Sunday, May 31, 2009

Welcome to Hurricane Season 2009: What Does That Mean For Cruise Travel?

It's only one day until the first of June and you know what time of year it is... the annual "hurricane season" has begun in North America. I'm not going to bore you with any of the dire predictions for 2009—we've already looked at them (see our earlier blog). For the most part, seasonal estimates haven't proven very accurate over the years and even coastal emergency management directors largely ignore them. However, you do have to pay attention when a storm is brewing, although there's usually plenty of warning when one is about to impact your cruise plans. Just because it's our least favorite weather season (in terms of tropical storms), that doesn't mean you have to forgo a cruise vacation.

Passengers numbering in the hundreds of thousands embark on cruises during the "official" hurricane season every year without a thought about storms on land or at sea. For some, it's the only time they can schedule a family vacation. For others, it's just not a consideration. After all, the official hurricane season consumes a full six months of the year, from June 1st until November 30th. While it is something to ponder in terms of comfort and convenience, I wouldn't let it stand in my way of scheduling a cruise during that time frame. Chances are, you'll never have a problem. It's a big ocean out there and there's room for you, your ship, and Mother Nature.

Consider what can happen on a land vacation; I once had to evacuate a hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai because of a tsunami warning. I'd rather be drinking coffee on a pitching cruise ship than in a Red Cross Evacuation Center any day. But, before you plan your cruise this summer or fall, take a look at what Cruising into Hurricane Season can mean to your plans.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cruise Travel: It's Time To Get A Passport

Instead of getting a passport, why not spend that passport fee on piña coladas instead?

Because things have changed and you must now have a passport to fly out of and back into the United States from almost everywhere, including those countries previously exempted. Plus, as of June 1, 2009, the Dept of Homeland Security's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires "all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or depart the United States from within the Western Hemisphere." That means by air or by sea.

However, your cruise may be exempt. U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises (cruises that begin and end at the same port in the U.S.) will be able to enter or depart the country with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. Essentially, that hasn't changed. However, you might need that passport even if your cruise line doesn't require it for your sailing. Find out why and get the information you need to know about your personal identification requirements. Take Cruise Diva's advice and Identify Yourself With A Passport.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A New Site For Crystal Cruises On The Web

With striking photography, interactive slide shows, and unique special features, luxury cruise specialist Crystal Cruises has launched a dynamic new presence on the Internet. The new web site, at, creates a personal online experience, presenting Crystal’s award-winning brand of service, space, quality, and choices with innovative and compelling style.

Immediately engaging, the new site’s dynamic homepage showcases revolving flash modules of stunning imagery and key promotional messages. From there, you can explore the site’s most intriguing new component, the interactive photo-rich Crystal Experience, as well as descriptive content about Destinations, Crystal Adventures shore excursions, Featured Special Offers, and the comprehensive Cruise Guidebook—an informative combination of the previous site’s Life on Board and Before You Sail sections, as well as Crystal’s worldwide cruise atlas. Other dedicated sections include a new Voyage Finder plus such refreshed features as Find an Agent, Special Offers, Media Center, Meetings & Incentives, and much more.

Key attributes of the site include:
  • The Crystal Experience: accessed from the Homepage, this area delivers on its name with 26 visual tours and detailed narratives depicting life aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. In addition to Ships, individual slide shows are also dedicated to Service; Sea & Shore, enriching activities and adventures both on board and ashore; and Society, information on the line’s past guest program the Crystal Society. Here also you may view Crystal Days at Sea, Tour the Ships, and the ever-popular Live Views.
  • Destinations: grouped into 15 worldwide destinations, including a section devoted to the World Cruise, all of the line’s far-reaching and port-intensive itineraries through 2010 are presented with vivid photography capturing a view of the world through the multi-faceted lens of Crystal. A new roll-over feature allows you to glean a snapshot of each particular voyage right from the Destination Homepage, and if interested, click through to an informative page dedicated to that cruise. From any page within the Destination section, you may contact your Travel Agent directly, or request that a Crystal Expert Travel Agency contact them.
  • Voyage Finder: among the most exciting enhancements, the new cruise search allows you to choose a voyage by destination, travel date, cruise length, ship, theme, or by all five criteria. As travel preferences are selected, the web page refreshes with a list of matching cruises.
  • Itinerary Pages: from the Destination section, individual voyages are accessed and presented in rich detail (Rooms & Fares, Entertainment & Programs, Crystal Adventures, Hotel Programs) including expandable port links with images and descriptions, and new interactive maps illustrating world location. A new enhancement, Similar Voyages, displays at the bottom of the itinerary page allowing you to consider a greater selection of voyages within a particular destination. Also included are Special Offers and Tour the Ship links, as well as a Recommended Reading List.
  • Cruise Guidebook: one of the more unique features to be found on any cruise line website, the Cruise Guidebook models the detailed ‘back-of-the-book’ information provided in Crystal’s annual Worldwide Atlas. Accessed at the top of the page from anywhere on the site, it contains detailed information on virtually every aspect of traveling with Crystal, from pre-cruise planning to shipboard life to the Crystal Society past guest program. The Cruise Guidebook also features a helpful search function and a print-by-page option.
Crystal will continue to enhance its online experience in the coming months with additional innovative features such as a new Shore Excursion Finder, Pre-Cruise check-in area and Travel Agent Center.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cruise Travel: Parents of Babies & Expectant Mothers Take Heed

Cruises are wonderful family vacations, but did you know that cruise lines have minimum age requirements for infants? And that there are also regulations regarding moms-to-be?

If baby is old enough for a cruise, some cruise lines make it oh so simple to sail away with your infant. Others, close, but not so much.

While some expectant parents feel a cruise is an exceptional way to celebrate their soon-to-arrive bundle of joy during a "baby-moon," they need to be aware of certain time constraints surrounding pregnancy when planning a cruise.

With policies and the availability of amenities varying by cruise line, shares what to expect with Baby On Board.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line©

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cruise Travel: Taking Your Toddler

Cruise ships are wonderful places for family vacations, but you have to understand the rules before promising your littlest sailors unlimited playtime, either in the kid’s program or the swimming pool.

Nothing is sadder than the face of a toddler who isn’t allowed in the ship’s pool—even the kiddy pool—because he/she isn’t potty-trained. Even swim diapers won’t pass muster in most cases.

Avoid long faces and don't make promises you won't be able to keep once you're on board. Find out the why's behind the rules and what to expect when Taking Your Toddler To Sea.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cruise Travel: Packing It In

I have a confession. I’m a pack-aholic. I’m hopelessly addicted to overburdening my husband with suitcases that barely close and bulging garment bags. The overflow from my tote bag gets stashed in his pockets.

What to do? It took drastic measures to cure me. Find out how in Packing It In, the true confession of a pack-aholic.

Cruise Diva's favorite bit of advice is to adhere to that old traveler’s adage, “Pack your suitcase and then remove half the contents before you close it.”

You too can streamline your packing strategy for smooth sailing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cruise Travel 101: The Basics

Smile for the birdie! Embarkation day begins with a photo-op.

Once the planning, packing, and anticipation are behind them, veteran cruise passengers sometimes view embarkation day as anticlimactic. However, for first-time cruise travelers, embarking on their first ship can be more than exhilarating—it can be downright intimidating. What exactly can you expect?

As a first-time cruise passenger, you are sailing into uncharted waters and want to have at least some idea of what your cruise will be like. One thing is always true—even on the same ship, no two cruises are identical. Are your expectations realistic? shares What to Expect On Your Cruise from embarkation, through days in port, days at sea, and disembarkation.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sometimes You Just ‘Gotta Dance’

Love to dance, but haven't been invited to audition for Dancing With The Stars yet? Me neither. Don't despair—now you have another option. A new Hip Hop dance adventure that transcends all ages, languages, and skill levels is taking Royal Caribbean ships by storm.

Royal Caribbean’s new Gotta Dance program offers you the opportunity to let loose, chase a dream, and ‘wow’ your cruisemates with cool new dance moves. Royal Caribbean’s Gotta Dance is inspired by the award-winning documentary film of the same name, which will hit the big screen across the United States beginning in July 2009. Gotta Dance chronicles the first-ever, senior-citizen hip-hop dance troupe for the New Jersey Nets Basketball Team. Just like the film, Royal Caribbean’s Gotta Dance program will offer guests—from the young to the young-at-heart—a chance to grab their moment in the spotlight. The participatory Gotta Dance experience is being offered exclusively by Royal Caribbean and will roll out fleetwide in summer 2009.

Gotta Dance is the newest Royal Caribbean program that offers guests an opportunity to try something different on their vacation regardless of age and experience,” said Peter Compton, V.P., Entertainment, Royal Caribbean Intl. “Every age is welcome and no experience is necessary.”

A special screening of the film will kick off each cruise. Guests sailing on select ships before the nationwide roll-out of the movie will be treated to advance viewings of Gotta Dance. Participants will then be divided into teams and, over the course of their vacation, will learn choreographed routines with a member of the Royal Caribbean dance team in rehearsals during sea days. The program will culminate with the main event—a farewell show on the last evening of the cruise, during which each of the teams will perform their routines in the ship’s main theater. Each group will perform a different routine, all of which were choreographed by New Jersey Nets Dance Coach Kimberlee Garris, who also appears in the Gotta Dance film. For each song an easy and more complex choreography has been designed, and Royal Caribbean’s Gotta Dance instructors will have the option of tweaking these versions further based on group skill level.

Friday, May 22, 2009

NCL Lines Up Blue Man Group to Headline Norwegian Epic Entertainment

For years cruise lines have presented production shows described as Vegas-style entertainment. Their aspirations have been high, but seldom would they have been mistaken for the real thing. However, it won't be long before Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) expands that theme to include an actual Vegas act aboard Norwegian Epic. In an industry first, NCL will welcome Blue Man Group on board next year.

Best known for their wildly popular theatrical shows and concerts, Blue Man Group combines music, comedy, and multimedia theatrics to produce a totally unique form of entertainment. The blissful party atmosphere created at their live events has become the trademark of a Blue Man Group experience. Beginning in the summer of 2010, they will be seen for the first time ever at sea on Norwegian Epic, performing in the 685-seat Epic Theater.

"Norwegian Cruise Line has spent 42 years breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising and redefining what it means to be innovative. Now, with Norwegian Epic, we are re-inventing cruise ship entertainment by offering multiple entertainment options for every taste and age," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer.

With the launch of Norwegian Epic, NCL aims to change the face of entertainment afloat by featuring multiple, specially-designed entertainment venues throughout the ship. No longer will entertainment be focused on two nightly shows in one large main theater—guests will be able to choose from a wide variety of amusements each evening of their cruise. Norwegian Epic will take Freestyle Cruising to the next level in specially-designed venues, some never-seen-before at sea, with choices to appeal to a broad audience.

Sheehan added, "Having a world-class creative organization like Blue Man Group headline the entertainment on Norwegian Epic will provide our guests with a sensory experience unlike any other at sea."

Cruise Diva first saw Blue Man Group perform in Las Vegas and, while I'm not sure that a "blissful" party atmosphere prevailed during their appearance, they are indeed unique. My taste leans more toward the Second City improvisational comedy troupe, which will appear in Headliners Comedy Club aboard Norwegian Epic. For more information about these and Norwegian Epic's other entertainment options, see's Cruise News.

Make Your Plans: Reservations are now open for Norwegian Epic's 2010 inaugural season sailings. The first Eastern Caribbean sailing from Miami is scheduled for July 17, 2010 and the ship's alternating Eastern & Western Caribbean itineraries are available through April 2011.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Experience MSC Splendida on Pre-Christening Cruise

Are you looking for a unique way to spend this Independence Day? Look no further. By joining MSC Splendida, the second in MSC Cruises’ luxurious “Fantasia” class of cruise ships, you can enjoy its pre-christening voyage from St. Nazaire, France to Barcelona, Spain for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. MSC Splendida departs July 4, 2009 from the shipyard in St. Nazaire, France for a 7-night cruise to visit Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Malaga, Spain; Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands/Spain; Marseille, France; and Barcelona, Spain.

Like her sister ship MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida will feature the MSC Yacht Club, offering private suites and luxurious facilities. With MSC Yacht Club accommodations, guests indulge in comfort and convenience; from their own personal Butler trained to the rigorous standards of the International Butler Academy to complimentary beverages available any time of the day in the MSC Yacht Club’s exclusive lounges and pool area. Also, MSC Splendida will feature an “Aurea Spa” well-being center, 4 restaurants and 2 buffets, including a speciality Mexican restaurant; numerous bars (including a sports bar, wine bar, coffee bar and Jazz bar), shops, casino, disco, mini-bowling lanes, Formula 1™ simulator and a 4D cinema. Kids can enjoy a water slide that straddles two decks within the amazing scenic views and an Aqua Park with 150 fountains and water jets that will light up at night to the rhythm of music. There will also be a fun area for Mini-Club, Junior Club and Teenager Club guests.

Cruise-only rates begin at $549 per person, double occupancy, for residents of the U.S. and Canada. As with all MSC Cruises’ sailings, kids 17 and younger sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults. For more information about MSC Cruises’ pre-christening voyage on MSC Splendida, visit MSC Cruises online or a local travel professional.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Celebrity & Azamara Cruises Want Your Travel Agent to Serve You Better

Consumers, when you book a cruise through a travel agent, you might wonder what qualifies your agent to be in the business. Premium cruise line Celebrity Cruises offers a glimpse into their a long-standing philosophy when it comes to its travel agent partners: teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Celebrity Cruises and deluxe sister line Azamara Cruises have announced a robust line-up of spring and summer training tools designed to help agents become more successful at matching their clients with upscale cruise vacations.

Celebrity’s popular “Five-Star Academy” is an online training portal that certifies travel agents as “Five-Star Agents” expert in Celebrity Cruises’ offerings. Since its inception in Sept of 2008, Celebrity Five-Star Academy has seen more than 11,000 travel agents register and take courses; 2,000 of these have completed the series and been named Five-Star Agents as a result of their success. Celebrity Five-Star Academy will soon launch the first of several electives outside the five levels required for completion. This elective focuses on ways that travel agents can employ various marketing tools and tactics to help grow their business.

Azamara is developing its own version of a multi-level online training program. Called “Azamara World Academy,” it will feature three levels of courses that participating travel agents must successfully complete before moving on to the next level. Topics will focus on Azamara’s unique and unusual destinations, culture-rich shore excursion offerings, unparalleled onboard service and dining, and more. Azamara World Academy is currently slated to launch in late June 2009.

For agents, Celebrity and Azamara are offering ways to boost their own business as the focus of a 10-city tour, currently underway and continuing through Oct of this year. An average of 75 travel agents have attended each training event on the tour so far; these have taken place in Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago. Space is limited but openings still exist for events in Detroit (May 20), Mich.; Marina del Rey (June 3), Calif.; Palo Alto (June 23), Calif.; Vancouver (July 9), British Columbia; Framingham/Boston (Aug 12), Mass.; Long Island (Aug 18), NY; and Toronto (Aug 26), Ontario.

Since Feb of this year, Celebrity and Azamara have been presenting two separate series of web-based training sessions, or webinars, with monthly opportunities to participate. The “Learning” series has presented travel agents with compelling details on topics such as Azamara’s all-stateroom butler service and Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox in Europe. The “Leadership Team” series of webinars has given travel agents the opportunity to hear directly from various Celebrity/Azamara executives, including President and CEO Dan Hanrahan, Senior Vice President of Sales Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, and Senior Vice President of Marketing Wayne Wielgus. Dan Hanrahan will host June’s “Leadership Team” webinar.

Participation in these activities for agents is free. Travel agents are encouraged to visit to find out more about these and other available tools.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Cruise Review: Holland America Line's Zuiderdam

Join Holland America Line veterans aboard Zuiderdam for a cruise to the Panama Canal and a day at the beach in Costa Rica that was right out of a tropical fantasy movie.

Our reviewer Doug and his wife have some very interesting observations about the cruise itself and the value it affords, as well as the price of beer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Cruise Reviews!

Two Cruise Reviews; One Major Cruise Company. And the experiences couldn't be more different.

Veteran cruise passenger Joe Reynolds shares his impressions of a Mexican Riviera cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, followed by Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Summit sailing to the Southern Caribbean from San Juan.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Royal Caribbean Ships Resuming Mexico Port Calls in Late-May

While Carnival was first to announce their intentions to resume port calls south of the border (see our blog entry below), it seems that Royal Caribbean ships will beat them there. Royal Caribbean announced late last evening that it will resume its port calls in Cozumel, Mexico, beginning with sailings that depart on or after May 24, 2009. They applaud the decision of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to downgrade their previous "Travel Alert" to a "Travel Health Precaution for Mexico."

Like their guests, the cruise line itself is anxious to return to Mexico. Until then, passengers will have time to fully review and understand the CDC's decision.

Royal Caribbean ships with Cozumel port calls include Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Enchantment of the Seas.

Mariner of the Seas will continue its modified Pacific Northwest itinerary, up to and including, its June 14 sailing.

Royal Caribbean will continue to utilize their Influenza Prevention and Response Plans, which the line's office of Medical and Public Health developed in coordination with the CDC and other health experts. The plan is based on three pillars: Preparedness and Communication; Surveillance and Detection; and Response and Containment.

For their latest itinerary updates, check the Royal Caribbean website where significant developments will be posted.

Carnival Cruise Lines to Return to Mexico Ports of Call

Carnival Cruise Lines has announced its ships will resume visits to Mexican ports of call based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is no longer recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico. Once all voyages with previously modified itineraries are completed, those vessels will revert to their original routes featuring stops in Mexico. Most itineraries were modified through mid-June with the exception of the Holiday which was modified through late May. A ship-by-ship listing including dates for when each vessel will resume its original itinerary is available at

"We are very pleased to resume our previous itineraries to Mexico, one of the cruise industry's most popular destinations, and we thank those guests who were impacted by the modified schedules in recent weeks for their understanding and patience. The health and well being of our guests and crew is our highest priority and we are returning to Mexico after careful evaluation and consultation with the CDC," said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. "It is important to note that the concentration of H1N1 flu cases in Mexico has been inland rather than in the coastal resort areas where our ships visit. Mexico has so many wonderful sites and attractions and feedback from our customers suggests that the majority support a resumption of port calls in Mexico. We know that they and our port destination partners are very much looking forward to our return," Cahill added.

Cahill also noted that the cruise industry works closely with U.S. public health officials in the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program in developing and complying with extensive policies and procedures that are effective in mitigating illness aboard cruise ships. Carnival will continue to follow CDC guidelines for cruise ships which include pre-boarding health questionnaires for all guests and crew, along with secondary screening by shipboard medical professionals as necessary. Additionally, all Carnival ships stock influenza test kits and anti-viral medications for treating type A influenzas.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium to Receive $10-Million “Refreshment”

You may know her as “Millie”—the nickname Celebrity Millennium has been given by past passengers and cruise enthusiasts alike since her launch in 2000. It’s no surprise that she’s consistently named among the top 10 large ships in the world.

To insure her ranking among large cruise ships, Celebrity Cruises—noted for its exceptional style—is rolling out a series of new design schemes on Celebrity Millennium during a $10-million refresh this year, beginning during its scheduled drydock period this week. Celebrity Millennium will emerge May 22 from a 12-day drydock in Victoria, B.C., with new carpeting throughout the entire ship, and new upholstery embellishing every stylish stateroom, the Lido deck, the Celebrity Theatre, and the dramatic, sweeping main dining room.

All marble and stone floors and counter areas will be renewed with a gleaming finish, and all wood hand rails on the ship’s verandas and pool deck areas will be newly varnished. Celebrity Millennium’s sun worshipers are likely to take notice of the work completed in exterior areas, too, as new bolidt, an alternative to traditional teak decking, is being installed across the pool deck, outdoor stage, dance floor, and jogging track.

Every suite will be equipped with 32-inch LED flat-panel TVs, while every plush ConciergeClass stateroom will boast 26-inch versions of the high-tech product. Additionally, new drapes, bed skirts and bed throws in warm, natural hues will further enhance every suite and stateroom. By October of this year, new upholstery also will adorn furnishings in the ship’s retail areas, the sweeping Grand Foyer, and every lounge, including Celebrity’s chic, signature Martini Bar, and all staterooms will boast 26-inch LED flat-panel TVs.

The newly-refreshed Celebrity Millennium will embark on this year’s Alaska season May 22, on a 7-night cruise roundtrip from Vancouver, B.C., prior to a series of 7-night Southbound Alaska sailings to and from Vancouver and Seward, Alaska, through Sept. Travelers eager to experience the refreshed Celebrity Millennium have no better opportunity than now, with select staterooms on several Alaska sailings starting at $57 per person per day, when booked by May 31, through “The Celebrity Starring You Promise.” Celebrity Millennium also presents the opportunity to delve deeper into Alaska’s breathtaking wilderness on unique Celebrity Cruisetour vacations. These in-depth packages pair a spectacular Celebrity cruise with a fully escorted pre- or post-cruise land-based experience, and offer unsurpassed values this spring and summer. For more information, call your travel agent, dial 1-800-437-3111 or visit the Celebrity Cruises website.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crystal Serenity Scores Perfect 100 in Canada Health Inspection

Following an intensive inspection by a team of environmental health officers, Crystal Cruises' luxurious Crystal Serenity received a "perfect" score of 100 from Health Canada. The unannounced audit occurred during Crystal Serenity's May 3 call in Victoria, British Columbia on the final segment of the cruise line's World Cruise.

Scoring is based on 41 inspection items of the potable water system, food preparation and storage areas, and waste management systems, including filters, ventilation devices and sanitizing temperatures. Swimming pools and spas are also inspected. Canada's Federal health department, Health Canada, developed its Cruise Ship Inspection Program (CSIP) to inspect cruise ships that visit Canadian ports. The guidelines were coordinated with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vessel Sanitation Program in 1998. A ship's level of sanitation is satisfactory if its inspection score is 86% or higher. Crystal Symphony also received a score of 100 during her most recent calls in Canada in October 2008.

"Crystal Cruises' record of perfect scores is indicative of our efforts to meet the highest standards of excellence in all areas of our cruise operation," says Joe Valenti, Crystal Cruises' senior vice president, marine operations.

So, how did the Crystal ships fare in their most recent U.S. Vessel Sanitation Program inspections?
  • Crystal Serenity scored 97 on 12/1/2008
  • Crystal Symphony scored 98 on 3/9/2009
To find out how other ships compare, see Cruise Diva's monthly report for a summary of Sanitation Inspections Scores of International Cruise Ships.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Disney Cruise Line Brings Exclusive Fan Experience to the High Seas

In a Disney exclusive, numerous Disney Channel stars will set sail this summer, joining thousands of Disney Cruise Line guests aboard the Disney Wonder for eight special sailings during the first-ever "Disney Channel Summer at Sea," presented by Kodak.

"We're thrilled to partner with Disney Channel and offer guests on our ship a unique opportunity to sail with Disney Channel stars," said Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz. "A cruise vacation with Disney Cruise Line is always a family-favorite and 'Disney Channel Summer at Sea' provides families another reason to set sail and experience the Disney difference."

Popular stars from Disney Channel shows like "Hannah Montana," "Sonny With A Chance," "Wizards of Waverly Place," "The Suite Life on Deck," "JONAS," "Camp Rock," "High School Musical" and "Hatching Pete" will sail with guests on 3- and 4-night Bahamian cruises taking place July 9 through Aug 2. During these themed sailings, Disney Channel stars will help pump up the volume during onboard deck parties and will join guests for Q & A and autograph sessions along with preview screenings of Disney Channel programming. The onboard fun culminates with a "Party with the Stars" event, an evening where guests can join the stars for a special live musical performance. As an added treat, Radio Disney will broadcast live from the ship during two of the cruises.

Aligning with Kodak's "It's Time to Smile" campaign, all Disney fans will be able to share in the ship-to-shore fun online. Select video-blog reporters onboard the ship will capture their magical vacation memories on a 'KODAK Zi6 Pocket Video Camera' and post video from their voyages at

Each cruise during "Disney Channel Summer at Sea" will include multiple Disney Channel stars. Among those scheduled to sail include Tiffany Thornton from "Sonny With A Chance" (July 9 & 12), Nicole Anderson from "JONAS" (July 9 & 12), Jason Earles from "Hannah Montana" (July 16 & 19), Mitchel Musso from "Hannah Montana" (July 19), Jason Dolley from "Hatching Pete" (July 23 & 26), Debby Ryan from "The Suite Life on Deck" (July 30) and Alyson Stoner from "Camp Rock" (Aug. 2). More stars will be announced shortly, guests can visit frequently for up-to-date information on the lineup of stars sailing. (Talent is subject to change without notice.)

