Tired Of Caribbean Islands? No Problem: We’ll Make More, Say Cruise Lines

Caribbean
breezy421/Flickr

After a few sailings in the Caribbean, North American cruise travelers can get tired of going to the same islands. Their cruise vacation may be a great value and easy to do but they want more. The problem is that ships can only go so far before having to turn around and get back in a week, the time most travelers have for vacation. The answer: make more islands.

While the cruise industry has not exactly figured out how to make there be land where there was none before, they have become good at building custom cruise ports. New Banana Coast cruise port in Honduras is a great example.

Beginning construction in 2011, the $30 million Banana Coast cruise destination is scheduled to open in November 2014. Billed as “Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea,” the western Caribbean port already has cruise lines adding Banana Coast as a port of call. So far, Silversea Cruises, Holland America Line and, just this week, Oceania Cruises have committed to regular stops with more lines expected as they roll out future itineraries.When the project is complete, Banana Coast will have a 50,000-square-foot shopping facility and transportation hub, which will take visitors to other places on the island. Possible experiences include a VIP airplane trip to the Mayan ruins, snorkeling, kayaking, ATV rides, a culinary tasting tour and more. The diverse climate and topography of Honduras offers waterfalls, rivers, streams, mountains, a tropical rainforest, a nature reserve, coral reefs and crystal clear waters all at the same destination.

This is not the first man-made Caribbean cruise destination either. The Jamaica port of Falmouth, a joint project between Royal Caribbean International and the Port Authority of Jamaica, is another good example. Reminiscent of the historic 1700′s and 1800′s when Falmouth was the big port for sugar exports worldwide, the port is built to handle Royal Caribbean’s huge Oasis-class ships. The location also allows visitors to do shore excursions from both existing ports of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, each about a half-hour away.

Back in Honduras, the Mahogany Bay Cruise Center is a Carnival Corporation sponsored destination that has welcomed over one million cruise passengers since opening in 2009. The Roatan, Honduras, location is on 20 acres of waterfront property and is an attractive area to visit for guests of Carnival Cruise Lines. In addition, there are sister-lines Seabourn, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Costa Cruises and non-Carnival Corporation vessels.

In the Dominican Republic, construction continues on the Amber Cove Cruise Center, a giant $65 million facility that will be able to accommodate up to 8,000 cruise passengers and 2,000 crew members daily. This one is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. Amber Cove will feature a welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for locally sourced Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of themed restaurants and bars, water attractions and a transportation hub allowing visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions.

As the high price of airfare continues to keep North American cruise travelers sailing from home ports scattered around the United States, look for these man-made islands to continue gaining popularity.

Another Caribbean destination, which has become increasingly accessible by sea or air is Curacao. Boasting 35 beaches and an eclectic mix of history and culture, the capital city of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a good choice to visit as we see in this video:

Clean Air Or Jobs? Lawmaker Jumps In To Help Cruise Line

cruise ship
Jean & Nathalie/Flickr

Long before recent events had cruise ships grounded, on fire or broken, cruise lines were charged with polluting the environment via their diesel-burning engines. Addressing the concern of environmentalists, many cruise lines chose to plug in those ships when in port, using cleaner shore-side power when possible. Still, looming new environmental standards have cruise lines scrambling to find fuel that will satisfy requirements. Caught in the middle, one lawmaker has chosen to support the cruise line that brings hundreds of jobs and millions in economic impact to his state.

Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is lobbying on behalf of Carnival Cruise Lines with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), looking for a waiver from the new rules to keep the cruise ships coming to the city.

At stake are 220 jobs and $90 million a year spent by cruise passengers and companies that support cruise ships. New rules require cruise ships to use fuel with no more than .10 percent sulfur content starting in 2015, something cruise lines say cannot be done.Unable to find a source for fuel that will produce acceptable results, cruise lines have tried to satisfy the requirement in other ways. Averaging sulfur content across fleets, including those ships with zero output when plugging in is one option being explored. Developing and installing a new type of pollution scrubbers on ships that would meet or exceed air-quality standards is another.

On one side, EPA insists that the requirement could significantly reduce air pollution along the coast and far inland. But the cruise industry warns of potential cutbacks in cruises and job losses because of higher costs associated with EPA standards compliance. In the middle, choosing jobs over the environment, O’Malley’s position is clear.

“If jobs are at stake, the governor is going to go to bat for those jobs,” said O’Malley’s press secretary, Takirra Winfield in a Baltimore Sun report.

Creating Water on a Cruise Ship

Moldovian Dancer On Wrecked Cruise Ship Resents Prostitute Reference

Moldoivian Dancer
indi.ca/Flickr

When the cruise ship Costa Concordia was grounded off the coast of Italy, the blame fell on Captain Vincent Schettino, practically convicted by the court of popular opinion. In July, Schettino will go on trial. Meanwhile, a Moldovian dancer who was on the ship has problems of her own

At the time of the event, we met Domnica Cemortan, 26, a former cruise ship “hostess” and dancer from Mondolvia. It was said in a variety of publications that Cemoran was having dinner at the time with Schettino and somehow wound up on the bridge. Now, Cemortan is suing Schettino and the cruise line for damages of $280,000-$420,000 over the $15,000 being offered to all who sailed.

