CARNIVAL TO OFFER TEN BERMUDA CRUISES IN 2016

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The stylish Carnival Splendor is Bermuda bound in 2016

Over the past couple of decades, the summer Bermuda cruise season has become more or less dominated by a ‘big three’ composed of Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International.

So complete is this dominance that many potential Bermuda bound passengers overlook other possible options for travelling to the island from a number of different American ports.

For 2016, Carnival is offering no less than ten ex-USA sailings to Bermuda on five different ships, each of which offers at least one overnight stay, and some offer two. Like most ships these days (exception; the four 2016 sailings by Holland America Line), all ten of these calls will use the main mega ship berth at King’s Wharf, on the western side of the island.

So, for those of you that might want to add a little ‘Fun Ship’ style and frivolity to the peace and beauty of Bermuda, here are the options available to you throughout 2016.

Carnival Pride is offering  a brace of five day cruises from Baltimore, Maryland. Sail dates are April 10th and October 26th.

She will also offer a pair of seven night cruises from the same port, departing on September 4th and 18th.

Carnival Sunshine will sail a five night itinerary from Norfolk, Virginia, on October 23rd. Prior to this, the same ship will sail on a seven night itinerary from New York on October 1st.

From Charleston, SC, Carnival Ecstasy showcases a pair of seven night sailings to Bermuda, departing on May 12th and November 6th, respectively.

Carnival Victory offers a southern twist on the classic Bermuda cruise experience, with a one off, eight night sailing that departs from Port Canaveral on May 19th.

Last, but not least, the Carnival Splendor features a nine day Bermuda cruise, sailing from Miami on May 26th. This cruise features a single overnight stay in Bermuda, and additional Caribbean calls at Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, and also Grand Turk, in the Bahamas. This one is a particularly lovely combination.

For the UK market, many of these cruises can be packaged with stays in landmark cities such as Miami and New York. And, for something more than a little different, you could combine a Bermuda cruise with a stay in the genteel, old world pace and grace of beautiful Charleston.

All of these cruises present good options to enjoy this beautiful, still very much off the beaten track destination, at the best time of the year.

Enjoy!

REMEMBERING THE NORWEGIAN DREAM

Before Norwegian Cruise Line went on a mega ship building binge, there was a time in the early nineties when the company slowly began the transition from running smaller, sold out cruise ships such as the Starward, to a series of medium sized new builds that formed the mainstay of the company for the better part of a decade and a half.

The first of these new ships was the Seaward, which entered service in 1988. She was strictly a one off vessel, but she did pave the way for a new pair, to be built in the same French shipyard as the beloved company flagship, the ageing SS. Norway.

These twin sister ships would be called the Dreamward and the Windward. At around 42,000 tons each, they introduced some radical new concepts for NCL when they first debuted. Of the two, it was the Dreamward that arrived first, in November of 1992. She was showcased to the UK travel trade at Greenwich on a rainy winter Sunday but, even then, the new ship shone through.

The Dreamward featured a centrally located main pool, with the sun decks in front of it stacked up in a series of tiered steps. A modified version of this arrangement would later become a feature of the new Carnival Destiny class, the first cruise ships in the world to exceed the 100,000 ton mark.

Aft, a series of curved, window walled terraced restaurants formed a graceful cascade at the stern, offering stunning views out over the ship’s wake. A second, smaller plunge pool was located just behind them.

Inside, every cabin- both inside and outside- featured a small, dedicated sitting area that was separate to the bedroom. And, bowing to a rising tide of demand, the new ship also featured a handful of balcony cabins.

The Dreamward was formally christened by her godmother, Diana Ross, in December 1992. Almost immediately, she entered service on the popular, seven night eastern and western Caribbean cruise circuit out of Miami. For the 1993 summer season, she moved north to New York, from where she operated a series of seven night cruises to Bermuda.

The centre piece of these cruises was a full, three night stay alongside in Hamilton, and these proved to be immensely popular. By this time, sister ship Windward was also in service, sailing to Alaska in the summer, and then joining the Dreamward out of Miami in the winter months. With little real variation, it was a routine that the two sister ships would follow over several seasons.

In 1997, Norwegian Cruise Line decided to lengthen both ships. In January of 1998, the Dreamward was dispatched first to a German shipyard, and there cut in half to facilitate the insertion of a pre built new mid section, some forty metres long.

In addition to this, both the mast and the top of the funnel were fitted with special hinges that would allow them to be ‘flipped’ to one side, to facilitate passage under the lower bridges of the Kiel Canal. Once refurbished, NCL planned to use the ship on a series of first time, pioneering cruises out of the United Kingdom to the Baltic capitals. And, with her new look came a new name; the ship was restyled as the Norwegian Dream.

In this guise, her tonnage increased to around 50,000, and her passenger capacity was increased. from around 1,250 up to 1,750.

The first season of these twelve night Baltic sailings were well received. Each one featured an overnight stay in St. Petersburg, as the highlight of a circuit that typically included such ports of call as Warnemunde, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki, and sometimes Oslo as well. In this role, the Norwegian Dream became something of a trend setter; a role she would play out during the remainder of her service with NCL.

Then, in August of 1999, the Norwegian Dream collided with a container ship, the Ever Decent, in the middle of a thick English Channel fog. The bow of the cruise ship crumpled like rice paper, but she was never in any danger of sinking. Mercifully, there were no injuries on either ship.  Her mangled prow had to be rebuilt, at great expense, back in Germany. Following this, she re-entered service just in time for the winter time Caribbean peak season.

As newer, more amenity laden tonnage entered the NCL fleet, the Norwegian Dream was sent further afield during the winter season. She sailed a series of superb, round trip cruises in South America and to the Chilean fjords for several seasons, usually voyages of seventeen days’ duration. It was while she was on one of these that the Norwegian Dream was involved in a second collision, when she hit a barge while leaving the port of Montevideo in December of 2007. Fortunately, the damage to neither ship was serious.

The Norwegian Dream also started the tradition of winter cruising from New Orleans for NCL, running on seven night circuits to the western Caribbean. But, by 2008, it was clear that the ship no longer matched the new company profile. Her sale was expected imminently by many.

That year, the Norwegian Dream ran one final season of cruises to Bermuda from Boston, in a kind of valedictory farewell to her original role. Her sale to Louis Cruises had by then been announced and, at the end of that season, the ship sailed over to Greece, ready to begin a new life.

It never happened.

Though Louis did indeed take up the purchase of her fleet mate and fellow ‘Bermuda boat’, Norwegian Majesty, the Greek company declined to go ahead with also taking the Norwegian Dream. Louis Cruises cited ‘mechanical issues’ as a major hurdle. For a full three and a half years, the Norwegian Dream sat on life support in the Aegean, making occasional short runs between the islands to try and resolve the issues.

Finally, at the end of 2011, the ship got under way once more and headed for a dockyard in Singapore. Here, she would be transformed into the Superstar Gemini for NCL’s parent company, Star Cruises, to operate short, port intensive cruises in the Far East.

Heavily refurbished and in many ways re-invented, the Superstar Gemini enjoyed a happy reunion with her sister ship. The Norwegian Wind was by now sailing as the Superstar Aquarius for Star Cruises, and the two sister ships are now once more sailing in harmonious tandem service.

This $50 million renovation also brought her passenger capacity back down to around 1,532- a sensible decision. On a Bermuda cruise in June 2008 that I made aboard her, the Norwegian Dream– fully booked for the sailing- had seemed really crowded.

I was also lucky enough to sail on her in June of 2000, up to Scandinavia, after the repairs to her bow. In the opinion of many, the lengthening of the ship spoiled the formerly good passenger traffic flow through the ship but, having never sailed her as the Dreamward, I am not really in a position to comment.

This pioneering ship deserves more respect and appreciation than she often got back in her NCL days. The Norwegian Dream was a stylish, well thought out design that combined a wonderful external harmony with more than a dash of elegance. Like her sister ship, she served the company well during it’s ‘lost’ years of the late 1990’s. In fact, in many ways, she and her sister helped lay the foundations for the miraculous recovery that the current company enjoys to this day.

The Norwegian Dream docked in Hamilton, Bermuda, in June of 2008

The Norwegian Dream docked in Hamilton, Bermuda, in June of 2008

VEENDAM SET FOR BERMUDA RETURN IN 2016

Holland America Line’s luxurious Veendam will return to Boston next year for a short season of seven night Bermuda cruises. There will be four sailings in total, down from the six offered earlier this year.

