December 10, 2018

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.

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.

Holland America Nieuw Statendam Completes Sea Trials

Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam is going through finishing touches to be ready this fall.


Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam, the second Pinnacle Class ship in the fleet, returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy in late August after successfully completing two sets of sea trials off the coast.

Nieuw Statendam left Marghera Aug. 10 and performed the first set of sea trials over two days before going into dry dock at Fincantieri’s Trieste shipyard, where the trial’s data was reviewed and standard hull maintenance was performed. The ship sailed its second sea trials Aug. 18, making its way back to Marghera Aug. 22 where the finishing touches will be completed.

“The sea trials are a highly anticipated milestone for any newbuild because it takes us one step closer to delivery, and we’re thrilled that Nieuw Statendam gave a strong performance out in open water,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Nieuw Statendam and the innovations we’re introducing on board. The ship is going to have an exciting debut in early December.”

During the sea trials, Nieuw Statendam underwent a series of performance tests on the ship’s systems, machinery and engines. The shipyard’s team of nautical officers, naval architects and builders tested the ship’s maneuvering characteristics and safety systems.

About Nieuw Statendam
Due for delivery Dec. 1, 2018, Nieuw Statendam will explore the Caribbean in winter and then move to northern Europe, Iceland and the Mediterranean in summer during its inaugural year. The 2,666-guest, 99,500-ton ship will reflect the ongoing evolution of Holland America Line. From familiar elements that reflect a rich heritage and classic style to state-of-the-art enhancements that chart a bold new course forward, guests on board Nieuw Statendam will delight in details that are artfully inspired and perfectly presented to create the ultimate Pinnacle-class experience.

While much of the ship’s design will be similar to Koningsdam, the first Pinnacle Class ship, Nieuw Statendam will have exclusive public spaces and its own style created by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjørn Storbraaten. The ship will feature all of the hallmarks of Pinnacle-Class design: grand, light-filled spaces; visual drama; and sumptuous interiors inspired by the fluid curves of musical instruments.

Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898, and this will be the sixth ship in the company’s history to carry the name. In combining the Dutch word for “new” with the classic “Statendam,” Holland America Line celebrates the company’s past, present and future.

Princess Cruises Names Fifth Royal-Class Ship

New Enchanted Princess is scheduled for delivery in 2020.


As Princess Cruises fleet expansion continues, the premium international cruise line reveals the name of the ship it will launch in 2020 – Enchanted Princess.

Enchanted Princess is scheduled to debut on June 15, 2020 sailing on a series of European voyages. Bookings for her maiden season, summer 2020, will open on November 8, 2018.

“The name Enchanted Princess is captivating and conveys the elegance and grace of our new ship which will introduce more travellers to the pleasures and value of cruising,” said Jan Swartz president of Princess Cruises. “We are certain Enchanted Princess will exceed the expectations of our guests, ensuring they have the most memorable cruise vacation.”

Ms Swartz said Princess has the strongest pipeline of premium new ship builds in the world. The arrival of Enchanted Princess will be followed by the debut of the sixth Royal-Class vessel for Princess Cruises in 2021. The cruise line also has two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered ships on order, bringing its new ship order to five ships in six years.

Construction of the 143,700-ton, 3,660-passenger Enchanted Princess will take place in the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard with the ship set to feature an evolution of the design platform used for the cruise line’s previous Royal-Class ships.

Princess Cruises currently operates a fleet of 17 modern cruise ships, sailing voyages around the globe. Enchanted Princess is a sister ship to four other Royal-Class ships in the cruise line’s fleet – Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess and Sky Princess (joining the fleet in October 2019).

For more Enchanted Princess updates visit: Princess Cruises

Facts needed to address overboard incidents

All cruise ships maintain high guardrails to ensure passenger safety.


(Travel Pulse) Anyone who’s previously embarked on a cruise ship realizes it’s virtually impossible to “fall” overboard. Among other realities, the chest-high, sturdy iron railings aboard contemporary cruise ships ensure that only guests intent on engaging in risky or suicidal behavior end up overboard.

But for the millions of leisure travelers who’ve never been aboard a cruise ship—or a ship of any sort for that matter—media reports of passengers “falling” off are concerning.

