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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holland America Line Features New South America and Antarctica Itineraries in 2009

Holland America’s 2009 South America and Antarctica cruises are teeming with ideal opportunities to journey to exotic destinations and explore the ends of the earth. With new itineraries and more sailings than ever before, guests can choose from an impressive 18 cruises on ms Statendam, ms Prinsendam or flagship ms Amsterdam.

The diverse itineraries, which range from 13 to 68 days, include spectacular scenic cruising through the fjords and glaciers of Chile, the opportunity to visit some of the most remote sites in the world like Deception Island in Antarctica and Iguazú Falls, and experience two of the New Seven Wonders of the World chosen in a consumer poll in July: Machu Picchu in Peru and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Overnight stays in several port favorites allow guests plenty of time to become immersed in local culture and traditions.

“Our South America and Antarctica itineraries are extremely popular because more travelers are seeking cruises with an adventurous edge that take them to unique and interesting locations,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, for Holland America Line. “By having three ships in South America in 2009, we are able to offer the most extensive program in the region of any major cruise line.”

Carnival Destiny To Operate New Six-Port Caribbean Cruise Program From San Juan In March 2008

Carnival Cruise Lines’ 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny will launch a unique seven-day cruise program from San Juan featuring extended calls at six tropical destinations – St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Thomas/St. John. The new schedule begins March 2, 2008.

Featured on the new itinerary is a day-long stop at St. Kitts, an island paradise offering a landscape of rugged mountains and dense rainforest, which serves as a dramatic backdrop to magnificent beaches that range in color from black to golden. The island also offers excellent examples of West Indian and Creole architecture, as well as centuries-old fortresses and plantations.

At 108 square miles, Antigua is the largest of the Leeward Islands and known for a multitude of beaches, some 365 of them, in fact, or "one for every day of the year." Antigua also features a variety of historical sites including Nelson's Dockyard, the Caribbean's version of Colonial Williamsburg.

Often referred to as the “crown jewel” of the Windward Islands, St. Lucia is distinguished by the Pitons, twin volcanic mountains that overlook a lush landscape of flowers, fruit trees, cane fields, rain forests and white and black sand beaches.

A friendly British isle boasting particularly beautiful aqua-blue waters and white sand beaches, Barbados also offers a diversity of shopping, dining and watersports opportunities.

The largest of the Windward Islands, Dominica is a 289-square-mile island with lush mountains, hot springs and volcanoes, as well as gorgeous white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters teeming with tropical fish.

One of the Caribbean’s most popular islands, St. Thomas boasts excellent duty-free shopping bargains and world-famous beaches. The stop includes an optional shore excursion to St. John, a 20-square-mile island paradise whose Trunk Bay Beach consistently ranks among the world’s best.

“Carnival Destiny’s new seven-day program offers consumers the unmatched opportunity to visit six different Caribbean destinations including rarely visited ports and some of the Caribbean’s most popular islands, each offering unforgettable and unique experiences ashore,” said Vicki Freed, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and guest services.

For reservations or information on the new six-port cruises, visit us at or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Royal Caribbean Pump Up Costs With New Fuel Surcharges

The domino effect continues: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. -- the parent company for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises -- announced that it will be implementing a fuel supplement to offset rising fuel costs.

The supplement will be $5 per person, per day, applicable for the first two guests in a stateroom, and will not exceed $70 per person, per sailing. The surcharge is effective on all new or existing North American bookings on all Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Azamara ships that sail after February 1, 2008.

Guests who have already paid for their cruise in full are not be required to pay the fee.

Moreover, guests who were booked before November 16, 2007, and who do not agree to pay the supplement, may cancel their reservation prior to December 7, 2007, for a full refund -- and they will not be subject to any cancellation charges that would normally apply.

Those guests who do not cancel their reservation and pay in full will receive one logo item per stateroom on their cruise.

NCL Announces Finalists in "It" Girl Contest

Norwegian Cruise Line is another step closer to finding Norwegian Gem's godmother. The line has selected the five finalists in its Latitudes "It" Girl contest.

All five finalists will be flown to New York to attend the christening ceremony on December 18 and set sail on the ship's two-night inaugural cruise. However, only the grand prize winner -- announced on December 18 -- will be named godmother and get to christen the ship. A public vote ending on December 7, 2007 will determine the grand prize winner.

To cast your vote, visit Voting ends December 7, 2007 - you can vote up to 10 times per day.

The five finalists were selected from more than 500 online video entries submitted by members of NCL's past-passenger program, Latitudes. The grand prize winner will also receive a seven-day cruise in Norwegian Gem's posh Garden Villa for her and five friends.

Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Offers Fresh New Feature

So maybe Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas is the third in the fleet's Freedom class of ships, and passengers have already sampled its nifty newbies like the rock-climbing wall, boxing ring and H2O Zone water park. So what if this latest sibling, which launches in May 2008, will feature identical cabin layouts, restaurant options, and double-decked nightclub?

Independence of the Seas will still have at least one cool new feature -- and this one trumps not only its Freedom-class brethren but pretty much every other mega-ship in cruising. Get ready for ... heated pools.

Two freshwater pools -- the main pool and a smaller sports pool -- will be heated throughout the ship's six-month season of cruises from the U.K. to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. As well, the H2O Zone, the whimsical kids' water park, will also be heated.

The 3,634-passenger ship is 70 percent constructed at a shipyard in Turku, Finland.

For more information on the Independence of the Seas, visit us at or call 1-800-788-2545.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NCL Boosts Bahamas Cruises

In a big boon to the Bahamas, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it will return to Grand Bahama Island's Freeport next month for its first-ever regular season of calls. NCL has also added 32 calls to the cruise region on the whole between 2007 and 2009, 28 of which will be made by its latest new-build, Norwegian Gem, sailing roundtrip from New York.

Though NCL has called on Freeport as recently as last year -- November 2006 with Norwegian Dawn to be exact -- Carnival and Royal Caribbean are the only lines currently visiting regularly. Nassau is a cornerstone for numerous short cruises, most hailing from South Florida ports, on lines ranging from Disney to Imperial Majesty.

Freeport, on Grand Bahama Island, has for years taken a backseat to the more trafficked Nassau on New Providence Island -- and by and large, the isles of the Bahamas have not been front and center on itineraries for cruising's more glamorous new ships. But NCL's announcement shows the tide beginning to turn.

Norwegian Gem will sail seven-day Bahamas and Florida itineraries roundtrip from New York in December 2007, and February, March, April and December 2008, with stops in both Freeport and Nassau as well as Port Canaveral and NCL's private island, Great Stirrup Cay. In 2009, the ship will sail the same itinerary from January through April.

Aside from Norwegian Gem, two additional NCL ships will serve the Bahamas. Norwegian Jewel will make the first stop in Grand Bahama's Freeport during a three-day Bahamas Getaway cruise on November 15, 2007, sailing roundtrip from Miami (it also calls at Nassau). And Norwegian Jade (currently sailing in Hawaii as Pride of Hawaii) is scheduled to sail three seven-day Bahamas and Florida sailings roundtrip from New York on December 14, 21 and 28, 2008 with stops in Freeport, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay and Port Canaveral.

In a sense, NCL's increased presence in Bermuda brings to mind an historic footnote: The line was one of the first major cruise lines to call on the Bahamas in the first place, according to a statement from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. And another? NCL was the industry pioneer in acquiring a uninhabited Bahamian island -- and opening Great Stirrup Cay, the first-ever private island.

Cruise Lines Hit Passengers with Fuel Surcharges

The Carnival Corporation dropped a bombshell on cruisers this morning, announcing that it would add a $5 per person per day fuel surcharge to their bills.

The fees, which are effective for all voyages departing on or after Feb. 1, 2008, will apply at six Carnival-owned lines: Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and The Yachts of Seabourn.

The fees will add up to $70 for a couple on a one-week cruise -- a significant amount for passengers sailing on cruises that cost as little $439 a person.

Carnival says the recent spike in fuel prices have dramatically impacted the company's operating costs, forcing the charge. The price it pays for fuel is up 50% in just the past seven months, it says.

"We are hopeful that fuel prices will someday return to a level that will enable us to eliminate this supplement," Micky Arison, the company's CEO, said in a statement. "Until then, we believe that guests sailing on our North American brands will understand the dilemma that soaring fuel prices have caused for our company."

Carnival already has implemented similar surcharges at its European brands. Earlier this week, Regent Seven Seas added a fuel surcharge, too, of $7.50 per person per day.

Cunard Museum in the Works -- and It'll Float

Cunard junkies -- and there are a lot of them -- will be able to lose themselves in the newest attraction announced for the soon-to-launch Queen Victoria: A Cunard museum.

Cunardia, as it'll be called, will be chock full of memorabilia from three of the line's most famous ships, the Queen Mary (launched in 1936), Queen Elizabeth (1940) and soon-to-retire Queen Elizabeth II (1969). Among the cooler items: the Queen Mary's Zig Zag clock, a device that helped the ship avoid German submarine attacks in World War II, and a portion of the Queen Mary's deck rail carved with the initials of American soldiers who sailed on her during the war.

Only a month to go, Cunard fans. The much-awaited vessel launches in December.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Get Ready for Six Major New Ships in 2008

Starting to plan your cruises for 2008? If new ships is your thing, you're in for a treat. No fewer than six new vessels will launch during the year -- one each from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Celebrity, and two from MSC Cruises. Four of the six ships, moreover, are entirely new designs.

MSC Poesia
Line: MSC Cruises
Maiden voyage: April 19
Home port: Venice, Italy
Passengers: 3,013
The buzz: The latest in the fast-growing Italian line's Musica series will look a lot like its two sisters, the MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra. Expect the same expansive spa area, three-deck theater, multiple pools and other features. Like its sisters, the ship will mostly be filled by Europeans, though the company continues to market more to U.S. travelers (be prepared for announcements endlessly repeated in multiple languages).
Itineraries: Seven-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises (from $899)

Independence of the Seas
Line: Royal Caribbean
Maiden voyage: May 17
Home port: Southampton, England (summer); Fort Lauderdale (winter)
Passengers: 3,634
The buzz: Remember all the hubbub last year about Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship? This is the third in the series (a second one, Liberty, launched in May) and no less of a giant at 1,112 feet long and 184 feet wide. The twist: Unlike Freedom and Liberty, positioned in the bustling Caribbean, the Independence will call Europe its home — a sign of the growth of European cruising. Like Freedom, Independence will offer lots of gee-whiz features including a surfing pool, boxing ring, rock-climbing wall, ice skating rink and a miniature golf course — perfect for families with active teens.
Itineraries: 14-night Mediterranean cruises (from $1,025)

Line: Holland America
Maiden voyage: July 5
Home port: Copenhagen, Denmark (July, August); New York and Quebec (September, October); Fort Lauderdale (winter)
Passengers: 2,104
The buzz: The first ship in Holland America's new Signature-class series has a lot that's new for the line, including a pan-Asian restaurant with panoramic views on one of the top decks and a casual Italian restaurant on the Lido deck. The Eurodam also is bigger than its predecessors, with one more deck than the 10-deck Vista-class series. And cabins are getting a new décor. Gone are the floral patterns of old, replaced by a calmer, more monochromatic design.
Itineraries: 10-night Baltic cruises (from $2,349); 10-night Canada and New England cruises (from $1,799); seven-night Caribbean cruises (from $649)

Carnival Splendor
Line: Carnival
Maiden voyage: July 13
Home port: Dover, England, and Civitavecchia, Italy (summer); Fort Lauderdale (winter).
Passengers: 3,006
The buzz: This is the first of a new series of bigger ships for Carnival, and it boasts the line's first "spa staterooms" — 68 cabins directly tied to the ship's 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa. There's also a new water park and a 5,500-square-foot children's play area — the largest ever for the line. Just as notable (for Carnival, at least) are the ship's itineraries. Splendor will offer the famously fun-focused line's first trips into culture-heavy Northern Europe and South America.
Itineraries: 12-night Northern Europe cruises (from $2,199); 12-night Mediterranean cruises (from $1,349); seven-night Caribbean cruises (from $589); eventually South America.

MSC Fantasia
Line: MSC Cruises
Maiden voyage: Late 2008
Home port: Genoa, Italy
Passengers: 3,900
The buzz: The first in a new series for MSC (and the fast-growing line's largest to date) will boast an exclusive area for guests in the priciest suites. Known as the MSC Yacht Club, the three-deck-high private hideaway will contain luxury suites with butler service as well as a private solarium, two Jacuzzis, pool and observation lounge — the latest in a blossoming trend toward more exclusive areas on ships.
Itineraries: 11-night Mediterranean cruises (prices not yet finalized)

Celebrity Solstice
Line: Celebrity
Maiden voyage: Dec. 14
Home port: Fort Lauderdale
Passengers: 2,850
The buzz: The first in a new series for Celebrity, dubbed the Solstice class, will have bigger rooms than its predecessors (veranda cabins get 15% bigger). In a new twist for the line, it'll also have a separate class of 130 cabins dedicated to spa lovers. Known as AquaClass, it comes with unlimited access to the spa and a private dining room dedicated to healthy eating.
Itineraries: Seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises (from $829)

For more information on any of these ships or cruise lines, visit us at or call us at 1-800-788-2545.