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Lightweight medical masks or similar protective masks are now required for public travel.

CDC issues mask-wearing mandate for cruises

February 1, 2021

If you're one of those who refuse to wear a mask in public, your life just got a little tougher. The Centers for Disease Control has issued a mandate that everyone boarding a cruise ship, train, plane, subway, ride-share, taxi or any other public transport is required to a mask — effective today.

The goal: To tamp down the pandemic

This stricter rule is in an attempt to combat the spread of the debilitating and sometimes lethal strains of coronavirus that cause COVID-19. And wearing a mask is a proven deterrent for transmission.

The mask order puts the onus on all operators of transportation to enforce it.

The CDC states that people must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States. Here's a PDF of the full order.

CDC lays down the law

Here are the specifics of the order:

  • A properly worn mask completely covers the nose and mouth.
  • Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
  • The mask should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head. If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.
  • Mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Mask should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.

The following attributes are additionally acceptable as long as masks meet the requirements above:

  • Masks can be either manufactured or homemade.
  • Masks can be reusable or disposable.
  • Masks can have inner filter pockets.
  • Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used to facilitate communication with people who are hearing impaired or others who need to see a speaker’s mouth to understand speech.
  • Medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill the requirements of the order.

Coverings that fall short of the requirements

The following do not fulfill the requirements of the order.

  • Masks worn in a way that does not cover both the mouth and nose
  • Face shields or goggles (face shields or goggles may be worn to supplement a mask that meets above required attributes)
  • Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas
  • Shirt or sweater collars (e.g., turtleneck collars) pulled up over the mouth and nose.
  • Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted, i.e., fabrics that let light pass through
  • Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as vinyl, plastic or leather)
  • Masks containing slits, exhalation valves, or punctures
  • Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight)

Additional guidance on the use of masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 is available on the CDC’s website.

The bottom line? People who refuse to follow the rule not be able to travel on any public transport. So if this is something you can't abide, it's best to postpone your travel plans. Mask have been proved to be effective in helping stop the transmission of COVID19 among people especially when combined with social distancing and good hygiene.

SeaDream I calls on Soufrierre, Haiti.

CDC issues new warning to steer clear of cruise ships

December 3, 2020

The super sleek and upscale SeaDream I was sailing on a luxurious journey in early November when a passenger was diagnosed with COVID19. The incident precipitated the testing of crew and other passengers, and about seven people proved positive.

After a summer in which the cruise industry came to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic the 112-passenger SeaDream I was one of the first ships to resume operations. The outbreak is not only most unfortunate for the cruise line and industry but probably is a key factor in the Centers for Disease Control’s decision to issue a warning not to cruise.

Here’s the gist of the story

SeaDream I was carrying 46 passengers when it docked in Barbados after one passenger tested positive. Those passengers flew home on a private plane. Afterward six or seven more people had positive results and also boarded a private plane to return home.

The cruise had been designed to show that with increased safety protocols, including regular testing aboard the ship, it was safe to cruise during the pandemic. That didn’t work out so well.

Gene Sloan, a senior reporter for cruise and travel at The Points Guy, reported that the COVID scare started when the captain informed passengers of the preliminary positive test over the ship's intercom system shortly before lunchtime on a Wednesday.

Passengers were instructed to return to their cabins and remain isolated there, he said. The ship, which was in the Grenadines at the time of the first preliminary positive test, docked in Barbados Wednesday evening.

"It's not a great development for the cruise industry," Sloan told CNN via email on Wednesday from his cabin on board. "I think the hope had been that the rigorous testing that SeaDream was doing would keep Covid off its ship."

SeaDream was feeling confident about cruising following a successful COVID19-free season in Norway. And according to Sloan, no one on the board the Caribbean voyage wore face masks, not even the crew. Crew members told him they weren't necessary since the ship was a Covid-free "bubble."

A few days into sailing, masks were suddenly required.

The latest from the CDC

Consequently, the CDC delivered its strictest warning urging Americans to avoid all cruises and raising its alert to Level 4. The updated advisory notice on the federal agency’s website reads: “CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high. It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.

News reports indicate that vaccines will be available early in 2021 for at-risk populations, health care workers and others. At some point, people will be able to safely sail and travel around the world again. It helps, of course, to follow all the protocols of mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing.

Viking Mississippi

Viking sails into future with new Mississippi cruises

March 31, 2020

One line isn’t letting the coronavirus stop them. Viking Cruises is thinking to the future, 2022 to be exact, when the line will launch a series of new cruises on the Mississippi River.

It certainly is something to look forward to as we all try to picture a world without Covid-19 lurking around the corner.

