Mega cruise line teams up with small luxury operator

Royal Caribbean Ltd. buys big stake in Silversea Cruises

Patti Pietschmann 

Silver Muse joined Silversea fleet in April 2017 two sister ships are on the horizon

Although some insiders suspected that small, luxury ship operator Silversea was ups for grabs, he news last week  that giant cruise ship operator RCCL was buying a major stake in the little luxury line, sent shock waves through the cruise industry. 

What’s happening, pending approval from various sources, is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is buying a 66.7% stake in Silversea Cruises–the tony cruise line that operates intimate luxury liners and expedition ships designed for discerning seafarers.

Royal Caribbean’s stake has an enterprise value of somewhere between one and two billion dollars depending on your source. The purchase price of the equity being acquired is approximately $1 billion. RCL plans to finance the purchase through debt.

In addition, Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio will qualify for an estimated contingent consideration of approximately 472,000 RCL shares, payable upon achievement of certain 2019-2020 performance metrics.


“Silversea is a crown jewel, and the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests and create revenue in strategic growth areas.” Fain added: “We are proud to welcome aboard Manfredi Lefebvre, a visionary leader whose high standards and history of innovation we deeply respect. Manfredi will remain Executive Chairman of Silversea, continuing to lead its strategy long term.”


“This partnership will bolster the growth of this exceptional brand founded by my father,” said Lefebvre. “I have always been kindred spirits with Richard and we share a vision of offering excellence and leadership to our guests. This new partnership gives Silversea the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the most successful luxury and expedition cruising brand in the world.” The strategic rationale for the partnership includes:

  • Driving long-term capacity growth in the burgeoning luxury and expedition segments at a much larger scale than what Silversea would achieve independently;
  • Diversifying Royal Caribbean’s portfolio and increasing its expedition offerings by adding a premiere ultra-luxury brand;
  • Leveraging the global footprint of the combined companies to generate demand and increase vacation and destination options for the guests of both companies;
  • Realizing significant synergies related to global market access, supply chain, purchasing power and other economies of scale.

Lefebvre said he is confident that the significant investment stake he is retaining will sizably increase its value through the growth this long-term partnership will enable.


Lefebvre and Fain also confirmed that Silversea’s CEO Roberto Martinoli will continue in his role, working with the existing Silversea management team.


Silversea’s sterling fleet covers the world sailing to more than 1000 global destinations. The company’s  unique luxury expedition vessels add a pioneering ultra-luxury brand to RCL’s industry-leading brand lineup.

RCL’s largest brand, Royal Caribbean International, is a contemporary brand focused on adventure-seeking families, Celebrity Cruises is a premium brand providing a modern luxury experience to discerning global travelers, and Azamara Club Cruises is a destination immersive brand offering luxury voyages to unique ports. The company also operates the regional TUI Cruises and Pullmantur brands as part of long-term joint ventures.

The closing is expected to be completed later in the year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.

Some of Silversea’s shining ships

For more about Silversea click You can also find many articles about its ships on this blog or at and

Royal Caribbean International
 is a cruise line brand founded in Norway and based in Miami, Florida, United States. It is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.As of May 2018, the line is operating 27 ships, has five additional ships on order, and controls 21.9% of the cruise market worldwide.[3] All ships under the Royal Caribbean International brand have names ending with “of the Seas” (e.g. Freedom of the Seas) a practice which began in 1991.


Tourism hit hard by the volcano but life goes on in Hawaii


No cause for alarm is you remain under the radar or

Under the volcano

While the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau continues to assure visitors of their safety and aggressively communicate that the Kilauea activity is limited to the summit and a very small part of the island of Hawaii – less than 10 square miles. There is still much concern for people in the affected area. However it is safe to visit the island of Hawaii and all the other Hawaiian Islands. For the most up-to-date informationcheck:

What’s more some travelers have canceled their visits  or cruises, or are considering doing so.  But it really is only that small area that’s affected, although fall  out of ashes is seen in Kona and as far away as Maui. Never the less, life goes on and Hawaii remains a tropical paradise  of sand, surf, palm  trees, restaurants and Aloha spirit.

The good news is that Norwegian Caribbean has resumed its Pride of America cruises to all Big Island ports.  So think carefully before skipping that trip or voyage.

Oh how cruise industry has changed since the 1990’s

What a difference decades have made on cruise styles

 Patti Covello Pietschmann

Silversea  helped redefine luxury cruises in 1994
Silver Muse debuted in 2017 raising the bar higher on  top of the line cruising
The following article, by me, was published in 1992, just after Crystal Cruises (1990)  and before Silversea Cruises (1990  redefined luxury cruises.  Many of the ships and cruise lines are long gone, but it is interesting to read about cruises back in the day… much has changed. There are now more balconies, freebies such as your tips, drinks, WiFi, higher standards but it was still fun to cruise….

Top Ships For Cabins, Food, Fitness And More Cruising  published April 05, 1992 |By Patti Covello Pietschmann. Special to the Tribune.

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, a savvy seafarer set out in search of the best cruise ship. Not an easy task, considering the number of passenger vessels, around 150 at last count, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Relentless in his quest for quality, this seafarer (hereafter to be called S.S.) booked voyages on dozens of luxury liners. She scrutinized each ship from stern to bow, top deck to lower, outside cabins and suites to below- waterline closets that pass as berths.

From ship to ship S.S. searched until she could no longer stand to elbow her way through another midnight buffet, watch one more magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, listen to another off-key singer belt out oldies or endure one more washed-up comic trying to revive his career. When her mission was accomplished, S.S. concluded that while all cruise ships had something going for them, some did a few things better than others. Eager to share the knowledge with other potential seafarers, S.S. jotted down a few important categories (such as food) and matched them with the ships that excel in each.

In this old Chicago Trib piece the S.S. went public in this exclusive Savvy Seafarer`s Somewhat Scientific Ship Survey:

The best nautical cuisine (remember we’re talking the 1990’s

Sure there`s always plenty of chow on a cruise, but only a handful of galleys dish out the quality fare of a Crystal Harmony (Crystal Cruises), Sea Goddesses I and II (Cunard), Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Spirit (Seabourn), Wind Star and Wind Song (Windstar Sail Cruises) or Song of Flower (Seven Seas Cruises). We`re talking tasty, creative, beautiful dishes designed for discerning palates, gourmets, gastronomes, foodies who know their way around quail soup, pheasant and foie gras.

Also recommended: Paquet`s Mermoz (for fabulous French Provencal food); Alas this line has since bit the dust, but it was wonderful.

Princess Cruises` Star Princess, Crown Princess and Regal Princess for homemade pasta dishes, Royal Cruise Line`s Golden Odyssey and Crown Odyssey`s Greek salads and entrees and Holland America for its fresh fish and outstanding pastries.

Most civilized meal hours (This has completely changed with many lines now offering dine when you like options and/or reserved or open seating alternative dining venues)

Usually you have only one choice in this matter: early sitting (6:30 p.m.) or late (between 8 and 8:45 p.m.). The savvy seafarer just hates that. If you feel the same way, these are the ships best suited to your taste:

Sea Goddesses I and II (now under the SeaDream Yachts moniker), Wind Song, Wind Star, Wind Spirit, Seabourn Pride and Spirit (expanded in several more ships such as Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn EncoreSeabourn Quest, Seabourn Ovation) , Club Med 1 and Seven Seas Cruises` (now Regernt Seven Seas) Song of Flower and Crystal Harmony. If you don`t feel like going to the dining room, you can have a full-course meal served in your stateroom, and, in most cases, in courses.

Dawning of a more deluxe era with Seabourn Encore in the 2000’s

While the late great Crystal Harmony had two seatings in the main dining room, passengers had the option of dining at two other restaurants between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Today’s Crystal Cruises swank ships Symphony and Serenity have open seating and alternative  dining choices in an Italian, Asian and continental restaurants).

Classiest cruise ship

Back then it the 900- passengers Crystal Harmony since replaced by Crystal Serenity and Symphony. Most cabins on both boast balconies, free WiFi, spacious sitting areas, twin beds that convert to queen or king, mini-fridges, upscale toiletries, terry robes and round-the-clock room service. Bulters man accommodations on Penthouse decks.

In the small-ship division, it doesn`t get much better than Silversea’s fleet of fancy vessels:  Seabourn`s equally elegant chic offerings, Regent Seven Seas and for an amazing sailing experience  Windstar Sail Cruises four-masted, 440-foot sailing ships sport diving platforms and luxurious staterooms.

There was also the now defunct fledgling Song of Flower, (former Explorer Starship until Japanese-owned Seven Seas Cruises bought and renovated it), has garnered rave reviews since its debut a year ago. The 172-passenger luxury liner has a crew of 144 along with outside staterooms that range from 183 to 258 square feet. Ten larger suites (321 square feet) have private verandas and another 10 have 398 square feet.

Tops in entertainment

I wrote back then that this area is in dire need of improvement on most ships. Too often the

Gregory Porter performed  outstandingly on  QM2  last fall

“talent“ just doesn’t have any. I can’t tell  you how many shows we walked out of in the past (1990s).  But today’s another story with class acts appearing on Princess, Crystal Cruises, Cunard especially QM2 crossings, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas. Even Carnival’s gotten more into the act.

Back in the day my  exceptions included the SS Norway, a luxury liner that housed the Saga Theater, the best Broadway-style theater at sea and presented a floating jazz festival each fall. That year the 10th Annual Floating Jazz Festival took place Oct. 24-31 featuring 65 performers-among them: Dorothy Donegan Trio, Anita O`Day, Gary Burton and His Quintet and a special trio of Ed Higgins, Keter Betts and Jackie Williams.

Free-flowing booze and wine was pretty much a dream in the 1990’s but is now  a reality on Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas and SeaDream with lines like Viking Cruises offering complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner.  Even Champagne is free on Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal.

The then most exciting ship on the horizon was SSC Radisson Diamond, a twin-hulled, 354-passenger catamaran-like, hi-tech, knocked-your-socks-off , Today’s most exciting new launch to look forward to is Celebrity Edge which debuts with a blast in December 2018.

Shopping  has now  gone overboard on many ships with glitzy boutiques purveying high-priced goods, but back then the glitziest lobby/shopping arcades were  on Crystal Harmony`s showstopping Crystal Plaza atrium features glass sculpture, a waterfall and the 3,000-square-foot Avenue of the Stars shopping arcade. Princess Cruises` Crown and Regal`s three-story atrium lobby with its circle staircase and fountain sculpture is topped by a two-level Galleria shopping arcade. The Star Princess Plaza, another three-story affair, has a vivid kinetic sculputure with a circular staircase leading to shops and restaurants.

Boffo cinemas in the 1990s  for late run movies  was Crystal Harmony`s 270-seat Hollywood Theatre and the Star, Regal, Royal and Crown Princess theaters are some of the most comfortable and also offer the best sound systems and wide screens. Today Princess show films on a behemoth screen over the pool and in the theater. Crystal continues to run new releases, too, in its theaters.

Best casino bets were on Crystal Harmony`s Caesars Palace at Sea which at the time was  the most authentic Las Vegas-like casino afloat, with a staff direct from the gambling capital of the world. Now Carnival Cruises is king of the gambling game.

Best pools for swimming i the 1990s

Crystal Serenity pool  2016 by Richard Pietschmann
Not all ship pools were made for swimming. Notable exceptions include Carnival`s Ecstasy`s attractive 50- by 16-foot pool, complete with water slide and two Jacuzzis.
The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line`s (RCCL) Monarch of the Seas (to debut in November), Sovereign of the Seas and Majesty feature two 13- by 46-foot pools on deck. Crystal Harmony also has twin pools: the Seahorse, measuring 40 feet long and the 21-foot-long Neptune, an indoor/outdoor arrangement. Princess Cruises` Royal Princess boasts a true lap pool that measures 14 by 33 feet, in addition to its 50 by 16-foot main pool. The main pool on the Star, Crown and Regal Princess sports two Jacuzzis, a swimup bar and measures 18- by 27-feet. On the Crystal Harmony, there are Jacuzzis at either end of the Seahorse pool while the ship`s indoor/outdoor pool (the Neptune) is about 21 feet long and has a swimup bar.

Today best pools are on Silversea Silver Muse and Crystal’s two ships. The water’s inviting also on some of the behemoth builds from NCL, RCL  and Carnival.

Best tipping policy was pretty nebulous back then  and tedious, passengers used to fill envelopes with cash to dole out. Then came automated adding to your shipboard tab and on Crystal,  Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn a no tipping policy.

There was little or no WiFi in the early 1990s but now every ship offers it for a fee or free.

Want to read more about cruising in the 1990s? Go here.

A little yacht that feels like a fare floating around Bora Bora

Sailing on the Haumana in like being in a floating fare

Patti Pietschmann

Over water fares in Bora Bora by Richard Pietschmann

Over water bungalows aka: fares, are the preferred accommodations for most people visiting French Polynesia–but they do come with a price. However, it just doesn’t get any better than being able to slip into the water off your porch or view the azure-colored lagoons from your coffee table. Except possibly taking an all-inclusive cruise on a tiny luxury yacht from beautiful Bora Bora. The fares start at $1,800 a person for three nights accommodations, all meals, a selection of free wines, a half-day excursion to Taha’a, the Vanilla Island; and activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, a barbeque on a motu and other aquatic and cultural experiences. It may sound steep, but this is quite a bargain when you factor in all the extras.

Otemanu in Bora Bora by Richard Pietschmann

Before we go any farther, let me say that French Polynesia is very expensive and doing it a la carte can break most people’s bank accounts. But this cruise includes all extras so you don’t have to worry that a drink will cost a fortune (it does at some bars) or dinners will be a set back to your kid’s college fun or your mortgage payment.

The little boat follows the routes of the ancient Polynesians and is manned by a 100% Tahitian crew who impart their love of their islands — as well as its music and crafts. Having been to the area many times I can tell you that the food served on the islands is exceptional. After all, it is French Polynesia and the French are fussy about their food. So I believe it when they tell me the chefs do a fabulous job of fixing meals on the Haumana. Obviously I have yet to sample the fare.

The yacht is cozy and comfy more barefoot than spikes and a great way to pay a leisurely visit to the one of the most stunning destinations in the world.

Of course you woudn’t want to fly all the way to French Polynesia just for three nights. There are many hotels from which to choose but be sure to take the American Plan which comes with three meals or the Modified American Plan that comes with two, because as I said, it can be very expensive. Met many unsuspecting couples who wished they have booked their room with meals. One couple was practically living on French bread (which is really crusty and good but not that nutritional) when they realized how expensive lunch and dinner were.

To book your cruise or get meet information click on and to find other packages with hotels and yacht go to, You will find one great sounding deal for $7,699 for 10-days all inclusive. After you sample French Polynesia for the first time, you’ll want to go back. Once is never enough in this tropical paradise, trust me.

Tahiti by Richard Pietschmann 

Are you ready to find paradise?

Star Princess sparkles after her facelift

The 17-year-old liners is all gussied up

Patti Pietschmann

She debut in 2001 weighing in at 109,000 gross tons and passenger capacity of 3,100.  Seventeen years later the  Star Princess has reemerged after a two-week multi-million-dollar renovation that graced her with some of the latest Princess Cruises product innovations and enhancements.  She is now offering  15-day Hawaiian Island cruises roundtrip from Los Angeles and Vancouver through April before heading north to Alaska for the summer. 

“Star Princess now offers many of the signature product innovations our guests have come to love, including the Princess Luxury Bed, Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center and revamped Sabatini’s,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “These enhancements continue our $450 million multi-year ship renovation campaign, ‘Come Back New Promise’, enhancing our onboard guest experience.” 

Some changes and upgrades include:

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria – the signature specialty restaurant now offers updated décor and a new menu developed in collaboration with Chef Angelo Auriana, Executive Chef and partner at the authentic Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen and Officine BRERA, in Los Angeles.  Inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavors the menu features handmade pasta dishes from Chef Auriana, as well as family recipes from Italian Princess executive chefs.

Princess Luxury Bed – available in every stateroom aboard Star Princess, the Princess Luxury Bed was developed by Princess Cruises in collaboration board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson. The bed offers the ultimate night of sleep at sea combining the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – for cruisers ages 3-17, Star Princess now offers a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications™, as part of the cruise line’s Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle.

Enhanced Boutiques  guests will enjoy aesthetic enhancements to the Shops of Princess, offering an upgraded shopping experience, such as a branded Effy Fine Jewelry boutique and a modern Fragrance & Cosmetic shop. There will also be new products to choose from such as a new collection of Princess and Under Armour branded athletic wear and Princess logo apparel featured in a newly designed Logo shop. 

Lotus Spa & Fitness Center  in a space where guests can relax and invigorate, salon and treatments rooms have been upgraded and the latest in fitness equipment is now available.

Casino – for guests ready to take a gamble, reconfiguration of machines and tables, as well new carpet tempt them to roll the dice. 

Other general refurnishing upgrades of carpet and upholstery are found throughout Star Princess.

Rainbows are part of Hawaii’s magic

If you’ve never sailed from the mainland to Hawaii, I highly recommend  the journey. (Photo above  shot by Richard Pietschmann while sailing out of Kauai).

On Star Princess you can sail from LA now through April. Be aware that the first three days out could be chilly, so bring wind breakers or sweaters, but as you approach paradise the weather warms. It’s a great way to visit four islands hassle free while living on the spiffy ship. or   enhancements, there is live entertainment, world-class cuisine, island-inspired activities and endless ocean views.

Awesome shot of Hawaii
Maui wowie by Patti Pietschmann

 Cruise fares start at $1,299. To learn more about our Hawaii cruises, visit

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS or by visitingthe company’s website at

The art of cruising

Great  expectations for newbie cruisers

First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake, completely relaxing.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.

Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco.

Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have

Pick, plan, put it together on

Picking a cruise that suits your personality

Passenger Profiling

Ever wonder what your fellow shipmates will be like and if you’ll  gel? I’ve got you covered

By Patti Pietschmann

us at captain's partyWhether you’re a virgin cruiser or veteran seafarer trying a new cruise line you might wonder what your shipmates will be like.  This is especially true if you’re on a ship with assigned dining and  might be sitting at a table with strangersm(we always ask for a table for two).  So I’ve curated a  passenger profiling list based  400 cruises (yup, been covering the industry since I graduated from college) and reflects  the personal observations of my first mate Richard and I:

Carnival paradise and freedom in Grand CaymanCarnival: The Fun Ships no longer attract only younger passengers onboard mostly to party and go on active shore excursions. You’ll still find lots of energetic revelry around the swimming pools and in the bars, but families and the middle-aged are now in the mix. These ships are where you will find Middle America; what you won’t find are dedicated foodies.

Celebrity : This fleet of upscale ships attracts a mixed bag of millennials, the middle-aged and seniors who tend to be great fans of the fun and food  Celebrity provides. Passengers are likely to be better-traveled and more global than most mass-market lines aimed primarily at North Americans.

Costa:  This line credits itself as being “Italian’ but much of the crew hail from other parts of the world. Still the product rings true of Italy via cuisine, Italian captains and ambiance. A large segment of the passengers are from abroad.  Most of them are 55 and older, veteran cruisers who generally join in the activities with gusto. A regular Toga Party garners lots of attendance with passengers doing Roman-style garb.

cunardCunard:  Cunard’s famous Queens appeal to older, wiser, more sedate passengers, although the summer Atlantic crossings between New York City and Southampton also attract younger Sloane Rangers and other sophisticates who are anything but stuffy. You likely will encounter a high percentage of passengers from the British Commonwealth, who will carry on the tradition of dressing for dinner. You will also encounter one of the last bastions of the British class system at sea, with portions of the ship off limits to the hoi polloi.

IMG_0054Crystal:  Most of your shipmates on the two medium-size ships of this globe-trotting line will be 45 years-old and above, well-traveled and well off, and appreciative of the line’s reputation for outstanding food and service. You will find many repeat passengers who know the ropes and wouldn’t think of switching allegiances to another cruise line. This loyal clientele eagerly attends the lectures, seminars, computer classes and shows that the line works hard to provide. Although passengers tend to be upscale, there isn’t a whiff of pretension.

Disney:  what can we say? The passengers (mostly couples with young children) who flock to sail with Mickey and Minnie are staunch fans of everything Disney. They buy out the gift shop during the first days at sea, don logo tee-shirts, Mouse ears and go gung ho on the theme. For the most part Disney fans are not sophisticated travelers. Most are from Middle America but there is a sprinkling of foreigners.

Holland America:  Most of the passengers on the HAL cruises I have been on (though none in a while) were older, reserved, dedicated to the line and relatively undemanding regarding food and drink. They know what they want and they know that they like the consistent product that Holland America gives them.

MSC Cruises:  untested waters for me, research indicates that this Swiss-based line attracts  many Europeans along with Americans. Demographics include couples, families (children under 18 sharing a cabin with two adults cruise for free) and single passengers. Average age is 50 and older.

Norwegian:  it’s been eons since sailing on one of these budget ships and the line’ s come along way since then.  It continues, however, to attract a lot of firs-time, young cruisers, couples and friends sharing staterooms.  You won’t find foodies flocking to the fleet, but you will find plenty of party animals and very active seafarers.

marina photoOceania: Passengers on Oceania’s ships love the food and the far-flung itineraries the line offers. Many have cruised dozens of times with Oceania and wouldn’t sail on any other line, which prides itself on affordable luxury. Your fellow passenger will be middle-aged or above and confident in his or her choice.

Paul Gauguin:  this spiffy little ship that has the market cornered on French Polynesia, attracts water babies and arty adventurous passengers who appreciate nature and the beauty  of this part of the world.  They are usually sophisticated younger than average, well-dressed and love fine food, beach activities and culture. While most passengers are from the US (many lot from California) you will find some French, German and Italians on board.  Many who sail on PG spend a few days before or after the cruise in a port such as Bora Bora or Papeete.

Princess Cruises:  You’ll find every type of passenger on this line—wide-eyed first cruisers to those who already know the maître d’ and have sailed with the company dozens of times. The line’s big ships offer endless activities and options and a popular shore excursion program.  Expect more fellow guests  over 50 than under 30, lots of Californians (the line is headquartered outside Los Angeles), and a tolerant attitude toward dress and decorum.

Regent Seven Seas:  As with its sister company, Oceania, foodies and gourmets flock to the many restaurants on each of the line’s upmarket cruise ships. RSS’s similarly loyal, nicely put-together clientele comes from all over the world; if there’s a type, it is well to do. They enjoy the line’s luxury and worldwide itineraries and all-inclusive pricing, and if you don’t mind paying for it, you will too.

Royal Caribbean:  this mainstream cruise line attracts  aa similar segment of seafarers as Princess and Holland America.  During the summer there will be lots of families. The rest of year you’ll find a mixed bag of mostly middle class folks.  Passengers are fairly well cruised who  sail on these ships more for the ports and entertainment then say the food (which is often good but not usually exceptional).

