The Cruise Cafe

Welcome to Cruise Cafe. The great new place to find out the latest in the cruise business. Whether it be the latest specials, great new itineraries or information on cruise ships or cruise lines. Feel free to add comments on your experiences too. You can always find out more at or by calling us at 1-800-788-2545. For the latest specials, follow us on Twitter at

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New ADA Rules Proposed for Cruise Ships

In a move that could result in a change in the way physically challenged people travel, the Department of Transportation has submitted a formal proposal to address "policies and conditions relating to transportation of passengers with disabilities." This proposal does not deal at all with physical structures, architectural barriers or the operation of cruise vessels; those issues are being handled elsewhere. Instead, it addresses how those with physical challenges are treated as individuals by the cruise lines and how, by implementing ADA rules, that treatment must change.

The DOT's proposal is broad, with the goal of eliminating any discrimination in the handling of special-needs guests. Some of the issues it addresses are:
  • A guest with special needs would no longer have to identify himself or herself by registering with a "Special Care" desk at a cruise line prior to traveling.
  • A cruise line could not demand that a guest travel with a companion or attendant if he or she felt that one was not needed; if the cruise line determined that one was needed, it would have to provide one or allow free passage for an attendant chosen by the guest.
  • Assistive devices -- such as electric wheelchairs and scooters -- as well as service animals are to be allowed without question.
  • Guests with disabilities are not be forced to sign a waiver of liability as a condition of passage.
  • The reservation process and all information will be fully available to deaf and blind passengers.
  • No accommodation or assistance will carry a charge higher than that which an able-bodied person would pay.

Again, the physical structures, barriers and architecture will be addressed by the U.S. Access Board at a later time; the current proposal simply deals with matters relating to discrimination.

At this point, these proposals are under review and subject to comments from the cruise lines, the ICCL and individuals until April 23, 2007. You can read the entire filing by going to, entering docket number 26829, and then clicking on the .pdf file on the right-hand side.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Family trips, European ports among trends in cruising

Finding out what's new in the cruise industry is like playing "Can you top this?"

In case you missed it, ice skating rinks, giant trampolines and rock-climbing walls on board ships are old news, along with wine cellars and menus from celebrity chefs.

The latest innovations for having fun in the middle of the ocean include a bowling alley aboard Norwegian Pearl, and a Flowrider, which lets you ride an artificial wave, on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. Norwegian Pearl took its inaugural voyage in December, Freedom of the Seas launched last May, and another Royal Caribbean ship, Liberty of the Seas, which will also feature a Flowrider, debuts this May.

"They're trying to outdo each other in terms of innovation," said Celebrity Cruises president Dan Hanrahan at a January news conference organized by the Cruise Lines International Association. CLIA represents 21 cruise lines, including Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, MSC, NCL, Princess, Holland America, Crystal, Cunard and Royal Caribbean.

In addition to an industry-wide emphasis on gee-whiz features, other trends in the cruise industry include the continued popularity of family cruising and European ports of call, along with overall growth, with a record number of guests last year and 30 new cruise ships under construction through 2010.

As for destinations, Mediterranean and European ports comprise 20 percent of the cruise market, second only to Caribbean itineraries, according to CLIA.

To book your European cruise, check out or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Royal Caribbean Bans Trans Fat From Cruise Menus

Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to join in the war against trans fat. According to an announcement today, the line will remove trans fat oils from its recipes beginning on March 1; the goal is to offer food onboard that is fully free of the noxious fat by the end of 2007.

Michael Bayley, the line's "Total Guest Satisfaction" honcho, notes that the change is due to the fact that "vegetable oils that have undergone hydrogenation result in a type of fat that doctors have linked to serious health risks including diabetes, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels. If we can offer guests a healthier serving of the foods they love by switching to trans-fat-free oils, while maintaining the same level of satisfaction, why wouldn't we make the switch?"

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ships, Class of 2007

Eight new ships (and two older ships relaunched with new cruise lines) will be ready for their closeups this year. Here’s a summary for the Class of 2007, in order of the month they debut.

  • January. Officially launched in late December 2006, the 93,500-ton Norwegian Pearl carries 2,400 passengers and sail year-round from Miami on Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • March. The 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom will carry 2,974 passengers and sail in the Mediterranean until November, when it transitions to Miami for its winter Caribbean season.
  • April. Princess Cruises’ 30,000-ton, 680-passenger Royal Princess (formerly the R8 for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises line and, more recently, the Minerva II for Swan Hellenic cruise line) will sail in the Mediterranean for the summer and then transition to Fort Lauderdale to sail Southern Caribbean and Amazon cruises for the winter.
  • May. Royal Caribbean’s 160,000-ton Liberty of the Seas will carry 3,600 passengers and sail year-round from Miami in the Caribbean. This ship is the sister vessel to the Freedom of the Seas; together they tie for bragging rights as the world’s largest cruise ships.
  • May. Celebrity Cruises’ 30,000-ton, 680-passenger Celebrity Journey (formerly the R6 for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises line and, more recently, the Blue Dream for Spanish cruise line Pullmantur) will sail Bermuda cruises from Cape Liberty in New Jersey.
  • May. Princess Cruises’ 116,000-ton Emerald Princess will carry 3,100 passengers. The ship will sail in Europe until November, when it repositions to Fort Lauderdale for its winter Caribbean season.
  • May. Costa Cruises’ 112,000-ton Costa Serena will carry 3,000 passengers and sail year-round in the Mediterranean.
  • October. Norwegian Cruise Line will debut the 92,000-ton Norwegian Gem. The ship will carry 2,384 passengers and sail year-round from New York to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
  • December. Cunard will debut the 90,000-ton Queen Victoria at the end of the year. A little more than half the size of the Queen Mary 2, the ship will carry 2,000 passengers. The first two voyages will be round-trips from Southampton, and then the new Queen will set sail on its world cruise.

Disney Cruises Go to Europe

The Disney Cruise Line will sail to Italy, France and Spain from May to August 2007 as part of a larger strategy to "chart new waters," company officials said. The Disney Magic will offer eight alternating 10-night and 11-night Mediterranean cruises, departing from Barcelona, Spain, and stopping in eight European cities.

Traveling through Europe can be daunting, especially with small children, company President Tom McAlpin said. A Disney cruise takes the guesswork out of what cities to hit, where to eat and what shows to see, he said. The cruise line caters to a niche family market—there's no gambling, entertainment is family-oriented, and Mickey and Minnie mingle with young guests throughout the voyage.

Contact us at 1-800-788-2545 or visit for more information on Disney Cruise Line.

Monday, January 08, 2007

No Charges Expected in Miami Port Alert

Three legal immigrants in a cargo truck were detained at the Port of Miami on Sunday after a routine inspection raised concerns, but police say the incident may have stemmed in part from a language barrier.

The port's cargo area was shut down Sunday as the Miami-Dade bomb squad X-rayed the truck and scanned it for radioactive materials. Nothing unusual was found, officials said.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were called to the scene, along with federal and local law enforcers, "in an abundance of caution," Goldberg said.

The Port of Miami is among the nation's busiest. More than 3.6 million cruise ship passengers traveled through in 2005. Its seaport services more than 30 ocean carriers, which delivered more than 1 million cargo containers there in 2005.

Passengers in the normally busy cruise ship area of the port were unaware of the official bustle in the cargo area. When told of the situation, some said they thought it probably made boarding lines longer. But officials said Sunday's long lines were normal.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

MSC Announces Better Than 2 for 1 Rates

For a limited time MSC Cruises is offering selected 11-night cruises onboard MSC Opera and MSC Lirica, starting from only $695 per person with savings up to 61%! Come and experience a dream vacation, enjoying idyllic beaches with the added value of the quality service and utmost comfort that only MSC Cruises can offer. Contact us at 1-800-788-2545 for more details or visit but hurry, this offer expires on January 31, 2007!