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

Caribbean
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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:

Cruise Line Builds Tropical Paradise, Again

cruiseTo many cruise travelers, “cruising” means “Caribbean” and a growing number have sailed to and around the warm blue waters there many times. Tiring of the same ports, those travelers want variety but don’t want to travel internationally. Cruise lines answer the call by literally “building” new destinations that add variety and help out local economies as well.

This week, Carnival Corporation, parent to a number of cruise lines, broke ground on the Amber Cove Cruise Center, a new $65 million facility in the Dominican Republic to be built exclusively for cruise ships.

“With this cruise terminal, tourism and economic activity in Puerto Plata and the north region will rise to occupy a pre-eminent regional position in the entire Caribbean,” said Dominican Republic president Leonel Fernandez Reyna in an article for Breaking Travel News.

The new two-berth Amber Cove Cruise Center will be able to accommodate up to 8,000 cruise passengers and 2,000 crew members daily. The facility 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.

Cruise line cruise centers have been gaining in popularity with Mahogany Bay Cruise Center in Honduras, another Carnival-sponsored destination, welcoming 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 for guests of Carnival Cruise Lines and also host to sister-lines Seabourn, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises, as well as non-Carnival Corporation vessels.

The Amber Cove Cruise Center opens in 2014.

Discover Barahona in the Dominican Republic


Photo: Chris Owen

Woman cruise ship captain in the spotlight

woman cruise ship captainBack in December of last year, Inger Klein Olsen took the helm of Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria and joined a small group of women in a male-dominated occupation. Now, P&O Cruises has made history with their first woman cruise ship captain sailing to Australia at the helm of Pacific Pearl. Captain Sarah Breton joins four other female senior officers on P&O Cruises Pacific Pearl along the biggest group of female senior officers on any cruise ship in the region.

“We are thrilled to finally have a female Captain in charge of one of our great Australian ships and believe that Captain Breton is a fantastic role model for girls who dream of a career on the high seas” said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises.

Captain Breton, 45, has served on board many ships including the former Royal Princess, Sky Princess, Canberra, Pacific Princess, Grand Princess and Star Princess as third officer, second officer, navigator, first officer and safety officer reports northernstar.com. After being promoted to staff captain in 2001 on the original Pacific Princess she went on to serve onboard Coral, Tahitian and now the new Pacific Princess.”Growing up near the water I always loved boats and the ocean, so it really does fulfill a lifelong ambition of mine to be a captain with P&O Cruises” said Captain Breton.

The worlds very first female captain of a major cruise line ship was Karin Stahre-Janson back in 2007 on Royal Caribbean‘s Monarch of the Seas. Since that time, few other women have been named master of the vessel on a number of lines.

Flickr photo by WexDub

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Women gaining (a little) ground as cruise ship captains

women cruise ship captainsShe’s not the first lady captain of a cruise ship, but when Inger Klein Olsen (pictured) takes the helm of Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria on December 15, she’ll join a small group of women in a male-dominated occupation.

“While we are far from being the first shipping company to have a female captain, it is nonetheless noteworthy when such a long-established British institution as Cunard makes a break with its captaincy tradition,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line.

43 year-old Captain Olsen joined Cunard in 1997 as First Officer on board the line’s Caronia and was then transferred to the Seabourn fleet in 2001, sailing on the Seabourn Sun and Seabourn Spirit before being promoted to Staff Captain on the Seabourn Pride in 2003.

Female cruise ship captains are few and far between.

The worlds very first female captain of a major cruise line ship was Karin Stahre-Janson back in 2007 on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. Since that time, few other women have been named master of the vessel on a number of lines.

Earlier this year, Sarah Breton became the first female captain of a UK-based P&O Cruises ship in the company’s 173 year history.

“But as Mark Twain drily observed, ‘the folks at Cunard wouldn’t appoint Noah himself as captain until he had worked his way up through the ranks.’ Inger has certainly done that,” Shanks continued, “and we are delighted to welcome her as our first woman driver.”

Photo courtesy Cunard Line

Largest cruise ship to have football field-sized park on deck

When I think of a cruise ship deck, I think a swimming pool, shuffle board and lounge chairs–maybe a tennis court. I’m not that imaginative, but those who design ships for Royal Caribbean certainly are. The latest undertaking of this company that already boasts the world’s largest luxury cruise liner is another ship that will be large enough to have a park as big as a football field. Think town square with eateries, entertainment and large trees. This deck will be only one of the ship’s fifteen others, according to this article published in The Daily Mail.

When complete, this liner will weigh 220,000 tons. And by the looks of one of the mock up drawings, if placed on the Thames River, it will dwarf London. St. Paul’s Cathedral looks small next to it.

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As the airline industry is going through its woes due to fuel costs, and whatever else seems to be ailing it each week, cruise lines are doing swimmingly swell. Passengers’ desires to enjoy luxury and the wow factor when they head out on the high seas are adding to the push for bigger and bigger cruise ships.

Genesis, being built in Finland, will be ready to set sail in 2009. Its home port will be Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Join the other 5,399 paying customers who’ll be climbing aboard. There will be space since it can hold 5,400 passengers. I don’t think you’ll have a hard time spotting it because it will be 40% bigger than the other ships–until someone gets the urge to build a bigger one.

If you have an urge for a monster cruise ship trip before then, here are other options.