Monday, January 31, 2011

MSC Cruises Changes Itineraries Due to the Situation in Egypt

With the civil unrest presently taking place in Egypt, the American Embassy is taking the precaution of evacuating nonessential personnel and dependants and assisting American residents and tourists who wish to leave the country. Cruise lines are taking precautions as well.

Due to the escalating violence in Egypt and for the safety of their guests, MSC Cruises has decided to alter the upcoming calls of MSC Magnifica and MSC Splendida at Alexandria on Sunday, Jan 30 and Monday, Jan 31.

Instead, MSC Magnifica will call at Limassol, Cyprus and Haifa, Israel on Sunday, Jan 30 and Monday, Jan 31, while MSC Splendida will call at Izmir, Turkey on Monday, Jan 31.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dine Aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

Variety is the spice of life and here aboard Nieuw Amsterdam the dining options are certainly varied. Naturally there is the Manhattan Dining Room and Lido Restaurant, but the feast doesn’t stop there.

Long a staple on Holland America Line ships, the Pinnacle Grill on Nieuw Amsterdam now offers new options in specialty dining—one evening during our cruise the Master Chef’s Table was set to include an exclusive dining experience of seven courses accompanied by specially selected wine pairings by the ship’s sommelier ($89). Another night’s highlight in the Pinnacle Grill was a menu of dishes featured in midtown Manhattan’s famous Le Cirque Restaurant ($39 for dinner, an additional $20 for a glass of sparkling wine and two glasses of the Le Cirque recommended vintages). Dinner from the Pinnacle Grill’s own menu is $20 and lunch is $10.

Introduced aboard Signature-class sister ship Eurodam, and also featured on Nieuw Amsterdam, are Tamarind, serving Asian cuisine that emphasizes nature’s basic elements of water, wood, fire, and earth ($15 dinner, no charge for lunch) and Canaletto, the complimentary Italian bistro that is tucked into a corner of the Lido (that’s the delightful Canaletto place setting and menu pictured above). One unique—and fun to eat—change we noticed in Canaletto is a palate refresher served after the main course and before coffee and dessert—lemony cotton candy .

Not only is specialty dining on Nieuw Amsterdam special, it’s also a good value. Bon appetit!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learn New Skills Aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

While Bingo, trivia contests, and the casino are all drawing crowds here on Nieuw Amsterdam, two of the most popular centers of activities on board are the Digital Workshop and Culinary Arts Center.

Digital Workshop
Introduced several years ago by Holland America, the Digital Workshop, which focuses on using Microsoft Windows programs, offers classes in everything from selecting the right computer to transferring photos from your camera to it and then sharing them via email and the Internet. The classes are interactive and “Techspert” Chris (pictured here) is on hand during scheduled sessions to answer questions and assist while students work on their projects.

Culinary Arts Center
Holland America Line is rightfully proud of their chefs and, in addition to preparing meals onboard, they generously share their expertise in the Culinary Arts Center so guests can take some of their cooking secrets home. It’s not just about food, though. Nieuw Amsterdam’s Party Planner Kyle has presented sessions this week on entertaining, such as how to host a wine and cheese party, and even the Nieuw Amsterdam florist has taken the stage to offer tips and tricks in the art of flower arranging.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Art of a Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise

Every ship in the Holland America Line fleet is graced with a priceless art collection and Nieuw Amsterdam is no different, with artwork honoring the historic glamour of New York City, which was originally named Nieuw Amsterdam by its Dutch founders.

Upon boarding, one of the first things we noticed overhead in the lobby was the lighted, rotating sculpture of the New York skyline. From the decks above it’s right-side up; however, the view from the lobby below is upside-down, as though it is a reflection seen from New York’s harbor.

Some of the most intriguing art is found in the accommodations passageways where the walls are lined with historic photographs of Holland America ships, their passengers, officers, and crews, and the scenes in the port of New York.

Art, craft pieces, and historical artifacts documenting New York’s Native American history and Dutch influences, along with the history of Holland America Line’s 138-year association with the Big Apple, are displayed throughout Nieuw Amsterdam’s public areas. To gain insight into the pieces on display, and so you won’t miss anything, there are art tours available onboard. A trip to the Explorations Café for an iPod with the preloaded narrative gets you started. It’s so engrossing that you’ll be surprised when it comes to an end.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nieuw Amsterdam at Sea

The day began like any other with a discussion of our planned activites over breakfast from room service. Mel would head for the gym and I had a few things to take care of before going to a cooking demonstration in the Culinary Arts Center. Very soon things began to fall apart when Mel returned to the cabin holding his hand in his bloody tee-shirt. He had experienced a close encounter with a heavy door and his finger was gashed in the process.

Our next stop was one that every passenger dreads—the Medical Center. When we entered Mel was immediately seen by the nurse who took his vital signs and asked some questions to get his history. Then the doctor, an E.R. specialist from Lake Tahoe, California, took over and discussed the options. Mel could have either a splint-type pressure bandage that would require keeping his hand out of water or three stitches covered by a regular band-aid. Mel opted for the stitches so he could go swimming and the doctor proceeded to sew up the cut.

We haven’t seen the bill yet—and didn’t ask if there would actually be one since it was an accident that happened on the ship. However, we carry travel medical insurance and it’s something that’s recommended for everyone. Seniors should note that their Medicare does not cover them outside the United States and, since most cruise ships are flagged in other countries, travel medical insurance is a necessity for just such situations as we encountered today.

The day isn’t a total loss, though. While Mel is resting up I’ll be able to catch the afternoon cooking presentation in Nieuw Amsterdam’s Culinary Arts Center.

UPDATE: Mel had the stitches removed from his finger before we disembarked at the end of our Nieuw Amsterdam cruise and there was no bill for his treatment. As a side note, Security followed up the incident in order to make the door safer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nieuw Amsterdam at Half Moon Cay

Of all the ports of call Holland America Line ships visit, I’d venture to guess that their private island Half Moon Cay is one of their guests’ favorites. It’s always a highlight of my cruise and I wouldn’t miss going ashore there for any reason. That was why I didn’t hesitate to head to Nieuw Amsterdam’s tender station even though the morning looked gloomy and there was talk of a brief tropical shower.

The tropical shower never materialized (except in the island’s strategically placed misting stations provided for guests to cool off) and we enjoyed a lovely day ashore—not too hot, not too chilly. It was an ideal day to check out Half Moon Cay’s most recent attraction—Captain Morgan’s Bar. The little kids already had two pirate ships in their Club HAL play area on Half Moon Cay and now adults have their own super-sized pirate ship as well.

Captain Morgan’s has full service bars on two levels with seating on three and a band on the main floor. Or should I say deck? Argh, matey. After a Piña Colada, it doesn’t really matter. We’re now Captain Morgan’s mates, Pirates In The Bahamas. Argh.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where’s Cruise Diva? Aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

Embarking upon a Holland America Ship is like coming home and, in this case, it’s a new home—the newest Signature-Class ship in the fleet, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, which debuted last July. Her highly stylized interior designs and multi-million dollar art collection reflect the glamour and history of the city that was once called Nieuw Amsterdam and is now New York City. In a nod to a tradition that is more than a century old, the newest Nieuw Amsterdam is the fourth Holland America Line vessel to bear the name.

Once on board we quickly settled in and made ourselves comfortable in our oceanview stateroom with verandah. Although there aren’t many drawers for storing folded garments, each closet features drop-down shelves and we found plenty of room to stow everything, including in the deep drawers at the foot of the bed.

The décor is soothing in tones of grey and cream with jewel toned accents. One of my favorite features is the vanity/desk with its lighted magnifying mirror. It’s perfect for those of us who crave lighting and need a bit of magnification to apply mascara.

A big improvement in positioning, and a feature noticed immediately by my husband Mel, is the flat screen television mounted on the wall opposite the bed. The position makes it viewable from the small sofa in the sitting area or the bed.