Guests can visit ( to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of eight (8) Grand Prize Disney Cruise Vacation packages during the "Disney Channel Summer at Sea" program. Sweepstakes winners also receive an additional special meeting aboard ship with Disney Channel stars, and Kodak prize packages including a Kodak Zi6 video camera. Ten (10) second place winners will receive the 'KODAK Zi6 Pocket Video Camera' and Easy Share W1020 Digital Frame kit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carnival Imagination Rescues Boaters

At approximately 9 am last Friday, Carnival Cruise Lines’ 2,052-passenger cruise ship, Carnival Imagination, rescued three boaters whose vessel capsized approximately 14 miles north of the sea buoy near Miami in Biscayne Bay.

Carnival Imagination was en route to its homeport of Miami when officers on the ship’s bridge saw the capsized vessel. Captain Candeloro Donato immediately initiated rescue operations, positioning the 70,000-ton cruise ship toward the capsized boat and lowering one of Carnival Imagination’s rescue boats. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified, as well.

The three boaters were safely brought onto the Carnival Imagination’s rescue boat as it stood by under instructions from the U.S. Coast Guard, which dispatched a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft to take them to Miami.

Carnival Imagination operates year-round 3- and 4-day cruises from Miami.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Princess Ships Spotlight Alaska Culture This Summer

When Princess Cruises ships launched their Alaska season last weekend, they began offering passengers more local tastes and culture onboard than ever before, giving them a rich “Great Land” experience not only on land, but also while at sea.

“Alaska’s 50th anniversary year is the perfect time to celebrate the wonders of this magnificent state,” said Jan Swartz, Princess executive vice president.

Princess’ extensive onboard Alaska program includes:
-- Sanctuary Glacier Viewing Experience: Aboard Golden Princess, Star Princess and Island Princess, The Sanctuary will become a prime location for glacier viewing of the unforgettable Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm. The exclusive Sanctuary experience will offer passengers a variety of amenities to make their glacier experience comfortable, with deluxe padded lounge chairs, plush fleece blankets, ear muffs and binoculars. Park rangers and naturalists will also provide private commentary for guests in The Sanctuary, and will be available for one-on-one meetings to answer questions. A variety of special food and beverage offerings will be available exclusively in The Sanctuary, including Mimosas and Bloody Marys, specialties such as Alaska Rockfish Chowder and freshly fried "Beaver Tail” pastries.
-- Tastes of Alaska: Passengers can experience the flavors of Alaska with a number of special opportunities to enjoy Princess’ Signature Alaska Cuisine. Throughout the Alaska fleet, chefs will create a bounty of flavorful dishes that reflect the state’s culinary delights, featuring fresh local fish, savory meats, and an assortment of seafood specialties. Passengers will find ample opportunity to sample these treats, with a number of special culinary events throughout the cruise.
-- Glacier Bay Champagne Breakfast: Passengers can enjoy the majestic views of Glacier Bay from the comfort of their private balconies, while indulging in an exquisitely prepared Alaskan breakfast or brunch. The feast includes smoked salmon and an Alaskan crab quiche plus fresh pastries, fruit and forest berries along with a half bottle of champagne, served right on the stateroom balcony as the ship passes breathtaking scenes of this natural wonder.
-- Glacier Bay Gala Buffet: While ships sail among the stunning scenery of Glacier Bay, a lavish lunch buffet fuels passengers with a variety of Alaskan specialties, including hot and cold smoked salmon carved at the buffet, crab salad, and grilled fish, plus ice carvings and other special décor.
-- Alaskan Dinner: In the dining rooms, the special Alaskan Dinner features a number of local tastes and regional influences, including salmon, a celebrated seafood soup and loin of venison.
-- On Deck Fish Barbecue: On one port day, cruisers will return to the ship to find a festive poolside fish barbeque serving up such specialties as grilled prawns on skewers, fresh Alaska halibut brochettes, crab cakes, and venison chili.
-- Reindeer Chili & Rockfish Chowder Cook-off: A sea day cook-off between two chefs gives passengers the opportunity to sample these local tastes.
-- Warm up on Deck: Hot chocolate and mid-morning bouillon are served daily on open deck to help passengers warm up as they take in the scenery.
-- Alaskan Beers/Hot Toddy: To top off any meal, diners can pair their Alaskan feasts with local beers, such as Alaskan Amber and Alaskan Summer Ale, or an Alaskan Hot Toddy. Beers can be served in an exclusive etched pint glass with the Alaskan Brewers and Princess Cruises logos.
-- Chef's Table: The ships’ chefs will be creating special menus for the exclusive Chef’s Table featuring mouth-watering specialties.
-- Culinary Demonstrations: Passengers can learn the tricks of the trade from Princess chefs at a demonstration featuring the flavors of Alaska such as Farfalle Pasta with Hot Smoked Alaskan Salmon.

Local Experts - Passengers can learn about many aspects of life in Alaska and the state’s natural wonders from a variety of special guests onboard:
-- Iditarod Champion Libby Riddles, Sled Dogs and Adventure: Libby Riddles, the 1985 Iditarod sled dog race champion and first woman ever to win the famous Anchorage to Nome trek, will be onboard for her ninth Alaska season. Riddles has become a Princess favorite, enthralling passengers with exploits from her days as a musher. In her exclusive appearances for Princess, Riddles joins each of the line’s Alaska ships during its call in Juneau. Taking passengers behind the scenes into the world of dog mushing, she shares her Iditarod experiences while describing what it’s like to live in a native Inupiat village near Nome. Riddles’ approximately hour-long presentations are held aboard the ship in the afternoon, followed by an opportunity for passengers to ask questions, get autographed copies of her books or pose with her for photos.
-- Alaska Naturalists: On each Alaska sailing, passengers have the benefit of the expert guidance from a dedicated onboard naturalist throughout their cruise. These veteran guides include biologists, writers, adventurers, professors and Alaska Natives, among others, who give informative presentations about local wildlife, glaciers, oceanography, marine life, native Alaskan cultures, history and many other local topics of interest. Naturalists often provide colorful bridge commentary as well and help with spotting wildlife.
-- Park Ranger Programs in Glacier Bay: Park rangers present a variety of programs for passengers of all ages while ships sail among the dramatic ice fields of Glacier Bay National Park. National Park Service rangers join the ship for the day, offering a live commentary from ship’s bridge throughout the visit to Glacier Bay, pointing out the natural wonders and wildlife sightings. Rangers also give an informative shipboard presentation with videos of Glacier Bay’s environment. They also meet with passengers at a dedicated booth, offering reference books and other information to further inform interested visitors about Glacier Bay’s natural and cultural history.
-- USDA Forest Service Partnership, Ketchikan/Misty Fjords: Passengers have the opportunity to learn more about the nation’s largest National Forest–Tongass National Forest–with a special onboard presentation by rangers from the U.S. Forest Service about the resources and management of the forest. A naturalist station will be set up throughout the afternoon each ship is in Ketchikan, and passengers are invited to special presentations for adults and children as the naturalists share information about Southeast Alaska and this important national treasure.

