Friday, March 6, 2015

Carnival Cruise Line Introduces Carnival Journeys

Here’s a situation that confronts many long-time cruise travelers—they love the Caribbean for its tropical weather, laid back ambiance, and beautiful beaches, but are getting a been-there-done-that feel after numerous voyages. Where to go and what to do next is their dilemma. To fulfill their desire for something different, Carnival Cruise Line has launched Carnival Journeys, a collection of 9- to 15-day seagoing adventures that kick off this fall.

Designed to provide guests with intriguing new itinerary choices that feature less traveled, more exotic ports of call, Carnival Journeys have been specifically designed for guests who are looking for a longer cruise vacation that will provide the opportunity to visit a wide variety of great destinations and more time to fully enjoy all of the features on a selection of the line's newest and most innovative ships. Unique shipboard experiences created especially for this one-of-a-kind cruise program will highlight itineraries featuring ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii, and Mexico. Set to debut with an 11-day cruise aboard Carnival Dream from New Orleans to San Juan departing on Oct. 4, 2015, Carnival Journeys cruises will also include fun and interesting shipboard activities to provide a special Carnival vacation experience.

"We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from our guests and travel agent partners about the importance of consistently offering new Carnival cruise experiences," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "Carnival Journeys was created to offer our existing customers even more options while helping us to attract those guests who have not had the opportunity to sail with Carnival and may be enticed by these longer, more exotic itineraries.," she added.

Incredible Itineraries
The Carnival Journeys program will run through Nov. 27, 2016, encompassing 28 departures from eight North American homeports including Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, Port Canaveral, New York, Baltimore, and San Juan. Cruises will operate either round-trip from these homeports or one-way between these ports and San Juan. The itineraries are unique and not available on any other cruise line. On Carnival Journeys, guests can experience and explore nearly 40 different tropical destinations, including less visited ports like Tobago, Grenada, La Paz, Martinique, Bonaire and Ixtapa, each home to diverse cultures, centuries-old landmarks and historical structures, and unforgettable natural attractions.

Memorable Activities
Carnival Journeys participants can also enjoy shipboard experiences that will be tailored to each itinerary in the areas of dining, entertainment, team member connections, and enrichment, all infused with the line’s spirited brand of fun. These experiences will include:
Authentic Eats: Partnering with local restaurants and chefs, Carnival Journeys participants can enjoy on-board cooking demonstrations where these culinary artists will recreate their signature dishes and traditional cuisines from their country. Participants will also have an opportunity to dine at the chef’s restaurant ashore for a nominal fee and accompany the chef on visits to local markets for regional specialties.
“Local”-tainment: From calypso, soca, and Goombay to colorful folkloric entertainment, Carnival Journeys participants will get an up close and personal look at their destination through local entertainment performances taking place outside the ship or on board.
Academy of Fun: Through these enrichment sessions, Carnival’s shipboard experts will instruct guests in topics ranging from cooking and arts and crafts to digital photography and social media, even celestial navigation. All of these activities will be performed with the fun and entertaining style that only Carnival can provide.
Throwback Sea Day: Carnival will set the “way back machine” to 1987 and recreate a fun day at sea with retro pool and deck games, old school dining options like Baked Alaska and the gala midnight buffet, a white glove Captain’s Celebration, popular movies from that era, a circa 1987 version of the Carnival Capers shipboard newsletter, and more.
Shipboard Team Member Connections: Carnival Journeys participants can learn more about shipboard life through informative question and answer sessions hosted by the ship’s captain, cruise director, hotel director, and others, held at different times throughout the voyage and providing an opportunity to engage and interact with the Carnival team in a fun and casual setting. There will also be an unforgettable show performed by the ship’s crew during the voyage.
Available now for booking, a detailed listing of all 28 Carnival Journeys sailings is found at carnival.com/journeys. Additional Carnival Journeys sailings will be announced in the near future.

Image © CruiseDiva.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Oceania Cruises to Expand Fleet & Explore New Destinations

For those of you planning ahead for next year’s cruise vacation with Oceania Cruises, the line has unveiled its summer and fall 2016 schedule. Included is the maiden voyage for Sirena, which enters service April 27, 2016. After undergoing an extensive bow-to-stern refurbishment, Sirena, the 684-passenger sister ship of Insignia, Regatta, and Nautica, will emerge with the same elegant style displayed throughout the Oceania Cruises fleet and feature popular amenities, such as specialty dining restaurants Toscana and Polo Grill, along with more recent additions to the fleet such as Baristas and the cook-to-order grill Terrace Café.

Sirena’s maiden voyage will be a 14-night cruise from Barcelona to Venice on April 27, 2016. The inaugural season features an entirely new lineup of 10- to 14-day voyages, blended with a mix of classic and new destinations throughout the Mediterranean, including two voyages venturing as far west as Seville and Lisbon. The ship will visit an impressive 11 new locales for Oceania Cruises, such as the famed beaches of Gaeta (Italy), pristine rainforest of Golfito (Costa Rica) and well-preserved provincial township of La Paz (Mexico).

The expanded six ship fleet provides Oceania Cruises even greater flexibility to create an unprecedented number of new itineraries for the upcoming season, offering a perfect fusion of classic and off-the-beaten-path ports. The new itineraries explore all corners of the world and will capture the imagination of even the most seasoned traveler. One thrilling new itinerary is a 17-night sailing aboard Marina from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso (Chile) traversing the southern tip of South America, while marveling at the magnificence of the Chilean Fjords.

The line has also introduced seven new Grand Voyages, ranging from a 90-night round-trip journey from Miami to a 40-night Vancouver to Montreal sailing. The 90-day Grand Voyage from Miami will explore destinations in North America, the magnificent fjords of Greenland, iconic locales in the Mediterranean, and exotic lands in Africa, including stops in less traveled ports La Goulette (Tunisia) and Algiers (Algeria). The 40-night Grand Voyage from Vancouver to Montreal will visit ports on both coasts of North America including stops in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia plus a fascinating Panama Canal crossing.

In total, Oceania Cruises’ 2016 summer and fall collection features 121 unique sailings, 90 new itineraries; 50 of which are extended journeys, and 20 intriguing ports not previously visited by the upscale line. With the summer and fall season alone, the six ships Oceania Cruises fleet will sail to more than 240 ports in over 70 different countries, including several overnight stays in some of the world’s most sought-after destinations. Visit Oceania Cruises for additional informaiton.

Image Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Crystal Cruises Gets A New Owner

Crystal Cruises, operator of two luxury ships—Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity—has been sold for $550 million by parent company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha to Genting Hong Kong, owner of Star Cruises.

It’s been a long time since 2006 when Crystal Harmony transferred from the Crystal Cruises fleet to that of their parent company and entered service in Japan as ms Asuka II, leaving the luxury line with only two ships. With the acquisition of the line by Genting HK—and the new owner’s financial strength and expertise in ship design—Crystal Cruises’ fleet size will expand with a new ship

“After 25 successful years with NYK, we are excited to have Genting Hong Kong as the new owner of Crystal Cruises,” Edie Rodriguez, President and COO of Crystal Cruises said. “The proposed expansion of our fleet will present our loyal Crystal Society members and new luxury cruise guests with more itinerary options, accommodation choices and exceptional vacation experiences, as we continue to position Crystal as the innovative leader in global luxury cruising. Additionally, Crystal’s veteran leadership, management and crew will continue to focus on our award-winning guest service and our strong partnership with the travel agent community, which now has a greater opportunity to grow their business with a larger menu of Crystal product offerings.”

In addition to being the parent of Star Cruises, Asia’s largest cruise line, Genting HK is a major shareholder in Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which recently acquired Prestige Cruises. Prestige operates the high end brand Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a competitor in the luxury segment that currently is building what they term “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built.”

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Splendour of the Seas to Leave the Royal Caribbean Fleet in April 2016

On the heels of the winds of March, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell Splendour of the Seas to TUI Cruises in the second quarter of 2016. The ship will then be leased to Thomson Cruises, which will operate the vessel as the largest ship in their fleet.

Splendour of the Seas will complete all scheduled open deployment, and no sailings will be altered or disrupted due to the sale. Her final sailing will commence on April 4, 2016, and all officers and crew will remain with the company and will be transferred to other vessels worldwide after the ship leaves the Royal Caribbean International fleet.

"Splendour of the Seas has been a treasured member of the Royal Caribbean International family since she entered service," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International. "She has offered countless guests memorable vacation experiences and we look forward to continuing to provide the same Gold Anchor Service our brand is known for right up to the last sailing."

A Vision Class ship, Splendour of the Seas was built by Chantier's de L'Atlantique, now STX France, in St. Nazaire, France and joined the Royal Caribbean International fleet in 1996. The 69,130-ton ship carries 1,830 guests (double occupancy) and 760 crew.

