May 31, 2023

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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.

NCL awarding free cruises to best teachers

Norwegian Viva, begins cruises this summer in the Mediterranean.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8 – 12, 2023), and the countless educators across North America, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the innovator in global cruise travel, today announced the launch of its fourth annual award-winning Giving Joy recognition program, which provides teachers with free cruises and the chance to set sail on Norwegian Viva, the Company’s newest groundbreaking ship.

The annual program serves to shine a light on educators, the unsung heroes of every community, and their relentless dedication to inspiring students and bringing joy to the classroom every day. To date, Norwegian’s Giving Joy has awarded over 230 educators with a free cruise vacation and donated over $350,000 to local schools and teachers with the support of its brand partners. This year, NCL will award the top 20 teachers across the U.S. and Canada with the most votes a seven-day cruise for two. In addition, the top three grand prize winners will be invited to attend the exclusive Christening voyage of Norwegian Viva, the second vessel from the all-new Prima Class, later this year.

“We are proud to once again launch our Giving Joy campaign and to continue to celebrate the very important role teachers play in our community and for our youth, as well as to reinforce the connection between travel and education,” said David J. Herrera, President of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We believe educators are a powerful source of inspiration, just like travel, where both aim to broaden perspectives, connect people around the world and bring awareness to different cultures and experiences.”
Now through June 9, 2023, NCL is encouraging the public to nominate certified or accredited teachers in the U.S. and Canada who have made an impact in their life and inspire students each and every day by visiting

Alaska Season starts with seven Princess ships

The refurbished Royal Princess will be in Alaska for 2023.

Princess Cruises, the leading cruise line in Alaska, is readying for the start of the 2023 cruise and cruisetour season which begins April 29. Sustainable seafood and award-winning programming that immerses guests in all things Alaska are highlights again this year as Princess sails seven ships throughout The Great Land across 14 cruise itineraries and 25 land-sea vacations, including the line’s newest ship Discovery Princess along with Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Majestic Princess, Grand Princess, Crown Princess and Sapphire Princess.

New for 2023 is an expanded Wild for Alaska Seafood menu that can be enjoyed by all guests sailing with Princess in Alaska this season, as well as a new Garden-to-Table menu for cruisetour guests staying at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge. An extensive beverage program including decadent coffee and hot chocolate-based creations, themed frozen drinks, Alaska wines and flights of Alaska beer, Alaska cocktails, Bloody Marys or Mimosas are also being introduced this season.

“Welcoming guests at the start of the Alaska season is always one of the most highly anticipated events of the year because we know they are going to have one of the most memorable travel experiences,” said John Padgett, Princess Cruises president. “Each season, we’re passionate about enhancing our programs to offer one of the most destination-focused programs available and for 2023, we’ve crafted some amazing Wild for Alaska Seafood dishes that will leave guests dreaming of coming back.”

Introduced in 2022, Princess’s Wild for Alaska Seafood menu is an industry-first, location-based seafood initiative featuring an extensive menu offering a rotation of fresh Alaska seafood dishes, along with destination-inspired cocktails including flights of Alaska spirits sourced from local distilleries. Distinctive Alaska seafood dishes with featured items are offered every night in all main dining rooms and highlight only the freshest seafood ingredients with multiple varieties of Alaska salmon, including King (Chinook), Sockeye and Coho, as well as wild Alaska cod (caught by hook and line only), halibut, rockfish, Dungeness crabs, wild spot prawns and razor clams.

Visit for more information.

Cruising to Paradise – Part Two

The lush islands of Polynesia are the stuff of legend. They hold a seductive sway over anyone who has visited their shores. They have lured sailors to commit mutiny, inspired artists to create great works, and prompted mainland city dwellers to abandon lucrative careers in favor of barefoot days at the beach.

Is it any wonder we dream of visiting these storied islands to see for ourselves their bewitching beauty?

Travelling by cruise ship is the best way to visit the far flung islands of Polynesia, which lie scattered across a vast area of the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaiian Islands are the northernmost group and are the easiest to reach from North America, either on round-trip or one-way cruises from the port cities of Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Another option is to fly to Honolulu and embark on an NCL round-trip cruise of the islands.

Reaching Tahiti entails a longer journey, prompting many a traveller to book a flight to Pape‘ete, and from there embark on a round-trip cruise of the islands of French Polynesia.

