Thursday, March 31, 2011

New “Legends” Set To Rock Norwegian Epic In Europe

To keep the Legends In Concert shows aboard Norwegian Epic fresh and exciting, Norwegian Cruise Line regularly changes up the trio of legendary performers they feature. With the ship's first season in Europe coming up, NCL has announced that three new Legends in Concert tribute artists will make their debut on Norwegian Epic’s May 18, 2011 Western Mediterranean sailing from Barcelona, Spain. The three Legends, representing some of the world's most famous entertainers–Whitney Houston, Elton John, and Shakira, will perform on board through Nov 5, 2011.
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. 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 7-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. Past tribute performers on board Norwegian Epic have included Madonna, Elvis, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, and Janet Jackson.
"Legends in Concert has been one of the most popular and memorable shows aboard Norwegian Epic because the performers are so dynamic and authentic,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer.
Jazmine Hyytia, a native of Long Island, New York, portrays Whitney Houston and draws her musical inspiration from her Cuban heritage while speaking and singing in both English and Spanish. Hyytia started her musical career on the European music scene.
Paying tribute to the “Rocket Man,” Stephen Sorrentino embodies Elton John, the bespectacled Englishman known for his international musical hits, along with his outlandish attire. A New Yorker, Sorrentino has trained at the Metropolitan Opera and later studied comedy with The Second City in Chicago.
Ines Zak, a native of Mexico, who will portray Shakira, has been a singer and an entertainer all her life. In Mexico, she performed on radio and television and as the opening act for Mexican legends such as La Prieta Linda and La Sonora Santanera.
“The entertainers appearing on Norwegian Epic for the European summer itineraries were specifically selected because of their international appeal and diverse musical styles,” said Brian Brigner, chief operating officer for "Legends" producer, On Stage Entertainment. “They are three of the highest quality tribute acts in the world, and they will be joined by the always electrifying Legends singers and dancers, and a rockin’ live band.”
Norwegian Epic sails 7-day Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona, Spain from May 22 through Oct 23, 2011 calling on Florence/Pisa (Livorno); Rome (Civitavecchia); and Naples, Italy; and Palma, Majorca, Spain. To learn more about Norwegian Epic’s cruises, visit NCL.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cruise News: Informative & Engaging

There's more than one way to get your cruise news these days and our friend Alan Wilson at Cruise News Daily has come up with an inventive and entertaining delivery method on CND's Cruiseblogger. We're sure Cruise Diva readers will enjoy the following video as much as we did and will look forward to more. Be sure to catch its humorous ending. You won't be disappointed.

For more than a decade Cruise News Daily has been providing daily news, features, and commentary about the cruise industry to consumers and cruise line executives. CND's Cruiseblogger supplements their daily e-mail newsletter with thoughts on other news coverage and industry items.
Yesterday's heartwarming blog story—"The Little Girl with Cancer Who Just Wanted See a Cruise Ship"—is a must-read.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Fifth Annual Cayamo Cruise Is Set To Sail In 2012

Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, John Prine and many more artists will headline the fifth annual CAYAMO cruise, sailing from Miami on Feb 5 through Feb 12, 2012 aboard Norwegian Pearl. Also featured in this one-of-a-kind floating folk music festival are Richard Thompson, Keb' Mo', Buddy Miller, Loudon Wainwright, Iris Dement, Greg Brown, and many more!

Cayamo is the only full-ship charter that attracts fans of folk, Americana, country, bluegrass, and any combination of those a musician can create. Other acts sailing include Shawn Mullins, James McMurtry, Chuck Cannon, Works Progress Administration, Aslyn, Enter the Haggis, the Ryan Montbleau Band, and more to be announced throughout the year. In addition to the best performers you'll find on the Caribbean, guests will enjoy the ports at Cayo Levantado, St. Maarten, and St. Barthelemy during the trip.

"The Cayamo community has become more than we ever dreamed since launching it in 2008," says Sixthman CEO Andy Levine. "Celebrating the fifth annual cruise is a milestone for us as well an opportunity to set the stage for one of kind collaborations between past Cayamo heroes and new artists joining the family."

This cruise is not only known for its breathtaking marquee shows—for instance, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett will perform all of their main stage concerts together—but also for its spontaneous collaborations, intimate jam sessions, and other unexpected activities such as dance parties hosted by World Cafe's David Dye or a chance to catch a rare "Loud & Rich" performance. Last year one of the highlights was John Prine's duet with Brandi Carlile on "In Spite of Ourselves"—will he reprise that with his original partner Iris Dement in 2012? You'll have to sail with them to find out. Josh Jackson from Paste Magazine said, "A week aboard the Cayamo cruise may be the single coolest thing about my job."

Head over to Cayamo.com for details and to book a cabin.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Consideration, Courtesy & Civility: Mind Your Cruise Ship Manners

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

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

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

Don't stand out in a bad way, get Cruise Diva's Guide to Good Cruising Manners

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Silver Shadow Gets A Spirit-Inspired Makeover

Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow returned to service on March 19th with a fresh new look after emerging from a two-week drydock in Singapore. As with the refurbishment of sister ship Silver Whisper last year, the enhancements Silver Shadow received echo the sophisticated contemporary design themes and warm color palettes of Silversea's newest ship, Silver Spirit.

Some of of Silver Shadow's makeover highlights include:

New Look for Suites: Carpets, headboards, curtains and veranda furniture were replaced and sofas and chairs feature new upholstery. Each suite has a new mattress custom-made exclusively for Silversea featuring an individual spring system with a soft and firm side that can be reversed to suit each guest's preference. A new memory pillow top covers the mattress when configured as a queen-sized bed. Larger suites (Owner's, Grand, Royal and Silver) have also been outfitted and a new state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen home audio system.

Refreshed Public Areas: La Terrazza, the Bar, Panorama Lounge, Reception area, Card Room, and Conference Room received new upholstery, carpeting, curtains and wall treatments. New carpet was laid in the Observation Lounge. The Spa features new wood flooring with new tiling and wall décor in treatment rooms. The Restaurant's hardwood floor was reconditioned and polished and the chairs dressed in new upholstery. An upgraded sound system was added to the Show Lounge, Panorama Lounge, and La Terrazza. New carpet was installed in all corridors, landings and staircases.

Upgraded Outdoor Spaces: All-new synthetic turf covers the jogging track and the pool area features new deck furniture, plus a new sound and light system for evening entertainment and outdoor shows. The pool itself has been upgraded inside and out with new tiles. A large awning was installed over the outdoor dining section of La Terrazza, along with new outdoor furniture. And the Pool Grill, also with a new awning, will become The Grill for evening dining featuring the popular new Black Rock cooking concept that debuted aboard Silver Spirit. At the new outdoor restaurant, guests enjoy an interactive dining experience that lets them cook prime meats and fresh seafood on heated volcanic rocks at their table.

In addition to enjoying a fresh reconditioning and polishing of teak decks and woodwork, the ship underwent thorough maintenance on mechanical and propulsion systems. For more information on Silversea Cruises, visit Silversea.com.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Carnival Magic Completes Successful Sea Trials in the Adriatic Sea

Shown here, the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic has recently conducted sea trials in the Adriatic Sea in preparation for its May 1 debut from Venice, Italy. Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, the 3,690-passenger vessel had a full contingent of officers, technicians and engineers on board who thoroughly tested the Carnival Magic’s navigation and mechanical systems. Following the successful completion of sea trials, Carnival Magic returned to Monfalcone, where it is undergoing final interior outfitting prior to its delivery late next month.

While sharing essentially the same layout as sister-ship Carnival Dream, Carnival Cruise Line’s newest “Fun Ship” Carnival Magic will introduce a host of new features, including the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub; Cucina del Capitano, a family-style Italian restaurant that brings Carnival’s Italian heritage to the table; and SportSquare, a top-deck recreation area featuring the cruise industry’s first ropes course and outdoor fitness area.

Set to debut in Europe Carnival Magic will sail 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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Carnival Cruise Lines Launches ‘Build a Ship’ Contest to Benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Get your craft papers, colored markers, and glue lined up and ready to put to use for a good cause. Kids and big kids at heart can put their artistic skills to the test and build a ship in their own homes to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a “Build a Ship” contest that invites anyone 13 years or older to build a model Carnival ship out of everyday items and submit a photo of it to win a free Carnival cruise. The competition is the latest in a series of contests and other activities in anticipation of the May 1, 2011 launch of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Magic.

Participants are encouraged to use their imagination to create their own custom-designed Carnival cruise ship. Whether it’s soda cans, leftover scraps of wood or cardboard boxes, there are no limits on what household materials can be utilized. Once the ship model is complete, entrants are asked to snap a photo of their creation and upload it to CarnivalMagic.com/contest with a title and a brief description of the materials used to build it. Photos will be displayed in an online gallery on the Carnival Magic microsite. Submissions can be entered now through April 6, 2011, and the winner will be announced April 26, 2011.

The winner will be chosen by an online vote open to the public from a predetermined selection of five finalists and will receive a 7-day Carnival Magic Caribbean cruise for four from Galveston, Texas, in an ocean view stateroom. Details and contest rules can be found on Carnival Magic’s microsite (link above). Carnival will donate $1 to St. Jude, up to $10,000, for each entry and vote, as well as for each Facebook fan who “likes” the contest. Even if you aren’t creative, you can still make a difference by voting.

Carnival Magic is set 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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crystal Cruises Steps Up to All Inclusive

We've always considered it ironic that several cruise lines included in the luxury category haven't measured up to the inclusiveness of others. It just seemed odd to be signing beverage chits and passing out gratuities on some luxury lines and not others.

However, one of the lesser inclusives, Crystal Cruises is enhancing its expansive host of services and amenities to include even more in your fare. Effective in spring 2012, cruise vacations on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will include complimentary fine wines and premium spirits throughout the ship, open bar service in all lounges, and pre-paid gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff. The complimentary gratuity amenity also includes Penthouse butler service as well as service in all of Crystal's fine specialty restaurants and sushi bar. The new benefits begin with each ship's first Trans-Atlantic cruise next year: Crystal Symphony's "Beyond the Sea" sailing from Miami to Lisbon on March 19, 2012, and Crystal Serenity's "New World to Norway" voyage from New York to London on May 8, 2012.

"Our 'All Inclusive' is an evolution of Crystal's luxury services and responds to the desires of today's upscale cruise traveler," says Gregg Michel, president of Crystal Cruises. "As many lines throughout our industry have itemized their services for additional charges, Crystal is maximizing the guest experience by eliminating additional transactions, further enhancing the ease and luxury of a Crystal cruise. We believe this service will offer greater convenience, simplicity and comfort."

Crystal Cruises has added more and more complimentary amenities, services, workshops, and dining opportunities to its award-winning luxury cruise vacation experience each year since its inception. Always included at no additional cost are: all non-alcoholic beverages such as bottled water, specialty coffee drinks, soft drinks and fresh juices; all meals, including dining in specialty restaurants; high tea; ice cream and frozen yogurt bar; gym, steam, saunas and whirlpools; numerous fitness classes such as Spinning and group Pilates Reformer instruction; golf lessons with PGA pros; Walk-on-Water weighted vests and Nordic Pole walking equipment; Yamaha keyboard classes; Berlitz language classes; paddle tennis; computer/technology classes; art classes; Crystal Visions lecture series, featuring distinguished speakers; award-winning entertainment; in-stateroom movies and CDs; film screenings in the onboard cinema; dance lessons; dedicated junior cruiser facilities; early embarkation luncheon; welcome champagne; comfortable shuttles to town; pillow menus; self-service laundries; twice-daily housekeeping with nightly turndown service; and 24-hour room service. Penthouse accommodations also include personal butler service, pressing, stocked bar, and other amenities and services.

A complete list of 2012 Crystal itineraries, with fares, for all cruises is now posted on Crystal's website, CrystalCruises.com, and all cruises are now open for booking. Also included with all cruises is free round-trip air transportation from two dozen North American gateways (or a generous air credit), with airport/ship transfers included.

All guests enjoy Six-Star service from gracious European-trained wait staff, concierges who belong to the prestigious "Les Clefs d'Or," and sommeliers certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Crystal's passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more "World's Best" awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history. There's no word yet, but we predict that Crystal's "All Inclusive--As You Wish" onboard spending credit will disappear as the booze begins to flow. It may not be long after that the "free" air is gone with the wind as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MSC Cancels Middle Eastern Ports of Call

MSC is always putting the safety and security of its guests before all considerations and as a consequence of recent political developments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Barhain, the company announces all upcoming calls in these countries are canceled until the end of the 2011/2012 cruise season.

MSC guests will be offered alternative itineraries or exciting days at sea, having the opportunity to discover other ports-of-call and relax while making the most of the onboard amenities.

Holland America Line & National Park Service to Produce Glacier Bay Podcasts

You may remember in Cruise Diva's description of the art tour aboard Nieuw Amsterdam earlier this year that it was made all the more enjoyable because the narrative is loaded on an iPod® that can be borrowed from the librarian in the Explorations Cafe. The art tours have come a long way from when they were printed out on paper for passengers to read as they viewed the artworks. Stepping up the evolution of their onboard specialty tours, Holland America Line has joined forces with the U.S. National Park Service to produce a "Glacier Bay Ranger Podcast Anthology" that gives guests a unique glimpse into one of the largest protected wilderness areas in North America during their Alaska cruises. Narrators Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman, radio personalities and hosts of Holland America Line's iPod® Art Tours, present a rare insider's view into this land of scenic and natural wonders. Each podcast includes in-depth interviews with Glacier Bay scientists, rangers, administrators and even an elder from the native Huna tribe.

"Holland America Line's enrichment program is one of the most important elements of our cruise experience, and this project enables us to offer our guests unprecedented access to the experts who know this region better than anyone," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, of Holland America Line. "We have been exploring the pristine waters of Glacier Bay for many years even before it was a national park, and with these in-depth podcasts our guests will develop a deeper appreciation of this beautiful area."

The one-of-a-kind auditory adventures offer inspiring insights about the early exploration of Glacier Bay, the spectacular glacial fjords, snow-capped mountain ranges and the region's marine and terrestrial wildlife. The 16 podcasts begin with a welcome message from Cherry Payne, former superintendent of Glacier Bay National Park, and Randy Thomas, a ranger naturalist, who guide listeners on how to get the most out of their Holland America Line Alaska Glacier Bay cruise experience.

"Through these podcasts, our ranger naturalists and experts will take Holland America Line guests on a journey to the last ice age, where they can discover a breathtaking land that continues to attract thousands of visitors each year," said Tom VandenBerg, supervisory park ranger and the podcast project coordinator from Glacier Bay National Park. "This diverse area is so impressive and extensive that listeners will learn something new in every podcast."

The "Glacier Bay Ranger Podcast Anthology" joins Holland America Line's exclusive iPod® Art Tours, a self-guided walking tour of each ship's extensive art collection, that also are available for download. Listeners can download all 16 of the "Glacier Bay Ranger" podcasts, or only a specific audio file, onto a personal iPod®, MP3, or portable media player before embarking on a Holland America Line Alaska cruise to Glacier Bay. Preloaded podcasts on iPods® also are available on board for checkout. The "Glacier Bay Ranger Podcast Anthology" is available for download on the Holland America Line website.

While the entire anthology of sixteen episodes is four hours and twenty-one minutes long, it's worth the time to learn more about Alaska. Our good friends Paul and Elizabeth are so engaging that you'll be sorry when the podcasts come to an end. Who else but Elizabeth would describe the day in Glacier Bay like "sailing into a refrigerator"? And...you don't have to be on a Holland America ship to listen to the recordings right on their website.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One-in-a-Million Jacksonville Cruise Passengers

Just taking a spring break vacation with her family on the Carnival Fascination was pretty awesome for Arkansas eighth grader Emily Wilt. She had no idea it was about to be even more special as she was named the one millionth passenger to embark on a cruise through JAXPORT’s Northside terminal last weekend. After driving 12 hours with her parents and older brother from their home in Siloam Springs, Northwest Arkansas to board the ship, Emily was identified as the one millionth passenger by the terminal customer service crew shortly after embarkation began.

Emily received a number of gifts and perks from Carnival and JAXPORT, including a commemorative plaque and special VIP treatment throughout their 5-day cruise, which includes stops at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

“I was really excited about our cruise before, but now it’s going to be even better,” Emily told reporters following a short ceremony outside the cruise terminal.

The JAXPORT cruise terminal opened in 2003 and the Carnival Fascination launched the port’s first year-round cruise program in September 2008. The 2,052-passenger ship offers 4-day cruises to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas, and 5-day cruises to Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Key West. An estimated 170,000 passengers cruise annually from Jacksonville on Carnival.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seabourn's Six-Ship Fleet Will Spotlight European Voyages in 2012

Not long ago we reported here on the Cruise Diva Blog that top-rated Seabourn will have all six of its intimate, award-winning ships in Europe this year, sailing itineraries of different lengths in diverse destinations. Once again in 2012, Seabourn's six ship fleet of all-suite ships will offer an unprecedented array of voyages in Europe. From Norway's North Cape to the czarist palaces of the Black Sea coast, the line's ships will explore 165 different destinations among the continent's landmark cities, historic sites and natural splendors on cruises of 7- to 19-days.

"Europe is really a destination that travelers will return to again and again, " noted Seabourn's President, Richard D. Meadows. "No matter how many times you visit great European cities, you always discover something new," he continued, "and our Seabourn ships also take our guests into smaller, hidden gems that many travelers never see."

Following its maiden World Cruise in early 2012, the 450-guest Seabourn Quest will offer cruisers an extended April-to-November season of voyages exploring the whole expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. Appealing 7-day cruises between Venice, Athens, Istanbul, Rome and Barcelona are easily combinable into longer voyages with different ports and extra savings.

Also concentrating on the Mediterranean, Seabourn Odyssey's 7-day voyages sail east from Venice to Athens and Istanbul, calling on the gorgeous Greek Isles, the scenic coast of Turkey and, on a couple of occasions, into the Black Sea. Odyssey's week-long voyages are also combinable for more variety and extra savings.

The French and Italian Rivieras, islands and yacht harbors of the Western Mediterranean provide a wealth of fascinating ports to explore, and the 208-guest Seabourn Legend takes full advantage of that fact by sailing two different, 10-day itineraries between Rome (Civitavecchia) and Monte Carlo that include overnight stays in Barcelona and Valletta, Malta, both of which have a celebrated nightlife.

Legend's sister-ship Seabourn Spirit is offering a new 10-day itinerary sailing roundtrip from Venice to the very best of the Adriatic coast, including ravishing Kotor in Montenegro, the rustic, friendly Puglia region of Italy, the Dalmatian towns of Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, plus Rovinj, the gem of Croatia's northern Istria peninsula. The cruise also includes a Marina watersports day in Triluke Bay in high season, and an overnight in incomparable Venice.

Summer cruises in Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Norwegian Fjords are immensely popular, and for good reason. The baroque masterpieces of St. Petersburg form the multi-day centerpiece of cruises on both the 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn and the 208-guest Seabourn Pride. Cruises of the Norwegian fjords on both ships vary from 10 to 16 days, with some including the Arctic Circle and the North Cape.

The entire eight-month season is now open for sale, and itineraries, fares and other details can be viewed on the company's website at Seabourn.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Royal Caribbean Wants You To Sleep Like Royalty

You slept like a baby on your last cruise with them and Royal Caribbean wants you to have the same nightly comfort at home. To make that possible, the cruise line has launched the Royal Caribbean Bedding Collection, providing you with the opportunity to recreate your onboard sleep experience–from mattress to pillow and duvets to pillow cases–in your own bedroom. Manufactured exclusively for Royal Caribbean in Italy, the collection is designed to provide the regenerative comfort of a vacation-night rest and features a full-line of bedding essentials that are now available for purchase at www.royalcaribbeanbeddingcollection.com. By the way, that’s Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean, illustrating the advantages of the bedding, but we don’t think the models, or the Martini, come with the set. Nor are pillow chocolates offered.

“In line with our Royal Advantage program, the Royal Caribbean Bedding Collection was chosen with care to offer the indulgent sleep experience that they [guests] enjoy onboard and longed and requested to bring home,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean Intl. “Guests can continue to experience the WOW at home with a good night’s rest with our signature bedding, designed for comfort and, most important, quality. The new bedding collection offers consumers a little Royal Caribbean cruise vacation at the end of every day.”

The collection, made by Matermoll & Emmebiesse and imported from Italy, features two types of mattresses, the Royal Mattress and the Royal Suite mattress. Also available are two types of pillow top pads–the Royal Pillow Top Pad and Royal Memory Pillow Top Pad–and two types of pillows–Royal Memory Pillow and Royal Sweet Dream Pillow. The complete bedding set includes: fitted sheet with corners, flat sheet embroidered with the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor logo, which arrive in an elegant Cofanneto gift box, plus two pillowcases, two Royal Sweet Dream Pillows and a duvet cover with buttons. Each item, available in various sizes, is designed and engineered to deliver, deep, restorative sleep, night after night. Items in the collection are available for purchase separately or in sets, with shipping to the U.S. and Canada. We understand the mattresses larger than twin size do not come with a signature cruise ship “split” down the middle.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Celebrity Cruises Plans to "Go Big" in Summer of 2012

“Go big or go home” is Celebrity Cruises’ mantra for the summer and early fall season of 2012. That’s when the premium cruise line will return to Alaska and Bermuda; sail revamped voyages to Canada and New England; and offer more opportunities to enjoy Europe cruises than ever before, with five ships visiting 70 ports in 22 countries, sailing from six departure ports, and featuring 19 distinct Mediterranean itineraries.

Highlights of Celebrity’s European expansion include a new Venice homeport and Iceland cruises. While recognizing that people’s vacation time is precious, Celebrity has shaped a 2012 Europe lineup that exemplifies the premium cruise brand’s focus on offering a multitude of ways for people to have the best vacation experience possible. Some extended overnight stays and eight new ports will add even more depth to Celebrity’s already broad Europe offerings; these include Klaksvik, Faroe Islands; Akureyri, Iceland; Bari, Catania, and Ravenna, Italy; Skijolden, Norway; Koper, Slovenia and Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. Travelers can enjoy these and the 62 other ports Celebrity will visit in Europe in 2012 in ultra-premium style, as Celebrity is deploying four of its award-winning Solstice Class ships to sail full Europe seasons in 2012. They will be joined by the recently “Solsticized” Celebrity Constellation.

Guests who wish to deepen their experience in Europe can take advantage of Celebrity’s cruisetour offerings, which combine a cruise with a 3- to 5-night pre-cruise escorted land package in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. All packages are escorted by a local tour director and include hotel accommodations, transportation, select activities, breakfasts, and some additional meals.

Celebrity’s Europe season will be bookended by transatlantic sailings that will transition the ships from Europe to their next destination; these cruises range from 13 to 15 nights in length and feature ports such as Barcelona, Lisbon, the Azores, the Canary Islands and Paris/Normandy (Le Havre).

Popular Alaska vacation experiences continue with new cruisetours designed with intergenerational group appeal. For the fifth consecutive year, Celebrity Century, Celebrity Infinity, and Celebrity Millennium will return to Alaska in the summer of 2012, offering vacationers ways to enjoy vacations featuring Celebrity’s signature cuisine, activities, and service amidst unforgettable, inspiring scenery.

Guests who wish to venture deeper into Alaska can take advantage of Celebrity’s cruisetour offerings, which combine an Alaska cruise on Celebrity Millennium with a pre- or post-cruise escorted land package highlighting the region’s natural beauty, culture and heritage. A total of 20 packages will be available in 2012, including tours designed specifically for families.

Celebrity’s Bermuda lineup aims to bewitch travelers. After being “Solsticized” in January 2012, Celebrity Summit will return to Bermuda that summer for a third consecutive season, reprising its 2011 roundtrip 7-night itineraries from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey.

Canada and New England are enchanting autumn destinations and in September 2012, Celebrity Summit will shift from Bermuda cruises to three 14-night Canada and New England sailings. Differing from previous years, the cruises, which will depart on Saturdays, will include a new port of call for Celebrity: Gaspé, a city situated on the point of the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Quebec, Canada. To help vacationers maximize their celebration of autumn’s splendor, Celebrity is also building on its previous Canada and New England offerings in 2012 by adding more time (two full days) in Quebec City, Canada.

Shoreside options add immersion, depth to any sailing and to help round out travelers’ summer cruise experience, Celebrity will offer a variety of shore excursions aimed at satisfying a range of travelers’ interests, including winery visits, glacier tours, private floatplane trips, beach sojourns, and more. To make it easy for guests to plan their vacation, Celebrity offers the option for guests to book shore excursions in advance of their cruise.

Celebrity’s 2012 Europe and transatlantic season, as well as Bermuda and Canada/New England cruises, are now available for booking. On April 6, Celebrity’s 2012 Alaska season will open for sale. Members of Celebrity’s Captain’s Club loyalty program are eligible to receive up to $600 savings per stateroom when booking select 2012-13 itineraries before July 29, 2011. Complete details on Celebrity’s shore excursions are available online; shore excursions are not included in cruise fare.

