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Monday, July 21, 2008

Carnival to Expand Popular ‘Seaside Theatre’ Concept to Five Additional ‘Fun Ships’

“Carnival’s Seaside Theatres” -- jumbo-sized LED screens currently featured poolside on five Carnival “Fun Ships,” including the new 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor which debuted earlier this month – will be expanded to an additional five vessels over the next year.

The massive 270-square-foot screens display a variety of programming, including movies, concerts, news, sporting events and the entertaining “Morning Shows” which are hosted by the ships’ respective cruise directors. Additionally, during Carnival’s lively deck parties, music videos, along with live shots of the band and party guests, are displayed.

The first “Seaside Theatre” debuted aboard the 110,000-ton Carnival Liberty in 2005 and the concept proved so popular with guests that the facilities have been incorporated into all of the line’s subsequent new ship projects, including the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream currently under construction and set to debut Sept. 12, 2009.

The 101,000-ton Carnival Destiny and 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph will also be retrofitted with “Seaside Theatres” during scheduled dry docks later this year with the 110,000-ton Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory set to receive the screens next year.

“The ‘Seaside Theatre’ concept has resonated very positively with guests, providing a fun and interesting outdoor diversion that is enjoyed both during daytime and nighttime hours,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. “In addition to popular movies and major sporting events, our shipboard staff has made maximum use of the ‘Seaside Theatres,’ broadcasting custom-designed programming such as the engaging Morning Shows which have been a tremendous hit with guests,” he added.

The 12-foot-high by 22-foot-wide screens utilize the same technology featured in large stadiums and New York’s Times Square and can be seen during both the day and evening hours. In addition to superior picture quality, the state-of-the-art entertainment system includes a 70,000-watt sound system, providing concert quality sound, even outdoors.

Celebrity Cruises New Star Treatment Offers Dining Enhancements

Celebrity Cruises is making dining at sea something more special than ever. On cruise ships, variety is truly the spice of life, and Celebrity Cruises new culinary centers include more than 200 new menu offerings, a significantly upgraded casual dining area, and an entirely new brunch offering.

Celebrity’s new evening menus are so widely varied that guests on even 14-night itineraries will never be presented with the same menu twice. Each menu contains expanded selections in all categories, from appetizers to desserts.

Casual dining “on the rocks”
One of the most innovative aesthetic enhancements in the lido/casual dining area is the replacement of ice with chilled river rocks throughout the buffet area. Resting on the rocks are literally hundreds of new menu items, new service ware and presentation styles, new action stations and made-to-order areas, and more destination-influenced and ethnic cuisine, including Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and English.

Celebrity also has upgraded its complimentary coffee to the European brand, “Seventh,” a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which guests can sip from new, full-sized coffee mugs.

Let’s do brunch
Celebrity has replaced its former once-per-cruise midnight gala buffet with a sumptuous brunch – complete with the line’s lauded ice, fruit and vegetable carvings - in the main dining room. “Our guests loved viewing the elaborate creations we presented at the midnight gala buffet, but very few wanted to actually eat that late,” said Celebrity’s Vice President of Food & Beverage Operations Jacques Van Staden. “Now, we still proudly present our culinary team’s great artistry, but at a time when our guests can thoroughly enjoy it.”

New options for late-night noshing
For guests interested in late-night desserts, sandwiches, specialty coffees or other libations, Celebrity has introduced an “after-theater” menu in its Cova Café venues, to replace the former “Gourmet Bites” served throughout the ships on alternating evenings. “Our guests enjoyed the service and presentation of ‘Gourmet Bites,’ but very few actually indulged in them,” said Van Staden. “The new options in Cova Café allow guests who are interested in late-night dining a light, varied menu, featuring sandwiches, savories, tartlets, hot brochettes, canapés, artisan cheeses, fresh fruit, crackers, petit fours and napoleons.”

Celebrity Cruises offers comfortably sophisticated, upscale cruise experiences with highly personalized service, exceptional dining, and extraordinary attention to detail. Celebrity sails in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal and South America. The line also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Australia, Canada, Europe and South America. Noted for four of the top 10 “Top Cruise Ships in the World,” as voted by the readers of Conde’ Nast Traveler (February 2008 readers’ poll), Celebrity’s current fleet will be joined by Celebrity Solstice in 2008, Celebrity Equinox in 2009, Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, and a fourth Solstice-class ship in 2011. For more information, visit our website at or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Carnival Tests Flexible Dining Option

Carnival Cruise Lines began testing an open seating dining program on the Carnival Legend that, if successful, could roll out to the rest of the fleet in the next year.

Part of the main dining room on the Legend is currently set aside for passengers who want to dine whenever they walk in, and not during a specific time slot and at a specific table.

Carnival discussed the Legend's new program during the recent inaugural of its newest ship, the Carnival Splendor. The line said that most of the main dining room still offers the traditional dining system of two seating times at specific tables.

Carnival plans to implement the test program on the Carnival Liberty next.

In the last year, many cruise lines flirted with some form of flexible dining, a concept started by Norwegian Cruise Line with Freestyle Dining -- on NCL ships, there is no assigned seating at all.
Last October, Royal Caribbean began running a test similar to Carnival's on the Freedom of the Seas, with part of its main dining room dedicated to flexible diners every night.

And last summer, Holland America Line launched As You Wish seating, allowing passengers to choose between traditional dining arrangements and an open service. It began on the Noordam and is now being rolled out to the rest of the line's fleet.

Orient Lines to Sail Again

Orient Lines, the destination cruise line that lost its only vessel in March and seemed destined to the ranks of lines in the sky, may get a new lease on life.

Orient was acquired by Wayne Heller, the founder of an Orlando-based travel agency, Cruises Only, who says that he will shortly make an announcement about a new flagship for the line, and new cruise itineraries.

Heller says that he plans to acquire 600- to 800-passenger vessels that are “rich in history and character” and offer an onboard product similar to what Orient Lines offered.

Orient, founded in 1991, made its name by being among the first to take an upscale cruise ship into the likes of Antarctica, Asia, and other less-treaded waterways. It operated the 42-year-old Marco Polo, which was acquired by U.K.-based Transocean Tours in March.

The sale of that ship seemed to be the death knell for Orient, until last week.

Heller, Orient's new owner, said he plans to revitalize, not reinvent, the line. Heller said that cruisers can expect "the same friendly and gracious service that has endeared legions of intrepid travelers to Orient Lines over the past 15 years."

Orient used to be a sister company to Norwegian Cruise Line; both were owned by Malaysia-based Star Cruises, which still owns 50% of NCL.