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, December 22, 2008

Royal Caribbean Moves Up Oasis of the Seas Debut

Royal Caribbean will unveil its much-ballyhooed Oasis of the Seas to the public on Dec. 1, 2009 -- nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

The line today announced the 5,400-passenger ship's seven-night inaugural sailing to the Eastern Caribbean scheduled for Dec. 12 will be moved up by a week to Dec. 5.

The line also says it will offer a special, four-night voyage on the ship on Dec. 1 to celebrate the launch of an all-new Labadee -- Royal Caribbean’s private island in Haiti.

Passengers booked on the original Dec. 12 inaugural sailing can move their booking to either of the earlier voyages between now and Jan. 12, 2009 at no penalty. Royal Caribbean then will open the voyages to the general public.

Passengers with existing bookings on the Dec. 12 cruise also can choose to sail consecutively on both the Dec. 1 and 5, 2009 voyages. If so, they'll receive a $200 onboard credit per cabin ($300 onboard credit per suite).

Booked passengers who wish to take either the Dec. 1 or 5 sailing will be re-accommodated in the same cabin and category. The cruise fare for the Dec. 5 sailing will remain unchanged. Passengers wishing to sail on the four-night voyage will receive a prorated fare.

Royal Caribbean says passengers on the Dec. 5, 2009 inaugural voyage will receive a special commemorative certificate to mark the occasion. The ship will call at St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau in the Bahamas.

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

Will President Bush Save The Historic Delta Queen Steamboat?

Republicans in Congress are asking President Bush to use his executive power to save the historic Delta Queen steamboat.

House Minority Leader John Boehner and several other Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the President this month asking him to issue an Executive Order before leaving office that would reinstate the Delta Queen’s 40-year exemption from a fire safety rule.

The famed riverboat was forced to stop sailing in November after the exemption expired.

Built in 1926, the 174-passenger Delta Queen is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on America's inland waterways, and it hearkens back to a bygone era with stately wooden cabins and hardwood-paneled public rooms. But it is precisely these historic charms that are at issue as they violate a 1960s regulation forbidding wooden superstructures on vessels that carry more than 50 passengers on overnight trips.

Congress has granted the Delta Queen an exemption from the safety rule nine times in the past, nearly always by close-to-unanimous margins. But the powerful chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., blocked renewal of the exemption this year, calling the boat a fire hazard.

A grass-roots organization of Delta Queen fans known as the Save the Delta Queen Campaign argues that the 1966 fire safety law that is in question was intended to cover ocean-going ships, not riverboats that operate within yards of the shore.

"Our supporters are showering the White House with phone calls, letters, faxes, and email messages pleading for the President’s help," says Vicki Webster, leader of the Save the Delta Queen Campaign. "He now holds a literally unique and irreplaceable part of our nation’s history in his hands."

The owner of the Delta Queen, the Majestic America Line, shut down in November. But if the Delta Queen wins a new exemption the vessel could sail again under a new owner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Norwegian Cruise Line's F3 Project Back On...Maybe

Industry publication Seatrade Insider is reporting that NCL and STX Europe have in fact reached a settlement. The new agreement seems to confirm what's been hinted at all along: One of the 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger F3 ships, the largest ever built for the line will come to fruition, instead of the two originally announced by the line back in fall 2006.

As in the past, NCL would not comment on the project, and Seatrade's report even noted that STX Europe maintained the dispute remains ongoing.

The disagreement between yard and line first stemmed from major requests for design changes by the line that resulted in large, new fee assessments from STX Europe. Things became so bad that work on the second vessel, which is still in the very early stages of construction, had stopped.

So how has the project gotten back on track?

Sources told Seatrade that NCL will have to pay a 100 million euro penalty for canceling the second ship order, plus 55 million euro for added design changes. The cost of the new-build has risen from its original price of 735 million euro to a whopping 890 million euro, or nearly the cost of Oasis of the Seas.

Seatrade's report, however, raises just as many questions as it answers. If the first F3 is to be completed, what's to happen with the second ship? And what changes are in store for F3, the original design for which included several one-of-a-kind cruise ship features such as wavy-walled cabins and an ice bar, not to mention an absence of a main show lounge, main dining room and lido buffet style? Only time will tell...

Holland America Line Stimulus Package Can Help You Cruise For Less

Holland America Line chose to release a stimulus package rather than a bailout for cruise guests. The cruise line announced unprecedented savings potential for anyone looking to take a Holland America cruise. They can save you money in a variety of ways to assure you of a great vacation at a very reasonable cost. Looking at novel ways to encourage a commitment to cruising during the coming year, Holland America Line unveiled its Vacation Stimulus Plan. “There’s never been a better time to get more, pay less and sail away from it all,” says Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “And the return on investment is guaranteed.”

To boost cruise sales, the four-point plan encompasses (1) unprecedented low fares, (2) deposits reduced by 50% on cruises and cruisetours departing on or after May 1, 2009, (3) a 25% savings on standard Cancellation Protection Plan on cruises and cruisetours departing on or after May 1, 2009, and (4) suspended fuel supplements for cruises departing on or after Dec. 17, 2008.

“Our message is to buy low and live high. With great fares, reduced deposits and a lower fee to protect the cost of a vacation, there really has never been a better time to cruise with Holland America Line,” added Meadows. “Vacationers are increasingly looking for best values, and Holland America Line’s Vacation Stimulus Plan provides a number of extra features and benefits.”