The announcement was made March 30 by Viking chairman Torstein Hagen, who said this new series will further expand its destination-focused travel experiences.

The company's first custom vessel, utterly modern Viking Mississippi, is expected to debut in August 2022. She will sail the Lower and Upper Mississippi between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minn.

The opulent Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor features the world's most expensive bed.

Sleep in a $200,000 bed on Regent's upcoming Seven Seas Splendor

November 4, 2019

Looking for the sleep of a lifetime? If you can afford to shell out $11,000 per passenger per night, I've got just the bed for you. It's called the Vividus, and it's coming to Regent Seven Seas' new luxury ship Splendor when it debuts in February 2020.

The handcrafted bed from Hästens retails for $200,000 and is filled with horsetail hair, cushioning flax, slow-growing pine, superior wool and long-fiber cotton. It's said to help your muscles naturally relax into a deep, undisturbed sleep that offers a floating sensation.

Of course, a bed that pricey must be covered with equally decadent bed linens. And it is. The linens are  made from batiste makò cotton and 100 percent virgin white down from Alaskan geese that keeps bodies at the correct temperature.

What’s more, suite residents can be further pampered with a Serene Spa & Wellness restorative sleep ritual treatment. This is a luxurious bath scented with lavender and chamomile and preceded by a massage on request.

The bathing begins with a transcendent, nourishing milk bath — a light and gentle milky formula rich in vitamins, amino acids and natural plant collagen from Japanese Camellia oil that leaves behind satin-soft skin.

Seven Seas Splendor debuts in February as the world's most luxurious cruise ship. It's now open for bookings.
Courtesy of Regent Seven SeasSeven Seas Splendor debuts in February as the world's most luxurious cruise ship. It's now open for bookings.

Mattress matters  

In case you were curious, the Hästens Vividus Mattress wooden frame is made from slow-growing northern Swedish pine. On top sits a box spring that has pure steel springs and multiple layers of flax for soundproofing. Above that is the mattress, which holds more springs, layers of superior cotton and wool batting, and horsetail hair lining.

The mattress pad, or “topper,” has its own layers of cotton, wool, and horsetail hair. The Vividus is constructed in Swedish style, with dovetail joints instead of screws or nails, and the springs are connected to the mattress interior using a step-stitching process, accomplished by hand with an 18-inch long needle. 

The horsetail hair is braided by hand, then unwound to give it even more bounce. Every curled strand acts like a tiny spring, providing support and pliability. Unlike human hair, each horsetail hair is a hollow tube, enabling it to function as an airway to wick moisture away.

The reason behind all these layers is so Regent Suite guests can feel as if they are floating while sleeping with zero gravity, with legs slightly raised, helping circulation and overall heart health.  If that doesn’t induce a good night’s sleep, nothing can.

To add even more panache, passengers can select their bed linens and pillows from two categories of prestigious Italian bedding. One is  Bellino Fine Italian Linens and the other Med1994 Aria line.

 The Bellino Samurai Collection, made from 100 percent pure, crisp, breathable linen, offers  600 thread-count sateen and 100 percent long staple cotton. Bellino’s Adriana Collection has a 500 thread count percale and 100 percent long staple cotton for an indulgent, sumptuous feel. 

Pillow talk

From the pillow menu
Courtesy of Regent Seven SeasFrom the pillow menu.

Of course, there is a pillow menu. Suite sleepers can pick a gel, water, memory foam, buckwheat hull or tri-side anatomic pillow to rest their precious heads.

The Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor offers unobstructed 270-degree views over the bow from the 1,300 square-foot wraparound veranda, and a glass-enclosed solarium sitting area on top of the bridge that offers a captain’s view  of the sea and destinations.

Guests staying in the Regent Suite aboard sister ship Seven Seas Explorer also enjoy a renowned sleep experience, complete with the Serene Spa & Wellness sleep ritual and the enveloping comfort of a $150,000 Savoir No 1 bed, handmade over 120 hours in London. Guests also choose from four exquisite bedding selections.

The 750-passenger, all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Splendor is being built in Ancona, Italy.  The ship is about as extravagant as it gets with more than acre of marble and all 375 suites spanning almost 52,000 square feet of balcony space.

Seven Seas Splendor will be the first newly built cruise ship to be helmed by a female captain, Captain Serena Melani.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ offers the most all-inclusive fares in the industry on its four-ship fleet — Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator® and Seven Seas Voyager, with Splendor on the way. 

Interested in a cruise on Seven Seas Splendor?

If you're interested in booking a cruise on Seven Seas Splendor — $200,000 bed or not — contact the cruise experts in the business department of Cruiseable. Call 1-877-322-3773 or email [email protected].