More details about the above cruises and cruisetours are available at Cruise Diva’s Cruise News and specific itineraries can be found at CelebrityCruises.com.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Princess Cruises: News Update About Upcoming Changes to Itineraries Including Japan

Statement

The people of Japan have experienced an unimaginable tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and damaged nuclear reactors. After careful review of the evolving situation and guided by the U.S. Department of State and other authorities, we have decided to cancel upcoming calls to Japan through May.

This change will impact the following voyages:
At this time, Ocean Princess 7109 (departing April 13) which has a scheduled call to Okinawa, Japan's most southern prefecture, is not impacted. Princess is in the process of contacting affected passengers.

We regret any disappointment our revised itineraries may cause, but we hope our passengers will understand the difficult circumstances that led to these changes, and that the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is our foremost priority.
Sun Princess: S106 (departed March 5)
Diamond Princess: M107 (departing March 19)
Ocean Princess: 7107 (departing March 20)
Ocean Princess: 7108 (departing April 1)
Diamond Princess: M108 (departing April 4)
Diamond Princess: M109 (departing April 20)
Diamond Princess: M110 (departing May 6)

Princess Cruises Plans to Sail Wherever You Want to Cruise in 2012-2013

No matter what’s on your personal “bucket list” of must-see places, chances are good that Princess Cruises can take you there. Their entire 2012-2013 season of cruises and cruisetours–a whopping total of nearly 600 cruise options on 150 itineraries to more than 300 destinations around the world–is now open for booking. For the first time, Princess has simultaneously launched its full slate of cruises which include the line’s largest Europe deployment, an expanded Alaska schedule, new sailings from Galveston, more South American options with two ships sailing around Cape Horn, and more West Coast sailings to Hawaii, Mexico, and along the California coast than ever before.

Among the line’s offerings for the 2012-2013 season, Princess will begin sailing to the Hawaiian Islands from San Francisco, will offer longer 14-day Australia & New Zealand itineraries, and will once again sail to the Western Caribbean from Galveston, Texas. More ships will sail in South America and Alaska, and several ships will make regional debuts, including Grand Princess’ first ever sailings on the West Coast and Caribbean Princess’ maiden European deployment. Cruisetours combining a cruise and land experience will enable passengers to more fully explore Alaska, Europe, Canada and New England, Asia, Australia, and South America.

Get ready to explore this overview of Princess’ 2012-2013 cruise season:

ALASKA: Princess draws on more than 40 years of experience cruising the 49th state, offering Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage sailings with an extensive selection of cruisetours to the heart of Alaska. The 2012 program will include a seven ship deployment, including a fourth ship added to the Voyage of the Glaciers route, and three ships sailing the Inside Passage. All cruisetour options will continue to include Alaska’s top two attractions–Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks, and Princess will take more passengers to Glacier Bay than any other cruise line.

EUROPE: The largest Europe deployment in Princess history, the 2012 season offers a wide selection of sailings through the timeless cities of the Mediterranean, the splendor of Scandinavia and Russia and the intriguing ports of Northern Europe. The season features seven ships sailing on 57 itineraries to 116 destinations, including Caribbean Princess’ European debut and new 14-day Baltic and 16-day Land of the Midnight Sun routes. And 12-day Mediterranean and Greek Isles cruises will continue to offer overnight stays in one of the continent’s most sought-after destinations–Venice. Two new ports will debut–Korcula, Croatia on the 12-day Mediterranean Collection on Pacific Princess and Nessebar, Bulgaria (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) on the 12-day Black Sea & Crimean Coasts route.

CARIBBEAN: Princess’ Caribbean schedule will feature five ships sailing to the best of the sparkling waters of the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. Passengers can choose from 115 voyages sailing to 22 destinations on 10 itineraries. The season includes Princess’ return to the Texas Gulf Coast with the debut of Crown Princess sailing out of Galveston.

PANAMA CANAL: Princess continues to be the leader in Panama Canal cruising, with two ships, eight itineraries–including both full and partial transits–and 40 voyages aboard Coral Princess and Island Princess.

MEXICO & PACIFIC COAST: The 2012-2013 season will feature more Pacific coastal sailings than ever before, plus Mexico sailings from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Five ships will sail on 31 departures of nine itineraries sailing to 14 destinations. A new 7-day California Coastal itinerary will feature the best of the Golden State with an added visit to Catalina and an overnight in San Francisco.

HAWAII, TAHITI & SOUTH PACIFIC: The dazzling islands of Hawaii and Tahiti headline a season with more Hawaiian Islands sailings than ever before including new voyages from San Francisco. The full program includes eight ships offering 12 itinerary choices with 56 voyages to 32 destinations. Among the highlights are an expanded Hawaiian Islands program with three ships sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles and San Francisco, Grand Princess making her West Coast debut, and two sailings of the popular 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti & Samoa itinerary previously introduced with the fall 2011 schedule.

ASIA, INDIA & AFRICA: Princess’ Exotics program includes sailings throughout Asia plus passages through the Suez Canal and across the Indian Ocean. Five ships sail on 28 sailings of 21 itineraries to 54 destinations. Other highlights include Bangkok once again featured as a homeport on the line’s 16-day Southeast Asia & China itinerary, plus the line’s first call in Aomori, Japan.

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND: “Down Under” cruising expands with a new longer itinerary, plus three ships based locally for Aussie-style cruising. Four ships will sail on 40 voyages of eight different itineraries. Highlights include a new 14-day Australia & New Zealand itinerary–adding Wellington and Picton – and a new 33-day Round Australia & New Zealand itinerary. Featuring the largest Australia deployment of any North American line in the region, Princess ships will also offer more New Zealand cruises than any other line.

SOUTH AMERICA & AMAZON: The lively Latin culture of South America takes center stage with Princess 2012-2013 cruise season, offering three ships sailing on 18 voyages of 11 itineraries. Highlights include two ships–Star Princess and Grand Princess–both sailing an around Cape Horn itinerary between Buenos Aires and Santiago, and a new 19-day Brazilian Adventure route that stops for an overnight in Rio during the world-famous Carnival. Pacific Princess will once again offer cruises up the mighty Amazon River.

CANADA & NEW ENGLAND: The North Atlantic Coast voyages offer dramatic scenery and historic attractions. Two ships sail on three favorite Princess routes visiting 12 destinations. The 11 departures include Caribbean Princess sailing roundtrip from New York, and Emerald Princess offering 10-day Classic Canada & New England sailings between New York and Quebec.

WORLD CRUISES & CIRCLE PACIFIC: Three ships will offer world voyages, including Pacific Princess rounding the globe on a 107-day voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice on Jan 27, 2013; Sun Princess setting sail on her first-ever global circumnavigation with a 104-day sailing from Sydney on May 16, 2012; and Dawn Princess offering a 75-day Circle Pacific itinerary that departs July 27, 2012.

“We know that many of our passengers are advance planners, and would like to see the full breadth of our cruise itineraries to decide where to vacation next with us,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “So for the first time we’ve released all of our itineraries at once so they have the entire world at their fingertips as they’re planning their next cruise.”

Additional information about Princess Cruises and itinerary details are available at the company's website, Princess.com.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Princess Cruises: News Update About Upcoming Calls to Japan

Statement

Princess Cruises is closely monitoring the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Japan and the evolving situation with the damaged nuclear reactors. The line's thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Japan during this difficult tragedy.

Princess ships are currently scheduled to call at ports in Japan beginning on March 28, and they will take all necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of their passengers and crew. It has not yet been determined if there will be itinerary changes to future cruises, but Princess' decisions will be guided by advice from the U.S. Department of State and other authorities. They intend to finalize their plans and communicate any changes on Princess.com by end of day (PST) tomorrow, as well as issue notifications to all impacted passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day Fleetwide

If you are sailing on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship today, you don’t need a four-leaf clover to bring you luck, although you might want to tuck one into your pocket before visiting the casino. NCL is bringing the luck of the Irish to sea on board each of its eleven Freestyle Cruising ships where passengers can don their green attire and dancing shoes.

Special celebrations are being held throughout the fleet during this week’s St. Patrick’s Day sailings, complete with festive decorations, specialty beverages, themed menu items, and live entertainment with traditional Irish jigs in the nightclub venues.

True to tradition, green beer will be available upon request, as well as specialty cocktails such as the “Irish Eyes,” made with Jameson whiskey, in any of the line’s pubs, bars or lounges including O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill; Longboard, Red Lion, and Henry’s Pub. Irish-style menu options such as corned beef and cabbage with butter boiled potatoes will be offered in select dining venues and each ship’s action station restaurants. If you want to enjoy live entertainment, you can dance the night away to Irish jigs in the nightclub venues, or try to find a pot of gold in the ship’s casino.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t forget your lucky shamrock!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Princess Cruises Newest Ship Will Be A Royal

Royal Princess Unveiled

With only a brief interlude, Princess Cruises has had a Royal Princess in their fleet since the first one debuted in 1984. Christened by Princess Diana, the original Royal Princess was widely-acknowledged as defining a new era in innovative cruise ship design and experience with one of the largest lap pools afloat, more balconies than any other comparably sized ship, all outside staterooms, and 24-hour dining in the Lido Cafe. After the first Royal Princess left the fleet in 2005, the name was passed to one of Princess’ small ships in 2007. With that vessel being transferred to a sister company at the end of next month, the name Royal Princess is free to be bestowed on the next ship to join the Princess fleet.

When the highly anticipated first steel plate was cut yesterday, marking the official start of construction of Princess Cruises’ next ship, the line revealed the vessel’s profile (shown here in an artist’s rendering), released preliminary details about some of its features, and announced its name—Royal Princess. Debuting in spring of 2013, the new 141,000-ton, 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is the first of two new-generation ships for Princess which are being built by Fincantieri at their Monfalcone, Italy shipyard. The prototype design is an evolution of the line’s classic style of ships, while including some new features and expanded signature spaces.

A new design element revealed for Royal Princess is an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship’s starboard side extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here passengers can enjoy dramatic views, including to the sea 128 feet below. On the ship’s port side, passengers will find a similarly-unique cantilevered SeaView bar, featuring cocktails with unbeatable vistas.

Also on her top decks, Royal Princess will feature a new adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two additional pools will flank a palm-lined tropical island that will offer pool seating by day, and by night will become an outdoor dance club, complete with a dazzling water and light show. Princess’ signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary, will be expanded both in size and amenities. The popular poolside theater, Movies Under the Stars, will play a starring role mid-ship with an expanded size and high-definition viewing.

Inside the ship, one of the line’s hallmark venues, the Piazza atrium, will be significantly expanded. This area will be the multi-faceted social hub of the vessel, combining always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. Royal Princess will include 260,000 square feet of inside public space with multiple dining and entertainment venues, as well as other special features and amenities which will be revealed over the coming months. As a bonus, all outside staterooms on Royal Princess will have balconies, which means that 80 percent of the ship’s staterooms will include this desirable feature.

“Princess passengers will easily recognize our next ship as a natural progression in our fleet,” said Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew. “We’re taking the best features of our newest vessels that have been such customer pleasers, and taking them to the next level. Just as the original Royal Princess ushered in a new era for our company with its innovative design, we expect our new Royal Princess to do the same.”

Additional information about Princess Cruises, as well as a video preview of Royal Princess can be found at the company's website, Princess.com. A sister ship to Royal Princess will be launched in spring 2014.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crystal Expands Worldwide Jewish Culture Exploration

Luxury line Crystal Cruises is expanding its programming in 2011 by scheduling over a dozen Crystal Adventures that explore past and present day Jewish life around the world: in/near Mumbai, Miami, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Rome, Dublin, Jerusalem/Ashdod, and Odessa. Each tour gives an overview of a culture within a culture, while also providing intimate connection with spaces, exhibits, artifacts, traditions, and people that bring the international Jewish narrative to life. Among the highlights are:
-- St. Petersburg: Discover how this resilient Russian Jewish community survived Communist oppression, war, and hardship to flourish today, as demonstrated rhrough its people, community centers, music, and an intimate home visit.
-- Mumbai: Visit three synagogues, ranging from Baghdadi to Bene-Israel congregations.
-- Copenhagen: Learn how 99% of Denmark's Jews survived the Holocaust, at the Museum of Danish Resistance.
-- Dublin: Take in the social, legal, and political contributions of the Irish-Jewish community; see the first dedicated day school and home of Israeli ex-President Chaim Herzog.
-- German Concentration Camps: Explore Neungamme, which housed 100,000 prisoners outside Hamburg, and Berlin's Sachsenhausen, which became the blueprint for all other camps.
-- Rome: Walk through the 2000+ year-old Jewish Quarter of Rome.
"These experiences offer meaningful opportunity for education, understanding, and reflection, for Jews and non-Jews alike," says Vice President, Land and Port Operations John Stoll.

Crystal Cruises' passion for creating unique and impactful luxury shore-side experiences are cornerstones of its Crystal Adventures program, and have earned the line top ratings from international travelers for two decades. The excursions are available as half-day or full-day adventures with the worldwide, value-rich itineraries aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com. While most 2012 excursions are still in development, Crystal is planning a Jewish heritage tour of Shanghai for its 2012 World Cruise.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Holland America Line News: Spring 2011 Mazatlán, Mexico Port Calls Cancelled


Statement

At Holland America Line, the safety of our guests and crew is our top priority. As such, for the remainder of the 2011 Spring cruise season we are replacing Mazatlán on our published itineraries as follows:
ms Oosterdam 7-day cruises departing March 12th, 19th, 26th and April 9th and 16th will now feature two days in Puerto Vallarta with an overnight on day three. The April 2nd departure will instead overnight in Cabo San Lucas on day four.

The 10- or 14-day sailing on ms Zaandam departing April 10th and ms Oosterdam departing April 23rd will now call a second time in Cabo San Lucas on day six.
Affected guests and travel agents are being notified of the itinerary changes above.

Discussions will continue with local authorities in Mazatlán to determine the appropriate time to resume port calls there. Should future itinerary changes be made, affected travel agents and guests will be notified at that time.

Princess Cruises: News About Upcoming Calls to Japan

Statement

As the current situation in Japan is evolving daily, Princess Cruises' Security Department remains in close contact with the United States Department of State and continues to monitor the situation. The safety and security of our passengers and crew is our priority. Princess ships are currently scheduled to call to ports in Japan beginning on March 28, 2011.

We have not yet determined if there will be itinerary changes to future cruises. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any new developments or itinerary changes.

New Cruise Review: Sea Princess, sailing from Barbados

You say you didn't realize that Barbados is an embarkation port for cruises? You're probably not alone; however, there are several cruise lines that homeport ships there seasonally, including Princess Cruises.

Who arrives in Barbados to sail? Passengers hail from all over, but some cruises attract large numbers of them from Great Britain. That's what Canadians Rob and Liz Holloway discovered when they flew to Barbados to visit family there and sail on a "Barbados & Islands" cruise aboard Sea Princess. Rob says, "The ship is about 2,200 passengers of which we had 1,915 Brits on board, 25 USA, 26 Canadians, and a mix of others, which means when the sun is out then you better get a lounge chair early as all the Brits will be SUNNING themselves."

Join Rob and Liz as they embark in Barbados and share a review of their 14-night Sea Princess cruise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You’ll Love Where Azamara Club Cruises Can Take You

Known for delivering destination immersive travel experiences on their intimate deluxe vessels, Azamara Club Cruises has launched a series of informative videos called “You’ll Love Where We Take You.” Hosted by Azamara’s Manager of Deployment and Destinations Claudius Docekal, each video provides in-depth knowledge about the most compelling attractions at the cruise line’s ports of call, where more than 45 percent of port visits feature overnight and late night stays in 2011. Available now for viewing here, each video provides educational tips for you to plan your upcoming voyage.

The one Cruise Diva finds most appealing is the Azamara Quest 7 Nights Greeek Isles & Croatia Voyage that we are pleased to share.

Each 3- to 5-minute video provides guests a comprehensive overview of a specific itinerary aboard Azamara Journey or Azamara Quest, as well as insight and ideas for immersive and unique experiences while in port. Mr. Docekal provides a day-by-day account of the shoreside and shipboard activities available for guests to enjoy and offers his personal suggestions of the not-to-be-missed and little-known gems at select ports of call, nearly all of which he has visited and explored. As part of the “You’ll Love Where We Take You” series, vignette showcase each of Azamara’s 2011 itineraries to offer up-market travelers a supplemental guide to help them choose the ideal voyage fit for their interests.

“Azamara Club Cruises sails to more than 50 countries and 170 ports in 2011, including many unique destinations that larger ships cannot reach,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “Claudius, having spent time in most of the destinations we visit around the world, is one of our most knowledgeable travel experts and provides invaluable advice on what to do and when to do it, to make the most of a day or night in port. With more overnight and late-night stays, Azamara offers guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in local cultures and nightlife for a truly unforgettable experience.”

While exploring Azamara’s electronic destination guide, you may simply click on an itinerary header to access that itinerary’s “You’ll Love Where We Take You” video. They also may be viewed on YouTube. “You’ll Love Where We Take You” videos for 2012 are currently in production.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Princess Cruises: News About Upcoming Calls to Mazatlan, Mexico

Statement

Due to continuing security concerns in Mazatlan, Mexico that include incidents in the city's tourist areas, Princess Cruises has removed Mazatlan calls from all Mexico itineraries through the remainder of the spring cruise season. Itineraries for the six remaining sailings have been modified to include an extra day in Cabo San Lucas. Affected sailings are Sapphire Princess departures on March 12, March 19, April 9, April 16, April 23, and April 30. Passengers on these sailings have been notified of changes to their itineraries.

We will continue to monitor the situation and our decisions will be guided by information and recommendations from a variety of U.S. government and security agencies.

Insuring Your Cruise Vacation Against Natural Disasters

If you have a cruise planned and the area is hit by an earthquake and tsunami, such as those that occured in Japan this week—or for that matter, any other natural disaster—you may be wondering, “How does travel insurance apply?”

John W. Cook, President of QuoteWright.com® offers answers to your concerns.
Travel Insurance policies contain four separate coverages that might apply:

1. trip cancellation
2. trip interruption
3. missed connection
4. travel delay

All four of these are “named peril” coverages which will only provide coverage if the claim was caused by one of the specific covered events.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami are probably going to be classified by travel insurance companies as a “natural disaster.” This classification can have a big effect on coverage for trip cancellation and interruption coverages. Under those coverages some, but not all, companies include “natural disasters” which cause your airline to cease operations to be a covered event. Most of the plans limit coverage for “natural disasters” that make your destination uninhabitable.

Coverage for travel delay and missed connection is clearer. These coverages are also “named peril” benefits; however, the majority of plans include “natural disaster” as a covered event.

As with all travel insurance coverages, the event that causes your loss has to be reasonably unforeseeable at the time you purchased your policy.

Bottom line is to read your plan carefully and don’t assume that there will or will not be coverage.
For more information about travel insurance and to compare policy coverages, visit QuoteWright.com while planning your next cruise vacation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cruise Lines Issue Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Statements

These are the only cruise line statements we have at present. It is our understanding that no cruise ships were impacted by the earthquake or tsunami. Please join us in our thoughts and prayers for the people of Japan.

Princess Cruises
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan especially those directly affected by today's devastating earthquake. We currently have no ships in Japan, nor are any of our ships considered at risk from any tsunami activity. All Princess passengers, crew and ships are safe. We will be assessing the tourism infrastructure in Japanese ports for our scheduled calls later this month.

Cunard Line: Queen Mary 2 Update
Queen Mary 2 is currently on passage between Osaka and Nagasaki and is circa 450 miles south west of the epi centre of this morning's earthquake. Weather in the area is calm and it is unlikely that the sea area and route the ship is on will be affected by any after effects of the earthquake. The Commodore has made a broadcast to our Guests and staff advising them of the situation and he has walked the decks and all is calm on board.

Norwegian Cruise Line
The safety and security of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance. We are closely monitoring the current tsunami advisory for Hawaii and the West Coast. All guests aboard Pride of America and Norwegian Star are safe and doing well.

Carnival to Launch A New Short Cruise Program From Port Canaveral

Yesterday afternoon Cruise Diva shared the unfortunate news regarding Mobile, Alabama’s loss in the homeport sweepstakes. Frankly, if we had predicted a loser, it would have been Los Angeles (Long Beach), California. The Mexican Riviera isn’t a particularly exciting itinerary and, while it hasn’t cost the life of a cruise passenger (yet), the violence in some of Mexico’s ports has caused cruise lines, including Carnival, to avoid them for at least the near future.

However, there’s good news about Port Canaveral to share with you. In fact, it’s so good that port officials “leaked” the information to local media prior to Carnival announcing that they’ve added a new “Fun Ship” cruise program from that Florida homeport. The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will operate 4- and 5-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast beginning Nov 7, 2011. The move further bolsters Carnival’s position as Port Canaveral’s largest cruise operator with three year-round ships carrying approximately 600,000 guests annually.

On Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule, two different 4-day itineraries will be offered, along with two different 5-day itineraries. Carnival Ecstasy will depart Thursdays on 4-day ‘long weekend’ cruises visiting Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport. Five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West. Prior to repositioning to Port Canaveral, Carnival Ecstasy will continue to operate from Galveston, Texas through Sept 8, 2011 and then from New Orleans Sept 22 through Nov 5, 2011, as previously scheduled.

“In addition to offering a convenient departure point for millions of consumers in the southeastern US, along with attractive port facilities and excellent flight options into nearby Orlando, Port Canaveral is an extremely popular homeport and we’re excited to provide our guests with some fantastic new cruise choices from Central Florida,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.

With Carnival Ecstasy’s new 4- and 5-day schedule, combined with year-round 3- and 4-day Bahamas cruises aboard Carnival Sensation, and 7-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages on Carnival Dream, the line will offer an unprecedented array of cruise lengths and itineraries from Port Canaveral.

Carnival Elation from New Orleans
Carnival Elation will reposition from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans to operate year-round 4- and 5-day western Caribbean cruises beginning Nov 5, 2011. On this route, 4-day cruises will depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel, Mexico, while 5-day voyages will call at both Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.

Carnival Elation’s new schedule from New Orleans replaces the previously announced program from that port on Carnival Ecstasy. Carnival Elation will join Carnival Conquest in New Orleans, marking the first time Carnival has operated two ships from New Orleans in six years. Carnival will be the only cruise line with two ships based year-round in New Orleans, carrying more than 350,000 passengers annually.

Guests with Current Reservations
As a result of these deployment changes, Carnival will no longer offer cruises from Mobile, Alabama, as Cruise Diva reported yesterday. Guests booked on those voyages will have the option of re-booking from an alternate homeport and receive a $25 per person onboard credit, or they can elect to receive a full refund.

Things gets a bit confusing at this point, but stick with us. Guests booked on cruises from New Orleans on Carnival Ecstasy that will now be operated on Carnival Elation are being automatically shifted to Carnival Elation. Itineraries on Carnival Elation will be identical to those that were scheduled for Carnival Ecstasy. The two vessels are sister ships with largely similar features, amenities, and staterooms. (Those guests who were booked in standard balcony staterooms on Carnival Ecstasy—a cabin category not featured on Carnival Elation—will be contacted individually to discuss their preferences.) The movement of bookings from Carnival Ecstasy to Carnival Elation will be completed by Friday, March 11, 2011.

New Reservations
Carnival will begin accepting reservations for Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Elation’s new programs from Port Canaveral and New Orleans beginning Friday, March 11. For additional information, visit Carnival.com.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carnival Drops a Homeport: Mobile, Alabama Not Ecstatic

When there's bad news, it often arrives in multiples. My mother used to predict that it came in triple digits. We're sure the folks in Mobile, Alabama have heard that bit of age old wisdom. First this week there was nasty weather and now they are going to suffer an economic hit. Their ship has sailed...or it will soon.

Carnival Cruise Lines is repositioning Carnival Ecstasy from New Orleans, Louisiana to Port Canaveral, Florida in November and redeploying Carnival Elation from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans (to replace Carnival Ecstasy). That leaves Mobile with their worst nightmare: a cruise terminal and no ship to homeport there.

It's a position other cities find themselves in as well (we're thinking of Houston, Texas and Norfolk, Virginia), although we're sure Mobile officials will diligently court another cruise line to fill the empty berth. That's the way they operate in Mobile and they proved to be pretty good at it in the past. Initially they landed the oldest ship in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet and then lobbied for a larger Fantasy-class ship when the cruise line retired the older, smaller Holiday.

We have our fingers crossed for Mobile as a cruising homeport and hope nothing else unfortunate happens there this week. In the meantime, here's the official word:

Statement Regarding Carnival Cruise Lines’ Cancellation of Mobile Cruise Program

March 10, 2011: “We have made the very difficult decision to discontinue our cruise operations from Mobile effective Oct 22, 2011. We are extremely grateful for the many years of tremendous partnership, support and cooperation provided by the Alabama Cruise Terminal team, the local leadership in Mobile, area travel agents and the community at large.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve favorable financial results with this program. Although we have consistently filled the ship, it has been at lower relative pricing to the rest of our fleet. We have made every effort to drive higher demand and pricing through our sales and marketing initiatives and the deployment of a newer class of ship in 2009. However, we have not been successful in achieving a sustainable level of acceptable pricing. Additionally, the itineraries from Mobile require much higher relative fuel costs to operate and those fuel costs will become even more unfavorable with the implementation of the new ECA requirements starting in 2012.

We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone in the Mobile community for the friendship and support we have received during the past six years.”

- Gerry Cahill, president and CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines

Lights, Camera, Ocean Views...

What does a modern day romantic cruise adventure look like? In her directorial debut, Jenny McCarthy stars in a sexy romantic comedy set on board Royal Caribbean Intl's newest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas. McCarthy, along with Hollywood veteran James Brolin, recently wrapped the "Ocean Views" film series project commissioned by Royal Caribbean, whereby the actors not only directed, but also star in, original short films designed to share great cinematic stories, while highlighting the variety of cruising experiences one can enjoy with Royal Caribbean.

"In today's ever-changing digital landscape, it's important to recognize that consumers are getting their information from a variety of channels," stated Betsy O'Rourke, SVP Marketing, Royal Caribbean. "Royal Caribbean has always been known for its innovation, and the creation of these short films allows us to share our story with a wider audience that may not have considered a cruise vacation."

McCarthy's film "The Allure of Love" (movie trailer below) tells the story of two friends, Jessie (Courtney Henggeler) and Patrick (Charles Malik Whitfield) hatching the perfect plan to get a pair of star-crossed exes back together, Annie (McCarthy) and Bradley (Scott Elrod). But things go awry when technology gets in the way and the couple engages in a game of online picture posting one-upsmanship. It's an unexpected comedic journey about rekindling romance on the high seas.



No stranger to film making, James Brolin directs and stars in "Royal Reunion," a heart-warming film about a multi-generational family voyage on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. Ben (Brolin) and Elaine (Caroline Lagerfelt) are celebrating their 40th anniversary on a cruise with their son, Jack (Dean Cain), daughter-in-law, Franny (Amy Yasbeck) and granddaughter, Sarah (Chelsea Ricketts). All that is missing is their fun-loving son, Nicky (Justin Baldoni) who decides to hide out and surprise everyone with his unexpected presence. After a series of comedic near-misses with his parents and brother, he discovers that the biggest surprises of all are the things that he doesn't know about his family.

"The Allure of Love" and "Royal Reunion" will debut on Sunday, March 13 during an exclusive premiere event onboard Allure of the Seas in her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and and the films will be available in their entirety at 4pm that day. The question is, how will they stack up to "The Love Boat"? And... will they be calling on Cruise Diva for their next infomercial? After all, she once tap danced in a passenger show (and has the picture to prove it).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Celebrity Cruises Shares A Caribbean Escape On Wall Street

Celebrity Cruises recently invited Kurt Wenner, the inventor of 3-D street art, to create an innovative art installation at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the anticipated arrival of the premium cruise line’s newest ship, Celebrity Silhouette. The ship will be sailing to the Caribbean out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ starting in November, allowing New Yorkers and tri-state area residents to start their vacation without taking a flight and maximizing their vacation time. New York Stock Exchange employees had fun “relaxing” on the hammock and “grilling” on what will be the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill restaurant, called The Lawn Club Grill.

Now Celebrity has shared the following time lapse video that captures Wenner’s creative process, as well as the action as his 3-D street art develops and catches the imagination of passers-by. It’s pretty amazing and so true-to-life that you can almost hear sea gulls. However, since it’s set in New York, those would be pigeons. Plus, the winter coats on the people enjoying the The Lawn Club are a bit surreal.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Port of Galveston Welcomes Crown Princess for 2012-13 Caribbean Season

The last time a ship from the Princess Cruises fleet homeported in Galveston, Texas was 2007. That’s about to change next year when a “Love Boat” will once again set sail from the port of Galveston every week, offering cruises to the popular Western Caribbean. “We’ve received a great deal of feedback from cruisers interested in sailing from Galveston again,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “So we’re excited to be returning in 2012 to bring our Western Caribbean sailings back to Texas.” Crown Princess will sail 19 departures from Galveston between Dec 22, 2012 and April 27, 2013. The 7-day roundtrip Western Caribbean itinerary features ports of call at Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. The 3,070-passenger Crown Princess offers greater capacity than Princess ships previously based in Galveston. The 113,000-ton vessel debuted in 2006 and features the line’s popular signature features, including a piazza-style atrium with International Café and Vines wine bar; the 300-square-foot Movies Under the Stars poolside theater; The Sanctuary, an adults-only “oasis of tranquility”; and a variety of dining, recreation, and entertainment options. CruiseDiva.com offers an illustrated, in-depth look at Crown Princess and additional information about Princess Cruises can be found at the company's website, Princess.com.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Celebrity’s X-clusive European Savings: 3 Big Deals, 3 Days Only

In 2011 Celebrity Cruises has Europe covered in Celebrity Solstice® Class style. And now they are featuring three very special offers to make your dream of a European cruise even more budget-friendly. Book a Europe Cruise or Cruisetour from March 7-9, 2011 and receive $300 off ocean view staterooms or above. Plus, pay a reduced deposit of only $300 per stateroom. And on select sailings, you can receive a FREE upgrade from an ocean view stateroom to a veranda.

Of special interest, several of the sailing dates included in the promotion are "Savor Your Destination" guest chef theme cruises, including May 14 (Seamus Mullen); June 7 (Angel Palacios); and October 11 (Jordi Valles), on Celebrity Solstice. Visit Celebrity Cruises for a complete roster of the dates and guest chefs and check out the sailings listed below for the ship and itinerary that satisfies your European cruise ideal. Then act fast. You only have three days to seal the deal.

Celebrity Silhouette

7-Night Inaugural Sailing
Hamburg to Rome (Civitavecchia)
Jul. 23, 2011

12/13-Night Holy Land Cruise
Rome (Civitavecchia) roundtrip
Aug. 10 – Oct. 10 , 2011

Celebrity Equinox

7-Night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
Rome (Civitavecchia) roundtrip
Oct. 31, 2011

10/11-Night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
Rome (Civitavecchia) roundtrip
May 16 – Nov. 18, 2011

Celebrity Solstice

12-Night Mediterranean cruises
Barcelona roundtrip
May 14 – Nov. 16, 2011

Celebrity Constellation

12-Night Arctic Circle Cruise
Amsterdam roundtrip
Jul. 9, 2011

12-Night Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Amsterdam roundtrip
Jul. 21, 2011

12-Night Scandinavia & Russia Cruise
Amsterdam roundtrip
May 22; Jun. 3, 15, 27; Aug. 2, 14, 26, 2011

12-Night Greek Isles & Turkey Cruise
Istanbul roundtrip
Sep. 19; Oct. 1, 13, 2011

12-Night Mediterranean Cruise
Amsterdam to Istanbul
Sep. 7, 2011

12/14-Night Holy Land Cruise
Istanbul roundtrip (to Barcelona for 11/6)
Oct. 25; Nov. 6, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brilliant Space Shuttle Launch Views From Air & Sea

When Azamara Quest blasted off on her maiden cruise and we sailed north from Miami, we knew we were in for a treat, but we didn't know just how special until the captain announced that Cape Canaveral was within view from our ship's port side and we were in count-down mode for the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. We were thrilled with a once-in-a-lifetime experience--to see a brilliant shuttle launch from a cruise ship at sea.

While upon the "blue sea" we had the best view of an extraordinary man-made "bright star." It was certainly quite a show!

However, I want to share another and even more impressive once-in-a-lifetime view of the Space Shuttle's final launch. NeilMonday wrote on YouTube, "Flying from Orlando, FL I had the rare opportunity to be able to watch Discovery's final launch as it embarks on STS-133."

This video is remarkable.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Discover the “Un-Cruise” Way to Explore Alaska

No, it isn’t a land tour, but a new small ship cruise line with a lot of Alaskan adventure to offer off the beaten path. With two expedition ships set for inaugural deployment in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska this May, InnerSea Discoveries is reporting outstanding interest for its adventure-oriented explorations. With small-group hiking and kayaking taking precedence over port time, the line offers week long and two-week Un-Cruise adventures from May through September.

InnerSea Discoveries’ Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tim Jacox said the number of reservations for the two-week Ultimate Adventure has exceeded expectations by fourfold. “The great success of the Ultimate Adventure proves there is a real demand for this type of active adventure in Southeast Alaska,” said Jacox. “People are choosing to spend two weeks exploring the remote wilderness—places they’ve never heard of—and that’s the beauty of it. It’s unrushed, uncrowded, and truly unbelievable.”

The two extensively refurbished small group expedition ships, Wilderness Adventurer and Wilderness Discoverer, sail between Juneau and Ketchikan (and reverse) from May through September on a Western Coves and Eastern Coves itinerary. When combined, it becomes the two-week Ultimate Adventure.