There is, however, a third option – and one that appeals to the wanderlust in all of us. That option is to travel throughout Polynesia by ship, cruising from a West Coast port to the Hawaiian Islands and from there proceeding south across the Equator to make landfall at various islands stretching across the South Pacific. Relaxing days at sea are punctuated by days when the ship is docked at a tropical island or anchored off an atoll while passengers are tendered ashore.

Polynesia means ‘many islands’ and they range from the American state of Hawai‘i to the Kingdom of Tonga to the nation of New Zealand. Isolated from one another by hundreds of miles of ocean, the inhabitants of Polynesia nonetheless share cultural traits. Their languages are similar and their traditional mode of transit is the outrigger canoe.

When the Polynesian people of ancient times were migrating across the open waters of the Pacific, they travelled in double-hulled ocean-going canoes carved from large logs that were lashed together with massive crossbeams. Skilled navigators, these ancient mariners steered by the Sun, Moon and stars, and rode the prevailing winds and currents to their next landfall. Over time, the isolated archipelagoes of the South Pacific were discovered, one by one, and a vibrant culture took root in palm-treed villages overlooking fish-filled lagoons. Song and dance were the favored form of storytelling, and performers adorned themselves with shell jewelry and flower headdresses.

The natural beauty of these tropical islands is undisputed but it’s the Polynesians’ joyful approach to life that charms many a visitor.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas nears completion

The 250,000 ton Icon of the Seas is due to launch in January 2024.

Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas reached its next major construction milestone at the Meyer Turku shipyard Finland, when it was floated out of the dry dock and into its outfitting dock for its anticipated debut in January 2024. This is the first Icon Class ship of RCI where it has been under construction for more than eight months.

As part of the float out, the ship’s dry dock was filled with water overnight. Once the dock was filled, Icon was then moved to an outfitting dock, which will be its home for the next year until construction is complete. The mega ship displaces 250,000 tons and carries over 5600 passengers. The ship is unique both in size and appearance and will be of great interest for agents booking families with young children. There are many attractions for kids on several levels from  especial in the mid aft section of the upper decks with 6 waterslides and seven pools.

What’s in store on Icon is the first-of-its-kind combination of the best of every vacation. From the beach retreat to the resort escape and the theme park adventure, the revolutionary ship delivers every kind of family and adventurer their version of the ultimate family vacation.

The new ship features an all-encompassing lineup of firsts and next-level favorites across eight neighborhoods, making it the perfect getaway for adults and parents, kids and grandparents alike. Between the adrenaline-pumping thrills at the new Thrill Island and unrivaled ways to chill at neighborhoods like the new Chill Island and the luxurious four-level Suite Neighborhood.

Icon will sail year-round, 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations from Miami. Every cruise will visit Royal Caribbean’s top-rated private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas, and a mix of destinations like Cozumel, Mexico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Basseterre, St. Kitts. More details about Icon are available at

HAL reports record uptick in cruise sales

Holland America’s Koningsdam arriving in Vancouver.

In an early sign of a successful Wave season, Holland America Line bookings in the third week of January were the highest on record for any January week for the premium cruise line. The week ending January 20 also exceeded bookings during the same week in 2019 by more than 20%.

The rise was especially notable for summer cruises and Cruisetours to Alaska, where Holland America Line offers more cruises to Glacier Bay than any other line and is the only cruise line with owned land operations in both Denali and Yukon. For the week ending Jan. 20, Alaska bookings were 25% higher than in the strongest week in January 2019.

On Jan. 17 alone, Holland America Line reached its highest single-day bookings for any January day on record. Guests are also booking cruises further into the future. More than 25% of the bookings for the high-volume day on Jan. 17 were for voyages embarking in 2024.

“Seeing this level of booking is a great sign for Holland America Line and for the industry,” said Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line. “Travelers are clearly excited to get back to cruising and they appreciate the service and experiences unique to Holland America Line including our Alaska Up Close onboard programming. It’s especially encouraging that so many guests are already looking ahead to 2024 and planning their next vacation.”

Holland America Line’s “Time of Your Life” Wave offer runs through Feb. 28, 2023, with limited-time kickers such as $1 deposits added throughout. “Time of Your Life” is available on select summer 2023 to spring 2024 cruises and includes a free stateroom upgrade, fare discounts, free fares for kids and reduced deposits — plus tours, beverages, specialty dining and Wi-Fi with the “Have It All” premium package.

NCL celebrates first cruise season from South Africa

Norwegian Jade, 94,000 tons, carries over 2400 passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) celebrates a new milestone having successfully concluded its inaugural season sailing from Cape Town, South Africa.

In December, Norwegian Jade became the first vessel in the line’s 18-ship fleet to homeport from the South African port, offering international and local guests 12-day Extraordinary Journeys along the coast of South Africa and Namibia with an overnight stay in Cape Town, South Africa and visits to Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) and Richard’s Bay, South Africa; and Luderitz and Walvis Bay, Namibia.

The international cruise line is building on its successful inaugural season in South Africa and has recently announced the deployment of Norwegian Dawn to the region in winter 2024. Homeporting from Cape Town, South Africa and Port Louis, Mauritius, the 2,340-passenger ship will offer a series of Extraordinary Journey voyages between January and March 2024.

Harry Sommer, Brand President and CEO at NCL, said, “As part of our Guest First philosophy we are focused on enhancing our destination offerings. Our new Africa voyages combine locations such as Cape Town and Mauritius with hidden gems like Pomene and Maputo in Mozambique or Fort Dauphin in Madagascar. With an average of almost 12 hours in each port the new voyages are amongst our fastest selling cruises for 2024 and are attracting guests from almost 60 countries worldwide.”

Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, comments: “Cruise tourism generates R300 million in economic impact for the Western Cape and supports thousands of jobs in the province. Positioning Cape Town as a homeport for international cruising and a gateway to Africa is a key growth opportunity for our region, and we welcome NCL’s commitment to sailing from Cape Town.”

Norwegian Dawn will embark on her 17-day repositioning cruise in January 2024 to the region, sailing for the first time in the Company’s 56-year history from Doha, Qatar to Mauritius. The itinerary provides for a unique combination of calls to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar.

On Jan. 20, 2024, she will then cruise a 12-day itinerary from Port Louis, Mauritius, calling to Pointe des Galets, Réunion; Fort Dauphin (Toalagnaro), Madagascar; Pomene and Maputo, Mozambique; Richard’s Bay, Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), Mossel Bay and Cape Town, South Africa.

In February and March, Norwegian Dawn will complete 12-day roundtrip voyages through South Africa and Namibia with calls to Mossel Bay and Durban in South Africa, and Luderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia, before embarking on her most extensive itinerary March 20, sailing from Cape Town, South Africa to Barcelona, Spain. The 21-day voyage along Africa’s west coast will visit ports in Namibia, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Senegal, Cape Verde, Canary Islands and Morocco.

Cruising to Paradise – Part One

South Pacific Cruises almost always make their first stop at the Hawaiian Islands.

Few would argue that French Polynesia is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. These farflung islands have fired the imagination of anyone who has read or watched the screen version of Mutiny on the Bounty or gazed at the Tahitian paintings of Paul Gauguin.

They range from verdant volcanic islands to palm-fringed atolls. Stretching for hundreds of miles across the South Pacific, they were once connected only by seafaring vessels. Modern visitors can travel by jet plane to Pape‘ete on the island of Tahiti, but the ultimate for many is to cruise these waters and recapture the aura of making landfall at a lush tropical island encircled by a turquoise lagoon.

Whether lounging on the beach or exploring with an inland excursion, Polynesia is one of the world’s most exotic destinations.

Several small-ship lines, such as Windstar and Paul Gauguin Cruise Line, offer round-trip cruises out of Pape‘ete and these are dedicated to French Polynesia. However, for travelers preferring to cross the Pacific Ocean by ship, there are various itineraries offered by Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. These extended voyages depart from the West Coast ports of Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and their itineraries include Hawai’i, which is the northernmost island group of Polynesia. After making a port call at Honolulu and some of the other Hawaiian islands, such as Maui and the Big Island, the ship will head south to the Polynesian islands lying south of the Equator.

Pape‘ete, a former whaling port on the island of Tahiti, is the administrative capital of French Polynesia and a major port of call. It was still a primitive paradise when the French painter Gauguin arrived in the late 1800s to “live on fish and fruit” while pursuing his art. The modern world descended on Tahiti in the 1960s when planeloads of tourists began arriving. Fortunately for cruise aficionados, ships also call at the less-developed islands, such as Moorea and Bora Bora, where passengers are tendered ashore.

What better way to experience the languid pace and pristine beauty of these islands than by slowly cruising among them. Days are spent on shore, visiting cultural sites and snorkeling in reef-protected lagoons. Nights are spent on board the ship, travelling beneath a star-filled sky.

Holland America heads to the Arctic Circle in 2024

HAL’s Westerdam is taking passengers above and beyond with cruises to the Bering Sea.