Uniquely, the 57, 092 ton Veendam will offer a full, three night stay docked alongside in Bermuda’s capital of Hamilton. During these stays, the on board shops and the casino will be allowed to open while the ship is in port- a concession from the Bermuda government, no doubt influenced by the dramatic decline in the number of smaller ships visiting both Hamilton and the former capital of St. Georges.

With a capacity of 1,350 passengers and a crew of 580, the 1996 built Veendam will thus offer the best and most comprehensive season of Bermuda cruises available on any ship in 2016. With a matchless city centre berth- the Veendam literally docks right across from the main front street in Hamilton- and the advantage of a full twenty four hours longer in port than any other ship on the summer Bermuda run, the ship offers great scope for in depth exploration of this beautiful Atlantic island.

The four sailing dates are; May 14, May 21, June 11 and June 18.

Cruise only prices from the United Kingdom start at £648, based on two people sharing an inside cabin.

Veendam will berth right here, on Hamilton's front street. The ease of access is obvious

Veendam will berth right here, on Hamilton’s front street. The ease of access is obvious

NORWEGIAN DREAM- BERMUDA 2008 CRUISE

In her last season with Norwegian Cruise Line in 2008, the Norwegian Dream was put back on her old Boston to Bermuda run for one last season.

Having first sailed the ship in the Baltic in 2000, I decided to go back one more time, to experience the ship before what was intended to be her sale- together with fleet mate, Norwegian Majesty- to Louis Cruises.

Sailing over mid summer week, the Norwegian Dream was scheduled to spend three nights’ docked in the old, historic capital of St. Georges’ -very much my favourite part of that wonderful island. But, as we approached the entrance to the channel, high winds kicked in. Captain Aage Hoddevik decided to take the ship around to Hamilton instead.

We would spend our three days here, and it was fun all around.

The shots in here are not ‘glamour’ pictures; they simply portray every day life aboard a cruise ship, making a weekly circuit in the summer season. For a number of reasons, the sale to Louis Cruises fell through, and the Norwegian Dream endured five years of soul destroying lay up in the Greek Islands.

 Finally rescued by Star Cruises, the 50,000 ton ship was extensively refitted, and resumed service as the Superstar Gemini in 2013, on short, port intensive cruises in the Far East. So; here we are.  A look back at a ship that was a favourite of many passengers- the Norwegian Dream.

She was originally built as the Dreamward in the shipyard that is now STX France, back in late 1982, and christened by Diana Ross. A few months later, she was followed by a nearly identical sister, the Windward.

As Norwegian changed direction, both ships were sent back to Germany in 1998 to be cut in half and lengthened with a substantial mid section. They were then restyled as Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Wind, respectively.

For her first season of Baltic cruises in 1999, the Norwegian Dream was fitted with a set of hinges to the top of her funnel that allowed it to be flipped sideways, a necessity for passing under the relatively low bridges of the Kiel Canal.

It was in that year that she rammed a container ship, the Ever Decent, in thick fog in the English Channel, at the end of a Baltic cruise. Her bow crumpled like wet cardboard, and had to be entirely rebuilt at massive expense. Luckily, there were no fatalities on either ship.

Later, in December 2007, the Norwegian Dream was involved in another, luckily far less damaging collision with another container ship in Montevideo, Uruguay. 

Now sailing successfully for Star Cruises, she has been reunited with her sister ship, Norwegian Wind, now operating for that company as the Superstar Aquarius.

The boat deck. Look how close we are to the city centre

The boat deck. Look how close we are to town

The main pool deck on the Norwegian Dream

The main pool deck on the Norwegian Dream

Life on deck changed very little in those days

Life on deck changed very little in those days

Deck. Ship. At sea....

Deck. Ship. At sea….

Strange shaped swimming pool...

Strange shaped swimming pool…

Looking aft to the funnel

Looking aft to the funnel

That deck house was a sweet little spot

That deck house was a sweet little spot

I think this was called Lucky's Bar?

I think this was called Lucky’s Bar?

Remember these big, forward observation windows?

