Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘Tis the Season to Cruise to the Caribbean on Holland America Line’s Holiday Sailings

With the holiday season right around the corner, we’re hearing a lot about the incentives to sail that cruise lines are offering their guests. With special all-inclusive packages in verandah staterooms and suites, you can leave the hustle and hassle behind and let Holland America Line spread the holiday cheer by doing all of the decorating, cooking, and cleaning. Just like visiting mom, only better. Bring her along and she won’t have to lift a finger either.

“The holidays are a magical time on our ships, and these special offers make it even more appealing to take a cruise to the Caribbean with us this season,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “We invite our guests to let Holland America Line do all of the work— just come on board, relax and have a great time.”

All-Inclusive Package
Guests looking to splurge on a verandah cabin or suite can take advantage of the all-inclusive package that starts at just $1,899 per person, double occupancy. The package includes roundtrip air from select U.S. gateways*; transfers between the airport and ship; the cruise fare; taxes; a Signature Beverage Package valued at $50 per person, per day; and a $25 per-person shipboard credit. All-inclusive third and fourth fares for guests in the cabin with two full fares start at $799 per person and include air, transfers, cruise and taxes.

Special Packages for Third/Fourth Guests
In addition to all-inclusive fares, Holland America Line offers special cruise-only ocean-view and interior stateroom fares for third and fourth guests on 7-day Caribbean holiday sailings. Making it affordable for a family of four to set sail for as little as $1,596, double occupancy cruise-only rates start at just $599 per person and reduced third/fourth fares begin at $199 per person.

‘Tis the Season to Cruise to the Caribbean
Holland America Line has six ships cruising the clear blue waters of the eastern and western Caribbean on 7-day itineraries in December 2014 that are included in the packages. Guests can sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Westerdam, and ms Zuiderdam. Each ship offers two holiday sailings: one over Christmas and one over New Year’s.

The ships call at a variety of ports including Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Falmouth and Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Key West, Fla.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. All roundtrip Fort Lauderdale itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay, the line’s private Bahamian island known for its pristine beaches, diverse shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and kid-friendly activities.

The only ship in the fleet sailing roundtrip from Tampa, Florida, ms Ryndam also has two holiday departures and calls at Key West; Banana Coast, Honduras; Santo Tomas, Guatemala; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Amsterdam, ms Maasdam and ms Prinsendam also will be in the Caribbean during the holidays, but those cruises are not included in the Holiday all-inclusive packages.

Holiday Cruises Around the World
The Caribbean isn’t the only region to welcome a Holland America Line ship this season. While not part of the packages, travelers can still celebrate the holidays on a cruise to South America, Mexico & Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Far East, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

‘Deck the Hulls’ Onboard
During the holiday cruises, guests can take part in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, enjoy traditional holiday meals with all of the trimmings and a special Royal Dutch High Tea with fanciful holiday cookies and pastries. The ships’ international crew chorus performs a magical holiday show, while caroling and singalongs take place around the ship. Kids will delight in a visit from Santa Claus and holiday-themed crafts.

The New Year’s Eve sailings are the ideal setting to ring in 2015, featuring a festive holiday ball with a champagne toast at midnight.
* Air gateways for the all-inclusive package are Atlanta, GA.; Chicago, IL.; Dallas & Fort Worth, TX; and New York, NY (JFK only); The all-inclusive package also is available from 21 additional U.S. and Canadian cities for an additional surcharge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Celebrate the Holidays Caribbean Style Aboard MSC Divina

It’s that time of year when the holiday season is upon us and it’s not too late to plan the break you deserve with a winter escape on MSC Cruises’ stunning MSC Divina, one of the largest cruise ships sailing from Miami. With MSC Cruises taking care of the cooking, entertainment, and clean up, the entire family has the opportunity to relax and spend time together while enjoying all the amenities aboard MSC Divina and visiting some of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations.

“The holiday season is really about spending quality time with family and friends,” said Ken Muskat, executive vice president of sales, PR & guest services for MSC Cruises. “We’ve worked very hard to ensure that guests sailing on MSC Divina this holiday season can enjoy the festivities and traditions that come along with the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, without worrying about all the planning details.”

Highlights of MSC Divina holiday celebrations include:
Thanksgiving – Nov. 22nd departure to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas: Spend Thanksgiving Day at sea enjoying festive entertainment, a traditional Turkey dinner and all-day football displayed on multiple large screens in the sports bar. Kids ages 3-11 can participate in a special Turkey Day cooking class and a Thanksgiving Day costume parade and show. A Thanksgiving scavenger hunt, flash mob and party will take place for children ages 12-17.

Hanukkah – Dec. 13th departure to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas: For those celebrating Hanukkah, MSC Divina will host a nightly Menorah lighting as well as serve traditional Hanukkah foods. Special kosher meals can also be ordered in advance.

Christmas – Dec. 20th departure to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas: For Christmas, MSC Divina will be decked out in the traditional trimmings, with lights, decorations, and festive Christmas trees. Guests will enjoy traditional Christmas carols, a visit by Santa Claus who will present a gift to every child on board, and special Christmas menus honoring the culinary traditions of the holiday. In addition, kids can take part in in Christmas-themed cooking classes, parades, scavenger hunts, and disco dances. A Christmas mass will also be celebrated onboard.
Bookings made by Oct. 31, 2014 qualify for the line’s National Cruise Vacation Month deal, which includes balcony staterooms at ocean view rates, plus kids aged 11 and under sail free. MSC Cruises is also offering a complimentary drink package on these select sailings for those who upgrade to their new “Fantastica experience.” Finally, bookings made before the end of the month will qualify for pre-paid gratuities for all MSC Divina 7-night Caribbean sailings between now and Dec 13, 2014. For more information, visit MSCCruisesUSA.com.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love is in the Sea Air on Princess Cruises

With more newlyweds than ever taking to sea to celebrate their nuptials, Princess Cruises is helping them plan their dream honeymoon with a new online Honeymoon Wishes Registry. Couples can sign up at the honeymoon registry page, select desired gifts to enhance their cruise vacation and share with family and friends. This feature allows couples to choose from a list of options they wish to enjoy on their honeymoon, from contributions to the cruise, drinks by the pool, specialty dining, spa treatments, and shore excursions. All gifts are applied as an onboard credit to the couple’s stateroom account to use on board during their honeymoon cruise. Couples can also create a wedding website to share photos and details about how they met, their engagement and wedding, e-mail their friends and family directing them to the registry, and print out announcement cards that can be shared.

“Our new online Honeymoon Wishes Registry feature gives newlyweds a simple way to customize their honeymoon cruise and select their desired amenities to enjoy on board,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “For the last 16 years, we’ve made wedding dreams come true with our unique weddings at sea program and this new offering is a wonderful extension to give couples ease and flexibility in creating their own gift registries.”

When Princess launched its seagoing weddings program in 1998, the cruise line made maritime and marriage history, and turned cruising lore into reality, by having the captain join couples in marriage. Until that point, there had been a common misconception that any ship captain was empowered to join couples in matrimony, but in truth, no such ceremony was ever conducted aboard a major cruise ship.

Today, Princess’ “Tie the Knot” wedding program has grown to not only offer these special at-sea wedding ceremonies on its cruise ships, but also include fleet-wide harborside ceremonies in embarkation ports or weddings ashore in select ports of call. Together these options have created one of the cruise industry’s most diverse and unique wedding programs, offering the convenience of a wedding and honeymoon in one customizable package that makes this milestone celebration easy and hassle-free.
Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Monday, October 20, 2014

Regal Princess to Host a “Love Boat” Reunion

The original Love Boat cast will serve as 
godparents for Regal Princess
Princess Cruises recently announced that the Godparents for their newest ship Regal Princess will be the original cast ensemble from the iconic television show, The Love Boat. Performing the naming honors will be Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (Julie, cruise director) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the Captain’s daughter).