Image Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Intl.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Anthem of the Seas Undocks

Royal Caribbean has shared a video of the undocking of Anthem of the Seas at Meyer Werft shipbuilders in Papenburg, Germany. Starting with filling the dock with water, the ship proceeds outside in time-lapse style along with informative captions explaining the process. It's an intriguing precision operation.

Video Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Vikings Are Coming to America

On Tuesday, February 24th, Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal and Viking River Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen announced that Viking has selected the Port of New Orleans as the homeport for its first North American river cruise voyages. Tentative initial itineraries will include calls in St. James, East Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes in Louisiana, as well as destinations further north along the Mississippi River such as Memphis, Tennessee, St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Viking, the world's largest high end river cruise company, will invest more than $100 million per ship to build six ships over the next three years and, in accordance with U.S. maritime law, employ Americans on their made-in-America vessels. Their launch on the Mississippi is expected in late 2017.

Founded in 1997 with the purchase and launch of four ships in Russia, Viking now operates 60 vessels on rivers in Europe, Egypt, China, and southeast Asia and this spring is starting to offer ocean cruises as well. Their entry into the United States river cruising market has been rumored for years, but there is no word yet on how large the river boats will be or whether they will be similar in style to the very popular Viking "Longship" pictured here.

Image Courtesy Viking River Cruises

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Royal Caribbean Debuts "Harmony of the Seas" Details

When the third ship in the Oasis Class joins sister ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas in the Royal Caribbean International fleet, the newly named Harmony of the Seas will capture the title of world’s largest cruise ship. As expected, Harmony of the Seas will feature the design of seven distinct neighborhoods for which the Oasis Class is known, in addition to offering an amazing collection of experiences, amenities, and activities at sea.


In something of an unexpected move, the latest Oasis Class ship will also introduce the first waterslides on Royal Caribbean with a splash. Three thrilling waterslides will bring brand new adventures to the ship’s Pool and Sports Zone, dipping, diving, and swirling three decks down through a series of twists and turns over Central Park 10 decks below. One of the slides also will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.

Harmony of the Seas also will feature a new Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade. The Bionic Bar was first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and feature robot bartenders serving up one-of-a-kind crafted cocktails while dancing to a fluid beat. Guests on board Harmony of the Seas will also utilize RFID technology with Royal WOWBands that provide them access to their staterooms as well as make onboard purchases and reservations. Like her sisters, Harmony also will feature high speed Internet connections allowing guests to stream video; Skype with family and friends back at home; and share vacation memories through social media instantly while at sea.

While Oasis and Allure offered some of the largest staterooms in the fleet, on Harmony of the Seas the company has made some stateroom categories even larger. Interior accommodations also will be outfitted with Royal Caribbean’s exclusive Virtual Balconies which offer a view in every stateroom, while single travelers will have studio stateroom choices. Suite guests also will have exclusive new areas to enjoy, from a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen to an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck.

Younger and young-at-heart guests can take a spin on the handcrafted carousel or enjoy a new classic games arcade on the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood. While parents enjoy the newly relocated Starbucks café on the Boardwalk, kids can meet new friends at a new climbing play area.

Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining will give Harmony of the Seas’ guests a culinary experience with more choice and flexibility than ever before. Those preferring a more traditional cruise dining style may select the “Classic” option which will offer two set seating times. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening.

New specialty restaurant concepts will provide even more variety, including Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with a new teppanyaki menu, and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant. The new Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine will give guests the chance to experience a unique culinary adventure for the senses when Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Renderings Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Have You Discovered Your "CRUISE-A-NALITY"?

If you used Carnival Corporation's unique "CRUISE-A-NALITY" tool to determine what type of cruise vacation and brand experience is right for you—then you were one of nearly a quarter of a million who did.

Of the thousands of people who completed the "CRUISE-A-NALITY" quiz, a total of 65 percent were women. Additionally, when combining both male and female respondents, nearly 40 percent of consumers who completed the quiz qualified as a "Captain Spontaneous" (male) or "The Free Spirit" (female) cruise personality—meaning they are up for whatever experience is thrown their way and always looking for a good time. The results were based on a six personality-focused questions that generate a cruise "persona" for all types of travelers.

The "CRUISE-A-NALITY" tool, available on Carnival Corporation's World's Leading Cruise Lines website, combines onboard experience-based questions with destination-based questions to provide cruise brand recommendations for each participant. For instance, if a male answered questions about what kind of onboard experience he was looking for that led him to the "Captain Spontaneous" persona and chose that he is looking for a tropical getaway, he might be provided with recommendations to travel on the company's Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, or Costa Cruises brands.

"The CRUISE-A-NALITY tool is a fun way for travelers to look for the cruise vacation experience that is best for them," said Ken Jones, vice president of group marketing and insights for Carnival Corporation. "It is easy to do, and it is helping our current and potential guests get a better understanding of their cruise personas. The more we can help get the right people on the right ship for the right occasion, the more we are able to ensure we exceed guest expectations. And of course, we always encourage our guests to work with their travel agent, who can provide excellent insight into how to make the most of a cruise vacation."

The quiz has been an engaging tool for consumers, with people spending on average more than two and a half minutes on the site per visit. When that amount of time is combined with the more than 200,000 visits to the tool, it accounts for 445 days, or more than a year of time, exploring their cruise personality. When taking the quiz, there are 30 possible "CRUISE-A-NALITY" personas available. Find yours at World's Leading Cruise Lines.

Grand Princess Bridge Photo © CruiseDiva.com

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Anthem of the Seas Floats Out

Anthem of the Seas, the latest cruise ship under construction at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany left the covered building dock of the shipyard on Saturday, February 21st.

The 168.600-gt cruise ship, one of the world's largest cruise ships is being built for Royal Caribbean International.

This ethereal image really says it all.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oceania Cruises Introduces Innovative New Classes For Culinary Arts Center

Guests get cooking on Oceania Cruises
Noted by foodies for the dining experience and on board cooking demonstrations and classes, Oceania Cruises is expanding its reputation with a new innovative culinary curriculum featuring 20 new classes for the Culinary Center. Included is a special two-day culinary immersion program,a session focused on the life and legacy of Chef Jacques Pépin, and additions to the Gourmet Explorer Series that showcases cooking styles from a variety of international destinations.

Developed by longtime Director of Culinary Enrichment, Chef Kathryn Kelly, the new programs will debut on Marina and Riviera in April 2015. The Culinary Center at sea is equipped with individual induction cook top work stations where classes range from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on the itinerary. “In our Culinary Center, guests cook under the instruction of faculty members who are CIA graduates and have apprenticed under a who’s who of renowned chefs,” shares Kelly. “We continue to add new topics to keep things fresh for past guests and this year we’re proud to honor our consummate teacher, Jacques Pepin, with a special class.”

Culinary Center Immersion Program
In response to guest requests, the Oceania Cruises Culinary Center will offer a special Culinary School Immersion Program on select itineraries. The curriculum is designed to improve the skills of a home chef by focusing on the essential techniques for creating basic sauces, grilling, preparing vegetables, and other culinary skills. The in-depth instruction is spread over a morning and afternoon session and extends for two days—or four sessions in total. The highlight of the culinary immersion program is a friendly competition where teams of four guests are paired together to prepare a dish that is judged by the faculty and executives from the shipboard culinary team. All participants receive a special certificate at the end of the program, while the winning team can claim culinary bragging rights for the remainder of the cruise.

Celebrate Jacques Pépin
In collaboration with Chef Pépin, Oceania Cruises is creating an exclusive class that includes recipes from Jacques’ cookbooks and family favorites. The new class “La Technique: A Celebration of Jacques Pépin’s 80th Birthday” covers techniques written in his early book “La Technique,” which remains an indispensable source of culinary knowledge for modern chefs, as well as “Essential Pépin,” a collection of over 700 technique-based favorite recipes that stretches over his six decades in the kitchen. Guests will learn five basic techniques around eggs, proteins, vegetables, sauces, and desserts. At the conclusion of each class, guests pose for a photo that will be incorporated into a special birthday card for Chef Pépin.

New Regional Classes
With an abundance of guests seeking new educational epicurean experiences, the Culinary Center is introducing 20 new classes as part of its Gourmet Explorer Series. These classes will showcase regional cuisine from Morocco, Peru, the Pacific Northwest and more. The curriculum of the Culinary Center continues to appeal to a wide range of tastes and culinary skill levels by incorporating techniques inspired by the cultures and regions the ship visits with classes such as Planet Veggie, Viva Tapas, At Home in Sicily, Rock Your Wok, What Mermaids Know, Global Gourmet, and the Pizza Master Class.

Image Courtesy Oceania Cruises