In Facebook posts discussing the most recent highly publicized overboard incident, one travel agent complained some of her prospective first-time cruisers were now terrified of “falling off” their ship, should they choose to cruise.

The idea of facing a life-threatening situation while vacationing is naturally a sobering matter. However, media characterizations of overboard incidents, no doubt motivated at least in part by sensitivity to victims and their loved ones, routinely describe passengers as “falling” overboard.

So how should travel agents address this sensitive issue with prospective new cruisers? Well, it’s best to begin with some facts.

In its “Report on Operational Incidents, 2009 to 2017,” commissioned by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), U.K.-based analyst G.P. Wild studied a wide range of shipboard operational incidents—including passengers and crew going overboard.

The firm consulted sources including International Maritime and nautical organizations, trade and shipping industry publications, major newspaper and magazine accounts and cruise-line representatives.

Ultimately, G.P Wild found that “in every case where the cause of the [man overboard] was established following a careful investigation, it was found to be the result of an intentional or reckless act.”

The study also reported an average of 18.2 overboard incidents per year involving passengers and crew between 2009 and 2017. Annual cruise passengers grew from 17.8 million to 26.7 million during the same period.

Thus, overboard incidents represent an infinitesimal total compared with the millions of travelers who cruise each year. Simply put, such incidents are extremely rare.

The report also found that “After a low of 12 incidents in 2013, overboard incidents increased to 24 by 2015. [However] in 2017, [the number] returned close to a historically low level and the underlying trend remains downward between 2009 and 2017.”

Perhaps the most effective way to convince potential first-time cruise travelers that “falling” overboard is extremely unlikely is with a generous dose of truth.

“People just don’t ‘fall overboard’ from a cruise ship,” said Stewart Chiron, a Miami-based cruise expert who is also one of the country’s top cruise vacation sellers. “It occurs because of extremely poor judgment, carelessness or on purpose by the person(s) involved,” he said.

“Travel agents can reassure concerned guests that cruise lines take their safety to heart in every aspect of ship safety,” Chiron added. “The railings aboard cruise ships are higher than what’s required by law. Unfortunately like from hotel balconies, people do fall, but not because the balconies were unsafe.”

Chiron pointed out that statistically, “Sailing aboard a cruise ship remains the safest mode of transportation in the world.”

Perhaps it’s easy for those who haven’t cruised to believe they could “fall” from a ship. Despite its evolution from a travel industry niche to a mainstream vacation over the last 20 years, cruising remains shrouded in myths that have proven hard to shake.

It doesn’t help that the vast majority of global vacationers have never taken a cruise. When I served as director of public relations for CLIA in the early 2000’s, the fables surrounding cruises were known as “barriers to trial.”

These included the notion that cruise ships were confining, that only old and wealthy people ever took cruises, that cruises were a nonstop food fest and finally that there was “nothing to do” aboard cruise ships.

Such issues pale in comparison with a person going overboard, but they do indicate how little most people know about contemporary cruise vacations.

Yet each year more and more people cruise and discover what I’ve always found to be true: cruises offer a flexible, surprisingly diverse and most of all safe and enjoyable vacation form.

These days, when I’m asked about cruise passengers going overboard I frequently respond by saying I’ve taken more than 100 cruises and managed not to fall off “even once.”

However, going overboard into the ocean is no joking matter. That’s why agents should stick to the facts when addressing the issue with potential cruisers.

Keel Laid For Crystal Endeavor

New 20,000 ton Crystal Endeavor being built in German yard.


Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel was guest of honour last Tuesday at the keel-laying ceremony at the MV Werften shipyard in Stralsund for the 20,000-ton 200-berth luxury Ice Class expedition ship Crystal Endeavor.

According to Seatrade Cruise News, Merkel said it was an emotional day for her as she returned to her political home, Mecklenburg Vorpommern. ”People here in Stralsund will always do their best to create great value … We know how to compete. We are very proud in Mecklenburg Vorpommern and Germany and we want to make the label “Made in MV” an attraction,” she said.

Genting Hong Kong chairman and ceo Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay was also in attendance as part of Genting’s plan to revive shipbuilding on the northern shores of Germany. Historically, Germany has built 25% of the world’s cruise ships. Thanks to Genting Hong Kong’s investment, that will now go up to 35% by 2020, said Lim.

After a spate of European river ship introductions, Crystal Endeavor’s keel-laying shifts the focus back to Crystal’s ocean-going itineraries.

The Crystal Endeavor’s 20,000-ton sister ship is now scheduled for delivery in 2021, a year later than had been planned. And the Crystal Diamond, the line’s first 65,000-tonner, will follow in 2022.
Crystal Endeavor is now open for bookings for her first season, running from August 2020 through January 2021. And some 25% of her inaugural Antarctic seasion is already booked.

NCL takes delivery of Bliss

NCL’s new Norwegian Bliss will cruise Alaska this season.

(Travel Pulse) Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the 168,028-gross-ton Norwegian Bliss from Meyer Werft during a ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany.

The ship will operate a two-day preview cruise before cruising to Southampton, England, to begin its transatlantic journey on April 21. Upon arrival in the U.S. on May 3, NCL will host two-night preview events in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. The ship will be christened on May 30 in Seattle, from where it will begin a season of seven-day Alaska voyages on June 2.

Norwegian Bliss, the third ship in the line’s Breakaway Plus class, includes some new first-at-sea offerings such as the largest competitive racetrack at sea. The two-level, electric-car racetrack sits at the top of Deck 19, offering guests amazing views while twisting and turning at a speed of up to 30 mph. The ship also has an open-air laser tag course and a side-by-side multi-story race waterslide at the expansive Aqua Park. One waterslide extends over the edge of the ship and loops down to the deck below.

After its Alaska season, Norwegian Bliss will spend the fall cruising to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles. In winter 2018, it will sail the Caribbean from Miami, and in the 2019 fall/winter season, she will cruise from New York City to Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

To book a cruise on Norwegian Bliss, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE(625-2784), or visit NCL

The Perennial Allure of Alaska

Seabourn Sojourn offers a luxury cruise experience in Alaska.

Everyone, it seems, wants to see Alaska. And many of us prefer to view the region’s magnificent coastal scenery from the decks of a cruise ship. The appeal of this vast northern state of glacier-clad mountains and majestic fjords is as strong as ever and the selection of cruise lines and itineraries servicing Alaska continues to grow.

The city of Vancouver has long been the main turnaround port for cruises to Alaska and it now shares that status with Seattle. Most cruises out of Seattle are one-week round-trip itineraries while those from Vancouver cover a wider range of choices. These include round-trip cruises of the Inside Passage and one-way cruises to the Alaska ports of Seward or Whittier (both near Anchorage) where land tours to Denali are popular. Several cruise lines also offer round-trip cruises to Alaska from the California ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles. For cruise enthusiasts, Alaska has never been easier to visit.

The cruise lines servicing Alaska cover all categories, from contemporary to luxury to expedition. Some lines, such as Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, have been cruising to Alaska for decades and position a fleet of ships on the west coast throughout the May-to-October season. Other lines offering cruises to Alaska include Disney, NCL, Oceania and Royal Caribbean. In the luxury market, Crystal, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas have been joined by Seabourn, which returned to the region in 2017 after a 15-year hiatus. Cunard will be back in Alaska for the summer of 2019.

Expedition cruising is also thriving in Alaska, where wilderness and natural beauty are the star attractions. Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, Ponant, Un-Cruise Adventures and Windstar all offer off-the-beaten track voyages with a close-up look at the scenery. But even if you’re booked on a large ship, the shore excursions offered include wilderness adventures such as kayaking, hiking, whale watching and rock climbing, not to mention helicopter rides to sled dog camps where you can take a turn at mushing across a glacier.

Expedition cruising includes sea adventures in Zodiac inflatables.


For the best of both worlds, a luxury cruise on Seabourn’s 450-passenger Sojourn provides not only spacious accommodations and impeccable service but an expedition-style itinerary that follows narrow, twisting channels and stops at unspoiled hideaways, such as the Inian Islands, where the ship’s expert expedition team leads shore excursions in Zodiacs and sea kayaks. Sea otters are abundant in the waters off this cluster of small islands in Icy Strait, as are Pacific white-sided dolphins, orcas and humpback whales.

No matter which cruise line you choose, Alaska’s wilderness will be sure to steal the show.