The Cruise Cafe

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Luxury Line Crystal Cruises Introduces 2-for-1 Pricing

At a Friday morning press conference in New York City, Crystal Cruises unveiled two-for-one pricing on all sailings in 2010. The new pricing structure comes into effect today.

1,000s of already booked reservations will be re-priced accordingly, according to Bill Smith, senior vice president of Crystal Cruises.

In addition to two-for-one fares for all destinations, Crystal is granting up to $2,000 per couple in ship board credit, free round-trip air on most sailings, business class air for Penthouse suite bookings in Europe, and a price guarantee.

Smith noted that Crystal had hired two outside research companies to investigate various promotions.

Smith said: “The scope of changes we’ve made is unprecedented as we literally have had to reproduce every piece of collateral we’ve had in the marketplace.”

"We found we had the wrong offer in the marketplace," Smith commented.

Crystal’s marketing department will be working around the clock for the next two weeks to re-produce the cruise atlas, direct mail campaigns and more with the new promotions, said Smith.

Smith noted that occupancy in 2009 is down between 15 and 18 percent.

Carnival Cruise Lines to Launch First Year-Round Cruise Program From Charleston in 2010

Carnival Cruise Lines will introduce the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston, S.C., with the deployment of the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy in May 2010.

Carnival Fantasy will operate five-, six- and seven-day voyages to The Bahamas and Key West, Fla., from the Passenger Terminal in historic downtown Charleston beginning May 18, 2010.
On Carnival Fantasy’s new Charleston-based cruises, Carnival is expected to carry more than 140,000 passengers annually from the port. Including Charleston, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate from 20 North American homeports in 2010, with 12 year-round departure points – the most in cruising.

The new year-round departures from Charleston dramatically expand upon Carnival’s decade-long relationship with the port. Previously, Carnival has operated seasonal voyages from Charleston, including two five-day departures on the Carnival Triumph this year and two on the Carnival Glory next year.

Charleston’s centralized location within the southeastern U.S., as well as the city’s strong appeal as a tourist destination, were key factors in the decision to launch year-round service aboard the Carnival Fantasy.

Holland America Line Launches Extensive New Mariner Society Rewards Program

For those who have sailed even just once with Holland America Line, there’s now more to enjoy on future cruises. The new Mariner Society Rewards Program provides past guests with exciting new benefits from generous onboard discounts while sailing and special rates on select cruises to reduced or free third and fourth rates when booking future cruises. Benefits are tiered and vary based on a guest’s cruise history.

“We wanted to create a program that gives our loyal Mariner members fantastic perks, cruise values and enhances that sense of pride they feel after having sailed on several cruises with Holland America Line,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “We have one of the highest repeat guest ratios in the cruise industry and our loyal guests deserve the valuable benefits in our new Mariner Society Rewards Program.”

The Mariner Society Rewards Program offers a four-level progressive membership with a wide range of cruise and on-board savings and extra values. All guests who sail with Holland America Line are automatically welcomed into the Mariner Society where they receive special offers on upcoming cruises as well as advance information about new ships and the latest product enhancements. Based on past cruises recorded as cruise days, members now enjoy Star memberships with four different levels offering an ever-widening range of cruise options and enhancements. Guests automatically collect additional “cruise days” or cruise day credits based on their onboard spending or through the purchase of one of the premium line’s suite options.

The new Mariner Society Rewards Program will roll out to the entire fleet by October 18, 2009. For more information, call 1-800-788-2545 or visit

Carnival Cruise Lines Officially Took Delivery of the Carnival Dream

In a traditional maritime handover ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, last week, Carnival Cruise Lines officially took delivery of its newest and largest ship, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream.

Following the ceremony, Carnival Dream departed for Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, for its inaugural cruise, a 12-day Grand Mediterranean voyage departing Sept. 21 – the first of three voyages within the region.

The ship will then sail a trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome to New York followed by a special two-day cruise and two eight-day Caribbean voyages from the Big Apple. Carnival Dream will then reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., for a special one-time nine-day voyage Dec. 3 before launching year-round seven-day Caribbean service Dec. 12.

Representing a new class of vessel for the line, the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream offers a host of innovations, including Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live music venue; The Lanai, an outdoor area featuring a wrap-around promenade and cantilevered whirlpools that are suspended over the ship’s side; a host of new accommodation categories, including two-bath, five-berth staterooms that appeal to families and cove balcony cabins located closer to the water line; a sprawling Carnival WaterWorks aqua park featuring the longest water slide at sea; and a 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, the largest in the fleet.

Exciting new entertainment choices, including a comedy club offering 24 performances per voyage and outdoor laser shows on Lido Deck, are also featured. Also new is the “Fun Hub,” a comprehensive intranet portal and the first shipboard social network that provides a variety of helpful information on the vessel and allows guests to interact and connect with their fellow passengers on board.

Dining options include two formal restaurants with extensive menus and wine lists nightly, an expansive Lido-area eatery featuring a 24-hour pizzeria, Indian tandoori and new Italian pasta bar, an elegant steakhouse serving USDA prime dry-aged beef, a sushi bar, a patisserie and complimentary 24-hour stateroom service.

A host of bars, lounges, nightspots and live music venues – all bearing the unmistakable design stamp of Carnival’s renowned interior architect Joe Farcus – are also featured.

A sister ship to the Carnival Dream, the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic, is scheduled for delivery in June 2011. It is also being built in Italy by Fincantieri.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Royal Caribbean Announces "Sweet" Addition to Oasis of the Seas

When Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas debuts in December 2009, the world’s largest and most revolutionary ship will offer the most diverse lineup of dining options and guest activities available industry wide. The cruise line is combining both of those experiences with yet another exciting addition to Oasis of the Seas’ breadth of offerings with the first cupcake shop at sea, aptly named The Cupcake Cupboard.

Harking back to the days of baking in grandmother’s kitchen, the 1940’s-style shop will offer a wide array of the beloved delicacies and emphasize memorable family experiences including decorating cupcakes in various creative designs. A broad assortment of cupcakes will be offered daily at a la carte pricing, and specialty cupcakes and cupcake wedding cakes also will be available. Beyond its tempting and innovative menu, The Cupcake Cupboard, located in the Royal Promenade, also will provide a separate space for guests looking to celebrate special events—birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, and more.

The space also will host a variety of daily hands-on decorating classes where families can spend time together and learn the techniques behind cupcake decorating, from colorful sprinkles and icing to watercolors and candies. And guests will have the opportunity to take home the skills needed to create animal faces, sunflowers, snow globes, and more. There’s even the option of creating “pupcakes,” in honor of the family dog. Information on the classes, which are offered daily, can be found in the ship’s Daily Planner and are available to guests and groups of all ages at an additional charge.

Carnival Dream to Offer Amazing High-Energy Laser Shows

Carnival Cruise Lines’ new 130,000-ton Carnival Dream will introduce the line’s first outdoor laser shows that will combine the latest in laser technology with rock music to provide guests a unique and exciting nighttime entertainment option. Carnival Dream’s laser shows will be the first ever for a North America–based cruise ship.

The 15-minute nighttime laser shows will feature choreographed lasers projecting brilliant aerial patterns of blue, red and green set to music by popular artists such as Styx, Rush, Van Halen, Boston and Pink Floyd.

Smoke machines will be used to enhance the laser light effects in the starry, moonlit sky, creating an ideal setting for guests to relax on Carnival Dream’s expansive open deck.

Four all-weather LaserNet ScannerPro lasers will be positioned high atop Carnival Dream’s Lido Deck. Each high-wattage laser will be independently computer controlled using Pangolin Laser Designer software that synchronizes the lasers in perfect time with the music, which will be amplified by the 70,000-watt sound system of the ship’s Seaside Theatre LED screen. The Seaside Theatre’s jumbo-sized monitor will also display custom-designed graphics and original music videos of the various artists played during the show.

“The idea of a spectacular laser show set to high-energy music from the deck of a cruise ship is truly unique and will provide Carnival Dream guests with a memorable, one-of-a-kind entertainment experience that they can’t find anywhere else,” said Roger Blum, Carnival’s vice president of cruise programming.

Carnival Dream is set 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.

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 departing Dec. 3. Carnival Dream will launch year-round seven-day Caribbean service from Port Canaveral, Dec. 12, 2009.

For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-788-2545 or visit