Veteran cruise ship singer Stephanie Anne Johnson’s voyage on The Voice ended during live eliminations broadcast Thursday, when she failed to garner enough votes to continue on the smash reality music show (much to the dismay of those of us here at Cruise Critic, who were rooting for her from the beginning).
During her time on TV, Johnson – who worked as a contract performer on Holland America’s Amsterdam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam, as well Seabourn Quest — had one of the more emotional rides, switching coaches several times. We had a chance to talk to Johnson, 29, briefly by phone Friday.
Q: How did your time on cruise ships prepare you for The Voice?
A: The thing about being at sea that prepared me the most was the fact that I had to constantly learn a lot of new songs and new tunes, based on what was being requested. Being able to work and turn something around in 24 hours is a skill that I learned on ships.
The days of huge cruise ships sailing up the central Giudecca Canal into St. Mark’s Basin in Venice are numbered.
From January 2014 the number of vessels weighing more than 40,000 tons authorized to cross the Giudecca canal — in front of St Mark’s Square, in the heart of the city – will be cut by up to 20% from 2012 levels. And in November 2014, ships weighing over 96,000 tons will be banned from the route completely.
Well known as one of the best vistas to be seen from atop the deck of a large cruise ship, the view of Venice is now being taken away. This week, Italy’s Premier, Enrico Letta, along with a group of Italian government ministers and local officials, committed to a plan that would reduce large ship traffic coming into Venice’s heart.
And while it’s not quite clear exactly how that plan will take shape or where ships will go, what is clear is that there are a lot of cruisers who want to visit Venice. Last year alone, 89 ships from 42 cruise lines made 661 calls and carried around 1.8 million guests into the floating city, according to statistics from Venice’s Passenger Terminal.
So what’s the reaction to the decision from the point of view of our readers? You might be surprised.
A few weeks ago, I was in Houston to visit the Bayport cruise terminal, which on Tuesday welcomed Caribbean Princess as its first homeporting ship since 2006. During my stay at Royal Sonesta in the Galleria section of the city, I learned that the hotel’s executive chef, Peter Laufer, spent nearly a decade working in cruise-ship kitchens at Norwegian Cruise Lines before returning to land-based culinary endeavors.
I caught up with him earlier this week to ask what it’s like to cook for thousands of passengers on a moving vessel. The result was a candid conversation, in which Laufer told me about the pleasures of being able to walk to work onboard and how flexible dinner seatings in the main dining room actually improve food quality.
Differences Between Working at Sea and on Land
There are a few things Laufer misses about working in a ship galley: “I now have to deal with the day-to-day headaches of driving to work, dealing with traffic and cooking my own meals when I’m at home.” Likewise, there are some he doesn’t miss: “The kitchen doesn’t move anymore; I don’t have to worry about my pots and pans or soup spilling over because the ship is rocking and rolling.”
Although he still spends most of his time in the kitchen these days, he says land-based executive chef duties involve a lot more meetings and administrative work than those of seagoing execs, whose respective cruise lines make many of the decisions. Plus, orders on land need to be placed daily, rather than weekly, and land-based culinary work often requires dealing with three or four different menus at a time to cater to various groups and events.
Everyone is looking for the deal of the century. So how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Check the Lido Deck each week to get the scoop on our favorite deals — then grab the phone and pack your bags.
THE DEAL: Holland America Line is offering a 24-night cruise to Mexico and Hawaii onboard Veendam, sailing roundtrip from San Diego on December 28, 2013. Prices start from $2,099 per person, for an inside cabin.
Aloha from Hawaii! We’re onboard Pride of America, the only big mainstream ship sailing weeklong itineraries in the Hawaiian islands — no long treks across the ocean by ship from the North American West Coast or the South Pacific.
For this Cruise Critic editor, this trip represents a number of firsts: First time “freestyle cruising” with Norwegian Cruise Lines, first time cruising around Hawaii, even first time spending a week onboard with my husband! Just a few days into our sailing, here are my first impressions.
Ports Steal the Show. It’s hard to size up ship life quickly because we’re hardly onboard. The itinerary features two overnights in port (Maui and Kauai) and only five nights and one half day of sailing time. And with such amazing ports — Maui’s Road to Hana and inviting beaches, the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park and excellent snorkeling, and Kauai’s drop-dead gorgeous scenery — no one wants to waste a minute of time on shore. That leaves little opportunity for doing all the frivolous and relaxing Sea Day activities.
Yet Pride of America is a good match for this port-intensive itinerary. It’s got everything you need — multiple dining options, several pools and bars, a spa — but not the marquee “ship as destination” draws of Norwegian’s newest vessels that might convince you to skip time in port to play onboard.
Every Wednesday, we’ll be taking you on a journey around the world to some of the most interesting places our members have trekked, swum or merely witnessed from afar while cruising.
Whether these photos inspire you to plan a relaxing escape or walk on the wild side, we hope they ignite your senses and give you ideas for your next cruising adventure. If you have a photo you’d love to share, send it to us at email@example.com or post it in our member photo gallery.
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A curious event was listed on the daily program for the first evening of my recent Regent Seven Seas cruise: A block party.
Scheduled to coincide with Sailaway, the event – where you step out of your cabin into the hallway to have a drink and meet your neighbors – is apparently it’s a tradition with Regent. One that I had never seen on any other line has, in all my years of cruising.
Being a mildly unsociable person, I go on cruises because I love ships, I love the sea, and I love visiting different ports. I’m not actively seeking to meet other people; if that happens, it happens. And personally, I can’t think of anything I’d less like to do than meet my neighbors.
I grumpily decided that I would sneak up on deck and avoid the whole thing.
What’s the best cure for stress? Some turn to the candle-lit bubble bath, coupled with a glass of wine for temporary relief. For others, it’s retail therapy. But member lorihelms‘s antidote was four days spent on Golden Princess.
After a few strenuous weeks at work, she and her husband snagged a last-minute deal to unwind while sailing to Catalina Island and Ensenada.« go back — keep looking »