Friday, October 31, 2014

Cruise the Med's Legendary Ports Aboard Silver Wind

When Georgina and Humberto Cruz yearned for a cruise that called on legendary ports of call in the Mediterranean they chose Silversea Cruises' ultra-luxury Silver Wind for the voyage.

Join them as Georgina shares the details about the ship's recent makeover and highlights the luxurious experience.

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Thursday, October 30, 2014

You Should Be Dancing Aboard Holland America Line

Every Monday night I set aside time to watch ABC television’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars” to cheer on (and vote for) my favorite celebrity-and-pro dance pair. This year, it’s Sadie and Mark. If you’re like me, you probably would also like to meet your dance idols—and you can on a select Holland America Line cruise. The line has announced that it will continue the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” program in 2015/2016 due to its overwhelming popularity. For the third year, the collaboration brings the excitement of “Dancing with the Stars” to every ship in the Holland America Line fleet. The program will culminate with the annual Champions Cruise competition on ms Nieuw Amsterdam’s Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean voyage when the “Mirror Ball” trophy is awarded to the winner.

The 2015 schedule will continue to feature “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming on all sailings in addition to six special “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises highlighting the show’s professional dancers and celebrities. In 2013 and 2014 select theme cruises featured professional dancers Tristan MacManus, Kym Johnson, Sharna Burgess, Emma Slater, Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough, along with television personality Carson Kressley, singer Joey Fatone, actress Sabrina Bryan, and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

“On every cruise throughout the year our ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ lessons are a huge draw and the competition to dance for the Champions Cruise is intense, which tells us we have a very successful and engaging program,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs. “Dancing always has been a feature activity on our ships, and the partnership with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has enabled us to provide guests with a very special and exclusive experience.”

The six “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises for the 2015/16 season are:
• Jan. 3, 2015: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Westerdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
• Jan. 10, 2015: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Westerdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
• June 6, 2015: Seven-day Bermuda cruise aboard ms Veendam that sails roundtrip from Boston, Mass.
• June 13, 2015: Seven-day Canada/New England cruise aboard ms Veendam that sails from Boston, Mass, to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
• Jan. 3, 2016: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
• Champions Cruise: Jan. 10, 2016: Seven-day western Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Each theme cruise features lively guest performances from the professional dancers and celebrities who dazzle the audience with routines from the television show and exciting new choreographed dances. Additional events on theme cruises include dance lessons with the ship’s professional dancers, a special fashion show featuring glamorous show costumes, and a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, ask questions and take photos with them. Celebrities and professional dancers for 2015 will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Dance Competition for Guests
Dust off your dancing shoes to participate in “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming. Included are complimentary dance lessons with the ship’s dance pros and a dance competition that gives guests an opportunity to compete for a chance to represent their ship on the Champions Cruise. The range of eligible dance competition cruises vary slightly by ship based on actual departure dates; specific eligibility schedules and complete rules for the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competition are posted at HollandAmerica.com.

After preliminary rounds on each cruise, finalists are paired with a Holland America Line dance professional to perform center stage in the ship’s main show lounge. A judging panel—ship officers, shipboard professional dancers and other cruise staff—scores participants’ performances and combine those scores with audience appreciation scores for a total tally to determine the winning guest. Judges onboard the theme cruises may also include some of the “Dancing with the Stars” dance pros or celebrities.

Winners of the guest competitions with the highest scores from each of Holland America Line’s ships will win a free ocean-view stateroom for two on the Champions Cruise to compete for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy and title of Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion. There will be one winner from each ship on the Champions Cruise sailing aboard Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 10, 2016.

Image Courtesy of Holland America Line

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Christening Princess Cruises’ Latest “Newbuild”

Julie Benson Christens Princess Cruises’
Rose Parade Float
Every ship must be christened before it sets sail on its maiden voyage and even a landlocked ship needs a Godmother to perform the important task. Princess Cruises honored the nautical tradition by breaking a confetti-filled champagne bottle against the bow of its first-ever Rose Parade float before it “cruised” on its first test run in front of the Pasadena headquarters of Phoenix Decorating Company, the float's builder.

Princess Cruises Vice President of Public Relations Julie Benson served as the float’s godmother and pronounced, “I name this float Regal Princess. May God bless her and all who cruise down Colorado Boulevard on her.”

Depicting the cruise line’s newest ship Regal Princess symbolically sailing through some of the world’s most fascinating destinations and iconic landmarks, the Rose Parade float will pay tribute to The Love Boat television show that made Princess Cruises one of the most famous names in cruising and kick off a year of 50th anniversary celebrations in 2015. As a special feature, the six original cast members of The Love Boat will ride on the float’s bow.

Princess Cruises’ Rose Parade float will be 60 feet long and 24 feet high, and will be decorated with more than 24,000 thousand flowers and natural materials.

The Rose Parade has been a world-renowned tradition since 1890 and is broadcast to approximately 80 million viewers around the world every New Year’s Day.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bionic Bartenders Set Sail Aboard Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's newest ship Quantum of the Seas is about to make her appearance here in the U.S. with one of the most intriguing elements, the Bionic Bar. While the innovative new bar won't serve every cocktail you can think of, its robotic bartenders have the ability to create a wide variety of favorite libations and entertain patrons while doing so. Guests will place their drink orders via tablets by selecting the ingredients and even the pour order and then sit back and watch the robotic bartenders hard at work mixing them up to be served either at the bar or delivered to a table by a human. It's not quite like watching a young Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie Cocktail, but entertaining nonetheless.


Shaken or stirred (strained or muddled), the cocktail concoctions seem endless at Quantum of the Seas's Bionic Bar powered by Makr Shakr. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to create Royal Caribbean's two newest hard-working crew members B1-0 and N1-C.



Image & Video Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Cruise Review—Norwegian Getaway

Regular contributors Mary & Vincent Finelli are impressed by their first look at Norwegian Getaway as they sailed from Miami. They describe the ship as “sober elegance—nautical style,” with lots of dark walnut wood and white walls accented by brass. Their review describes the features on board and they share that, “This is a beautiful ship with lots of innovative ideas. There is much to see and do for passengers of all ages. Actually a 7-day cruise is too short for enjoying all the dining venues aboard.”

Once on board Mary & Vincent found the ship very accessible (they both have mobility issues). However, a near-accident on the gangway could have cut their voyage short. We hope that gangway accessabilty is something that is taken care of by the Port of Miami in the future.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Friday, October 24, 2014

Norwegian Escape to Feature Miami’s Legendary Bar Tobacco Road

In just over a year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape will debut in Miami with the city’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road, on board. The acclaimed establishment, which was issued Miami’s very first liquor license, is closing its original location this week after 102 years in business. In an effort to preserve the tradition of this iconic Miami landmark, Tobacco Road and Norwegian Cruise Line partnered to bring the Tobacco Road experience aboard Norwegian Escape.

“We are thrilled to be able to preserve a piece of Miami’s history and provide this famous Miami institution a home at sea on board the incredible new Norwegian Escape,” said Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Located within 678 Ocean Place, the new incarnation of the celebrated tavern will incorporate elements of the original Tobacco Road, including the iconic neon sign, memorabilia, and photographs that will showcase the history of Miami through the lens of events and happenings at the bar over the past century.

In addition to favorite beers and spirits, Tobacco Road Bar on board Norwegian Escape will also feature a selection of cocktails created by Tobacco Road’s resident mixologist, Leo Holtzman. The libations from Holtzman’s Cocktail Collection will include favorites like the Chili Mule, featuring ginger puree, Cointreau, and vodka topped with a sliced seranno pepper; and the Gateway, a rum-based drink that incorporates yuzu juice, elderflower syrup, and Prosecco.

Norwegian Escape will begin weekly 7-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on Nov. 14, 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship’s signature hull artwork, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife, is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation Guy Harvey.

Accommodations include the company’s signature luxury ship–within-a-ship complex: The Haven by Norwegian; along with Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts, and more. Additional information about Norwegian Escape is available at Escape.NCL.com.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

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