Discovery Princess debuts in 2021 with calls in Mykonos, Greece, and other scenic ports.

Princess names new Medallion Class mega-ship

October 7, 2019

Princess Cruises continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This time it’s building a 143,700-gross ton, 3,600-passenger behemoth that debuts in 2021.

You probably can’t guess her name. OK, it’s Discovery Princess and passenger can discover her in Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Mexico and California from 2021-2022.

The Medallion Class ship is the first new Princess ship based on the West Coast to sail out of Los Angeles, too. Before going to LA, she will make her debut Nov. 3, 2021, on a seven-day Med & Aegean voyage from Rome to Athens.

Designed to take your breath away

Princess has yet to release full detail of Discovery, but we did learn it will sport the biggest balconies at sea. It will also feature the signature Sanctuary for ultimate relaxation and an array of Broadway-style shows and entertainment.

Boats in the tropical waters along the scenic coastline of Bonaire.
Courtesy of Tourism Corporation BonaireBoats in the tropical waters along the scenic coastline of Bonaire.

Inaugural itineraries

In the Mediterranean: Discovery will do eight itineraries to 19 destinations in eight countries. You can choose from seven- to 27-day voyages. Departure cities include Rome, Athens or Barcelona. Ports with late-night calls include Barcelona, Genoa (Milan) and Mykonos on select itineraries. Cruise departure dates: Nov. 3, 10, 17 and 24, 2021.

Caribbean choices include six holiday voyages, ranging from four to eight or 16 days. You can pick from  eight destinations in seven countries that visit the Eastern Caribbean. There’s also a new port of call in Tortola and Southern Caribbean that goes to the  three ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Cruise departure dates: Dec. 9, 13, 21, 29, 2021.

South America options encompass 22 destinations in 11 countries on six departures, including a 50-day voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles. More late-night calls ashore include Rio de Janeiro (overnight), Buenos Aires and Lima (overnight). Departure dates: Jan. 6, 24, Feb. 7, 2022.

Big West Coast debut

On her big bow in Los Angeles, Discovery does Mexico and the California Coast.  She starts on March 1, 2022, with a five-day cruise with an overnight stay in Cabo San Lucas or on a seven-day Mexican Riveria cruise. This is followed by  voyages along the California coastline on March 1, 6, 13, April 3, 10, and May 1, 2022.

Interested in a cruise on this ship?

Bookings for Discovery Princess open this week. Contact a Cruiseable travel professional and we'll find the best itinerary for you on Princess Discovery and get you all the perks. Call our travel consultants at 1-877-322-3773 to get the best deal — with the lowest fares available — at no cost to you. Or email [email protected]

Close-up of a puffin in Iceland.

Silversea adds perks to polar expedition cruises

August 14, 2019

If you're like this traveler, you may be tempted more by cruises to the Caribbean than to cold weather climes. I have made an exception in the past for Alaska. But now there's another incentive for buying that extra sweater.

The luxury cruise line Silversea has just added some great perks for passengers who book an expedition voyage to the Arctic or Antarctica. All passengers can take advantage of these new incentives:

  • One-night, pre-cruise hotel stay
  • In-country flight(s) when required by the itinerary
  • Polar expedition cruise with guided shore experiences and Zodiac excursions
  • Polar parka
  • One post-cruise day-use hotel
  • Transfers and luggage handling between airport, hotel and ship.

Using a beach-accessible wheelchair at Harvest Caye in Belize.

Mobility at sea: Make sure your cruise is accessible

July 27, 2019

The New York Times had a recent short about accessible travel for cruisers in its Travel section that's worth reposting here in part. Excerpt:

Mary Arnold needs both knees replaced and has two new hips because of arthritis. The 58-year-old retiree from Los Angeles canwalk only a few steps and uses a scooter outside of her home. But she doesn’t let her mobility issues interfere with her desire to travel.

A longtime fan of cruising, she has set sail 14 times. Ms. Arnold finds it convenient, affordable and an accessible vacation option. If you’re also considering a cruise, and have mobility challenges, here’s what you need to know before booking a cruise.

Say "I do" all over again during a special ceremony in Aruba.

Renew your marriage vows in amorous Aruba

July 5, 2019

Attention all lovers planning a Caribbean vacation or cruise to in Aruba in August.  Aruba is hosting its third annual Vow Renewal ceremony on pristine Eagle Beach on Aug. 21, 2019.

If you’re a romantically inclined couple eager to say "I do" all over again, it’s worth just either flyng over for a vacation or checking out to see which cruise ships stop there in August. Some 200 couples of different ages and nationalities flew to the Caribbean island nation last year to renew their vows, with women wearing white outfits suitable for the occasion or floral dresses suitable to the island’s vibe. Men are encouraged to wear white as well.