If you plan to cruise in Alaska this summer, you may want to take a look at Cruise Diva's suggestions for Cruising In Cool Places and what to see and do in Alaska Ports of Call. You might also consider picking up a copy of Fodor's Alaska Ports of Call 2009.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Remembrance: Cruise On, Mom

I discovered the source of my love for ships and the high seas. I have a cruise gene. It was here all along, tucked away in the corner of a closet shelf. For years it was dormant, just waiting to be found. It was in a dusty box of mementos from a long ago, dimly remembered voyage. It wasn't my cruise vacation, but my mother's.

What was her first cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Song of Norway in 1980 like? Some things never change ... there was the boat drill and Captain's Party pictured here (my Mom being greeted by the ship's Master), plus sunshine, relaxation, dancing the night away, and plenty of casino action.

Join me in a Mother's Day tribute to the lady who passed along her cruise genes to me. My mom's first cruise on the Song of Norway: Cruise On, Mom.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Cruise Review: Splendour of the Seas

Venice is one of the splendid highlights of a cruise to remember.

Welcome aboard Royal Caribbean International's Splendour of the Seas with Todd McGrath as he shares his experiences on a week-long Greek Isles and Turkey voyage.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Riding a Wave: Norwegian Epic's Hull Art

One of the most distinctive characteristics about Norwegian Cruise Line ships is the unique hull artwork that each vessel proudly displays and we are happy to share a peek at the contemporary hull design which will adorn Norwegian Epic, NCL's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date that is scheduled for delivery in May 2010. Painted on both sides with free form rolling waves of varying sizes that run through a modern color spectrum of lime, aqua, red, and purple and dotted by silver circles, the hull artwork was designed by the company’s internal marketing team.

A departure from the rest of the line’s signature hull artwork, which typically is inspired by the ship’s name or the destination the ship sails from, the hull artwork on Norwegian Epic instead takes on the characteristics of the ship’s interior features—a sophisticated, modern and sleek design and color palette that is seen in everything from the innovative curved design of the New Wave staterooms to the more contemporary design of the ship’s public areas.

“A Norwegian Cruise Line ship is instantly recognizable with its distinctive hull art that conveys each ship’s personality and the freedom and flexibility that is found on board,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “With Norwegian Epic, we are taking Freestyle Cruising to the next level, so it is fitting that her hull artwork conveys more of the modern, sleek design guests will find once they are on board the ship.”

In addition to unveiling the hull art, NCL will begin taking reservations for Norwegian Epic’s 2010/2011 inaugural season on Thurs, May 21, 2009, with a special preview day for Norwegian’s past guests (Latitudes members) on Wed, May 20, 2009.

Check out Cruise Diva's other Norwegian Epic reveals:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Royal Caribbean President & CEO Joins The "Blogosphere"

With the launch of Why Not?—the new blog from Royal Caribbean International's President and CEO, Adam Goldstein—avid RCI cruisers can follow along as he discusses the latest news from the cruise line. Goldstein will cover other interesting topics such as the different types of experiences cruisers can expect from their Royal Caribbean vacations as well as some personal insights on the travel and cruise industries as a whole.

Why Not? will showcase exclusive Royal Caribbean content, including video and photo features from aboard the ships. In addition, readers will discover and learn more about the vast array of onboard activities and get a first-hand feel for what the adventure will be like from the crew’s perspective, all through recurring series posts.

Why Not? is now now live. Hear what Goldstein has to say at the Why Not? blog.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Silversea Joins Efforts To "Save Venice"

In tune with its Italian heritage, ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea Cruises has announced its support of two organizations dedicated to the preservation of works of art and architecture in Venice: Save Venice and Chorus. One of Italy's—and the world's—most romantic and magical cities, Venice is featured on no less than ten Silversea itineraries this summer. On each of these mostly 7-day voyages, guests will enjoy an overnight stay aboard Silver Wind or Silver Whisper docked in Venice.

"We're pleased to be able to help generate awareness and support the worthy efforts of Save Venice and Chorus," said Darius Mehta, director of land programs for Silversea. "With its fascinating history and mesmerizing beauty, Venice has always been one of our most popular destinations and it's only fitting that we play our part to contribute to maintaining the cultural heritage and artistic treasures of this magnificent city. By partnering with leading local tour specialists we are able to offer specially tailored destination experiences that are culturally enriching and also provide an opportunity for Silversea and our guests to participate in a greater cause."

Save Venice, an American non-profit group based in New York and Venice, with chapters in Boston and California, is dedicated to preserving the city's artistic heritage and has restored over 350 works of art and architecture in Venice. It publishes a colorful, 24-page book of hunts and puzzles designed to enhance visits to Venice by encouraging the visitor to focus on various architectural details and art objects that might otherwise go unnoticed. Through Silversea's cooperation with Save Venice, the books are available for sale for 25 euros on all Silversea voyages calling in Venice this summer. Proceeds from the sale go to support the various projects of Save Venice. In addition, when guests purchase one of Silversea's optional pre- or post-cruise land programs featuring at least a one-night stay in Venice, they automatically receive a copy of the "Save Venice Hunts & Puzzles" book in their hotel room. For more information on Save Venice, visit
Pictured above: An early morning arrival in Venice from aboard Silver Whisper.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Carnival Cruises Lines: Itineraries For Sailings Through June 15 Altered To Bypass Mexico

As previously reported, Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled all port of call visits in Mexico for 16 of its ships that were previously scheduled to stop in that country. Itineraries for vessels that included stops in Mexico have been modified through June 15, 2009. In many instances, the modification simply involves 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.

If you are currently booked on a modified sailing which departs between May 14, 2009 and June 15, 2009, you must advise Carnival of the cancellation of your current cruise by May 7, 2009 in order to be eligible for the future cruise credit.

For a complete list of modified itineraries, see the chart at

Monday, May 4, 2009

Golden Princess Transformed in Drydock

When Golden Princess began the most extensive makeover ever undertaken by the company nearly two weeks ago, Princess Cruises invited cruise fans to follow the progress through a daily photo journal of the ship's transformation. A first for Princess, the journal chronicles the dramatic changes throughout the ship during its nearly 3-week drydock at Victoria Shipyards in British Columbia. While Golden Princess has already been re-floated, the photo journal is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the drydock process. At, the journal will run through tomorrow, May 5th, when the ship sets sail again with its new features, including a new piazza-style atrium, an adults-only Sanctuary, a Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen (pictured above), a new Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant, and a variety of other enhancements.

"We know there's a great deal of interest in a ship transformation such as this, so we're inviting cruise enthusiasts to get a unique glimpse of the ship's progress through this drydock," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "None of our other vessels have ever had this many new features added in a single drydock, so our online journal will offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the amount of work required for such a huge undertaking."

The amenities being added during the drydock are the Princess signature features already aboard the line's newest ships, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, and Ruby Princess. Many have also been introduced aboard on Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, and Grand Princess during earlier drydock periods.

When Golden Princess emerges from drydock, its atrium will feature a new Piazza with an inviting street cafe atmosphere featuring roving entertainers and two new dining options. The International Cafe will serve up specialty coffees, fresh baked cookies, pastries, panini sandwiches, and tapas. Vines, a wine bar, will offer a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of seafood, artisan meats and cheeses, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle. A new restaurant, the Crown Grill, will offer an open kitchen where passengers can enjoy watching as chefs prepare chops, steaks, and seafood, including live lobsters. Adult passengers looking to get away from it all will be able to relax in the tranquility of The Sanctuary, Princess' signature retreat featuring plush padded lounge chairs and the services of dedicated Serenity Stewards. For a nominal fee, visitors to this exclusive space can enjoy refreshing beverages and light snacks, or receive a massage in one of two private cabanas.

Above one of the ship's pools, Movies Under the Stars will debut onboard with a state-of-the-art Times Square-style LED screen, offering evening movies and a variety of daytime programming. The 300-square foot screen offers passengers a movie experience comparable to the best shoreside movie theater. In addition to family cinema and first run hits, Movies Under the Stars also features major sporting events, concerts, and other can't-miss programming, with up to 50 different offerings per week.

As part of the renovation, Golden Princess is also being fitted with seven new window suites with ocean-view picture windows, and a relocated casino on deck 7, bringing it into the ship's central entertainment area. In addition, 10 new balcony suites and two ocean view cabins will be added in the aft of the ship, replacing the former video arcade. Other changes include new locations for the sports court, a new Limelight boutique, new shore excursions and Captain's Circle desks, new Internet cafe and library, and the addition of new gym equipment in the fitness center.

Throughout the drydock, Twitter users have received a daily "tweet" about the latest Golden Princess construction progress after signing up to use the site and electing to follow Princess at Day-by-day images from the photo journal can be viewed at Flickr:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cruise Lines Enhance Screening Protocols to Protect Public Health

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced that its member lines have adopted and begun employing enhanced screening procedures on a global basis to help prevent the introduction and/or spread of Influenza A (H1N1, previously called “swine flu”) on board cruise ships. Under the new CLIA health screening protocols, all passengers will be required to complete and sign a written questionnaire prior to boarding a CLIA member cruise ship anywhere in the world.

“The health and safety of all cruise passengers is of utmost importance to all Cruise Lines International Association member lines,” said Terry Dale, CLIA president and CEO. “The cruise industry is taking these proactive steps out of an abundance of caution to identify, isolate and treat any suspect Influenza A (H1N1) cases as appropriate. We will continue to review these protocols and the need for any further actions as necessary.”

All passengers scheduled to board CLIA member line cruise ships will be required to complete the new public health questionnaire prior to boarding at any port. Under the enhanced screening protocols, CLIA member lines will perform a secondary screening if a passenger reports on the questionnaire flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat, or contact with a confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) case. Medical personnel at each cruise line will make case by case decisions regarding the boarding of these passengers. Passengers will not be permitted to travel if they exhibit influenza-like-illness or meet the suspect case conditions for Influenza A (H1N1) as defined by CDC. All other passengers will be permitted to travel. The industry instituted similar global screening protocols in the past during the outbreak of SARS in Asia.

Dale noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Influenza A (H1N1) is already widespread and that the public health priority today is to mitigate the further spread of the virus. He said that the enhanced health screening protocols announced today were designed to do just that while protecting passengers, crew and ports of call.

Further, medical staff will isolate and treat passengers and crew with flu symptoms, if such a situation arises while the cruise ship is under way. CLIA member lines that operate internationally will maintain appropriate medical support equipment and medications, including anti-viral medications that are effective in treating flu, including Influenza A (H1N1).

The new screening protocols augment comprehensive vessel sanitation and public health surveillance procedures already employed by the industry, and subject to inspection by CDC in the U.S., that reduce the potential for transmission of contagious diseases including Influenza A (H1N1). These practices include the use of recommended disinfectants, surveillance and treatment of illnesses like influenza, isolation of sick passengers, food safety sanitation protocols, and consultation with public health authorities.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Royal Caribbean Announces Limited Pacific Coast Cruises

Royal Caribbean is hoping to prove you can make lemonade from lemons. The line realizes that many passengers booked for upcoming cruises aboard Mariner of the Seas are disappointed, not to mention unhappy, about the itinerary changes they had to make as a result of the swine influenza outbreak in Mexico. However, they are betting that there are potential passengers who would like to take a Pacific Coast cruise if the price were right.

Vacationers can take advantage of recent itinerary changes to enjoy a unique vacation that combines the Pacific Coast with Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, the largest and most innovative cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean. Six new sailings, departing May 3, 10, 24, & 31, and June 7 & 14, 2009, will take guests on 7-night roundtrip itineraries from Los Angeles and feature ports of call in San Francisco, Seattle, and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Cruise fares start as low as $399 per person, double occupancy, and booking is available immediately. Mariner of the Seas features the most diversions on a cruise ship on the West Coast, catering to active travelers and multi-generational family vacations.

Royal Caribbean also offers a wide array of shore excursion add-ons available for purchase to complement days in port. In San Francisco, for example, guests can choose Sausalito & Muir Woods, which will take them across the Golden Gate Bridge to visit Muir Woods and witness giant redwood trees rising more than 250 feet; or explore the surround waters in Victoria for whales, seals, porpoises and other wildlife on Whale Watching; or opt for an insiders’ tour of the famed Pike Place Market in Seattle on Taste Pike Place. On the May 10 sailing, Mariner of the Seas will substitute the San Francisco port of call with Astoria, Oregon.

For more information, check Cruise Diva's Cruise News.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Royal Caribbean Intl: Mexico Itinerary Changes

1:00 pm: Royal Caribbean Intl has temporarily suspended its port calls in Mexico. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, and to allow 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 one additional ship scheduled to make upcoming Mexico port calls as it repositions - 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 for compensation and rebooking options. We have established a special help desk to assist these guests. The toll-free is: 1-800-327-6700. Please note that the weather on the revised itinerary is considerably colder. Gests should remember to pack clothing that is appropriate for this new itinerary.

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:

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

Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled all port of call visits in Mexico for 16 of its ships that were previously scheduled to stop in that country. Itineraries for vessels departing between Thursday, April 30 and Monday, May 11 that included stops in Mexico have been modified (see below). 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 11, an update will be provided in the near future.

Carnival Cruise Lines states that if you are currently booked on an adjusted sailing which departs on or before May 4, 2009, you must advise Carnival of the cancellation of your current cruise as soon as possible in order to be eligible for the future cruise credit. If you are currently booked on an adjusted sailing which departs between May 7, 2009 and May 11, 2009, you must advise Carnival of the cancellation of your current cruise by May 4th, 2009 in order to be eligible for the future cruise credit. Following are the latest itinerary revisions:


Carnival Liberty on 05/02/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will call at Roatan

Carnival Valor on 05/03/2009 & 05/10/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will call at Key West

Carnival Triumph on 05/03/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will call at Belize

Carnival Imagination on 05/04/2009 & 05/11/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will call at Nassau


Carnival Freedom on 05/09/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will call at Belize


Carnival Glory on 05/02/2009
Instead of Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya, and Nassau, will call at Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Marteen


Carnival Legend 05/03/2009 & 05/10/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will spend the day at sea

Carnival Inspiration on 05/04/2009 & 05/09/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will spend two days at Grand Cayman


Holiday on 05/04/2009
Instead of Cozumel & Calica, will call at Key West & Freeport

Holiday on 05/09/2009
Instead of Progreso & Cozumel, will call at Key West & Freeport


Carnival Fantasy on 05/02/2009
Instead of Progreso & Cozumel itinerary, will sail a new 7-day on 05/02/09 to Key West, Freeport, Nassau

Carnival Fantasy on 05/07/2009

Carnival Fantasy scheduled to depart on 05/11/2009
Instead of Progreso & Cozumel itinerary, will sail a new 7-day on 05/09/09 to Key West, Freeport, Nassau


Carnival Ecstasy on 05/02/2009
Instead of Progreso & Cozumel itinerary, will sail a new 7-day on 05/02/09 to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman

Carnival Conquest on 05/03/2009 & 05/10/2009
Instead of Cozumel, will spend the day at sea

Carnival Ecstasy on 05/07/2009

Carnival Ecstasy scheduled to depart on 05/11/2009
Instead of Progreso & Cozumel itinerary, will sail a new 7-day on 05/09/09 to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman


Carnival Elation on 05/03/2009 & 05/10/2009
Will only call at Catalina

Carnival Elation on 05/07/2009
Instead of Ensenada, will call at Catalina


Carnival Paradise on 05/01/2009, 05/04/2009, 05/08/2009 & 05/11/2009
Will not call at Ensenada, will call at Catalina

Carnival Splendor on 05/03/2009
Instead of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas itinerary, will call at San Francisco, Victoria, B.C., Seattle

All other Carnival cruises in progress, that were scheduled to call on any Mexico port, have been re-routed and will no longer visit any ports in Mexico.

Carnival is offering onboard credits in varying amounts to compensate passengers for the revised itineraries. In addition, for the Carnival Splendor sailings, they ask that if the
itinerary change is not acceptable that you contact them as soon as possible. Carnival will provide a future cruise credit in the amount you paid for the cruise and you can sail with
then anytime prior to Dec 31, 2010. For additional information and details, see

Cruise Travel: North to Alaska

With the Alaska cruise season getting underway, it's a good time to share with you why this year might just be a better time to see America's last frontier than next year.

For 2010, three cruise lines have already announced scaled back Alaska fleets. Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Intl, and Norwegian Cruise Line are each pulling a ship from the region. Even for 2009, small ship cruise line Cruise West is sailing five ships instead of the eight they originally scheduled and they have not announced their 2010 itineraries yet. While not taking a ship out of the 2010 market entirely, Holland America Line has replaced one-week cruises with two-week cruises on one fo their ships, which means half the passengers on that particular ship will be visiting popular ports such as Juneau on a weekly basis. Not only will there be fewer ships, there will be fewer with one-way (north-bound or south-bound) itineraries scheduled, which translates into less people opting for pre- and post-cruise stays at lodges in the Denali area. Fewer tourists means fewer seasonal tourism jobs for Alaskans.

Why the cruising cut backs? Quite simply, the Alaska cruise market has become over saturated since 9/11/01, when Americans were reluctant to fly overseas and more cruise ships were deployed in Alaska. While that's been good news for passengers (lower fares to fill the ships), the cruise lines have taken a beating on their revenue yields. If that weren't bad enough, the state of Alaska has proven to not be a good business partner by raising the head tax for each passenger by $50 and dipping into cruise ships' onboard revenue streams with additional fees. Alaska also put in place environmental standards for wastewater treatment with which the cruise lines cannot currently comply--the technology simply doesn't exist to do so. The implementation of those requirements have been delayed until 2015, but are still being held over the cruise industry's head.

The people of Alaska may not have thought a $50 per person tax would be that big a deal when they voted to pass it, but to cruise passengers, the bottom line makes a huge difference between whether to book a cruise vacation to a particular region or not. With ships--and their passengers--sailing off to other, more tourism friendly areas worldwide, Alaskans may regret passing such onerous legislation aimed directly at the cruise industry. We're just saying, maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all.

I encourage everyone to visit Alaska. It's a wondrous state with amazing sights and nice people. However, you might want to go sooner than later. If you do, you may want to take a look at Cruise Diva's suggestions for Cruising In Cool Places and what to see and do in Alaska Ports of Call. You might also consider picking up a copy of Fodor's Alaska Ports of Call 2009.

Image Above: Approaching Sawyer Glacier