Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Cruise Perks

Spooked by the oil spill, passengers brave Bermuda Triangle

Anton Anderssen, eTN  Jun 14, 2010

As oil fouls Gulf beaches, savvy souls sail the Sargasso Sea, some 1,600 miles away. The area, known as the Bermuda Triangle or the Devil’s Triangle, is far less scary than petroleum-contaminated shores, potentially poisonous to children.

Ships bound for Bermuda and the outermost borders of the Caribbean are sailing at 100 percent capacity, where tourists know they will find pristine beaches and sapphire blue waters.

We boarded the magnificent Caribbean Princess for a ten-day Bermuda cruise. Leaving from the New York port in Brooklyn, our ship was docked within clear view of the Statue of Liberty. While waiting for cabins to become available, we visited the Horizon buffet on the 15th deck, where the iconic Lady Liberty “joined us” as our luncheon guest.

Our first stop was in Grand Turk, formerly a salt-producing colony located at the tail end of the Bahamas chain. The port at Cockburn Town is brightly colored and exceptionally clean. A gigantic pool for ship guests is surrounded by gift shops and charming restaurants. The largest eatery is Jimmy Buffett’s Caribbean, where free Internet WIFI allows laptop users to surf the net while overlooking a white sand beach lapped by turquoise waters. Hundreds of free chaise lounges neatly situated beneath tall coconut palm trees welcome ship guests to a day of leisure in paradise.

Our second port was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a bustling metropolis with picturesque colonial Spanish architecture. Free trolleys pick up passengers just steps beyond the pier’s gate, making a circular route and stopping at interesting sites, including the impressive fort El Morro. Running every 15 or 20 minutes, these green trolley cars hold about 50 passengers and also make drops in an upscale shopping area where purveyors of luxury brands beckon excited shoppers.

The shopping on Caribbean Princess is rather nice, too. An assortment of Versace fragrances sold for US$39, dazzling rhinestone flip flops were US$10, and costume jewelry copied from Jacqueline Kennedy’s luxury collection ran US$50 to US$100.

When planning my gift list, I asked Marco if there was anything I could buy for him. He said with a most serious face, “I want some handcuffs.”

Being a rather classy gentleman, I couldn’t fathom what Marco could do with handcuffs. He had been watching the Joran van der Sloot arrest on television, so I presumed he heard the word from a journalist. Since English is not his first language, I thought I needed to investigate further his sudden need for handcuffs. After several moments of questioning, I learned he wanted cuff links for his new white shirt.

Our next stop was in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where we took a sight-seeing tour from a local vendor for US$25. Taking us across the mountains to Magen’s Bay, we saw million-dollar views of the lush landscapes, and being a clear day, we saw as far as Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We saw the DuPont mansion where President Clinton stayed during his golf trip. Local vendors sold colorful embroidered beach bags for five dollars each;I scooped up a dozen of them as gifts for friends back home.

Our final stop was in Bermuda, where a ferry would take us to either Hamilton or St. George’s for four dollars. We chose to visit Hamilton for shopping, where we found excellent deals on men’s sweaters and haberdashery. I thought the Bermuda shorts were beautiful, but the colors were far too gaudy for Midwestern living. Front Street in Hamilton is packed with English-style shops selling fine woolens and delicate porcelain china. The Irish Linen Shop offered heavenly lavender soaps and fragrances unique to Bermuda.

Returning to New York on June 14, many passengers were distressed to learn Spirit Airlines’ pilots were on strike. Panicked passengers scrambled to find alternate flights on domestic carriers using the ship’s satellite Internet service, which costs a hefty 75 cents per minute. Everyone I spoke with said they enjoyed their cruise. One couple said this was their 25th cruise on Princess and felt they always get a good deal for the money paid.

As elite passengers, we receive perks that keep us coming back to Princess, like free dry cleaning and laundry; 560 Internet minutes; caviar canapés in our cabin; a mini-fridge with free whiskey, gin, vodka, soda pop, and beer; free admission to the wine-tasting party; and complimentary luxury hors d’oeuvres in a restricted area of the ship each evening. The perks also include priority access to tenders and the purser’s desk, even if 100 people are already in line. The elite-level perks are really too hard for us to resist.

We had traditional dining during the first seating, which began at 6:00 pm. I always prefer traditional seating, because I like the same servers every evening to anticipate my preferences, like mixed cheeses before dinner, and Diet Coke as my beverage. Our head waiter, Amaro from the Algarve in Portugal, was splendid each night, providing highly-personalized service. He automatically brought me the following night’s menu so I could review it and make any customized requests. I’m a big fan of Princess’ cheddar soup, but it’s not on the menu any longer, so I am always happy when they prepare a custom order just for me. It really makes the cruising experience perfect. It’s the little things like that that make me love Princess.

And, yes, I found a most perfect pair of cuff links for Marco in Bermuda!

Follow Anton Anderssen on FaceBook at .

Spooked by the oil spill, passengers brave Bermuda Triangle
Image via

Premium Partners