DSCN0972Seabourn:  Passengers on the smaller, stylish ships of Seabourn tend to the chic, the sophisticated, and the international. Country club is the prevailing style of the moneyed leisure class that dotes on Seabourn’s easy luxury, excellent food, relaxed ambience and inclusive pricing and find it exactly what they want.  They tend to be repeaters who have been there, done that and have the funds to do more of it. Meet them in the bar and you’ll find most as friendly as they are accomplished.

36c16-ships2bin2bst-2bkittsSilversea:  Shipboard mates will be similar to those you will find sailing on the other premium small-ship lines that offer inclusive pricing—well-dressed, discerning and, because the line is Italian-owned, more of them may be European. They gravitate to Silversea for the food, varied itineraries, and the Italian-owned line’s refined cachet. The Bar, the convivial center of the ships, is where passengers meet before dinner.

056Windstar (photo by Glenn Bozarth): This fleet of mastered sailing ships attract young to middle-age, upscale adventurers who go for the wide variety (and convenient) selection of watersports from diving to snorkeling. Although they prefer being in the water, they love the lure of the wind-propelled sail and the fine food served on board.

 Tips for making friends:

Passengers tend to mingle more on upscale ships where drinks at the bar are free.  This isn’t because of the comps, but rather it reduces that awkward pause when you’re with people you just met and the check comes.

Also like-minded passengers tend to gravitate toward each other.  Say you take a snorkel or biking tour. You’ll notice back on board that the people who were along with be more friendly to you. The same goes for cultural tours etc.

Don’t barge in on passengers when they are sitting down to dinner, especially couples, unless invited. That’s okay at the bars but not the dining venues.








What makes cruises so appealing — everything fro A to Z

Great expectations

By Patti Pietschmann


First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake,d0e60-decksofasitting in a lounge chair on Crystal Serenity or Symphony.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.b3b88-img_0951

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).d0a36-vitello2btonnato2bla2bterraza

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal


CruisesSeabournSilverseaRegent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.


Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco. Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).manava hotel

Dining in penthouse suite on Crystal Serenity

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

Money matters cash isn’t tendered on ships. A credit card account is set up for you on embarkation day for which you can charge drinks, spas, boutique buys, shore excursions and the like.  If you’re watching your budget, charge carefully, the tab can skyrocket.

Outfits the cruise line web site will advise you of any wardrobe preferences. All ships are casual by day, especially on deck,  evening options vary from sea to port days, but some like Cunard‘s Queens are always dressy at night. Always look presentable.


Snorkel excursion

Formal wear
  The Ruby Princess

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have go ashore and use a cybercafe.  Check with your cruise line to see if Internet is included and if not what packages are available to purchase. By all means pop for  a package, the rates per minute are pretty pricey.

Indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea’s new mystical Muse

museOne of my most memorable experiences was a cruise to Rio de Janeiro that began with a fast flight from Miami on the since defunct Concord,  and included three booze-soaked, fun filled days attending Carnival. The cruise line, which is long gone, had secured tickets to the balls for passengers to attend. It was surreal with people partying day and night, scantily-clad carioca women dancing on tables, and many next morning hangovers.

Although a flight on the SST is no longer on the table, you can indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea’s new, super sonic Muse which is heading south from Fort Lauderdale on a 69-day Grand Voyage on Jan, 3, 2018. The spiffy vessel will completely circumnavigate South America, visiting 34 ports in 14 countries, while experiencing the mystery and pulsating rhythm of this vast continent on an intimate, ultra-luxury voyage that is Simply Divine™.

The  Grand Voyage 2018 combines the luxury of sailing aboard an intimate, elegant ship with the excitement of discovering fascinating destinations. Highlights include a crossing of the Panama Canal, cruising Chile’s majestic fjords, a three-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro in time for Carnival, plus overnight calls in Valparaiso, Punta Arenas, Buenos Aires, and Manaus, nestled in the heart of the Amazon.

“Grand Voyage 2018 is perfectly tailored to travelers who have the time and passion to indulge in travel on a grand scale. It combines adventure and immersive cultural experiences with leisurely days wrapped in the exquisite luxury and impeccable service of our beautiful new Silver Muse,” said Mark Conroy, Silversea’s managing director for the Americas.  As usual passengers will enjoy free drinks from Champagnes and cognacs an beyond, have tips covered, get transportation in ports,  and savor culinary experiences. Through Silversea’s association with Slow Food Italy, a selection of Ark of Taste products, such as Ecuador’s Nacional cacao, Peru’s native potatoes, Chile’s Merkén chili peppers, and sugarcane products from Santa Rita, Brazil, will be sourced locally by Silversea chefs to introduce guests to the remarkable flavors of these cultural treasures, which are being catalogued by the Ark of Taste to help ensure their preservation.

Exclusive Added-Value Benefits

In addition to a gala Bon Voyage dinner and overnight stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Fort Lauderdale on January 2; a unique “Panama Hat Party” event at the Montecristi Golf Club in Manta, Ecuador on January 12, showcasing the talents of local artisans; and a box-seat view of the Carnival Winners’ Parade at the Sambadrome in Rio on February 17, full-voyage guests will enjoy a generous array of benefits, including:

–$2,000 Onboard Spending Credit (per suite)

–Free unlimited Wi-Fi

–Baggage valet service

–Visa service (U.S., Canada and select markets)

–Commemorative gifts

Fares for Grand Voyage 2018 start at $36,955 per guest, based on double occupancy. For further information and the complete itinerary, please visit


Carnival signs pop star Nick Jonas to perform on two ships

Singer/song writer will do shows on Carnival Victory and Liberty
By Patti Pietschmann

Carnival ships grand cayman1 (2)

Teen favorite and multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated recording artist and award-winning songwriter will be performing for Carnival Cruise Line passengersjonas this fall while the ships are docked in Nassau as part of the  Carnival LIVE Concert Series. A recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Hal David Starlight Award, Jonas will do two high energy shipboard concerts – one aboard Carnival Liberty on November 17 and the other aboard on Carnival Victory November 18. This is not part of the lines free entertainment with  tickets for Nick Jonas going for  $75 for general admission, significantly less than land-based venues.  VIP tickets are available for $250 and include seating in the first few rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.

Carnival LIVE is a unique entertainment experience offering the tops in live music and comedy at sea.   Performances are held in the ships’ main show lounges – which range in capacity from 900 to 1,300 – meaning there’s never a bad seat in the house. “This will be my first time performing on a cruise ship, which I’m really excited about because it’s so different than any other venue. I’m looking forward to seeing and performing for my fans that will be there.”

Jonas needs no introduction pop music buffs. He  released his self-titled, critically acclaimed debut album in November 2014 that included the double-platinum and No. 1 U.S. radio hit, “Jealous” and his sultry chart-climbing radio single, “Chains.”  Jonas released his sophomore solo album “Last Year Was Complicated” in June 2016 featuring the platinum him “Close” featuring Tove Lo that debuted as the No. 1 selling album of the week.

A full listing of all Carnival LIVE performances is available at For reservations, contact any travel agent or call 1-800-CARNIVAL. You  can connect with Carnival on: FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube. Journalists also can visit Carnival’s media site, or follow the line’s PR department on Twitter at

Carnival Liberty Carnival LIVE Concert Series Carnival Victory Nick Jonas on Carnival shipboard entertainment

Edie and the jets

Crystal Cruises CEO/president gets keys to spiffy new Boeing 777

edie and the jet It’s luxury travel provider Crystal Cruises latest extravagance. An amazing, over-the-top  swank aircraft that will fly the friendly skies with  Crystal AirCruise.    Edie Rodriguez took possession of her company’s spirited member of its expanding fleet of luxury liners, river boats and yachts,  Crystal Skye.
 The official passing of the keys took place  at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington where the keys to the exquisitely outfitted Boeing 777-200LR were delivered to Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez from Greenpoint Technologies. Crystal Skye, the largest privately owned tour jet in the world and probably most deluxe, will be used for chartered service. Steep fares, and posh interiors,  will most likely attract celebrities and other wealthy  travelers. Crystal Skye will be christened in Las Vegas on August 12.
 “We are ecstatic to welcome Crystal Skye to the family, as she marks the beginning of a new chapter and realm of luxury travel for guests who seek the unmatched Crystal Experience,” said
 Rodriguez. “As we embark on new global adventures with Crystal Skye, we are inspired by the shared vision of our own experts and those at Greenpoint Technologies, who brought this sky-high dream to fruition.”
Just how luxurious is it?
With a spacious design for up to 88 guests,  Boeing 777, Crystal Skye is appointed with features rarely found in even the most luxurious private jets.
 She has the highest crew to passenger ratio of any twin-aisle aircraft and a non-stop range of 19.5 hours, allowing travelers to explore the far reaches of the earth while enjoying the personalized service.
  •  Bespoke Crystal Exclusive Class™ seats are designed for maximum personal space and ergonomic comfort, and convert to 180-degree lie-flat beds.
  • An  expansive social lounge with stand-up bar fosters friendly camaraderie among luxury travelers.
  • Cuisine will be prepared by an executive chef, in two state-of-the-art galleys and paired with an elegant premium wine list from the Crystal SkyeCellar.
Crystal collaborated with Greenpoint Technologies for the extremely specialized development of Crystal Skye, as the company is renowned for its innovation and leadership in the creation of superior aircraft design. Greenpoint Technologies worked alongside Crystal’s own experts to conceive the standard of excellence and luxury required to ensure the unparalleled guest experience aboard a Crystal vessel, then brought the vision to life. The interior installation of Crystal Skye began in August 2016 at Greenpoint’s Moses Lake facility in Washington, focusing on exclusive features such as a 24-seat lounge with a central bar, sofas, custom coved ceilings, the largest wine cellar in the sky and ample space to socialize. Stone veneers, colored LED lighting and other premium details adorn the extraordinary interior.
Feeling flush?   For charter inquiries contact in the U.S. 855-207-2778 and/or 1-786-971-1010 (international calls); and in China 86-400-800-0348 and Hong Kong 852-2378-5760.
For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888.799.2437, or visit  Follow the Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page and @crystalcruises on Twitter and Instagram, and engage in the conversation with #crystalcruises.
 Read more about Crystal here:

Lazy days on chic Crystal Cruises(photos)

Nothing like sailing on the open sea on Crystal Symphony or Serenity with nothing to do to but..

By Patti Covello Pietschmann with photos by Richard Pietschmann

Love days at sea? Most seasoned cruisers do. Some of us  actually more than others.  For instance my first mate, Richard, and I often choose itineraries where there are more days at sea than in ports. A couple of times we took 18-day cruises that only stopped in four ports along the way to Europe or back from Lisbon. We’re not  alone,  many of our ship mates on these cruises have been there done, that, so they pick a cruise where they can simply  chill out. Some ships are more fitting for sea days like

Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises Serenity and Symphony.

On sea days on either luxury liner there are scads  of activities in which to take part, or not.  You can take exercise classes (Pilates, Yoga, stretch, cardio and more;or work out in the fully-equipped fitness center on your own).  There are language lessons, games, a jogging track, one of the most impressive Enrichment Programs and Computer University at Sea (with 40  27″ Apple iMacs)

where I mastered PhotoShop and other technical tricks. There is a well-stocked and inviting library that holds more than 2,000 books and a thousdand DVDs from which to choose movies to watch in your  stateroom.

offering head to toe  pampering; large swimming pools; steam baths and saunas; golf cages, paddle tennis courts,
 movies in a well-equipped theater complete with free popcorn, evening shows, bars and lounges with free drinks all around all the time and plenty  of deck space  and cushy lounges in which to plotz for moments of Zen. There is WiFi hookup throughout the ships for those who want to  stay connected, and  big screen computers to use in the Cyber Cafe.

