December 10, 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 introduces first Roller Coaster at sea!

Carnival’s Mardi Gras will enter service next summer for seven day Caribbean cruises.


Carnival Cruise Line today revealed additional details on BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, and the centerpiece of the Ultimate Playground, an expansive open-air recreation area on Mardi Gras, set to debut in August 2020.
The announcement was made at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Conference in Orlando by Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy who was joined by the line’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. Carnival partnered with industry leader, Munich-based Maurer Rides, to showcase BOLT at IAAPA which brings together innovators from the world’s largest theme parks and attractions.
Duffy revealed that BOLT’s all-electric, motorcycle-inspired vehicles will be adorned with metallic red and blue stripes and an eye-catching yellow lightning bolt. The vehicle will also feature a digital speedometer display and speakers with new sound effects that will activate to enhance the exhilarating, one-of-a-kind experience.

New Carnival Mardi Gras has first at sea roller coaster.


Cameras will be located along the 800-foot-long track, as well as within the vehicle itself, providing riders with unique photo keepsakes as they take in 360-degree views and race 187 feet above the sea with drops, dips and hairpin turns achieving speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Guests choose their own speed so no two rides will ever be the same.
“Whether guests want to get an adrenaline rush or take it slow and enjoy the breathtaking views, BOLT will have it all,” said Duffy. “Combining the most talented designers, technicians and attractions professionals in the industry, we’ve taken FUN to a whole new level with this amazing onboard experience that is also a true game changer in our industry.”
BOLT will take center stage in the Ultimate Playground, one of Mardi Gras’ six themed zones, spanning Decks 18-20 and home to the largest WaterWorks aqua park in the Carnival fleet featuring three unique heart-racing slides designed for all-ages fun.
Blue Lightning will offer 312 feet of high-speed twists and turns, while the 229-foot-long Orange Thunder drop-down slide will propel guests into a wet ‘n wild splash zone. Back by popular demand, Carnival’s signature Twister slide encompasses 265 feet of thrills for the young and young at heart. Other features will include a splash-tastic zone just for kids with a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and numerous water toys.
The expanded SportSquare recreation complex features a 600-foot-long suspended ropes course – the longest in the fleet – a nine-hole miniature golf course, a jogging track and outdoor fitness equipment, and a basketball court.
A virtual tour of The Ultimate Playground can be viewed here: Carnival Bolt

Cruise Industry has big Impact on US Economy

The cruise industry contributes greatly to local economies throughout North America.


(Cybercruises) The cruise industry is an increasingly dominant player in the U.S. tourism sector according to a new study from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association.

The newly released CLIA 2018 Economic Impact Analysis found the cruise industry in the U.S. had an economic impact of over $52.7 billion in total contributions in 2018 alone, marking an increase of over 10 percent since 2016.

The increasing popularity of cruising to and from the United States is evident throughout the report, as is the inextricable correlation between the industry’s growth and its economic impact across the country. Nearly 13 million cruise passengers worldwide embarked from ports in the United States in 2018—an increase of nearly nine percent from 2016.

With increased embarkations come increased onshore spending. In 2018, cruise lines, their passengers and crew spent a record $23.96 billion in the United States—a 33 percent increase since 2010. Additionally, 2018 saw a new peak in the cruise industry’s U.S. expenditures, generating 421,711 jobs across the United States and contributing more than $23.15 billion in wages and salaries, a nearly 13 percent increase since 2016.

Combined, these numbers reflect the growing consensus cruising has evolved into a mainstream choice for travelers of all means and backgrounds, as well as a leader in the tourism sector. The cruise industry recognizes with growth comes added responsibility to ensure the destinations we visit remain a welcoming and beautiful place to both live in and visit for generations to come.

For more information about the cruise industry, the full 2018 CLIA Economic Impact Analysis, and details on the cruise industry’s economic impact in each of the top ten states, please visit: https://cruising.org/news-and-research/research/2019/november/contribution-of-the-international-cruise-industry-to-the-us-economy-2018

Sky Princess Begins Inaugural Season in Europe

The new Sky Princess begins cruises in Europe this fall. The 143,700-ton ship can handle 3,660-guests.


Sky Princess, the first purpose built Princess MedallionClass ship, recently set sail on her inaugural season in Europe. Representing an evolution of the design platform used for her sister Royal-Class ships – Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Majestic Princess – the 143,700-ton, 3,660-guest Sky Princess offers an elevation of spectacular style and elegance that Princess is known for, in addition to new distinct features.