Adding to the excitement of the naming ceremony is a celebrity guest list and Love Boat cast reunion taking place in Ft. Lauderdale next month.

“We’re incredibly excited to host what will be one of the largest Love Boat reunions ever aboard our newest ship Regal Princess,” said Jan Swartz, president, Princess Cruises. “What better way to kick-off our 50th anniversary celebration than reuniting the show’s cast with some of the wonderful guests from its ten year run.”

As well as serving as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Regal Princesss naming ceremony on Nov. 5th, Tori Spelling, daughter of Love Boat producer Aaron Spelling who made two appearances on the show at age 10, will conduct “gold carpet” interviews with a host of celebrities who all made guest appearances on the show, including: Loni Anderson, Joyce DeWitt, Jamie Farr, Pam Grier, Florence Henderson, Jack Jones, Christopher Knight, Diane Ladd, Lorenzo Lamas, Carol Lawrence, Rich Little, Kristy McNichol, Lee Meriwether, Don Most, Tracy Nelson, Mackenzie Phillips, Doris Roberts, Marion Ross, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Charlene Tilton, Joan Van Ark, Dick Van Patten and Adrian Zmed. In addition to these well-known celebrities, the guest star with the most number of appearances on the show—Charo—will give a classical guitar performance that evening. “Cuchi-cuchi!”

The Love Boat first aired on Sept. 24, 1977 and sailed into television history for ten seasons. Viewers began their decade-long love affair with the show and its memorable guests and eventually it became one of the highest rated and longest-running shows on television. The Pacific Princess and Island Princess were the primary floating stars of the show, while later episodes and specials were filmed aboard other Princess ships in cruise destinations around the globe.

The show was based on the non-fiction book, The Love Boats, by real-life Princess cruise director Jeraldine Saunders and was preceded by three made-for-TV movies. Famed television producers Aaron Spelling and Doug Cramer steered the show throughout its 10-year run, creating a beloved series that brought comedy, drama, and romance to millions of viewers each week, all set aboard Princess ships. Today the show is in syndication worldwide.

The 3,560-guest Regal Princess, which entered service in May of this year, is arriving in Ft. Lauderdale to begin her maiden season of Caribbean cruise vacations. The ship’s naming ceremony is just the beginning of the celebrations that will mark the company’s golden anniversary. Guests sailing on any of the line’s 18 cruise ships during 2015 will enjoy a wide range of 50th anniversary experiences.

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cruise Ship Passenger in Quarantine:UPDATE

Carnival Cruise Lines issued the following statement after a female passenger on board Carnival Magic was discovered to have possibly been exposed to Ebola during her routine duties at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where a patient died of the deadly disease.

Carnival Statement
"Late afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 15., we were made aware by the U.S. CDC of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She is deemed by CDC to be very low risk. At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution. We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board."
Carnival Magic departed from Galveston Texas on Sunday, October 12, called at Mahogany Bay, Honduras on Wednesday October 15 and arrived off the coast of Belize on Thursday October 16 where, in an abundance of caution, the island's government refused to allow the passenger and her traveling companion to go ashore. The Belizean government issued this statement in a press release:
"The government of Belize reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize and while we remain in close contact with U.S. officials we have maintained the position that when even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people."

In addition, the Government of Belize decided "not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport."
UPDATE from Carnival Cruise Lines:
The Carnival Magic, which was waiting off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico this morning to dock there for a scheduled port visit, had not received clearance from Mexican authorities to do so by 12 noon eastern time today and therefore the decision was made to proceed to Galveston to ensure the ship arrives there on time on Sunday morning.

We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests. The Texas healthcare worker on board continues to show no symptoms of illness and poses no risk to the guests or crew on board. The individual remains in voluntary isolation.

Guests on the ship are being provided a $200 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 50 percent discount on a future cruise based on the missed visit to Cozumel.

Quantum of the Seas: Go Higher With North Star

When Quantum of the Seas makes her debut, the North Star will literally take passengers to new heights. The video below explains how this engineering marvel came together and how it was installed as a finishing touch on board Royal Caribbean's "Smartship."


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carnival Corp Looks to China for Growth

Capacity Growth
Carnival Corporation* continues to expand its leading market presence in China in 2015 and recently announced its plans for immediate capacity growth there to meet increasing demand. When Costa Cruises adds Costa Serena to its fleet in China in April of next year, Carnival Corporation will be the first global cruise company with four ships homeported in China, growing the company's leading market presence by 140 percent from 2013-2015. Costa Serena joins Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria, and Sapphire Princess already homeported in China.

With its Costa and Princess brands homeporting ships in China, Carnival Corporation offers Chinese travelers a diversified cruising product with two brands targeting two different segments of travelers. Utilizing multiple brands enables Carnival to meet and exceed guest expectations on the cruises it operates by closely matching passenger tastes with the right brand experience. In total, Carnival will have 220 port calls from five brands in China in 2014, which is 15 percent of the company's total port calls in all of Asia, a region where Carnival doubled its market share over the past two years.

Reflecting the company's belief and commitment in the growth potential of the Chinese cruise market, Carnival Corporation recently announced its Global Chief Operations Officer Alan Buckelew is relocating to China to oversee Carnival's growing operations in the country while retaining his overall global responsibilities for the corporation. This is the first move of its kind by a major publicly traded Global 500 corporation not headquartered in China.

Shipbuilding Growth
In addition, Carnival Corporation has just announced its signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) to explore the possibility of a joint venture aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the Chinese cruise industry, expected to be one of the largest cruise markets in the world with 4.5 million passengers by 2020, according to the Chinese Ministry of Transport (MOT).

The MOU outlines the framework for exploration of a partnership between Carnival Corporation and the CSSC that includes the possibility of forming a shipbuilding joint venture that could become a three-way arrangement involving Fincantieri of Italy, the world's largest cruise ship building company, in support of the Chinese government's plans to grow the cruising industry in China and meet escalating demand for cruises from Chinese travelers. As part of the possible shipbuilding joint venture, Carnival Corporation would work closely with CSSC and Fincantieri to help define the first-ever, world-class cruise ship built in China. Carnival Corporation, the world's leading cruise operator, has been involved in building modern cruise ships that exceed guest expectations more than any entity in the world. Under the joint venture concept, Carnival Corporation would provide its ship design and shipbuilding expertise to create the vision, definition and overall specifications for the China-built cruise ship.

"This is really a breakthrough day for all of us at Carnival, as well as our friends at the CSSC and all Chinese travelers who are increasingly turning to cruises for their vacation experiences," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "This landmark agreement enables us to work closely with our partners at the CSSC to fully explore the possibility of forming a joint venture to further develop China into a leading cruise market, supporting local economic development, and bringing vacation enjoyment to millions. We look forward to getting to work and lending the expertise of many talented people across Carnival Corporation."

In the past year, the Chinese Ministry of Transport has expressed its strong desire to transform China into a leading global cruise market, including investments in infrastructure and developing a strong domestic cruise presence to help spur growth in cruising as a key component of the expanding tourism industry in China.

The MOT projects China to be the second largest global cruise market after the U.S. in the next several years based on economic growth, increased spending power of Chinese consumers and growing demand for cruise vacations in China. Partnerships like the relationship being fully explored between CSSC and Carnival support the MOT's pro-growth cruise policies designed to spur new economic development from tourism in China. The MOU also includes the exploration of other possible joint venture opportunities with CSSC including the potential to form a domestic cruise company, port development, talent development, and training as well as supply chain and logistics.
*Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world, with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Ibero Cruises, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (UK). Together, the brands operate 101 ships totaling 212,000 lower berths with eight new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2014 and 2017. Carnival Corporation also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon.
Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Royal Caribbean Enhances Oasis-Class Ships

Sailing aboard the world’s largest cruise ships will soon offer an enhanced experience. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas has emerged from a 14-day drydock with a new look including reimagined dining, high-speed internet, new retail offerings, a new popular Broadway show, and new suites with exclusive suite dining and lounge.

Sistership Allure of the Seas will follow suit in May 2015 with nearly identical enhancements. During their respective drydock, each ship’s seven neighborhoods will be enhanced as part of the cruises line’s Royal Advantage commitment to deliver the best vacation offerings and to introduce guests to even more new features and personalized experiences.

Even More New Culinary Concepts
A key element of any vacation, dining provides cruisers with the opportunity to experience new flavors and indulge in old favorites. Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining, affords more choice and flexibility than ever before by offering 20 restaurants, as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Royal Caribbean has recreated the original Oasis-class three-story main dining room into three distinct complimentary venues introducing bold new concepts each with their own cuisine and ambiance:
American Icon Grill offers guests a take on the classic American road trip pulling together best-loved regional favorites into one comfort-style menu;
Silk is a vibrant and exotic destination where the spices of the Far East bring new flavor to adventurous palates through a Pan-Asian menu;
The Grande, where every night is formal night, offers an elegant ambiance and refined cuisine.
Guests will enjoy menus of the new concepts beginning March 14, 2015, onboard Oasis of the Seas. Guests sailing Oasis of the Seas prior to March 14, will enjoy the traditional dining room experience in the newly designed spaces. As part of Dynamic Dining guests will have full control of their own epicurean journey with a selection of specialty restaurants including four new unique concepts:
Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a reimagined Izumi Japanese Cuisine offering a full teppanyaki menu as well as fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi;
Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, first introduced aboard Navigator of the Seas, will feature a menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes including guacamole made tableside. These dishes can be complemented by a beverage menu of tequilas, mezcal, and Mexican beers, as well as sangrias and tableside-mixed margaritas;
Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, a unique culinary adventure for the senses where Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare;
Coastal Kitchen is an exclusive restaurant for suite guests and Pinnacle members, that fuses Mediterranean influences with the riches of California’s bountiful farmlands. The experience is complemented by a robust wine list, curated specifically for the venue.
Finally, guests will continue to enjoy Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park and Vintage Wine Bar, the specialty dining concepts introduced on the Oasis-class in 2009.

Technology
Royal Caribbean’s commitment to provide the best vacation experience is at the heart of its Royal Advantage program which takes its latest innovations and most popular features and expands them to even its newest ships, such as:
Boatloads of Bandwidth, will offer guests onboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas connectivity that matches broadband connections onshore and is greater than all other cruise ships combined. These new capabilities, allow the cruise line to offer affordable Internet packages so that guests may watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media, and have video conversations, even in the middle of the ocean.
Royal iQ is a new app that puts guests in charge of their vacation choices. With the improved connectivity, Royal iQ is able to continue dining reservations, shore excursions, and spa appointments onboard, through both a downloadable app and at freestanding iQ stations around the ship. Royal iQ can be used as a convenient calendar that provides guests with at-a-glance views of their programs and to keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.
New Exclusive Suite Experience
Royal Caribbean is introducing 10 new suites on Oasis-class ships, offering expansive views of the ocean or the ships’ signature AquaTheater and Boardwalk neighborhood. Included are two Royal Suites, six Grand Suites, and two Royal Family Suites, which can accommodate up to six guests. These suites are paired with new exclusive suite amenities that include:
The Suite Lounge, an exclusive lounge area for suite guests to relax offering views of the ship and sea;
The Sun Deck, a new sun deck area that gives suites guests the chance to relax in the Caribbean sun with lounge furniture, shaded and seating areas, and private service;
Coastal Kitchen is a suites only full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean flair.
New Broadway Show
Oasis of the Seas will bring one of the longest running productions on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony award winning CATS to sea. Beginning June 2015, sister ship Allure of the Seas will feature MAMMA MIA!, the hit musical based on the group ABBA's timeless songs.

Superior Shopping at Sea
Royal Caribbean is introducing the playfully sophisticated designs of kate spade new york to Oasis-class on its Royal Promenade. Rounding out the diverse onboard shopping are Michael Kors and the Britto Art Gallery, as well as a whole new line-up of merchandise and fashion jewelry such as, Alexis Bittar, Uno de 50, Lauren G Adams, and Nina Nguyen.

These enhancements take many of the best features the cruise line has created in recent years and introduces them to its newest ships, by building on Royal Caribbean’s best-in-class global vacation offering and delivering to guests the Royal Advantage—the industry’s most innovative cruise ships, combined with exciting itineraries and destinations, and engaging Gold Anchor Service. More information on specific roll out dates for Oasis-class ships is available at RoyalCaribbean.com.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas sail alternating 7-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries every Saturday and Sunday, respectively from Fort Laurderdale, Florida, visiting warm-weather getaways in the Caribbean. During the 2015 Europe season, Allure of the Seas will be homeported at Barcelona, Spain, for the first full Oasis-class Europe season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Carnival Cruise Lines Announces 'Carnival Live Concert Series' Artists for Spring 2015

We've always felt that there's good entertainment to be found on cruises and have often marveled that we didn't have to pay extra to enjoy it. Sure, there are music-themed sailings for which you pay a slightly higher fare, but Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival LIVE Concert Series has changed even the face of that with a program created to offer guests the opportunity to experience exclusive live entertainment from major music artists, all at a good value and with great convenience. Shows are presented in the ship’s main theaters, which range in seating capacity from 900 to 1,300, for an intimate onboard performance where there is never a bad seat in the house.

After a successful introductory season, Carnival has revealed its Carnival LIVE Concert Series roster for spring 2015, bringing more of the best live music to sea from some of most popular and highly requested music acts. Coming on board in the first part of next year will be Journey, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Smokey Robinson, and Styx, back by popular demand. The 2015 Carnival LIVE concert lineup continues this one-of-a-kind entertainment option, while building on the success of an inaugural year of high-energy, sold-out on-board performances. In addition to this mix of GRAMMY® Award- and CMA Award-winning artists and nominees, next year the company will announce even more acts scheduled for the latter half of 2015.

The 2015 Carnival LIVE Concert Series kicks off next March and features one or more major artist each month, performing multiple shows on Carnival vessels docked in one of three ports of call: Cozumel, Nassau and a new port for the program, St. Thomas. Artists board the ship in port, perform in the main show lounge, and then debark following the concert.
• Journey kicks off the 2015 roster with two rock anthem-filled performances on March 18 and 19 in St. Thomas.
• The award-winning Little Big Town brings their unmistakable sound to “Fun Ships” in Nassau for three appearances on (March 30 and 31 and April 1).
• Guests “Cruisin’” to see Smokey Robinson sing timeless classics from his 50-year music career can catch the icon April 21, 22, and 23 in Cozumel.
• In May, country trio Rascal Flatts, one of the top-selling live artists in any genre, will perform a series of three shows for guests in Cozumel (May 5, 6, and 7).
• Rock fans are invited to “Come Sail Away” to see one of four Styx concerts to be performed in Nassau (June 16, 17, 18, and 20).
“We are thrilled to continue our Carnival LIVE Concert Series in 2015 and welcome aboard more fantastic rock, country and R&B artists for our guests to enjoy,” said Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations for Carnival Cruise Lines. “This program has struck a chord with consistently sold-out shows and a tremendous response from past guests as well as those who sailed with us for the first time to catch their favorite performers.”

There will be even more Carnival vessels, homeports, and itineraries to choose from with a total of 10 “Fun Ships” departing from six convenient U.S. homeports hosting concerts in spring 2015. Carnival LIVE voyages will originate in Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Jacksonville, Florida; Charleston, S.C.; and, for the first time, Galveston, Texas, the line’s second largest homeport.

Carnival LIVE tickets for 2015 range from $35 to $60 for general admission, significantly less than land-based concerts. VIP tickets are available for $125 to $250, offering fans seating in the first four rows, an artist meet and greet, a souvenir photo with the artist, and a commemorative concert pass. For a calendar of spring 2015 Carnival LIVE concerts and to learn more about the Carnival LIVE sailings this fall featuring Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Jewel, Daughtry, and more, visit Carnival.com/CarnivalLIVE.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Monday, October 13, 2014

Princess Cruises to Celebrate 50th Anniversary in 2015

1965, Princess Patricia
Fifty years? Has it really been that long since the “Love Boat” first sailed across our television screens? No—the television show didn't debut until 1977—but next year marks The 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises, the line that launched with a single ship, the Princess Patricia in 1965, and a little over a decade later starred in the television series with Pacific Princess.

To mark their 50th anniversary milestone, Princess plans to make voyages particularly memorable for guests in 2015 as they treat them to these festive onboard anniversary offerings that will be introduced across the fleet early in the year:
Love Boat Disco Deck Party: To honor the iconic role The Love Boat played in the line’s history, a Love Boat Disco Party will celebrate the program during a 70’s theme night. Movies Under the Stars will showcase video messages from the original Love Boat cast, montages from the show, a Love Boat sing-a-long and show trivia, 70’s music videos, and even a live kiss cam. The party will also feature a production number, a celebration of weddings and anniversaries of guests onboard, a photo opportunity with a Love Boat life ring, and dancing with a party band.
Festive Food: One night on every cruise, the main dining rooms will present a special souvenir menu featuring commemorative dishes from the past five decades. Known for offering great pizza at sea, Princess chefs will also introduce a variety of anniversary pizzas such as Spicy Tomato & Shrimp, Potato, Bacon & Brie and Thai.
Chocolate Journeys: As part of the new “Chocolate Journeys” experience, master pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love has created two special 50th anniversary desserts that will be served to guests during their cruise vacations—Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with Vanilla Crème Brulee and Crunchy Shortbread or Moist Chocolate Dome with Raspberry Crème Brulée and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse. The two desserts will alternate from one voyage to another.
Cheers to 50 Years: Guests can sip inventive cocktails from renowned mixologist Spike Marchant along with drinks popular through the decades—from a classic martini to a pina colada. A special half-bottle anniversary-labeled Prosecco will be offered and the new Seawitch West Coast IPA craft beer brewed especially for the 50th anniversary will be available.
Let Us Entertain You: A 50th celebration in the signature Piazza will feature a golden balloon drop and some balloons will feature surprise giveaway items hidden inside. A special anniversary song, “Here’s to Princess,” celebrating the line’s history will be performed. Guests can compete in exciting game shows and test their knowledge with the Princess Trivia Challenge—50th Anniversary edition. Plus, on select sailings, guests can dance to the music of tribute bands—like the Beatlemaniacs—bringing the greatest hits over the decades to life.
50th Anniversary Décor & Guest Giveaways: Anniversary décor and signage will be displayed from the time guests arrive in the terminal (domestic home ports only) and be visible through various onboard touches, including a spectacular anniversary display cake presented in the atrium. A 50th anniversary tote bag and commemorative time line will be placed in each stateroom upon embarkation. In addition, the 50th anniversary logo will appear on stateroom key cards and on the daily Princess Patter. A series of videos will play on stateroom televisions that share the company’s history and milestone moments. Each cruise ship in the fleet will also fly a 50th anniversary flag on the bow.
Commemorative Keepsakes: The onboard boutiques will offer limited edition merchandise and exclusive offers during the anniversary celebration. In addition, the photographers will have commemorative backdrops and folios to capture the memories of guests’ cruise vacations.
The 50th anniversary officially kicks off with the naming ceremony of Regal Princess on Nov. 5, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale by the original Love Boat cast members before she sets sail for her maiden season of Caribbean cruises. Some of the 50th anniversary onboard offerings will be available aboard Regal Princess beginning in November (when the Cruise Diva crew will be on board and live blogging from the ship) and then roll out to the rest of the fleet in early 2015. More information about various 50th anniversary activities, including a comprehensive historical time line and video, can be found at Princess.com/50th-anniversary.