Of course there’s also lots of  food options with casual breakfast and lunch buffets, the main restaurant and two  tops of the sea alternative dining venues: the Nobu-inspired Silk Roadwith mouth-wateringmenus,
and the equally exceptionally tasty food at the Valentino-like Prego.

You can also spend your sea days  in your stateroom wrapped in a big fluffy  robe ordering  room service,which is available around the clock, watching movies on the TV, sitting on your balcony or napping in a  Frette-linen-covered bed.

Butler service

A Silversea Cruises photo recall

The Grand Suite Life on Silversea (Reprinted  from 2009)

By Patti Pietschmann

Photo of Silver Whisper courtesy of Silversea

I squealed with glee as the steward let us into our Grand suite—a 1,434 square foot concert of marble and mahogany mini mansion—which would be our floating home onboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper for 33 glorious days on a voyage from Los Angeles to Sydney. I’d been in shipboard suites before, but this went outside the box. The bedroom was huge with an exquisite vanity and a king size bed covered in fine linen with Piumi Salpi down pillows and comforters. I couldn’t get over all the storage space, and the walk-in closet large enough for two steamer trunks and more. The Italian marble bathroom dazzled with a Jacuzzi tub, twin sinks, and separate shower. Lavish soaps, shampoos, conditioners and toiletries lined the glass shelves. Thick Frette terry robes hang on the door.

The living room was so inviting we eased into a nightly routine sprawled out on the comfy sofa or recliner room watching movies on the Flat screen plasma television, or listening to CDs playing on the Bang & Olufsen or Nakamichi entertainment center. While we love the dining venues on the ship, the suite proved so comfortable that we opted to for room service about half the nights of the cruise. The waiters set our mahogany dining table elegantly with candles, Christofle silverware and Bernardeau Limoges china. We dined on truffles from Rome, foie gras from France, Italian-style pasta, filet mignon, and luscious desserts like Viennese tortes.

A beautiful wood bar, stocked with Schott-Zwiesel crystal, and complimentary beverages (Philipponnat Royale Reserve champagne, wines, liquor and soft drinks) proved perfect for entertaining new friends we made during the voyage. Our steward always ensured sure we had plenty of hors d’oeuvres for our soirees.

The suite sports a large private teak balcony where we ate breakfast by day and sat sipping champagne at night.

We did manage to wrest ourselves from our suite to work out in the nicely equipped gym, take free Pilates and exercise classes, and swim in the 30 feet by 12 feet lap pool. We also got out to explore the ports of call.


The company that redefined old-world elegance to contemporary cruising when its first two ships debuted in 1994, Silversea’s four stylishly refined luxury liners: the 16,800 ton, 296-passenger Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, and the 28,000, 388-passenger Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow—are compact enough for intimacy yet large enough for comfort. Each provides ample space, and 75 to 80% stateroom balconies, single, open-seating dining in The Restaurant with its dramatic glasswork art, black cherry wood chairs where leisurely multi-course meals are served by a tuxedo-clad wait staff.

The cruise line’s obsession to details is displayed by free flowing French champagne, afternoon canapés and Godiva chocolates delivered to your suite, leather ticket cases, inviting public rooms and amenities such as the outstanding Mandara Spa (which is now  Silversea Spa operated by Steiner).

The Silver Whisper has been completely refurbished since then with restaurants such as Le Champagne, Hot Rocks,Le Terraza and butlers for  all  accommodations.

Breakfast on our balcony brought by the butler on a recent Silver Shadow cruise

What ever Silversea ship you sail on the food is always fantastic

For additional information visit the website at:

Amazing caper: women smuggle $30 million worth of cocaine on Princess Cruises Sea Princess

The pair and accomplice nabbed in Sydney

By Patti Pietschmann
A pair of  20-somethings Canadian women (pictured above is one of them, Melina Roberge, from  her Instagram account) went on a dream vacation–a World Cruise aboard Princess Cruises Sea Princess that cost them $22,000 each.  But with $30 million worth of cocaine in their possession the fare seems a mere drop  in the bucket. By all news accounts the gals and an accomplice (again even though has one heck of a time. The fun stopped while being arrested in Sydney, however. It was the biggest coke bust ever.
According to, Melina Roberge, one of the women arrested posted steady Instagram photos under the heading  “Currently travelling”. The 22-year-old Canadian spent almost two months in paradise throughout July and August drinking from coconuts and posing in front of turquoise waters in her bikini. She was travelling with Isabelle Legace, 28, and Andre Tamine, 63, aboard the $20,000-a-head MS Sea Princess, stopping in idyllic locations including French Polynesia, Chile, Ecuador and sunny Bermuda.

How could this happen? It’s one of the most talked  about news stories in the cruise industry  this week and quite startling. When you board a cruise ship on embarkation day or after a port call you always go through security at the top of the stairs.  How was this missed? Where did they stow the stash?  Well prominent maritime attorney James Walker posted a piece on the subject which is a must read for anyone following the case:

The widely reported drug bust of three passengers this week on the Sea Princess cruise ship in Australia uncovered serious shortcomings in Princess Cruises’ shipboard security.
We have written about dozens of drug busts of relatively small quantities of cocaine on cruise ships over the years. But 95 kilos (over 209 lbs.!) of cocaine seems to be hard to believe. Many people have expressed their opinions that this must have been an inside job (we have no proof of this), given the use of screening equipment on cruise ships. But some people have questioned whether the drugs were loaded onto the ship along with food and provisions and then transferred to the passengers to be smuggled off the ship in their luggage. If the shipboard security team wasn’t involved, they obviously need to enforce far better protocols to carefully screen baggage and items brought onboard the ship.
IHS Fairplay published an article today saying that the drug bust “highlights the ability for more sinister items to be smuggled onto vessels.” In an article titled Drugs Find Highlights Cruise Security Threat, Fairplay says that “cruise companies were taking, and continue to take, security seriously but that the incident had to act as a wake-up call to revisit current systems.” It quoted Gerry Northwood, a principal of the international maritime security company MAST, explaining that cruise passengers don’t face the Cruise Ship Drug Bustsame restrictions as air travelers.


Northwood also warns that “If a terrorist were to secrete an explosive device inside a consignment of food, it is possible that the explosion would likely happen below the water line with obvious implications for the vessel and the safety of the passengers and crew.”
Commander Mark Gaouette, the former security head of Cunard and Princess Cruises, said in an interview today that the cruise industry should be concerned with the possibility of a terrorist group masterminding a gigantic conflagration on a ship. He cites the 2004 attack by an Islamic terrorist group which planted just eight kilograms of TNT in a cardboard box aboard the Superferry 14 in the Philippines. The resulting fire and explosion killed over a hundred passengers and sank the ferry.
Commander Gaouette is the author of Cruising for Trouble, Cruise Ships As Soft Targets for Pirates, Terrorists and Common Criminals.

The savvy seafarer’s cruise album

By  Richard and Patti Pietschmann

We’ve taken cruises on ships of every size and style from mega liners to small luxury vessels and written about  them in newspapers,magazines and on the web (most recently and here are a few good photos from our voyages:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Spa  time

Crystal Cruises deck and butler for our  penthouse stateroom

 Morning buckwheat pancakes on Crystal Cruises 

 A birthday/anniversary celebration on Silversea

 Dining on the deck of the Seabourn Quest

 A seafood fest on board Regent Seven Seas Mariner Alaska Cruise

 Regent SS Mariner stateroom stewardess

 A veal chop  on RSSC Mariner


 A veal chop at  Silversea Hot Rocks

Dining a Le Champagne on Silversea

 Leaving Bora Bora

Paddle  tennis  on Crystal Serenity

 Happiness is having room service breakfast on Crystal Cruisses

 Bora Bora

 The mighty Amazon from Seabourn Quest

French Polynesia from a Princess Cruise

Ruby Princess

And it doesn’t end here, next trip Queen Mary2 from New York to Southampton, England; Seabourn Encore, Silversea Muse, RSSC Explorer and others. Stay tuned.

Cruise French Polynesia in style on the Paul Gauguin

Book it now and get paradise for a song

By Patti Covello Pietschmann
The Paul Gauguin
is one spiffy little ship that sails year around in a tropical paradise known as French Polynesia. While on board you are served fantastic food and offered insights into  the  mystical culture of the archipelago.  And for a short time the company is offering  fares are so good that I am ready to book now. These summer blow sale fares include tips, drinks and round trip air from Los Angeles to Tahiti. Watch the video to whet your appetite.


Paul Gauguin Cruises  get a savings of up to $4,750* per person off previously advertised rates on select cruises aboard The Gauguin  when booked by August 20, 2016:

Tahiti & the Society Islands (7 nights):

  • October 8, 15, 2016 – now  from $4,445 per person
  • December 21, 2016 – now from  $4,545 per person
  • February 18March 25, 2017 – now from $4,445 per person

Society Islands & Tuamotus (10 nights): 

  • January 4, 2017 – now from $4,595 per person
  • March 8, 2017 – now from  $4,745 per person

Society Islands & Tuamotus – Special (11 nights):

  • December 3, 2016 – now from  $4,795 per person

Cook Islands & Society Islands (11 nights):

  • February 25, 2017 – now from  $4,995 per person

Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands (14 nights):

  • January 28, 2017 – now from  $5,645 per person

What to know:

  • Nearly 70% of the ship’s suites and staterooms offer balconies.
  • The food is exceptional in venues such as L’Etoile, which showcases an array of culinary creations expertly prepared each evening, and in  two  other restaurants  La Veranda and Le Grill, which serve breakfast and lunch. At night, signature dishes from celebrity chef Jean-Pierre Vigato, world-renowned Chef Propriétaire of the Michelin-rated Restaurant Apicius in Paris, are offered in La Veranda, and Polynesian specialties are served poolside at Le Grill.
  • Entertainment includes locally sourced talent called Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins—a troupe of Tahitian entertainers—that immerse you in the culture  of the area. There are also expert lecturers on each voyage and special guests on select sailings conducting presentations on topics ranging from the history of the South Pacific to conservation, culture, marine life, and the wonders of coral reefs.
  • Pampering and diversions  include a luxurious spa, fitness center, watersports marina (if you love to snorkel,swim or dive you will enjoy this convenience), and expansive outdoor decks with chaise lounges and a pool are also available aboard The Gauguin.
  • Exclusive access to Motu Mahana, the cruise line’s private islet off the coast of Taha’a where guests can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, Polynesian activities, a full-service bar, a floating lagoon bar, and a delicious barbecue. In beautiful Bora Bora, (see photos below by Richard J Pietschmann):

    you get complimentary access to a private, white-sand beach with beach volleyball, sunbathing, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and refreshments. This is truly a highlight of the voyage, trust me.

For more information or reservations, contact a professional travel agent, call 1-800-848-6172, or visit


Setting sail on a magical Alaska cruise

Regent Seven Seas stylish Mariner surpassed expectations


I knew we were in for a fabulous time on our Alaska cruise, especially since we were familiar with Regent Seven Seas attention to detail and passenger comfort. The 700-passenger actually exceeded expectations, and I mean it even as a guest of the cruise line.