Our seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise includes port calls at San Juan, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, and one of our favorite destinations—Holland American’s private island, Half Moon Cay, where we’ll be tomorrow. Oh yes, and we’ll have two days at sea to simply relax. We hope you’ll follow along here in the Cruise Diva Blog.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Original Love Boat Comes to Life in 250,000 LEGO® Bricks

A love of cruising has led to a remarkably creative version of Princess Cruises' famous "Love Boat" - Pacific Princess - as reincarnated in LEGO® by a fan in Melbourne, Australia.

Measuring 10.5 feet long and nearly 5 feet high and made from more than 250,000 LEGO bricks, the extraordinary model took six months to build and is the largest single project ever undertaken by professional LEGO builder, Ryan McNaught. More images of the LEGO Love Boat can be seen on

The son of Melbourne travel agent Lyn McNaught, the 36-year-old McNaught was inspired by the many cruises he has enjoyed over the years. He also recently built a giant Airbus 380 LEGO model, so he decided the time had come to tackle a ship. "I wanted to do something with character so I chose the original Love Boat, Pacific Princess, and studied photos and deck plans to capture her features and her beauty," McNaught said.

While one side of the model features the exterior of the famous ship, the other side is an open cutaway revealing all the action inside--from chefs in the kitchen to passengers working out in the health club. McNaught has also brought the cast of the famous Love Boat TV show to life with LEGO models of the legendary Captain Stubing, Gopher, and cruise director Julie, along with some of the show's most famous guests such as David Hasselhoff. Flashing LED lights for the disco and tiny motors powering the propellers and elevators complete the picture.

McNaught ( is one of only 12 certified LEGO builders in the world. Having shown his Love Boat model at Australia's LEGO Convention--Brickvention--in Melbourne this month, he now plans to move it to Chicago for Brickworld. Held in June, Brickworld is one of the largest LEGO conventions in the world, attracting tens of thousands of visitors and featuring 700 exhibitors.

About Princess Cruises: One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 17 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service. A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess carries 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from seven to 107 days. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available by visiting the company's website at

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Crystal Slashes Prices for Single March Mexico Cruise

Mexico has become the land of buried treasure with luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises offer of dramatic discounts for its 10-day Mexican Riviera cruise sailing round trip from Los Angeles aboard Crystal Symphony. Departing March 31, the getaway offers new per person tiered rates at 30-45% less than previous fares, plus $500 "All Inclusive - As You Wish" shipboard spending credits.

With fewer ships in the Pacific coast Mexican Riviera, it would make more sense for fares to increase, so what's up? Crystal's Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing Bill Smith explains, "The Mexican destinations we're visiting are really very welcoming to tourists, but negative publicity in other parts of Mexico have hurt tourism for the whole country. By offering this itinerary at such unprecedented prices, we hope that those who have dreamed about experiencing Crystal's 'VIP treatment' will be inspired to sample this convenient warm weather, winter getaway. Discerning travelers worldwide concur that Crystal offers one of the most pampering and stimulating resort experiences in the world."

Sailing round-trip aboard the award-winning Crystal Symphony from easily-accessible LA, ports-of-call include San Diego; the charming villages of La Paz and Loreto; and legendary Mexican Riviera towns Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.

As a "Mind, Body, and Spirit"-focused cruise, Crystal has lined up expert speakers and instructors in world affairs, medicine, tai chi, yoga, dance, and golf. While ashore, guests can swim with dolphins, zipline through jungles, fly to Guadalajara, join a You Care, We Care voluntourism event, or learn to dance, or make, salsa.

Besides Crystal's renowned "Six-Star" service and many inclusive indulgent amenities, spending credits can be used for boutique excursions, spa services, gift shop purchases, exclusive Vintage Room dining experiences or any of Crystal's fine wine and spirits. "From Nobu Matsuhisa's sushi to our Frette robes to our Feng Shui-designed spa, Crystal Cruises is always a tremendous value," adds Smith. "The value on this sailing is simply over the top."

For more information, visit

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Royal Caribbean Upgrades Crown & Anchor Society

No matter whether it's your first or fiftieth sailing, when your cruise ends, the cruise line wants you to return. Again and again. Along with their commitment to continuously elevate the vacation experience for their most loyal guests, Royal Caribbean has announced new enhancements to its Crown & Anchor Society guest loyalty program. The updated program better recognizes the cruise line's valued loyal guests and includes a migration from cruise credits to Cruise Points, creating a new way to earn membership status; two new member tiers, which include additional benefits; and a more personalized member section on the website. The enhancements to the Crown & Anchor Society take effect for sailings on or after Jan 21, 2011, and are the second part to the program's evolution, which first introduced additional benefits in June 2010.

"These latest enhancements to the Crown & Anchor Society will further help recognize our loyal guests when they sail with us," said Betsy O'Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "We continuously listen and respond to our members' feedback and have updated our loyalty program to provide a more equitable way for our members to advance to the next level. This program evolution is part of the Royal Advantage, our dedication to innovate our amazing ships and unprecedented programs to offer guests the best cruise vacation. It's important to understand that Crown & Anchor Society members will continue to enjoy all of their current program benefits and status, plus having the opportunity now to advance to the next tier even faster than before. For this one-time conversion, we have grandfathered everyone's status in the program."

The program's first enhancement is the transition from 'cruise credits' to 'Cruise Points.' The new system to earn tier status when sailing with Royal Caribbean International is based on one cruise point for every night spent aboard one of the cruise line's ships. The more nights members spend onboard, the more points they can earn. Additionally, Crown & Anchor Society members can earn double points when they pay for suite accommodations.

Furthermore, two new status levels are being introduced as part of the enhancements to the program: Emerald tier, between the current Platinum and Diamond status levels, and Pinnacle Club, the new top tier. The new progression of Crown & Anchor Society member status is Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club. The newly introduced Emerald status level will provide all the Platinum level benefits, in addition to some new benefits on their way to Diamond status, such as higher member savings for balcony and suite category staterooms and a personalized welcome gift on every cruise. Pinnacle Club members will be honored for their incredible loyalty to Royal Caribbean International and will be further recognized with all the benefits of the entire program and complimentary cruises at certain cruise-points milestones. Guests who have a minimum of 100 cruise credits before January 21, 2011 will be the first to be invited to join the new top Crown & Anchor Society member tier. Moving forward, Pinnacle Club status can be achieved with 700 Cruise Points, equivalent to 100 seven-night cruises - or less cruises if members choose to sail in suite category staterooms or on longer itineraries.

Additionally, the Crown & Anchor Society website is being re-launched to engage members and offer greater personalization. Each member will now enjoy a website experience that provides information that is relevant to them as soon as they log into their account. Members can now easily keep abreast of the latest news and offers that are available to them according to their status level and messages that are exclusively for them. Additionally, members can establish custom settings for items such as automatic upgrades for when a higher category stateroom becomes available. Emerald- and higher-level members with a booked sailing also can use the new member site to select new program benefits, such as a choice of beverages as part of their new Welcome Aboard gift basket.

Member guests will continue to enjoy the many Crown & Anchor Society benefits, such as the exclusive privilege to book their next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard and enjoy an Onboard Booking Bonus of up to $200 onboard credit. For further value, members can use their Onboard Booking Bonus with their Crown & Anchor Society Savings Certificate or, for Platinum members and above, their Balcony and Suite savings benefit. Members who have registered their email address also will receive priority notification of special offers, news and itinerary updates.

To celebrate the incredible loyalty of program members, Royal Caribbean is introducing a limited time offer: 'Bring a Friend' and receive $25 to spend onboard. Members will be rewarded for introducing new guests to Royal Caribbean International for new bookings made between Jan 12 and April 30, 2011. The promotion will offer a $25 onboard credit per stateroom to Crown & Anchor Society members when sailing with their 'first to Royal' friends or family, for up to five staterooms per sailing, depending on the length of their cruise. Full details, terms and conditions and registration for promotion can be found online at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Added Pixie Dust Makes the Disney Private Island Castaway Cay Even More Enchanting

When we went ashore at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island paradise in the Bahamas, during our Disney Dream preview sailing, we found the island has received an extra dose of pixie dust since our last visit. Enhancements offer more water-based family fun, additional conveniences, and a slice of beachside luxury all designed to complement the idyllic island setting without overwhelming it.

Disney Cruise Line guests consistently rate Castaway Cay as their favorite port of call–it’s the ultimate private island escape for adventure, relaxation, and family fun. And, the Disney ships dock there so there is no hassle of tendering ashore. Walt Disney Imagineers originally designed Castaway Cay with one-of-a-kind areas and activities for family members of all ages, while highlighting the natural beauty of the 1,000-acre island. Among the crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white-sand beaches rimmed with swaying palms and lush landscapes, are an expanded family beach, a new water feature and water-play areas, and new beach cabanas. Here are the details from Disney Cruise Line:

Expanded Family Beach
The Castaway Family Beach has been extended by more than 700 feet for families to enjoy the pristine white sand, build sand castles, relax in the shade under an umbrella, and take a dip in the warm azure waters of the lagoon. As an added convenience for guests, enhancements to this area of the island include:

• New Cookies Too family lunch buffet location: serving all-you-care-to-eat barbeque, island spiced rotisserie chicken, burgers, grilled fish, fresh salads, flatbreads, ice cream, complimentary soda, and more, in a covered pavilion just steps away from the expanded family beach.
• New Sand Bar beach bar: mixing up drinks like Castaway Cay’s signature Konk Kooler, other tropical concoctions, cold beer, and non-alcoholic beverages.
• New Flippers & Floats beach rentals: providing inner tubes, snorkels, masks and fins.
• New Buy the Sea Shore merchandise location: selling a variety of Castaway Cay-exclusive items along with towels, sunscreen and other beach essentials–a complement to the island’s other merchandise location, She Sells Sea Shells & Everything Else.

New Water Feature & Water-Play Areas
Guests can slide and splash at a new water feature called Pelican Plunge. The 2,400-square-foot floating platform, located within swimming distance from shore, celebrates the island’s native pelicans. Various flotsam and jetsam–such as nautical rope, cargo nets, buoys, signaling flags and starfish-like ornamentation–adorn the platform. Two exciting water slides–an enclosed corkscrew slide and a 140-foot-long open slide–take guests on a twisting ride, ending with a splash into the lagoon. A giant “bucket dump” delivers hundreds of gallons of water, soaking eagerly awaiting guests. Four water cannons provide sharp-shooting fun with floating nautical targets approximately 20 feet away.

On the island, a brand-new, 2,400-square-foot water play area called Spring-a-Leak helps guests cool off while immersing them in what appears to be the remnants of a washed-away beach dwelling leaning in the direction of the prevailing winds. The watery fun begins as guests enter the storm-ravaged structure, greeted by dripping pipes, broken plumbing and hissing misters, exposed and twisted by the tropical tempest that wiped out the original structure. A “splash pad” is the focal point and gives the impression of water pooled on the ground. Water jets squirt, spray and saturate guests. Shade is provided by leftover pieces of the corrugated steel roof, aged and distressed fabric and the occasional palm tree growing up through the floor foundation. Parents can relax and have a seat–or, better yet, join in the fun–as kids frolic in the wet and whimsical setting.

The “hub” of youth activities on the island, Scuttle’s Cove, features a new water-play area for the youngest Disney Cruise Line guests to splash and enjoy as part of supervised youth activities on Castaway Cay. A 1,200-square-foot soft wet deck area provides fresh-water fun with an array of pop jets, geysers and bubblers. Overhead, shade sails circle the area like a compass while marine props – a captain’s wheel, boat oars, life preservers and nautical rope–complete the castaway theme.

New Beach Cabanas
Guests can have a little piece of paradise all to themselves at one of 20 new private cabanas. The premium rental cabanas provide the privacy and luxury of a deluxe beach retreat with an option to add the personalized service of a cabana host. The majority of the exclusive 325-square-foot beach cabanas dot the far side of Castaway Family Beach, giving guests more privacy along with a spectacular view of their Disney cruise ship from the cabana’s large front patio deck. A handful of private cabanas are located on Serenity Bay Beach, exclusively for adults, providing the ultimate in upscale seclusion.

Each well-appointed cabana is furnished with comfortable cushioned chairs, luxurious chaise lounge chairs, stylish side tables and a dining table. Other convenient features include a refrigerator, lockable storage unit, outside fresh-water shower and sail cloth for shade on the deck. Amenities included with a beach cabana rental include non-alcoholic beverages, suntan lotion and fluffy towels. A variety of a la carte services and packages are offered, including special food and beverage options.

Other Enhancements & Additions

• The popular Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure: has moved to a new location in the lagoon, giving guests an even larger area to swim and interact with the area’s native Southern Stingrays.
• Teens have Hide Out: an all-new secluded area on the island just for them. This retreat is a great place for teens to hang out and soak up the sun, just steps away from the beach, activities, food, ice cream and refreshments. Multi-colored deck chairs and sail cloth shades create the ideal getaway to gather, kick back, listen to music and watch the action at the nearby beach volleyball and soccer areas.
• In Da Shade Game Pavilion: provides guests wanting to take a break out of the sun a place to play games such as table tennis, foosball, billiards and basketball. The new shaded structure is centrally located, near Castaway Family Beach.
• To provide additional adult pampering: three new massage cabanas have been added to the adults-only Serenity Bay Beach. For unparalleled relaxation, adults can enjoy a therapeutic massage, or couples massage, at one of eight private cabanas overlooking the ocean.
• Guest transportation: is provided to and from various points on the island via tram. For greater convenience, additional tram paths have been created and a new Pelican Point Tram Stop is located farther down Castaway Family Beach, near many of the new additions to the island.
• Marge’s Barges & Sea Charters Dock: has been expanded to accommodate additional excursion boats for parasailing, fishing tours, and more.
• The cruise ship dock at Castaway Cay: eliminates the need to tender, making the ship easily accessible throughout the day. To accommodate Disney Cruise Line’s new ships, additional mooring dolphins have been installed to lengthen the dock.

Disney Cruise Line sails to Castaway Cay on all itineraries originating from Port Canaveral, Fla., including 3-, 4-, 5- and 7-night itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aboard Disney Dream

With her christening complete and following a festive sailaway deck party, Disney Dream sailed for the Disney private island Castaway Cay where we are docked today. After going ashore, we'll share more info from the island tomorrow.

On board are the usual celebrities. There are Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald & Daisy Duck, numerous princesses, and one unexpected lady with a "View." Yes, Whoopi Goldberg is sailing with us. We had an early Whoopi sighting yesterday when we shared an elevator and again this morning at breakfast. She appears to be having a great time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jennifer Hudson To Name Disney Dream

The first new Disney Cruise Line ship to set sail in over a decade has a Dreamgirl Godmother who should feel right at home.

Jennifer Hudson, who is best known as an American Idol finalist, and Grammy, and Academy Award winner, began her career in 2003 performing aboard Disney Wonder.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where's Cruise Diva? Meeting the Disney Dream

Cruise Diva is making her way to Port Canaveral to attend the Disney Dream Christening Ceremony, which is taking place tomorrow (Wednesday, January 19th) and will be filling you in here on the blog. In addition, you can attend "virtually" from your own computer.

Log on to the Disney Cruise Line Facebook page at 10:30 am Eastern tomorrow where there will be a live webcast of the Christening Ceremony. Disney Cruise Line hosts will even be on hand at Facebook to answer questions about their ships and the itineraries offered in 2011, including Alaska and Europe.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Queen Elizabeth & Queen Victoria Meet in Fort Lauderdale for Another Cunard Royal Rendezvous

For the second time in less than a week, two of Cunard Line’s three Queens were together in port. Beginning her inaugural Maiden World Voyage, Cunard Line’s newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, made her premier visit to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, yesterday alongside her sister ship, Queen Victoria. The two luxury cruise liners, which sailed in tandem from New York, are coming off the heels of the historic Cunard Royal Rendezvous that occurred there just three days earlier, when all three of Cunard’s Queens met in New York for only the second time in the Line’s 171-year history.

“We are delighted by the warm welcome we received today by the popular cruise port of Fort Lauderdale, and look forward to the further grand celebrations as our newest Queen continues her inaugural calls on her Maiden World Voyage,” said Captain Julian Burgess, Master of Queen Elizabeth.

Upon departing Fort Lauderdale, Queen Elizabeth continues her Maiden World Voyage on to Aruba and then will traverse the Panama Canal to Mexico and ultimately call on the Port of Los Angeles on Jan 29. Following this voyage, Queen Elizabeth will spend the remainder of the year in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, calling on exotic and unique ports such as the Norwegian Fjords, St. Petersburg, the Holy Land, and Canary Islands.

Queen Victoria will continue on her debut Americas season, traversing between the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts via the Panama Canal, and calling on Los Angeles four times between January and March (Jan 30, Feb 13 &, 17, and March 3). She will sail two roundtrip voyages from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and sail a brief Getaway voyage to Mexico. is pleased to share ship previews of the two newest Cunard Queens at Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.

For more information about Cunard Line, visit

Photo: Queen Elizabeth (left) and Queen Victoria (right) in Port Everglades.
Courtesty of Len Kaufman for Cunard Line

Disney Cruise Line: Where Dreams Come True

With only two days to go before Disney Dream is christened and Cruise Diva steps on board, we found "Magical Innovations"—the latest video from Disney Cruise Line’s all-access preview of the Disney Dream—intriguing, especially the part where the Enchanted Art comes alive.

Once aboard, the Art Deco Atrium Lobby (pictured here) is certain to be stunning in real life, but one of the most beautiful spots—at least from preview photos we’ve seen—is the Royal Palace Restaurant. The dining room appears enchanting, with fairy tale details like chandeliers decorated with glass slippers and repeating motifs such as Princess Aurora’s tiara from “Sleeping Beauty” and the enchanted rose from “Beauty and the Beast.” We hope it will be one of our assigned dining spots during the two-night preview sailing.

When you click the link to the video above, be sure to take a look around the Disney Cruise Line site. There's a wealth of information there that any Disney fan will enjoy, such as the following Fun Facts:
  • Disney Dream is approximately 40% larger than Disney Magic or Disney Wonder.
  • Disney Dream has 5007 beds—over 1,900 more than Disney Magic or Disney Wonder.
  • Disney Dream is 2 decks taller than sister ships, Disney Magic & Disney Wonder.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Carnival Magic Rounds Out Outdoor Fun & Fitness With An Expansive SportSquare Recreation Area

Up in the air, the sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor fun and fitness at the innovative SportSquare to be featured on Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest vessel, Carnival Magic, when it sets sail May 1. The line’s most expansive outdoor recreation area by far, SportSquare on Carnival Magic is an active cruiser’s on-board paradise, featuring SkyCourse, the first ropes course at sea, and cruising’s first-ever outdoor fitness area. Guests can also get in the swing of things with the line’s first-ever two-level nine-hole miniature golf course, which the company is encouraging fans to help name.

A sure-to-be-popular feature will be SkyCourse, the first-of-its-kind ropes course located on Spa & Sports Deck 12. The unique new attraction will offer fun and adventure for all, along with expansive views of the sea nearly 150 feet below. On SkyCourse, thrill-seekers can strap into a safety harness and choose from a beginner or intermediate course, traversing across rope bridges, swinging steps and beams suspended above the top deck. Approximately 20 guests at a time can zig and zag along the two 230-foot courses, while friends and family can join in the fun by cheering participants on from the deck. Each of the 20 different elements on the ropes course is named after a notable bridge in the U.S.

“We’re literally taking fun and fitness to a new level with SportSquare. Whether you’re climbing our amazing new ropes course at sea, doing some fresh-air cardio or just taking it all in, there’s something fun for everyone to enjoy, day or night,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO.

Guests can get pumped up at Sky Fitness featuring a wide array of exercise equipment, stationary bicycles, elliptical and rowing machines, punching bags and more. For a run in the sun and fresh sea air, Sports Track offers an 800-foot-long jogging path that surrounds the entire area. When guests are ready to get their game on, they’ll find lighted multi-purpose space for basketball, volleyball, and soccer, along with a six-station Vita exercise course and ping pong and foosball tables at Sports Court. And for those who just want to relax and check out the sports action in the area or on TV, SportSquare also features a full bar with a large flat-screen display.

Have a Ball & Name Carnival Magic’s Miniature Golf Course
As part of its Make The Magic Yours campaign, Carnival is continuing to give fans the opportunity to add their personal touches to its newest and most innovative “Fun Ship.” Winners have already created witty coaster sayings for the line’s first Caribbean-themed pub at sea, named a new dish for its family-style Italian restaurant, and the giant water dump bucket that will provide a splashing good time for passengers of all ages.

And now Carnival is challenging fun-atics to name SportSquare’s two-level, mini golf course. Through, Jan 24, 2011, fans ages 13 and older can submit their suggested name at for a chance to have their winning entry forever “linked” to the nine-hole course, along with a prize package which includes a digital camera and Carnival-branded golf paraphernalia. Entries must be no more than 50 characters and Carnival ship-worthy, as they’ll be judged by the company based on relevance, creativity and originality then culled down to five finalists. In late January, Carnival will invite fun seekers to vote for their favorite name to choose one lucky winner who will be announced in mid-February. Additional information and contest rules are available at the web site.

SportSquare, along with Carnival Magic’s many other unique innovations, are highlighted in an interactive micro site,, which features a full-screen virtual tour, exclusive images and videos, construction footage, and more. The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic is slated to debut in Europe with a series of 7- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises operating May 1 – Oct. 16, 2011. Following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Magic will launch 7-day Caribbean service from Galveston, Texas, Nov. 14, 2011, becoming the port’s largest year-round cruise ship.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Three Cunard Queens: A Royal Rendezvous

Amidst fireworks and much fanfare last Thursday, Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria joined the new Queen Elizabeth for her maiden call in New York, meeting for a historic Cunard Royal Rendezvous. Thousands of New Yorkers and Cunarders alike lined the shores of Manhattan, from Battery Park to Hudson River Park, to see the regal fleet gather for the first time. During a celebration that began with a 21-gun fireworks salute, the three Cunard Queens made a majestic procession into New York Harbor illuminated by a dazzling Grucci fireworks show, as they then departed on their respective luxury cruise vacations. The meeting of the Queens marks only the second time in Cunard’s 171-year history that all three of the company’s ships have met simultaneously in New York. The first Cunard Royal Rendezvous took place in 2008 celebrating Queen Victoria’s maiden call to New York.

“Cunard’s Queens have always been regally greeted in our US home port, and we are thrilled that our newest Queen has been met with an equally exquisite celebration,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “The City of New York is a core part of our legacy and a significant landmark for Cunard, and we’re delighted to celebrate the very rare and momentous Royal Rendezvous in The Big Apple.”

Along with this grand celebration in New York Harbor, as a salute to the Cunard Royal Rendezvous, the Empire State Building was lit in Cunard’s regal color of red. Shanks along with Cunard’s Commodore Bernard Warner and Micky Arison, CEO and Chairman of Carnival Corporation, rang the closing bell for the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, using the ship bell from the original Queen Elizabeth (circa 1938).

Most recently, Queen Elizabeth captured the world stage with her Royal Naming Ceremony on Oct 10, 2010 in Southampton, England, attended by Her Majesty The Queen, who performed the naming honors. Following her maiden call to New York, she embarks on her Maiden World Voyage (103 days), while flagship Queen Mary 2 begins her fifth World Voyage (103 days) and Queen Victoria begins her debut Americas Season, traversing between the east and west coasts through the Panama Canal.

For more information about Cunard’s three Queens, visit

Carnival’s Taking The “Fun” To Australia

In a major boost for the Australian tourism industry, the world’s largest cruise line—Carnival Cruise Lines—has announced that it will base one of its cruise ships full time in Australia. The 88,500 ton Carnival Spirit will be the largest cruise ship ever to sail year round from Australia when she arrives in Sydney in October 2012 to operate a schedule of 8-12 day voyages to the Pacific Islands. The move represents the first time Carnival Cruise Lines has ever ventured into Australian waters and reflects growing confidence in cruising in the region.

Carrying 2,667 passengers, Carnival Spirit will be the first ship to be based in Sydney that is too tall to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Rising nearly 53 metres above the waterline, Carnival Spirit is more than three metres taller than the specified clearance height for ships passing under the Bridge. Because of its height, Carnival Spirit will be based at the only cruise facility east of the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.

As the largest cruise ship sailing from Australia year round, Carnival Spirit offers a wide range of onboard facilities and features, with approximately two-thirds of its cabins featuring private balconies—the most of any Australian-based ship. Aimed at fun-loving Australians seeking vibrant, active holidays with a broad diversity of on-board choices, Carnival Spirit offers a host of areas for outdoor fun, including a 22 metre corkscrew water slide, four swimming pools, a miniature golf course, jogging track and a sport court. Guests have their choice of 16 lounges and bars, including a 1,170-seat three-deck-high theatre. In addition to a two-level main dining room, Carnival Spirit features a reservations-only steakhouse and an expansive casual poolside restaurant. The ship also houses a two-level health spa with wrap-around ocean views and an Internet café.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which represents Carnival Cruise Lines’ Australian deployment locally, said the cruise line’s move into Australia was testament to both the recent growth and the ongoing potential of the local cruise industry. “Cruising is booming in this country because it offers passengers a great value holiday that includes accommodation, top quality food and loads of entertainment that appeal to all age groups,” Ms Sherry said.

Carnival Spirit will offer a year round schedule of 8 to 12-day cruises to the Pacific Islands and a selection of 13-day sailings to New Zealand beginning Oct 25, 2012, with the program expected to go on sale by the middle of this year. The shipboard experience will be tailored to the Australian market with onboard spending in Australian dollars and no tipping required.

Ms Sherry said while the primary market would be Australians and New Zealanders, Carnival’s strong brand recognition in the United States would play a role in attracting more US tourists to Australia. Carnival Spirit’s deployment meant there would be seven Carnival Corp ships cruising full time from Australia by the end of 2012, ensuring the industry was well on its way to reaching its target of one million passengers by 2020, if not sooner, she said. Other Carnival Corp brands operating fulltime in Australia include P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises. “It is amazing growth considering there were just two ships based in Australia year round in 2007,” Ms Sherry said. “This really underscores Sydney’s position on the world cruise map and our resolve to keep growing the market with multiple brands that appeal to customers.”

And what about the areas left in the wake of Carnival Spirit’s departure? At this time there is no plan to replace her in her seasonal San Diego homeport for Mexican Riviera cruises, but Carnival has no plans to abandon Alaska and will announce a replacement ship when deployment for 2013 has been finalized.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Cruise Review: Carnival Pride

Join our contributor Vincent for a look at a festive New Year's holiday cruise aboard Carnival Pride.

Get Vincent's insight into the embarkation process in Baltimore (could stand improvement) and the onboard experience, as well as days at sea and in ports of call.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seabourn Sojourn Ship Review: Luxury Cruising through the "Yachtsman’s Caribbean"

The announcement late in 2006 that Seabourn would embark on a building program and add a new, and larger, set of triplets to the small-ship luxury fleet was met with great expectations by the line's past guests as well as industry watchers.

Launched in 2009, the 450-guest Seabourn Odyssey was followed by Seabourn Sojourn in 2010 and the third of the 32,000 ton ships, Seabourn Quest will enter service in 2011. Triple the tonnage and with more than double the guests onboard, would the larger ships deliver the line's traditional experience of understated elegance and signature features in a larger setting? That's what the Cruise Diva team set out to discover as we boarded Seabourn Sojourn in Port Everglades.

Cruise Diva welcomes you aboard Seabourn Sojourn for a look around at the pinnacle of luxury cruising. Our "Yachtsman’s Caribbean" 10-night cruise visited San Juan, St. John, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and Isla Catalina, where we splashed in the water during Seabourn's signature champagne and caviar in the surf party. We also spent four relaxing days at sea.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Celebrity Infinity To Be ‘Solstice-ized’ With Engaging Qsine Specialty Restaurant

Emily Post says it isn’t polite to play with your food. But it’s quite the contrary in “Qsine,” the novel restaurant introduced on Celebrity Cruises’ stylish Celebrity Eclipse last year. The award-winning venue–the first at sea to present its menu and wine list on an iPad–has met with such phenomenal response that Celebrity plans to add it to Celebrity Infinity during the ship’s revitalization, designed to complement the already award-winning Millennium Class ships’ style and design with some of the most popular venues on the line’s widely heralded Solstice Class ships.

“Qsine is designed to bring out our guests’ ‘inner foodie’ through a uniquely unordinary approach, elevating the dining experience to a performance art,” said Celebrity’s Vice President of Culinary Operations Jacques Van Staden. “We’ve been absolutely thrilled with the response to Qsine from our guests on Celebrity Eclipse, and look forward to offering the same engaging experience when Celebrity Infinity presents the venue later this year.”

Van Staden says the only serious thing in Qsine is the food, such as a vertical selection of savory tapas and mezze served individually in custom-made frames, a trio of chilled soups delivered shot-style, and spring rolls served in springs, all of which are described in detail on the iPad-housed menu and wine list, which offers a full scan of wine labels, an interactive cocktail menu, and the ability for guests to enter tasting notes and e-mail their favorite wine selections. Pictured above are a few of the tasty and uniques offerings.

The first in the Millennium Class series to be revitalized was Celebrity Constellation in April 2010. Rave reviews from guests sailing on the “new” vessel led the brand to expand the process further on Celebrity Infinity, which will emerge from drydock Dec 3, 2011, with Qsine housed in the space where Tuscan Grille delights guests on Celebrity Constellation.

Joining Qsine in the expanded revitalization of Celebrity Infinity will be:

• AquaClass accommodations–marking a Millennium-Class ‘first’–allowing guests on Celebrity Infinity to experience the brand’s popular spa-inspired accommodations and amenities
• the chic, Mediterranean-themed specialty restaurant, “Blu,” offered exclusively for AquaClass guests
• the hip Celebrity iLounge, which debuted on Celebrity Eclipse and made Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first Authorized Apple Reseller, and where guests can participate in Celebrity’s “iLearn” enrichment series
• more private luxury havens with entirely new verandas added to the ship’s spacious, sumptuous Celebrity Suites
• additional new oceanview and inside staterooms
• an expanded collection of original, contemporary art

As on Celebrity Constellation, the following venues also will be incorporated on Celebrity Infinity during the ship’s scheduled drydock period:

• a “cool” new ice-topped Martini Bar and Crush
• the vibrant creperie, Bistro on Five
• the inviting Café al Bacio and Gelateria
• Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the “Enomatic” state-of-the-art wine serving system–an industry-first when it debuted on Celebrity Solstice–allowing guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button
• more sumptuous suites, with all new furniture, flat-screen TVs, upholstery, bedding and carpeting
• restyled staterooms, with entirely new carpeting, flat-screen TVs, upholstery and bedding
new color schemes, carpeting and upholstery reflective of the Solstice Class’ stylish, modern design in every public venue

“Everything we’ve introduced on our award-winning Solstice Class fleet, and everything we’re adding to our popular Millennium Class ships, has been created to enhance that all-important feeling of getting away,” said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. “All of our new venues and onboard experiences–paired with the spectacular service of our dedicated crew–are designed to ensure our guests can make the most of their precious vacation time.”

Celebrity currently plans to similarly refurbish Celebrity Summit in January 2012, followed by Celebrity Millennium in April 2012. The already-revitalized Celebrity Constellation will be further refitted with the additional features in April 2013. For more information, visit

Photo: ©

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snorkeling & Island-Hopping: It's A Caribbean Bar Mitzvah Cruise

While it’s fairly common knowledge these days that couples can arrange to to have their wedding during a cruise and that other celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries are easy to organize, there’s little information available about other types of significant celebratory occasions that can be held during a cruise. When the Krauss family of Tucson, Arizona, decided to make their son Sam’s Bar Mitzvah a truly unique and memorable adventure, they opted for a 7-day Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s 3,100-passenger ship Adventure of the Seas.

Starting a year in advance, Sam’s mom Amy worked with Ellen Paderson of Bar and Bat Mitzvah Vacations, Inc., of Easton, Mass., to plan a trip to appeal to a broad age range , with the right mix of age-appropriate activities, sightseeing, and Bar Mitzvah/cultural components.

Paderson, who helped pioneer the concept of cruise and destination Bar/Bat Mitzvahs during her 20 years in the travel industry, recommended a Caribbean cruise, embarking from San Juan with stops at St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Grenada, and St. Lucia. They opted to sail from Puerto Rico is because Adventure of the Seas was the only ship scheduled to dock at St. Thomas on a Monday. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs can only be held on Mondays, Thursdays, or Saturdays.

“It was a great ship with great service,” said Amy after the trip. “The only downside: We were so busy, with a different island to explore each day and just one full day at sea, the kids didn’t get to the onboard pool. Though that may have been due to their preference for the rock climbing wall, and inline and ice skating.”

Following Paderson’s advice, the bar mitzvah was held at the only synagogue on St. Thomas, the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, founded in 1796. The rabbi officiated and provided guests with a history of the island, its synagogue, and the Jewish community. The sand floors aren’t just for effect; they’re part of a Sephardic (Spanish/Portuguese) tradition dating back 500 years to the Spanish Inquisition when Jews were forced to pray secretly in basements and used sand to muffle the sounds.

After the bar mitzvah, the Krauss party spent the rest of the day snorkeling with Captain Max. Other highlights included more snorkeling off St. Kitts, and tours of chocolate and nutmeg factories and a rum distillery in Grenada.

Paderson handled myriad details so the Krausses could relax before and during the trip. Upon their return, Amy Krauss emailed Paderson, “Many thanks for all of your help, hard work and expertise. You were patient with my questions, answered every email, and provided solid advice all the way around.”

Cruise passengers with special needs and requests need to be represented by agents who know their situations well. Ellen Paderson has cruised on most ships and completed numerous certifications and training, including Royal Caribbean’s University of WOW training program and Princess Cruises’ Commodore certificate through its Princess Academy, among others. For more information, contact Ellen Paderson by phone: 508-238-4088; Email:; or visit Bar and Bat Mitzvah Vacations or Smiles and Miles Travel.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Travel Insurance Stops Winter Whiteouts From Wiping Out Your Cruise Vacation

It's that time of year again and Cruise Diva is sure to receive an email or two soon from cruise travelers who missed their winter sailing and are irate that either the cruise ship didn't wait for them and/or the cruise line won't issue them a refund for not getting to the embarkation port on time due to foul weather. Old Man Winter is up to his old tricks once again this week, closing airports, shutting down airlines, and leaving thousands of travelers stranded in his wake. However, as he wreaks his frosty havoc, remember that travel insurance protection can melt even the most chilling winter storms.

Jim Grace, President and CEO of, advises, "Travel insurance provides undeniable peace of mind protection, but even more importantly, it also provides consumers very real personal and financial protection if things go wrong. "During the stormy winter months when travel delays, trip interruptions, and cancellations become more of a rule than an exception, it's most important for travelers to plan ahead and prepare for the worst by purchasing travel insurance for the best possible outcome."

Trip cancellation and interruption protection is based on the occurrence of unforeseen events so once a storm has been publicly identified, it can only spell trouble for travelers without insurance protection. You need to purchase travel insurance coverage before a storm is predicted and named, not when it's bearing down on you or your intended destination. Coverage for weather-related trip cancellations and interruptions differs by insurance company and plan, and there are many products and options to choose from:

Package Policies: Trip Cancellation Package Policies offer the broadest protection, including coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, baggage and travel delay, as well as medical and emergency evacuation. To receive the most benefit from the travel insurance policy including financial default and terrorism protection as well as coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, the majority of the policies require that you purchase your policy within 10 to 30 days of your first trip payment.

Travel Delay: A delayed flight can strand a person for hours or even cause them to miss a connecting flight to a vacation cruise. These events occur often and can wreak havoc on your itinerary not to mention your wallet for hotel accommodations, meals, and transportation caused by weather-related delays and cancellations. In the event of a travel delay lasting 5-12 hours (varies by company and plan), travel delay coverage can provide from $150 to $250 a day up to $1,500 maximum (varies by company and plan) for covered expenses you may incur while stuck in limbo.

Missed Connection: In the event you miss the boat, this benefit covers missed cruise departures resulting from a 3+ hour cancellation or delay of all regularly scheduled airline flights due to inclement weather or any common carrier-caused delay. Maximum benefits up to the covered amount are provided to cover the additional costs of transporting you to the en route cruise, reasonable accommodation and meal expenses, and nonrefundable trip payments for the unused portion of your cruise. Coverage is secondary to any compensation provided by a common carrier.

Trip Interruption: Emergencies big and small have a way of happening when you least expect them to. But the cost of cutting your trip short to take care of the problem can create a crisis of its own. Most Package Policies will reimburse your trip cost (per/person) plus 50% more to get you home quickly in the event of an emergency.

Cancel For Any Reason: This is an optional benefit that empowers travelers to cancel trips for any reason including sudden unemployment, schedule conflicts, even bad weather, up to two days prior to departure. Cancel For Any Reason policies vary by company and must be purchased within 10-21 days of your first trip payment date.

"With so many products to choose from, buying travel insurance can sometimes be overwhelming, but InsureMyTrip's Customer Care team can help you to understand and choose the right travel insurance protection for your trip." Whether you simply need one question answered or want step-by-step help in selecting a travel insurance policy, InsureMyTrip's knowledgeable force of licensed and professional Customer Care representatives can help.

Established in 2000 and headquartered in Warwick, RI with additional offices and data centers in Connecticut and Oregon, is the leading, consumer-oriented online travel insurance aggregator worldwide. Featuring insurance comparisons from the top industry providers, is a unique, one-stop resource designed to meet consumers' comprehensive travel insurance needs all in a secure environment.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Alaska Tops Bucket Lists in Princess Cruises’ 2011 Travel Resolutions Poll

With New Year’s resolutions fresh in consumers’ minds, Princess Cruises fielded a somewhat informal and unscientic poll to its Facebook fans from Dec 27, 2010 to Jan 3, 2011 to learn which destinations and travel experiences top their bucket lists in 2011. Respondents decisively answered that their number-one destination choice for the coming year is Alaska. One-fourth of respondents resolved to travel to the 49th state in the coming year. Other questions revealed that most are looking for a relaxing vacation and plan to travel with their spouse or significant other, but would be quite willing to travel with Oprah as their choice for celebrity travel companion.

Princess’ own Essential Experiences blog also offered travelers inspiration for their bucket lists, with most respondents eager to try dog sledding on an Alaskan glacier or to plan a visit to the “lost city of the Incas,” Machu Picchu, in Peru.

“Most people have a travel bucket list,” said Princess executive vice president, Jan Swartz, “and with New Year’s resolutions top-of-mind right now, we wanted to learn which destinations and experiences our fans are most excited about this year.”

Domestic vs. International Travel
Surprisingly, more than one-fourth of consumers chose a U.S. destination over an exotic international location, citing Alaska as their first choice. The Caribbean (15%) and Europe (14%) also made many people’s lists this year, with fewer folks choosing Hawaii (8%); Panama Canal (7%); Africa (5%); Australia (5%); Amazon (4%); Asia (2%); Canada/New England (2%); Mexican Riviera (2%); New Zealand (2%); South America (2%), and India (1%).

Ultimate Travel Bucket List Experience
Alaska was also popular for future bucket list experiences. Seventeen percent of respondents chose dog mushing on an Alaskan glacier as their top pick inspired by a growing list of essential experiences shared by destination experts on Princess’ recently launched blog, 50 Essential Experiences:The Travel Bucket List.

Equally inspiring was the dream of discovering the lost city of Machu Picchu in Peru, which also got 17% of the vote, as did visiting historic castles in Scotland (17%). Other travelers selected climbing the cliffs of Santorini, Greece (14%); traveling the golden circle in Iceland (7%); exploring the ancient city of Petra, Jordan (7%); journeying to Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (7%); visiting Vietnam (6%); bobsledding in Jamaica (5%); and visiting art deco treasures in Napier, New Zealand (4%) for their bucket lists.

Most Desired Travel Companions
Spouses and significant others won the popularity contest for most desired travel companions in 2011, with 68% of respondents planning to take along their “other half.” The next most common co-travelers are good friends (15%); while kids garnered only 6% of the vote as did extended family groups. Only a few people resolved to travel with their siblings (3%) and parents (2%) this year.

Celebrity Fancy
Now this is just weird. People want to go to Alaska, yet no one picked Sarah Palin to show them around! If they could choose a celebrity instead of their spouse, most travelers want to pack their bags with Oprah, who outranked 11 other notable figures as the most desired celebrity travel companion with 19% of the vote. Other famous folks that travelers wanted to take along included Jack Black (17%); Tina Fey (14%); Bono (12%); Heidi Klum (10%); Mario Batali (8%); Michelle Obama (6%); and Peyton Manning (5%). However, future princess Kate Middleton only received 3% of the vote and surprisingly few people chose Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (2%). Teen sensation Justin Bieber (1%) and Mike ‘The Situation’ from reality show “Jersey Shore” (1%) were the least popular choices.

Travel Experiences
Despite the adventurous nature of many of their favorite destinations, what Princess fans really want on vacation is relaxation. Nearly 50% of respondents chose this as an essential component to culling a travel bucket list, followed by adventure (19%); entertainment (17%); culture (12%); and romance (12%).

If your plans include an Alaska cruise in 2011, Cruise Diva suggests the beautiful, all-color guidebook, Fodor’s Alaska Ports of Call 2011. The Honolulu Advertiser says Fodor’s guides are “Widely recognized as the gold standard of mainstream travel.”

Photo: Glacier Bay ©

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Three New “Legends in Concert” To Debut On Norwegian Epic

Let's hear it for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. For years that's been the lip-sync contest song for female passenger participants during 50s 'n 60s parties at sea. Entertainment afloat has taken a different turn, though, and gone are the days of passengers impersonating Elvis and Aretha. It's now up to the pros, and Norwegian Cruise Line has just announced that the next installment of Legends in Concert tribute artists will make their debut on Norwegian Epic on Saturday, Jan 22, 2011. The three Legends represent some of the world's most famous entertainers–Janet Jackson, Neil Diamond, and Aretha Franklin. A staple on the Las Vegas' center strip for over 25 years, Legends in Concert is known as the pioneer of live tribute shows and has assembled the greatest collection of live tribute artists and celebrity look-alikes in show business.

"The Legends in Concert shows in the Epic Theater and Legends Unplugged in the Manhattan Room are a favorite of our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "With the third round of legendary entertainers, we are continuing to keep the entertainment fresh and exciting. Neil Diamond also happens to be one of my personal favorites and I am looking forward to seeing Aretha and Janet perform."

Karin Lawson, a native of Denver, Colorado, portrays Janet Jackson. While performing as an ensemble member of “Legends in Concert,” Karin began perfecting her tribute to Janet Jackson, a performer Lawson has long respected and admired. Her perseverance paid off when, at the end of 2001, Karin was given an opportunity to debut her character for Legends in Concert at Universal Studios in Japan. Lawson has since spent the last nine years performing as Jackson around the world.

As a singer, songwriter and entertainer, William Paul has always been drawn to Neil Diamond and his legacy of worldwide hits. Impersonating the seventies and eighties era of Diamond, Paul performs classic hits like “Sweet Caroline” and “Love on the Rocks,” reenacting Diamond’s charming personality, singing tone and dance moves perfectly. Originally from Australia, Paul also plays in his own band performing at various venues in Australia. He is also known for writing an internationally acclaimed song for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

DeNita Asberry has impersonated one of her favorite divas, Aretha Franklin, from an early age. Asberry is an internationally recognized entertainer who has performed with The Righteous Brothers, Wayne Newton, George Hamilton, and David Cassidy, among many others. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Asberry has been performing with Legends in Concert for nine years.

Legends in Concert is a live musical celebration featuring the world's greatest celebrity tribute artists. Legends in Concert on Norwegian Epic features three celebrity tribute performers taking the stage in the Epic Theater for six 45-minute shows over three days during a seven-day cruise. In addition, a Legends “Unplugged” show is performed on three additional nights in the Manhattan Room, the ship's New York-inspired supper club, providing an unprecedented dining and entertainment experience. The celebrity performers change every four months, keeping the show fresh and exciting. The last round of performers included Britney Spears, Rod Stewart, and Michael Jackson.

For more information on Norwegian Epic, visit

Friday, January 7, 2011

Carnival’s ‘Chef’s Table’ Fine Dining Experience Rolls Out Fleetwide

Carnival Cruise Lines has completed the fleetwide rollout of its exquisite and exclusive fine dining experience, The Chef’s Table, which is now available on all 22 of the line’s ships. Launched as a pilot program last year, this one-of-a-kind culinary experience includes a sumptuous multi-course dinner hosted by one of the line’s master chefs along with a private cocktail reception and a personalized tour of the galley.

With The Chef’s Table, a select group of 12 guests enjoy cocktails and hors d’ouevres hosted by the ship’s chef de cuisine. The chef then takes the group on a tour to see the galley in operation, providing participants with a unique perspective on Carnival’s extensive food and beverage operations. The evening concludes with a sumptuous full-service dinner with delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts created by the line's master chefs. Depending on the vessel, the meal takes place in non-traditional dining venues throughout the ship – the galley (as pictured here), library, conference center, etc.

The program can be booked on board through the ships’ guest information desk. The cost is $75 per person.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cruise Travel: Opening of New Port at Falmouth, Jamaica Delayed. Again.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day for the first cruise passengers to arrive at the brand new port at Falmouth, Jamaica.

As Cruise Diva reported last November, October, and even as far back as May, the area simply isn't ready for prime time. Yes, the pier is complete, but just about everything else isn't. The buildings pictured here have roofs, but are windowless.

Even the Jamaica Observer ran a story earlier this week entitled "New Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier Not Ready." After a tour, their first-hand assessment didn't sound promising: "Looking more like a bomb went off on the site than a high-class tourist trap when the Sunday Observer visited, the new Falmouth mega-liner cruise terminal was obviously far from complete."

Ouch! And the news from the island only gets gets worse. Construction workers on the Falmouth project went on strike over a wage and tax dispute last Monday. Reportedly, they are back on the job, but no doubt the work stoppage set the project behind even further.

With Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas scheduled to visit the port tomorrow, Cruise Diva asked Royal Caribbean for the latest and received the following statement:
Since 2008, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has been working with the government of Jamaica to build a brand new cruise destination–Historic Falmouth Jamaica. The Port of Falmouth is the largest development project in the Caribbean basin in years. Although the development project is on schedule, the Government of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean have jointly decided to postpone passenger ships arriving into Falmouth until next month. This past weekend, Royal Caribbean and the Government of Jamaica toured the development together and decided that it is not quite ready to deliver the high standards we are striving for. Much capital and creative energy has been invested in this project and we want our guests to be WOWed, and their Falmouth experience to be memorable.

We look forward to beginning ship calls at what will be one of the best cruise ports in the Caribbean. Construction of the new thematic village continues at a fast pace and numerous administrative agencies of the Jamaican Cabinet Ministries of Culture, Tourism and Transportation have initiated enhancements to the town of Falmouth. Ships will start calling on Port Falmouth on February 17, 2011, with the first being Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, sailing out of Galveston, TX, followed by Freedom of the Seas out of Port Canaveral, FL, and Navigator of the Seas out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Historic Falmouth Port will receive Oasis of the Seas on March 22, 2011. During January and part of February, the ships will call at their traditional Jamaica ports of call.

In addition to the history and local Jamaican culture that Falmouth has to offer, the port is ideally situated between two of Jamaica’s existing cruise ports–Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. This optimal location means that guests visiting Falmouth will be able to enjoy any of the best tours and shore excursions of northern Jamaica. For example, east of Falmouth lies the famous Dunn's River Falls, Dolphin Cove, Mystic Mountain, and various adventure tours. To the west are Rose Hall, Mountain Valley River Rafting, and a selection of beach tours. And within 15 minutes of the port is the Martha Brae slow River Rafting, as well as the Good Hope Estate, with a variety of innovative tour products that combine adventure and history.
Photo above: the Port of Falmouth, Jamaica; taken Thanksgiving week 2010.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Disney Dream Arrives in Port Canaveral

Thousands of local residents and visitors to the area lined the shore and fireworks filled the pre-dawn sky as the newest Disney Cruise Line ship, the Disney Dream, sailed into its homeport of Port Canaveral, Florida, yesterday morning after a 16-night trans-Atlantic voyage from Germany, where it has been under construction for nearly two years.

Accommodating up to 4,000 guests, the 130,000-ton Disney Dream takes Disney’s special brand of family cruising to a whole new level with industry firsts such as the AquaDuck water coaster and Magical Portholes that transform inside staterooms into rooms with magnificent views. All of the ship’s new features–combined with Disney quality entertainment, unique dining experiences and age-specific areas for children, teens and adults–create an unforgettable cruise experience for the entire family. A sister ship, the Disney Fantasy, is under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, and will arrive in early 2012. It will sail 7-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, also from Port Canaveral.

In addition to expanding its facilities at Port Canaveral prior to the arrival the new Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line has also made enhancements to its private island Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, to further accommodate the new ship and more guests. From extended beaches and more dining locations, to the addition of private beach cabanas and Pelican Plunge, a new floating water play structure with water slides, the island boasts even more offerings and activities for families to enjoy.

Disney Cruise Line established the blueprint for family cruising when the business launched in 1998. The first two ships, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, which set sail in 1998 and 1999, respectively, were purpose built for families to reconnect, adults to recharge and kids to immerse themselves in worlds of fantasy only Disney can create. With the addition of two new ships, Disney Cruise Line is offering a wider variety of itineraries and will sail to more destinations around the world, including a repositioning of the Disney Wonder to the West Coast of the United States, sailing Mexican Riviera and first-ever Alaskan itineraries in 2011. Meanwhile, the Disney Magic will spend another summer sailing European itineraries in 2011.

Now that the Disney Dream has arrived in its Florida homeport, preparations are underway for its inaugural cruises and events, including the traditional christening of the vessel. Other Disney Dream inaugural events include a Benefit Preview Cruise in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, sailing Jan. 21-23. Beginning with a maiden voyage on Jan 26, the Disney Dream will sail 3, 4, and 5-night cruises to the Bahamas, calling Port Canaveral home.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line, visit

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Cruise Ships for 2011

Watch Throughout the Year for New Cruise Ship Launches

While some cruise ships scheduled for introduction in 2011 are new vessels that are almost identical to existing ships (Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Magic, a Dream-class ship) or brand-new designs (Oceania’s Marina), the introduction of a new ship into a cruise line’s fleet is always exciting. At least one "new" ship is actually a refurbished older ship. P&O Cruises’ Adonia, launched originally as an R-class ship by the now defunct Renaissance Cruises, most recently sailed as Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess.

Without further ado, is happy to share a detailed preview of the Class of 2011.

What Else Is Coming Up?

Instead of star-gazing for answers or predictions of what’s to come, we’ll continue to report the latest in’s Cruise News and here on Cruise Diva’s Blog to keep you up to date. Mark your calendar for the Disney Dream introduction on January 19th when Cruise Diva will be blogging from onboard for the christening event and a special 2-night cruise that will call at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.


Fireworks light the morning sky as the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line's newest ship, arrived this morning for the first time to her home port of Port Canaveral, Florida after traveling approximately 6,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Bremerhaven, Germany. The Disney Dream will welcome guests on her maiden voyage on Jan. 26, 2011, and is scheduled to sail 3-, 4- and 5-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, from Port Canaveral. The 4,000-passenger Disney Dream features AquaDuck, a first-of-its-kind shipboard water coaster, magical portholes in inside staterooms that provide guests with a real-time view outside the ship, rotational dining in elaborately-themed restaurants, Disney-infused children’s spaces and more.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cunard Wins Queen’s Trophy in the 122nd Tournament of Roses Parade

Our heartiest congratulations go out to Cunard Line for making its inaugural debut on the streets of Pasadena, California on New Year's Day at the 122nd Tournament of Roses Parade and for winning the prestigious Queen’s Trophy for best use of roses. Cunard’s float, themed “A Grand Celebration at Sea,” depicted the Cunard fleet of three Queens–flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and the new Queen Elizabeth–and illustrated the ultimate sense of occasion experienced on a luxury cruise vacation aboard Cunard, including Veuve Clicquot champagne toasts, the Royal Court Theatre, ballroom dancing, and big band music.

"The floral detail of our float truly depicted the elegance and grandeur of Cunard Line," said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. "We celebrate the honor of the Queen's Trophy with our designer Raul Rodriquez, builder Fiesta Parade Floats, and floral designer Jim Hynd, our employees shoreside and at sea, and the hundreds of volunteers who helped decorate our float."

This year’s Rose Parade theme–“Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories”–perfectly connected to the legacy and heritage of Cunard liners. For almost two centuries since the company's first paddle-wheeled steamer, Britannia, crossed the Atlantic in 1840, the Cunard name has been synonymous with fulfilling dreams and creating lifetime friendships and memories. On Jan 13, Queen Victoria will continue that tradition, debuting her Americas season as she sails up to the west coast, making several transits of the Panama Canal and calling on Los Angeles four times between January and March (Jan 30, Feb 13 & 17, and March 3). She will sail two roundtrip voyages from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and sail a brief Getaway voyage to Mexico.

From bow to stern, “A Grand Celebration at Sea” florally portrayed signature hallmarks found on a Cunard liner, including the Grand Lobby staircase where an oversized floralgraph of Cunard’s three Queens took center stage–a reference to the youngest fleet at sea and the upcoming Cunard Royal Rendezvous on Jan 13, 2011 in New York Harbor. This rare maritime event will be only the second time in Cunard’s 170-year history that three regal Cunard Queens have docked together in New York Harbor.

In floral and architectural celebration of Cunard’s rich tradition of elegance and grandeur, the float stood at 24 feet high, 18 feet wide and 55 feet long as it made its way down the parade route. A big band orchestra and ballroom dancers animated the Line’s famed Royal Nights Themed Balls. Representing Cunard’s hallmark brand of service, eight White Star Bellmen walked alongside the floral liner. A whistle sound from the new Queen Elizabeth, who will make her maiden call in Los Angeles on Jan 29, completed the Cunard float.

Black Magic roses, purple phalaenopsis orchid sprays, green cymbidium orchids and hypericum, and white Casablanca lilies bordered the float, while more than 45,000 red Opium roses carpeted the steps and floors. Layers of black onion seed and crisp white sweet rice accented the distinctive shape of Cunard’s elongated bow, while shimmering deep brown flax seed replicated the rich texture of hand-polished mahogany woods throughout the architectural features. White roses, dendrobium orchids and phalaenopsis orchids swept over oceans of light and dark blue iris, delphinium and hydrangea blossoms to create the water waves of the high seas.