The big, forward observation windows

This was my Promenade Deck cabin

This was my Promenade Deck cabin

Arriving in Hamilton

Arriving in Hamilton

The ship alongside in Hamilton

The ship alongside in Hamilton

Looking back from ashore

Looking back from ashore

Norwegian Dream, seen from a ferry

Norwegian Dream, seen from a ferry

Bow shot from a waterfront bar

Bow shot from a waterfront bar

Ship to shore; just a few short steps

Ship to shore; just a few short steps

Dusk on the Hamilton waterfront

Dusk on the Hamilton waterfront

Band limbering up on deck

Band limbering up on deck

Hamilton waterfront from on board

Hamilton waterfront from on board

The sit in pool bar

The sit in pool bar

The Rendezvous Bar

The Rendezvous Bar

Entrance to the Four Seasons Restaurant

Entrance to the Four Seasons Restaurant

The beautifully backlit terraces

The beautifully backlit terraces

Terraces from starboard, looking forward

Terraces from starboard, looking forward

This was the quiet part of the ship

This was the quiet part of the ship

ROYAL CARIBBEAN OFFERS BERMUDA FLY CRUISES FOR 2015

Bermuda is a famous beauty

Bermuda is a famous beauty

Royal Caribbean International has just issued a new, 132 page brochure for the UK market, covering all of the line’s worldwide itineraries through into 2016.

Among the first time offerings is a package of seven night, round trip fly cruises to Bermuda from New Jersey’s soon to be upgraded Cape Liberty cruise terminal on board the 2007 built Liberty Of The Seas, the second of the three ship Freedom class.

A total of twelve, seven night packages are on offer, inclusive of flights to New York or Newark, an overnight hotel stay with all transfers, and a five night cruise to Bermuda on Liberty Of The Seas. At 154,500 tons, this is a huge resort style ship, with accommodation for 3.634 passengers. Each sailing will feature an overnight stay in the King’s Wharf area of Bermuda– originally known as the Royal Naval Dockyard- a definite step up on the normal daytime visits in the Caribbean trade.

While it has long offered Bermuda cruises to the British traveller, this is the first time that Royal Caribbean has offered a programme of dedicated fly cruises for the Bermuda market. Also cruising to Bermuda from Baltimore, the smaller, Vision class Grandeur Of The Seas is offering her usual summer programme of seven night voyages, each of which includes a full, two night stay at King’s Wharf. These are currently sold as cruise only.

The Liberty Of The Seas fly cruise package runs from May through October. Departures from the UK: May 15,29/June 12,26/ July 10, 24/August 7,21/September 4,18/October 2,16. Prices (based on an inside cabin) begin at £1,369 per person for the fly cruise package, or £529 per person as a cruise only option.

Flowers of Bermuda. Literally blooming beautiful.

Flowers of Bermuda. Literally blooming beautiful.

Twenty one miles long and two miles wide, Bermuda is compact enough to explore pretty well over the course of two days. Highlights of the island include the current capital of Hamilton, and the original capital of St. Georges, now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Blessed with amazing, blush pink coloured beaches and a benign summer climate, Bermuda is a real alternative summer time destination to the islands of the Caribbean, a full thousand miles to the south. The hospitality of the locals is world renowned, and with very good reason; the area around King’s Wharf also offers a good range of open air bars, dining venues and clubs, all within a short distance of the cruise ship piers.

While relatively short on time, these are very highly styled breaks that combine the beauty and tranquility of Bermuda with all the fun and attractions of one of the most modern, state of the art mega ships currently at sea. Add in the potential to do some shopping and sightseeing in New York, and the appeal of this trip becomes obvious.

Methinks Royal Caribbean is on a winner with this one.