Inner Reaches Western Coves
The remoteness of the Western Coves itinerary highlights the Un-Cruise promise of true adventure in the expansive wilderness, far from other tourists. Between Ketchikan and Juneau, the only port visited is the Tlingit village of Klawock where guests will meet with locals, hear stories about their culture, visit an active carving shed and totem poles and explore the area.
Guests will visit five wilderness areas and explore these destinations: El Capitan Passage and Devilfish Bay in Tongass National Forest, Little Port Walter and Mist Cove, Patterson Bay and Deep Cove, The Brothers islands and Frederick Sound, Endicott Arm and Ford’s Terror Wilderness. Highlights include a full-day of whale watching in wildlife-rich Frederick Sound; up close view of Dawes Glacier, an actively calving tidewater glacier; hiking in truly remote areas where few have been and an exploration of El Capitan Cave, the largest known cave in North America.

Inner Reaches Eastern Coves
The Eastern Coves itinerary spends more time exploring the wilds of the mainland including two wilderness areas and the well-known and loved destinations of LeConte Bay and Misty Fjords National Monument. Between Juneau and Ketchikan, the only port call is Wrangell where guests land by skiff at Chief Shakes Tribal House for native Tlingit storytelling, visit Kiksetti Totem Park and the museum or take an optional tour such as a river boat ride up the nearby Stikine River or go mountain biking. Destinations to explore include Windham Bay, Chuck River Wilderness, Frederick Sound, Thomas Bay, Baird Glacier, Cascade Creek, LeConte Bay, Stikine River, Ideal Cove, Yes Bay and Misty Fjords National Monument. Highlights include hiking on Baird Glacier, whale watching in Frederick Sound, floating among the “bergy bits” of the LeConte Glacier, kayaking through Walker Cove in Misty Fjords and enjoying wildlife rich Yes Bay by foot or kayak.

The Freedom of an Un-Cruise
With an emphasis on exhilarating explorations in Alaska’s wilderness, the “Un-Cruise” expedition ships each carry 28 kayaks, 10 stand-up paddle boards and a limited number of wetsuits, rain gear, trekking poles, Osprey daypacks, and snorkeling equipment. Hiking and kayaking trips take center stage with groups of 12 or fewer guests out for short tours or up to eight-hour expeditions; independent touring is always an option. Guests may actively participate as citizen scientists along with crew and collect samples and data to submit to the forest service and other organizations. One night each week, guests may embark on an optional overnight kayak trip with full camping gear and guide provided.

Unraveling the tradition of rigid cruise ship schedules is a key element of the Un-Cruise. Flexible itineraries and few set port times allow the ships to seek out wildlife and maximize viewing time for guests. Expert naturalists lead hiking and kayaking tours, give thought provoking and informative presentations and are available throughout the trip as a resource for guests.
Less active-minded guests will enjoy viewing scenery and wildlife from the ship along with creature comforts such as hot tubs and sauna, exercise equipment, yoga on deck, and 24-hour espresso/coffee/tea service. A 3-1 guest to crew ratio ensures attentive service. Cabins are outfitted with comfortable memory-foam mattresses, flat screen TVs with DVDs, and iPod docks. An underwater bow camera streams into cabins and captures the world beneath including playful dolphins surfing the bow wake. The main salon echoes the feeling of a 1940’s National Park Service Lodge and a neighborhood pub—casual and inviting. Healthy and hearty meals feature fresh ingredients including locally caught Alaskan seafood.

Fares for the 7-night cruises include transfers and all activities except optional excursions. Port charges, massages, spirits, and gratuities are extra. Select dates are designated as Family Discoveries with a focus on activities tailored for all ages. Kids 12 years and younger receive a 25% savings on all departures and 30% on Family Discoveries voyages. The InnerSeas Discoveries web site is well worth a visit and if you decide to book the ‘un-cruise’ or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or InnerSea Discoveries at 877-901-1009 or sales@innerseadiscoveries.com.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Get The Tech-Savvy Celebrity Cruises Mobile App & Mobile Web Site On Your Smart Phone

Celebrity Cruises knows that your vacation time is precious, and so is the time you invest in researching and planning for that rare opportunity you have to get away from home and work. To make the process more widely accessible, not to mention even more fun, Celebrity has introduced the line's first mobile app and mobile web site.

iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users now have the opportunity to download the free, new app from the Celebrity web site or from the Apple online store. Users of Celebrity's new mobile app will have a wealth of "search" and "explore" functionality allowing them to view the breadth of global destinations Celebrity visits; review the widely varied onboard activities, including the line's iLearn courses in the Celebrity iLounge, Rosetta Stone language courses, and comparative wine tastings with Riedel Crystal; e-mail itineraries of interest to themselves or to others; request a call or e-mail from Customer Service or call them directly via the app, and even peruse answers to the perennial question: "What should I pack?" For more information and to download the app, visit CelebrityCruises.com.

At the same time a new mobile web site introduced by techno-savvy Celebrity—the first cruise line to present menus, wine lists, and even art tours on an iPad, in addition to the "Celebrity iLounge," a hip cybercafe equipped with some of the latest Apple products and accessories—allows consumers to utilize iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry (models 8520 and up) devices to search for a Celebrity cruise and itineraries, obtain destination information, view details about each stylish ship, connect with Celebrity's social media sites, e-mail itineraries of interest to Celebrity's Customer Service team, or contact Customer Service 'live' at any point during the experience.

NOTE: While Cruise Diva uses a BlackBerry Torch and has successfully accessed the Celebrity web site on her phone's browser, she also has an iPod Touch to which she has downloaded the new app. It's a win-win combination—the BlackBerry smart phone, which I consider the best on the market, and the iPod Touch, a great MP3 and video player, as well as capable of accessing useful apps created for Apple products.

Norwegian Pearl to Make Her Debut in the Big Apple

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its Northeast deployment schedule for the 2012/2013 fall and winter season, which features two, large Freestyle Cruising ships sailing from New York on a variety of itineraries.

For the first time, the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl will sail from New York beginning in Oct 2012, offering a series of 21 week-long Bahamas and Florida cruises, along with three 12-day Southern Caribbean voyages. Norwegian Gem, also accommodating 2,394 passengers, will continue to homeport in New York where she will offer a series of 24 nine-day Eastern Caribbean voyages and four 10-day cruises to Eastern Canada and Quebec. Rounding out the fall season from the Northeast, Norwegian Dawn will sail 7-day cruises to Canada and New England from both Boston and Quebec for five weeks starting Sept 21, 2012.

“With the arrival of Norwegian Pearl in New York, we will have two of our newer and larger Freestyle Cruising ships sailing from this very popular homeport,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer. “New Yorkers love Freestyle Cruising because it suits their needs. With two of our Jewel-class ships in New York, we are giving guests more choice and the opportunity to sail longer cruises to the Caribbean.”

Norwegian Pearl will make her New York debut on Oct 14, 2012, sailing a 7-day itinerary that calls on Orlando & the Beaches (Port Canaveral); Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian’s private island) and Nassau, Bahamas. The three 12-day Southern Caribbean cruises, on Jan 6, Jan 20, and Feb 3, 2013, include stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados and St. John’s, Antigua; as well as five days at sea. Norwegian Pearl will also offer three opportunities to experience Freestyle Cruising on a 2-day getaway sailing from New York on Jan 18, Feb 1, and Feb 15, 2013.

Continuing to homeport in New York, the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem will sail two newly extended itineraries to Eastern Canada and Quebec and the Eastern Caribbean. Norwegian Gem will begin her four 10-day sailings to Canada and Quebec on Sept 8, 2012; calling on Halifax, Nova Scotia; an overnight in Quebec City, Quebec; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; and Sydney, Nova Scotia. From Oct 20, 2012 to April 18, 2013, Norwegian Gem’s 9-day itinerary to the Eastern Caribbean will stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Samana, Dominican Republic.

Beginning on Sept 21, 2012, the 2,224-passenger Norwegian Dawn will spend the fall season in Canada and New England. The ship will offer three 7-day sailings from Boston visiting Portland, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Gaspésie, Quebec; Saguenay (La Baie), Quebec and ending in Quebec City, Quebec. Norwegian Dawn will also offer two 7-day sailings from Quebec calling Corner Brook, Newfoundland; Sydney, Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor, Maine. Guests can combine these itineraries into a 14-day cruise, with an option to embark from either Boston or Quebec. This will be the first time Norwegian Cruise Line will visit Gaspésie in Quebec.

These itineraries are currently on sale. To book, please contact a travel professional, visit NCL.com; or call 866-234-7350.