Snazzy restaurants, go-kart track, ‘Kinky Boots’ highlight big city life aboard new Norwegian Encore

Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas — My first mission on the 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore, now cruising weekly into the Bahamas and Caribbean out of Miami, was to secure a seat to “Kinky Boots,” the Tony-award winning musical that is a must-see on this new ship. But a woman at the box office on Deck 7 said that all tickets to the show already had been reserved. “I just came aboard,” I said. “You can reserve up to six months …

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Once a busy trade route, the Upper Rhine now offers history without crowds … River cruising in Germany and France

(Story and photos by David G. Molyneaux) … NEUF-BRISACH, France — On a pleasant morning before the summer vacation season was in full swing, the bicycle shop in the Rhine River port city of Breisach, Germany, was closed. So my wife and I walked into France. We crossed the wide river bridge and trekked about three miles of quiet country roads to Neuf-Brisach. Neuf means “new” in French (except when neuf means nine), and Neuf-Brisach was new …

Read moreOnce a busy trade route, the Upper Rhine now offers history without crowds … River cruising in Germany and France

Ocean-going Crystal Cruises Slides Smoothly Into the Luxury Niche on Europe’s Rivers

image from David Molyneaux

  We were new passengers, my wife and I, when we boarded the Crystal Bach, docked at Mainz, Germany, on the River Rhine near Frankfurt. As we walked into the Palm Court lounge, fellow passengers made no secret of their curiosity. Most of them were at the midpoint of a two-week cruise from Amsterdam. Warm and friendly, they acted as if we were new members of their private club. “Welcome.” “You’re new, we haven’t seen you before.” …

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Princess Cruises Promises Simplicity, Techy Service in the Caribbean

  Thousands of passengers on ships of Princess Cruises are toting around a new toy: An Ocean Medallion that is among the most innovative and potentially exciting new trappings for vacations at sea. These Medallions, smaller than a poker chip and not much heavier, are powerful enough to eventually change some basic cruise experiences. They open your cabin door and connect with your smartphone to order a drink from a deck chair, play a trivia game against …

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A Revelation of Tastes

  In the latest extravagance at sea, Oceania Cruises has introduced a six- course Dom Perignon dinner that pairs three vintage champagnes with a remarkable chef’s tasting menu. The meal, during voyages on Oceania Marina and Oceania Riviera, is a splurge at $295 per person, plus gratuities, but the price is equaled by the decadence of the menu and the opportunity to drink amazing champagne. For those of us who sip sparkling wine mostly as a ceremonial …

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Tendering Smartly From the Edge, Questioning Cell Phone Privacy, Tagging Aliens and Robots (Maybe Spouses) With a Laser

The Celebrity Edge, with tangerine track on the side to slide the Magic Carpet. Photo courtesy of David G. Molyneaux

In the new cruise world of instant gratification from your cell phone or other techy hardware at sea, don’t forget that someone, somewhere, may be watching. Such is the case when you allow an app on your smart phone to send and receive information. Many of the new cruise ships are moving swiftly in this direction. No problem, unless you prefer to keep your whereabouts private. The possibility of a need to retreat alone or to hide …

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Cruising from Barbados, port of beaches, cricket matches, rum, and a synagogue reflecting Jewish history from 1654

On evenings when Barbados shows off its restoration of the old Bridgetown marketplace, among the highlights are a stunning synagogue built of coral stone and a museum celebrating one of the oldest Jewish houses of worship in the Western Hemisphere, dating from 1654. Aglow with tinted lights and the luster of the irony of history, the site is a delightful and unexpected focus on this popular vacation island and growing home port for cruise ship voyages in …

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A vintage vessel with a fresh makeover, this ship is cruising the world for Azamara

 Cruise line pursues upscale, bespoke-style on its boutique ships On the new Azamara Pursuit, docked for the day at Cherbourg, France, an engaging breakfast waiter brought me coffee, placing a cup and saucer at the table. After sipping, I set the cup directly onto the table. Later, when I asked for a refill, the waiter lifted my cup, filled it, and placed it back onto the saucer. “Yes,” she said, laughing, when I asked whether most Americans …

Read moreA vintage vessel with a fresh makeover, this ship is cruising the world for Azamara

Ocean-going Crystal Cruises slides smoothly into the luxury niche on Europe’s rivers

We were new passengers, my wife and I, when we boarded the Crystal Bach, docked at Mainz, Germany, on the River Rhine near Frankfurt. As we walked into the Palm Court lounge, fellow passengers made no secret of their curiosity. Most of them were at the midpoint of a two-week cruise from Amsterdam. Warm and friendly, they acted as if we were new members of their private club. “Welcome.” “You’re new, we haven’t seen you before.” “Just …

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They once said that small, luxury ships would not be profitable, but now they are building more

In a scene that plays out each evening on cruise ships all over the world, during a recent voyage I popped into a bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. My request was a Jack Daniels on the rocks. How the next scene plays out depends on your choice of ships. If your ship is operated by a budget cruise line or most premium lines, the price of that drink would range from about $8, as measured by a …

Read moreThey once said that small, luxury ships would not be profitable, but now they are building more