Side streets of St. George's, Bermuda

Side streets of St. George’s, Bermuda

A WORLD OF SUNRISES AND SUNSETS……

Sunset in the Baltic

Sunset in the Baltic

Sunset over Bermuda

Sunset over Bermuda

Midnight Sun, Norway

Midnight Sun, Norway

Sunrise over Rhodes

Sunrise over Rhodes

LA sunset

LA sunset

Mediterranean sunset

Mediterranean sunset

Sunrise on the Bay of Biscay

Sunrise on the Bay of Biscay

Dusk over Mykonos

Dusk over Mykonos

Aegean sunset

Aegean sunset

San Diego sunset

San Diego sunset

Sunrise over Dover

Sunrise over Dover

Midnight sun, Baltic

Midnight sun, Baltic

Sunrise over the St. Lawrence

Sunrise over the St. Lawrence

Springtime sunset at sea

Springtime sunset at sea

Pacific sunset off Baja

Pacific sunset off Baja

Sunset off Monaco

Sunset off Monaco

Sunset over the Atlantic

Sunset over the Atlantic

Dawn over Bora Bora

Dawn over Bora Bora

Champagne sunset

Champagne sunset

Mount Vesuvius sunrise

Mount Vesuvius sunrise

Sunset on the Rhine

Sunset on the Rhine

Sunset over Hoorn hafen

Sunset over Hoorn hafen

Spring twilight, Rhine

Spring twilight, Rhine

Sunset on the River Nile

Sunset on the River Nile

Sunset over Kom Ombo

Sunset over Kom Ombo

Nile sunset

Nile sunset

One last Nile sunset

One last Nile sunset

BACK TO BERMUDA; HOLLAND AMERICA TO RETURN IN 2015

Bermuda is a famous beauty

Bermuda is a famous beauty

In a move that will surprise a few people, Holland America Line is making a partial return to summertime Bermuda cruises in 2015.

The line attempted to revive the historic run over three years, from 2010- 2012, using the 50,000 ton, 1300 passenger Veendam, on a series of seven night sailings from New York.

Initially, the idea was for Veendam to spend two nights alongside in Hamilton, and a third at the historical capital of St. George. However, access to the latter proved difficult through the narrow cut, and the local tender operation used as a substitute proved unsatisfactory.

Other factors weighing against the itinerary at the time included the fact that the Bermuda government refused to allow cruise ship casinos to open in port. That meant three redundant nights out of every seven in terms of casino revenue; quite a financial hit over the course of a nineteen cruise summer season (based on 2012 figures).

Since then, however, the government has relaxed the restrictions on cruise ship casinos, and this is undoubtedly a big part of the reason why Holland America has decided on an at least partial return to Bermuda. If successful, it could presage the resumption of a full season of sailings for 2016 and beyond.

According to the Bermuda Sun newspaper, the company is bringing back the popular Veendam to operate six sailings next year, all seven day round trips from Boston. All six will dock for four days and three nights along the famous front street in Hamilton, with easy access to the beaches, snorkelling, dining and world class shopping for which Bermuda is renowned.

Veendam will dock right on Hamilton's famous waterfront

Veendam will dock right on Hamilton’s famous waterfront

There are three sailings, on May 2nd, 9th and 30th, two more on June 6th and 27th, plus what is sure to be a popular July 4th Independence Day departure. All are listed and on sale now on the Holland America website.

All of these cruises sail on a Saturday, arriving in Bermuda at one o’clock on Monday afternoon for the three night stay. The Veendam then sails from Hamilton at one in the afternoon of the following Thursday, arriving back into Boston that Saturday morning.

What makes these itineraries unique is the fact that the Veendam is far more intimate than the other Bermuda ‘regulars’. Plus, the fact that the ship spends three full nights alongside in the capital, rather than the two night stays offered by the big ships over at King’s Wharf, also gives her another definite edge over the opposition. And sailing from Boston might also give her a bit of a competitive edge over the ‘weekend’ sailings from nearby Manhattan and Cape Liberty.

This one is going to be interesting. As ever, stay tuned.

P&O’S NEW LIVERY; FROM BUFF TO SHADES OF BLUE

Oriana; every bit a timeless, contemporary beauty

Oriana; every bit a timeless, contemporary beauty

Ever since the unveiling of the new P&O Cruises livery, the cruise media has reverberated with volley after volley of comments, varying from the tepid to the downright thunderous. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion. And, in that frame of mine, this blog is mine.

It must have taken a seismic internal shift in thinking to make P&O– that most conservative and traditional of British sipping institutions- to take such a bold step. For a company that enshrines a whole raft of hallowed, age old traditions, the significance of this rebrand is impossible to overstate.

The ships themselves will lose their traditional, buff coloured funnels in favour of dark blue ones. The famous, snow white hulls will be adorned with long, flowing, Union Jack hull artwork. Artist’s renderings look rather good but, as always, seeing the real thing will be the proof of the pudding.