A scene from last year's vow renewal ceremony in Aruba
Courtesy of Aruba Tourism AuthorityA scene from last year's vow renewal ceremony in Aruba.

Black bear cubs in Glacier Bay National Park.

Holland America focuses on family with reduced fares & promos

June 14, 2019

Are you wondering if cruising with the whole family is a good idea? Maybe you worry that the tots or teenagers won’t have a good time.

Well, Holland America thinks its ships are perfect for families from toddlers to grandparents. The line is offering family fares this summer that allow the third and fourth child or adult in the same stateroom to sail free.

So once on board, what do you do with the kids?

Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America, says, “If you want to experience new cultures with family, bring history to life for your children or just have a fun-in-the-sun vacation, then we’re the cruise line for you.”

Holland America's Oosterdam sails by the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska.

Holland America makes it easier to pay for your cruise

May 16, 2019

Can’t afford to plunk down that full fare for your next Holland America cruise? No worries. The mainstream cruise line has just introduced an interest-free way to make monthly payments.

Called EZpay, the new program spreads out your cruise balance for as long as you need. What’s more, you can cancel at any time and receive a refund without penalty. The plan is available on nearly all itineraries in the fleet as long as the sailing is not within the final payment deadline.

Vinyl will be making a comeback aboard Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady when the ship debuts in 2020.

Virgin Voyages outfits first ship with musical stylings

April 23, 2019

It's no surprise that Sir Richard Branson would be providing a musical backdrop to his new Virgin Voyages Cruise Line. After all, he was one of the founders of Virgin Records, a major player in the industry back in the 1970s.

The new cruise line recently announced its new curated musical identity, which looks to be  an incomparable experience for its ‘‘sailors,’’ as Branson likes to call their passengers. He also is placing new DJ residencies, a record shop and a karaoke lounge on board.

It seems the line is launching a fierce approach to music that might just break seafaring records.

Sailing near the granite rock formations that extend to Land's End in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Holland America unveils 20 Mexican Riviera cruises

March 22, 2019

It looks like at least one cruise line is giving our south-of-the-border friends another look. While some other cruise lines have cut back on sailings to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas because of concerns about passengers' safety, Holland America Line has gone in the other direction and announced 20 new cruises along that once popular itinerary.

I'm glad to hear it. For years I cruised out of Los Angeles on Princess and other lines on a relaxing, sunny Mexican Riviera cruise. Now other travelers can take advantage, too. 

Holland America brings back Mexico, olé!

The line is offering 20 cruises spaced out on ms Oosterdam, Eurodam and Maasdam running from October 2019 into 2020. Each of the regular-season trips will sail round-trip from San Diego and stop at Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and overnight in Puerto Vallarta. Each of those ports are pretty but Puerto Vallarta is enchiladas-down the best. My own take: San Lucas is overcrowded, but there’s lots to do there. Mazatlan offers too few options, but the air and ocean will be warm for swimming and other water sports. Plus, there are lots of activities and shore excursions from which to choose.

A view of Bandera Bay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Courtesy of Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board/LatitudeA view of Bandera Bay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Seasonal sailings

Oosterdam heads south on Oct . 6, 2019, on its seven-day itinerary. She will make two Christmas/holiday cruises on Dec. 21 and 28. Eurodam will sail the same itinerary starting Oct. 19 and again on Nov. 2 and Nov 9. If  you prefer longer sailings, you can extend Eurodam’s Oct. 19 voyage by boarding four days sooner in Vancouver, B.C., with a stop in Santa Barbara on the way back to  San Diego.

Sailboarders and catamarans on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico.
Lisa Andres / Creative Commons BYSailboarders and catamarans on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico.

But wait, there’s more

Seafarers can dig deeper into Mexico with Maasdam’s 12-day EXC in-Depth Voyage that sails on April 3 and April 15, 2020. This one hits seven ports along the Sea of Cortez along with Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Passengers will get to explore La Paz, Loreto, Guaymas and Topolobrampo. You can also extend this journey to 18 days.

Holland America is a mainstream cruise company with a fleet of midsize ships that appeal overwhelmingly to adult travelers. Its Pinnacle Grill dining room is considered one of the best at sea. 

Interested in a cruise on Holland America?

If you're interested in a cruise on Holland America to the Mexican Riviera or elsewhere, contact a Cruiseable travel advocate by email or by phoning 1-877-322-3773. A travel advocate will work with you to find the ideal itinerary at the best price at no cost to you.