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Thinking about cruising in 2015? Then say hello to our new cruise specialist, MaidenVoyage. As a travel agent who spends day in and day out booking cruises for curious travelers, she knows cruise lines and ships like the back of a muster drill script. Got a question about cruises? Even a stupid one? MaidenVoyage has heard and seen it all, so don't be shy. Send your cruise question to her!
It's that time of year when everyone is resurfacing after the holidays, making "get fit" resolutions and dreaming of spring. But it's also that time of year when folks get to planning their vacations, either for this year or 2016 and 2017. (Ahem, guilty!) And if you're thinking about hitting a beach with crystal blue waters, you're in luck.
Right now, we are in the midst of cruising's WAVE SEASON, which lasts from January-March, and has some of the best cruise ship deals we will see all year.
Here are some of my favorite cruise deals along with some tips on how to ride the wave season for all it's worth:
As the song goes, "The Love Boat soon will be making another run / The Love Boat promises something for everyone."
For decades that song meant fun in the sun onboard a cruise ship, one ship in particular: the Pacific Princess. According to USA Today's Cruise Log, the ship is headed to the scrappers in Turkey after 42 years of sailing the ocean blue.
Although she began life as the Sea Venture with Flagship Cruises, it wasn't until 1975 that she achieved TV stardom as the Pacific Princess with Princess Cruises. Giving modern ships a run for their money, she sailed with Princess all the way up until 2002, at which point she was sold to yet another cruise line and renamed yet again, to Pacific.
When you're a royal princess, christening ships is just part of the job. Having the ship (sorta) named after you is also simply an additional perk, as HRH Kate Middleton now knows after smashing a bottle of champagne to christen the newest Princess Cruises ship, the Royal Princess.
Her Royal Highness headed down to Southampton to tour the 141,000-ton, 3,600-passenger ship with Captain Tony Draper, and cut the cord to send the champers sailing into the side, officially welcoming the ship to the open seas. The Royal Princess will only be under the gray sky of England until it departs to begin her inaugural season of 12-night cruises around the Caribbean.
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Here's some fun news to share over dinner tonight. USA Today's Cruise Log alerts us to the fact that not only is the original "Love Boat" still floating, but it can be yours for the pretty price of $2.5 million. That's how much a Turkish company paid for the 1971-built Pacific Princess only recently, with the intent to break it up and sell its famous bits for scrap. That was the plan, at least until they defaulted on payments. Whoops.
The ships has seen more than its slew of make-ups and break-ups over the decades; the Pacific Princess has also sailed under a few other names and cruise lines, finally reaching the stalemate at which she sits today. Will she be scrapped after all? Will she sail again on budget cruises? Will she be permanently docked as a hotel somewhere?
Here's our idea: somebody please buy this babe and convert her into the hotel idea, but keep her seaworthy so that the Pacific Princess can show up wherever overflow accommodations are needed, such as the London Olympics or World Cup. Heck, park it on the Hudson River in NYC during major conventions, Pride Week and the Fourth of July and we'll book a room or two ourselves. Make it happen.
Carnival Cruises just booked a huge number of passengers, and it won't even have to take them anywhere: The cruise company has been hired by Canadian police to house security personnel during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The three ships will serve as floating hotels to ease the city's housing shortage by allowing some 4,000 private guards to cabin up. The police had earlier contracted with a rival company called Cruise Connections, who is now suing them for allegedly backing out to try and get a better deal -- recessionomics at work!
Speaking of cruises, sounds like starting a mutiny is the new calling customer service. New York Times writer Joe Sharkey is tracking the "trend" of organized passenger resistance after a recent Sapphire Princess cruise that had to skip many of its scheduled stops when typhoons whipped up seas.
Passengers angry with the unplanned diversions started cooking up schemes, says passenger Carolyn Spencer Brown, who also happens to run the influential site Cruise Critic:
First there was a group of what I'd call rabble-rousers, led by a lawyer. We were missing all of these ports, and they felt they weren't getting the truth...[at one point, assembled in the ship's theater] the attorney jumped up and grabbed the microphone away from the assistant cruise director and said: `We're taking over the stage! We have a petition!'
List of names notwithstanding, officers on-board were able to retain control, and Princess Cruises gave everyone some free spending money and a discount on another cruise. Let that be a lesson for you instigators: Just because you organize a mutiny doesn't mean you won't be invited back to sail again!
[Photo of the Sapphire Princess: SqueakyMarmot]