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Crown Cruise Vacations | February 1, 2015

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The ‘Pole Flying Dance’ in Cozumel, Mexico

November 17, 2014 | Heidi

COZUMEL, Mexico – The five costumed men danced around the tall wooden pole. After tying ropes around their waists, the dancers climbed to the top of the pole. Once seated on platforms at the top, the dancers looked at each other, gave some kind of signal and then four of them flung themselves backwards.

The cruise ship crowd gathered below gave an audible gasp. The dancers dangled upside down going round and round the pole until they finally reached the ground.

The fifth dancer stayed atop the pole on a platform playing flute and drum as the dancers descended to loud applause.

“I saw it on TV but it is much more exciting to see in person,” said Marilyn Anderson of Florida. “No way would I do that.”

The Mexican Pole Dancers is a popular performance when cruise ships dock in Cozumel. Many of the tours offered as shore excursions include a chance to see the dance and tip the daring dancers.

The Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) or Palo Volador (Pole Flying) is an ancient ritual still performed in a modified form in various parts of Mexico.

According to one tale, the dance was originally created to ask the gods to end a severe drought. Supposedly, the dance was done, rain did fall, the drought ended and crops grew again.

The ceremony has been named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO to help the ritual survive in the modern world.

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

WOW! From Royal Caribbean International

November 6, 2014 | Heidi

For a limited time you can receive up to $1500 free onboard spending money for specialty dining, beverage packages, shore excursions and more. Spend your cash your way. Only on Royal. Live for the WOW. Plus, mention promo WOW INSURANCE when you book a new reservation and we will include travel insurance as a bonus for all guests.

Sail to the warm waters of the Caribbean or the Bahamas. Discover the wondrous cultural marvels Europe has to offer. From the blue ice to the scenery and wildlife, everything in Alaska is absolutely breathtaking.

On 3-5 night Caribbean and Bahamas you can get OBC of $100 oceanview, $200 balcony and $400 suite. For 6+ night select destinations it’s OBC of $400 oceanview; $600 balcony and $1,000 suite. And Europe, Alaska and 7+ night Australia it’s $600 oceanview, $1,000 balcony and $1,500 suite.

Prices are per person, cruise only, based on double occupancy, and in US dollars. Valid for new reservations only. Canceling and rebooking is subject to current rates and promotions. Not combinable with any other offers. Offers are subject to availability can be withdrawn at any time. Airline-imposed personal charges such as baggage fees may apply. Air: Checked air bag fees could be up to $150. More details here http://crowncruisevacations.com/email/2014/11_06_14/index.html?utm_source=11_06_14&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=webpage

Royal Caribbean onboard spending money on new cruise bookings made between Nov. 6-16, 2014 (excludes Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas).

Cruise Ship Trivia: Can You Name the Godmother of the Royal Princess?

October 22, 2014 | Heidi

The Royal Princess cruise ship made world-wide headlines when the vessel was christened in June 2013. Announcing the godmother for a new vessel is always an important step and definitely a newsworthy one.

But the announcement of the new Royal Princess godmother caused quite a stir. Seems that almost everything this young lady does prompts news reports.

The naming of a ship is a tradition thousands of years old. The ritual marks the birth of a vessel and asks for a blessing of good fortune and safety for the ship and its passengers and crew.

The tradition of naming a ship godmother also is time honored. A godmother is the symbolic patron or sponsor of the ship through its entire life and symbolizes the spirit of the vessel. In the mid-19th century, it became customary for a woman of distinction to be selected for the godmother honor.

Princess Cruises has a history of illustrious godmothers for past ships, including Diana Princess of Wales (who named the first Royal Princess in 1984), Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Dame Margaret Thatcher and Olivia de Havilland.

For a bit of cruise ship trivia, see if you can name the godmother for the Royal Princess.

Don’t look at the answer below until you have formulated your own. A hint – this was the last public appearance for the obviously pregnant godmother who gave birth a month later to her own royal baby.

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(Answer)  The wife of England’s Prince William, Kate Middleton, is godmother of the Royal Princess. Quite appropriate, don’t you think?

Kate is following in the footsteps of another very high-profile woman. Her late mother-in-law, Diana Princess of Wales named the first Royal Princess in 1984.

With all the pomp and ceremony befitting such a royal occasion, The Duchess of Cambridge officially launched the new Royal Princess cruise ship. “I name this ship Royal Princess,” The Duchess pronounced. “May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

The Duchess then released a gigantic bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne that smashed against the ship’s hull. “We can think of no more fitting godmother for our magnificent new Royal Princess,” Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises’ president and CEO, said at the time.

“Her Royal Highness is an inspiring ambassador for Britain – with whom Princess Cruises shares strong ties – and she is admired around the world for her style and grace. We’re so honored she accepted our invitation to become godmother to our new ship.”

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a “new-generation ship” for Princess Cruises. Among the special features found on board is a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship offering a host of dining and entertainment options; 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.

At 141,000 tons, the Royal Princess is the ninth largest cruise ship at sea and the largest ever for Princess.

Story by Jackie Sheckler Finch

An S.S. Legacy river cruise guided by a Banjo-playing captain

October 13, 2014 | Heidi

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY - When Kevin Martin was a boy growing up in Missouri, his childhood ambition was to become a marine biologist or an archaeologist or maybe a doctor.

In a way, he has become all three.

“As a ship captain, I get to do a bit of all of those things,” Martin said.

Although he spent his childhood in St. Joseph, Missouri, Martin developed a yearn for distant waterways. “In college, I went on a sailboat and fell in love with it,” he said.

Of course, another famous Missourian also shared river travels with the world. Samuel Clemens, writing under the pen name Mark Twain, grew up in Hannibal, Missouri.

With a business degree from Graceland University, Martin discovered Un-Cruise Adventures and has been with the company for 10 years. A naturalist and certified interpretive guide, he spent more than six years as an expedition leader in Alaska, helping develop the company’s active adventures itineraries.  He is now captain of the S.S. Legacy.

“Life is about gathering skills because you never know what you will be able to do,” he said. “You can never know what the future might hold.”

At first, Martin says, his parents were not too gung-ho about seeing their only son go to sea. Martin also has an older sister who lives in Virginia. “Now my parents gauge my happiness at what I do and that’s what is most important to them,” he said, adding that his parents are now cruiser themselves.

Martin and his wife, Kendra, also a ship’s captain for Un-Cruise Adventures, live on a 50-foot trawler in Seattle. He works six weeks on and two weeks off for Un-Cruise Adventures. “There is a lot that goes into a trip like this,” he said. “A lot of details.”

On our cruise, the captain seems to be everywhere. Each day, as we depart for our adventures, he is on deck to see us off. When we return, the captain is there to greet us.

Passing through the multiple locks on our journey – I think we will be going through 14 locks but that could be a few more or less – the captain is there. “The locks are a real bonding thing for the mates,” he said with a laugh.

A self-taught banjo player, Captain Martin also joins in for Open Mic Night and other entertainment on our cruise. As he says, one of the great joys of working on the S. S. Legacy is getting to meet the passengers on each voyage.

“A cruise is always a really nice time to connect with people,” he said. “It is very humbling to all of us that you would choose to spend a week of your precious time with us.”

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch