The Cruise Cafe

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carnival Announces 2014 Bloggers Cruise

Carnival Sunshine has been selected as the venue for the seventh annual “John Heald Bloggers Cruise,” which brings together fans of the senior cruise director’s popular blog ( for a week’s worth of fun activities, exclusive giveaways and unforgettable memories.

Bloggers Cruise 7 on Carnival Sunshine sails round-trip from New Orleans February 16-23, 2014, visiting the stunning Caribbean destinations of Montego Bay, Jamaica; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico.

The announcement was made by Heald on the Carnival Breeze to raucous applause from the 575 fans attending Bloggers Cruise 6 on the Carnival Breeze last week.

The John Heald Bloggers Cruise brings together hundreds of fans of the popular on-line site -- which has attracted more than 15 million page views since its launch in 2007 – providing an opportunity to make new friends and reacquaint with other blog readers.

Carnival Sunshine is currently sailing as Carnival Destiny and will undergo an unprecedented $155 million makeover this spring and emerge with an array of innovations that are part of the line’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement initiative.

During the week-long voyage, blog fans will be able to check out such fantastic features as a stunning three-level Serenity adults-only retreat, spectacular open-deck spaces like the WaterWorks water park and SportSquare outdoor recreation area, and only-on-Carnival Sunshine venues such as Havana Bar, ShakeSpot, Java Blue Café, and Carnival’s first-ever full-service Asian restaurant.

A full schedule of activities, including lively Q&A sessions, unforgettable game shows, welcoming and closing receptions, and the ever-popular “Tea Time with John,” will be offered while bloggers will return home with a variety of keepsake items. An exclusive bloggers-only shore excursion is also planned. Heald, of course, will be blogging and providing daily video updates throughout the cruise.

Heald’s blog has attracted a loyal following not only for his off-beat humor, but also for his candid, behind-the-scenes look at shipboard life, providing an entertaining and unique perspective to readers.

Oceania Rolls Out New Menu for its Dining Room

Oceania Cruises announced the successful completion of a new menu rollout featuring 85 new dishes for its Grand Dining Room on the line’s newest ship, Riviera.

The remainder of the Oceania Cruises fleet will incorporate the new menus over the next three months.

Oceania Cruises has an entire team at the helm of its culinary program, including its executive culinary director, renowned master chef Jacques Pépin.

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger led the team in conceiving the new menus. The Oceania Cruises culinary team has spent the past eight months designing and rigorously testing the new menu items. As the menus in the Grand Dining Room change daily, the rollout features a total of 85 new dishes, including three new lobster dishes and 10 new pastas and risottos.

New creations include dishes such as Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne, Roast Segovian Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, and Diver Scallops over Orange-Braised Endive with Vanilla Vinaigrette Salad. The new dishes also feature unique, high-end ingredients such as Castilla–La Mancha saffron, Lessatini olive oil from Nice and Ibérico de Bellota pork.

There is also a selection of new Canyon Ranch dishes, including Dover Sole Meunière in Lemon Butter Sauce with Sweet Leek Puff Pastry and Steamed Potatoes, as well as Pulpo a la Gallega: Octopus on Warm Potato Salad with Sweet Spanish Paprika de la Vera.

The rollout includes an array of new wines by the bottle as well as an extended list of wines by the glass.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

MSC Introduces Signature Onboard Soundtrack

MSC Cruises has recently worked with DMX, an international leader in creating engaging experiences through music, to add a new and exciting chapter to its unique sensory story.

From January 2013, guests onboard the fleet will be treated to the sensual sounds of the new MSC Cruises’ signature soundtrack, a comprehensive playlist designed to reflect and evoke the company’ score personality, its Mediterranean roots and the region’s celebrated values of warmth, humanity and authenticity.

Blending vocals and instrumentals, traditional classics and contemporary hits, MSC and DMX have created a distinctive sound which captures its very spirit and soul. With Italian, Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Greek and international favourites sure to delight guests from all over the world, the soundtrack is also a celebration of the over 180 nationalities who sailed the seas with MSC last year and the company’s ability to make every one of these different nationalities feel at home.

In certain public areas of each ship, including the main reception and bar, MSC’s signature sounds will enliven, entertain, and inspire the exploration of new cultures, taking guests on an acoustic journey of discovery throughout their cruise.

With its mix of contemporary and classic songs, the new soundtrack has a broad demographic appeal. Popular artists on the soundtrack include Brigitte Bardot, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Manu Chao, Ojos De Brujo, Celine Dion, Cesaria Evora, Nelly Furtado, Serge Gainsbourg, The Gipsy Kings, Sophia Loren, Dean Martin, Yannick Noah, Luciano Pavarotti, Laura Pausini, Edith Piaf, Eros Ramazzotti, Amalia Rodrigues, Nino Rota, and Shakira.

MSC Cruises has also refined different soundtracks in other public areas onboard, including the disco, main restaurants and certain bars, to make sure that each soundtrack perfectly suits the mood and time of day.

Royal Caribbean Orders Third Oasis-Class Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it has executed a contract with STX France to construct a third Oasis-class vessel for delivery in mid-2016.

In addition is an option for a second ship with a potential delivery in mid-2018.

This order is consistent with the plan announced by the company in October to build a sister-ship to the very successful Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

STX France has also provided the company with a one-year option for the mid-year 2018 delivery of a fourth Oasis-class vessel at similar pricing.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are the largest and most revolutionary cruise ships in the world.

Architectural marvels at sea, they span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carrying 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. The ships sail weekly from their home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas debuted in November 2009 and November 2010 respectively, introducing a range of unique industry “firsts” and engineering marvels including a neighborhood concept – seven themed areas providing guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood.

Within these seven neighborhoods – Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone – are extraordinary elements such as the first park at sea, a thrilling zip line that races diagonally nine-decks above an open-air atrium, an original handcrafted carousel, 28 multilevel urban-style loft suites boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, an aquatic amphitheater – called the AquaTheater that serves as a pool by day and a dazzling ocean front theater by night; and an array of epicurean innovations that allow for new culinary experiences each day of a guest’s cruise vacation.

With the success of the Oasis-class ships, Royal Caribbean International is currently undergoing a fleetwide revitalization program to bring the latest innovations and the highest guest-rated programs from Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas to the cruise line’s ships across the fleet.