Thursday, April 30, 2009

Princess Cruises: Updated Swine Flu Statement

12:00 p.m. PDT: In light of the travel warning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico because of concern over swine flu, Princess Cruises has modified its itineraries to suspend calls to Mexican ports through the few remaining voyages of the spring season, which concludes next month. We are sorry that circumstances beyond our control have caused these itinerary changes, and we recognize that these modifications may cause some disappointment among our passengers. However we hope our passengers will also agree that adhering to the recommendations of the CDC is the best course of action for the safety of our passengers and crew.

Three of the seven affected cruises were sold as voyages exclusively to Mexico, and we therefore realize that these passengers are not receiving the cruise vacation they had anticipated. Therefore as a goodwill gesture we are offering these passengers a 50% future credit on their cruise fare paid, for any sailing booked by the end of April 2011. These sailings are:

-- Sapphire Princess (departed April 25)
-- Star Princess (departed April 27)
-- Sapphire Princess (departing May 2)

The other four cruises with modifications feature Mexico as a smaller portion of the itinerary, and these passengers will either visit alternative ports or spend an additional day at sea. Our ships and medical staff are already well equipped to prevent and contain the spread of contagious diseases, including swine flu. Even though the risk of contracting this illness is very low, we will be taking extra precautions, and will be guided by advice from the CDC and other health authorities. In an abundance of caution, some of the measures we are taking onboard all our ships worldwide include:

-- We are enhancing our screening practices for passengers and crew embarking our ships.
-- We are adhering to CDC guidelines for reporting and treatment of persons with suspect swine flu.
-- We will isolate and treat passengers and crew with suspect swine flu. Anti-viral medications that effectively treat the swine flu are currently available onboard all Princess ships.
-- We will continue our rigorous cleaning and sanitization of our ships to minimize the spread of any contagious disease. Our ships are routinely cleaned with a disinfectant proven to be highly effective against the flu.
-- We are communicating to our passengers and crew that they should take extra care to practice healthy habits such as washing their hands often.
-- We are asking passengers and crew to report to the medical center immediately if they exhibit any symptoms of flu.

As always, we will continue to do everything possible to protect the health of our passengers and crew. For US passenger inquiries, contact 1-800-PRINCESS.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Carnival Cruises Lines: Itineraries For Upcoming Sailings Altered To Bypass Mexico

Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled port of call visits to Mexico for 11 of its ships that are currently operating voyages and had scheduled stops in Mexico. Additionally, for the 15 ships departing between Thursday, April 30 and Monday, May 4 with itineraries including calls in Mexican ports, those schedules have been modified. In many instances, the modification simply involved substituting an alternate port.

Guests who do not wish to sail on a modified itinerary may opt to receive a refund in the form of a future cruise credit equal to the full amount paid for the voyage. The credit may be applied to an alternate sailing departing through the end of 2010. Compensation for missed ports/altered itineraries (where applicable) for guests who sail varies by itinerary. With 4- and 5-day cruises from Galveston and New Orleans that are being converted to 7-day voyages, those guests may opt to receive their refund in the form of a future cruise credit or money back. For cruises departing after May 4, an update will be provided in the near future.

The following Carnival Cruise Lines ships will be sailing revised itineraries:

Departing from Miami, Carnival Imagination, 5/4/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Nassau

Departing from Miami, Carnival Destiny, 4/30/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Nassau

Departing from Miami, Carnival Triumph, 5/3/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Belize

Departing from Miami, Carnival Liberty, 5/2/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Roatan

Departing from Miami, Carnival Valor, 5/3/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Key West

Departing from Port Canaveral, Carnival Glory, 5/2/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya, and Nassau, will call at Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Maarten

Departing from Tampa, Carnival Inspiration, 4/30/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Grand Cayman

Departing from Tampa, Carnival Inspiration, 5/4/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will spend two days at Grand Cayman

Departing from Tampa, Carnival Legend, 5/3/2009
Will skip a port day in Cozumel

Departing from Mobile, Holiday, 4/30/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel, will call at Key West

Departing from Mobile, Holiday, 5/4/2009
Instead of calling at Cozumel and Calica, will call at Key West and Freeport, Bahamas

Departing from New Orleans, Carnival Fantasy, 5/2/2009
Instead of calling at Progresso and Cozumel, the ship will sail a 7-day itinerary to Key West, and Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas

Departing from New Orleans, Carnival Fantasy, 5/7/2009
SAILING CANCELLED

Departing from New Orleans, Carnival Fantasy, 5/9/2009
Instead of departing on 5/11/2009 and calling at Progresso and Cozumel, the ship will sail a 7-day itinerary to Key West, and Freeport, Bahamas

Departing from Galveston, Carnival Ecstasy, 5/2/2009
Instead of calling at Progresso and Cozumel, the ship will sail a 7-day itinerary to Montego Bay, Jamaica and Grand Cayman

Departing from Galveston, Carnival Ecstasy, 5/7/2009
SAILING CANCELLED

Departing from Galveston, Carnival Ecstasy, 5/9/2009
Instead of departing on 5/11/2009 and calling at Progresso and Cozumel, the ship will sail a 7-day itinerary to Montego Bay, Jamaica and Grand Cayman

Departing from Galveston, Carnival Conquest, 5/3/2009
Will skip a port day in Cozumel

Departing from San Diego, Carnival Elation, 4/30/2009
Instead of calling at Ensenada, will call at Catalina

Departing from San Diego, Carnival Elation, 5/3/2009
Instead of calling at Ensenada and Catalina, will only call at Catalina

Departing from Los Angeles, Carnival Paradise, 5/1/2009
Instead of calling at Ensenada and Catalina, will only call at Catalina

Departing from Los Angeles, Carnival Paradise, 5/4/2009
Instead of calling at Ensenada and Catalina, will only call at Catalina

Departing from Los Angeles, Carnival Splendor, 5/3/2009
Instead of calling at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas, will call at San Francisco, Victoria B.C., and Seattle

If you are currently booked on one of the above cruises and elect not to sail on the revised itinerary, you can request a future cruise credit to use on a sailing departing prior to Dec 31, 2010 at a later date. Call 1-888-CARNIVAL for more information.

Carnival Cruise Lines: Statement Regarding Swine Influenza

2:30 pm: There are currently no reported cases of swine influenza on Carnival Cruise Lines ships or in any of the ports that we normally visit in Mexico. We are consulting closely with public health officials and government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Homeland Security to monitor the situation.

Nonetheless, we have decided to cancel calls at Mexican ports for all current sailings (see Itinerary Updates For Current Sailings In Progress). Additionally, we will cancel calls in Mexico for all voyages departing Thursday, April 30 through Monday, May 4. In many cases, we will be able to substitute the cancelled call with an alternative port and are currently working on those itineraries. Full details will be available by 5 pm today. Guests who do not wish to sail on a modified itinerary will be given the option to re-schedule their cruise for a later date.

Carnival enforces the highest of standards for cleaning and sanitation on all of our ships to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We have well trained medical staff and expansive reporting capabilities on board. Working with U.S. public health officials in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, we have extensive practices and procedures that are effective in mitigating illness aboard our ships. For further information on swine influenza, visit the CDC’s web site at http://newsfromcarnivalcruiselines.wordpress.com/wp-admin/www.cdc.gov.

Disney Cruise Line: Itinerary Revision

Disney Cruise Line continues to evaluate and monitor reports regarding cases of swine influenza in Mexico and the United States, as well as other regions around the globe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently recommended that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. As a result of this recommendation, Disney Cruise Line has modified the May 2, 2009 Western Caribbean voyage of the Disney Magic to include a stop in Nassau, The Bahamas, instead of Cozumel, Mexico.

The Disney Magic itinerary will be as follows:
  • Saturday - Depart Port Canaveral
  • Sunday - Key West, Florida
  • Monday - Day At Sea
  • Tuesday - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (tender ashore)
  • Wednesday - Day at Sea
  • Thursday - Nassau, The Bahamas
  • Friday - Disney's Castaway Cay, The Bahamas
  • Saturday - Arrive Port Canaveral
At this time, no itinerary changes have been made to future Western Caribbean voyages. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation in Mexico and make future modifications as needed.Additional information about swine influenza can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.

Royal Caribbean Itinerary Updates

Yesterday, we announced we are temporarily suspending our port calls in Mexico. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, and allows additional time to better understand the full impact of the Swine Flu. The temporary suspension involves four of our ships currently making regularly scheduled port call in Mexico - Enchantment of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. It also involves two additional ships scheduled to make upcoming Mexico port calls as they reposition - Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. The revised sailings for each ship will be as follows:

Enchantment of the Seas
-- Its 5-night sailings that depart Port Everglades on Mondays will replace their Cozumel port calls with additional time in Key West and an additional day at sea.
-- Its 4-night sailings that depart Port Everglades on Thursdays will replace their Cozumel port calls with additional time in Key West and port calls in Nassau, Bahamas.
-- Its 5-night sailings that depart Port Everglades on Saturdays will replace their Cozumel port calls with port calls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Freedom of the Seas
-- Its 7-night sailings that depart Port Canaveral on Sundays will replace their Cozumel port calls with additional time in George Town, Cayman Islands, and an additional day at sea.

