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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Disney Brings Digital 3D To Disney Cruise Line Shows

Disney Cruise Line wants to make you feel like part of the action to the extent the entertainment jumps off the screen at you. Disney has done this at times in their theme parks, but this is a first at sea. The cruise line is revolutionizing movie entertainment at sea with the debut of Disney Digital 3-D, a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience premiering exclusively onboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder. This will definitely be a hit with the younger cruisers, and should help guarantee satisfaction from a family perspective.

Leveraging this new technology, Disney Cruise Line will take 3-D into uncharted waters in early 2009 with the debut of an exciting new cinematic experience that combines full length Disney Digital 3-D films with in-theatre effects. Tridimensional images will combine with lasers, fog, streamers, and special lighting effects to create an immersive movie-going experience like no other at sea. During these once-a-cruise special engagements, guests will feel the rush of being part of hottest show in town as in-theatre effects enhance 3-D films featuring popular Disney popstars in concert.

Disney Digital 3-D is the latest enhancement to join the robust menu of premium guest experiences and amenities included with a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Dazzling Broadway-style musical spectaculars, over-the-top deck parties with the only fireworks display at sea, a unique rotational dining concept, first-run movie releases and fantastic kids programming are just some of the advantages of cruising with Disney.

A leader in the family cruise segment, Disney Cruise Line delivers a cruise experience that every member of the family feels was created for their own individual vacation wants and needs. Departing from Port Canaveral, Fla., Disney Cruise Line offers three-, four- and seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Land/sea vacation packages that include a stay at Walt Disney World Resort are also available.

For more information on Disney Cruise Line, visit us at or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

World's 'Most Luxurious' Cruise Ship Cabin Will Cost $18 Million

Not everyone is cutting back as the economy tumbles. Or, at least, that's the hope at Residential Cruise Line -- the latest entrant into the rarefied world of super-luxe floating condominiums.

The Phoenix-based company finally opened sales this week for what's billed as the most luxurious residential cruise ship ever -- a 76,000-ton vessel that will have 210 units priced from $2.8 million to $18 million.

The line also will hold an inaugural, invitation-only sales event on Dec. 15 at Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel.

In the works since 2005 and scheduled to debut in 2011, Magellan will offer an elaborate mix of amenities including a tennis court, putting green, four fine dining restaurant, an observatory, all-weather heliport, spa, Broadway-style theatre and two pools. Among its most unusual features: A retractable marina on the back of the ship that will have room for lounge chairs.

Residential says the ship will cost $1.2 billion to build.

As on other residential ships, passengers will own their cabins outright and can hop on-and-off as they like. Residential also is selling time-shares on the vessels.

The least expensive residences on the ship are two 624-square-foot cabins that come with a single bedroom and bathroom and cost $2.82 million. But prices quickly jump to more than $4 million for the smallest two-bedroom condominiums (1,130 square feet).

The ship's most luxurious digs, two $18 million Portofino penthouses, come with four bedrooms, five bathrooms and measure in at more than 4,300 square feet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

White Star Line's Titanic to Rise Again -- in Tennessee

There's something titanic coming for ocean liner fans in the next 18 months -- the Titanic itself.

Workers in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., laid the keel this week for what's billed as Titanic Pigeon Forge, a massive attraction designed in the shape of the ill-fated passenger ship.

The $25 million, 30,000-square-foot structure will be "christened" in the spring of 2010 when it opens with a museum devoted to the historic ocean liner. Cedar Bay Entertainment, which runs a similar, two-year-old Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson, Mo., is behind the project.

Hundreds of Titanic artifacts will be on display in the museum in 20 galleries on two decks that also will contain replicas of the ship's famed Grand Staircase, a first-class suite, a third-class cabin and the Marconi wireless room. A "bridge" will offer interactive features, and visitors will able to touch an iceberg, experience the chill of 28-degree water, sit in an actual life boat and send an SOS message.

No word yet on the cost of admission.

Oasis of the Seas, World's Largest Cruise Ship, Takes to the Water

In just over one year, Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas will make her long awaited debut. This ship has the cruise internet abuzz with activity from the announcements of all her “neighborhoods”. The ship, under construction at STX Europe in Turku, Finland, reached an important maritime milestone last week when she was “floated out”, meaning it was moved from dry dock to wet dock, to begin the final stages of interior work.

“This is a historic day for our company. After more than three years of intense planning and collaboration and with 65 percent of the ship already complete, it’s exciting to see Oasis entering its final stages,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Oasis of the Seas truly represents the innovative spirit that our company is known for and to see that come to fruition is wonderful.”

The line chose this important milestone to announce that Oasis of the Seas will enter service under the command of Captain William S. Wright and Captain Tor Olsen. Wright, a 15-year veteran of Royal Caribbean International, was also the start up Captain for Freedom of the Seas, currently the largest ship in the world with sister-ships Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, and 40 percent smaller than Oasis of the Seas. Wright also is one of the few American captains in international cruising and currently serves as the senior vice president of Marine Operations for the cruise line.

When Oasis launches in December 2009, she will feature the unique neighborhood concept that will provide guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood in seven distinct areas of the ship. This unique concept, which also creates a vast array of accommodation choices for guests never before found at sea, is the result of a quantum leap forward in revolutionary cruise ship design.

An architectural marvel at sea, Oasis of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. She will be the first ship to tout the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scientist Christens Newest Celebrity Cruises Ship - Celebrity Solstice

Many lines seek out royalty to christen their new ships. Others call on celebrities. Celebrity Cruises, by contrast, turned to a scientist today to do the honors for its latest vessel, the much-ballyhooed Celebrity Solstice.

Sharon Smith, a renowned expert on the world's oceans, named the white-hulled, 2,850-passenger vessel late this afternoon in Fort Lauderdale during an uplifting ceremony in the ship's spacious Solstice Theatre.

The event, kicked off by a rousing serenade of bagpipe music by the St. Andrews Pipe Band of Miami, included a performance of Celebrity theme song's -- U2's A Beautiful Day -- by violinist Lucia Micarelli and vocalist Antonio Sol. Richard Fain, the chairman and CEO of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, addressed a crowd of more than a thousand invited guests.

Smith, a biological oceanographer, is billed as the first scientists to christen a cruise ship. Having devoted her career to studying some of the smallest components of ocean food webs such as zoo-plankton, she now serves as the Dean of the Undergraduate Program in Marine Science at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She also co-directs the university’s Oceans and Human Health Center.

Smith also is an outspoken advocate for breast cancer research and early detection efforts. She overcame cancer herself not once but twice, having suffered from both breast cancer and uterine cancer during the 1990s. Celebrity is holding a fundraiser on the Solstice next week with the United Way to raise $100,000 for breast cancer programs aimed at lower-income women.

The Solstice begins its inaugural season Nov. 23 with a series of seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale. In spring 2009, the vessel will head to Europe for a series of 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Rome.

Carnival Splendor Cruises Into Fort Lauderdale Last Friday

Carnival Cruise Lines’ has brought its newest showcase in cruising, and what it calls the most innovative ship afloat, the 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor, the line’s newest and largest “Fun Ship”, to Fort Lauderdale on Friday for its U.S. debut. It arrived at Port Everglades Friday morning following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Europe. The travel agent community will have a chance to see it over the next few days before it gets ready to embark on its regularly scheduled Caribbean voyages.

Carnival Splendor will kick off its Fort Lauderdale-based program with a series of three one-time voyages — a two-day cruise to Nassau Nov. 15-17, a four-day Bahamas/Turks & Caicos cruise Nov. 17-21 and an eight-day eastern Caribbean voyage Nov. 21-29.

Then, beginning Nov. 29, the ship will embark on a series of 10 seven-day eastern Caribbean voyages featuring four highly popular ports of call, including Casa de Campo/La Romana, Dominican Republic; St. Thomas/St. John, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Nassau, The Bahamas.

MSC Cruises Adds More Theme Cruises for 2009-2010 Caribbean

MSC Cruises wants you to pick up your feet when cruising in the Caribbean next year, and has added some new theme cruises for the occasion. A Polka cruise has been added to the already popular Big Band and Baseball themes for 2009-2010. In addition to having two state-of-the-art ships sailing Caribbean itineraries for the first time– the new MSC Magnifica, fresh from her inaugural, and MSC Poesia – MSC Cruises’ 2009-10 Caribbean season will feature several already popular theme cruises and the line’s first Polka Cruise.

Baseball Theme Cruises: Because MSC Cruises has received such strong response from previous seasons to guests who have had the opportunity to mingle and learn from some of the greats of the game, five baseball theme cruises are slated for the 2009-10 Caribbean season:

MSC Magnifica
Jan. 2 and Feb. 6, 2010: 7-night “Island Treasures & Ancient Temples” Western Cribbean; rates begin at $499.
March 6 and April 3, 2010 “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment”; rates begin at $549.

MSC Poesia
Nov. 20 10-night “Dazzling Dutch Caribbean and Panama Southwestern Caribbean”; rates begin at $799.

Big Band Cruise: MSC Poesia’s 10-night “Remarkable Rainforests and the Panama Canal” Deep Western itineraries departing Dec. 10 and Feb. 27 will feature the 15-piece Les DeMerle Big Band with vocalist Bonnie Eisele. Featuring the sounds of Ellington, Basie, James and Miller, plus Broadway hits, rock ‘n’ roll classics, hot Latin grooves and show-stoppers from the ‘40s through today. The band will also perform a Big Band Jazz Concert and conduct a lecture on the Big Band era. Rates begin at $749 per person.

Polka Cruise: A new additon to the Caribbean season theme cruise lineup is a Polka Cruises. Guests will be able to kick up their heels to the sounds of two polka bands on MSC Poesia’s Jan. 8 10-night “Tropical Splendor and European Charm” Southeast Caribbean sailing. Rates begin at $749 per person.

And don't forget our own JazzFest at Sea scheduled for November 30, 2009 onboard the MSC Poesia!

Holland America Line Cruises to Eight Porthole Magazine Awards

Holland America Line played the role of Oscar winning movie by winning eight Readers’ Choice Awards from Porthole Cruise Magazine for 2008, including Most Eco-Friendly Cruise Line, Best Private Island for Half Moon Cay, the line’s exclusive Bahamian port call, and Best Alaska Itineraries. It was like Picture of the Year, and everything associated with it at the Oscars winning at the same time. Itineraries, facilities, and the environment all contributed to Holland America’s victories from the cruising world.

Holland America Line also won in the following categories:

— Best Canada/New England Itineraries
— Best South America Itineraries
— Best Overall Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers
— Best Medical Facilities
— Best Computer Facilities

“Holland America Line is honored to receive these awards from the informed readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “We are especially proud of being named the most eco-friendly cruise line. Holland America Line leads the cruise industry in our commitment to protecting the environment with cutting-edge programs and partnerships with governments and regulatory agencies to test new technologies”

“Porthole Cruise Magazine continues to be one of the most highly respected travel publications geared to the cruise and destination traveler,” said Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of the magazine. “Our readers appreciate the quality and cruise experience that premium line Holland America Line consistently delivers.”

For more information on Holland America Line, visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Disney Cruise Line Announces Magical Cruising for the Holidays

Disney Cruise Line is making holiday cruising magical again this year with a boatload of new activities on board both cruise ships for the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Years. This holiday season, give a gift that’s both nautical and nice: a cruise on the Disney Magic or the Disney Wonder, both decked to the “raft-ers” with holiday cheer. Characters, Christmas trees, and castaway cay are just a few of the highlights awaiting the whole family on a magical Disney Cruise outing.

From Thanksgiving and continuing through to the new year, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to both ships, from traditional “turkey day” fanfare to Christmas feasts, “snow flurries” and New Year’s Eve galas. But the best part might just be relaxing on deck instead of shoveling snow.

The spirit of the season surrounds guests the moment they arrive at Port Canaveral, Fla., with Disney characters in their finest holiday attire welcoming guests to the beautifully decorated private Disney Cruise Line terminal.

Special stem-to-stern holiday events on both ships, beginning Nov. 22, include:

-Nightly “King Triton’s Tree Lighting” in the atrium lobby, where a young guest will help Disney characters light the glittering, three-deck-tall tree.

-An afternoon Tropical Pool Party every day with Santa and Mrs. Claus with fun, food, games and activities. Plenty of Disney characters join the celebration, including Lilo and Stitch, Chip ‘n Dale, Mickey and Minnie, Goofy and Pluto. Be sure not to miss the “Winter-Sunnyland” conga line around the pool.

-Special family time with holiday crafts such as decorating stockings, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cells.

-Holiday storytellers sharing tales of diverse holiday traditions, from Hanukkah and Kwaanza to the Bahamian Junkanoo. Plus, an all-new story just for Disney Cruise Line guests about the magical feeling of the holidays on a ship.

-Traditional holiday feasts in Disney’s three themed dining rooms.

-”‘Til We Meet Again,” a special holiday edition of Disney Cruise Line’s cheerful farewell on the final night of each cruise with beloved Disney characters and the ship’s crew in an engaging musical finale led by Mickey Mouse.

And when cruises during the holiday period put in at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, the celebration continues:

-Guests will delight with “snow flurries,” decked-out Christmas trees, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday carolers.

-Youngsters will be busy with holiday-themed activities such as
making candy cane reindeer, paper plate angels and snowflake mobiles.

Disney Cruise Line will kick off the holiday cheer with special Thanksgiving voyages setting sail Nov. 22 with a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic and Nov. 26 with a 4-night Bahamian cruise onboard the Disney Wonder. Guests will enjoy a sumptuous Thanksgiving Day feast, with Mickey, Minnie and friends dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. Activities throughout the day include holiday crafts for youngsters and the big NFL football games broadcast live on Ariel View Television, the 24-by-14- foot screen located above the Goofy Family Pool on deck 9.

The Disney Magic will host a 7-Night Holiday Caribbean Cruise departing Dec. 20, with visits to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and, as a special holiday treat, two stops at Castaway Cay. The Disney Wonder 4-night Christmas cruise departs Dec. 24, with visits to Nassau and Castaway Cay. On
Christmas morning at the lobby tree, Santa Claus and his elves will have surprises for all the kids, along with cookies and milk. Guests can attend sunset Hanukkah services and Christmas services, including midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

To celebrate the new year, Disney Magic departs on its 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary Dec. 27; Disney Wonder departs Dec. 31 for its 4-night cruise. These voyages will feature a special New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2009, complete with DJ music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes, confetti and balloon drop, and a midnight countdown.

Viking River Cruises Awarded Best River Cruise By Porthole Magazine

Viking River Cruises, offering a greater variety of destinations through Europe, Russia and China, has been voted as Best River Cruise for the first time by readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine in its 10th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The Readers’ Choice Awards are the result of voting by thousands of readers of the publication, which covers ocean and river cruising, reflecting their opinions about recent travel experiences they have had. Unlike ocean cruises, rivers provide easy access to city centers. You can sail directly to the heart of every destination and dock in the middle of town. Votes are cast both online and by mail over a several-month period.

Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise company, offers quality service, gourmet cuisine and comfortable scenic cruising along the majestic rivers of Europe, Russia and China. The company has been honored multiple times as the top river cruise line on Conde Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards. Travel agents have also recognized Viking River Cruises in 2006 and 2007 as “Best Riverboat Cruise Line” by Travel Weekly, “Best River Cruise Line” by Recommend and Travel Agent magazines, and in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as “Best Overall Cruise Line for River Cruising” by TravelAge West. Since its 1997 inception, the company has grown to a fleet of 21 vessels, and provides unique, deluxe vacations to experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history.

For more information on Viking River Cruises vacations, visit us at or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Princess Cruises Adding Poolside Theaters to More Ships

Princess Cruises is making a really good cruise benefit much easier to find. If you were a fan of the old drive in movies concept, than you will love Princess Cruises idea of outdoor theaters. Princess’ signature “Movies Under the Stars” poolside screens have become such a popular feature since debuting in 2004, that the line will add the dramatic 300-square-foot movie screens feature to most of the fleet over the next several years. Princess was the first cruise line to introduce this unique entertainment experience aboard its ships and Movies Under the Stars has subsequently revolutionized movie-watching at sea.

In addition, this month select ships featuring Movies Under the Stars screens will be broadcasting a cruise industry exclusive concert from number-one-selling recording artist Josh Groban. The “Awake Live” performance will join other popular concerts shown on the ships, and will also offer the unique opportunity for those who enjoy the presentation to purchase a DVD/CD of the concert at the ship’s boutiques.

Movies Under the Stars, which shows movies, concerts, sporting events and other special programming throughout the day and evening, will be installed aboard Golden Princess (May 2009), Dawn Princess (June 2009), Coral Princess (October 2009), Sun Princess (April 2010), Island Princess (October 2010), Diamond Princess (November 2010), and Sapphire Princess (2011).

Costa Maya Welcomes First Ship Since Hurricane

When Holland America's Westerdam pulled into port at Costa Maya last week, it was cause for celebration for both passengers and area residents alike. Westerdam is the first cruise ship to visit Costa Maya -- which lies on Mexico's southern Caribbean coast, near Belize -- since the port was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Dean in 2007.

Prior to the storm, Costa Maya, which serves as a gateway to the Caribbean and was carved out of the jungle to serve cruise travelers, was increasingly popular. Its deep-water dock handled ships of all sizes, and its onsite facilities featured open-air restaurants and bars, pools and a private beach, and duty free shops. Water sports options -- from scuba diving to kayaking -- along with opportunities to visit Mayan ruins, helped to cement its appeal.

Costa Maya's developers also created a beach club facility for shore tours, complete with water sports and restaurants. Majahual, a charming village of 200 people about 10 minutes away, was also a prime destination for dining, beach massages, water sports and shopping.