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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Celebrity Cruises Takes Delivery of The Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Cruises has finally taken delivery of the Celebrity Solstice, the most widely heralded cruise ship to enter the market this year, today at a ceremony in Emshaven, Netherlands, marking the formal transfer of the ship. The Celebrity Solstice is the first in a class of five from shipbuilder Meyer Werft to Celebrity Cruises. The ship will begin its transatlantic voyage October 25, with arrival in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., anticipated November 3.

“With its innovative, half-acre Lawn Club with real, growing grass; the Hot Glass Show offered through our alliance with The Corning Museum of Glass; 10 widely varied restaurants, including four in the specialty category; stylish, spacious staterooms whose design was influenced by a panel of five women with unique travel and hospitality insights; and, of course, the intangible attribute found on every Celebrity ship, extraordinary service, Celebrity Solstice is the perfect manifestation of what the Celebrity brand is all about,” said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

Celebrity Solstice will be named in formal ceremonies on November 14, and will embark on its inaugural season November 23, on a series of seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In spring 2009, the stunning new ship will introduce a series of romantic 10-and 11-night Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Rome.

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” in the large-ship category, as voted by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler (February 2008 readers’ poll), Celebrity’s fleet, including the new Celebrity Solstice, will be joined by Celebrity Equinox in 2009, Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, a fourth Solstice-class ship in 2011, and a fifth in 2012.

Royal Caribbean Pulls Back on Cruise Ship Fuel Surcharges

Royal Caribbean International is following rival Carnival in cutting back on fuel surcharges. But as with Carnival, the cut isn't across-the-board and depends partly on the future price of oil.

The most definitive part of Royal Caribbean's announcement, which came late today, is that it will eliminate fuel surcharges completely on all new bookings that come in for 2010 cruises.

The change, which applies to all three of its North American brands -- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises -- is effective Nov. 10.

The company also says it will refund the fuel surcharges that it already has collected from customers for sailings in 2009 and 2010 if the price of oil remains below $65.

Royal Caribbean says it will measure oil prices each quarter over the coming two years to determine whether passengers will get refunds.

"Refunds, in the form of an onboard credit, will be provided if the closing price of West Texas Intermediate fuel is $65 or less, at the closing time of the New York Mercantile Exchange, two weeks prior to the beginning of the upcoming calendar quarter," the line said in a statement. "When those conditions are met, an onboard credit will be provided to all guests on sailings that begin during the upcoming calendar quarter."

The formula is similar to one anounced 11 days ago by Carnival, although Carnival's cut-off for refunds is oil at $70.

Royal Caribbean adds that it will "continue to closely monitor the movement of global fuel prices and recognize that an upturn in those prices could necessitate the reinstatement of a fuel supplement."

Royal Caribbean and other cruise companies began adding fuel surcharges a year ago when oil prices first spiked to $100 a barrel. Like others, Royal Caribbean subsequently raised its fuel surcharge several time and has been charging $10 per person, per day since the summer.

Carnival Cruise Ships Will Return to Galveston in November

Carnival will resume sailing out of hurricane-slammed Galveston, Texas in November.

The line announced that the 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will return to the city on Nov. 1, followed a day later by the the 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest.

The two ships have been operating out of nearby Houston since Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston in September.

Carnival is the largest cruise ship operator in Galveston and has been sailing out of the Gulf port year-round since 2000. The Ecstasy operates four- and five-day cruises to Western Caribbean ports such as Cozumel. The Conquest sails seven-night cruises to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cozumel; and George Town, Grand Cayman and will begin offering a new itinerary to Key West, Freeport and Nassau in 2009.

For more information on all the Carnival products, visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Princess Cruises Offers New Cruise Innovations On Ruby Princess

Princess Cruises promises a host of cruise innovations when the Ruby Princess launches on November 8.

Ruby Princess is debuting a host of new shipboard services and special features, underscoring Princess’ tradition of continually evolving the onboard experience for its passengers. Among the new options is a pub lunch, an exclusive breakfast for suite passengers, unique enrichment programs from astronomy to mixology, two new stage shows, plus expanded wireless Internet and cell phone connectivity.

The 3,070-passenger vessel will feature the familiar favorites that have become passenger pleasers aboard its sister ships Crown Princess and Emerald Princess but, in addition, other special touches and innovations will be found throughout the service, dining and entertainment areas.

“The new features aboard Ruby Princess are a perfect example of our commitment to provide passengers with the widest array of intriguing options to customize their cruise vacation,” said Jan Swartz, Princess senior vice president.

Many of the ship’s enhancements are slated to become staples across the Princess fleet following their debut on Princess’ newest ship. For more information on Princess Cruises, visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

America Bids Farewell To Cunard Line’s QE2

America is losing one its most famous cruise visitors. Cunard’s QE2 bid farewell to America in a poignant celebration befitting the company’s longest serving liner, recognized as the most famous ship in the world. On her 710th and final call to New York, the iconic passenger vessel elegantly sailed through New York Harbor for the last time, escorted by the US Coast Guard and FDNY Fireboats, meeting her sister ship Queen Mary 2 for their final Royal Rendezvous at the Statue of Liberty before departing in tandem for Southampton, England.

“It is most fitting that QE2’s farewell to America be celebrated in New York, the city Cunard has called our North America homeport since 1847 and the setting for so much of the Line’s history,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line.

Earlier in the day, Her Majesty’s Consul General New York Sir Alan Collins and British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald joined Carol Marlow and distinguished guests onboard QE2 for a reception and farewell luncheon to celebrate the storied life of the legendary ocean liner.

Members of the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums provided a regal salute to QE2 and joined crowds of well-wishers lining the Battery Park Promenade to bid a fond farewell.

Cruise West To Visit Vietnam Next Year

Cruise West has a new president and CEO, and he is looking to add some spice to the already wonderful small ship itineraries globally. Cruise West has decided to reintroduce its Vietnam itinerary in 2009. Back by popular demand, Cruise West’s Vietnam voyage will take place upon the company’s flagship and most luxurious vessel, the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus. The itinerary will give travelers the chance to experience Asian destinations such as Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hue while discovering Vietnam’s architecture, art, and ancient shrines. Along the way, guests will sample traditional Vietnamese cuisine, enjoy beautiful dance, martial arts and colorful puppet theater. Cruise West says the elegant architecture, exquisite art and beautiful boulevards of cities from Hanoi to Hue are reminders of the country’s colonial rule, while the poise and grace of Hoi An and the hustle-bustle of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) are windows on a culture that values its past as it moves eagerly into the future.

The 12-day journey commencing in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City will depart on November 21, 2009, and includes tours along the Gulf of Tonkin - some 1,600 mostly uninhabited islands and islets; Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River; the temples and picturesque fishing boats of Nha Trang and more. Other highlights include the Cham Museum, a special private performance of traditional martial arts in Qui Nhon and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay.

While onboard the SOO, Exploration Leaders and guest speakers will share information about the people and places visited throughout the itinerary. Cruise West’s Single Share Program is available on the Vietnam itinerary, allowing single travelers who are willing to share a room with another single traveler of the same gender to pay the double occupancy fare on the cruise. Prices start at $5,649 for double occupancy rooms.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Royal Caribbean to Base a Cruise Ship in Dubai

Add Royal Caribbean to the list of cruise lines betting big on the warm waters of the Persian Gulf.

The world's biggest cruise line announced Monday that it will deploy the 2,112-passenger Brilliance of the Seas to the sun-drenched region in 2010, basing the ship in fast-growing Dubai.

The six-year-old Brilliance, which currently sails year-round in Europe, will remain in the Gulf between January and April 2010, sailing seven-night cruises. The line says it will release details of the ships' itineraries in several weeks.

The 90,000-ton Brilliance is part of the line's Radiance Class of vessels.

Royal Caribbean is following in the footsteps of Carnival-owned Costa Cruises, which has had a ship based in the Persian Gulf since early 2007. Another Carnival-owned brand, AIDA Cruises, also has based a ship in Dubai. Both of the Carnival brands, however, cater mostly to Europeans.

Like the Caribbean, the Persian Gulf offers reliably warm weather and sunny skies, as well as ports chock full of shopping opportunities, beaches, watersports and cultural sites.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Carnival to Add More Balconies to Three Cruise Ships

You know balcony cabins are a hot commodity when a cruise line goes to the trouble of retrofitting existing ships to create more of them -- a not uncomplicated undertaking.

Carnival has announced that it will add balconies to dozens of cabins on three ships -- the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty. Each of the vessels has cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows that will be converted into balcony cabins over the next few months.

The three ships already have 480, 508 and 556 cabins with balconies, respectively, and will be getting 16, 14 and 18 new ones.

Carnival also says it will add two 750-square-foot “deluxe penthouse suites” to the Carnival Liberty that are nearly double the size of the largest cabins in the fleet.

“Balcony staterooms continue to be in great demand – in fact, they’re often the first cabin category to sell out,” Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive vice president of marketing and guest experience, said in a statement.

The new penthouse suites on the Liberty will boast a separate bedroom, expansive living area, and two full bathrooms, including one with a bathtub tub. They'll accommodate up to five people.
To book one of these new balconies, visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.