The Alaska cruise began in Anchorage where we boarded a ship’s shuttle bus to ward, Alaska–a 2 1/2 scenic drive that we hadn’t actually looked forward to  doing since we had to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a 6:15 a.m. Delta flight that would stop in Seattle first.  It was worth it. The seven day cruise ended in Vancouver, British Colombia with mesmerizing scenery of icebergs, glaciers and rain forests combined with all the heavenly comforts of luxurious 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Mariner. While the Mariner sports an inviting swimming pool few have dared to dive in as baby it’s cold outside. But there are two well-used Jacuzzi’s and a spa with steam and saunas to keep us warm. There is also delicious food to comfort the body and soul and much more, read the first entry here. The many splendors on board the feisty Mariner– from exceptional dining to luxurious appointments–aside Alaska takes the spot light. So follow along on the first three days with stops at the Hubbard Glacier and Sitka by the slideshow photos that are worth a million words especially from America’s Last Frontier.

Embarkation in Seward on the spiffy 700-passenger, 48,075-ton Mariner, that was stylishly refurbished in 2014 , was seamless with glasses of Champagne  proffered as we boarded. Stewards escorted us to our  suite  (the ships is the first all suite, all balcony vessel built in 2001). Our deluxe Veranda suite  805 measures 301 square-feet including balcony. It’s furnished with desk, vanity, king bed, flat screen TV, walk-in closet, lots of drawers, mini-fridge stocked with free beverages, robes, slippers, hair dryer, sofa, and table.

The Hubbard Glacier, pictured below, was one of the highlights of this trip.

hubbard deck shotRegent Seven Seas fares are the most all-inclusive offered which translates into all tips covered, most shore excursions, select wines and Champagnes, top shelf spirits, and all meals even in alternative dining venues such as Signatures and Prime7.

The RSSC Mariner runs smoothly and fairly seamlessly with an accommodating suite crew. Sailing on her in Alaska sitting on your balcony you might catch a bald eagle majestically gliding in the sky or a whale or two. Today in Sitka we are heading off on a bicycle/walking tour so come back for a report on that plus more about cruising Alaska on the gorgeous not so ancient Mariner.

The RSSC Mariner is manned by the company’s first female captain Serena Melani (pictured above) from Livorno, Italy who is did a fine job slowly gliding the ship up close and personal to the 400 to 700 year-old Hubbard Glacier (feature to come next on this amazing Ice Age formation) and into Sitka, yesterday and Juneau today, June 25. The vessel debuted in 2001 and was spiffed up stylishly in 2014. She sports all suites each with balconies, spa by Canyon Ranch, fitness center, large pool, Jacuzzi, four dinner venues, 24-hour room-service, very attractive bars ad lounges, and deck sports as well as indoor fun, shows and lectures. I wrote  this while on the ship with my laptop on top of a desk, where it was all week so I could post stories on websites and social networks.  Richard, my  first mate, and I shared  deluxe veranda 805 which is appointed with a desk, vanity, king bed, big bathroom with sink and shower, flat screen TV, free movies on TV and DVD, one free unlimited WiFi hookup per cabin meaning just one passenger gets to go on line without a fee and only one device at a time–much to the chagrin of a few passengers who nearly incited a cyber mutiny when they learned the service wasn’t free for everyone in their suite.

Cruise lines canceling Turkish itineraries due to spate of terrorist attacks

In the wake of a series of terrorist attacks in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, cruise  lines are eliminating stops  in the country and substituting them with Greek islands. Ataturk Airport.  Crystal Cruises,              serenity     Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and other companies announced earlier this year that their ships wouldn’t be visiting Turkish ports in 2016. Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises recently said that they had canceled stops in Turkey for 2017. Last week Windstar Cruises announced  it would be eliminating Istanbul on 16 cruise itineraries and replace it with Athens (Piraeus), Greece. The cruise line will also substitute Kalmnos and Nafplio Greece for Kusadasi and Bodrum, Turkey. Learn more about these changes on the Windstar Cruises official website. Ships may not be stopping in Turkey for a longtime which is a shame because the country has so much to offer.
Celebrity Cruises also posted on its official website that the cruise line would be canceling all of the upcoming stops in Istanbul, and replacing them with stops in Athens, Greece. In total, seven sailings over the next five months will be impacted. If you are scheduled to sail from Istanbul or on a cruise that is scheduled to stop at Turkish ports be sure to contact the cruise line. Most likely you will get a notification if there have been port changes.




Catching the sites of kitschy Ketchikan from Regent Seven Seas Mariner

arrival Ketichan It was what locals call a bluebird day, a beautiful, sunny day in Ketchikan—one of the rainiest cities in the world with an average yearly downpour of about 14 feet. According to a local, it was the best day in more than two weeks, the sun shining gloriously and the temperature hovering around 70 as passengers disembarked spiffy Regent Seven Seas Mariner. Like Richard and I most of the 700  passengers were taking one of the line’s complimentary shore excursions offered on this all-inclusive seven-day Alaska cruise from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, BC. The voyage lived up to or exceeded expectations.

 Before we even left home we booked our complimentary shore excursions (and made dinner reservations, on Regent Seven Seas web site). We were happy we selected the Rain Forest Expedition tour  in Ketchikan– which proved n easy hike alongside a roaring stream feeding into Ward Lake, about eight miles from the port. It was led by a knowledgeable guide named Carly, who was more naturalist than hiker and explained the glacier-created terrain, the spongy peat bog and identified the spruce, cedar, hemlock and alder trees. She pointed out the broad-leafed skunk cabbage plants that had been nibbled at and uprooted by hungry black bears after their long winter hibernation. In late June the pink salmon endemic to the creek hadn’t yet began their spawning runs, an event the bears no doubt eagerly awaited. But the tour group loved the sight and sound of the pristine water rushing past through dense screens of old growth trees. DSCN1313There was the usual warning that if a bear was spotted one must remain avoid screaming and particularly running, something that signals prey to the poor-sighted blacks, smaller and less aggressive than their brown bear (grizzly) cousins passenger had seen in Sitka, but still dangerous wild animals. No furry animal was sighted, however.

Following the two-hour walk  we strolled around Ketchikan, which is Alaska’s fourth largest city, despite its small population of about 14,000, and stopped for lunch at a local spot called Annabelle’s.  Annabelle's frontThis is a city of water, where even the airport must be reached by ferry and with no land connection to the outside—the only highway ends 10 miles in either direction beyond the center of town. What it is best known for, besides salmon and rain, is the size of its floatplane fleet, the largest in the world. Every day around 1,000 takeoffs and landings occur in the same tight sea lanes used by ships much larger than Mariner and were as easily seen as the curious juvenile bald eagle that flew within feet of the anchored ship.

Annabelle’s  was a bit of a disappointment. The  salmon  was over-cooked, the olive oil had a strange taste but the bread and salad was good. We popped for wine and a beer (which is proffered free on Mariner, but hey one isn’t in a Ketchikan restaurant every day). The typical Alaska eatery was filled with what looked like locals but also passengers from Marina, Holland America’s Voledam and the Coral Princess which were also docked there. After lunch it was back on a launch that took passengers back to the anchored Mariner for a night and one more day at sea before arrival in Vancouver.

Once back in our deluxe veranda suite 805 we sat on the veranda and watch while the captain sailed out of Ketchikan to the final stop  in Vancouver B.C. I love this ship so much that I can’t wait to do another  cruise on her, perhaps in Caribbean or Med next time. But Regent Seven Seas is well-known for getting things right and everything about this seven day journey was ideal.  Remember RSSC fare are truly ALL INCLUSIVE with everything covered from tips to shore excursions, drinks, alternative dining venues Prime7 (that serves kick ass steaks) and Signatures which offers continental cuisine in a romantic setting (most ships charge extra for meals outside the dining room, except this one and Seabourn.brunch buffet ketichan arrivalAbove is a buffet served on the Mariner during arrival in Ketchikan.

The Cruiseable Bliss Tool app is a match maker for passengers and ships

IMG_5812Even though I, the Savvy Seafarer, Patti Pietschmann, is now a ‘team member’ on the new, exciting web site, I can unabashedly recommend the company’s hot new Bliss Tool app–a free download that helps people pick the cruise, cruise line, ship or destination that’s best for them. Think of it as a match maker of cruise and passenger. Aptly titled Bliss Tool, the app is easily downloaded to iPhone or iPad.  Once you have it you can easily search and scroll for cruise lines, ships byname, destinations, itineraries, maps, travel guides and photos. It sounds overwhelming but then you really want to be sure you pick your cruise carefully. There’s nothing worse than being on the wrong ship in the wrong ports of call especially after paying the fare (there is no buyer remorse cancellations that we know of).

According to the company the hallmark feature of its app is that its lets you zero in on exactly what you are looking for, leaving all guess work to them. Your National Cruise Examiner has written many article about how important it is to pick the right ship and this app goes even farther matching your preferences for spas, fitness, staterooms, dining (a major factor for most seafarers), entertainment and more.

“Twenty-three million people a year take cruises, but everyone has a different personal style and budget,” said CEO J.D. Lasica in a phone interview. “You might want to sail away with the kids, or to have a romantic escape, or to dive into local culture, or to see the Northern Lights on a cruise with fine dining and great entertainment. With our Bliss Filters, you can fine-tune your search, then save and share your personalized results with family or friends.”

What’s also cool about the app is you can save anything by bookmarking it and keeping a personal library on your home PC or laptop. “The Cruiseable app fills a big hole in the market,” said Giacomo Balli, chief technology officer. “Until now, consumers were limited to cruise discovery apps from the cruise lines, which steer you to their own ships, or from travel agencies. This is a tool intended to empower travelers with information and tips from fellow cruisers, not from the cruise lines’ marketing departments.” employs a team of travel writers (including yours truly) and travel professionals whose assignments are to  monitor, evaluate and rate nearly 400 ships from 31 cruise lines. The mobile app combines ship reviews and destination articles with passenger content – photos, videos, reviews, comments – as well as search results that show cruise itineraries, dates, prices and availability.

“Both the app and the website draw from a single database,” Balli explained. “If you upload a photo or video or save an item while logged into the website, it shows up on your app a moment later – not weeks later when a new version of the app is released. And if you do something on the app, it’s reflected on the website instantly. That’s pretty cool.”

Lasica said the Cruiseable team wanted to build technologies that bridge the “artificial divide” between apps and the Web. “We think you want to explore, plan and book your cruise regardless of which device you’re using,” he said. “Unlike the vast majority of universal apps, the Cruiseable app on the iPad is not just a larger version of the iPhone app. The app was tailored to perform differently on the two platforms.”

“The iPhone is about swiping down vertically, Instagram style,” Balli said. “The iPad is about swiping across and getting immersed in these thousands of big, gorgeous full-screen images. Even the website somewhat resembles an app because it was designed with a mobile experience in mind.” can also book  your cruise and offers onboard credits of $50 for any cruise booked through them.  You can download the Cruiseable app  in Apple’s App Store, check them on Twitter@cruiseable or Check out my latest article here.

Celebrity Cruises big, better, best promotion can save you $1,000-plus

Here it is your moment of seafaring Zen, Celebrity Cruises is staging yet another promotion, this one called  “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best!” And it can save passengers as much as  $1,035 per person.

Here’s a little seafaring skinny:

  • Celebrity dishes out globally-inspired cuisine in a dozen distinctive restaurants featuring menus crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, Celebrity Cruises offers an unparalleled culinary experience. In fact, in 2015, Celebrity Cruises launched the world’s first permanent “World ClassTM Bar” onboard the Celebrity Eclipse, as well as introducing the first-ever exclusive suite dining experience with the opening of Luminae. Additionally, Celebrity Cruises and Bravo Media have extended the popular “Top Chef at Sea” program through 2016.
  • Ships sport suites with spacious Verandas: Celebrity Cruises provides more private, spacious veranda staterooms than any other premium cruise line, allowing guests to enjoy breakfast or a private picnic on their own balconies.
  • Pampering is king at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub:  where Celebrity and Randi Zuckerberg host Take Care of YourSelfie to encourage guests to find a tech-life balance while on vacation, including a new lineup of specially designed spa treatments and services available at Canyon Ranch SpaClub.
  • Voyages to upwards of  300 global  destinations including the best of Europe, plus overnight stays in 53 must-see cities. Plus, the “Celebrity City Stay” vacation packages provide curated pre-cruise experiences available in 16 of the most intriguing and dynamic cities, including Abu Dhabi.

Want to know more go to

celebrity reflection shower

Two days left for Celebrity Cruises 123Go! sail sale

Today and tomorrow are the last days to take advantage of Celebrity Cruises’ i123Go! promotion! that offers passengers added value and savings.  You really need to hurry if you want the savings on any porthole galleythree-night or longer cruises from now through July 5, 2015 that depart between August 2015 and April 2016.  Then you can Go! And get such extras as:

  • A free classic beverage package-for-two that includes alcohol that would otherwise cost $110 per day, and it includes tips.
  • Free Gratuities (including free pre-paid gratuities-for-two throughout the trip – valued at up to $32.90 per day)
  • Free ship board spending credit  of up to $300 per stateroom for 10-night or more sailings, $200 for 6-9 nights, $100 for 3-5 nights)

And there’s more if you book an ocean view or higher stateroom for a European vacation can choose any two of the above offers. Plus if you’re a Captains Club member Classic level or higher, enjoy 50% reduced deposits. For reservation click here or call 1-888-283-6879.

Celebrity Cruises offers mega-size ship experiences with good service,  globally- inspired cuisine  that is at its best in the alternative dining venues, nearly 300  new destinations including the best of Europe with overnight stays in 53 cities, Las Vegas-style entertainment with 18 new shows in 18 months, and an industry high number of private spacious veranda staterooms. The on board ambiance is unusually  youthful for the size or price range that  normally attracts and older demographic.

Three Queens to the wind with Cunard’s new cocktail



Cunard  is pouring a new drink on its three Queens Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabethcunard in honor of its 175th anniversary. The  new gin-based cocktail inspired by the company’s iconic Transatlantic Crossing, is made with Liverpool Gin, as the acclaimed, premium organic spirit, and is being poured on board Cunard’s fleet of three Queens, flagship Q

Concocted by award winning Liverpudlian bartender, Joe Wild, the drink, which is called  Transatlantic Love Affair, reflects Cunard’s spiritual home, Liverpool and the role the company has always played in connecting both sides of the Atlantic – a role that the line  continues today, offering the only scheduled Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2.

The 27-year-old barkeep who works at one of Liverpool’s most exclusive bars, 81 LTD, explained his inspiration behind his choice of ingredients and his delight at being chosen to create this special cocktail during Cunard’s 175th anniversary year. “As soon as I was asked I knew immediately that Cunard, and Liverpool’s rich history would dictate the ingredients for this very special cocktail. The citrus ingredient is inspired by Lime Street Station in Liverpool while the Bourbon mistperfumes the drink so guests can literally smell America on the horizon.” “Being able to use locally sourced ingredient like Liverpool Gin, simply consolidates the flavors and creates a truly unmistakable drink that guests will be able to enjoy during this very special year and beyond. In short, it’s absolutely delicious!”

Liverpool Gin is a premium organic product made from scratch using only pure certified organic botanicals, producing a highly distinctive, aromatic drink. As well as a key ingredient in the anniversary cocktail, the spirit will also be available to enjoy in its own right on board the Cunard fleet. “As we continue to celebrate this milestone anniversary, we seek new ways to enhance our guest experience,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “We are very excited about this truly special cocktail, and the special meaning it holds.”

Passengers can sip a Transatlantic Love Affair cocktail and Liverpool Gin in the bservational cocktail bar, the Commodore Club. This unique venue on board each Cunard Queen provides  panoramic forward views and a sophisticated ambience as guests gather to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails, canapés and live piano music every evening. The drink  will be available on board Queen Mary 2 from Saturday, July 4, on board Queen Elizabeth on July, 14 and on Queen Victoria from  July, 19, 2015.

For more information about Cunard’s three Queens or to book a voyage and sample the cocktail, call 1-800-728-6273 or click here.

Remember moms on Mother’s Day

When I was young there was a show called “I Remember Momma” which I watched and worried that one day that would be me. The day came about 10 years ago when we lost our Mom and I still mourn the loss of her smile, style, kindness and warmth. She was everything to me. Thankfully we did a lot together in her later years, I took her on my cruises and to Maui and wrote stories about it such as this one for the Chicago Tribune when my husband and I took both our female parents on the “Love Boat.” I am going to try to find copies of my “Taking Momma to Maui” article that ran in newspapers all over the US and post that too. Happy Mother’s Day all moms and to all children be kind to your mother you won’t have her forever.
normal(2)normal normal(1)

Dog team tows Ruby Princess into port in Juneau Alaska talk about photo op

A dog sled team driven by Maliko Ubl from the TEMSCO Helicopters Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding Tours and Alaska Icefield Expeditions welcomes the “Ruby Princess” to the port of Juneau during its maiden voyage in Southeast Alaska.
A dog sled team driven by Maliko Ubl from the TEMSCO Helicopters Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding Tours and Alaska Icefield Expeditions welcomes the “Ruby Princess” to the port of Juneau during its maiden voyage in Southeast Alaska.

What a photo op for the thousands of passenger on board the maiden Alaska voyage of the Ruby Princess –a four dogs on  a sled pulling the luxury liner into Juneau. Read all about it here

Star sailing on Queen Mary2 with Jane Seymour

Superstar Jane Seymour to appear on Queen Mary2

Jane SeymourGorgeous, gracious Jane Seymour will be appearing aboard Cunard  Queen Mary 2 for a special Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton on June 3, 2015.

During the CrossingJane will share her insights with guests during two Q&A sessions with Queen Mary 2‘s Entertainment Director, as well as participate in a screening of one of her many films.” Besides her starring roles on screen, Jane is also an accomplished artist and will conduct painting classes on the ship. “I am honored to be invited into Cunard’s Insights program and to join the many special guests and luminaries who have sailed with Cunard over the years,” said Jane. “I fondly recall sailing on the QE2 and am looking forward to being onboard once again in this special 175th Anniversary year.”

Jane is most remembered for roles in “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” as a
Bond girl in “Live and Let Die’ , cult classic “Somewhere in Time”, and the comedy smash ‘Wedding Crashers.”  She is also a doting grandmother, designer, writer, painter and art gallery owner.

“We look forward to welcoming the versatile Jane Seymour to the Cunard Insights program. We know our guests will enjoy hearing about her significant contributions in entertainment, the lifestyle arts, and philanthropy,” said Richard Meadows, president of Cunard, North America. “Her sailing will be a highlight of our 2015 Crossing season.”

Cunard has attracted headliners on its Transatlantic crossing for  175 years that include Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant and Clark Gable. Since Queen Mary 2’s debut 10 years ago, the ship has also welcomed other film luminaries including George Lucas, Uma Thurman, John Cleese, Angela Bassett, and most recently Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola.

For more information about Queen Mary 2 and to book a voyage, contact your Travel Consultant, call Cunard toll-free at 1-800-728-6273, or go to or

Cunard can also be found at:

Great cruises for the New Year from Uniworld

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, the world’s only authentic boutique river cruise line, has unveiled an exquisite

assortment of 33 all-inclusive European itineraries set to launch in 2015. This collection includes six NEW programs ,

venturing from Belgium’s sophisticated capital city, Brussels, to Spain’s legendary cities, Madrid, Toledo, and Salamanca, and 45 additional departures on the most popular Rhine and Danube itineraries.

“We are pleased to offer travelers more European itineraries in 2015 than any other river cruise line,” said Guy Young,

president of Uniworld. “Additional capacity on our popular Rhine and Danube cruises was essential to satisfy customer demand, and we are confident these new itineraries will be favorites as well.”

Uniworld’s new itineraries include the eight-day Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time; 10-day Delightful Danube & Prague;

10-day Eastern Europe Explorer; 14-day “Jewels of Spain, Portugal & the Douro River;

19-day Grand European Explorer; and 22-day Ultimate France.”

Uniworld offers truly all-inclusive European river cruises, with all gratuities onboard and onshore, airport transfers,

shore excursions, and unlimited onboard meals and beverages included in the fare. And with Uniworld’s

Early Booking Savings, couples can save up to $800 with a deposit at reservation before January 15, 2015.

For more details, please visit or connect with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises at or
About Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection—the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line™—features luxurious ships

with an average capacity of 130 guests, exclusive excursions, gourmet cuisine, and the highest staff-to-guest ratio in

the river cruise industry. Based in Los Angeles, California, Uniworld offers truly all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, India, and Egypt—a total of 22 rivers in 29 countries worldwide. Uniworld is a member of CLIA and is highly regarded by discerning travelers, media, and cruise industry experts:

  • Listed among the “World’s Best River Cruises” by Travel + Leisure, and recognized for “World’s Best Service” in the River Cruise category
  • Seven ships listed among Travel + Leisure’s “Top 20 River Ships,” with River Countess rated highest of all cruise ships (river & ocean)
  • Included on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List for seven years (2008 – 2014)
  • Top 3 ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top Ten Cruise Lines” (river & ocean)
  • Top 4 ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for ‘Top Cruise Lines” (2014)
  • Named “Best Luxury River Cruise Line” by Cruise International (2012 – 2014)
  • Name”Best Culinary Cruise Line” by readers of SAVEUR (2014)

About The TreadRight Foundation
At Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and parent company The Travel Corporation, we understand that travel matters;

it allows us to explore the world and gain a deeper understanding of each destination, its history and culture, through enriching experiences. We also recognize that it is our responsibility to help protect the places we visit and take care of the world around us.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a

not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant and preserved

for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has donated more than USD 2.5 million to sustainable

tourism projects worldwide. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is proud to be active founder and

supporter of TreadRight’s projects and work. Go to to learn more.

For more of Patti Pietschmann’s cruise articles click here.

Windstar Cruises offering blow-out deals on fares to tropical getaways

Escape reality and create your own scenario with  sensual sailings with Windstar Cruises. The tiny ships provide comfort and grace as they ply the waters of the Caribbean or French Polynesia. No crowds, no hurry. Only 300 passengers fit on board.

Not for sedentary types Windstar offers adventures with water skiing, banana boat rides, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and more. What’s more book now and save up to 73%.

Caveat emptor, while the vessels are sleek and modern, most cabins are tight quarters so don’t expect super-sized staterooms. The food’s excellent and the crew usually pretty good with one exception when they were shifting personnel and it seemed that they were just too anxious to leave the ship and head home or to where ever they go for their well-earned  v

Glenn Bozarth captures Windstar in Costa Rica
Glenn Bozarth captures Windstar in Costa Rica

acations. The sale’s over onDec. 12, 2014 so hurry up and cal 800-258-7245 or

Just a few of the many reason to book a Crystal Serenity cruise

The Sea Horse pool
The Sea Horse pool
Teak Promenade deck
Teak Promenade deck
Free wines and spiris
Free wines and spiris
The food
The food
More food
More food
Prego Italian restaurant
Prego Italian restaurant
Buckwheat pancakes with nuts and raspberries served in your penthouse stateroom y a butler
Buckwheat pancakes with nuts and raspberries served in your penthouse stateroom y a butler

??????????Read more here:

A gorgeous well-kempt ship
A gorgeous well-kempt ship
Engin our Turkish butler
Engin our Turkish butler

A definitive guide to picking the right ship

The last thing you want to do is get on the wrong ship. To prevent this from happen and have a happy cruise you may want to consider your priorities and match them with this handy guide I wrote for, really it will save you time and anquish and there’s lots of photos like these:

Engin our butler
Engin our butler



breakfst patti

Cruise French Polynesia on the lovely Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering tempting  fares to celebrate the luxury cruise line’s  fifth birthday celebration.

tahiti 023If you’ve ever wanted to explore French Polynesia consider that going by ship eliminates having to pack and unpack your bags and head to airports to hop small planes to and from each island. Once you’re on the ship, you unpack once and let the captain steer you into ports where you can walk off and head to the beach, restaurant or on various cruise operated excursions.

Climb aboard these Paul Gauguin voyages for fares from $4,295 per person :

  • Tahiti & the Society Islands
  • 7-night voyage: November 15, 2014
  • Now from only $4,145 per person
  • 7-night voyage: December 13, 2014
  • Now from only $3,395 per person
  • 7-night voyage: December 20, 2014 (Holiday Sailing)

Hop on one of these PG cruises for fares from $4,095 per person

  • 7-night voyage: January 3, 2015
  • Now from only $3,345 per person
  • 7-night voyage: February 28, 2015
  • Now from only $3,995 per person
  • 7-night voyage: March 28, 2015
  • Or do the Society Islands & Tuamotus on a 10-night voyage: February 4, 2015 for $4,245 per person and up; or Cook Islands & Society Islands 11-night voyage: November 22, 2014; January 24, 2015 with fares from $4,695 per person.


Princess Cruises puts balconies and suites on sale

Golden Ensenada arrival

The sales feature spring and winter cruises to places such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Panama Canal, Europe and Transatlantic voyages. Cruises depart between December 2014 and May 2015. More information about the cruise sale and pricing can be found at

Guests booking a mini-suite or suite will receive an onboard credit of $50 per person for six- to nine-day cruises, $100 per person for 10-11-day cruises or $200 per person for 12 days or longer.

A few suite and balcony deals:

  • Caribbean cruise — 7 days: $1,999 suite; $899 mini-suite; $699 balcony
  • Mexico cruise — 7 days: $1,999 suite; $899 mini-suite; $699 balcony
  • Alaska cruise — 7 days: $2,079 suite; $1,349 mini-suite; $1,149 balcony
  • Panama Canal cruise — 11 days: $2,999 suite; $1,699 mini-suite; $1,299 balcony
  • Transatlantic cruise — 14 days: $4,599 suite; $2,399 mini-suite; $1,799 balcony

Information about other cruise deals and promotions can be found at

All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy. The Suite and Balcony Bonus Sale runs from 12:01 a.m. PDT on July 22 through 11:59 p.m. PDT on August 19, 2014 and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at

Patti's Prattles

Golden Ensenada arrivalGolden Patti in mini suiteThe Savvy Seafarer does enjoy sailing in suite style with a private balcony so whenever a cruise lines offers a deal on such luxuries her ears perk up and her fingers hit the link to the website.  The latest deal is from one of her favorite cruise lines, Princess—on which she sailed many times and seas—which is offering a Suite & Balcony Bonus Sale, from now through  August 19, on select cruises.  If you book a suite or mini-suite (both come with perks, the former obviously a few more and are SS-approved) you can score up to $400 free onboard spending money per stateroom (use it at the spa, for drinks, alternative dining venues or shore excursions). If you book an oceanview stateroom you get a free balcony upgrade (trust me you’ll love having it).

The sales features spring and winter cruises to places such as the Caribbean, Mexico…

View original post 207 more words

A slideshow of seven celestial days aboard Silversea Cruises Silver Spirit

ImageSuite breakfast on the balcony of Silver Spirit.

ImageDressed in silk Pret a Port outfit.

ImageDinner at Hot Rocks, an outdoor, deck grill where you cook your fish, fowl or steak at your table.

ImageDinner in The Restaurant.

ImageStopping in Turks&Caicos


Read more:

Princess Cruises gets right to the ‘heart’ of the matter with Cruising for a Cause

Princess Cruises gets right to the 'heart' of the matter with Cruising for a Cause

We cruised for a cause Feb. 10-15 aboard the spiffy Ruby Princess, it was quite an eye-opener with seminars and lectures by Heart Assn. members and guest speakers. We learned CPR, matters of the heart and how to stay healthy. And, we had fun!

Read  more about it here:

Princess Cruises creates “Come Back New” sweepstakes for chances to win cruises and cameras

Courtesy Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has created a contest  called “Come Back New” that coincides with its marketing campaign. Thel sweepstakes, which runs through April 16, 2014,  will  give a lucky winner a chance to score a free 19-day cruise to the destination of their choice. Weekly winners can record their cruise memories with Nikon’s new, revolutionary 1 AW1 camera.

To enter go to and register, plus can get additional entries by taking a destination personality quiz or by submitting their transformative vacation photos.crownprincess deck

The grand prize winner will enjoy free airfare and a balcony stateroom for two aboard a seven- to 19-day cruise of their choice. The winner can pick their voyage from among Princess’ many worldwide options, including an Alaska cruise, Alaska cruisetour, Panama Canal cruise, Hawaiian cruise, Caribbean cruise, Grand Mediterranean cruise, California Coastal cruise, Australia & New Zealand cruise, East Australia and Asia cruise or a Canada & New England cruise.

The grand prize winner will also receive a Nikon camera bundle featuring a Nikon 1 AW1 camera, with lens and accessories, valued at more than $1,000. This waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof camera offers the world’s fastest continuous shooting frame rate, so photographers never miss those fleeting shots.

In addition, each week throughout the 12-week sweepstakes a winner will be randomly selected from the photo submissions to receive a Nikon 1 AW1 camera, valued at more than $800. The weekly winner’s photo will be featured on the sweepstakes landing page each week.

The grand prize winner will be chosen on or before May 6, 2014. Eligible entrants must be at least 21 years old and U.S. or Canadian (excluding Quebec) citizens.princess_01rubychristening

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company’s website at

Silversea to issue spiffy Travel Journals to passengers prio to cruise

Carnival Cruises creates Dr. Seuss fantasty for kids


Carnival Cruises, an industry leader in onboard children’s programs, just got more kid-friendly with the addition of Dr. Seuss-themed fun aboard its Fun Ships. In a press released received today, Dec. 11, the company announced a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to keep young seafarers entertained.

The Carnival Seuss at Sea program will offer a variety of exciting and immersive onboard youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences featuring the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss. “It is fun to have fun but you have to know how,” said the Cat in the Hat in the iconic Dr. Seuss book.

A great way to get the kids to eat breakfast, the program kicks off in the main dining room with a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends. Children will eat it up. We’re talking moose juice and goose juice, along with colorful fruit and pancake stacks, funky French toast and more, with traditional breakfast favorites also available. Imagine your kid’s faces when they see waiters dressed in Dr. Seuss-inspired outfits and a cast of  Seuss characters coming alive before their eyes such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam. The breakfast will be hosted on the first sea day of each cruise (which is all the ships) and then cost $5 after.

There will also be a selection of c Dr. Seuss books, toys and themed activities with special showings of movies such as “The Cat in the Hat” and Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired outdoors on the giant screen of the Seaside Theater on Lido Deck as part of the cruise line’s Dive-In Movies programming.

The Seuss at Sea program will begin aboard Carnival Splendor in February 2014 with implementation across the full fleet by 2015, as well as Carnival Vista when that ship enters service in early 2016. For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit .

Cruises are wonderful when you’re on the right ship

Carnival breezeMe in blue dressDon’t book a cruise until you read this: on spirit1porthole galley Read more:



Just call me the ‘yenta of the sea’, but you really need to read the story on at the link above

Royal Caribbean ship catches fire company offers apologies and more on Twitter

Cruise Ship Fire_AnguRead all about the latest cruise ship disaster

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is offering updates about today’s (May 27, 2013) fire aboard the Grandeur of Seas on its Twitter site. The company sent alerts to members of the press via it’s proprietary Twitter account  @RoyalCaribPR.

The compan, which seems to handling the situation with surprising elan in the wake of other cruise ship mishaps where it wasn’t, has  assured passengers that full refunds of the cruise fare paid will be issued along with a future cruise certificate for 100% of the cruise fare paid for the May 24, 2013 voyage.

The company tweeted that, “Royal Caribbean International is deeply sorry for this unexpected development in our guests’ vacation, we understand that this may have been a very stressful time for them.” “And we also know that it has significantly impacted their vacation experience and appreciate their patience and cooperation in dealing with this unfortunate situation.”

There is a dedicated telephone hotline family members of guests at 1-888-824-0012 or internationally at +1-408-916-9000.


The cruise line requests that only families of guests use the telephone numbers in order to help ease call volume and ensure that they can receive information as quickly as possible.

When the fire broke out the Grandeur of the Seas was on a seven-night sailing that departed Baltimore, Maryland, on May 24, and had included port calls to Port Canaveral, Florida; CocoCay and Nassau, The Bahamas.

Patti's Prattles

Has the cruise industry learned anything yet? We think so since Royal Caribbean appears to be handling today’s fire aboard its Grandeur of the Seas with more elan than say Carnival has in the past. The Miami-based cruise line is offering apologies-plus on its Twitter account and sending messages exclusively to use writers.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is offering updates about today’s (May 27, 2013) fire aboard the Grandeur of Seas on its Twitter site. The company sent alerts to members of the press via it’s proprietary Twitter account  @RoyalCaribPR.  Cruise Ship Fire_Angu

The latest tweet stated that, “Unfortunately, the damage caused by the fire on Grandeur of the Seas will require us to cancel the rest of the voyage. We are currently working on making the necessary arrangements to return all guests to Baltimore, Maryland.”

The company assured passengers that full refunds of the cruise fare paid will be issued…

View original post 157 more words

Carnival using cruise control big time

Carnival Cruise Lines is doing everything possible to clean up its tarnished imaged after several very unsettling mishaps, the first of which was the ill-fated Costa Concordia diseaster.  Recently, the mega-cruise operator announced major safety enhancements to assuage fears of perspective passengers and repeaters. Now its going to be featured in a 30-minute episode of the popular Travel Channel series, Trip Flip, Athat airs May 5, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET. During the show, a couple from Austin, Texas, is surprised with a six-day cruise on the line’s newest ship, Carnival Breeze, and whisked away to the balmy Caribbean. Hosted by professional fun-seeker, comedian, and travel expert Bert Kreischer, Trip Flip does a “switcheroo” on travelers who may already be on vacation, as well as people still in their hometown, by tossing out the guidebook and giving them an exceptional holiday experience they never saw coming.

During the Carnival Breeze episode, Texas natives Shannon and Nathan are initially taken on a vacation to Miami’s South Beach. After a few days, they’re surprised with a voyage on the spectacular Carnival Breeze. Viewers will have the opportunity to “cruise vicariously” through Shannon and Nathan as they check out the ship’s many innovations. On board, the couple traverses the ropes course at SportSquare, taking in awe-inspiring views of the sea 150 feet below.

