A cruise for nudists. Open cruising season in Prince Edward Island. And more ships steaming to China.
There’s a ton of news out there for cruise lovers, and I’ve got a roundup of the latest. I also have some details on a world tourism and travel study that ranks the U.S. and Canada as far as world countries goes.
First off, or first to take it all off, is news of a new “nakation” for cruise-lovers who want to feel the wind in their face, not to mention other parts of their body.
A story the other day in the Orlando Sun Sentinel points out that there’s a clothing optional cruise leaving Port Everglades in November, with up to 3,000 people sailing in their birthday suits for seven nights.
As the reporter pointed out, it certainly makes packing easier. And it should cut down on any extra baggage fees, notwithstanding the weight of the extra sunscreen you’d think you’d need to have.
“The cruise, organized by Bliss Management of Coral Springs, is part of a growing clothing-optional tourism industry — everything from cruises and organized tours to about 250 resorts and clubs, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation in Kissimmee.”
Interest in “nakationing” has doubled since 2010, the association says. Cruises, in particular, are booming, the Sun Sentinel reported.
“Nudists attract nudists,” said Nancy Tiemann, president of Bare Necessities Tour & Travel Co. in Austin, Texas, who has arranged clothing-optional cruises for 25 years. “They’re laid back, friendly and unpretentious.”
A Texas-based company called Bare Necessities Tour and Travel Co. (they always do things bigger in Texas, you know) sailed from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 12 on the 2,170-passenger Celebrity Constellation.
“The only thing we change onboard is the dress code,” Tiemann told the Florida paper. Cruisers must wear clothes in the main dining room and specialty restaurants, but “anywhere else on the ship they can go without clothing.”
According to the Bare Necessities website, they’ll be stopping next year at Half Moon Cay on a nude cruise. Sounds more like a full moon to me, but there you go. They also will have a “Nudapalooza” with live music and dancing by the pool not to mention a Parrotheads/Jimmy Buffett (Jimmy Buff, I guess is more accurate) soiree.
In a testimonial on the Bare Necessities website, company president Nancy Tiemann said nude vacations are much better than ones when people are fully clothed.
When she and her husband took fully clothed holidays, Tiemann wrote, “we would long to genuinely know some of our fellow vacationers, but never seemed to have the opportunity to push past the boundary of ‘What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do? How about those Cowboys?’
When I take a clothes-free vacation I know that the trip is more likely to produce friends, in the real sense of the word.”
CRUISE PRICES ON THE RISE
Travel Weekly has some bad news in a report where Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio says the pace of booking for 2016 bodes well for rising prices.
In a conference call to discuss first-quarter earnings, Del Rio said the load factor at the Norwegian Cruise Line brand for next year “is double what it was for 2015 at the same point last year.”
For all of the company’s brands, which include Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, 2016 bookings are 39% ahead of a year ago.
“What is going to happen next is you’re going to see prices steadily increasing as a result of those load factors,” Del Rio said.
The first cruise ship of the season was to arrive in the Charlottetown Harbour Sunday. Holland America’s Maasdam will carry up to 1,258 passengers, the CBC reports.
Charlottetown (see photo above) will host 73 ships this year, with a handful staying in port overnight for the first time. Which is key for the tourism folks.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for local businesses to capitalize on having these passengers overnight,” said Corryn Morrissey, the Charlottetown Harbour Authority’s business development manager.
“Typically they are not here to enjoy dinner and theatre, so I think there is a lot of opportunity to really grow that market. And we are encouraging [cruised] lines all the time to [stay] overnight here.”
The Tourism PEI folks were in Toronto last week to launch a new campaign featuring local islanders offering their hints on hidden corners and great things to do. They’re using the hashtag #AskanIslander, and the campaign looks very nice at first glance.
CHINA GETS HOT
I’d read a good deal lately about how North American hotels are trying to attract more Chinese visitors with things such as in-room slippers, Chinese style tea on offer and translation services. Now I see the cruise industry is realizing what a giant China can be from a travel standpoint.
Writing in USA Today, Gene Sloan reports that California-based Princess will devote its “newest, hottest ship” to Chinese travelers rather than American cruise fans.
“The as-yet-unnamed vessel, currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, will be based year-round in Shanghai and cater to a local Chinese market when it debuts in the summer of 2017, the line said.”
Sloan reports the announcement comes as rival Royal Caribbean moves one of its newest, hottest ships — the six-month-old, 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas — to Shanghai year-round to serve the Chinese market. The Miami-based operator also announced in March that it will send a second new ship, the soon-to-debut Ovation of the Seas, to China in 2016.
Norwegian Cruise Line executives also have discussed sending one of the company’s newest ships to Asia.
Speaking of Quantum of the Seas, Travel Weekly reports an order for a fourth “trailblazing” Quantum-class ship has been okayed by Royal Caribbean.
The company already has Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas in operation and a third under construction.
The fourth 4,180-passenger vessel, to be built at the Meyer Werft yard in Germany, is due to be delivered in 2019, three years after Ovation of the Seas joins the Royal Caribbean International fleet.
I haven’t heard of a name, but personally I’m suggesting Behemoth of the Seas.
A travel and tourism competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum has put Canada (see photo above of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta) in the 10th spot worldwide. Topping the charts was Spain with a figure of 5.3, followed by France and Germany at 5.2. The United States was tied for fourth with a mark of 5.1, tied with the United Kingdom. Next at 5.0 were Switzerland, Australia and Italy, followed by Japan, Canada and Singapore at 4.9.
141 countries were ranked, taking into account everything from prices to culture to airports and infrastructure.
The worst 10, all with marks from 2.8 down to 2.4, were Sierra Leone, Haiti,, Myanmar, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Mauritinia, Yemen, Angola, Guinea and Chad.