Dancing With The Stars Comes To Sea

“Dancing with the Stars” is one of the most popular television shows on the air right now, teaming celebrity and pro dancers to compete for the coveted mirror ball trophy. Week after week, viewers watch competitions in Tango, Quickstep, Paso Doble and more from the comfort of their own living rooms. Now, Holland America Line is bringing “Dancing with the Stars” to sea on board six theme cruises in 2013 and early 2014.

Featured “Dancing with the Stars” events include dance lessons; a chance to meet the dancers, ask questions and take photos; and a dazzling at-sea production starring celebrities and some of the famed dance pros, complete with glamorous costumes and routines from the TV show.

Cruise travelers on board any one of a series of six sailings will see two-time champion pro dancers Mark Ballas and Kym Johnson. Also along for the ride will be pros Tristan MacManus and Lacey Schwimmer with more dance pros and celebrities to be announced.

Choose from an Eastern Caribbean sailing February 16, 2013, on Holland America’s ms Eurodam, a Canada and New England sailing on June 22 aboard ms Veendam, either June 30 or July 7, 2013, in Alaska on ms Oosterdam or January 5 or 12, 2014, on ms Niew Amsterdam; all are seven-day sailings.Not just on these scheduled theme cruises, every sailing on all 15 ships in the Holland America Line fleet will feature an exclusive Dancing with the Stars program. Included are dance lessons and an opportunity for some lucky guests to dance center stage in an exciting dance-off performance, right on the ship. These special fleet wide activities will feature the ships’ professional dancers and the program will be developed in collaboration with the show’s dancers and choreographers.

Holland America does not have a total lock on dance stars though, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas this month hosted one themed cruise where guests could Dance With The Stars too. Stacked on top of the regular cruise experience, those on board also got to see a private dance finale performance by star dancers Tony & Chelsie, had dance parties with their fellow guests, Q&A sessions with Tony & Chelsie, photo and autograph sessions, welcome and farewell receptions and a bunch of Cruise with the Dance Stars’ goodies.

Not a big fan of dancing? Here’s more on Dancing With The Stars-

[Photo Credit- Holland America Line/ABC]

Cruise Ships Steer Clear Of Troubled Waters

Travel via cruise ship has a number of advantages. For one example, you can unpack once but visit multiple destinations on a floating hotel. Doing so safely is another, causing cruise lines to constantly consider life as it is at ports of call around the world. What was once a safe place to visit may not be six months from now. That’s when cruise lines alter itineraries and steer cruise ships clear of troubled waters.

Argentina’s Ushuaia has been referred to as the southernmost city in the world with attractions that include the Tierra del Fuego National Park, Lapataia Bay and a host of wildlife viewing, fishing, skiing, hiking, biking, dining and shopping opportunities. Ushuala is also a South American cruise port. When the decades-old tension between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands heated up recently, cruise lines chose to go a different direction.

“Information had come to our attention that demonstrations may have occurred in Ushuaia that could have impacted the ability of Veendam to enter and leave the port in accordance with accepted maritime practices,” said Sally Andrews, Holland America spokesperson in a TravelPulse report.

But what happens when ports are not accessible?

Cruise lines commonly compensate passengers for missing a port deemed unsafe, substituting another port in its place or adding an extra day at sea.

“As a result of this change, guests onboard were refunded for any shore excursions booked in Ushuaia and the government taxes and fees for the canceled port,” added Andrews.

We saw the same moves made by cruise lines after political unrest in Egypt caused ships to skip a destination many passengers had on their bucket list. Yes, those booked got “a cruise” but it was not “the cruise” they had planned on.

So what to do if my port of call is canceled?

  • If port cancellation happens before sailing, check with the cruise line, they may be offering booked passengers the ability to transfer their booking to a future sailing.
  • Check the details of your travel insurance. While “political unrest” rates run about as high as “weather disruptions” on the easy refund list, some travel insurance policies take into account such matters and while the cruise line may not offer a complete refund for cancellation, insurance can help.
  • Carefully consider cruise line offers to cancel and rebook without penalty. While potentially missing one port of call does not a bad cruise make, if that missed port is the one you were looking the most forward to, the hassle of rebooking and planning different time away from home might be worth it.
  • Negotiate with the cruise line. There is no rule that says booked passengers cannot try to make a case in favor of consideration by the cruise line when a port is canceled. Legally, the cruise line has that covered in the Passenger Contract all travelers agree to before booking. Still, cruise lines know that a little good will goes a long way to smooth over what could be a deal breaker itinerary change to a passenger.

What did those planning on visiting Ushuaia miss? Check this video to see:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user Benjamin Dumas]