Introduced on Sky Princess are new luxury Sky Suites boasting expansive views from the largest balconies at sea. In addition, two new entertainment experiences are offered – Phantom Bridge, a world’s first game combining digital and physical elements for the ultimate immersive escape room, and Take Five, the only jazz theater at sea, celebrating the iconic sounds, culture and history of jazz.

With the debut of Sky Princess, Princess Cruises marks the first time a ship has been built as a Princess MedallionClass™ ship. Powered by the OceanMedallion™, the global hospitality industry’s most advanced wearable device, MedallionClass vacations deliver a new level of service for a vacation that is more seamless, effortless and personalized. Considered a breakthrough in the vacation industry and a CES® 2019 Innovation Award Honoree, the complimentary OceanMedallion features leading-edge technology that delivers personalized service through enhanced guest-crew interactions, while eliminating friction points and enabling interactive entertainment.

Sky Princess will make her debut in North America on Dec. 1, 2019, for a season of Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.

Additional information about Sky Princess and Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.

Carnival expands presence in Alaska

Carnival Freedom will be plying 7-day cruises in 2021 from Seattle.


Carnival Cruise Line will increase its presence in Alaska, deploying Carnival Freedom from Seattle beginning in April 2021, operating Carnival’s popular week-long Glacier Route voyages, and joining Carnival Miracle which will operate 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises from San Francisco beginning in May 2021.
Carnival Freedom 7-day cruises from Seattle, 2021
Carnival Freedom will operate 21 Alaska cruises departing every Tuesday. Port calls on the week-long Glacier Route voyages include Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria, B.C., and scenic cruising of Tracy Arm Fjord. There’s also an eight-day cruise featuring Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Victoria and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord. Carnival Freedom offers a wide range of onboard amenities, including dining venues ranging from casual choices like Bonsai Sushi Express and Guy’s Burger Joint to an elegant reservations-only steakhouse, along with a luxurious spa and a spectacular WaterWorks aqua park. Hundreds of balcony staterooms and suites — perfect for watching the passing scenery — are available as well.

Carnival Miracle’s Two- to 16-Day Voyages from San Francisco and San Diego
Carnival Miracle, which launches Carnival’s first-ever service from San Francisco in March 2020, will return to San Francisco in 2021 to operate a summer schedule of 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises that visit some of the region’s most beautiful and popular ports. Ten-day cruises call at Juneau, Skagway, and Icy Strait Point or Ketchikan, Victoria, and scenic cruising of Tracy Arm while the 11-day cruises include calls in both Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan. The ship will also operate a series of 16-day Carnival Journeys Hawaii cruises. The program also includes unique four-day long weekend cruises to Ensenada. Carnival Miracle will also sail from San Diego in 2021-22 offering two- to six-day voyages visiting a variety of destinations in Mexico and Baja California, including Ensenada, Catalina Island, and Cabo San Lucas, as well as series of 15-day Carnival Journeys cruises to Hawaii. Carnival Miracle’s San Diego-based schedule runs from Oct. 3, 2021 to April 18, 2022.

Seabourn’s Alaska Experience

Exploring the Inian Islands by Zodiac.


Expedition cruising has long been popular in Alaska. The intricate waterways of this vast coastal wilderness invite exploration by small ships and is a voyage that can really awaken your awareness of the natural world.

Dining is casual in the Colonnade on the Sojourn.


Should you be looking for both luxury and expedition-style cruising, Seabourn’s 450-passenger Sojourn offers the relaxed ambience of a private club and an expedition team of seasoned guides ready to take you wildlife viewing in Zodiacs and kayaks. The Sojourn follows a route less travelled, tracing narrow channels avoided by the larger ships and anchoring at remote wilderness locations. An excellent example is the Inian Islands in Icy Strait where we climbed into Zodiacs to take a close look at a sea lion rookery and a kelp-filled cove where sea otters congregate.

Seabourn Sojourn docked near Sitka.


After a few hours exposed to the elements, I was happy to return to the pampered warmth of the ship. Everywhere on board the staff were friendly and attentive, whether offering to carry my plate to a table during the buffet-style lunch in the Colonnade or escorting the ladies to their tables in the elegant Restaurant at dinnertime. Our room stewardess, a young woman from South Africa, was as cheerful as she was efficient, and the level of service throughout the ship lived up to Seabourn’s well-deserved reputation.

