participating in activities geared toward expanding your familiarity of the region.

(UPDATED) World Geography- Eastern Hemisphere: Now that you need it, don’t you wish you had learned more about geography while in school? Well, here it is, CLIA’s crash-course on Eastern Hemisphere cruise geography. In this highly participatory workshop, we’ll take you on a journey to the destinations, ports and itineraries in the eastern hemisphere that you need to know – and how to sell them.

CLIA’s online courses are available to Individual Agent Members at the discounted member rate of $29/course and non-member travel professionals at $59/course.

For more information on these new online courses and to enroll in one of CLIA’s Certification programs, please visit https://cruising.org/careerseascape.

HAL’s shore excursions score well in survey

Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam


Holland America Line took home five Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers from Porthole, one of the world’s leading consumer cruise travel publications, recognized Holland America Line in areas that covered everything from top shoreside experiences to onboard facilities.

Holland America Line won in the categories of Best Shore Excursions, Best Private Island for Half Moon Cay, Most Eco-Friendly Line, Best Medical Facilities and Best Facilities for Guests with Disabilities.

“Receiving Porthole’s Readers’ Choice Awards is a tremendous validation of the work we’re doing at Holland America Line to provide our guests with a memorable and immersive cruise vacation,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We’ve taken a lot of time these past few years to evaluate the experiences we’re delivering, and it’s gratifying to be recognized in areas that are important to us. Thank you to Porthole and all of the readers for these awards.”

Porthole Cruise Magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards are determined by thousands of the publication’s readers who vote by online ballot on their favorite cruise lines in 51 categories.

Half Moon Cay: Best Private Island
For the past 18 years, Porthole Cruise Magazine’s readers have named Half Moon Cay the industry’s Best Private Island. Half Moon Cay has evolved into an idyllic playground for cruise guests and features the finest beaches in the Caribbean; a natural 700-acre lagoon; incredible two-story villas and private cabanas; delicious dining venues like Lobster Shack; a new children’s waterpark; and a variety of fun-filled shore excursions for nature lovers, adventurous travelers and explorers.

Cruisers can visit Half Moon Cay on nearly all of Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.