Cruise Lines Court New Yorkers With More Ships, Better Value

New YorkersNew Yorkers and most of the upper east coast of the United States have had few cruise ships to choose from. Traditionally, cruise lines sailed most of their ships from warmer, southern ports, which added the cost of a flight to a cruise vacation package too. Now, cruise lines are positioning more ships from upper east coast ports with a special focus on the New York market. The end result is, and will continue to be, more choices, better pricing and the best value ever to New Yorkers.

Norwegian Cruise Lines‘ new 4,000-passenger ship, Norwegian Breakaway, will sail from her homeport of New York City to the Bahamas, Florida, and the Caribbean for her inaugural winter season in 2013. That adds one more drive-to-the-port option for cruise passengers in the often under-served New York market.

“Norwegian Breakaway is one of the most highly anticipated new ships and has seen great demand for her summer sailings to Bermuda,” Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan told TravelDailyNews. “We are also excited to announce that the ship will stop at our newly enhanced private island, Great Stirrup Cay, offering an exclusive beach experience.”

Embarking on seven- to twelve day cruises to the Bahamas and Florida from October 2013 to April 2014, the line is taking in ports including Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay, Orlando and Port Canaveral. Two 12-day Southern Caribbean voyages and two “Weekend Escape” cruises in January 2014 are also scheduled with the 12-day itinerary incorporating visits to San Juan, St Thomas, Philipsburg, Castries, Bridgetown and Basseterre.

As the largest ship to homeport year-round in New York City, Norwegian Breakaway is expected to bring 140,000 additional embarking passengers into New York City over two years creating an estimated $35 million in direct spending.

In another move, Carnival Miracle, once a seasonal ship, started sailing year-round from New York this month, marking the line’s first year-round sailings from that port.

“New York is one of the highest-rated homeports for Fun Ship cruising. Carnival Miracle’s new year-round, eight-day departures offer consumers the best of both worlds – a choice of three attractive year-round Caribbean and Bahamas itinerary options with the opportunity to depart from one of the world’s great cities,” Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill told BreakingTravelNews.

Carnival Miracle will offer three different eight-day itineraries that visit popular islands throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas. The itineraries include Eastern Caribbean departures to San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk, offered on a rotating basis April through October with a series of Bahamas sailings featuring stops at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Nassau. November through April, Carnival Miracle sails to the Bahamas along with a stop in Florida with port calls to Port Canaveral (Orlando), Nassau and Freeport.

On board, travelers will also find some new programming with an upscale New York flair.

The Taste Bar is Carnival’s newest casual dining option introduced this month on Carnival Miracle with fleetwide implementation expected to be completed by summer 2013.

The Taste Bar features complimentary bite-size offerings inspired by line’s Fun Ship 2.0 initiative dining venues, along with a signature cocktail tied to that eatery’s particular theme available for purchase for $5.

Sample offerings may include roasted pork tacos; meatballs and hand-whipped ricotta bruchetta; fried malanga (sweet potatoes) filled with ginger-scented pork and lime aioli; grilled ham and provolone cheese melt; and short rib croquettes with chipotle aioli.

Also on Carnival Miracle, the debut of the Punchliner Comedy Club Presented by George Lopez, part of a recently announced partnership with the comedian who serves as the line’s “curator of comedy,” acting as a consultant on the vetting and hiring of both established and up-and-coming comedic talent.

The Punchliner Comedy Club will offer five 35-minute shows on multiple nights during each voyage with at least two comedians performing each night. Two early-evening shows are geared toward a family audience, while the later performances feature R-rated, adults-only comedy.

Carnival Miracle’s year-round schedule of eight-day Caribbean voyages from New York with three different eight-day itineraries are offered:

  • Eastern Caribbean departures to San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk;
  • Bahamas sailings featuring stops at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Nassau
  • Bahamas/Florida cruises with port calls to Port Canaveral (Orlando), Nassau and Freeport.

“The cruise industry continues to be an economic boon for the City, and today’s announcement that the Carnival Miracle will start offering year-round cruises from New York City will do even more to stimulate our economy, bringing additional visitors and generating nearly $13 million in direct spending,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky in a release.

Also sailing seasonally from New York, beginning May 25, 2012, Disney Magic will sail 20 cruises from New York with three unique and varied itineraries. No stranger to Disney Ships, here is new Disney Fantasy arriving in New York earlier this year for inaugural festivities before heading south to her new home in Florida.

Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Docks in NYC

[Flickr photo via Dr.DeNo]

Lifelong New Yorkers are unreliable for directions

Don’t ask New Yorkers for directions. Don’t get me wrong, we’re more than willing to help. But, you could wind up with some bad information. A recent poll of lifelong New Yorkers conducted by New York Pass, an attraction discount card, shows that most of us don’t have the city’s basics nailed down.

[Photo by James Trosh via Flickr]

Accusations traded between police and detainees in Antigua

Six Carnival cruise ship passengers hit and choked the police. Or, the police punched the passengers in the face. A week after the half dozen New Yorkers were arrested, the only thing that’s clear is that both sides say they’re right.

While on a 10-hour port call in Antigua, the cruise passengers paid a taxi driver to give them a tour of the island. The tour ended at a beach – rather than back at the cruise ship – and the once happy wanderers balked at having to shell out $100 on top of the $50 they’d already paid for the ride. A brawl ensued, and the police were called. The mayhem ended with incarceration.

The passengers were let out on $5,000 bail on Monday but have to stay in the country until the trial is concluded. Dolores Lalanne, Mike Pierre Paul, Joshua Jackson, Shoshonna Henry, Nancy Lalanne and Rachael Henry all entered pleas of not guilty to charges including battery and malicious damage. Prosecutors dropped the assault charges.

The trial began Wednesday, with the police testifying that the New Yorkers behaved aggressively. One officer, Alcia Browne-Weston claimed to have been kicked in the stomach and then choked by one of the tourists. Meanwhile, the defendants say the cops – not wearing uniforms – did not announce themselves before starting the altercation. Shoshonna Henry claimed to The Associated Press: “We thought these people were going to kill us.”

The trial is set to continue today.

Find a cupcake in New York

Leave it to New Yorkers to be picky and demanding. Whether it’s upscale meals or obscure vodka brands, we want what we want, and if you don’t carry it, you’re somehow “lesser.” Cupcakes are no different. From my window, I can see the Upper West Side‘s Magnolia Bakery (one of three in the city), and there are many others.

In The Atlantic Monthly, a close look is taken at cupcakes, particularly in New York. The balance between cake and frosting is considered crucial, and (thankfully) Corby Kummer gives you a sense of who’s who in the large and growing world of Manhattan cupcake bakeries.

Well, starting with my neighborhood, poor Magnolia is said not to have any flavor in the cake (which I think is a bit harsh). Buttercup’s icing is better, but the cake isn’t. Sugar Sweet Sunshine – which, like Buttercup, comes from former Magnolia talent – is better than both.

Sadly, Kummer missed the latest entry into the Manhattan cupcake market: The Little Pie Company. Known for the most amazing cakes and pies in the city, sex and cupcake blogger Rachel Kramer Bussell tried in vain to get one on Christmas Eve last year. Later, she did succeed, and the cupcake was everything she’d hoped it would be.

[Via The Atlantic Monthly]

[Photo: cupcake from The Little Pie Company, Cupcakes Take the Cake]

Tour the world’s vandalism

Eyesore or art, graffiti is part of any culture’s public dialogue. Vandalism is visual profanity, and we all swear in our own f—ing ways. I’ve been drawn to these wall scrawls for a while, probably since I read Holden Caulfield‘s concerns about the subject in Catcher in the Rye. My fascination gained momentum while I was stationed in South Korea.

A soldiers’ bar in Tong Du Chon (the Peace Club, which is no longer there) was littered with attempted wit. “I used to believe in the common decency of main,” one drunken soldier-scholar printed at eye level. Another replied, “I still do.” Eight hours into a soju-induced haze, this stuff is profound.

Along the way, I’ve become a connoisseur of this crime, though only as an observer. I have seen social commentary and even debate. And, there’s even been a bit of meaningless paint spilled in the vain hope of making a point. I’ve soaked it all in and hit a few readers up for their tips, as well.

So, let’s take a tour of some of my favorite acts of defacement. Some reflect careful planning and show artistic talent. Others offer nothing more than layers upon layers of cries for attention and assertions of self-importance.In Iceland, I read in the local English language newspaper, the Reykjavik Grapevine, that an outbreak of graffiti was the result of building vacancies triggered by the weakened economy (and this was back in June). This was supported by the observations of the walking tour’s prophetic viking. Hell, the wall says it all.

The Parisians waxed political on the walls of metro stations. I was in town for the hotly contested presidential election of May 2007, and the ultimate winner, Nicolas Sarkozy, took a beating in the vandals’ press. This is nothing compared to the scratched-out eyes on campaign posters, though.

Translation: Sarko = Bush = Berlusconi = Shit. The tagger lumps the president of France with the now former president of the United States and the hotheaded former president of Italy … not to mention a steaming pile. Politics took center stage in Tallinn, Estonia, as well. Thankfully, the vandals worked in English, making it easy for me to take a stab at recreating the crime.

From what I could see, this is something of a public discussion. First, it seems, a disgruntled “activist” wrote “Fuck Fascism!” And, I have to admit, it’s hard to disagree with that. Next, a second person probably popped “anti” in front of fascism, before a third joined the spray-painted conversation by crossing out “fuck.” A fourth crossed out “anti,” and we’re left with fascism. But, the entire discourse supports the original position.

At least, that’s how I’d imagine the entire process unfolding.

The most compelling, however, was in Quebec. I found it fascinating that the retort to an assertion of independence was proffered in English.

Of course, my neighbors are far from innocent. Here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we seem to be waging a war on body image. Custo Barcelona, an upscale fashion retailer, has ads on the corner of W. 71st St. and Columbus Ave. The models, wearing about as much body fat as they are clothing, glare at me every time I walk to Gray’s Papaya for a hot dog, as if holding me in contempt for my substandard diet. Someone (not me, I promise) decided to comment.

Hey, New Yorkers can be brutal, even in my quiet, peace-loving corner of the city. This is but one example of how the poor Custo models, have suffered, though. Check out the photo gallery below to get a sense of how Upper West Siders feel about this bit of eye candy.

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And, this is just a taste of what I have collected. Take a look at the next photo gallery to see what our readers have submitted. Fortunately, their collections are a bit more high-minded than mine. The stories with each photos are in the readers’ own words (with some slight editing).

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