A couple shares a quiet moment near the bow of the Sojourn.


With one of the highest passenger space ratios in the cruise industry, the Sojourn had a wonderful sense of spaciousness, both in our balcony suite and throughout the public areas. One of our favorite spots was the Seabourn Square with its floor-to-ceiling windows, cappuccino bar, shelves of library books and overstuffed sofas where we could sip our coffee and have our pick of several daily newspapers from around the world.

The last afternoon of the cruise all guests were invited to the show lounge to watch a brief film shot during the course of our 12-day cruise. We relived the remarkable moments of our cruise, then applauded not only the expedition team gathered on the stage, but all of the ship’s crew – representing 52 nations – as they squeezed onto the stage. Conviviality is what sets cruising apart from other forms of travel and the friendliness on board the Sojourn made it hard to disembark when the ship docked in Vancouver the next morning.

SEABOURN SOJOURN: 32,000 tons, 450 passengers, 330 crew. Launched 2010.
For information on Alaska cruises or other destinations visit: Seabourn Alaska

Rain or Shine, Alaska is Spectacular

Seabourn Sojourn anchored in Endicott Arm.


Rain can spoil most vacations, but not a cruise to Alaska. The weather on my recent trip aboard Seabourn’s Sojourn was, in a word, wet – yet this didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the ship’s expedition staff. Embracing the elements, they guided small groups into the wilderness to experience firsthand the raw beauty of Alaska that no amount of rain can wash away.

With rain pelting down, the young woman piloting our Zodiac past sapphire-blue icebergs at the head of Endicott Arm gazed with happiness at the cascades of white water plunging down the sheer granite slopes of the fjord. “I know you probably don’t want to hear this,” she said, drawing our attention to the subtle colors and patterns of the glistening rock faces, “but it was such a dry summer, we really needed this rain.”

Sunset in Misty Fjords.


Our 12-day September cruise aboard the Sojourn was an opportunity to visit remote fjords and forested islands bypassed by the large ships, and to do so while enjoying the country-club conviviality of a 450-passenger luxury ship. The service was attentive but not stuffy and the atmosphere was friendly. One evening guests were encouraged to join a pre-dinner block party at which we mingled in the corridor outside our suites. It helped that the ship’s stewards served cocktails and the captain came along with a smile and handshakes.

Sea lion rookery near Alert Bay, British Columbia.


We called at an interesting array of ports, from attraction-filled Juneau and Ketchikan to less-visited ports such as Sitka, Wrangell and Prince Rupert. The ship’s route was similar to an expedition cruise, tracing narrow channels and anchoring in remote wilderness locations at which excursions by Zodiac, kayak and tour boat were offered to get a close look at sea lion rookeries and tidewater glaciers. While anchored in the pristine solitude of Rudyerd Bay, the ship became a base for waterborne excursions and floatplane rides over the scenic Misty Fjords.

The Seabourn Sojourn is a 30,000 ton luxury class ship.


Sea mammals and bird life abound along the Inside Passage and one of our best Zodiac excursions was to view humpback and killer whales in the waters near Alert Bay in British Columbia. Few things in life are more exhilarating than watching a whale surface as you drift nearby in an inflatable boat. And few things are more pleasurable than returning to the warm ambience of a luxury ship like the Sojourn to soak in a hot bath or ponder the dinner menu while sipping a glass of champagne. The weather can do what it wants.

CLIA Releases 2019 Environmental Practices Report

Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam is equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) technology.


The cruise industry has made year-over-year progress in implementing sustainable technologies and practices according to the third annual Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report released this week and compiled by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

“While cruise ships comprise far less than 1% of the global maritime community, cruise lines are at the forefront in developing responsible tourism practices and innovative technologies. Our industry leads in environmental stewardship,” said Michael Thamm, Chairman of CLIA Europe and Group CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, who shared the results at Seatrade Europe in Hamburg. “The entire shipping industry benefits from early adoption of innovative technologies by cruise lines—many of which did not exist five to 10 years ago such as exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), LNG as fuel for passenger ships and shore-side power capabilities,” he added.

CLIA Cruise Lines have invested more than $22 billion in ships with new, energy-efficient technologies and cleaner fuels, and as noted in the report achieved substantial progress in these areas:

LNG Fuel* – The 2019 report found 44% of new build capacity will rely on LNG fuel for primary propulsion, a 60% increase in overall capacity compared to last year.

Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS)* — More than 68% of global capacity utilizes EGCS to meet or exceed air emissions requirements representing an increase in capacity of 17% compared to last year. Additionally, 75% of non-LNG new builds will have EGCS installed, an increase in capacity of 8% compared to last year.

Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems – 100% of new ships on order are specified to have advanced wastewater treatment systems (an increase of 26% over 2018) and currently 68% of the CLIA Cruise Lines global fleet capacity is served by advanced wastewater treatment systems (an increase of 13% over 2018).

Shore-side Power Capability – In port, cruise ships are increasingly equipped with the technology to allow delivery of shoreside electricity, thus allowing engines to be switched off, and there are many collaborations with ports and governments to increase the availability.

Fleet Age – The CLIA fleet is getting younger: The average age of the CLIA cruise lines fleet is 14.1 years compared to 14.6 the prior year.

“CLIA Cruise Lines are committed to responsible tourism practices with standards of environmental stewardship often exceeding those required by law,” said Adam Goldstein, Chairman of CLIA Global and Vice Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “While we are encouraged by and proud of the progress we’ve made, we know there is still work to be done. The cruise industry is a pioneer in maritime environmental protection and has made a fleet-wide commitment to reduce the rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.”

Anne’s Tips for Cruising to Alaska

Anne Vipond gets close to her work on an iceberg in Tracy Arm.


The weather is unpredictable, so be prepared for anything, from warm sunny days to non-stop rain. The common advice is to dress in layers. Start with long pants and a light shirt, followed by a warm sweater, sweatshirt or fleece jacket, and topped with a rain slicker. A wide-brimmed hat is good for keeping both rain and sun off your face, and comfortable walking shoes are a must. When a ship draws close to a glacier the air can be very chilly, so a warm jacket and even a toque and gloves would be useful.

A good lens helps in getting great pictures in Alaska.


Viewing the rugged coastal scenery is a major incentive for cruising to Alaska and a balcony cabin maximizes your viewing opportunities. If you’re taking a one-way cruise between Vancouver and Seward or Whittier, keep in mind that the mainland mountain ranges will be best viewed from a starboard cabin if northbound, and a port cabin if southbound. If you’re taking a round-trip cruise from Vancouver or Seattle, it’s not critical which side of the ship your cabin is on. Also, regardless of whether you are on a one-way or round-trip cruise, once your ship pulls into a fjord for a close-up look at a glacier, the captain usually positions the ship first with one side facing the glacier, then turns the ship around so passengers on the other side can have a good look. Of course, any of the public decks at the bow are good places to view the scenery as is the uppermost deck where you can enjoy a 360-degree view.

Humpback whales in Alaska can usually be seen near Juneau and Glacier Bay in summer months.


I think some people assume they will see lots of marine mammals from the ship. But this is not a given, especially on the large ships. Fortunately, the selection of shore excursions offered in Alaska is amazing and many are designed to take viewers up close (but not too close) to specific species of wildlife. If, for example, seeing a humpback whale is apriority, I would highly recommend booking a whalewatching excursion out of Juneau, where humpback whales feed throughout the summer in nearby channels. Allen Marine Tours works with the cruise lines and offers half-day excursions on catamarans that are designed for stability and equipped with waterjets for speed and maneuverability. With deep roots in Alaska, the Allen family expanded its reach a few years ago with the launch of Alaskan Dream Cruises.

The unique itineraries offered by smaller expedition cruise companies operating in Alaska, will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure and curiosity. Passengers are taken off the beaten path in vessels that can navigate narrow channels and anchor in remote coves where further exploring is done in Zodiac inflatables or sea kayaks for close-up views of marine life. Beach landings and activities ashore include rainforest hikes and visits to native villages to learn about Tlingit culture and art, such as the carving of totem poles.

Expedition cruising is thriving in Alaska, but even if you’re booked on a large ship the shore excursions offered include wilderness adventures such as canoeing, kayaking, hiking and rock climbing, not to mention helicopter rides to sled dog camps where you can take a turn at mushing across a glacier.

Small ships such as the Seabourn’s 450 passenger Sojourn let you get much closer to Alaskan scenery.


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 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.

