Despite having ships stationed in five continents, Italy-based MSC Cruises is almost always thought of as “very Euro.” (We’ll explain in a minute.) So it may have come as a surprise to some that the line will be basing its splashy 3,502-passenger MSC Divina year-round in Miami. The one-year-old ship will begin offering Caribbean cruises in November, marking the first time MSC has positioned a ship full time in America. Divina will compete with the biggest, newest offerings from Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL.
“The brand is starting to gain momentum here in North America,” president Rick Sasso told me. The snowball has taken awhile to form. For the past nine years, MSC has homeported ships in the U.S., but only on a seasonal basis. Divina, too, was initially slated to sail from Florida seasonally, but due to the positive response it received, MSC decided to drop the ship’s anchor in one place.
According to the groundhog, spring is quickly approaching, and if you’re like me, warmer weather inevitably gets you thinking about where you might want to plan your next sailing. Whether you’re on a tight budget or plan to book the most high-end luxury cabin, I’m willing to bet that getting a good deal would put a big smile on your face. So, it got me wondering how others go about scoring enviable cruise fares. Is it through a travel agent? Online? Booking during a certain window?
On our recent shipyard tour of the nearly finished Royal Princess, the all-new feature that generated the most buzz wasn’t the tweaked mini-suite design, the size and breadth of the expanded piazza or even the spiffy Princess Live! entertainment venue.
Waves “worse than…Hurricane Sandy” and some cold New York temperatures hardly affected solo cruise veteran cv322 onboard the March repositioning of Carnival Miracle. With no shortage of compliments to the crew, cv322 noted the small touches (from replacing wrecked wine to serving special shrimp) that made it an otherwise smooth sailing. Unimpressed by tired activities and awkward comedians, cv322 encourages members to become active in their roll calls for a ready-and-waiting group of friends and host of gatherings. Read cv322′s full review for some surprising casino perks (a “chocolate mountain”) and the wintry benefits of a car remote start… from your ship balcony!
For their efforts, cv322 and four other Reviewers of the Week — richla, Kryssa, DSJ3677 and debbyrich — receive Cruise Critic logo items.
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In the world of cruising, new ships are launched with much pomp and circumstance. The ceremony you’re likely to read about, and even more likely to remember, is the christening, or naming. That’s the moment when a ship, all gussied up for a gala night of celebration and the onset (traditionally) of its maiden voyage, welcomes the industry’s elite to a big party. The event is centered on a luminary (actress, political figure, model, actress, member of royal family, actress) who as godmother attempts to break a bottle of Champagne against the ship’s hull. A successful smash (and it doesn’t always work on the first try) signifies good luck for the ship in the years to come.
It’s usually a great time. There are speeches (sometimes too many speeches), offbeat dance performances and confetti snowstorms to mark the moment before all head inside the ship for a celebratory dinner. But for some reason I usually feel let down afterward. I’ve never been able to figure out why.
With lots of maritime practices being called into question of late, it’s clear onboard rules and regulations are necessary. Some, however, need to be tightened, and others could stand to be loosened a bit. We decided to ask our readers which one of four popular “laws of the lido” they’d most like to see amended.
OK, it’s not a cruise line executive climbing a tree to rescue a kitten, but the recent cooperation between Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line to get a handful of nonflying Carnival Dream passengers back to Florida is still pretty neat.
Here’s the scoop.
Last week, New York State Senator Chuck Schumer proposed a Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights. Ostensibly, his proposal was in response to the flurry of problems Carnival Cruise Lines had with four ships in a two-month time span — and the often-confusing (sometimes misleading) national media coverage of those problems.
Leaving politics aside, I was a bit flummoxed by his proposal for two less ideological reasons.
First, Senator Schumer is basing this proposal on the Airline Bill of Rights he first proposed in 2009 and was passed into law in 2011. But legally, the airline and cruise industries are regulated quite differently. I readily admit I am not Cruise Critic’s foremost expert on maritime law, but I do know that cruise ships are under the legal auspices of the International Maritime Organization as well as the governments of the flag under which they sail. Right or wrong, that’s the law.« go back — keep looking »