Holland America has released some details of its 2024 season. The premium cruise line is debuting a new 28-day Arctic Circle itinerary that includes 12 Alaska ports, longer 14-day voyages and 117 weeklong journeys, enhancing its position as the leader in Alaska cruising.

With more sailings to Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line, the only cruise line to include the unspoiled riches of the Yukon plus Denali on overland Cruisetours and more than 75 years of Alaska exploration — longer than any other cruise line — Holland America Line weaves decades of expertise into every nuance of the experience.

“Holland America Line is proud of our rich history of bringing the best service at sea to Alaska, and we’re excited to reveal details of our 2024 season including a new monthlong Arctic Circle itinerary that is the most immersive we’ve ever offered in this region,” said Beth Bodensteiner, chief commercial officer of Holland America Line. “With six ships serving Alaska and the only cruise line with owned land operations in Denali and the Yukon, no one does Alaska better than Holland America Line.”

From April through September 2024, guests can embark on Holland America Line’s cruises to Alaska aboard Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zaandam. The line’s 2024 cruises are now open for booking, and 2024 Cruisetours, which combine an Alaska cruise with an overland expedition to Denali and the Yukon, are scheduled to be available in February.

The new 28-day “Alaska Arctic Circle Solstice” cruise aboard Westerdam departs June 9, 2024 in time for the Summer Solstice. The voyage sails roundtrip from Seattle to the Bering Sea and is a first-of-its-kind itinerary for Holland America Line. Alaskan ports include Anchorage, Dutch Harbor, Haines (Skagway), Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Nome, Seward, Sitka, Valdez and Wrangell, along with Prince Rupert, in Canada. Scenic cruising includes Glacier Bay, Inside Passage, Tracy Arm, College Fjord, Little Diomede Island, Prince William Sound and Hubbard Glacier.

This sounds like a great cruise and interested passengers should book early as this one will sell out quickly (ed.).

Seabourn finds good fit in Alaska

Seabourn Odyssey is 32,000 tons with 450 passengers.

With its fleet of intimate ultra-luxury ships, Seabourn  Cruise Line ships can get close to the wild attractions of Alaska. This includes beautiful  snug inlets and remote islands brimming with birdlife.

As cruise veterans exclaim, Alaska is a world where whales, bears, and eagles exercise their domain. Here, towering glaciers shimmer under a timeless sky and cool salt air is fragrant with the nearby evergreen forests. Each day of a Seabourn Alaska voyage is enriched with unforgettable moments and unique adventures. These are the off-beaten-path sights few people get to experience on one of their well planned curated itineraries in a rugged world largely untouched by time.

Seabourn ships have excellent itineraries that get close to the wilderness of Alaska.

With Seabourn’s popular Odyssey (32,000 tons, 450 passengers) cruising Alaska in 2023, the line is offering deals on cruises ranging from 7-day to 15-day roundtrips from Vancouver. Many include a tour of the fabled Glacier Bay and a visit to Misty Fjords (this is a beautiful inlet near Ketchikan).

Enchanted Princess Awarded by Good Housekeeping

Enchanted Princess (145,000 ton, 3660 passengers) wins nod from Good Housekeeping.

Enchanted Princess has been awarded a Good Housekeeping 2023 Family Travel Award, recognizing the ship as “Great for Groups.” The Princess ship is one of only three cruise ship experiences selected as winners.

The experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Labs spent seven months evaluating hundreds of travel gear and experience submissions before selecting the winners. They considered attributes that are most important when it comes to family travel, such as convenience, value, service, quality, safety, innovation, inclusion and more. For travel services and destinations, their analysts visited cities, resorts and local attractions to provide first-hand feedback on their experiences. Good Housekeeping also surveyed their proprietary panel and reviewed responses from over 3,000 consumers that have taken recent trips to weigh in on their favorite vacation experiences, airlines, hotel chains, loyalty programs, booking services and more.

The full list of awards can be found at

The 145,000-ton, 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess debuted in 2021, and is the fifth of six Royal-Class to join the Princess Cruises fleet. Enchanted Princess represents an evolution of the design platform used for her sister ships – Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Majestic Princess, Sky Princess and the most recently introduced Discovery Princess – offering an elevation of spectacular style and elegance that is distinguished by Princess. The cruise ship introduced new dining experiences, the most pools and whirlpool hot tubs ever, world-class entertainment venues and the breathtaking Sky Suites, offering expansive views from the largest balconies at sea.