Jacques-Michel Costeau to join three Crystal Cruise voyages

Serenity in Grand Turk photo by Richard Pietschmann

Explore  the mysteries of the deep with Jacques-Michel Cousteau, the first son of the great master of the sea  Jacques-Yves Cousteau on  one of a pair of   cruises on Crystal Serenity this spring and fall, or an expedition sailing on the boutique yacht, Crystal Esprit.  Cousteau will be on board those voyages to share his  expertise of the sea gained from decades as a leading explorer and conservationist, working in defense of the planet’s oceans. Learn more about Jean-Michel Cousteau by viewing the video we found on YouTube.

The   geographically diverse voyages take place:

  • May 24 on Crystal Serenity’s “Hawaiian Havens” sailing the warmer regions of the Pacific Ocean. 
  • October 27 on an  “Amazon Escape” that explores the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Old Bahama Channel.
  •  November 19 on Crystal Esprit’s West Indies voyage sailing round-trip from Marigot Bay through the deep Caribbean. 

As a company, we call the waterways of this planet our home, and as such, are honored to welcome Mr. Cousteau for the first time aboard our ships to offer a glimpse into his fascinating work,” says Crystal Chairman, CEO and president Edie Rodriguez. “The sea is truly his heritage and he has dedicated his life to protecting it. It is an extraordinary opportunity for our inquisitive guests to learn from Mr. Cousteau as they travel the seas together.

  In addition to lectures tailored to the region of each sailing, Cousteau will offer interactive and engaging presentations discussing his father’s legend and his own legacy, as well as insights into ocean life that most captivates him, including the delicate balance of the roles of orcas and sharks. He will explain the connection between the oceans and everything else on the planet,present his newest film, which features images captured by Cousteau for the first time in his 60+ years of diving. Cousteau, who is the founder of the Ocean Futures Society, will also enlighten travelers about his extensive environmental and conservation efforts.

 If you are interested better book soon, knowing the Crystal clienetele, these will sell out fast. Contact a travel professional, call 888-799-2437, or visit Crystal’s website, www.crystalcruises.com . Follow the Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crystalcruises and @crystalcruises on Twitter and Instagram. Engage in the conversation with #crystalcruises.

Unfamiliar with Crystal Cruises? Let me tell you, its ships are  amazing with gorgeous appointments, butlers tending to Penthouse deck passengers, free flowing wines and spirits, paid gratuities and even fee WiFi packages. Not to mention superior cuisine, a fantastic free Computer University at Sea for brushing for learning PC and mobile device skills, and seamless service.

Free wines and spirits

Fine food 

Posted in butlers on ships, Cruise photography, Cruise tips, Crystal Cruises, Oceanography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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 News.com, 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.

Posted in Cruise capers, cocaine bust on Sea Princess, Canadian women arrested, Sydney, Princess Cruises, felony at sea, bizarre news, strange news, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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


 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.

Posted in butlers on ships, Cruise photography, Cruiseable.com, Crystal Cruises, dining at sea, French Polynesia cruises, Paul Gauguin, Tahiti, summer fare sales, paradise for a song, Paul Gauguin summer blow out, luxury cruises, my opinion, op ed, penthouses at sea, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 www.pgcruises.com.


Posted in cruise news, French Polynesia cruises, Paul Gauguin, Tahiti, summer fare sales, paradise for a song, Paul Gauguin summer blow out, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Richard & Patti Pietschmann cruise the world


The Savvy Seafarer at work


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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.
Posted in cruise news, Cruise tips, food at sea, luxury cruises, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.




Posted in cruise news, Cruise tips, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment