Cruise Con­nec­tion

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - What’s Inside - BY FRAN GOLDEN

A per­sonal ac­count of three unique theme cruises.

Peo­ple with par­tic­u­lar pas­sions like to share their in­ter­ests with other like-minded folks. Hence, the theme cruise busi­ness has grown to hun­dreds of sail­ings a year. Op­tions run the gamut from the sub­lime to the, well, kind of bizarre. Some of the most pop­u­lar theme cruises are full-ship char­ters that af­ford the op­por­tu­nity for fans to min­gle with mu­sic, sports, or movie stars. But there are also smaller, sub­tler themed group gath­er­ings (quilt­ing cir­cle at sea, any­one?). In the past sev­eral months I sam­pled not one, but three spe­cial cruises to com­pare some of the ap­proaches.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing your ship lifted and low­ered through the locks of the en­gi­neer­ing won­der that is the Panama Canal was one high­light of a sail­ing aboard Wind­star Cruises’ 212- pas­sen­ger, all- suite Star Pride. An­other was qual­ity time with John De­laney, pres­i­dent of the cruise line.

The one- week bucket list cruise was filled mostly with guests who shared sta­tus as mem­bers of the Wind­star Yacht Club loy­alty pro­gram. Some had cruised hun­dreds of days with the cruise line. The com­mon­al­ity was they love Wind­star — from its low- key at­mos­phere to other small ship virtues.

For those who like to be in the know, the ad­van­tages of do­ing a Pres­i­dent’s Cruise in­clude ex­tra pam­per­ing at cock­tail par­ties and other spe­cial events as well as the op­por­tu­nity to be the first to hear about the line’s new plans.

Dur­ing a Q& A ses­sion on Star Pride, for ex­am­ple, there were oohs and ahhs from the crowd as De­laney de­tailed new itin­er­ar­ies, talked plans for more overnights in port, dis­cussed the line’s new part­ner­ship with the James Beard Foun­da­tion, and even teased about shore ex­cur­sion con­cepts that were in the works — such as a he­li­copter tour in Italy com­bin­ing an­cient Pom­peii with a visit to a lemon farm and limon­cello pro­duc­ers.

De­laney him­self, on his first- ever Pres­i­dent’s Cruise, was also on a mis­sion. A nice byprod­uct of th­ese cruises is that ex­ec­u­tives not only get to hear pas­sen­ger and crewmem­ber likes and dis­likes, but they also get to test new ideas.

“I want to hear what your wish list is,” De­laney told the guests aboard Star Pride. “This is your cruise line and we re­ally mean that. You are the lens through which we work.”

De­laney asked the crowd how im­por­tant free In­ter­net might be as a Yacht Club ben­e­fit. Nearly ev­ery­one raised his or her hands. Free laun­dry? Fewer hands. A 15 per­cent dis­count on shore ex­cur­sions such as the he­li­copter tour? One fel­low guest shouted “Yes!” to which De­laney had a quick come­back: “When you see the price you’ll be grate­ful for the 15 per­cent off.”

Other cruise lines that also host Pres­i­dent’s Cruises in­clude Hol­land Amer­ica Line, Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, Aza­mara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Crys­tal Cruises. Wind­star Cruises’ 2018 Pres­i­dent’s Cruise is a 14- day Asia sail­ing on Star Leg­end from Sin­ga­pore to Hong Kong, em­bark­ing on Jan­uary 6, 2018.

The ad­van­tages of do­ing a Pres­i­dent’s Cruise in­clude ex­tra pam­per­ing as well as the op­por­tu­nity to be the first to hear about the line’s new plans.

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