Category Archive News

ByRick Deutsch

Tips when sailing to Cuba – Go before the burger shacks arrive

We just did a day  in Havana.  Yes, only one day. But we wanted to get there before Fast Food places and endless coffee vendors set up shop.
Norwegian Sun was our ship out of Port Canaveral. That is a very nice and modern port. The Cruise Terminal is pleasant and they are getting so much business they plan to build a new one!  The proximity of Cape Canaveral (visible from the upper deck of the Sun) allows for the viewing of a launch. We were hoping to see a SpaceX launch upon our arrival. Sadly it was delayed until after we sailed.
The arrival into the port of Havana was eye opening. There are three slots for ships. The buildings of the abandoned buildings  were almost falling down with big holes in the 19th Century structures.
Customs was easy enough. Foreign currency has to be changed to CUC – a special tourist currency. The local peso is not available to foreigners. For each $1 USD we got 87 CUC.  No other currency is accepted. And no credit cards.
The way to see the city is via an old classic car. When the Cuban missile crisis happened, the US embargo stopped the import of US cars after 1960 models. But the clever folks have kept them running all these years without a source of spare parts.  Some are used for daily transport, but the bulk are “taxis.” We rode around with a driver and guide in a 1959 Buick Convertible for 7 hours at $280 CUC.
Hemingway house avana

The Havana home of Hemingway is a must see.

We saw all the sights and the grim infrastructure. Thanks to Communism, the place looked like a WW2 bombed out city. Litter was not picked up. The Hemingway house was a breath of fresh air.
You need to see the cigar factory. Time prohibits me from elaborating. You can see the magic of hand-rolling. I don’t smoke but did buy a few “Cubans” to burn my tongue later.
My time here is up – but think about going soon. I can’t imagin a couple 4,000 passenger ships hitting all at once.
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ByRick Deutsch

Cruise ships keep getting bigger – New NCL ship has with lots of entertainment.

Royal Caribbean now has bragging rights for the behemoth of the seas. The Symphony of the Seas, that is. I holds over 6,600 passengers and 2200 crew.  Dang, there are major towns in Montana smaller than that!!

Today I wanted to share how far the absurdity is getting. The Norwegian Bliss just rolled out of the assembly yard and hit the water April 21.  It’s over 900 ft long….and carries 4,000 pax. It’s smaller than the Symphony…but is has a unique amusement.

How about a two-level go-kart track. Hello?  A GO KART track! So did we come to enjoy the sea air, the serenity of the wavers and exciting ports?  No – let’s bring the land to the ocean.

Go karts

Go-karts at sea.

If that’s isn’t enough for you, gander at the water slide that the screaming kiddies will dominate. A gigantic water slide. This thing even hangs over the edge. Gee, was it built by the lowest bidder?  Bad sign if so.

water slide

Mega water slide

While the big ships sounded cool at first – a tribute to engineering skill. They are ruining the cruise experience for us all. Why? Well they are dumping too many tourists into the primo sites around the world.  Read about the problems Venice, Santorini, Barcelona and other jewels are having.

You just cannot dump 6,000 people off and look the other way. Typically 1 or 2 other ships will be in the same port. My gosh, 11,000 people descending on St Paul’s Cathedral. Cheek-to-cheek on the  Rialto Bridge. Head to toe on a medieval wall.

When will it end? Pack ‘em on.  Money talks – nobody walks.

Drop us a line. So far I haven’t heard of these giants needing speakers. I guess everyone will be in line to drive around the deck. Sigh  But we know of many other ships that need you.

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ByRick Deutsch

The design of cruise ships is changing to reflect improved technology

Let’s face it: The basic design of cruise ships has not materially changed since the first steamers were zipping between England and New York. While there certainly have been major technological improvements in the decades past, we still see the hull, body and stern looking about the same.

Side thrusters, stabilizers, and bow bulbs have been the most noticeable.

I commend Aurora Expeditions’ ship, named “Greg Mortimer” for its nifty bow innovation. It looks a bit different than other cruise ships.

The ship is small – it features what they call “X-bow.” It resembles a bullet train, more than a boat. It has that “military” appearance. Even shouts a bit of “James Bond.”  Take a look.

X bow front of ship

Cruise ship designs are getting exotic

This sleek bow gives it greater speed since it can slice through the water with better stability – ergo – less drag /  more available power / less fuel consumption. All good things.

This inverted bow concept is getting more publicity (i.e. this blog) even though it is used on 100+ ships already. Aurora has just launched a full program for its polar expeditions, the first to feature the Greg Mortimer.

Learn more about arctic cruises

The latest version will roll out in 2019 and head to Antarctica. This is a polar capable craft so the trip will be to the hard-to-get-to sites. Think Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falklands as well as up north:  Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, East Greenland, Jan Mayen, Iceland and Norway.

Subscribe and get your most relevant cruising information here. We can also get you on ships just by speaking. You can bring another traveller (over 18 yrs old).

 

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