Liberty of the Seas
-- Its 7-night sailings that depart Miami on Saturdays will replace their Cozumel port calls with port calls in Coco Cay, Bahamas.

Mariner of the Seas
-- Its 7-night sailings that depart Los Angeles on Sundays will sail a fully revised itinerary, visiting Canada and the U.S. West Coast. It will now visit San Francisco, California, Mondays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Victoria, British Columbia, Wednesdays from noon to 10 p.m.; and Seattle, Washington, Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
-- The ship's May 10 sailing will feature a port call in Astoria, Oregon, rather than San Francisco. -- At the current time, our revised itineraries for Mariner of the Seas are scheduled to take place up to and including the ship's June 14 sailing.
-- Mariner of the Seas guests booked on a revised sailing are encouraged to contact their travel agent or Royal Caribbean Intl for compensation and rebooking options. We have established a special help desk to assist these guests. The toll-free is: 1-800-327-6700.

Serenade of the Seas
-- On its current sailing, it will replace its port call in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with a port call in San Diego, California.

Radiance of the Seas
-- On its current sailing, it will replace its port calls in Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with an extended, overnight port call in San Diego, California, and additional time at sea.

Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously. Although authorities have not raised specific concerns regarding the ports we visit in Mexico, we want to err on the side of caution. We’re taking proactive steps onboard our ships to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members, and this is just one more step in that process. We apologize for the disruption these changes will cause our guests, and we appreciate their understanding.We continue to closely monitor Swine Flu developments and utilize our Influenza Prevention and Response Plans. That plan was developed by our office of Medical and Public Health in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts. The plan is based on three pillars: Preparedness and Communication; Surveillance and Detection; and Response and Containment.Our Swine Flu activities include:
  • Providing guests with Swine Flu information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Screening embarking guests and crew members regarding recent visits to, or travel through Mexico, contact with people ill with the Swine Flu, and for recent flu-like symptoms
  • Conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas onboard
  • Providing hand sanitizers throughout all ships
  • Asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses - via proper and frequent hand washing, and covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
And, if necessary, onboard medical staff can isolate and treat guests or crew members who display flu-like symptoms, using the supply of anti-viral medications kept onboard all ships. We'll continue to closely follow developments regarding the Swine Flu. Additional information regarding the Swine Flu is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov.

Carnival Cruise Lines: Itinerary Updates For Current Sailings In Progress

Carnival Cruise Lines has altered the itineraries for these cruises in progress:

Carnival Ecstasy:
Instead of Progresso on April 29, the ship will remain at sea
Instead of Cozumel on April 30, the ship will remain at sea

Carnival Fantasy:
Instead of Progresso on April 29, the ship will call at Key West
Instead of Cozumel on April 30, the ship will remain at sea

Carnival Legend:
Instead of Cozumel on April 29, the ship will remain at sea

Carnival Conquest:
Instead of Cozumel on May 1, the ship will remain at sea

Carnival Valor:
Instead of Cozumel on May 1, the ship will call at Key West May 2

Carnival Paradise:
Instead of Ensenada on April 29, the ship will remain at sea

Carnival Imagination:
Instead of Cozumel on April 29, the ship will call at Nassau on April 30

Carnival Splendor:
Instead of Cabo San Lucas on April 28, the ship will call at San Francisco on May 1

Princess Cruises: Statement on Swine Flu

April, 28, 6 pm PDT: In light of the travel warning issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico because of concern over swine flu, Princess Cruises has modified its itineraries to suspend calls to Mexican ports through the few remaining voyages of the spring season, which concludes next month. Six Princess ships are currently scheduled for calls in Mexican ports through May, as they reposition to Alaska for the summer season. In total, eight itineraries and 22 calls in Mexico are affected, and passengers who are booked on these cruises will either visit alternative ports or spend an additional day at sea. Affected passengers will be advised of the itinerary changes once the new berthing arrangements have been confirmed.

We are sorry that circumstances beyond our control have caused these itinerary changes, and we recognize that these modifications may cause some disappointment among our passengers. However we hope our passengers will also agree that adhering to the recommendations of the CDC is the best course of action for the safety of our passengers and crew. Our ships and medical staff are already well equipped to prevent and contain the spread of contagious diseases, including swine flu. Even though the risk of contracting this illness is very low, we will be taking extra precautions, and will be guided by advice from the CDC and other health authorities.
In an abundance of caution, some of the measures we are taking onboard all our ships worldwide include:

-- We are enhancing our screening practices for passengers and crew embarking our ships.
-- We are adhering to CDC guidelines for reporting and treatment of persons with suspect swine flu.
-- We will isolate and treat passengers and crew with suspect swine flu. Anti-viral medications that effectively treat the swine flu are currently available onboard all Princess ships.
-- We will continue the rigorous cleaning and sanitation of our ships to minimize the spread of any contagious disease. Our ships are routinely cleaned with a disinfectant proven to be highly effective against the flu.
-- We are communicating to our passengers and crew that they should take extra care to practice healthy habits such as washing their hands often.
-- We are asking passengers and crew to report to the medical center immediately if they exhibit any symptoms of flu.

As always, we will continue to do everything possible to protect the health of our passengers and crew. For US passenger inquiries, contact 1-800-PRINCESS.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Holland America Line Cancels Port Calls to Mexican Ports

In accordance with the recent travel advisory from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico, Holland America Line, in an abundance of caution, has decided to cancel its upcoming calls to Mexican ports in April andearly May.

Of the line’s 14 ships, a total of five ships (and five sailings) are impacted by these changes. Four are the current sailings of the ms Ryndam, ms Statendam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam. The May 1, 2009 cruise of the ms Veendam will also be impacted.

The itinerary planning team at Holland America Line is developing alternate itineraries for these sailings and the new ports of call will be announced as they are confirmed. If the CDC travel advisory changes prior to the conclusion of any of these five sailings, the cruise line may consider re-instating the original itineraries if possible.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Mexico Travel Advisory

7 pm EDT: The health and well-being of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance to Norwegian Cruise Line. Accordingly, the company is closely monitoring the health advisories regarding the current Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) situation.

As a precautionary measure due to the recent travel advisory relating to Mexico, the company is cancelling Norwegian Pearl's final two calls in Mexico on its current repositioning cruise. The stops were scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 1, 2009. Apart from this sailing, Norwegian Cruise Line's scheduled deployment does not include any other ports of call in Mexico until the end of Sept 2009.

Norwegian Cruise Line has stringent protocols for cleaning and sanitation on all of its vessels to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. In addition, the company is taking proactive precautionary measures to protect its valued guests, including, but not limited to, fleet-wide guest screening via a health questionnaire prior to embarkation and on-board education regarding Swine Flu symptoms and preventative actions. As a result, the company does not anticipate that its guests' cruise experience will be impacted.

Furthermore, Norwegian Cruise Line's on-board medical centers are stocking an appropriate amount of the anti-viral medication used to treat the illness, in the unlikely event the need for its use becomes necessary. Any further updates will be posted to ncl.com. For information on swine influenza, visit the CDC's web site at www.cdc.gov.

Carnival Cruise Lines: Statement Regarding Swine Influenza

5:00 PM EDT: Carnival Cruise Lines has decided to cancel all calls at Mexican ports for all current sailings and all voyages departing on Thursday, April 30th through Monday, May 4th. In many cases, we will be able to substitute the cancelled call with an alternative port. Additionally, we are working on alternatives for those itineraries impacted by this decision. Full details will be available by 5pm tomorrow. Please continue to check back as we will provide the latest information online at carnival.com. In the unlikely event that our new itinerary options are not to your liking, we will also give you the opportunity to reschedule your cruise at a later date. Those details will also be made available tomorrow.

Our primary concern is your safety. We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated if and when changes are made. Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to welcoming you aboard your "Fun Ship" cruise.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Temporarily Suspends Port Calls in Mexico

UPDATE: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced it is temporarily suspending its port calls in Mexico. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, and allows additional time to better understand the full impact of the Swine Flu.

The suspension involves the company's Royal Caribbean Intl and Celebrity Cruises brands. Royal Caribbean has four ships currently making regularly scheduled port call in Mexico - Enchantment of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Mariner of the Seas. Two additional Royal Caribbean ships were scheduled to make upcoming Mexican port calls as they repositioned - Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. Celebrity Cruises had one ship scheduled to make upcoming Mexico port calls as it repositions - Celebrity Infinity.

All but one of the affected ships will either make alternative port calls or spend additional time at sea. Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will sail a fully revised itinerary, visiting Canada and the U.S. West Coast. The temporary suspension takes effect immediately and will be in effect for the immediate future. It will be regularly reviewed in light of any Swine Flu developments.

"Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously," said Dr. Art Diskin, chief medical officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Although authorities have not raised specific concerns regarding the ports we visit in Mexico, we want to err on the side of caution. We're taking proactive steps onboard our ships to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members, and this is just one more step in that process. We apologize for the disruption these changes will cause our guests, and we appreciate their understanding."

The company has been closely monitoring Swine Flu developments and is utilizing its Influenza Prevention and Response Plans. That plan was developed by its office of Medical and Public Health in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts. The plan is based on three pillars: Preparedness and Communication; Surveillance and Detection; and Response and Containment. The company's onboard activities regarding the Swine Flu include:

-- Providing guests with Swine Flu information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
-- Screening embarking guests and crew members regarding recent visits to, or travel through Mexico, contact with people ill with the Swine Flu, and for recent flu-like symptoms
-- Conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas onboard
-- Providing hand sanitizers throughout all ships
-- Asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses - via proper and frequent hand washing, and covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
-- And, if necessary, onboard medical staff can isolate and treat guests or crew members who display flu-like symptoms, using the supply of anti-viral medications kept onboard all ships.

Additional details will be posted on the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises consumer websites.

Royal Caribbean International: Swine Flu Statement

April 27, 2009: We've been closely monitoring all developments regarding the Swine Flu, to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members. Health authorities from a variety of nations are investigating the situation and we remain keenly attuned to their progress. We maintain close working relationships with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our industry association, and we're working in close coordination with them.

It is important to note that health authorities have not raised concerns regarding the ports of call we visit in Mexico. None of our sailings have been altered and none are scheduled to be. Our ships visiting Mexico are taking pro-active measures, such as:
  • Placing a notice in the daily, onboard newsletter to provide our guests with basic information regarding this matter.
  • Placing a letter, along with a fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in each guest stateroom
  • Providing hand sanitizers throughout the ship.
  • And, conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas.
We're also asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent flu and other illnesses:
  • Washing hands thoroughly with soap and hot water - often.
  • Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Putting used tissues in waste baskets.
  • If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into upper sleeves, not one's hands.
Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously and we'll continue to closely follow all developments regarding the Swine Flu. Additional information regarding Swine Flu is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Princess Cruises: Swine Flu Statement

10:30 am PDT: The health and well being of our passengers and crew is our foremost priority, and therefore we are monitoring the swine flu situation closely. Our ships and medical staff are already well equipped to prevent and contain the spread of contagious diseases, including swine flu. Even though the risk of contracting this illness is very low, we will be taking extra precautions, and will be guided by advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Six Princess ships are currently scheduled for calls in Mexican ports through next month. In light of yesterday's CDC's travel health warning for Mexico, we cancelled the two calls scheduled for Mexican ports today--Puerto Vallarta (Sapphire Princess) and Cabo San Lucas (Coral Princess). Further, we have revised the itinerary for Sapphire Princess, replacing the Mexican ports with San Diego and Catalina. We hope that our passengers will understand that these changes were beyond our control and that we have provided them with an attractive, alternative itinerary.

We are in the process of reviewing the other close-in sailings that include Mexican ports and making itinerary changes, and these details will be communicated by tomorrow. In the meantime, some of the actions we are taking onboard all of our ships include:
  • We are enhancing our screening practices for passengers and crew embarking our ships.
  • We are adhering to CDC guidelines for reporting and treatment of persons with suspect swine flu.
  • We will isolate and treat passengers and crew with suspect swine flu. Anti-viral medications that effectively treat the swine flu are currently available onboard all Princess ships.
  • We will continue our rigorous cleaning and sanitization of our ships to minimize the spread of any contagious disease. Our ships are routinely cleaned with a disinfectant proven to be highly effective against the flu.
  • We are communicating to our passengers and crew that they should take extra care to practice healthy habits such as washing their hands often.
  • We are asking passengers and crew to report to the medical center immediately if they exhibit any symptoms of flu.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will do everything possible to protect the health of our passengers and crew. For US passenger inquiries, contact 1-800-PRINCESS.

"Hairspray" to Meet the Waves on Oasis of the Seas

It isn't the first cruise line to present abbreviated musicals on a stage at sea (NCL used to do that routinely about twenty years ago), but Royal Caribbean Intl will be doing it in a big way on the world's biggest ship. The Tony award-winning Broadway-licensed musical, ‘Hairspray,’ is set to debut on RCI’s highly anticipated Oasis of the Seas when the ship sets sail from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale, FL) in Dec 2009. One of two productions to take place in the ship’s grand Opal Theater, Hairspray will open with a wide array of cruise industry firsts that the cruise line will debut with the launch of Oasis of the Seas and is another addition to its diverse entertainment offerings.

The show is licensed to Royal Caribbean for three years aboard Oasis of the Seas with an option for a fourth year. Under the agreement, the show will be available exclusively to the cruise line, ensuring the ‘feel good’ performance will be the only of its kind at sea. Hairspray earned a total of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, during its near seven-year run on Broadway, which came to an end in early January and is currently playing in London’s West End. Set in 1962, the show follows the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big aspirations who wins a spot on the local TV dance program, “The Corny Collins Show” and finds herself transformed into an overnight teen sensation.

While the show has been trimmed just slightly to fit within the average 90-minute run time, consistent with RCI’s theater productions, guests and Hairspray fans will be pleased to find that the hottest, high-energy numbers will remain on the playbill. The show will be offered three or four times on each 7-night cruise itinerary, ensuring that guests have the opportunity to see the show at their leisure during their vacation.

Did you know that in the early years of cruising, shipboard entertainment consisted of little more than poetry readings and recitals that exhibited the talents of fellow passengers? Find out more about what you'll find on board in Cruise Diva’s That's Cruise Entertainment!

Monday, April 27, 2009

MSC Cruises Enhances Past Passenger Club Benefits

As MSC Cruises expands its fleet of ships, it is also expanding the array of rewards offered to its loyal guests. Membership in the line’s reward program, MSC Club, is complimentary, with members earning points for each night that they sail and for purchases made onboard. Levels of membership include Classic (up to 22 points), Silver (22-42 points), and Gold (43+ points).

Silver and Gold membership levels are now rewarded with complimentary dinner for two in MSC Cruises’ speciality restaurants, a complimentary one-hour thermal suite (both sauna and Turkish bath) in its luxurious spa treatment and massage centers, and discounts on a variety of spa-related services from massages and facials to manicures and pedicures. Also, all MSC Club members, including Classic, will now receive complimentary laundry service for up to 10 garments per cruise, which means lighter packing for 7-day cruising and more than one freshly laundered garment daily, and a luscious assortment of fresh fruit delivered twice weekly to guests’ staterooms as well as substantial Internet and MSC logo item discounts. All guests will continue to receive cruise fare discounts and points for onboard purchases.

Discounts for cruise fare, spa treatments, Internet usage and MSC logo items vary by membership level, with those in the upper tiers of the program earning greater discounts. In addition, guests booking Yacht Club suites through May 15 double their MSC Club points.

Guests are encouraged to join MSC Club after their first sailing with the line to begin enjoying benefits. Application forms can be obtained on board.

For more insight into the benefits of cruising, CruiseDiva.com shares information about Past Passenger Clus.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

MSC Melody Successfully Evades Pirates Near Seychelles

MSC Cruises has confirmed that MSC Melody was attacked by pirates near the Seychelles Islands on Saturday evening, April 25, 2009. The ship initiated avoidance procedures and quickly escaped the attack with no injuries to any of the approximately 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members on board.

The pirates approached the ship in a small speedboat firing automatic weapons at 7:35pm GMT while the ship was sailing 180 nautical miles from Port Victoria in the Seychelles. MSC Cruises immediately informed the Italian government foreign office (La Farnesina), the Maritime Security Center in London, and the Coordination Center for Security in Dubai.

According to Yahoo! News, "The ship's commander told Italian state radio on Sunday that six men in a small white speed boat approached the MSC Melody and opened fire 'like crazy' on Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire." While it's unusual for a cruise ship to have armed guards on board, "Domenico Pellegrino, head of the Italian cruise line, said MSC Cruises hired the Israelis because they were the best trained security agents."

A military vessel from the international security forces in the region has been sent to escort MSC Melody as a precaution, and the ship is continuing to Aqaba, Jordan, on its scheduled itinerary.

10 Truly Unique Theme Cruises

You've read about the Elvis Cruise here on the Cruise Diva blog and now the folks at ThemeCruiseFinder.com are sharing an exciting slate of new theme cruises on the horizon. No matter where your interests lie, it's likely a theme cruise is out there waiting for you to join in. Sail with luminaries and other guests who share your passions.
  • Sail with soccer legend Pele: Join the greatest soccer player of all time aboard Costa Cruises on June 28, 2009
  • Tribeca Film Festival at Sea: Exclusive enrichment programming aboard Queen Mary 2 in association with TFF and Cunard Insights. Established and emerging actors, directors, documentarians, and screenwriters will be tapped to engage passengers in thought-provoking discussion about the love of their craft and the multi-dimensions of movie making. Nov 5, 2009, Cunard Line
  • Meet Karl Rove: Yes, THAT Karl Rove. Learn inside secrets of the Bush White House on Holland America Line, July 8, 2009
  • Attend two James Taylor Concerts: Set sail aboard Queen Mary 2 with this musical legend, and enjoy 2 concerts and a Q&A session. June 19, 2009, Cunard Line
  • Caribbean Islands Marathon Cruise: 4 Islands - 4 Races - 1 Great Marathon. Run the world's only staged maritime marathon! Every day brings a new distance, new terrain and new racing experiences. By the end of the week you'll have run the marathon distance (26.2 miles) and have seen some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Feb 6, 2010, Holland America Line
  • Cook with Christina Pirello: PBS Host & Chef Christina Pirello is a bright, free spirited, vivacious redhead who, is one of America's preeminent authorities on natural and whole foods, and her radiant personality only serves to make her message more powerful. And she's made it her purpose in life to show Americans that they can look their best, and feel great too, by learning to eat natural, organic food. Aug 8, 2009, Holland America Line
  • The Fab Four - Ticket to Cruise: Beatles tribute cruise starring the world famous Fab Four. July 20, 2009, Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Learn from a broadcast legend: Sail with Frank Deford, writer at Sports Illustrated, NPR's Morning Edition, and HBO's Real Sports. Aug 12, 2009, Crystal Cruises
  • THE Elvis Cruise: Are you ready to get all shook up, Elvis fans? There's a great time in store for you aboard Carnival Inspiration! This is the definitive Elvis cruises. Nov 12, 2009, Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Join Christopher Buckley: "The quintessential political novelist of his time" according to Fortune magazine, is the winner of the distinguished ninth annual Thurber Prize for American Humor. Nov 5, 2009, Cunard Line
ThemeCruiseFinder.com is designed to provide a comprehensive search portal for travelers interested in taking part in one of the many theme cruises currently available. Cruise executives and travel agents agree that theme cruises hold a significant position in the future of cruising.
For more information, visit their website http://www.themecruisefinder.com/.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Baltimore is Carnival Cruise Lines' "Fun City"

Who knew Baltimore could be so much "fun"? It will be today during Carnival Cruise Lines’ Fun City: Baltimore event which takes place in the city’s Inner Harbor.

Benefiting Maryland Special Olympics, the day-long event is free, open to the public and offers a variety of activities and attractions, including the creation of a giant sand sculpture and 3-D chalk art. A world record giant beach ball, hip-hop dance performances, live entertainment, a “Camp Carnival” Kids’ Zone, karaoke, and an appearance by Carnival’s mascot “Fun Ship” Freddy will be featured, as well.

Fun City: Baltimore is a celebration to mark the start-up of Baltimore’s first year-round cruise program aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride which kicks off Monday, April 27.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises Make Big Year-Round Itinerary Alterations

After testing the water by basing a ship seasonally in Southampton since 2005, Royal Caribbean has taken the plunge and will homeport one of their largest vessels, Independence of the Seas, in the UK year-round beginning in 2010. While it's the first time the Miami-headquartered line has positioned a ship there in winter as well as summer, Royal Caribbean's "Crown & Anchor" logo is no stranger to Southampton. In past years Royal Caribbean has offered cruises on increasingly larger ships sailing from there—first Legend of the Seas, followed by Navigator of the Seas.

When cruising from the UK the on board product is altered somewhat for British tastes, but North Americans (especially Anglophiles who don't mind paying in British pounds) can certainly book the voyages departing from Southampton. Winter cruises in 2010 and 2011—ranging from 11- to 18-nights in duration—will include destinations along the Italian Riviera, island visits in the Sorrentine Peninsula on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, as well as the Balearic Islands.

Closer to home, Celebrity Cruises has announced that beginning in May of 2010, Celebrity Century will offer its popular 4- and 5-night Caribbean itineraries year-round from Miami instead of limiting them to the winter season. Since 2005, Celebrity Century has sailed in Europe in the summer, and in the Caribbean in the winter. A new port of call for Celebrity Century is Roatan, Honduras.

For more information and itinerary details (as well as other cruise news), check CruiseDiva.com's Cruise News.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carnival Prepares For Emergencies

We all know that when a hurricane sets its sights on South Florida, residents by and large follow instructions to pack up and evacuate to safety. With so many cruises leaving from Miami and other Florida ports, that sometimes means changes in ship itineraries, which might even include using a different port for embarkation and debarkation. You've probably seen the folks at the National Hurricane Center in Miami on television issuing storm updates and may have even wondered what happens at the cruise lines during emergency situations.

As part of Carnival’s comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, the company recently had a training session for nearly 400 employees on the various reservations and IT technology housed within a Mobile Recovery Unit situated adjacent to its Miami headquarters. The Mobile Recovery Unit (pictured here) includes 20 computer terminals and telephones which were linked directly to Carnival’s computerized reservations network. It was a seamless process as the company’s reservations and telephony systems software were made available via satellite within the Mobile Recovery Unit, allowing reservations personnel to take live bookings within the off-site center. The annual training exercise is part of Carnival’s wide-ranging contingency plan that would allow the company to continue operations in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

When I asked Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen where the Mobile Recovery Unit would be sent in the event that a large scale evacuation of Miami was ordered, he responded, "As for hurricane preparedness, it really all depends on a case by case basis and the Mobile Recovery Unit can be deployed just about anywhere (it would also be deployed after the fact should we lose power at our offices, etc)." Additionally, Gulliksen reminded me that a Colorado Springs reservations center is part of the Carnival emergency response plan.

Remember, official hurricane season consumes a full six months of the year, from June 1st until November 30th. Cruise Diva shares what else can happen when you are Cruising Into Hurricane Season.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cruise Travel: Why SIZE Matters

Don't let anyone convince you that size doesn't matter in terms of your overall cruise experience. Ship selection is possibly one of your most important decisions and your lifestyle and expectations should be major considerations when making this choice. This is one instance where size really matters and can make or break your vacation.

Which is better for you? Small, Mid-Size, or Large... find out what you need to know before deciding on a ship for your next cruise vacation. Cruise Diva shares, Why Size Matters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cruise Travel: Safety & Security In Ports Of Call

Getting away from it all isn't supposed to mean getting into trouble. One advantage of cruise travel is the safety aspect—there is very little crime on board most ships. However, unaware of local customs and dangers, tourists are attractive targets for scam artists and petty thieves.

All too often passengers are lulled into a false sense of security by the cocoon-like atmosphere of their vessel. The port cities they anticipate with such enthusiasm can sometimes be intimidating, if not downright unfriendly, places.

Whether it's hair-braiders in Jamaica or gypsies in Barcelona, your first line of defense is preparedness. Let Cruise Diva's nine hints to Stay Safe Abroad be your guide.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cruise Travel: Going Ashore

No one wants to be standing at the pier as their ship sails off into the sunset. Before going ashore, be SURE you really know what time it is!

Ship time vs. local time is a cause for considerable confusion. Whether clocks stay set on "ship" time or are changed as the vessel moves through time zones depends on the ship, the itinerary, and the time of year (whether the US is on standard or daylight savings time). For instance, Grand Cayman doesn't observe daylight savings time.

Cruise Diva shares the ups and downs: "Ship Time" or "Island Time"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cruise Ship Etiquette

Of course it's your vacation and of course you deserve to have the best time ever on your long-awaited cruise. But do you really want it to be at the expense of others? When it comes to our fellow passengers, it sometimes seems that way.

Cruise ships, particularly the ones in the mega-ship size range, are cities at sea. Like any land-bound city, a cruise ship is inhabited by a diverse population. Passengers and crewmembers come from all corners of the globe and from varying cultural backgrounds. The thing most guests have in common is the desire to have a satisfying vacation—to explore new places, to relax and revitalize, to spend time with family and friends, or to just have some carefree fun.

It seems that some passengers get a bit carried away in terms of carefree and forget to pack one of life's little treasures—the good manners we practice at home and in our everyday lives.

Don't Forget the Three "C's" at Sea: Let Consideration, Courtesy & Civility be your guideposts. Start by getting the Cruise Diva's Guide To Good Manners.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Did You Know? Cruise Ships As Floating Hotels

Leaders of the 34 countries that are members of the Organization of American States (OAS) have gathered in the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago to take part in the Fifth Summit of the Americas, from April 17-19, 2009. This major international political event, which focuses on economical, social and political development of the region, is expected to attract more than 5,000 visitors including heads of state, members of the media and other dignitaries including President Barack Obama, and representatives from North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago is the first Caribbean nation to host the summit. In order to supplement the 1,700 existing hotel rooms in Port of Spain, the National Secretariat of Trinidad and Tobago engaged the services of Miami-based Landry & Kling to arrange for dockside ship charters to house thousands of guests. For this important conference, Landry & Kling engaged two cruise ships, the Carnival Victory and Caribbean Princess (pictured above), to provide close to 3,000 rooms for the event. Increasingly, dockside charters like these have become vital for booking large-scale conferences and global events in regions where demand for accommodations outstrips supply.

Aside from fulfilling the immediate need for guest rooms, Landry & Kling's CEO Joyce Landry says, "The ships are ideally located just steps away from the center of summit activity, docked in downtown Port of Spain. Because of this, both ships will be used for pre-summit and parallel events, including breakfast/lunch meetings and plenary sessions. The ships will provide needed venues for private sector events for 400 to over 1,000 people for the opening ceremony reception."

The vessels also have business centers that are handy for media members and the various delegations accommodated onboard. The ships' restaurants will also serve meals to staff and volunteers on a daily basis. Both ships are docked adjacent to the Hyatt Hotel and a short distance from the Summit Village, which is a main gathering spot for delegates and special guests. Landry says the per-room cost is comparable to any hotel in Port of Spain. Plus, as cruise passengers know, the ships include meals and services that would be charged as extras in a hotel.

A very important factor is for the ships to be a self-liquidating expense in the summit budget. As a cost recovery initiative, both ships will set sail after the summit is over, on 4-day post summit cruises with all revenues going to the government to defray the cost of deploying the vessels to Trinidad for the Summit. Carnival Victory will re-position to Barbados and cruise from there to Antigua and St. Maarten. Caribbean Princess will sail from Port of Spain, Trinidad and cruise to Curacao and Margarita Island, Venezuela. These cruises were offered to local residents and were quickly sold out.

For Landry & Kling, managing dockside charters as floating hotels is an extension of the company's ability to create highly memorable incentive cruise programs and meetings at sea. It has been organizing cruise events around the globe for more than 27 years. In fact, providing additional housing where none is available has been their hallmark. The company has become a leading provider of ship charters for corporate meetings and conferences, as well as all types of high-profile global and governmental events, including the 2005 Super Bowl in Jacksonville, FL and the 2007 Cricket World Cup in Barbados. For previous events, Landry & Kling's floating hotels and meeting facilities at sea have served anywhere from 150 to 15,000 guests, and the equivalent of more than 42,000 room nights. Even on land, that is a major accomplishment. The two ship charters organized by Landry & Kling have made an invaluable contribution to the logistical needs of the event.

And, in case you're interested, President Obama isn't staying on either ship.

Friday, April 17, 2009

All Shook Up For The Third Annual Elvis Cruise

Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., Sixthman, LLC, and Carnival Cruise Lines have proudly announced the public sale of The Elvis Cruise, now entering its third year of sailing as a music-themed cruise. This is the only officially licensed cruise by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. The Elvis Cruise will set sail on the 2,052-passenger Carnival Inspiration Nov 12-16, 2009, round-trip from Tampa, Florida, calling at Cozumel, Mexico.

Hosted by Elvis’ close friend and entourage member, Jerry Schilling, the cruise will feature live music and entertainment from some of Elvis’ former band mates and backup singers along with the best Elvis tribute artists in the world. The artists will perform nightly in “Vegas” style shows and in more intimate settings in the various lounges and performance areas on board the Carnival Inspiration. Currently scheduled to perform are The TCB Band, The Imperials, The Sweet Inspirations, Joe Guercio, D.J. Fontana, Terry Mike Jeffrey & Band, Andy Childs, Ronnie McDowell and The Dempseys along with Elvis Tribute Artists Gino Monopoli, Victor Trevino, Ted Torres, Dwight Icenhower, Jay Zanier, Simon Patrick, Bryant Scott, Mark Anthony, Joseph Hall (pictured above), Kevin Mills, and George Thomas. Joining the cruise for the first time this year are Elvis’ movie co-stars Celeste Yarnall from Live a Little, Love a Little, Cynthia Pepper from Kissin Cousins and Chris Noel from Girl Happy. Another addition this year is famed Elvis photographer Al Wertheimer.

From the Carnival Inspiration’s 7-deck-high Atrium, gift shops and dining rooms to the bars, Lido Deck and main stage, you will find the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and his music around every corner. In addition to Elvis-themed entertainment, guests will also enjoy in-room Elvis movies, meet and greet sessions with celebrity guests, an Elvis fashion show featuring officially licensed merchandise, Elvis Monopoly and trivia tournaments, ice carvings, and many other Elvis-themed activities.

While the primary focus of the cruise is Elvis and live entertainment, guests will also enjoy the offerings and culture that go along with a visit to Cozumel. The vibrant reefs of the Mexican isle are a magnet for snorkelers and divers while a brief trip inland allows passengers to explore the rich Mayan heritage and landmarks around the island. Participants can also enjoy all that the amenities and facilities aboard the “Fun Ship” Carnival Inspiration, which last year underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar refurbishment that saw the addition of a water park, adults-only retreat, resort-style pool and numerous other features.

“This marks the third time that Carnival Cruise Lines has hosted ‘The Elvis Cruise’ and we’re very proud to serve as the venue and to partner with Sixthman and Elvis Presley Enterprises for this unforgettable tribute to a legendary music pioneer,” said Cherie Weinstein, Carnival’s Vice President of Group Business Development.

Cabins for The Elvis Cruise are now on sale and start at $599 per person based on double occupancy plus taxes and fees. For more information about the full ship charter, go to The Elvis Cruise web site.

For a peek at what's in store, Cruise Diva shares her memories of the maiden sailing of the Elvis Cruise aboard Carnival Celebration.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Holland America Line Lays The Keel For Nieuw Amsterdam

Construction of Holland America Line’s new Signature-class premium cruise ship ms Nieuw Amsterdam reached a milestone on March 24, 2009 with the keel-laying ceremony at the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard in Italy. The 2,106-guest ship is scheduled for delivery in late June 2010.

Just before laying the keel, the large section of Nieuw Amsterdam that was built at Fincantieri’s Sestri yard near Genoa, Italy (pictured below), was towed around the foot of Italy to Venice. Once it arrived, the section was floated into the building dock and placed on blocks. The section that signifies the ceremonial keel laying was lifted into the building dock and later joined with the section built in Sestri.


Want more information about Holland America's Signature-class ships? Welcome aboard the inaugural sailing of the first in the class, Eurodam with CruiseDiva.com.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Royal Caribbean Revises Crown & Anchor Society Benefits For Diamond Level Members (Again)

Last month I told you about revisions made by Royal Caribbean to the Crown & Anchor Society Benefits For Past Passengers.

Subsequent to the changes, one particular group of past passengers caused a virtual firestorm over a specific "lost" benefit. I'm referring to Diamond level members (those with ten Royal Caribbean cruises under their belts), who literally flooded Internet message boards to bemoan the loss of Concierge Lounge privileges. I was really shocked at their DIS-loyalty to the very cruise line to which they were supposedly so loyal. Some stated they would cancel booked cruises and "never sail on Royal Caribbean again!" Of course that's often the response when something happens to irritate message board groupies.

Which perk was it exactly that they were going to miss the most? The letter below that was sent to Diamond level Crown & Anchor Society members on April 13th outlines three. I've suspected all along that the "social" aspect of the Concierge Lounge wasn't their top priority. Neither were concierge-type services. While a colleague felt the "Diamonds" were most ticked off at their loss of bragging rights, I've felt all along that it was the free happy-hour-style drinks every evening. A brief look at posts in response to the letter has proved my contention to be the most accurate. Free or reduced-cost drinks trump ice show tickets every time.

Dear Crown & Anchor Diamond Plus, Diamond, and Platinum Members,

I am writing to provide you with an update regarding the recent changes to our Crown & Anchor Loyalty Program. Let me begin by thanking you for being loyal customers of Royal Caribbean. These are remarkable times - economic challenges, new modes of communication, amazing new ships and so many other changes that impact our lives at every turn. Especially in these times, we appreciate your loyalty as Crown & Anchor Society members.

As you may know, we recently announced a number of changes to our Crown & Anchor Loyalty Program. Many of our Diamond Members have expressed considerable unhappiness about the change in eligibility for access to our Concierge Lounges. While we knew the reaction would be negative, it has been more negative than we anticipated. This underscores how phenomenally passionate our most loyal customers are about their Royal Caribbean experiences. We believe one of our strengths that inspires such loyalty is our ability to learn from others and especially from our Crown & Anchor customers. With this in mind, I will comment on the change in eligibility regarding our Concierge Lounges and also inform you of some new enhancements that will improve your experience onboard our ships.

Our decision to limit access to the Concierge Lounges was based on the unfortunate but inescapable fact that we cannot deliver an acceptable experience in lounges that were never designed to handle so many people. We regret that the crowding in our Concierge Lounges prevents us from delivering the experience we intended. It also prevents us from being able to grandfather in Concierge Lounge access for existing Diamond level members. We deeply regret having to restrict this access, but we are committed to delivering an exceptional Concierge Lounge experience. Having said that, we realize we should have provided more notice of our decision, which carries such consequences. To that end, we will delay the implementation date for the change in eligibility from July 1, 2009, to Sept 1, 2009.

Before I address the additional initiatives we will implement, I would like to summarize the physical or "hardware" status of our fleet as it relates to Concierge Lounges and Diamond Lounges, taking into account all 22 Royal Caribbean ships that are now open for sale.

• Five ships (Freedom class & Oasis class) have both Concierge Lounges and Diamond Lounges. We are excited about the Concierge Lounge overlooking the Boardwalk and the Diamond Lounge overlooking the Royal Promenade on our forthcoming Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
• Five ships (Monarch of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas) have no Concierge Lounges and two ships (Splendour of the Seas and Legend of the Seas) have limited Concierge Lounges.
• Ten ships have Concierge Lounges but no Diamond Lounges (Enchantment of the Seas, as well as the ships in our Voyager class and Radiance class). While we don't currently have plans to add Diamond Lounges to these ships, we will look for opportunities to invest in Diamond Lounges as we go forward.

The strong response from our Diamond members regarding our recent changes demonstrates how much the Concierge Lounges are valued and we clearly should honor that response. The feedback we have received from Diamond members falls primarily into one of the three following categories:

• Preserving the social aspect - the ability to meet and mingle with other members
• Maintaining free or reduced price drinks
• And, access to concierge-type services for ice show tickets and other activities

In order to address the first two interests for Diamond members, outside the Concierge Lounge, effective Sept 1 we will offer them a dedicated VIP private party in one of our bars or lounges. This may be held in the Viking Crown Lounge, or any other bar or lounge designated by the ship. In this dedicated area, from approximately 5 to 8 p.m., we will offer complimentary wine and champagne and a happy hour discount of 25 percent off all other beverages. This will be offered every day of each sailing and will replace our recently announced one-time per-cruise special Diamond party.

Additionally, we will offer a new continental breakfast from approximately 8 to 10 a.m. in one of the rooms adjacent to the main dining room onboard. During these morning hours, a crew member will be present and will provide services such as obtaining ice show tickets, and other assistance. We believe these changes will address the primary desires our Diamond members have expressed. These enhancements will be instituted on all our ships that don't have a Diamond Lounge today.

A number of Crown & Anchor members have placed the Concierge Lounge issue in the context of a perceived sequence of "cutbacks" that taken together have reduced the quality of the product we offer. We take these comments seriously. I am pleased to inform you that in 2009 we are seeing one of the most meaningful year-over-year improvements in our guest satisfaction ratings in memory. Apart from the obvious - Independence of the Seas entering the fleet, Empress of the Seas and Sovereign of the Seas leaving the fleet and Oasis of the Seas soon to join - systemic improvements such as My Time Dining, our suite enhancements, the new debarkation process, and numerous smaller initiatives are being very positively recognized by guests, travel agents and the media.

While we understand not everyone is happy about every change taking place in our fleet, we appreciate your loyalty to our company and we sincerely hope you will continue to choose Royal Caribbean. It gives us no pleasure to hear from aggrieved Crown & Anchor loyalty customers. Our goal is to earn your advocacy and your return to our fleet by providing you with truly memorable vacations and by recognizing and rewarding your loyalty. Our mantra at Royal Caribbean, besides delivering the "Wow," is "continuous improvement." We constantly strive to find the right balance, so our product evolves in ways that our guests, especially our most loyal guests, are comfortable with. Our ratings and most communications we receive indicate that the balancing is working. However, occasionally we stumble and when we do we try to react quickly. This may be such an instance. We are committed to earning the faith you place in us. I hope the additional enhancements explained in this letter demonstrate our commitment. These changes will be reflected on our website in the next 48 hours.

Thank you very much for being our customer and for your loyalty to Royal Caribbean.

Sincerely,
Adam M. Goldstein
President & Chief Executive Officer
Royal Caribbean International

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Norwegian Epic Takes A Bow

With construction underway at STX Europe in St. Nazaire, France, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic celebrated a milestone in the early morning hours of April 9th, when the ship’s bow was lowered into place. The bow, known as block 642, weighed 445 tons and measured 85 feet long, 108 feet wide and almost 30 feet high. The process of putting the bow in place took 100 workers about two hours. This significant step represents the completion of the lower part of the steel hull, those areas that come in contact with the sea, and indicates that only the superstructures, or topsides, remain to be finalized.

“Embarking the bow is a symbolic and strong step in the building of Norwegian Epic. She is taking shape beautifully,” said Roberto Martinoli, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief operating officer. “STX Europe is doing an incredible job of constructing our largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date.”

Now that her bow is firmly welded in place, Norwegian Epic’s next and final chapter reveal is scheduled for May 20, 2009, in New York City. Also that day, the ship’s 2010-2011 sailings open for sale to the general public. These include 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami. The 153,000-gross ton, 4,200-passenger ship is scheduled for delivery at the end of May 2010. To date, the company has revealed the ship’s accommodations, night life, restaurants, aqua park, sports deck, and family activities.

Check out Cruise Diva's other Norwegian Epic reveals:

Monday, April 13, 2009

So Sensational: New Balconies on Carnival Sensation

When Carnival Sensation underwent an extensive renovation during a 35-day dry dock as part of Carnival’s “Evolutions of Fun” refurbishment program, the ship emerged boasting more balconies than her Fantasy-class sister ships. Ninety-eight of Carnival Sensation's existing ocean view staterooms were retrofitted with balconies, creating expansive new cabins measuring approximately 230 square feet.

Twenty-four of the new balcony cabins are located mid-ship, 12 are located near the stern, and the other 62 are located aft, with several of those accommodations featuring extended balconies. Additionally, a number of Carnival Sensation’s existing suites were modified to feature larger, extended balconies to create a more spacious environment for occupants.

Carnival Sensation was the fourth “Fun Ship” to receive the “Evolutions of Fun” upgrades, joining Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, and Carnival Fantasy which have already been renovated. Refurbishment is already on the books for the four remaining Fantasy-class ships. No word yet on their balcony status.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coral Princess: Cruise Review

Take a cruise through the Panama Canal aboard Princess Cruises' Coral Princess with Patrick & Harriette Regan (pictured here, Coral Princess docked in Huatulco, Mexico).

Experienced cruisers, Patrick & Harriette offer their assessment of the overall cruise experience, ports of call, and even some tips on getting to port. I know I don't want to stay in their pre-cruise hotel in Fort Lauderdale!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cruising in the 2009 Hurricane Season

Here's some good news if you are planning a Caribbean cruise this year during hurricane season, running from June 1 to Nov 30. The Colorado State University team that forecasts storm activity is predicting only six Atlantic hurricanes this year, which is lower than its previous estimate. Should that prediction prove to be accurate, the 2009 season will be much calmer than 2008, one of the most active seasons on record with 16 tropical storms, including eight that became hurricanes.

Of the 12 predicted tropical cyclones (what forecasters call "named storms") for 2009, six are forecast to become hurricanes, including two expected to develop into intense or major hurricanes of Category Three or higher. Earlier predictions called for 14 tropical cyclones for the 2009 hurricane season. The potential for a weak El Nino maritime temperature fluctuation, along with an unusual cooling of tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures that has been observed in recent months, form the basis of the CSU team's projection. Researchers point out that cooler water temperatures tend to make for a less active hurricane season in the region.

"We are calling for an average hurricane season this year; about as active as the average of the 1950-2000 seasons," according to the team's lead forecaster, Phil Klotzbach. Forecast updates will be issued on June 2, Aug 4, Sept 2, and Oct 1.

Global warming? Cooler water temperatures? What global warming? Should you be concerned about a tropical storm or hurricane ruining your cruise travel plans? It only takes one ill-timed hurricane to shuffle Caribbean bound cruise ships. CruiseDiva.com shares what you need to know when Cruising in Hurricane Season.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Antarctica & Tourism: Too Much of a Good Thing?

In today's slowing worldwide economies, tourism is good for business, but in one spot on the globe it's possible to suffer too much of a good thing. Largely a place for scientific investigations, Antarctica is on the bucket list for many travelers who've "been there and done that" and the best way to get there is by cruise ship. While only 6,700 visits were recorded to the frozen continent in 1992-1993, according to the Intl Association of Antarctica Tour Operators visits jumped to 45,213 in 2008 to 2009. Restrictions on tourism are voluntary to the region, but that may soon change.

The Associated Press reports that if the Obama administration gets its way, an amendment to the Antarctica Treaty would impose mandatory limits on the size of cruise ships allowed to sail to Antarctica as well as the number of passengers brought ashore. Documents received by the Associated Press indicate, "The new U.S. proposal contains no specific enforcement mechanism or penalties for limiting tourist operations. But it would require signatories to the pact to ensure that Antarctic tour operators bar ships with more than 500 passengers from landing sites, restrict landings to one vessel at a time per site, and limit passengers on shore to 100 at a time."

Intl Association of Antarctica Tour Operators members are backing the U.S. proposal for the mandatory limits, which were first adopted by the Antarctic Treaty parties as recommendations in 2007 and are followed "religiously" according to the group's executive director. Why such urgency when the system in place seems to be working? Apparently because of the increase in the number of visitors and concern over recent accidents at sea, including the 2007 sinking of a ship and two cruise ship groundings that occurred in the 2008-09 season that just ended.

We agree that environmental concerns should be heeded, but just exactly when did Antarctica become a state?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Silversea Dishes Up The Year's Most Extraordinary Culinary Arts Cruises

Food is a big part of any cruise experience, but Silversea is bringing it to a new level by pairing a collection of the world's most flavorful destinations with the culinary world's hottest talents. It's an irresistible selection of moveable feasts for sophisticated travelers who enjoy the pleasures of high-end dining as much as the ease of luxury travel.

The enlightening café lifestyle of Paris in the 1920s (immortalized in A Moveable Feast) stayed with American writer Ernest Hemingway throughout his life … wherever he traveled … and for Silversea guests, this year's 11 Culinary Arts voyages promise similar opportunities for personally enriching experiences that will linger long after the journey ends. These unique culinary theme cruises showcase the artistry of award-winning chefs of top dining establishments from around the world, including the internationally acclaimed chefs of Relais & Châteaux, the distinguished international association of charming properties and finest restaurants.

"We're delighted to feature some of the world's most celebrated chefs on our Culinary Arts voyages," said Rudi Scholdis, Silversea's culinary director. "Our culinary theme cruises are a great way to meld together fascinating destinations with cooking events and demonstrations that entertain and edify, as well as reveal the personalities, skills–and a few culinary secrets–of the masters of haute cuisine."

On the culinary sailings, celebrity chefs will display their exceptional talents during dynamic and informative cooking demonstrations where guests can taste and learn firsthand the secrets of enticing signature dishes. Many of the award-winning chefs are also designated Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux who share a passion for and a personal commitment to ensuring their guests are privy to moments of exceptional harmony. The Culinary Arts enrichment voyages also feature escorted provisioning trips to international markets (when the itinerary permits), food and wine pairings, creative regional dishes, and a five-course grand gourmet dinner. Throughout these special voyages, the featured guest chef and Silversea’s executive chef are on hand to share their culinary expertise and answer any questions.

Below is a list of the Culinary Arts voyages from which to choose.

ALASKA & PACIFIC COAST
-- Silver Shadow, May 28-June 7, Seward to Vancouver, 10 days. Jonathan Lindenauer, Bon Appétit magazine's chef de cuisine will be in residence to bring the Bon Appétit Supper Club to life and offer guests a taste of his signature recipes. This avant-garde concept of a stylish, limited-time dining experience will transform La Terrazza into a New York-inspired restaurant.
-- Silver Shadow, July 20-Aug 1, San Francisco (roundtrip), 12 days. Gregory Short, Executive chef of Masas, San Francisco.
CARIBBEAN
-- Silver Cloud, Oct 19-29, New York to Barbados, 10 days. Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Anne Desjardins, Co-owner of L'Eau à La Bouche Ste-Adèle, Québec, Canada.
-- Silver Shadow, Nov 13-22, Barbados to Fort Lauderdale, 9 days. Relais & Châteaux Chef Stéphane Mazières, Executive chef of Le Gaïac restaurant at Hôtel Le Toiny, St. Bart's.
FAR EAST & SOUTH PACIFIC
-- Silver Shadow, April 11-29, Sydney to Singapore, 18 days. Relais & Châteaux Chef Mathew Macartney, Executive chef of Chateau Yering, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
MEDITERRANEAN
-- Silver Wind, May 14-21, Barcelona to Nice, 7 days. Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Rick Tramonto, Executive chef/partner of Tru, Chicago.
-- Silver Wind, July 18-28, Monte Carlo (roundtrip), 10 days. Relais & Châteaux Chef Vincent Nattress, Executive chef of Meadowood Resort, St. Helena, California.
-- Silver Whisper, Oct 3-10, Venice to Rome, 7 days. Lidia Bastianich, Author, TV chef and co-owner of Felidia and Becco restaurants, New York City.
-- Silver Whisper, Oct 17-24, Monte Carlo to Athens, 7 days. "World of Relais & Châteaux." Over seven days, these five Relais & Châteaux chefs are set to take part in what is sure to be the ultimate culinary festival at sea: Jacques Thorel, Auberge Bretonne (La Roche-Bernard, Britanny, France); Eyvind Hellstrøm, Bagatelle (Oslo, Norway); Julien Lahire, Auberge du Moulin Hideux (Noirefontaine, Belgium); Christian Gölles, Gasthof Post (Lech am Arlberg, Vorarlberg, Austria); Erwan Louaisil, El Castell de Ciutat (La Seu d'Urgell, Lleida, Spain)
-- Silver Wind, Oct 18-30, Istanbul to Rome, 12 days. Anton Mosimann, Chef/owner of Mosimann's, London.
NORTHERN EUROPE
-- Silver Cloud, July 11-26, Copenhagen (roundtrip), 15 days. Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Eyvind Hellstrøm, Chef/owner of Bagatelle, Oslo.

Please visit Silversea.com for more information about these remarkable voyages.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Six Things You Didn't Know About Seabourn Odyssey, Until Now

Seabourn Odyssey, the first of three new yachts for The Yachts of Seabourn, is scheduled to launch from Venice, Italy, on June 24, 2009. The 32,000-ton, 450-guest yacht will be the cruise industry’s first ultra-luxury yacht to launch in six years, so here are six new things the vessel will offer:

1. iPods, Laptops, WiFi & More: Guests of Seabourn Odyssey will be able to borrow iPods on board for yoga or Pilates classes, or just for listening to music. The yacht will also offer Seabourn-branded netbook computers for loan (and for purchase) so guests who haven’t brought their own laptop on board can take advantage of the vessel’s Wi-Fi connectivity in all suites and nearly all public spaces. Interactive televisions in each suite will make it easy for guests to book shore excursions and access a huge library of movies and music on demand.
2. Private Diamond Showroom: Among the duty-free shops on Seabourn Odyssey will be The Collection, a handsome curated boutique featuring fine jewelry and watches from luxury designers including Chopard, Aaron Basha, Hermés, Chanel and Dior, as well as a private diamond showroom–a first for the Seabourn fleet–where guests can peruse the boutique’s collection of Lady Heart Diamonds, Oliva Diamonds and Canadian Diamonds.
3. SkinCeuticals Exclusively at Sea: Seabourn Odyssey will be the only cruise vessel to offer SkinCeuticals products in the onboard spa, with a range of treatments including SkinCeuticals Regenerating Facial, SkinCeuticals Firming Facial and SkinCeuticals Gel Peel. This award-winning and scientifically-proven advanced skincare line is used by dermatologists, plastic surgeons and spas worldwide to promote skin health.
4. Only on Odyssey–Molton Brown Therapies: Available for the first time at sea on Seabourn Odyssey, Therapies is a new line of plant-based products from Molton Brown, created specifically for travelers and designed to purify the body of pollutants, fight jetlag, and even aid sleep.
5. The Retreat at Sea: A first for Seabourn, The Retreat is a new multi-diversion plaza aft of the Sun Terrace, featuring a contoured nine-hole mini golf course, chess on a giant board and shuffleboard. The Retreat will also be the place for organized stargazing after dark.
6. Motion on the Ocean: For those who need to take a break from all that relaxing, Seabourn Odyssey will offer enticements rarely found at sea, including personal training on the Kinesis Wall in the Motion Studio, as well as invigorating Thai Massage in the onboard spa

For more information or to make a reservation aboard Odyssey or any other of The Yachts of Seabourn, please contact Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit Seabourn.com.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oceania Cruises' 2010 European Collection Open For Reservations

Oceania Cruises’ 2010 European Collection itineraries has opened for reservations. The line’s three ships will sail on 34 unique itineraries to more than 130 ports throughout Europe. With more ports, more itineraries and a more inclusive onboard product offering unlimited complimentary soft drinks and bottled water, the Oceania Cruises Experience offers the greatest value of any premium or deluxe brand.

The line is launching the 2010 European Collection with a $2,000 price reduction off of 2 for 1 cruise fares with free airfare from North American air gateways across the U.S. and Canada. With fares beginning at just $2,699 per guest, the Oceania Cruises experience has never been more affordable.

Highlights of the 2010 European Collection:
  • 34 unique itineraries for 2010 – more than any other premium or deluxe brand
  • Nearly 3/4 of the itineraries are brand new
  • The 2010 European Collection sails to a total of 137 ports, 30 of which are brand new ports for Oceania Cruises.
  • 2010 deployments stretch from the Polar Ice Barrier to the desert sands of Egypt and Israel
  • A unique selection of western European itineraries that focus on the extraordinary wine producing regions and local cuisines of Italy, Spain, Portugal and France
  • A wider array of off the beaten path boutique ports such as Zakinthos, Greece; Sanary Sur Mer, France; Murmansk, Russia; Kas, Turkey; & Tartous, Syria - just to name a few
  • $2,000 Price Reduction off of 2 for 1 Cruise Fares with Free Airfare
  • With Free Airfare from 20 North American gateways and $2,000 price reductions off of 2 for 1 cruise fares, these extraordinary voyages are the pinnacle of value and start at just $2,699 per guest.
Guests are urged to make their reservations as early as possible to ensure that they take advantage of the free airfare and receive the accommodations of choice on their preferred voyage.