This is an obvious attempt to emphasize the ‘Britishness’ of the fleet- all of them registered in Hamilton, Bermuda.

That aside, the new livery is a very bold change for what is often perceived to be a solid, if somewhat staid, product. But inevitably, a lot of people do not like it, and are quite vocal on the subject.

And that is fair enough. My opinion is, after all, no more or less valid than theirs. Few fraternities are as resistant to change as ship lovers. And, at times, that is a charge that can fairly be levelled at yours truly. But not this time.

I full well remember the debut of the brand new QE2 in 1969. With her hotel style interiors and her black and white funnel, the ship was an all out attempt at relentless modernity and it, too, provoked howls of outrage at the time.

Not until her post war Falklands refit in 1982 were the traditional Cunard colours added to her funnel, after thirteen years of service. People were glad to see it at the time. She wears those colours still.

However, in the very early days, the P&O ships had uniform black funnels. That was in the days when the company had the mail contract between England and Australia, and it retained those house colours for many years. Not until the 1930’s would the immortal ‘Straths’ usher in the era of white hulls and buff shaded smokestacks.

The immortal Canberra at Vigo in the Eighties

The immortal Canberra at Vigo in the Eighties

Of course, those colours became synonymous with post war P&O sailings and, inevitably, with mainstream cruising. No ship wore those colours more proudly than the immortal Canberra. For me, the idea of the ‘Great White Whale’ in those new corporate colours would just be so obviously wrong.

But Canberra and her ilk are long since gone. The cruise industry is changing and evolving at a dizzying rate of knots. And in a cut throat market, cruise lines must either adapt or wither and die. And your granny’s P&O is no exception.

The first clue should have been with the new television advert, with its backing track that owes more to Xavier Cugat than Edward Elgar. That was eye opening enough in it’s own right and yes, it was refreshing. If I was meant to sit up and take notice- surely the raison d’etre of any on screen advertising- then that commercial succeeded admirably.

There is new blood coursing right through the Carnival Corporation as a whole, and at P&O in particular. Anyone who thought that there would not be changes as a result was fooling themselves.

Hence, the new hull livery. Love it or hate it, this will get people talking and taking notice. It creates momentum, not all of it necessarily forward. But, in the course of things, such rebranding is usually given at least the benefit of the doubt. This one should be, too.

New colours on any cruise ship are always a matter of personal taste. The look might enhance the sleek, classic Oriana, for instance, or backfire spectacularly on the vast, boxy Ventura. Or, indeed, vice versa. And, because perception is such an individual thing, no two people will look at the ‘new’ P&O in the same way.

But this is a bold move, one coming from a company not renowned for being especially adventurous. I wish the company well with the endeavour.

And- if push comes to shove and the exercise fails- the original colours can always be restored at any future date.

BETTER FOR BERMUDA?- CRUISE SCHEDULE FOR 2014

Bermuda is a famous beauty

Bermuda is a famous beauty

Bermuda is looking forward to a bumper 2014 cruise season, according to a report in the Bermuda Sun newspaper.

Well, at least a part of it is.

The north western port of Kings Wharf, hugely and extensively developed for cruising since 2004, will play host to no less than 132 cruise ship calls, disgorging a total of 356,000 passengers onto the island in the peak season between May and October.

Meanwhile, the former landmark ports of Hamilton and St. George’s are practically barren all year round.

New to the island next year is Royal Caribbean International’s Vision Of The Seas. The recently refurbished ship will sail three ten night, round trip cruises from Fort Lauderdale on June 9th, August 18th and September 1st, 2014. Each will spend three days and two nights in Bermuda, as well as making calls at Charleston, Nassau, and the company’s private island at Coco Cay.

From New York, the Explorer Of The Seas is scheduled to make twenty-seven calls and, from Baltimore, the Grandeur Of The Seas is slated for some fourteen Bermuda landfalls.

Sister company, Celebrity Cruises also offers nineteen round trips from New York on the Summit, the line’s Bermuda stalwart of several years past.

Meanwhile, the ground breaking Norwegian Breakaway returns from New York for some twenty-two calls over the course of 2014. The new ship had a hugely successful first season in 2013, during which she brought some ninety thousand passengers to the island, making a net contribution of some $26 million to the Bermuda economy.

