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 www.CruiseCafe.com or by calling us at 1-800-788-2545. For the latest specials, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CruiseDepot.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carnival Cruise Lines Launches Fundraising Initiative for St. Jude Children's Hospital

Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest cruise operator, has partnered with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to launch a comprehensive fundraising initiative with a goal of raising $3 million for the organization over the next three years. St. Jude is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

The program, called Care to Play: Carnival For St. Jude Kids, kicks off this week aboard all 22 Carnival ships and provides guests an opportunity to participate in fun, interactive activities designed to raise funds and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer.

The new shipboard fundraising effort is the second phase of the Carnival-St. Jude partnership that began late last year with the line’s initial $50,000 donation to St. Jude. Funds were raised through Carnival’s “Virtual Book of Dreams” contest which asked kids to share their dreams for an opportunity to become the cruise industry’s first waterslide godchild.

Care to Play activities include the “Groove for St. Jude,” a fun dance activity held once each cruise that allows guests to make a $10 donation and “groove to the music” in one of the ship’s high-energy dance clubs with sounds provided by the ship’s DJ. Guests receive a Care to Play T-shirt and wristband and 100 percent of their donation goes directly to St. Jude.

Another component is Carnival’s Teddy Bear Workshop in which children from the line’s Camp Carnival program can build their own cuddly St. Jude keepsake bear. To show their support, kids can also customize their bear with doctor’s apparel, including scrubs, surgical mask, and a lab coat. One hundred percent of profits, after all related expenses, benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Additionally, copies of the “The Dream Plucker of Perrysport,” a highly imaginative children’s book based on creative stories and illustrations submitted by Camp Carnival participants, will be sold in the shipboard Camp Carnival facilities for $5.95. One hundred percent of the purchase price of this item will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Several hundred copies of the book have also been donated to the hospital.

A number of other fun and exciting activities are planned for the future and will be announced at a later date.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tour Bus Drives Into the River Maas. . .and Floats Away

No, it’s not a accident but the newest tourist attraction in the city of Rotterdam.

On Saturday, May 13, 2010, the world’s first amphibious bus hits the roads and waters in the City of Rotterdam. This unique Dutch built vehicle, will make tour through Rotterdam and the City’s port. The bus has attracted attention from around the world. So in the near future we will see more of these amphibious buses. And maybe near you.

Here is a video from local TV station TV Rijnmond. It’s in Dutch but the footage is very nice and you get the idea.


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52,000 Cruise Guests in One Day at Port Everglades

Port Everglades broke its own world record, again, when more than 52,000 cruise guests sailed in and out of Port Everglades on Saturday, March 20, 2010, at the start of the spring vacation season. The last world record was set on Saturday, January 3, 2009, when 49,234 passengers sailed in and out of the South Florida cruise port in a single day.

"We have come close to breaking our own world record several times this year alone since the arrival of Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas in November, but on March 20 we far exceeded those numbers with nine ships sailing on the same day and at least 52,000 cruise guests either anticipating or returning from a sunny spring vacation," said Port Everglades Director Phil Allen. "The good news is that we have had a lot of practice at handling such a high volume of travelers and were up to the challenge. As our motto says, 'We're ready. Bring it on.' "

Nine cruise ships sailed from Port Everglades on March 20, including Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Miracle, Costa Cruises Costa Atlantica, Discovery Cruise Line's Discovery Sun, Holland America Line's Eurodam, MSC Cruises' MSC Poesia, Princess Cruises' Crown Princess and Ruby Princess, and Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas and the world's largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas.

Interestingly, the previous record, set in January 2009 with 49,234 passengers, was accomplished with a total of 11 cruise ships, but they were smaller ships than are calling at Port Everglades this year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Princess Cruises Honors Copenhagen as 2009 “Port of the Year”

Princess Cruises has named Copenhagen as its “Port of the Year” for 2009 – a distinction awarded as the result of passenger satisfaction surveys. Copenhagen is the first port outside of North America to earn this honor.

The annual award is given to one of Princess’ 33 worldwide turnaround ports that earn the highest scores for the year, as rated by passengers on each cruise. A turnaround port is where a cruise ends and the next one begins.

The honor recognizes that a port has provided the service, facilities and personnel that have enhanced the passenger experience while boarding or disembarking the ship. In total, the voting measured passenger satisfaction scores from 14 calls in Copenhagen during the summer 2009 season.

“A turnaround port offers passengers their first or last impression of their cruise with us, so it’s very important that they have a good experience as they travel through the local facilities,” said Dean Brown, Princess executive vice president of corporate services. “Copenhagen has been recognized as the highest ranked port for 2009, but they’ve also been one of the highest ranked ports in years past. It’s clear that our passengers appreciate the level of service and efficiency that the port and their staff provide.”

This is the fifth year for the award, and previous Port of the Year designations have gone to Los Angeles, Whittier, Vancouver and Brooklyn.

Copenhagen serves as home port for Princess Scandinavia & Russia itineraries. Star Princess will begin the 2010 cruise season on these popular itineraries on May 12.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seeking Entertainers With Epic Talent To Perform Onboard Norwegian Epic Inaugural

Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week the "Search for the Epic Star" talent contest. In celebration of the launch of Norwegian's largest and most exciting Freestyle Cruising ship to date, Norwegian is searching for talented entertainers to perform on board the ship during her inaugural festivities, July 2-4, 2010, in New York.

Norwegian Epic, which will take entertainment to an entirely new level in cruising, features performances by world renowned Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams™ & Dinner, The Second City, Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon and Nickelodeon at Sea™. The "Search for the Epic Star" contest will provide amateur entertainers with the opportunity to share the spotlight with these famed performance groups during the ship's inaugural.

Contestants who think their talent is "epic" should submit a video of one minute or less by April 25, 2010. Singers, musicians, dancers, jugglers, comics, rappers and more in groups of one to four performers who are 21 years of age and older and reside in the U.S. or Canada are eligible. A panel of esteemed, professional judges including Neil Goldberg of Cirque Productions, Tim Aumiller of Blue Man Group, Beth Kligerman of The Second City and Brian Brigner of Legends in Concert will select eight semi-finalists whose videos will be displayed on USA TODAY's Cruise Log throughout May. Two videos will be shared per week. The public will then have the chance to vote at www.cruiselog.usatoday.com for their favorite from June 1-13, 2010. From the top three scoring acts, the judges will select the grand prize winner, who will be announced on June 18, 2010. The top two finalists and grand prize winner will be awarded the opportunity to come to Norwegian Epic's inaugural in New York, July 2-4, 2010. The grand prize winner will also be invited to perform on board during the inaugural cruise, as well as receive a 7-day Caribbean cruise on Norwegian Epic during her inaugural season.

Judging will be based on creativity, originality, entertainment value, quality of performance and professionalism. Only original content and videos of one minute or less will be considered. Any videos that use licensed material will be disqualified.

For more information about the contest and to register, please visit www.epicstar.usatoday.com.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Princess Cruises Making Alaska Cruisetours More Affordable

Princess Cruises is giving cruises the opportunity to see more of Alaska this year in an affordable way. Princess announced four new “A la Carte” Alaska cruisetour options for this summer’s season, giving independent-minded travelers more options to see our 49th state up close and personal. Cruisetour attendees will have an extra day at one of the Denali-area Princess lodges, and be able to customize their daily schedules to match their own vacation goals.

The four A la Carte tours range from 10 to 12 nights, offering at least three nights in the Denali area. All cruisetours feature a northbound “Voyage of the Glaciers” Gulf of Alaska cruise aboard Coral Princess or Island Princess, departing from Vancouver; combined with a three-, four- or five-night land tour to the heart of Alaska, featuring stays in Princess’ two Denali-area wilderness lodges and exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service. All tours will visit both of the state’s top attractions: Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park.

Travelers choosing these itineraries will not be scheduled on the Denali National Park tour or other activities usually included with cruisetours, and instead can choose to add any of four park tour options or a variety of other area excursions offered at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

All A la Carte tour options are available throughout the May to September Alaska season, with fares beginning at $899 per person.

Princess offers a variety of land/sea Alaska experiences with itineraries ranging from 10 to 15 nights. All cruisetour options feature at least two nights in the Denali National Park area, stays in Princess’ own riverside wilderness lodges, and a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing with Glacier Bay National Park.

To see more information on these cruises, please visit our website at www.CruiseCafe.com or call us at 1-800-788-2545.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

New Dining Venue for Celebrity Eclipse - 'Qsine'

The world’s top-rated restaurants are often showplaces for art and design, and beginning April 26, in-the-know food followers can experience a new venue whose cuisine is an engaging combination of both. But you won’t find it through MapQuest, and your GPS will find it tough to track, too…since it’s moving. That’s because the new restaurant, “Qsine,” can be found only on Celebrity Eclipse, the third of five ships in Celebrity Cruises’ stylish, $3.7-billion Solstice Class fleet.

The brainchild of Celebrity’s Vice President of Culinary Operations, Chef Jacques Van Staden, Qsine presents guests with an unexpected, modern approach to familiar dishes from around the world.

“Our guests love new and different dining experiences, and we’ve designed Qsine to deliver that in a big way,” said Van Staden. “Qsine is designed to offer a globally-influenced blend of nostalgic and contemporary favorites, artfully presented with elements of surprise.”

Qsine’s menu design alone – a large, backlit square filled with words and phrases designed to engage guests in the experience – implies that Qsine is an unusual place. And the cuisine makes it abundantly clear, with most of the selections so unique that nearly all of the dishes and plating have been designed exclusively for Celebrity.

Among the selections are spring rolls nestled in vertical springs, “Sushi Lollipops” (Nigiri sushi with soy center, wasabi mayonnaise and pickled ginger-radish salad), “Meatball Trilogy” (Kobe beef with cheddar and marinara sauce; veal with mushrooms and marsala sauce; and turkey with cranberry and sage gravy), “Chitinis” (Chinese selections served in martini glasses), “Tresviche” (tiger shrimp and bay scallops with lemon juice, tequila, cilantro, tomatoes and jalapeno oil), “Popcorn Fish & Chips”.

NCL Extends Commitment to Homeport Norwegian Sun at Port Canaveral

As Port Canaveral prepares for the first arrival of Norwegian Sun this October, Norwegian Cruise Line has extended its commitment to Port Canaveral for an additional year of homeported sailings that will run through April 2012. For the next two years from October until April, Norwegian Sun will sail alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises departing on Saturdays, which will introduce Freestyle Cruising to Brevard County, Central Florida and Orlando.

The exciting new itineraries scheduled for 2011-2012 can be combined for a 14-day cruise and include Eastern Caribbean sailings to Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. The new Western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay.

In addition to the homeported Norwegian Sun, Norwegian also makes regular port of call stops at Canaveral from New York City nearly year round with Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Gem.