February 16, 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.

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.

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.