They also take a plunge down the 312-foot-long Twister water slide and enjoy luxurious pampering at the Cloud 9 Spa. Kreischer even pulls some strings and gets Nathan, an amateur comedian, headline billing at The Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez. The episode also includes breathtaking scenes as Shannon and Nathan snorkel the colorful coral reefs of Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos Islands. “We are extremely excited to be featured in this upcoming episode of Trip Flip which does a great job of capturing some of the many magical and exciting experiences that our 4.5 million guests enjoy each year,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

For additional information and reservations on any of Carnival’s “Fun Ship” vacations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit “Trip Flip” is produced by High Noon Entertainment for Travel Channel. For High Noon Entertainment, the executive producer is Patrick Jager. For Travel Channel, the executive producer is Dale Roy Robinson.

Cruise industry news: Crystal bans smoking, Princess cops eco-award, Seabourn gets swanker

Carnival breezeIMG_4651No more indoor


puffing on Crystal Cruises except in special smoking room and on designated deck spots

Los Angeles, California-based Crystal Cruises  made a bold  statement today (April 22, 2013)with the announcement that the luxury cruise operator is banning smoking in all indoor areas, except for its Connoisseur Club smoking lounge.  While the announcement will most likely be overwhelming welcomed by environmentalists and anti-smoking groups, those addicted to the habit might take exception to the new rule. However, the cruise line is still allowing people to puff in designated areas on the decks of its Symphony and Serenity.

The smoking ban will take effect  in 2014 with the January 5th  and January 8 cruises of both ships and of will extend to  staterooms and balconies. In keeping with lifestyle trends, most areas of Crystal ships have been non-smoking for several years, including restaurants and main entertainment lounges, as well as stateroom and suite verandahs. Crystal eliminated smoking in its popular Avenue Saloon and Casino in 2013.

Princess gets honored, Seabourn spoils paxwith luxurious penthouse spa suites

In other news Princess Cruises copped a green award from the Port of Seattle see: and Seabourn Lines is pampering elite pax with penthouse spa suites, see: .


A tale of two women: an English Duchess and an American editor earn godmother status with Princess Cruises

Her Royal Highness, Kate aka: The Duchess of Cambridge will hold yet another title come June when she becomes godmother of Princess Cruises Royal Princess.  The the last godmother choice  aka  madrina was Cruise Critic Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown–also an influential woman who has been editor of the popular website for the last decade. I have edited this post because when I mentioned that I wondered how objective Ms. SB could be writing about Princess Cruises on her web site, she replied to me at Facebook that I should have asked her.  I am also former contributor  for about 10 years) to before Carolyn’s time and one who espects the contributions that Carolyn has made to the cruise industry but  what I said before editing this was “One can’t help but wonder how objective Ms. SB can be writing about Princess Cruises on Cruise Critic now that she is sort of a spokeswoman for them.  Ah well, all’s fair in love and journalism as my feature editor at Newsday once told me.

Kate will break the ceremonial Champagne bottle over the spiffy new generation ship on Thursday, June 13, 2013. The spectacular ceremony will uphold British ship-naming traditions including the blessing, a performance by the Royal Marines Band and the pipers of the Irish Guards, together with contemporary highlights.

Alan Buckelew, the line’s president and CEO said “It is a great honor for Princess Cruises that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has accepted our invitation to become the Godmother to Royal Princess. We are delighted that the Duchess will launch our new ship and can think of no better way to celebrate our company’s British heritage and our commitment to the country.”

Duchess of Cambridge to become Royal Princess Godmother
Duchess of Cambridge to become Royal Princess Godmother
      Photo credit:
        PR Newswire

The 3, 600-passenger ship will arrive at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton on Friday, June 7,2013 where she will start a series of events for clients and travel agents, including a special naming gala on the evening of Wednesday, June 12. The ship’s inaugural celebrations will conclude with her maiden voyage on June 16.

The Royal reigns in a new-generation for the cruise line with  special features added such as greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the new Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

During the hoopla surrounding the  Royal Princess  debut the company will offer two short preview cruises prior to and following the naming. After her maiden voyage the ship will sail Grand Mediterranean cruises throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the autumn.

More information and some exciting  videos of the ship are available at

Mostly hits with a few misses on board Golden Princess

the Golden Princess cruise bithdy baloonsto Hawaii was a fantasy-filled birthday/anniversary celebration  for the savvyseafarer and her first mate.   Hardly strangers to the Princess product, we expected the voyage to run smoothly.  But it turned out better than ever.

To review a 109,000-ton, 2,600-passenger ship properly one must take into perspective its class. While not considered high-end by industry standards of price (think Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea), the Golden held her head up well with some of the best service at sea we’ve ever encountered on the line. The crew was simply sensational, helpful, attentive, the quality of a much higher-priced spread actually.

And while our enjoyment ranked as a ‘10’, in all honesty the reviewers can only award it four stars (which is hardly chopped liver). Why? Because the ship failed in two categories. Granted this is purely subjective, but the spread in the Horizon Court buffet barely passes muster. It was uninventive and sometimes hard to eat. However the crew working the room was exceptional. The coffee, served in this setting, which is open from morning to midnight, is undrinkable. You can get better joe by buying it, however.

The other area that was lacking is the Lotus Spa. Not the facility itself, but the staff and quality of the three treatments experienced. The attendants sort of stared and seemed lackadaisical when passengers walked in. A special ‘head to toe’ treatment than ran $139 was way below par for the course, perfunctory at best.  Another “Fire and Ice” manicure that ran $50 didn’t even include cuticle cutting. There was a light hot stone massage of the arms that was barely felt. And, get this, there was so few polish choices, I had to fetch my own from my mini-suite.

To accentuate the positive, meals in both Sabatini’s and the Crown GrillSabatini's salt crusted branzino—two alternative dining venues that cost $25 a person—were exceptional as were our servers. The hotel manager, wine steward (seen here) IMG_4675 maître ‘d and captains were phenomenal. Because we are consider ‘Elite’ passengers who have sailed several voyages with Princess, we were invited to have breakfast each day in Sabatini’s with only about 70 other passengers of the same ranking. It was real treat that came with extraordinary service, fresh orange juice, specialty dishes, and cappuccinos or espressos. Princess does take care of its repeat passengers, especially the ‘Elite’ category for which we also got free laundry and cleaning service, priority boarding and disembarking, an Internet package of 250 minutes and first dibs on reservations in the alternative dining venues—which was welcome since we ate most of meals there, opting out of the crowded dining room.

Another really nice touch was the relaxed dress code of ‘resort casual’ at night, which meant no tie and jackets for guys, and optional formal attire on three evenings.Me in blue dressrich in tuxe

The shows, activities and Hawaiian diversions on board rated a ‘10’. We didn’t partake of shore excursions this time but they are usual tops on Princess and we heard no complaints.

Our mini-suite was excellent with two flat-screen TVs, king-sized bed, sitting area with sofa and table, desk/vanity, mini-fridge and a one-time complimentary set up of libations. The bathroom had a tub with a shower, robes and slippers and upscale spa products.

The ship was sparkling clean everywhere. Deck space was ample for a ship that was filled to capacity. The four pools (two of which are large) were all kept at a comfortable temperature and deck stewards were always on hand to bring you anything you desired.

The cruise director was entertaining and informative. Our captain, Ronald Wilson, a pure delight, and our cabin steward efficient if not effusive.

The 14-day cruise provides five days each way at sea with island stops in Hilo, Kauai, Maui and Oahu.  Days at sea were filled with choices such as the line’s Scholarship@Sea, lei making, photography classes, treasure hunts, trivia sessions, ping pong tournaments, movies, shows and more than we have space for here. Of course there’s also a casino, which was well-attended, a  well-stocked fitness center, also used extensively, a jogging/walking deck, and plenty of bars and nooks and crannies.

The Golden Princess makes these Hawaii cruises through the end of March before heading north to Alaska for the summer. She returns in the fall to continue the highly-recommended itineraries.

Four faces of food created by clever cruise line chef


‘Food Faces’ by Chef Rudi Sodamin of Holland America

Patti Pietschmann

 Foodies and cruise fans have to love this.  Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin just released a coffee table art cookbook called “Food Faces” that  illustrates more than 150 vibrant images of edible creations that display a cast of unforgettable characters expressing a whimsical spectrum of human emotion.

Sodamin, who  began to design and photograph his stylized Food Faces several years ago as a labor of creative love, has since captured hundreds of distinctive characters through his lens. His artistic inspiration comes from culinary ingredients and human expression, and he created each plate personality from food items including vegetables, fruit, meats, fish, grains and sweets.

Fish toast
Sodamin captured the images in his photography studio, working with his perfectionistic approach to bring each piece of art to life, fine-tuning the emotional coloring of each Food Face as he adjusted lighting, depth and focus.

Hair, hair


Thomas Keller, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, wrote the forward to the book saying, “Rudi has a keen eye, playful sensibility and a willingness to let inspiration take him where it will. Rudi puts happiness front and center.” “Rudi is an icon in the cruise industry for his culinary talent and creativity in the kitchen and is regarded as the hospitality industry’s most innovative chef, but today we congratulate him for his innovation as an artist with his beautiful new book,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Rudi is esteemed throughout the world for his passion for his craft and his ability to translate that creative energy into serving thousands of guests each day on our ships. ’Food Faces’ allows people to be inspired by Rudi’s work every day in their homes.”

Holland America passengers that dine in Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant can enjoy his dynamic Food Faces on exclusive limited-edition plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each plate charger features a different image from the “Food Faces” book, creating a table setting unlike any found anywhere in the world.

“Food Faces” was published by Welcome Books, an imprint of Rizzoli, and is available for purchase in bookstores nationwide.  Sodamin will be exhibiting his Food Faces art in Miami, Florida, and in Europe in 2018.

For more information on HAL call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit

Holland America chef creates  many faces of food

‘Food Faces’ is  perfect gift for cruise lovers and former HAL passengers

Patti Pietschmann

 Foodies and cruise fans have to love this.  Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin just released a coffee table art cookbook called “Food Faces” that  illustrates more than 150 vibrant images of edible creations that display a cast of unforgettable characters expressing a whimsical spectrum of human emotion.

Sodamin, who  began to design and photograph his stylized Food Faces several years ago as a labor of creative love, has since captured hundreds of distinctive characters through his lens. His artistic inspiration comes from culinary ingredients and human expression, and he created each plate personality from food items including vegetables, fruit, meats, fish, grains and sweets.

Fish toast

Sodamin captured the images in his photography studio, working with his perfectionistic approach to bring each piece of art to life, fine-tuning the emotional coloring of each Food Face as he adjusted lighting, depth and focus.

Hair, hair

Thomas Keller, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, wrote the forward to the book saying, “Rudi has a keen eye, playful sensibility and a willingness to let inspiration take him where it will. Rudi puts happiness front and center.” “Rudi is an icon in the cruise industry for his culinary talent and creativity in the kitchen and is regarded as the hospitality industry’s most innovative chef, but today we congratulate him for his innovation as an artist with his beautiful new book,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Rudi is esteemed throughout the world for his passion for his craft and his ability to translate that creative energy into serving thousands of guests each day on our ships. ’Food Faces’ allows people to be inspired by Rudi’s work every day in their homes.”

Holland America passengers that dine in Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant can enjoy his dynamic Food Faces on exclusive limited-edition plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each plate charger features a different image from the “Food Faces” book, creating a table setting unlike any found anywhere in the world.

“Food Faces” was published by Welcome Books, an imprint of Rizzoli, and is available for purchase in bookstores nationwide.  Sodamin will be exhibiting his Food Faces art in Miami, Florida, and in Europe in 2018.

For more information on HAL call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit