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…..so 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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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  www.cruiseable.com) and here are a few good photos from our voyages:

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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

Seabourn

 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.

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: http://www.examiner.com/list/a-few-of-the-great-things-on-board-a-crystal-serenity-cruise-part-2

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

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CHARLES DEEAL at (954) 514-6227 or CDEEAL@RSSC.COM
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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 Examiner.com, really it will save you time and anquish and there’s lots of photos like these:

Engin our butler
Engin our butler

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Me
Me

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