Disney Cruise Line Announces Kids Sail Free Promotion

Disney Cruise Line is making it much easier to cruising families to sail this winter and spring with a Kids Free promotion. Disney has long been known as a leader in the family cruise segment, and what better way to keep families coming than a magical promotion. For families who want to take a Disney cruise vacation on the Disney Wonder, they are releasing a “Kids Free” special offer on three-night cruises this winter and spring.

Guests 12 and under can sail free on three-night voyages aboard the Disney Wonder when accompanied by two full-fare paying guests within the same stateroom. This offer is valid for most sailings from Jan. 22 to May 28, 2009, and covers a variety of stateroom categories, ranging from deluxe family staterooms with verandahs to standard inside staterooms. However, there are a limited number of staterooms available for this special offer. While the cruise fare with this special offer is free for guests 12 and under, guests who book will be responsible for Government Taxes and Fees for all stateroom occupants, including those 12 and under.

“At Disney Cruise Line, we pride ourselves on offering a vacation that caters to the individual needs of every member of the family,” said Disney Cruise Line President Tom McAlpin. “This special offer is a great value — perfect for families that have never experienced the magic of Disney at sea, or those who want to come back to create new memories.”

Guests who sail during this time period will enjoy a whole host of new offerings on the Disney Wonder. The ship recently launched a 3-D cinematic experience in both the Walt Disney and Buena Vista Theatres where guests can enjoy first-run, full-length 3-D films such as Walt Disney Pictures’ “Bolt” and the upcoming “Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience.” This past spring the Disney Wonder premiered a lavish theatrical production, “Toy Story-The Musical.” Additionally, young cruisers will delight in new activities at the Oceaneer Club and Lab featuring characters and storylines from popular Disney Channel movies, such as “High School Musical,” and Disney-Pixar films.

For more information, visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Monday, December 08, 2008

NCL To Keep Norwegian Sky In Miami

Building on the successful launch of Norwegian Sky in the three and four-day market, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced it has extended the Freestyle Cruising ship’s deployment from Miami, sailing three and four-day Bahamas cruises, through April 16, 2010. To celebrate the ship’s continued deployment, NCL is offering a special promotional offer of $199 per person (double occupancy) and $49 per person for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom with up to a four category upgrade for reservations made today through December 31, 2008.

“The return of Norwegian Sky to the short cruise market has proved to be very successful for us,” said Kevin Sheehan, NCL’s president and CEO. “Norwegian Sky is attracting many first time cruisers and experienced cruisers alike who sample Freestyle Cruising and love it. She is the highest quality ship and best value for money in the market, providing guests with a quick and relaxing getaway without schedules or set dining times.”

The 2,002-passenger Norwegian Sky sails four-day Bahamas cruises on Mondays with full-day stops in Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s private island in the Bahamas. On Fridays, the ship sails a weekend getaway three-day Bahamas itinerary, departing Miami at 5 p.m. with all-day stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, returning to Miami at 7 a.m. on Monday mornings.

Norwegian Sky has more than 240 balcony staterooms, a choice of six different restaurants, 10 bars and lounges, multiple entertainment venues, two pools, extensive children’s and teen facilities, a sports deck and a variety of spacious public rooms. Norwegian Sky also features NCL’s Freestyle 2.0 enhancements which include a major investment in the total dining experience such as all new menus and Lobster Galore; upgraded stateroom experiences including the Bliss Bed by NCL; new wide ranging on-board activities for all guests; and additional recognition, service and amenities for balcony and suite guests.

For more information on any NCL sailing, please visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Holland America Is Transforming Pool Areas Into Upscale Retreats

Five Holland America Line cruise ships will emerge from nearly month-long dry docks with an additional $200 million in investments, and one of the more noticeable upgrades will be The Retreat, a new resort-style pool area on the aft of the Lido deck. Catering to the preferences of today’s upscale travelers, the indulgent retreat is a first for the industry. The five ships, ms Statendam, ms Maasdam, ms Ryndam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam are all receiving the new pool upgrades in an attempt to regain popularity as a premium cruise line, lost in some of the low pricing initiatives lately.

The main focus of the new pool experience will be a shallow area with forty-four lounge chairs where guests can relax and dip their fingers and toes in the water. Built-in benches create another place for guests to relax and dangle their legs in the refreshing water.

The Retreat’s pool will be divided into three main sections separated by low, curving walls running the length of the pool. The middle section is 16 inches deep so guests can sit on built-in benches in the water. The two side sections feature lounge chairs in eight inches of water — perfect for cooling off on a hot day. Water falls and spouts enhance the decor. At the aft end of the pool will be a hot tub for soothing relaxation.

Slice, an upscale pizzeria, will be incorporated into the area, serving signature pizzas, whole pies and slices to order. Tables and comfortable, padded chairs under a sunscreen provide an inviting place to dine al fresco. And, in order to provide live music, a stage will be added near the pool. For added entertainment, an LED screen and sound system will be integrated into the ship’s superstructure, providing movies and video to The Retreat.

This $200-million phase in the Signature of Excellence commitment brings the latest innovations at sea to Holland America Line’s Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam, Veendam and Rotterdam. The first of the extensive dry dock periods begins with the Veendam in spring 2009 and the last will be completed on the Maasdam in early 2011. While in dry dock, ships will expand the aft deck to create The Retreat and a new bar concept called Mix that features separate areas — Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales. Enhancements will be made to all existing staterooms and additional staterooms will be added to the ships. The ships also will introduce 38 innovative lanai staterooms (39 on Rotterdam) with direct access to the Lower Promenade Deck. New spa staterooms near the Greenhouse Spa and Salon will offer special in-room spa amenities. Overall, Holland America Line has committed $525 million to its Signature of Excellence program that redefines premium cruising.