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, July 26, 2009

Carnival’s New ‘Behind the Fun’ Tours Offer Unique Insight Into Line’s Shipboard Operations

For those who want to get an insider’s look at the inner-workings of a Carnival “Fun Ship,” the line has created Behind the Fun, a guided tour that provides guests with a unique insight into the company’s shipboard operations.

Currently available on the Carnival Valor and Carnival Conquest, the program will be rolled out to all 12 of the line’s ships operating voyages of seven days or longer by the end of September.

The informative three-and-a-half-hour tour offers participants a behind-the-scenes look at a wide range of shipboard venues that are normally off limits to guests. During the tour, key shipboard personnel, including the captain, chief engineer, chef de cuisine and other department heads, share their vast knowledge in their particular area of expertise.

Behind the Fun begins with a stop backstage in the main show lounge where participants can see exactly what goes into creating Carnival’s award-winning revues. The tour then moves on to normally restricted areas such as the laundry room, crew galley and dining room, crew gym, and crew training center.

Next it’s on to the expansive main galley where talented culinary artists prepare upwards of 12,000 meals and snacks a day for Carnival’s guests. The tour also includes a visit to the ship’s bridge and engine control room and informative Q&A sessions with the captain and chief engineer, respectively.

In addition to a comprehensive overview of Carnival’s shipboard operations, Behind the Fun participants receive a number of commemorative gifts, including a custom-made Behind the Fun baseball cap and lanyard, a Team Carnival Picture Perfect book with stunning photographs of Carnival ships and destinations taken by the line’s employees, and complimentary photos with the captain on the bridge.

Behind the Fun tours can be booked through the ships’ shore excursion desk. The cost is $95 per person and capacity is limited to 16 guests per tour. Guests must be 13 or older to participate.

A version of the Behind the Fun tour is planned for Carnival ships that operate itineraries of less than seven days in length.

Celebrity Cruises Launches "Celebrity Life" Redefining The Onboard Experience

Life has always been good on a Celebrity Cruises vacation, and last week, the brand announced a new program that will make it even better.

Celebrity Cruises announced "Celebrity Life," a new series of palate-pleasing, intellectually-enriching and life-enhancing programs designed to deliver the most unique and sophisticated onboard experience in premium cruising.

Built on long-established pillars of the Celebrity brand - dining, enrichment, and wellness - Celebrity Life encompasses three distinct program categories: "Savor," "Discover," and "Renew." "Celebrity Cruises has always been committed to offering the best vacation experience for discerning travelers," said Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. "Celebrity Life will provide our guests with an array of experiences they will remember long after they sail with us, thanks to the delivery and dedication of our spectacular crew across the fleet."

"Savor" takes an already stellar culinary experience to new heights, with eight new wine enrichment events, six spirits and mixology tastings, and more than seven different interactive programs for guests, hosted by the ship's Executive Chef and team. "Discover" presents an opportunity for guests to do or learn what they have always wanted to try, but never had time to accomplish. Whether it's ordering a bottle of Chianti in Italian, or exploring the universe in 40 minutes, guests can delve into a wide variety of interests. "Renew" offers an improved, more goal-oriented approach to classes, seminars, and treatments designed to help guests on their journey to looking younger, feeling better and living longer.

For more information on the specific new programs in each category, call us at 1-800-788-2545 or visit

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Carnival Dream to Offer Widest Variety Of All-Inclusive Dining Options

From a two-level casual eatery featuring a new Italian pasta station, Indian tandoori and burrito bar, to an elegant steakhouse, and Ocean Plaza — a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live music venue — the new Carnival Dream will offer a tantalizing array of culinary choices.

All of the Carnival Dream’s dining options, except for the reservations-recommended steakhouse, specialty coffees and select patisserie items, are available free of charge.

The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream – the line’s largest ship – is set to debut Sept. 21 and the vessel’s size has provided the line additional opportunities to offer guests a host of palate-pleasing dining choices from around the world.

“‘Fun Ship’ cruising is already the best value at sea and we’ve conducted extensive research that shows that in today’s economy consumers are seeking a vacation that offers a multitude of delicious dining choices without a lot of added costs,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations. “The dining options aboard the Carnival Dream represent the culmination of our wide-ranging consumer research efforts, while showcasing the incredible talents of our master chefs.”

Carnival Dream is slated to debut Sept. 21, 2009, with the first of three 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises operating round-trip from Rome, followed by a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to New York Oct. 27 – Nov. 12, 2009.

From New York, Carnival Dream will operate two eight-day Bahamas/Florida cruises departing Nov. 15 and 23, then reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., for a special nine-day Caribbean cruise Dec. 3. Carnival Dream will then launch year-round seven-day service from Port Canaveral, Dec. 12, offering weeklong voyages to the eastern and western Caribbean.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cruise West Adds Palmer Research Station In Antarctica

Cruise West is famous for exclusivity on its cruise itineraries, and 2010 will be no exception. The 18-night Antarctica expedition, making its inaugural sailing in February 2010 will feature a visit to Palmer Station, one of the three United States research stations located in Antarctica. And famed oceanographer Dr. Don Walsh, named one of the world’s great explorers by Life magazine, will lead onboard lectures and discussions concerning the state of Antarctica, and the importance of its many ongoing research projects.

Located on the Antarctic Peninsula, Palmer Station allows limited visits during its busy research season. Cruise West passengers will enjoy a rare opportunity to speak with the scientists about research into the ecology of Antarctica. Ongoing investigations include ecology and population biology of marine biota and seabirds and ecosystem responses to climate change.

“Securing permission to visit Palmer Station is a huge coup for our guests who will see first hand the important research being conducted in Antarctica on world ecology,” said Dietmar R. Wertanzl, Cruise West president and CEO. “And the added bonus of Dr. Walsh as lecturer and discussion leader will put context and clarity to this remote and complex region for our guests who revel in such hands-on adventures.”

On board the 114-guest, all-suite Corinthian II, guests will explore such sites as the Falkland, South Georgia and Orkney Islands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula and the myriad of islands that dot its shore. February is optimum viewing season for marine mammals and natural history observation – the penguin chicks have fledged and there is an increase in food supply. Guests will encounter extraordinary opportunities to view Rockhopper penguins in the remote British outpost of the Falkland Islands and thousands of King penguins and nesting grounds of wandering albatross in South Georgia.

Queen Elizabeth 2 May Move From Dubai

Nakheel Hotels, the owner of the Queen Elizabeth 2, has confirmed its intent to temporarily move the world famous cruise liner from Dubai to South Africa.

In a statement, the company said a proposed 18-month move to Cape Town had the support of the South African Ministry for Environment and Tourism.

Cape Town is one of the host cities for football’s World Cup, which takes place next summer, and the QE2’s stay would coincide with this.

In the statement, Manfred Ursprunger, the CEO of QE2 enterprises for Nakheel Hotels, said: “Nakheel is delighted to receive the support of the South African Ministry for Environment and Tourism for hosting QE2 in Cape Town, South Africa.

“In response to QE2 fans the world over, it has been our intention for some time to provide a short term opportunity to enjoy QE2 as a stationary hotel in her current condition before refurbishment begins.

“After months of feasibility studies, it is clear that Cape Town, with her ready made berthing facilities, provides the best opportunity for us to open QE2 to visitors as quickly as possible.

“In addition, the forthcoming 2010 football World Cup makes a sensible business case for moving her there. Cape Town will provide an exciting environment to experience the legendary QE2 over the next 18 months alongside the rich culture of South Africa and the incredible array of activities, entertainments and excursions available there.

MSC Cruises Expands Roster Of Theme Cruises

MSC Cruises has added five new theme cruise sailings to the Baseball Greats, Polka and Big Band themes already planned for MSC Poesia’s 2009-10 Caribbean season.

“Guests have always raved about our theme cruises and the wonderful experiences they offer,” said Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc. “These new additions to the upcoming Caribbean cruise season provide even more variety to the existing 7- and 10-night roundtrip itineraries from Fort Lauderdale.”

President’s Cruise: Nov. 10, 2009-- 5-night “Caribbean Escape” itinerary. Rick Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc., will be the featured guest onboard MSC Poesia’s first sailing in the Caribbean.

Latin Music: Jan. 23, 2010-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment” itinerary. Rumba, samba and mambo aboard MSC Poesia to Carlos Oliva and Los Sobrinos del Juez as they perform traditional salsa dance hits and unique arrangements of pop and disco favorites with a Latin beat. Salsa dance lessons and live performances by a hot lineup of Latin music stars are sure to add plenty of flavor and rhythm to this Latin music cruise festival at sea.

Comedy: Jan. 30, 2010 7-night-- “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment” cruise itinerary. “Laughter is the Best Medicine” featuring the songs and remarkable impressions of Scott Record. The laughter continues well into the evening nightly in the ship’s comedy club with onboard performances by our featured comedians. Participate in the game show “Bonk!” (an interactive game show that is part general knowledge, part physical mayhem and all comedy).

Country Music: Feb. 20, 2010-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment” cruise itinerary. Boot, scoot and boogie to music by various country artists. Line dancing lessons also will be offered onboard.

Oldies Music: March 20, 2010-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Dream” itinerary, featuring a performance by The Lettermen – Tony Butala, Donovan Tea and Mark Preston – one of the most popular vocal groups in history. Their 45-year career of unique sound spans the big band vocal and the early rhythm and blues rock groups. The Lettermen will perfom one grand show onboard during this old time rock-and-roll festival at sea.

Plus, The Fabulous Stingrays, a party band performing songs spanning the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, will keep onboard guests rocking and rolling to the sounds of the oldies all night long. Other activities will include an Elvis look-alike contest, dance competitions, trivia games and a lecture on the rock-and-roll era.

Festa Italiana: April 10, 2010-- 7-night “Island Treasures & Ancient Temples” itinerary. This celebration of all things Italian features entertainment by opera singers and contemporary Italian vocal artists. Dance the night away or simply sit back and enjoy performances by bands that play Italian and Italian-American favorites. Activities include Venetian mask making, a pizza throwing contest, tarantella dancing and more.

Guests have the opportunity to learn the secrets of making delicious European dishes during cooking demonstrations by top Italian chefs. They can also take a lecture on Italian Art and Architecture, Italian Automobiles or Italian Fashion and Design.

For more information on any of these themed cruises, visit or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Carnival Tests Self-Service Check-In Kiosks In Port Of Miami

Industry giant Carnival is rolling out self-service check-in kiosks at its Port of Miami cruise terminal.

In an announcement today, the world's largest cruise line says the kiosks are part of a pilot program at the port and, if met with positive response from passengers, will be expanded to the line’s other year-round homeports.

To use the kiosks, passengers must have pre-registered for their cruise online and be a U.S. or Canadian citizen, or from a Visa waiver country.

Passengers using the kiosks can access booking information and check in by swiping their passport or the credit card they used to pre-register online, the line says. Once passengers check in, the station prints a receipt and directs them to pick up cabin keys at a nearby desk.

The kiosks also will be able to accept cash deposits for passenger shipboard Sail & Sign accounts.

Princess Brings Rare Original Copy Of The Declaration Of Independence To Juneau

Celebrating the Fourth of July and Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood, Princess Cruises showcased a rare, original copy of the United States of America’s founding document aboard Coral Princess Thursday during an onboard reception with local dignitaries and special guests.

The document was aboard Coral Princess to give passengers the unique opportunity to view the only traveling copy of the Declaration of Independence. This rare document is being showcased to more than 17,000 passengers aboard all eight Princess ships visiting Juneau during Independence week, July 1-8.

Hosted in partnership with Declare Yourself, a non-profit organization founded by legendary television producer Norman Lear, this unique opportunity marks the first time the copy of the Declaration has visited Alaska, and the first time a cruise line has shown the famous document.

The only touring copy of the Declaration of Independence, Declare Yourself’s historic document is one of an estimated 200 original broadside copies (about the size of a sheet of newspaper) printed by John Dunlap in Philadelphia in 1776 after it was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, to distribute across the colonies and to King George in England. This copy’s current journey began in 1989 when a Pennsylvania shopper bought a frame at a flea market for $4.00. Later, while inspecting a tear in the back of the painting, he discovered a piece of paper wedged between the frame and painting. He pulled it out and uncovered what would soon be authenticated as the 25th remaining copy of the Declaration of Independence. The document changed hands several times and was purchased in 2000 by Lyn and Norman Lear for $8.14 million, with the goal of bringing the document directly to the American people.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available by calling 1-800-788-2545, or by visiting

MSC Cruises Adds Another New Ship To Its Fast Growing Fleet

Fast-growing MSC Cruises has rolled out yet another new ship -- the 3,300-passenger MSC Splendida.

The 133,500-ton vessel, a sister to the seven-month-old MSC Fantasia, departed the STX shipyard in St. Nazaire, France on a seven-night pre-christening cruise to Spain and Portugal.

The Splendida will arrive in Barcelona this coming Saturday and will be formally christened the following day in a naming ceremony presided over by actress Sophia Loren. The ship then begins seven-night cruises out of Barcelona on Monday, July 13.

Like the MSC Fantasia, the MSC Splendida is aimed at the mass market but also features a more upscale "ship-within-a-ship" area called the MSC Yacht Club designed to appeal to vacationers willing to pay extra for a more luxurious experience. The Yacht Club, located around the bow of the vessel, has 99 suites that come with 24-hour butler service and other high-end amenities.

Other notable features on the Splendida include a sprawling spa, a squash court and four swimming pools. A hefty 80% of cabins have balconies.

While still relatively unknown in North America, Italy-based MSC Cruises has been reaching out to the English-speaking market in recent years in an effort to become a more global line. It's already one of the biggest cruise lines in Europe.