Rounding out the roster of Bermuda round trip ‘regulars’ over 2014 is the Boston based Norwegian Dawn, with some twenty-two round trips on sale.

Side streets of St. George's, Bermuda

Side streets of St. George’s, Bermuda

The island is also expecting a one off call from Carnival Splendor in June, and there will be three calls from Princess, with Emerald, Ocean and Ruby Princess making one visit each.

The Bermuda government is also said to be courting Germany’s Aida cruises with a view to future business. Over the last year, the government has made key concessions to cruise lines, including allowing them to open their casinos while docked in Bermuda for the first time ever. The move was widely seen as a response to the exodus of lines like Holland America, the last bastion of the typical ‘Bermuda run’.

The 2014 roster of Bermuda arrivals is expected to contribute something like $90 million in total to the Bermuda economy in all. As well as disposable income coming from passengers in terms of shore excursion sales, meals and drinks and taxi fares, these figures also take into account the spending patterns of off duty cruise members, taking time out ashore at the end of their working days and nights.

CRUISING SOMEWHERE DIFFERENT- OPTIONS OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Chase the sun. Or just the change

Chase the sun. Or just the change

Let’s face it, there are times when the lure of even the most famous of cruising venues begins to fade when you’ve done it time after time. So, if you’re beginning to fall a little out of love with the dolce vita lifestyle of the usual Meddy-Go-Rounds, or feeling blase about the sun splashed Bahamas, what are the options if you still want to enjoy the seductive cruising lifestyle?

Well, fear not. Here’s an idea or two that will hopefully rekindle your interest in the world at large.

One option you might like to look at is the Black Sea. Cruises tend to be on offer here traditionally in late summer and early autumn. You’ve still got the advantage of hopefully good weather, linked in with a chance to see ports such as Odessa, Yalta, with it’s famous Swallow’s Nest castle perched high up on a cliff above the sea, or even Sevastopol, from where you can see the killing field that once witnessed the futile, heroic charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.

If the Canary Islands just don’t cut if for you any more, consider going even further south to the islands of the Azores, for a more up close and personal, less tourist driven flavour of what those islands once were. Beautiful, remote and bathed in more or less year round sunshine, the Azores attracts a small, select handful of sailings each year. It’s not by any means a big market but, if the object is to avoid the crowds, then this is pretty much a perfect choice.

Daily life along the banks of the Amazon

Daily life along the banks of the Amazon

The Amazon is also an amazing, unforgettable foray. Sailing nine hundred miles upstream to Manaus is a fantastic experience; the city emerges from it’s jungle cover like something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. En route you’ll see amazing beaches, samba displays, and streams of black and white water literally flowing side by side.

You’ll also see bugs and insects of every size, shape and colour imaginable, as well as gimlet eyed caimans. And where else could you go fishing for piranha if you’re so inclined?

Something not so steamy and in your face? Consider an expedition cruise to the remote, pristine fastness of Antarctica, an austral winter wonderland where the sun never sets at all during the main season, from November through February each year.

See vast ice floes, tinted rose pink by the glow of the endless sun, as flocks of cawing penguins skitter across them. You might see giant whales breaching the surface, leaving plumes of icy spray against a backdrop of cold, clear blue sky. There are giant, jagged icebergs as large as cathedrals, parading past you in slow motion like so many ghostly galleons. For something completely different, this is as good as it gets.

Bermuda is a famous beauty

Bermuda is a famous beauty

And, if you want some seductive, sunny island life without the crowds, traffic and beach hawkers, you could do a lot worse than consider a summertime cruise to Bermuda. Most of the voyages run between April and October, and typically sail from both Boston and New York. The short distance- just 700 miles sailing in either direction- allows ships to spend a minimum of three days/two nights docked at his beautiful island.

Bermuda is clean, safe, uncrowded, and features some of the most singular and stunning beaches anywhere in the world, a string of blush pink beauties drummed by surging Atlantic rollers. It’s perfect for families, too, as well as honeymooners. It really is a little floating piece of paradise.

So, there you go. These are just a handful of ideas that will hopefully whet the appetite at the very least. Wherever you go out there- enjoy.