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Friday, October 10, 2014

Malt Shop Memories Cruise: How Do They Do It?

Pre-cruise package, with tee-shirts, 
lanyards, luggage tags & more
It’s no secret that the annual Malt Shop Memories Cruise—the Best Rock ’n Roll Party at Sea—is one of our favorites. The day our pre-cruise package arrives is always special. Mel and I are “alumni” of three previous Malt Shop sailings and each year we look forward to the next one.

While I’ve had a look at the onboard operation during our cruises, like many fellow passengers I’ve wondered how they put it all together and who creates the lineup every year on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise. It takes not only a deep knowledge and understanding of music from that era, but also a person with a strong personality that is passionate about this music genre and who has the ability to book the top stars to come on board and have the time of their lives with their fans. That man is Alan Rubens, who started his career in the music industry by producing records and managing artists and additionally had his own record company for many years. He has graciously answered questions posed to him for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise News about how the cruise lineup comes about and I am pleased to have permission to share his insights here.
Alan Rubens
Question: You have been developing the lineup for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise since its inception six years ago. What goes into your thought process as you create the lineup? How do you decide who to have on each year?
Alan Rubens: I constantly check which Artists from the Malt Shop era are touring—how good their shows are, how enthusiastic they are to perform and mix and mingle with our cruisers. They need to have a great show and the right kind of personality to enjoy what we have on board. I try to mix it up each year and not repeat the previous year or years. I like to find a new Artist that we haven’t had before—like this year, we have The Temptations and Peter Noone.

Q: You have been the executive producer of many popular Time Life box sets—Rock ’n’ Roll Era, Flower Power, Soul of the ’70s, and of course, Malt Shop Memories. What was it about Malt Shop Memories music that gave you the idea to build that box set into a live entertainment event six years ago?
A.R.: The wonderful enthusiasm that our customers had toward this music. The Malt Shop era is a special time—it isn’t just the ’50s or the ’60s—it really is the late ’50s and early ’60s—a time when a great portion of the population was growing up—the real first baby boomers. It was the time between the birth of rock ’n roll and the British Invasion, and it really was a special time in American pop music—filled with great songs and great artists.

Q: Given all your knowledge of music, what do you think makes the music of this era, 1950s-60s rock ’n roll so special?
A.R.: There was a changing tide in the culture of teens back then. They were experiencing a new kind of freedom, desiring to make the things around us feel like it was really their own, not their parents’. And the music was exactly that—written by teenagers for teenagers, and it became a soundtrack for the rest of their lives.

Q: Is selecting a great entertainer for our cruise different than selecting entertainers for other live events, in your opinion? Is it number of hits/size of their catalog? Personality of the Artist? All the above?
A.R.: All of the above. Of course, we need Artists that people remember and whose songs have a special place in everybody’s memory, but they also have to understand what we have here: a community that grew up together and wants to honor those times, feel young again—and they need to be the kind of person who wants to share all those same feelings with the cruisers, be part of that community, and hang out and visit that special time with 2,000 like-minded friends.

Q: Have you ever been star-struck by an Artist you have brought on these cruises?
A.R.: Not really star-struck—I have known many of them for many years. But I am still in awe of so many of them and their tremendous talent and the effort they put into pleasing each and every fan at every show.

Q: Can you share with us now who you are working to get for 2015?
A.R.: I am working on making 2015, our sixth sailing, very special. Here are just a few names: Neil Sedaka, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, The Four Tops, Chubby Checker, Little Anthony, Darlene Love, to name just a few …

Q: If I know a great addition, do you take suggestions?
A.R.: Happy to hear any and all suggestions.
I love that Rubens said rock ’n roll became a soundtrack for the rest of our lives. Our iPods are filled with Malt Shop era tunes here at Cruise Diva headquarters so I may have to steal that line! I’m also happy to share with you that I have received personal assurance that the Malt Shop Memories Cruise will continue to sail for many years and there are exciting plans to expand the cruises as well. As always, I’ll keep you posted as I learn the details.