“The media has presented her as a prostitute,” insists Gianluca Madonna, Cemortan’s Italian lawyer. Apparently, at the time of the accident, Cemortan told investigators that she was “in love” with Schettino, a suggestion she later told the UK’s Daily Telegraph that she rejected, reports Travel Blackboard.

Cemortan is now seeking damages against Schettino and the cruise line for failing to defend and rehire her. She might also go after several Italian newspapers, magazines and TV channels who she says “slandered her reputation for suggesting she had been involved with the captain.”Strangely associated with Cemortan’s complaint is that there was an hour and a half delay in receiving the key to her room. When she got it, her stateroom was on the same private floor as Schettino’s room, an area of the ship normally reserved for crew members.

“She is a hard worker and is a beautiful dancer, very professional,” said attorney Madonna, insisting his client had done nothing wrong and had “risked her life helping Russian passengers because there was no one on board who spoke Russian.”

Since the accident, Cemortan has not worked regularly and the cruise line did not renew her contract.

Not sure what the dance style used by a nice Moldovian girl would look like? Here you go:

Recycled Hong Kong Airport Opens As Cruise Terminal

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong‘s $1 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal is open and processing cruise travelers as anticipated. Located at the site of the former Kai Tak International airport runway, the terminal will eventually source passengers from a pool of 50 million potential middle-class passengers in China. This week though, it’s all about the Americans.

Passengers disembarking Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas this week found a bit of a different experience than that of other cruise ports around the world. Showcasing some of what China has to offer cruise travelers, Mariner of the Seas offered passengers a kung fu demonstration, a lion dance at Mikiki mall in San Po Kong, shopping, dining and more on planned tours.

Adventure cruise travelers with a desire to go it on their own had a bit different experience, finding transportation options limited. “The terminal is fine, the building is fine but there is no good connection to the city,” passenger Fred Lutjens said in a Standard report that notes a queue of 100 people waiting for a taxi.Kai Tak airport, which closed in 1998 after 70 years of service, was replaced by the current Chek Lap Kok International Airport. Using that valuable and available land efficiently, the $1 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal has the ability to handle passenger vessels as large as two of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships, the largest in the world.

Unique Themed Cruise Brings Wine, Stars And Seminars

themed cruise wine
payhere/Flickr

Themed cruises are becoming more popular all the time as fans of (insert almost anything here) gather at sea. Music fans dominate the offerings with ships setting sail sold out with fans of Kid Rock, KISS, Blake Shelton and others each hosting their own theme cruise. Then there are fans of movies like the Turner Classic Movies cruise, now in its third year. Another one that caught our attention features music, wine and dining in a way that looks to epitomize what themed cruising is all about.

The Wine, Dine and Music cruise asks a simple question on its website: “Spend a weekend in wine country or a week on a wine cruise – you decide!” Appealing to someone who might go on a weeklong trek through California wine country, this one looks to be a good alternative that brings wine country to you. On your ship. In the Caribbean. With musical guests.Music
Featuring Kenny Loggins, Three Dog Night and others, the Wine, Dine and Music cruise will have nightly entertainment along with Meet ‘n Greet artist sessions and Jam sessions and special music performances on days at sea. For many theme cruise fans, that would be a week’s worth of fun. But there is more.

Wine
Each stateroom gets a free bottle of wine from each of the seven wineries also along for the ride, delivered nightly to their stateroom. Like a tour through wine country, the onboard programming also makes available wine tastings, wine seminars and wine club memberships. Focusing on specialty varietal wines in an experiential sort of way, those on the Wine, Music and Dining cruise are likely to meet and spend time with others sharing similar interests.

A central focus of this well planned themed sailing is to enjoy a gourmet meal paired with excellent wine, with others who appreciate the experience.

Dine
On the food front, the Wine, Dine and Music cruise features menus created by Chef John Ash (Author, From Earth To The Table), also known as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine,” as well as food tastings by Catherine Venturini (Chef-Owner, Olive & Vine), chef recipes and lectures.

Unique to this theme cruise, and something we have not seen before, is the combination of all three elements, Wine, Music and Dining, all on one sailing. Also included is all the regular onboard programming and features with prices starting at $1029 per person. That price compares favorably to a weeklong land vacation through California wine country, minus the vineyards, making the Wine, Dine and Music cruise a good choice for budget travel too.

Sailing November 9-16, 2013, on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, the seven-night itinerary includes Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico as well as Georgetown, Grand Cayman and three days at sea.