For additional information, to make a reservation, or to order a brochure, please contact your Travel Agent or Oceania Cruises at 800-531-5658 or visit www.OceaniaCruises.com.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Carnival Splendor Boasts A New Burrito Bar

In a nod to the Mexican Riviera itinerary of the new Carnival Splendor, a new burrito bar debuted during the ship’s two-day familiarization cruises in San Francisco and Los Angeles last week.

Located within the expansive poolside restaurant, The Lido, the venue allows guests the opportunity select a variety of meats, rice, vegetables, and other ingredients and have a custom-made burrito created on the spot.

The burrito bar has garnered positive feedback from Carnival Splendor guests and the company is evaluating expanding the concept to other ships in the fleet.

Explore all the features aboard Carnival Splendor with CruiseDiva.com.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Norwegian Epic Will Offer The Most Dining Choices at Sea

Norwegian Epic’s wide range of dining choices will wow even the most discerning cruiser with 14 Freestyle Dining restaurants and 18 bars and lounges. Each restaurant features unique and sensational culinary delights from around the world. Although we're fairly certain that Café Jardin & The Great Outdoors will be complimentary—after all, it is the buffet—there's no word yet on whether any of the other restaurants will be included in your fare or which ones will require reservations and carry an extra charge.

Norwegian Epic’s dining establishments will include:

• Taste: Located in the ship’s atrium on Deck 5, Taste’s décor blends off-white, free-form plastered walls with European retro-chic mixed with brick details and floor to ceiling velvet curtains. Taste will serve a selection of traditional and contemporary cuisine.
• The Manhattan Room: Reminiscent of an elegant art deco supper club, The Manhattan Room features a dance floor as its focal point and will offer live music and dancing in the evening. The two-story high restaurant on Deck 6 features floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows looking aft. The cuisine reflects the elegant and romantic nature of the room.
• Café Jardin & The Great Outdoors: Café Jardin’s décor is modeled after a traditional English country garden conservatory. This is Norwegian’s signature action station casual restaurant where chefs cook fresh, prepared-to-order food as guests watch, featuring seafood, pizza, fruit, soups, pasta, ethnic specialties, burgers and desserts; offering extensive and varied selections. The Café includes a Kid’s Café with child-friendly seats and tables. At the Great Outdoors, guests can enjoy fresh air and a view of the Aqua Park with their meal.
• Cagney’s Steakhouse & Churrascaria: Norwegian’s traditional American steakhouse takes on a new twist with the addition of Argentinean churrasco. In addition to mouth-watering steaks, guests will be able to sample a variety of skewered meats presented by tableside passadors. Another new addition is a large, centrally located salad bar.
• La Cucina: This Tuscan-style eatery will serve regional Italian specialties including pizza, pasta and steak, chicken and fish dishes. The traditional Italian décor reflects two distinct areas: a Tuscan farm home and an Italian courtyard, where a large olive tree with hanging lanterns is the centerpiece, open to Café Jardin above.
• Le Bistro: Norwegian’s upscale bistro will serve classic French cuisine with an American flair. This elegant dining establishment surrounds guests with contemporary and traditional paintings and sculptures, making guests feel as if they were dining in an art museum.
• Shanghai’s: This new addition to Norwegian’s specialty dining options will serve a delicious mix of Chinese dishes and noodle bar specialties. The décor reflects Old Shanghai in the 1930s and is reminiscent of the China Club in Hong Kong. There will be an open kitchen preparing traditional Chinese cuisine, noodles, wok fried dishes and dim sum.
• Wasabi: This expansive sushi and sake bar will serve the freshest sushi, sashimi and Japanese Yakitori dishes. Featuring modern décor and clean lines, Wasabi is located outside the Teppanyaki restaurant.
• Teppanyaki: As the largest Teppanyaki restaurant at sea with 115 seats, this expanded venue will feature up to 24 knife-wielding chefs cooking exhibition-style Japanese cuisine on flat top grills. Guests will be amazed by the masterful chefs who demonstrate their skills slicing and dicing while creating an appetizing meal.
• O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill: This classic neighborhood sports bar and restaurant will serve American favorites and comfort food and is open 24 hours. The atrium’s two-story high screen will be visible from inside the restaurant and additional flat screen televisions will show sporting events, while guests enjoy their own activities, including three lanes of bowling, dart boards, pool tables, foosball and arcade games.
• The Epic Club & Courtyard Grill: Located high atop the ship in The Villas complex, this modern and elegant restaurant is reserved exclusively for Norwegian Epic’s suite and villa guests. The décor reflects a private club ambiance with contemporary and modern furnishings, and a large wine display, dotted with glass sculptures and pearl drapes. The Courtyard Grill is the more casual, outdoor area of the restaurant serving Villas guests for breakfast and lunch.

In addition to the restaurants listed above, there is also one more Norwegian Epic restaurant which will be announced at the next reveal in May. Also, 24-hour room service will be available for all guests on board Norwegian Epic. Throughout the ship, there will also be a total of 18 bars and lounges, which include: Atrium Bar; O’Sheehan’s; Cascades, the casino bar; Bliss Ultra Lounge; Cagney’s Bar; the Ice Bar; Sake Bar; Malting’s Whiskey Bar; Shaker’s Martini Bar; Humidor Cigar Lounge; The Living Room, exclusively for The Studios’ guests; Waves Bar; Spice H20; the Epic Club; and Posh Beach Club. The final three bars will also be announced in May.

Check out Cruise Diva's other Norwegian Epic reveals:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NCL Announces More Norwegian Epic Features

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has revealed another industry first to debut on its next generation of Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic, which will include an expansive Aqua Park with the only tube slide and largest bowl slide at sea -- The Epic Plunge. The line also unveiled seven decks of Freestyle Family Fun with highlights including a 33-foot high, 64-foot wide extreme rock climbing wall and the first ever repelling wall at sea; the most bowling lanes at sea with six in two venues; a mixed-use sports deck with the ability for guests to engage in eight different athletic activities; as well as three separate kids’ and teen activity areas and the first squash court at sea. In addition, Norwegian revealed the next generation of Freestyle Dining with 14 restaurant choices – the most at sea – and 18 bars and lounges.

Norwegian’s First Aqua Park: Norwegian Epic, set for delivery in late May 2010, takes Freestyle Family Fun to the extreme with an expansive Aqua Park that includes three water slides of varying thrill factors, including one specifically designed for children that zips straight through the rock climbing wall; a more adventurous slide twisting and turning down three stories; and The Epic Plunge, the only tube slide at sea that puts the blast of inner-tubing into the core of a bowl slide with a thrilling drop through a 200-foot long tube. Riders are then launched into the vortex of The Epic Plunge where centrifugal forces keep them high on the wall for several turns, ending in an exciting transition into a splashdown lane. The Aqua Park also includes two main pools with arching water effects which illuminate at night; five whirlpools; a wading pool and a kid’s pool in the children’s Splash and Play Zone which features whimsical sculptures, water sprays and effects, along with a kiddy slide.

Scaling New Heights in Freestyle Fun: In an industry first, Norwegian Epic will scale new heights with the first ever repelling wall at sea and a 33-foot high extreme rock climbing wall, accessible on two levels with varying degrees of difficulty, rated according to official U.S. climbing grades.

Expanding its innovative concept of bowling at sea, Norwegian Epic will offer the most bowling lanes with a total of six located in two venues: Bliss Ultra Lounge and O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. The multi-use sports deck will include a full size basketball court, volleyball, soccer, dodge ball, batting cage, bungee trampoline, rope adventure course and a 24-foot tall enclosed climbing cage called the spider web. Norwegian Epic will also feature the first squash court at sea, located in the fitness center.

Our Largest Kid’s Crew Facility & Exclusive Teen Lounge: Recess is Norwegian Epic’s Kid’s Crew facility that is centrally located on Deck 14 adjacent and easily accessible to the family-friendly staterooms. Two separate areas are specifically designed for kids ages two through nine and tweens, ages 10 through 12. The Kid’s area includes a space-themed play area, air hockey table, an interactive light up dance floor; WiiTM gaming areas; an arts and crafts area; along with a state-of-the-art surround sound cinema. The Tween Zone has a futuristic feel that includes multiple WiiTM and PlayStation® areas; along with a private karaoke performance stage which doubles as a cinema.

Entourage is Norwegian Epic’s high energy, exclusive teen zone for ages 13 through 17, located at the top of the ship on Deck 16. This funky space includes air hockey; pinball; foosball; a video jukebox; and nine large flat screen televisions, five of which are located around a central video game console featuring PlayStation® 3. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a hip nightclub with a space for dancing or just hanging out on comfy couches. Directly below is the video arcade which features number of the most challenging and interactive video games.

Check out other Norwegian Epic reveals: