25 Years of Cruising with Porthole Cruise Magazine

Time flies when you’re having fun! And trust us, there’s nowhere better to have fun than onboard a cruise ship. Porthole Cruise Magazine is proud to celebrate 25 years of publishing the world’s best consumer cruise and travel magazine and looking back, it’s been a long journey to get where we are today! The Editorial team sat down and looked back at our last 25 years of issues and we’d love to share some of those memories with you. 

The Early Days of Porthole Cruise 

When Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff stepped off a Carnival cruise ship and into the publishing world, his goal was to create a magazine that spoke to the cruise industry and to the cruise consumer. The very first issues were printed entirely in black and white and saddle stitched together, meaning the pages were bound together with two staples. As the publication progressed, so did the printing process, eventually incorporating color and the perfect bind-style you see in modern magazines today.

October 2013 issue of Porthole Cruise

Not only did the look change, but so did the content. The early days involved mostly business-to-business content and advertising and eventually evolved into the brands and destinations you see today. 

“We started to gain a following and the advertiser in the bringing were all B2B. I remember starting with advertisers like EVAC toilet systems and then once we evolved to a consumer publication, luxury brands became our main advertisers,” said Bill Panoff. 

As the name grew more notable in the cruise world, the magazine became a staple at major cruise industry events like Seatrade Cruise Global, held annually each year on Miami Beach. The magazine flourished in the B2B realm surrounded by tourism boards, cruise ship engineers, hospitality companies and sustainability experts. It wasn’t long before the guest list at our annual Seatrade afterparty was a who’s who of cruise industry executives and celebrities. 

Bill Panoff

Bill Panoff at Seatrade Cruise Global | Photo: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

Some Highlights Over the Years 

To put our age in perspective, in April of 1996, we actually wrote about a brand new online travel service gaining steam in the industry; Cruise Critic! 

Bill Panoff

Bill Panoff interviewing LeAnn Rimes

Bill Panoff was there to interview a young LeAnn Rimes during the Bahamas Country Bash ’98, when Carnival Cruise Lines’ Ecstasy sailed Miami to Nassau, then took passengers by ferry to Blue Lagoon Island. The floating festival started onboard the ship’s 4-day weekend and then finished on the private island.

In April of 2013, Porthole Cruise Magazine took another step forward with the very first ever digital issue. From there came the growth and development of Porthole.com where we could cover the latest breaking news across the cruise and travel realm and interact with our readers in real-time via social media and the comment section. Our fiftieth digital issue will run this upcoming June! 

Let Them All Talk, released December 2020, is profiled in Porthole Cruise Magazine’s February 2021 issue. The film stars Queen Mary 2, along with Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, and Candice Bergen.

Evolution of the Cruise Industry 

One of the most important factors in the evolution of Porthole Cruise Magazine was the evolution of the cruise industry as a whole. From the size of ships to the dining and entertainment onboard, the cruise industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last three decades and according to Panoff, they drew inspiration from a source you may be familiar with: fabulous Las Vegas. 

Porthole Cruise

Porthole Cruise didn’t shy away from risqué content

Freedom is the main appeal with both vacations. Las Vegas and cruising give guests the option to do as much or as little as they want all in one place. From restaurants with celebrity chefs to full-service day spas and productions like Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas and cruising are almost the same vacation at this point. 

Through all the changes, the goal never changed: highlight the best of the cruise industry and introduce more people to the joys of a cruise vacation. We appreciate all our readers over the years and can’t thank you enough for all your support. It’s been an amazing 25 years and we’re looking forward to 25 more!