The Cruise Cafe

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Norwegian Breakaway Celebrates First Birthday

Norwegian Breakaway celebrates one year of sailing from New York City this week. Since arriving in New York in May 2013, the ship has carried nearly a quarter of a million guests from New York to sunny destinations in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Florida and the Caribbean.

Her anniversary signals the start of the summer season, as the ship is sailing the second of 22 weekly cruises to Bermuda through September 28. Norwegian Breakaway offers seven-day voyages from the heart of Manhattan each Sunday, with three days in port at King’s Wharf, Bermuda. Guests sailing to Bermuda this season have yet another amenity to look forward to onboard, as the casino will now be able to open while the ship is in port, opening at 9 pm each evening while the ship is docked at King’s Wharf.

Norwegian Breakaway’s birthday week sailing also coincides an exciting milestone for the ship: Cirque Dreams & Dinner: Jungle Fantasy,held in the ship’s Spiegel Tent, will host its 2,000th performance onboard.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Carnival Announces Concert Series and Major Entertainment Revamp

Carnival Cruise Lines today unveiled a new entertainment offering to bring the best in live music to the seas.
A first-of-its-kind experience in the cruise industry, the Carnival LIVE Concert Series offers Carnival guests the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive onboard performance by a diverse roster of popular music artists while ships are docked at select ports of call.

Carnival has booked 49 performance dates for the 2014 concert series with the following artists:
•    38 Special
•    Chicago
•    Daughtry
•    Foreigner
•    Gavin DeGraw
•    Jennifer Hudson
•    Jewel
•    Kansas
•    Lady Antebellum
•    LeAnn Rimes
•    Martina McBride
•    Olivia Newton-John
•    REO Speedwagon
•    STYX
•    Trace Adkins

In addition to the Carnival LIVE Concert Series, Carnival is also enhancing its popular shipboard house bands. The bands will feature both male and female lead singers, a more choreographed, themed and diverse set list, and increased interaction with guests. Nine Carnival ships currently feature the new bands, with implementation across the full fleet over the course of this year.

Beginning in April 2014, Carnival LIVE concerts will take place on board eight Carnival ships that call in the following ports: Cozumel, Mexico; Nassau, the Bahamas; and Catalina Island, California. Artists will join the ship while in port, perform in the main show lounge that evening, and debark following their show.

Tickets cost $20-40 each and a limited number of VIP tickets are also available for each show for $100-$150 each. The VIP experience includes an artist meet and greet, photo opportunity, seating in the first three rows and a commemorative laminated concert pass. All tickets can be purchased through Carnival’s online Shore Excursion System prior to sailing, or on board participating ships at the Shore Excursion Desk based on availability.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Norwegian Announces Ultimate Dining Package

Norwegian Cruise Line today introduced an all-new way for guests to have access to one of Norwegian’s specialty restaurants every night of their cruise. Called “Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining Package,” this new program provides the opportunity for guests to experience each of the line’s most popular specialty restaurants including Cagney’s, the line’s signature steakhouse; French bistro, Italian restaurant, Moderno Churrascaria, Asian-Fusion Restaurant and more, at a special rate based on the length of the cruise.

The package is currently available on all Norwegian ships fleet wide. The Ultimate Dining Package gives guests the opportunity to have a taste of something deliciously new every night of their cruise when they experience the array of specialty restaurants found onboard Norwegian ships.

Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining Package is available in tiers based on cruise length. On three to six day voyages, guests can dine anywhere throughout their cruise at a set price of $59 per person; for seven-day voyages, the package is $119 per person; $149 per person on eight to 10 day cruises; $199 per person for cruises of 10 to 15 days; $259 per person during cruises of 16 days to 25 days; $299 per person during cruises of 26 days to 35 days and $349 per person during cruises of 36 days to 45 days.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Construction Starts on New Cruise Terminal 1 in Cove at Canaveral

Port Canaveral has announced that construction has begun on the new estimated $50.5 million Cruise Terminal 1, the first to be located on the south side of Canaveral harbor and that will allow passengers and crew to walk to nearby dining and entertainment options for the first time.

Port commissioners unanimously approved selection of local firm Ivey’s Construction of Merritt Island, Florida to build the 187,500 square foot facility, which is scheduled to open in November 2014.

Current boat ramps at Freddie Patrick Park in the Cove will remain open during construction with parking relocated directly south of the current parking area. This temporary parking will be in place until the new boat ramp facility is constructed just west of Jetty Park near the entrance of the Port’s harbor. The new boat ramp facility is expected to be complete in July 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines To Base Seventh Ship In South Florida

Carnival Cruise Lines will further bolster its leadership position in South Florida when the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor launches seasonal Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning November 9, 2014.

The Splendor is currently sailing from New York through next November.

Carnival Splendor will be the seventh Carnival Cruise Lines’ ship to be based in South Florida.

Including Carnival Splendor, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate more than 400 three- to eight-day departures from PortMiami and Port Everglades, accounting for approximately 1.2 million guests annually – the most of any cruise operator.

Carnival’s South Florida program features three to eight-day cruises visiting not only the best of the Caribbean and Bahamas but also a variety of unique destinations including the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and Mahogany Bay in Isla Roatan, along with tropical island paradises such as Aruba and Curacao on eight-day itineraries, providing unparalleled choice for consumers.

Carnival Splendor’s new seasonal Miami-based schedule will encompass week-long cruises departing Sundays with itineraries alternating between the eastern and western Caribbean beginning November 9, 2014.

Eastern Caribbean cruises will call at St Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk, and Nassau, while the western Caribbean route will call at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Mahogany Bay in Isla Roatan.

Prior to its Miami deployment, Carnival Splendor will operate two special eight-day cruises – a New York to San Juan departure calling at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Maarten departing October 24, 2014 and a San Juan to Miami voyage visiting St. Croix, Martinique, Grenada, Dominica and Grand Turk departing November 1, 2014.

Carnival Splendor builds upon the cruise line’s longstanding tradition of providing the greatest variety of cruise vacation choices from South Florida. In addition to Carnival Splendor, the following “Fun Ship” choices from Miami or Fort Lauderdale are also available:

Carnival Breeze (Miami) – the line’s newest and largest ship, the 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze operates year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises and offers an exciting array of Fun Ship 2.0 dining and beverage spots, as well as a spectacular WaterWorks water park offering a 314-foot-long water slide, the SportSquare outdoor recreation area featuring a ropes course with breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ, the full-service Bonsai Sushi, and the Thrill Theater, an immersive movie-going experience.

Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty - through May 2014, Carnival Conquest (Miami) – These 2,974-passenger vessels operate seven-day Caribbean cruises and have each undergone extensive Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades that have added popular innovations like the EA Sports Bar, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

Carnival Victory (Miami) – The largest ship to operate year-round short cruise itineraries from South Florida, the 2,758-passenger vessel offers four-day cruises to the popular destinations of Key West and Cozumel and five-day cruises to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau or Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. Aside from many exceptional dining, entertainment and activity choices, Carnival Victory has nearly 500 balcony staterooms – the most on a short cruise program.

Carnival Ecstasy (Miami beginning January 2014) – In addition to offering balcony staterooms for the first time on a Carnival three- and four-day cruise program, the 2,052-passenger vessel features the line’s extensive Evolutions of Fun upgrades, including a resort-style tropical-themed main pool area, a massive WaterWorks park, and a Serenity adults-only retreat.

Carnival Freedom (Fort Lauderdale) – The 2,974-passenger “Fun Ship” operates year-round five to eight-day Caribbean cruises and is scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in April 2014 which will encompass the addition of a variety of exciting Fun Ship 2.0 branded experiences.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Keel Laying and Steel Cutting Ceremonies Held for New Quantum Class

Excitement was in the air at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, as Royal Caribbean International marked two important milestones in the development of its Quantum class of ships. Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, received its first block as the keel was officially lowered and put into place. In conjunction, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum’s sister-ship, had its first piece of steel cut, signaling the first step in the ship’s construction.

The keel laying marks an important milestone in the development of Quantum of the Seas as it signifies the beginning of the ship’s physical construction. During the ceremony, a 430-ton block measuring 59-ft by 75-ft (18 x 23 meters) was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane. Newly minted coins were placed under the keel which then stays in place until the end of construction. Once the ship is nearing completion the coins are retrieved and presented to the ship’s Captain and crew to be placed onboard the ship. According to maritime tradition, the coins are said to bring luck to the ship during its construction and then to its Captain and crew when she is at sea.

The Quantum class will debut in autumn 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by her sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015.  Quantum ships span 16 decks, encompass 167,800 gross registered tons, carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,090 staterooms.

Royal Caribbean Offering Upgrades on Select Sailings

Royal Caribbean International is offering adventurous families and vacationers the opportunity to ‘upgrade their view’ when making a new booking in August 2013. From August 1-31, 2013, vacationers can enjoy a Balcony stateroom for the price of an Ocean View on most ships, and an Ocean View category stateroom for the price of an Inside stateroom on all of these sailings.

The Upgrade Your View offer applies for all new, individual bookings on three- to 10-night Bahamas, Caribbean and Bermuda cruises departing September 1, 2013, through April 30, 2014.

Vacationers can upgrade their view with a Balcony stateroom at the price of an Ocean View or an Ocean View for the price of an Inside stateroom when booking a Royal Caribbean vacation aboard Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas.

Guests also can enjoy an upgraded view when booking an Ocean View stateroom at the price of an Inside aboard Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Legend of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas. The Upgrade Your View offer is applicable for all new, individual North and South American bookings.

Cruise Ship Becomes Rescue Vessel

Vacationers on Holland America Line's ms Statendam in Alaska got more adventure than they expected on Friday, when their cruise turned into a rescue operation for 103 tourists on a disabled sightseeing boat.

Statendam responded to a call for aid to assist the 79-foot sightseeing vessel Baranof Wind, which had lost power in the ice near John Hopkins Glacier after a mechanical problem.

The ship lowered two tenders and picked up 102 tourists and one Glacier Bay National Park ranger.

After dropping off the sightseers in Bartlett Cove, where the Baranof Wind's excursion originated, it sailed on to Seward, Alaska, where it arrived on schedule.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Carnival Newbuild to be Named Carnival Vista

Carnival Vista is the name selected by Carnival Cruise Lines for its new 135,000-ton ship scheduled to enter service in 2016.

The announcement was made by Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill during a media briefing aboard Carnival Sunshine which is in the midst of its inaugural European season.

To be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, the 4,000-passenger Carnival Vista will be the 25th vessel in the line’s “Fun Ship” fleet.

Carnival Vista will offer a wide variety of dining, bar and entertainment options that are part of the line’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative, along with a number of innovations unique to this vessel.

Additional design details regarding Carnival Vista, as well as homeport deployment and itinerary information, will be announced at a later date.

Celebrity Adding New Craft Cocktails

Celebrity Cruises is shaking up the bar scene onboard by significantly expanding its selections of cocktails with a selection of 30 entirely new craft cocktails offered exclusively on Celebrity’s ships.

Already known for its Molecular and Martini Bars, Celebrity’s new craft cocktail experience was developed through an alliance with artisanal cocktail developers Hawthorn Beverage Group, founded by noted cocktail creator Josh Durr.

The new craft cocktails blend vintage-style liqueurs with fresh ingredients, organic juices and the finest artisanal spirits, resulting in a combination of new-school libations and updated old-school favorites. A new line-up of “zero-proof” (non-alcoholic) cocktails also will be introduced – ‘Sparkling Mint Lemonade’ or ‘Raspberry Fizz,’ anyone? – along with an assortment of fine wines by the glass. Celebrity’s current list of international beer selections will be expanded, too, to join Celebrity’s industry-first offering of craft beers in an even more well-rounded variety of styles, from pale ales and IPA's to Belgian ales and premium lagers.

Growing up in a culture tied to the bourbon distilleries of Kentucky, Durr’s passion for the art of spirits mixology began at a young age, ultimately inspiring him to pursue a career that fully immersed him in the craft. He has since been honored with a “Rising Star Award” from Cheers magazine, and editorial recognition in The New York Times, Playboy, Forbes, Wine Spectator, Chicago magazine and Cheers magazine, and has landed a client list that includes Apiary, Diageo, Pernod, Remy Cointreau and Ruth’s Chris, among others.

Durr attributes his success to focusing on three key pillars: staying relevant and ahead of trends, masterfully developing cocktail programs to provide brand-unique experiences, and joining forces with staff to execute the programs with precise attention to detail and quality.

Celebrity’s guests will have the opportunity to indulge in the full, new craft cocktail experience across its modern luxury fleet by the end of 2013.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Culinary and Wine Talents to Sail with Seabourn

Seabourn Cruise Line has announced a line-up of highly acclaimed chefs and an award-winning winemaker for its “Seabourn Conversations," the line's onboard enrichment and special guest entertainment program.

They include Lars Kronmark, executive instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley; Jeremy Bloor, executive chef at London's OXO Tower Restaurant; Gary Eberle, winemaker of the Eberly Winery in California; Kaushik Chowdhury, executive pastry chef at the Fairmont Dubai hotel; and Marisol Simon, destination chef, writer and media personality.

According to Seabourn, these culinary “luminaries” will be onboard to socialize with the guests and present events such as cooking demonstrations and wine tasting parties onboard. In addition, they may share meals, adventures ashore and casual chats with guests throughout the voyage.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines Announces New Ship Deployments

Carnival Cruise Lines today announced new ship deployments taking effect in 2014 in several key markets resulting in exciting new product offerings from Port Canaveral, Fla., and New Orleans. Carnival will now feature the widest selection of seagoing vacation choices in these markets aboard some of the most innovative ships in cruising.

Carnival Sunshine, which recently completed a massive $155 million transformation, will be repositioned from New Orleans to Port Canaveral beginning in April 2014. This move will allow Carnival to continue to offer attractive new options from Port Canaveral and marks the first time the line will have a ship in Central Florida featuring all of the fantastic Fun Ship 2.0 bar, dining and entertainment innovations.

In turn, Carnival Dream will reposition from Port Canaveral to New Orleans to operate year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning in April 2014, representing a 22 percent capacity increase on week-long sailings from the Big Easy. The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream is from the line’s newest and largest class of ships and offers an array of on-board facilities and features. Carnival is the only cruise line to operate two year-round ships from New Orleans and will carry more than 400,000 guests annually from this important Gulf Coast homeport.

Carnival will also increase capacity in Port Canaveral by 30 percent when Carnival Liberty launches year-round five- to eight-day Caribbean cruises in May 2014, adding a second Fun Ship 2.0-equipped vessel to the Space Coast. The ship’s many popular features include Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network Star Guy Fieri, along with BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog Rum Bar, EA Sports Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar and the award-winning Alchemy Bar.

Guests will now have the widest variety of cruise vacations available from Port Canaveral including five cruise durations -- from three to eight days -- offering seven different itinerary options and the chance to visit 14 exciting destinations throughout The Bahamas and Caribbean. Carnival will be the only cruise line to offer three year-round ships from Port Canaveral, providing fun and memorable cruise vacations to over 600,000 guests annually.

Eataly Announced for MSC Divina

Following the successful launch of the first two Eataly restaurants at sea onboard MSC Preziosa, MSC Cruises is now extending the partnership and launching two new Eataly restaurants and a marketplace onboard MSC Divina.

In the area that previously hosted the Tex Mex specialty restaurant, MSC Divina will now feature two unique dining venues; upscale Ristorante Italia and spectacular regional steakhouse, Manzo, fashioned after the famed restaurant in Eataly’s Manhattan location.

A boutique Eataly marketplace will also be available for guests to purchase authentic Italian products, including olive oils, dried pastas, artisanal sweets and aged balsamics.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Viking Launches New Ocean Cruise Line

Viking Cruises today announced the launch of its ocean product line, Viking Ocean Cruises, marking the introduction of the travel industry's first new cruise line in nearly a decade. Developed from the ground up to return the focus of cruising to the destination, Viking Ocean Cruises will begin sailing in May 2015 with its first vessel—Viking Star—embarking on maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Cruises has aggressive expansion plans in both the ocean and river cruise categories, with a second ocean ship on order for delivery in 2016 and conditional orders and options for four more additional ocean vessels.

The ocean ship order follows the company's continued rapid fleet expansion in the river cruise sector, with 10 new river ships recently christened in March of this year and 12 new river ships planned to launch in 2014.

Leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises passengers, Viking Ocean Cruises was developed with experienced travelers in mind. Itineraries are curated for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local nightlife or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," and appeal to those with an interest in history, art and culture. In addition, all-inclusive pricing provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Passengers also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; wi-fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service—a value of more than $2,400 per couple for an average cruise.

Royal Caribbean Redeploys Explorer to Port Canaveral for 3 Months

Royal Caribbean International announced new Caribbean cruises for the Explorer of the Seas from November 2014 through early January 2015.

After eight consecutive years dedicated to the New York metropolitan area with year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port, the Explorer will redeploy to Port Canaveral, to offer a range of four- to nine-night Bahamas, and Western and Southern Caribbean vacations.

Throughout the short season, the Explorer will join the Freedom and Enchantment of the Seas at Port Canaveral to offer the most ships and itinerary options to the Bahamas and the Caribbean from Central Florida’s Space Coast.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Navigator of the Seas to Sail from Galveston

Royal Caribbean International announced yesterday that it is basing 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas year-round from the Texas port city of Galveston. The Voyager-class ship that first introduced ice skating at sea will sail seven-night western Caribbean itineraries after emerging from an extensive drydock revitalization in February 2014.

During her drydock, signature Royal Caribbean features, such as the FlowRider surf simulator and dining venues like Giovanni’s Table, Park Café and Izumi Asian Cuisine will be added.

At the same time, new features such as Virtual Balconies for select interior staterooms, new panoramic oceanview staterooms – featuring full-length, floor-to-ceiling windows and unique new dining and entertainment concepts will be introduced to surprise and delight guests.

As part of an extensive program to enhance very ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Navigator of the Seas also will receive many of the most popular and innovative concepts and amenities that were introduced aboard the world-acclaimed and revolutionary Oasis-class ships.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Enchantment of the Seas Starts Service from Port Canaveral

Royal Caribbean International this past weekend introduced Enchantment of the Seas to her new homeport of Port Canaveral, where she replaces Monarch of the Seas and continues the cruise lines year-round, three- and four-night Bahamas itineraries.

Enchantment of the Seas joins Freedom of the Seas at Port Canaveral, and her arrival marks the first time in four years that Royal Caribbean has introduced a new ship to the port. Perfect for corporate and incentive travel as well as for everyday vacationers, Enchantment of the Seas delivers Royal Caribbean’s signature onboard amenities on exciting short Bahamas getaways that only the cruise line can deliver.

Enchantment of the Seas is fresh from an extensive revitalization that includes new dining options, such as the complimentary Park Café where guests can grab gourmet sandwiches, salads and more; a Royal Babies and Tots Nursery in the cruise line’s award-winning Adventure Ocean kids’ program, which offers exclusive children’s programming developed in partnership with Fisher-Price and Crayola; and the R Bar, a retro-inspired bar in the ship’s Centrum that serves craft cocktails from expert mixologists. Guests also enjoy bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service, flat-panel televisions in every staterooms and interactive digital signage.

By day, guests can lounge by the pool and enjoy a new oversized outdoor movie screen; join in an invigorating session in the Vitality Fitness Center; take in a rejuvenating treatment in the Vitality Day Spa; and achieve new heights on Enchantment of the Seas’ rock-climbing wall and bungee trampoline.

At night, guests can celebrate a special occasion in Royal Caribbean’s signature Chops Grille steakhouse; enjoy the cruise line’s award-winning Broadway-style musical revue in the Orpheum Theater; dance into the night in one of four lounges; and enjoy world-class excitement in the Casino Royale. Throughout, suite and Crown & Anchor Society member guests can respectively relax and enjoy the new exclusive Concierge and Diamond Lounges.

Enchantment of the Seas will sail every Monday and Friday on short roundtrip Bahamas itineraries, calling at Nassau and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island paradise. Guests will enjoy the exclusive island’s beautiful beaches, shopping in a colorful craft market and choose among a variety of thrilling watersports options.

MSC Launches Behind the Scenes Tours

MSC Cruises, onboard its Fantasia and Musica class ships, is offering a new behind-the-scenes tour for passengers.

A brand new tour, ‘The Big Reveal: Come & See How We Do It,’ has been designed to give travellers a sneak peek into the inner workings of their chosen ship, taking them on a fun and educational behind-the-scenes tour.

After small group visits to certain ‘off-limits’ areas of the ship such as the backstage area of the theatre, laundry, galley,  food storage area, and the MSC Yacht Club on Fantasia class ships, the tour closes with a culinary demonstration followed by a treat from the gourmet kitchens.

The tour takes place on cruises of seven days or more, generally on the morning of a full day at sea, and entertains participants for two and a half hours,  sharing MSC’s passion for the seas and some of the secrets behind its unique Mediterranean way of life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Princess Adds New “Medallion” Level to Captain’s Circle

Princess Cruises recently expanded its Captain’s Circle loyalty program with the addition of a new membership category – the Medallion level. The new tier, for passengers sailing on a fourth or fifth cruise, or between 31 and 50 cruise days, fits between the program’s current Gold and Platinum levels. The new level goes into effect with voyages beginning on or after today.

Medallion level members will now enjoy extra benefits in addition to Gold level perks, including a complimentary upgrade to the Platinum Princess Vacation Protection and a discount on the price of a souvenir Reflections DVD. Medallion cruise cards and pins will feature a deep burgundy color.

Medallion level benefits include:

Complimentary upgrade to Platinum Princess Vacation Protection – When passengers purchase the standard Princess Vacation Protection, they will receive a complimentary upgrade to Platinum protection. Available for US and Canadian passengers, this added coverage includes double benefits for Accidents & Sickness Medical Expense and Baggage/Personal Effects coverage. In addition, the special cancellation feature increases to a 100 percent credit.

A 10% discount off the purchase of the Reflections Cruise DVD – On each cruise, onboard videographers capture live memories from the sailing, including ports of call, shore excursions, ship events, and behind-the-scenes information about the ship. Medallion members and higher can now take advantage of this new benefit to purchase the cruise souvenir at a 10 percent discount. (where available, cannot be combined with any other promotion, excluding world cruise).

Access to preferred shoreside Captain’s Circle help desk phone line – Medallion members can now enjoy an exclusive shoreside phone number for contact to the Circle Desk. Calls will be routed quickly through to the membership desk to assist with cruise history, membership status, benefits delivery or any other Captain’s Circle-related questions.

Medallion Pin – Members will receive a new two-toned burgundy and gold pin.

All Gold level benefits – Members continue to get benefits such as special cruise pricing, members-only events on board, The Princess Captain’s Circle Quarterly magazine, access to an onboard Captain’s Circle host, and other special features for members.

The Princess Captain’s Circle program offers special onboard recognition to passengers based on their number of completed cruises or days sailed – whichever is most beneficial to the passenger.

Members enjoy various ongoing rewards, plus special benefits based on their level. In addition to the new Medallion level, the program includes Gold (after one Princess cruise), Platinum (after five cruises or 50 cruise days) and Elite (after 15 cruises or 150 cruise days) levels.

Carnival Announces $300 Million Program To Enhance Operating Reliability

Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced that it has implemented a program to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, introduce new fire safety technology, and improve the level of operating redundancies across its entire 24-ship fleet.

This enhancement program will cost more than $300 million, and rapid upgrades have already begun.

The actions by Carnival Cruise Lines will expand the availability of hotel services for the comfort of its guests in the rare instance of a shipboard event that involves the loss of main power. In addition, the plan will reinforce key shipboard operating systems to further prevent a potential loss of primary power. The improvement plan is the result of a comprehensive operational review, overseen by parent company Carnival Corporation & plc, initiated immediately after the Carnival Triumph fire in February 2013.

Initial implementation of the upgrades to the fleet will take place during the next several months. Each class of ship is different and often systems differ on ships within a class, so the enhancements will be tailored to each vessel. All findings from the operational review will be shared with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) as part of the industry-wide operational review announced in March.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Princess Returns to Summer Caribbean Cruises in 2014

It’s been a few years, but Princess Cruises makes her long-awaited return for a season of Summer Caribbean sailings in 2014. That means a full 2014 calendar year of Princess — the relaxed alternative in the Caribbean! 

  • Caribbean Princess will sail a full summer season from May to September
  • Nine unique itineraries ranging from 3 to 14 days conveniently sailing roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale
  • The popular 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages can be combined for an exciting 14-day adventure
  • The 3-, 4- and 5-day Getaways are perfect for a value-packed short vacation compared to any land-based option
  • Princess returns to the ports of Costa Maya, Ocho Rios and San Juan, along with favorites St. Thomas and Grand Cayman
  • Most departures include our exclusive Bahaman paradise on Princess Cays

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oasis of the Seas to Europe in 2014

Renowned worldwide for its award-winning Caribbean cruise vacations, Oasis of the Seas now will offer a sampling of its unrivaled Oasis-class experience in Europe. Oasis of the Seas’ 2014 Europe season will open for sale on Apr. 11, 2013.

Guests will sail the Atlantic and Western Mediterranean and delight in Oasis-class exclusive amenities and concepts throughout its seven themed neighborhoods, such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, Broadway musicals, the Aquatheater high-diving performance venue, and Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants. Oasis of the Seas also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin FlowRider surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an ice-skating rink, the H20 Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others.

Royal Caribbean’s family programming also will help ensure that guests of every generation can share in an unforgettable Europe family vacation aboard Oasis of the Seas.

The cruise line’s complimentary Adventure Ocean kids program offers ongoing educational and entertaining sessions for three age groups from three- to 11-year-olds, led by college-accredited counselors from 9:00 to 2:00 a.m. Two curricula for teens age 12 to 17 years offer more organic programming to offer them the flexibility to help shape their day with peers, as well as teen-only sessions on the FlowRider, Rock Wall and Sports Court. Furthermore, Oasis of the Seas also debuted the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery – soon to be fleetwide – that caters to Royal Caribbean’s youngest guests, age six to 36 months old.

Two trans-Atlantic crossings will afford guests the opportunity to experience all of Oasis of the Seas’ unmatched innovative amenities, exclusive entertainment, and variety of dining experiences. On these cruises, guests also will enjoy an exclusive preview of the Quantum-class experience and join in special programs that will amplify the Oasis-class experience.

A 12-night eastbound cruise from the ship’s homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Barcelona departs Sept. 1, 2014 and a 13-night westbound cruise will return Oasis of the Seas to Port Everglades from Rotterdam on Oct. 14. Vacationers also can embark the westbound trans-Atlantic cruise at Southampton on Oct. 15.

Guests also can enjoy the world-acclaimed ship on a choice of three Europe sailings. Vacationers can choose among two roundtrip sailings on a five-night Western Mediterranean itinerary from Barcelona, and a seven-night Spain itinerary sailing from Barcelona to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where Oasis of the Seas will enter drydock in Képpel Verolme shipyard for routine maintenance.

Additionally, a two-night Bahamas cruise departing on Aug. 30 and a five-night Western Caribbean cruise departing on Oct. 27, both roundtrip from Port Everglades, will bookend Oasis of the Seas’ short 2014 Europe season.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MSC Divina to Sail Year Round From Miami

MSC Cruises' growth in the cruise industry spurred the line's decision to respond to the requests of the travel agency community and consumers for a year round presence in the North American market.

The announcement came during the christening celebration for the line's twelfth new ship, MSC Preziosa, in Genoa, Italy this past Saturday. MSC Divina, sister ship of MSC Preziosa, was christened last spring and will now sail year round from PortMiami beginning November.

MSC Cruises record breaking growth is unmatched in the industry. The line began an investment program in 2003 committing 6 billion Euros to its expansion. Since then the line has acquired two vessels and built ten new ships resulting in one new vessel entering the fleet nearly every year. For the past eight years, the line has offered seasonal late fall and winter sailings from North America.

The extension of MSC Divina's scheduled seasonal sailings to year round sailings illustrates the company's commitment to the North American market. This will mark the first time MSC Divina has sailed from North America and the first time the line has sailed from PortMiami. The itineraries for the ship will be announced shortly.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Norwegian Launches All New Guppies Program for Children Under Three

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the line’s children’s program, Splash Academy, has implemented a brand new “Guppies” program offering exciting, interactive programming for kids’ ages six months to three years old.

The new program gives parents, with children under the age of three, the opportunity to engage in a variety of sensory-based programs with children including baby art, featuring organic, vegetable-based “Wee Can Too” art products, baby “Rhyme Time,” where a storyteller recites popular nursery rhymes featuring puppets, and “Motion in the Ocean,” a parent and baby mini-workout.

Now, for a limited time, families have an extra incentive to book a new cruise reservation in order to experience these new programs by taking advantage of Norwegian’s popular Kid’s Sail Free Sales Event.

For cruises booked now through March 23, 2013, kids ages 17 and under traveling with two adults in the same stateroom cruise free on select sailings. Taking advantage of this special offer gives families the perfect opportunity to experience the all new Guppies program and the rest of the exciting Splash Academy and Entourage program offerings.

Norwegian Cruise Line is also celebrating the successful fleet-wide implementation of its enhanced Youth and Teen programs, Splash Academy and Entourage. The new programs, announced in February of 2012, have received enthusiastically positive reviews from parents and kids, and have made a dramatic impact on the overall family cruise experience.

With the new programs, kids and teens have the chance to participate in a variety of innovative events and activities throughout their cruise, specially tailored to their individual age groups. Both Splash Academy and Entourage feature a different theme each day, such as “Rumble in the Jungle,” and “Under the Big Top,” offering new surprises every time the children return to the program.

Kids of all age groups love participating in the sporting activities that were developed through the partnership with The King’s Foundation and Camps, a United Kingdom-based organization. The sports component of the youth programs offers high quality sports activities designed to make a positive impact on the children.

Examples include soccer skills; physical challenges; and icebreaker action games. Bowling tournaments, soccer challenges and “dodge ball under the stars” are just a few of the active offerings for teens. The new program also offers the family a chance to play along in a variety of sporting activities including dodge ball, tug-of-war and other exciting family challenges.

One of the most popular aspects of the new program is the circus workshop, developed through the partnership with Hilario Productions’ Cirque du Jour, which offers fun circus activities for the whole family.

Through the program, children have the rare opportunity to learn a variety of unique skills such as balancing feathers, juggling, plate spinning and even stilt walking. Classes take place within the youth program, but a family circus school performed in a circus ring, hosted by the Cruise Director, who acts as ringmaster, is also offered.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carnival Dream's Itineraries Expanded to New Five- and Eight-Day Cruises

Carnival Cruise Lines has expanded Carnival Dream’s year-round schedule from Port Canaveral, Fla., to include eight-day Caribbean departures along with two new five-day options, and a one-of-a-kind four-port, seven-day eastern Caribbean itinerary.

With these new options, Carnival Dream will offer six distinctly different five- to eight-day cruise programs from Port Canaveral – the widest variety of itinerary choices from this highly popular Central Florida homeport. Additionally, the expansion further bolsters the line’s position as the Caribbean cruise leader, operating approximately 1,250 voyages and carrying more than 3.6 million passengers within the region each year.

Carnival Dream’s two new eight-day schedules include a three-port Southern Caribbean itinerary with extended stops at the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk, and an eastern Caribbean itinerary featuring visits to four tropical destinations: St. Maarten, Tortola, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. Seven southern Caribbean voyages will be offered, departing May 2 and 30, Aug. 23, Oct. 4, and Dec. 6, 2014, and Feb. 7 and March 7, 2015, while six eastern Caribbean cruises depart May 17, Sept. 5, Oct. 17, and Dec. 19, 2014, and Feb. 20 and March 20, 2015.

The two new five-day departures mark the first time that Carnival has offered short-cruise itineraries on a Dream-class ship. One five-day program features the popular ports of Key West, Nassau and Freeport departing May 25 and Oct. 12, 2014, and March 15, 2015, while the other offers day-long visits to Nassau and Grand Turk departing Aug. 31 and Dec. 14, 2014, and Feb. 15, 2015.

The line has also created a new four-port, seven-day eastern Caribbean itinerary – unique to Port Canaveral – that includes stops at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Nassau. These attractive week-long cruises are being offered roughly once a month and complement Carnival Dream’s existing seven-day western Caribbean cruises calling at Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay, and Costa Maya that sail throughout the year.

MSC Cruises to Become Third Biggest Cruise Line This Year

According to data from the 2013 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, MSC Cruises will become the third largest cruise company by capacity this year, trailing only Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International.

With the delivery of the MSC Preziosa, the Italian brand will carry over 1.45 million passengers on 12 ships this year.

That number propels MSC past Costa Crociere, Princess Cruises, and even Norwegian Cruise Line – to third on the capacity lists, with a 9.4 percent capacity increase over 2012.

With Carnival and Royal Caribbean carrying well over three million passengers each, MSC won’t be catching them anytime soon.

Interestingly, MSC is achieving its third place number with just 12 ships, over Norwegian’s 12 ships, compared to Princess, with 17 ships, which sail longer cruises.

By market, MSC will have over 50 percent of its capacity in the Mediterranean, 14 percent in South America, 12.5 percent in Northern Europe, and the rest in Africa, the Caribbean, Canary Islands and Red Sea.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kristin Chenoweth Named Godmother to Quantum of the Seas

Triple-threat, Emmy and Tony award-winning Kristin Chenoweth, is adding yet another accolade to her impressive resume: godmother to Royal Caribbean International’s much anticipated new cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas. The cruise line announced the appointment, which is steeped in maritime tradition, in an unconventional way during a red carpet-inspired commercial that aired during ABC television network’s broadcast of the Oscars.

Exemplifying what it means to be a leading lady both onstage and off, Chenoweth was chosen for her effervescent personality and ability to wow audiences. Her versatile range of roles made her a natural fit, given that Quantum of the Seas, set to debut in fall 2014, is poised to introduce unprecedented experiences and amenities only attainable on Royal Caribbean International.

Historically an honor reserved for heads of state, politicians and celebrities, godmothers not only break a bottle to christen a ship, but also serve as guiding spirits to its guests and crew. Royal Caribbean looks to capture the essence of the role by choosing women whose life lessons and achievements illustrate the kind of courage, dedication and determination that are an inspiration to all.

Known for their world class entertainment, Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to introduce fully-licensed Broadway productions onboard its ships and currently features Saturday Night Fever, Hairspray and Chicago: The Musical. With Chenoweth’s renowned background as an entertainer, the two perfectly complement each other with their commitment to delivering authentic and engaging entertainment.

The Quantum class of ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, will build upon Royal Caribbean’s legacy of revolutionary ship design and bold innovation. At 158,000 gross registered tons (GRT) and with a capacity of 4,100 guests based on double occupancy, the ships will debut in fall 2014 and spring 2015, respectively.

Zakarian to Open New Restaurant on Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that celebrity chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will create and oversee the opening of his seafood restaurant, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, on the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Getaway, which will sail year-round to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami beginning February, 2014.

Geoffrey Zakarian’s new restaurant is located in the ship’s hub amongst three expansive, action-packed decks called 678 Ocean Place and includes innovative outdoor spaces along The Waterfront, the ship’s oceanfront promenade offering guests an unparalleled experience with a unique connection to the ocean.

The restaurant, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, will bring a luxury seafood dining experience to Norwegian Getaway, utilizing all of the ingredients and techniques that Zakarian employs in his land-based establishments, including his signature modern presentations to three distinct dining locations onboard: Ocean Blue, Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, a more casual dining option serving fun and easy fare and The Raw Bar, serving crustaceans and wines by the glass. In developing the Ocean Blue concept for Norwegian’s newest ship, Zakarian orchestrated every aspect of the restaurants, from the delectable menus to the uniforms and the glassware.

On select sailings, Zakarian will also host meet-and-greets with Norwegian Getaway guests, along with in-person cooking demonstrations and intimate cooking experiences for smaller groups. The first location of Ocean Blue will premiere on board Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway’s New York City-based sister ship in April 2013.

Zakarian's taste, style and passion for fine cuisine have defined his career, which has spanned more than 25 years. An accomplished chef who has presided over some of the country's top kitchens, he currently has two popular restaurants in New York City – The Lambs Club and The National; one in Atlantic City – The Water Club at Borgata; and a highly acclaimed cookbook “Geoffrey Zakarian’s Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table.” Zakarian emerged victorious in the recent fourth season of Food Network's The Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs. He appears regularly on Iron Chef America, demonstrating a razor-sharp knowledge of culinary techniques in this fast-paced cooking competition. When he's not battling in the kitchen stadium, Zakarian stays busy filming CHOPPED, where he is featured as a recurring judge, and highlights his favorite dishes on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Windstar Completes Purchase of Three Seabourn Ships

Windstar Cruises announced today that its owner, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has reached an agreement with Seabourn, a cruise company that operates six luxury cruise ships, to purchase three of their ships: Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend, and Seabourn Spirit.

Under the project name Global Windstar, the expansion will double the size of Windstar’s recently renovated, three luxury sailing yacht fleet, making the company the market leader in small-ship cruising with 300 or fewer passengers, with a total of 1,230 berths.

The purchase on February 15, 2013, is one of several recent Xanterra Parks & Resorts acquisitions, including VBT, an adventure travel company, and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, AZ, adjoining the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The delivery of the three 104 all-suite ships, which hold 208 passengers each, will take place over the next two years in the Mediterranean. The Seabourn Pride will be the first ship to enter into Windstar’s luxury fleet in April of 2014.

Following a Windstar branded renovation, which will give the ship a new name and casually elegant look, the Pride with set sail a month later in May 2014; voyages are expected to go on sale in May of this year. Windstar Cruises will take possession of Seabourn Legend in April 2015 and Seabourn Spirit in May 2015. These two yachts are scheduled to start sailing in May of 2015 following their dry-dock period.

The fleet expansion will provide Windstar Cruises access to new destinations such as Asia and South America, in addition to the fifty countries the company already sails to. Known for visiting hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world, Windstar will continue to focus on the unique destinations that large ships cannot call on. The opportunities of Global Windstar are already evident with the recent announcement of Windstar’s return to Tahiti in May of 2014. Tahiti has been one of the top destinations requested by Windstar guests and travel partners.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carnival Announces 2014 Bloggers Cruise

Carnival Sunshine has been selected as the venue for the seventh annual “John Heald Bloggers Cruise,” which brings together fans of the senior cruise director’s popular blog ( for a week’s worth of fun activities, exclusive giveaways and unforgettable memories.

Bloggers Cruise 7 on Carnival Sunshine sails round-trip from New Orleans February 16-23, 2014, visiting the stunning Caribbean destinations of Montego Bay, Jamaica; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico.

The announcement was made by Heald on the Carnival Breeze to raucous applause from the 575 fans attending Bloggers Cruise 6 on the Carnival Breeze last week.

The John Heald Bloggers Cruise brings together hundreds of fans of the popular on-line site -- which has attracted more than 15 million page views since its launch in 2007 – providing an opportunity to make new friends and reacquaint with other blog readers.

Carnival Sunshine is currently sailing as Carnival Destiny and will undergo an unprecedented $155 million makeover this spring and emerge with an array of innovations that are part of the line’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement initiative.

During the week-long voyage, blog fans will be able to check out such fantastic features as a stunning three-level Serenity adults-only retreat, spectacular open-deck spaces like the WaterWorks water park and SportSquare outdoor recreation area, and only-on-Carnival Sunshine venues such as Havana Bar, ShakeSpot, Java Blue Café, and Carnival’s first-ever full-service Asian restaurant.

A full schedule of activities, including lively Q&A sessions, unforgettable game shows, welcoming and closing receptions, and the ever-popular “Tea Time with John,” will be offered while bloggers will return home with a variety of keepsake items. An exclusive bloggers-only shore excursion is also planned. Heald, of course, will be blogging and providing daily video updates throughout the cruise.

Heald’s blog has attracted a loyal following not only for his off-beat humor, but also for his candid, behind-the-scenes look at shipboard life, providing an entertaining and unique perspective to readers.

Oceania Rolls Out New Menu for its Dining Room

Oceania Cruises announced the successful completion of a new menu rollout featuring 85 new dishes for its Grand Dining Room on the line’s newest ship, Riviera.

The remainder of the Oceania Cruises fleet will incorporate the new menus over the next three months.

Oceania Cruises has an entire team at the helm of its culinary program, including its executive culinary director, renowned master chef Jacques Pépin.

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger led the team in conceiving the new menus. The Oceania Cruises culinary team has spent the past eight months designing and rigorously testing the new menu items. As the menus in the Grand Dining Room change daily, the rollout features a total of 85 new dishes, including three new lobster dishes and 10 new pastas and risottos.

New creations include dishes such as Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne, Roast Segovian Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, and Diver Scallops over Orange-Braised Endive with Vanilla Vinaigrette Salad. The new dishes also feature unique, high-end ingredients such as Castilla–La Mancha saffron, Lessatini olive oil from Nice and Ibérico de Bellota pork.

There is also a selection of new Canyon Ranch dishes, including Dover Sole Meunière in Lemon Butter Sauce with Sweet Leek Puff Pastry and Steamed Potatoes, as well as Pulpo a la Gallega: Octopus on Warm Potato Salad with Sweet Spanish Paprika de la Vera.

The rollout includes an array of new wines by the bottle as well as an extended list of wines by the glass.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

MSC Introduces Signature Onboard Soundtrack

MSC Cruises has recently worked with DMX, an international leader in creating engaging experiences through music, to add a new and exciting chapter to its unique sensory story.

From January 2013, guests onboard the fleet will be treated to the sensual sounds of the new MSC Cruises’ signature soundtrack, a comprehensive playlist designed to reflect and evoke the company’ score personality, its Mediterranean roots and the region’s celebrated values of warmth, humanity and authenticity.

Blending vocals and instrumentals, traditional classics and contemporary hits, MSC and DMX have created a distinctive sound which captures its very spirit and soul. With Italian, Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Greek and international favourites sure to delight guests from all over the world, the soundtrack is also a celebration of the over 180 nationalities who sailed the seas with MSC last year and the company’s ability to make every one of these different nationalities feel at home.

In certain public areas of each ship, including the main reception and bar, MSC’s signature sounds will enliven, entertain, and inspire the exploration of new cultures, taking guests on an acoustic journey of discovery throughout their cruise.

With its mix of contemporary and classic songs, the new soundtrack has a broad demographic appeal. Popular artists on the soundtrack include Brigitte Bardot, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Manu Chao, Ojos De Brujo, Celine Dion, Cesaria Evora, Nelly Furtado, Serge Gainsbourg, The Gipsy Kings, Sophia Loren, Dean Martin, Yannick Noah, Luciano Pavarotti, Laura Pausini, Edith Piaf, Eros Ramazzotti, Amalia Rodrigues, Nino Rota, and Shakira.

MSC Cruises has also refined different soundtracks in other public areas onboard, including the disco, main restaurants and certain bars, to make sure that each soundtrack perfectly suits the mood and time of day.

Royal Caribbean Orders Third Oasis-Class Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it has executed a contract with STX France to construct a third Oasis-class vessel for delivery in mid-2016.

In addition is an option for a second ship with a potential delivery in mid-2018.

This order is consistent with the plan announced by the company in October to build a sister-ship to the very successful Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

STX France has also provided the company with a one-year option for the mid-year 2018 delivery of a fourth Oasis-class vessel at similar pricing.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are the largest and most revolutionary cruise ships in the world.

Architectural marvels at sea, they span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carrying 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. The ships sail weekly from their home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas debuted in November 2009 and November 2010 respectively, introducing a range of unique industry “firsts” and engineering marvels including a neighborhood concept – seven themed areas providing guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood.

Within these seven neighborhoods – Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone – are extraordinary elements such as the first park at sea, a thrilling zip line that races diagonally nine-decks above an open-air atrium, an original handcrafted carousel, 28 multilevel urban-style loft suites boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, an aquatic amphitheater – called the AquaTheater that serves as a pool by day and a dazzling ocean front theater by night; and an array of epicurean innovations that allow for new culinary experiences each day of a guest’s cruise vacation.

With the success of the Oasis-class ships, Royal Caribbean International is currently undergoing a fleetwide revitalization program to bring the latest innovations and the highest guest-rated programs from Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas to the cruise line’s ships across the fleet.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Princess Reveals Royal Princess Youth and Teen Centers

Yesterday Princess Cruises revealed the amenities just for kids and teens that will wow younger cruisers aboard the new ship.

Royal Princess will offer expanded space for youth centers that adds a new level to the onboard experience for young passengers. All age groups will find more space with dedicated outdoor areas, including a new teen lounge. Toddlers can also join the fun with a special fun area just for kids under 3.

Some of the fun that young passengers will find on Royal Princess includes:

Princess Pelicans (ages 3-7): The youngest age group will enjoy a great space for group activities like movie nights, a new mini air hockey table, a special area for arts and crafts programs, and a new indoor play structure. In addition, they’ll have a new outdoor play area, which includes toys, games, tricycles, and a new playground. These features add to the lineup of popular activities that kids love on Princess ships, including the Jr. Chef@Sea program, educational workshops, pajama and ice cream parties, and a Kid's Fun Fair.

Shockwaves (ages 8-12): Junior passengers in the middle group will now have their own dedicated outside area complete with lounge chairs and a variety of fun games. Shockwaves kids will really get into activities geared for their age – like air hockey, skeeball, and exciting game stations. They’ll also find their own lounge with a giant TV, a DJ Booth, and arts and crafts tables with activities led by Princess’ youth counselors. Plus they can hang out and enjoy their own pizza and ice cream parties or kids-only dinners.

Remix (ages 13-17): The Remix area for teens will feature a Princess DJ booth loaded with cutting-edge tracks where music lovers can create their own playlist, kick back, relax, or dance to the latest club mix. In addition, there’s a new lounge area, perfect for meeting new friends, with games like foosball, skeeball and the latest video games. A brand new outdoor lounge fulfills a request from teens, and offers cool club lighting, contemporary seating, a great new wading pool, and of course music perfect for parties under the stars. Teens will also enjoy activities specially designed for their age group, including sports competitions, late-night movies, hip hop dance classes, teens-only “mocktail” parties, formal dinners, and the always-popular video game tournaments.

Royal Caribbean Announces New All-Inclusive Beverage Packages

Royal Caribbean International is furthering its commitment to total guest satisfaction by expanding its existing onboard beverage program to include two new packages that will streamline and enhance the onboard guest experience. The cruise line is introducing two new beverage packages – Classic and Premium, which will allow guests to pay one price at the beginning of their cruise vacation and enjoy a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at greater savings and convenience for the duration of their voyage. Complementing the new beverage packages are a variety of specialty dining packages, which allow guests to pre-book the cruise line’s signature restaurants at an incredible value.

Guests interested in an alcohol-inclusive beverage package have a choice of the Classic Beverage Package for $45 per guest, per day, or the Premium Beverage Package for $55 per guest, per day, both inclusive of a service charge. The Classic features beer, house wines by the glass, as well as all non-alcoholic cocktails, fountain soda and juices. The all-inclusive Premium package features the afore-mentioned, as well as frozen drinks and all cocktails including premium brands.

Beverage packages are available for purchase on all seven-night or longer sailings and must be purchased on the first day. Guests choosing either package also must purchase the package for guests 21 years old or older sailing in the same stateroom. Packages are currently available on 13 ships and will be available on the remaining ships with seven-night or longer itineraries by early 2013.

By combining one of the new beverage packages or an existing package, such as the unlimited soda fountain package with a specialty dining package, guests will find all they have left to do is sit back and enjoy their vacation onboard a Royal Caribbean ship.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Carnival Glory Returns to Service After Two-Week Dry Dock

The Carnival Glory returned to service last week following an extensive, multi-million dollar renovation that added an array of exciting on-board spaces, from a new burger venue developed by Food Network personality Guy Fieri and a pair of tropics-inspired poolside watering holes to a “cocktail pharmacy”-themed lounge called the Alchemy Bar.

Carnival Glory’s new dining, bar and entertainment options are part of Fun Ship 2.0, a $500 million product enhancement initiative that is being rolled out across the Carnival fleet.

Following a special three-day cruise from Miami to Nassau departing later this afternoon, Carnival Glory will launch a winter schedule of seven-day Caribbean voyages beginning Nov. 18. In June 2013, the ship will reposition to Boston for a series of four- and five-day Canada voyages before heading to New York for four- to seven-day Canada/New England departures through October.

Here’s a rundown of the many new features added to the Carnival Glory during its two-week dry dock:
  • Guy’s Burger Joint, a complimentary poolside venue offering fresh-made burgers, hand-cut fries and innovative toppings and condiments created by Food Network personality and chef Guy Fieri
  • BlueIguana Cantina, a free-of-charge Mexican cantina with authentic tacos and burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar
  • Alchemy Bar, a cocktail “pharmacy” where highly trained mixologists create custom cocktails using interesting flavors and ingredients
  • EA SPORTS Bar, an interactive sports bar where patrons can view live action, play popular EA SPORTS video games and keep up with the latest scores on the 24/7 sports ticker
  • RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside Caribbean-themed watering hole offering a variety of the region’s top rums and beers, which are enjoyed in a laid back island-infused atmosphere
  • BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a friendly rival to the RedFrog Rum Bar, this lively and engaging poolside bar specializes in frozen cocktails and Mexican beers, in a fun and festive environment
  • The Punchliner Comedy Club & Punchliner Comedy Brunch Presented by George Lopez, who is taking Carnival’s popular comedy offerings to the next level with hilarious, side-splitting comedians and a humorous twist on the traditional mid-morning culinary feast
  • Cherry On Top, which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more
  • Hasbro, The Game Show and Playlist Productions will also be added to Carnival Glory over the next several weeks. Hasbro, The Game Show makes guests the stars of the show through larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic board games, while Playlist Productions is a dramatic retooling of Carnival’s legendary revues that combines captivating live performances with high-tech LED staging and special effects that set a new standard in seagoing productions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Celebrity Reveals Taste of San Francisco Pop-Up Menu

Premium vacation brand Celebrity Cruises’ is bringing its award-winning, from-scratch culinary philosophy from sea to land this month in San Francisco, California, in the form of the first-ever cruise line pop-up restaurant. Elegant simplicity, modern pairings and abundance of earth and sea are the theme of the restaurant, which will pop up at Stable Café in the Mission District.

Diners will enjoy a taste of modern luxury as Celebrity’s Director of Culinary Operations, James Beard-featured chef John Suley, and his team, present a menu rich with unexpected flavors, delicate textures, and of-the-moment culinary techniques.

The menu draws on Celebrity’s award-winning onboard cuisine, as exemplified by a five-spice crusted Cervena venison loin with celery root fondant, wilted spinach, red cabbage marmalade and lingonberry sauce from the classic specialty restaurant Murano, and the “Strawberry Fields” dessert from the “uniquely unordinary” specialty restaurant Qsine.

Other menu items are inspired by seasonal, local ingredients and flavors in and around San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest.

For example, Suley and team will offer a roasted parsnip salad with apple, celery, radicchio, capriago cheese and truffled hazlelnut vinaegrette at lunch, and at dinner, a Jerusalem artichoke veloute with chanterelle mushrooms, mascarpone cheese, Iberico ham and sourdough crouton, as well as a seared Arctic char with “beluga” pasta, chorizo, mussels and a smoked paprika emulsion.

Artful, decadent desserts and locally inspired beverages will complete the experience.

Celebrity has partnered with Tasting Table to invite its San Francisco-area subscribers. Attendees will be entered into a giveaway to win a 7-night Alaska cruise for two on the stunning, luxurious Celebrity Solstice in 2013. Tickets are available online at and are subject to availability.

Princess Cruises Announces First-Ever Cruise to Support U.S. Veterans

Princess Cruises is marking Veterans Day by announcing an unprecedented cruise to support U.S. veterans, expected to raise $1 million for two highly regarded U.S. veterans organizations – the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and Operation Homefront. Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew, himself a Vietnam veteran, will be onboard to host the sailing.

Sailing from November 5-9, 2013 aboard Caribbean Princess from Galveston to the Western Caribbean, the four-day cruise will offer passengers the opportunity to honor both those who have served in the military as well as active duty military personnel. Onboard programming and activities – including guest lecturers, special topic panels, a Stars and Stripes Sailaway, service branch get-togethers, a film festival and more – will be custom-designed to celebrate those who have, and are, serving our country.

“We all know someone – a family member, a neighbor, a friend, perhaps ourselves – who has served,” said Buckelew. “As a veteran myself, I know that America’s warriors face immeasurable challenges both during active duty and when they return home. I look forward to meeting many of our passengers on board to help us raise much-needed funds to assist our veterans.” A video introduction from Buckelew is also available on YouTube.

A portion of each passenger’s cruise fare totaling approximately $500,000 will be matched by Princess Cruises with a further $500,000, for a total of $1 million earmarked for the two veterans causes. Funds raised will be shared equally by both organizations.

The Western Caribbean cruise will sail roundtrip from Galveston, with a call at Progreso, Mexico.

Cruise fares range from $604 to $1,704 per person based on double occupancy. A portion of each fare ranging from $100 to $300 per person, depending upon cabin category, will be donated to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Operation Homefront.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Carnival Staff Takes Sneak Peak of Port Everglades Terminals

Members of Carnival Cruise Lines’ shore and operations staffs took a hardhat tour of the advancing construction work at Port Everglades of four cruise terminals that are part of a $54 million renovation project to entirely transform existing facilities into completely modern, guest-friendly cruise terminals. The walk-through provided an on-the-ground advance opportunity to become familiar with the new passenger and baggage flows upon reopening the cruise terminals.

Port Everglades Cruise Terminals 2, 19, 21 and 26 are being renovated to serve more than 30 different Carnival Corporation cruise ships that will call at Port Everglades this year, as well as cruise ships from other lines. Construction is well underway and expected to be complete by the start of Port Everglades’ busy cruise season in mid-November.

Cruise lines operating ships of various sizes and capacities will be able to simultaneously process embarking and debarking passengers in each of the terminals. To accomplish this, three of the four terminals have been increased significantly in size, and the fourth terminal has been reconfigured. All terminals will have two passenger loading bridges, separate and larger baggage halls, improved ground transportation areas, and new Florida-inspired artwork. Broward County's Public Works Department, Seaport Engineering & Construction Division is overseeing the renovations. Moss & Associates is the general contractor, and Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. is the terminal architect and project construction administrator.

Construction work for the cruise terminal has created an estimated 1,000 construction jobs, equating to $40.7 million in personal income and $3.7 million in state and local taxes, according to an economic impact study by nationally recognized maritime research firm Martin Associates.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Norwegian Getaway to Sail to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami Year-Round

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Norwegian Getaway will be delivered in late January 2014, earlier than originally scheduled, and will sail a seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary from PortMiami year-round.

Carrying 4,000 passengers, Norwegian Getaway will be the largest ship to home port year-round in Miami and will embody a unique Miami vibe.

Following inaugural events in Europe, Norwegian Getaway will arrive in Miami in late January 2014 and begin her first Eastern Caribbean sailing on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Ports of call include: Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. In addition, the company announced the ship’s Transatlantic sailing, which will depart Rotterdam.

The Netherlands on January 16, 2014 and include a stop in London (Southampton), England where guests can also embark, followed by nine days at sea before arriving in Miami on January 27, 2014.

Norwegian Getaway will open for group block bookings to travel partners on October 8, 2012. Reservations will open to the public on October 22, 2012.

To accommodate Norwegian Getaway’s arrival in January, the company is modifying the itineraries of its existing ships in Miami during that time. Beginning February 2, 2014, Norwegian Epic will depart Miami on Sundays and sail a Western Caribbean itinerary. Ports of call include: Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. Norwegian Sun will now depart Miami on her 10 and 11-day Southern Caribbean itineraries a day later than scheduled on Mondays and Thursdays. Norwegian Pearl, which had been scheduled to depart Miami on Sundays will be chartered from January 19 to March 21, 2014. In addition, four new seven-day Western Caribbean itineraries will be added on March 21, March 28, April 4 and April 11, 2014.

Currently being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Getaway will be 146,600 gross tons and offer a wide range of accommodations. The ship will also feature a rich mix of stateroom options including The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 Suites at the top of the ship in an exclusive, private key-card enclave and 22 additional Suites located throughout the ship; the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; a wide range of Oceanview stateroom.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Children-Friendly Cruise Push from MSC

MSC Cruises has announced a number of new children-friendly initiatives.

First, children can now order from the “kid’s menu” at dinner, and, if they finish food earlier than the rest of their family, the kids’ club staff will come and pick them up.

For kids who relish their independence and would love the freedom of eating with their friends, away from the grown-ups and their dull conversations, MSC Fun Time Dinners have been introduced.

With MSC Fun Time Dinners, children in a separate, specially decorated area of the buffet restaurant with the entertainment team, and then have fun in the Mini and Junior Club while parents enjoy a leisurely dinner alone, picking up the kids when they’ve finished.

Every single night of the week, children aged between three and 11 can eat together with the entertainment team and their new friends. Three of these nights are theme parties- a Welcome Party, Italian Party, and Farewell and Birthday Party- while the remaining four are MSC Fun Time Dinners.

Both the MSC Happy Dinners and the MSC Fun Time Dinner services are now available free of charge on all MSC ships. Dedicated to children aged from 3 to 11, parents simply need to register their children in advance with the Mini or Junior Club and fill inthe special ‘dinner coupons’ with their details.

MSC Cruises has also introduced a second nanny-hour to its kids’ club programmes. Every morning from 09.00 to 10.00 and now also from 17.00 to 18.00, MSC offers a special programme designed for babies and toddlers aged 10 to 36 months to spend quality time with their parents with the support of MSC kids’ club staff.

Staff organize dedicated games and activities aimed specifically at MSC’s youngest guests and their parents, including playing with bricks, musical games, baby disco, puzzle games and drawing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Holland America Features New Itineraries for 2013 Europe Season

Lucky seven is the magic number for Holland America Line in summer 2013 when the line deploys seven ships to Europe and features seven maiden ports of call.

The seven ships sailing on more than 53 unique European itineraries — ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam and ms Veendam — will cruise throughout the region on 107 departures that span from the northern tip of Norway to the Black Sea and across the Mediterranean.

“While the popularity of European cruising continues to grow, the region is opening new ports, which enables us to offer more maiden calls and exciting new itineraries,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “Whether it's a shorter cruise or a longer Collectors’ Voyage, Holland America Line is proud to offer comprehensive experiences around the world, and these new European itineraries are sure to entice any cruise enthusiast.”

Ranging from seven to 64 days, these cruises allow travelers the opportunity to explore a variety of destinations, from iconic ports of call as well as smaller, less-traveled and equally fascinating port cities.

The 2013 Europe cruise season reflects Holland America Line’s focus on destination diversity, timeless appeal and quality. Maiden port calls include Alanya, Turkey; Alcudia (Mallorca), Spain; Galway and Killybegs, Ireland; Hydra and Igoumenitsa, Greece; and Sassnitz, Germany. A total of 20 overnight stays at some of Europe’s popular ports provide guests with more time to explore several of the world's most interesting destinations. Overnight calls include Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Barcelona, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dublin, Ireland; Venice, Italy; Hamburg, Germany; St Petersburg, Russia; Istanbul, Turkey and more.

Notable New Itineraries

Ryndam’s seven-day Turkish Explorer voyage sails round-trip from Piraeus (Athens), Greece, with calls that enable guests to experience the landmarks and highlights of Turkey and Greece, including an overnight stay in Istanbul, Turkey. The ship departs Sept. 7, 21 and Oct. 5. Cruise fares begin at $1,099 per person, double occupancy.

The seven-day Homeric Quest voyage also aboard Ryndam sails round-trip from Piraeus (Athens) and is perfect for any Greece lover looking for an in-depth exploration of the country. Guests will experience five different Greek ports, as well as visit the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey, which was once ruled by the Persians and Alexander the Great. The ship departs Sept. 14, 28 and Oct. 12. Cruise fares begin at $1,099 per person, double occupancy.

Eurodam’s 11-day Mediterranean Odyssey voyage sails round-trip from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, with an overnight stay at Piraeus (Athens). Guest can explore the best of Greece during port calls at Kerkira (Corfu), Katakolon (Olympia) and Santorini, Greece, as well as two calls at the Italian ports of Messina and Naples. The ship departs April 29. Cruise fares begin at $1,499 per person, double occupancy.

The Noordam’s 11-day Adriatic Explorer voyage sails between Civitavecchia (Rome) and Piraeus (Athens), and features a fascinating mixture of ports that were once home to the legendary Roman and Greek empires. With overnights in Venice and Piraeus (Athens), guests can take their time exploring these culturally rich cities. The ship departs April 25, May 28, August 4, Sept. 6 and October 9. Cruise fares begin at $1,599 per person, double occupancy.

Also new for 2013 is the 11-day Ancient Mysteries voyage sailing between Piraeus (Athens) and Istanbul aboard ms Noordam. This itinerary offers a unique experience with a call at Port Said, Egypt, the gateway to Cairo. In Cairo, guests can visit the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx or the renowned Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. During an overnight stay at Istanbul, guests can take time to explore the historic Turkish Bazaar, known for its exotic spices and other Turkish delights. The cruise departs May 6 and 17 and Aug. 15 and 26. Cruise fares begin at $1,699 per person, double occupancy.

Prinsendam’s 16-day Mediterranean Explorer itinerary sails from Barcelona to Piraeus (Athens). This cruise gives guests the opportunity to visit many intimate, unique ports such as Sète and Toulon, France; Brindisi, Italy; and Igoumenitsa and Hydra, Greece, while still experiencing popular ports like Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; Kotor, Montenegro, and Rhodes, Greece. The ship departs Sept. 16. Cruise fares begin at $3,499 per person, double occupancy.

American Cruise Lines Launches Service From New Orleans

American Cruise Lines’ brand new 150-passenger paddlewheel vessel set sail on her inaugural voyage Saturday from the Port of New Orleans’ Julia Street Cruise Terminal.

Construction on the 295-foot fully functioning paddle wheeler Queen of the Mississippi was recently completed in Salisbury, MD by Guilford, Conn.-based American Cruise Lines. The vessel is the company’s largest and was previously berthed at Poland Avenue receiving its final touches.

The Queen of the Mississippi will sail between New Orleans and Memphis seasonally from August through November and will berth at the Port’s Poydras Street Wharf.

The Queen of the Mississippi will sail eight-day and seven-night cruises. One itinerary begins in Memphis, Tenn. and ends in New Orleans with stops at Helena, Ark.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Natchez, Miss.; St. Francisville, La.; Baton Rouge, La., and Oak Alley Plantation. The other itinerary begins and ends in New Orleans with stops in Natchez, Vicksburg, St. Francisville, Baton Rouge and Oak Alley Plantation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Princess Cruises Unveils Exclusive Onboard Photo Exhibit

Princess Cruises has unveiled a special exhibit aboard its seven Alaska ships that takes passengers back in time to the early days of cruising in Alaska. Developed in partnership with Princess and the Alaska State Museum, the show, entitled “Then & Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska’s Waters,” gives cruisers a glimpse of Alaska and the Inside Passage as it was a century ago, as experienced by early steamship “excursionists.”

Displayed in the atrium of Princess ships during the port of call in Juneau, the exhibit features a selection of 30 historical photographs and artifacts largely from the collections of the Alaska State Library and Alaska State Museum, both in Juneau.

The images, taken in the early 20th century in Vancouver, Victoria, Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway and the Inside Passage are paired with premier historical artifacts from the museum’s collection. Most of the places in the photos are still traveler destinations today, so cruisers can learn the history of places they’ll visit during their vacation, and see how these places have changed over the past century.

Alaska tourism had its beginnings in the late 1870s, not long after the United States purchased Russia’s claim to Alaska in 1867. “The steamships of the era were tiny compared to the cruise ships of today,” said Steve Henrikson, senior curator of collections for the Alaska State Museum, “and carried cargo and passengers, visitors as well as locals.”

Steamship accommodations were cramped and visitors were treated to, for better or worse, a “real Alaskan experience,” which could include visits to Native villages, big game hunts, wading through muddy streets, and frequent groundings. The early tourists didn’t just learn about history—they lived it. They encountered U.S. Navy ships practicing “gunboat diplomacy” with Alaska Natives, rubbed elbows with miners heading to the Klondike Gold Rush, or were even swindled by criminals such as Skagway’s Soapy Smith.

“Then & Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska’s Waters” will run through the summer Alaska cruise season.

Coca-Cola and Royal Caribbean Introduce Freestyle Machines Onboard

Royal Caribbean International will introduce Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, featuring 125 different flavors of Coke products, on its fleet in 2013, with a few ships scheduled for installations in 2012, and the Majesty of the Seas being the first, getting her machine this past June.

Coca-Cola and Royal Caribbean began the effort three years ago to integrate the changes needed for the machines to work onboard the ships, which included a few health code modifications for a marine environment as well as the addition of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) to use with souvenir soda cups.The RFID cups allow guests to serve themselves for the period of their voyage and automatically expire after their voyage.