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Cruise Guide: D.C. power couple to pontificate at sea

By Michael Coleman

Political junkies need not worry about missing the latest election news from home while sailing abroad this summer.

The husband and wife tandem of James Carville and Mary Matalin, Democratic and Republican political commentators respectively, will share their insights during Crystal Cruises’ 12-day voyage from Rome to London, beginning August 19.

As co-hosts and guests of television’s most popular political talk shows, Carville and Matalin have captivated audiences with their wit, passion and contrasting political viewpoints. The couple will also discuss new projects and experiences representing opposite sides of the political spectrum, both in front of and behind the camera. 

The cruise aboard the luxurious 940-guest, 50,000 ton Crystal Symphony departs from Rome’s port of Civitavecchia for Livorno/Florence, Monte Carlo, St. Tropez, Barcelona, Lisbon, Bordeaux (overnight), Guernsey, and London. 


Fall splendor via the Big Apple 

Crystal will also be offering a number of round-trip voyages from New York, September through October, aboard Crystal Symphony. As part of its 2006 New England and Canada season, look for five destination-rich itineraries including a new 11-day and two new seven-day round-trip departures from The Big Apple, as well as two 11-day itineraries between New York and Montreal. 

The season begins with two new week-long itineraries departing from New York on September 14 and 21. Included are visits to Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts (overnight); Bar Harbor, Maine; and, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The new 11-day cruise, also from New York, departs on October 20 and features a call at Quebec City and scenic cruising of the Saguenay River. 

At the heart of Crystal’s New England and Canada season are two 11-day cruises journeying into the heart of French Quebec, each showcasing a maiden port of call for the line. From New York on September 28, Crystal Symphony visits Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport, calling on the maiden port of La Baie des Ha Ha, Canada; spending a full day in Quebec City; and, ultimately arriving in for an overnight stay in Montreal. The October 9 departure from Montreal features the same itinerary with a maiden call at St. John, New Brunswick. 


By the numbers 

Who’s cruising nowadays? The statistics may surprise you. 

According to the latest figures released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – the marketing arm of many of the world’s leading cruise lines – cruisers average 49 years of age, with above average incomes ($104,000 household per year). They are typically married (83%), have college educations (57%) and are commonly employed full time (57%). On their last cruise they typically sailed with their spouse (79%) for about 6.2 days and spent approximately $1,690 per person for their cruise and onboard expenses (not including airfare). 

More than half (56%) took their first cruise in or after 1999. When choosing vacations, cruisers are influenced by multiple sources, especially word-of-mouth referrals (38%), spouses (35%), cruise websites (30%) and travel agents (12%). 

The Internet is an important information tool for cruisers, but is not yet considered an attractive booking tool. While 86 percent of cruisers indicate that they would consider using the Internet for planning purposes less than half (49%) would be very comfortable booking a cruise through the Internet. 

Most still book through travel agents, according to CLIA.

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