It’s actually quite difficult to recommend one specific Alaska cruise over another, because it really depends on what style of travel a person is looking for. A multi-generational family might prefer a large ship for the variety of facilities on board, such as a playroom for children and age-appropriate activities for teens, whereas an active couple might be happier on an expedition-style cruise. One of my favorite choices for cruising to Alaska is Holland America Line, which has been taking passengers to Alaska since the 1970s. With their flag-blue hulls and “dam” names, these modern mid-sized ships are run by Dutch officers and retain traditional features from the Golden Era of ocean liners, including teak wrap-around promenade decks lined with steamer chairs. Princess Cruises is another premium line with decades of experience in Alaska and a network of luxury lodges for passengers who want to combine a land tour with their cruise.

First Battery-powered cruise ship sets sail

The 20,000 ton Roald Amundsen can operate on battery power for up to an hour.

Oslo, Norway Reuters – The world’s first cruise ship propelled partially by battery power is set to head out from northern Norway on its maiden voyage, cruise operator Hurtigruten said on Monday.

The hybrid expedition cruise ship, the Roald Amundsen, can take 500 passengers and is designed to sail in harsh climate waters.

Named after the Norwegian explorer who navigated the Northwest Passage in 1903-1906 and was first to reach the South Pole in 1911, the ship heads for the Arctic from Tromsoe this week and will sail the Northwest Passage to Alaska before heading south, reaching Antarctica in October.

While the engines run mainly on marine gasoil, the ship’s battery pack enables it to run solely on batteries for around 45 to 60 minutes under ideal conditions, Hurtigruten Chief Executive Daniel Skjeldam told Reuters.

The company estimates that the battery pack will reduce fuel consumption and save about 20% in carbon dioxide emissions, compared to if the ship was operating on marine gasoil alone.

“It’s designed to take excessive energy from the engines and put into the battery when the ship doesn’t need it, and put it back into the engine when the ship needs it — it is a way of reducing emissions significantly without having charging stations available,” Skjeldam said.

The company, which operates scenic cruise lines along the country’s fjords and into the Arctic, was inspired by Norway’s fleet of hybrid ferries and also its growing fleet of electric cars, he said.

Battery technology for propelling ships is in its infancy, even on shorter routes, as few ports provide charging stations.

“We expect batteries to be an important part of shipping in the years to come, but of course we don’t expect our ships to be able to operate only on batteries, because the ship can sail up to 18-20 days in areas where there are no charging points,” Skjeldam said.

Hurtigruten expects infrastructure will improve on its traditional routes along the Norwegian coast, while currently charging services are only provided in Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city.

Seabourn unveils suites on new luxury Expedition Ships

Seabourn’s new Venture is scheduled to launch in 2021.


Luxury cruise line Seabourn is giving travelers another look at their guest suites on its two new purpose-built expedition ships set to launch in June 2021 and May 2022. The Veranda, Panorama Veranda, and Penthouse suite categories are masterfully designed spaces that will provide beautiful and relaxing accommodations on Seabourn Venture and the soon-to-be-named sister ship.

“All of our spacious suites provide the expedition traveler with equal parts of adventure together with the best in luxury accommodation and service,” said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. “Seabourn’s suites are created to invite guests to linger longer as we take them to diverse and remote locales around the world.”

Design elements such as parchment texture inspired wall panels and curvilinear arches reflect bygone maritime craftsmanship. Custom bedside panels recall luxury travel from another era yet are decidedly current with toggle switches, an analog clock and a fold away reading lamp, perfect for curling up with a custom Seabourn blanket. Guests are drawn into the space with organic shapes, materials like wood and stone, and intricately textured fabrics. Spacious bathrooms with separate shower and bathtub feature luxurious fittings. The ship’s art collection, curated to reflect that of a seasoned explorer, will extend beyond public areas into the ship’s all ocean front with private veranda suites as well.

Each suite will also have a built-in heated jacket wardrobe, where guests can grab a warm coat before heading out on a cool morning or hang their wet outdoor parkas and other gear to dry quickly once they return from adventures off the ship.

Seabourn Venture is scheduled to launch in June 2021, with a second yet-to-be-named sister ship slated to launch in May 2022. The ships are being designed from conception for expedition travel blended with ultra-luxury and personalized service by leading travel experts and seasoned professionals with great depth of experience in expedition, hospitality, and luxury cruising.

For more details about the award-winning Seabourn fleet, or to explore the worldwide selection of Seabourn cruising options visit Seabourn