Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line Has “The Haven” Guests Covered From Shore to Ship

Some of the sweetest suite complexes at sea can be found on Norwegian Cruise Line ships and the line has just launched a new perk for their guests who book them. A shoreside concierge desk exclusively for guests with reservations in the line’s most luxurious accommodations, The Haven by Norwegian provides pre-cruise assistance enabling guests and their travel agents to pre-arrange a variety of services and amenities. The concierge desk provides support in booking reservations for all suite accommodations; arranging dining and entertainment; booking shore excursions; making spa and salon appointments; as well as taking special requests such as pillow preference and any other arrangements. The concierge desk will send an email confirmation to the travel agent or guest prior to their sailing reconfirming all of the requests made.

The Haven is currently featured on board Norwegian’s Jewel class ships (Norwegian Gem, Pearl, Jade, Jewel); and the line’s newest and most innovative ship, Norwegian Epic. Norwegian’s two new ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will also feature The Haven by Norwegian when they launch in April 2013 and April 2014.

Suite guests are privy to an array of complimentary amenities, including 24-hour private butler service; priority embarkation and disembarkation; distinctive platinum keycard; priority boarding of tenders to shore; in-suite espresso/cappuccino machines; gourmet treats delivered each evening; Bliss Collection by Norwegian™ pillow-top mattress; fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu; along with plush bathrobes, slippers, oversized towels; and much more.

Norwegian’s Jewel class ships include up to 18 suites as part of The Haven, including the largest suites at sea—the 5,000 square foot, three-bedroom Garden Villas. All of these suites surround The Haven Courtyard that includes a pool, sundeck, hot tub, fitness room and more. The Haven on Norwegian Epic is the largest suite complex at sea, comprising 60 suites on two private decks at the top of the ship. An additional 15 suites located throughout the ship also have access to The Haven which includes a private pool, two whirlpools, gym, saunas, sundeck, along with a private restaurant with indoor/outdoor dining, exclusive bar and concierge lounge.

The concierge desk is available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 9 pm ET and can be reached by calling 855.NCL.HAVEN (625.4283). For more information on The Haven by Norwegian, Cruise Diva shares details at Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces “The Haven.”

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Protesters Drive American Safari Explorer From Molokai

One of America's biggest tourist attractions just happens to be the island paradise of Hawaii. As a frequent vacationer there, Cruise Diva has done the island-hopping thing through the state by air and it's a real pain in the neck. Unless we planned to stay put on one island, we'd settle in and in a couple days have to pack up for a flight to the next island destination...and so on and so on. That's why a cruise is a great way to see the islands. Unfortunately, there are few cruise options, but the best are those that cruise within the islands. However, to offer that itinerary, a cruise line's ships must be U.S.-flagged and there aren't many of those these days. So we cheered when adventure cruise tour operator American Safari Cruises announced it would launch its inaugural season in Hawaii and on Oct 26, 2011 the 36-guest Safari Explorer began its first inter-island voyage. The upscale yacht is scheduled to sail 24 voyages between Maui/Lana’i and the Big Island through May 2012.

To kick the season off, a Hawaiian blessing for the yacht and crew took place on Oct 25 on Molokai. Hawaiian cultural advisers from Maui, Lanai, Molokai and the Big Island were invited to attend the blessing to celebrate the beginning of operations in Hawaii. Traditional Hawaiian protocols were also arranged at each island to ask permission for entry at that time.

Subsequently, something apparently went wrong on Molokai. Last Sunday, after two previous port calls, the small ship was met in the island's Kaunakakai Harbor by 14 protesters on boats and surf boards. The protesters claimed they blocked Safari Explorer's entry because the cruise line "never asked the community for their support."

The ship's two prior port visits were also greeted on land by protesters, which the protest organizers felt were ineffective. Taking a cue from the successful blockade of the Superferry on Kauai in August 2007, Molokai protesters took to the water and American Safari departed after a two-hour stand-off.

As reported by local news station KITV (there is a video of the blockade at that link), "Dan Blanchard, the owner of American Safari Cruises which operates the cruises around Maui, the Big Island, and Lanai, says the boat will simply continue on without the stops and services from Molokai, leaving Molokai's small businesses at a loss." Blanchard told KITV, "It's those vendors that really get hurt. Unfortunately that's where it lies, so it isn't as great to the small businesses of Molokai."

Blanchard also told reporters that American Safari had gone through the proper channels to coordinate arrivals, met with community members, and was even in attendance at one of the prior protests. He said, "They (the protesters) feel that they weren't brought into the loop. We had one community meeting already in addition to all the one-on-one meetings we had over the years. It appears to us that the large majority of the island is in favor of this." Blanchard hopes to discuss the protesters' concerns at a meeting with them tomorrow evening and it's hoped that cooler heads prevail.

Cruise Diva says, c'mon, folks. Be reasonable. It's a really small cruise ship with only three dozen passengers on board. American Safari advertises "flexible yacht itineraries" in order to alter the schedule when wildlife spottings are reported in the areas they sail, but this is ridiculous.

Image courtesy of American Safari Cruises

Monday, November 28, 2011

How Holland America's Oosterdam Expertly Handles Medical Emergencies

Holland America Line's Oosterdam Circle Hawaii cruise proved to be exciting in more ways than one.

Our contributor Karen Segboer relates the circumstances behind Oosterdam altering course for not one, but three medical evacuations in a single day. The route from Hawaii to disembark in San Diego presented an interesting situation for passengers. Karen shares the details and images of the evacuations.

Oosterdam image © CruiseDiva.com

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Something Splendour-ous Is Happening

Introduced from 1995 through 1998, Royal Caribbean’s Vision-class ships have always been some of the prettiest ships in the fleet, but even pretty girls need a bit of attention as they age. Sister Vision-class ship Enchantment of the Seas was extensively rejuvenated in 2005 when she was cut in half and stretched, but since her launch in 1996, Splendour of the Seas has remained remarkably unchanged. That is, until now, when she emerged from her recent dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, with a plethora of new features. And to balance them all, she even has a new “duck tail” stern for added stability (pictured here being installed).

A variety of new restaurants, some first introduced aboard Oasis-class ships, double the dining options aboard Splendour of the Seas, including:

· Boardwalk Dog House: Guests can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats, sausages and other delicious linked meats and a variety of toppings to split a long bun (open for lunch and dinner, complimentary).
· Chef’s Table: An exclusive experience co-hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier for an intimate wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 cover charge).
· Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse will be located adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge and features a menu of prime cuts prepared a la minute (open for dinner, $30 cover charge).
· Izumi: Featuring a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking, the pan Asian cuisine restaurant is a no-hassle, authentic dining experience. Izumi will be located adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner, plus a la carte menu pricing).
· Park Café: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary).
· Viking Crown Lounge: The line’s signature space will feature a new menu of classic dishes such as jumbo shrimp cocktail or Kobe beef sliders, Asian inspired tempuras and soft shell crab, and more (a la carte pricing).
Other new amenities are the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge, a Concierge Lounge, and upgraded technology throughout. And that doesn't include the work done on staterooms that also have an array of new amenities such as flat screen televisions, new bathrooms, and completely remodeled interiors, including luxurious new linens and furniture, as well as an additional 124 balconies. While at the shipyard, Adam Goldstein, President and CEO Royal Caribbean International said, “Watching the ship install the 124 new balcony staterooms was very interesting. It is a true testament to the industrialization process, because historically we would have to add each component separately, and now the balconies are pre constructed and the entire balcony is raised to the ship. It was fascinating to watch and the balconies look like they were always part of the ship!”

In addition, Splendour of the Seas will be outfitted with the award-winning digital wayfinding technology that can be found on the Oasis-class ships. Also on the techonolgy front, since Vision-class ships were introduced before things like interactive television and WiFi became the norm, iPad mobile digital devices will soon be available in every stateroom onboard the newly revitalized ship. The tablet device will offer passengers a medium by which to receive, retrieve, and use information on their cruise vacation. With a touch of the screen, they will be able to access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities; personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions; monitor their onboard account; order room service; view restaurant menus; access the Internet; and watch movies. The iPads will be available beginning mid-February 2012 on Splendour of the Seas before being extended to all Vision-class ships when each undergoes revitalization in the following two years.

The Centrum, being readied for aerial spectacles and more.
In the entertainment area, Royal Caribbean delivers their Royal Advantage upgrade with the transformation of the elegant 60-foot high Centrum found aboard its Vision-Class ships. Beginning with Splendour of the Seas, the Centrum with its sweeping views and central location on the ship will undergo a re-birth as a new chic and sophisticated venue featuring enriching daytime activities, nightly entertainment, and jaw-dropping aerial spectacles.

Bringing the Centrum’s new entertainment offerings to life is the latest in sound and light technology. The glass elevators facing into the Centrum will feature large LED panels across their entire length providing a spectacular backdrop of moving visuals 5 decks high. During the entertainment experiences, which take place throughout the cruise, the soaring space comes alive with a series of aerial acrobatic vignettes blurring the lines between artful choreography and state-of-the-art technology.

The Centrum’s Champagne Bar also will be reinvented, unveiled as a new venue—the R Bar—featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic furnishing and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy mixologist. The R Bar offerings will feature a return to the classics—gimlet, martini, brown liquors, gin and whiskeys—all served in unique glassware with surprising garnishes. The venue’s resident mixologist, selected from the cruise line’s fleet to be the face and personality behind the bar, will create drink specials that will complement each evening’s theme and aerial spectacular.

Throughout each sailing, guests can gather in the Centrum for a variety of interactive daytime activities including chef demonstrations, towel folding demonstrations, dance classes, game shows, Nintendo Wii competitions, and the popular Captain’s Corner where guests can spend time with the Captain. Additionally, guests may sit back, relax and enjoy performances from musicians and singers or take a spin on the dance floor at themed parties such as the popular Disco Inferno dance party.

While I initially thought I’d miss my Vision-class favorite—the Champagne Bar—all I can say is WOW.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And the Winning 'Seabourn Moment' Is...

It might have been a rescue at sea or an exceptional service experience, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Those were only some of more than 200 stories Seabourn received in its "Seabourn Moments" contest that ran from Oct 10 through Nov 7. After weeks of submissions, Seabourn fans voted for their favorites and then a panel of judges, consisting of a combination of Seabourn executives and an independent judge, selected the winner from the top five vote-getters. And the winners are Chelsea and Kyle Johnson of Madison, Wisconsin.

Entitled "The Diamond Odyssey," the winning entry tells the story of the Johnsons who sailed on Seabourn Odyssey to celebrate their honeymoon. After spending a day exploring the fortress walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia, they returned to the ship and enjoyed an early evening dinner. When they returned to their suite, Mrs. Johnson realized that the diamond on her engagement ring was missing. With the assistance of their suite stewardess and another staff member, they searched their suite from top to bottom. Mr. Johnson decided to search the ship and retraced their steps from earlier that evening. He went to The Restaurant, where staff and even other guests helped him search the venue for the diamond. Feeling defeated, Mr. Johnson left The Restaurant when a bright flicker caught his eye, and there in the middle of the black marble floor was the missing gem. He picked it up and quickly went back to the suite and presented the precious diamond to his wife. As they hugged each other with joy, fireworks lit up the sky. "This will always be one of our greatest memories," the Johnsons said. They are winners of a 7-day Seabourn cruise, where they will likely experience even more unforgettable Seabourn Moments.

"There were so many amazing, heartwarming stories from our fans and we truly enjoyed reading about the special Seabourn Moment they experienced when they sailed with us," said John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president, marketing and sales. "We thank our guests for sharing their wonderful stories with us and would like to congratulate Chelsea and Kyle on winning our 'Seabourn Moments' contest." You can read the winning entry, as well as all of the stories that were submitted, on Seabourn's Facebook page.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday + Cyber Monday = NCL Deals

The day after Thanksgiving is a shopaholic’s dream and this year super shoppers can book some pretty incredible cruise vacations. For instance, there’s Norwegian Cruise Line’s largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic, which departs from Miami weekly through April 7, 2012 to sail through the Eastern Caribbean visiting St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau Bahamas, as well as spending three days relaxing at sea.

To celebrate the biggest shopping days of the year, Norwegian Cruise Line has launched its Black Friday/Cyber Monday limited time offer with special savings on Freestyle Cruises to diverse destinations. Now you can take advantage of exclusive savings on Norwegian’s sailings of three or more days to Alaska; Bahamas and Florida; Bermuda; the Caribbean; Europe; and Hawaii. Book your cruise by Nov 29, 2011 and receive up to $250 per stateroom (based on cruise length and stateroom category) to spend on board for a thirst quenching drink in the sun; to try your luck in the casino; or for a special souvenir from one of the many shipboard boutiques.

The limited time offer also provides reduced deposits fleet-wide giving you the opportunity to experience Norwegian’s growing fleet of Freestyle Cruising ships and its award-winning entertainment; accommodations to suit an array of needs from solo travelers to families; and dinner around the world with options ranging from Italian, French, Asian, and classic American to sushi, Teppanyaki and Brazilian churrasco.

To book a cruise with Norwegian during the biggest shopping event of the year, contact your travel agent, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit NCL.com.

Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bringing Celebrity Cruises' Menus to You

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States and most of us will offer thanks for our many blessings and share a traditional meal with family and friends. Here at Cruise Diva, we'll feast on turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings—as will many passengers on cruise ships all over the world.

Celebrity Cruises will also serve the familiar holiday feast, but the line shares that they put a lot into each dish served on their ships—and not all the ingredients are added in the kitchen. Watch as top members of the Celebrity Cruises culinary team explain what it takes for a menu item to go from a tasty idea to your plate.


Video Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where in the World is Regis Going Now?

We're not sure where he is right now, but since last Friday—Regis Philbin's final day on television's daytime talk show, Live with Regis and Kelly—rumors are rampant about what he'll be doing next. Here's one place we know for certain he'll be: on March 13, 2011 Regis will head east—to the Far East that is, as a guest speaker aboard Crystal Cruises' Hong Kong to Osaka segment of its World Cruise—the "Kingdoms of Silk and Jade" Crystal Serenity sailing overnights in Hong Kong before visiting Xiamen, Shanghai (overnight), and Dalian, then heads inland to Beijing for a complimentary three-day inland adventure, followed by calls in Seoul/Incheon (overnight), Nagasaki, and Osaka (overnight).

Winner of multiple Emmy Awards and the Guinness World Record holder for "most hours on camera," Philbin is known in the U.S. for his 50-plus years career of hosting TV talk shows, game shows, and a plethora of other entertainment programming. As part of Crystal's award-winning enrichment program, guests will have an opportunity to see, and interact with, the ever-affable "Reeg," who will be on board to speak about his life and career. Guests can experience his trademark wit "live" without the cameras, and have their own chat session with him during an audience Q-and-A. Philbin has had a long-time rapport with Crystal, having sailed as a celebrity guest speaker more than 10 years ago. His wife, Joy, will accompany him on the sailing.

"Given all the opportunities open to him, we're thrilled Mr. Philbin wanted to come back aboard for another star-treatment 'Crystal Experience'," says Crystal's Vice President of Entertainment Bret Bullock. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Photo: Courtesy PR Newswire

Monday, November 21, 2011

Won't You Let Me Take You On A World Cruise?

World Cruise. Those two words set some travelers' hearts aflutter. And it's simple to see why. There's no easier way to see a vast swath of the world's most treasured destinations than on a World Cruise.

While chatting recently with a good friend about the preparations she and her husband are making before they depart on a World Cruise in January, memories of my last voyage aboard Silversea Cruises' Silver Spirit came to mind.

Sadly, a World Cruise is out of reach for many of us who have neither the necessary time or disposable income. Happily, it's possible to participate in "segments" as my husband Mel and I did earlier this year when we boarded Silver Spirit in Barcelona to sail the final segment of her maiden World Cruise that came to an end ten days later in Southampton.

Cruise Diva invites you to come along on aboard Silversea Cruises' newest vessel, Silver Spirit for Luxury Cruising Around the World.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Celebrate the Holiday Season at Sea

If you're planning to get away for the holiday season this year, Silversea Cruises invites you to wrap yourself in pampering luxury with a collection of enticing voyages that span the globe from Africa and the South Pacific to the Caribbean and South America. This year the all-suite, intimate ships of Silversea offer an elegant way to revel in the joy of the holiday season with cruises ranging from nine to 18 days. Designed to be your "home upon the oceans of the world," Silversea's all-inclusive ships feature spacious ocean-view suites, most with private veranda, and the highest level of personalized service. Highlighting the onboard ambiance for these voyages will be festive decorations, parties, menus and entertainment. With the exception of expedition cruises, clergy will be on board to conduct religious services, including a rabbi for Hanukkah. Plus distinguished guest lecturers and destination experts will also be on hand to host enlightening presentations.

"Our holiday voyages are designed to offer an escape from the pressure of deadlines and having to plan parties and prepare meals," said Steve Tucker, Silversea's vice president of field sales for North America. "Instead we offer a stress-free retreat where the focus is on authentic pleasures—discovering new places, making new friends, and spending quality time with loved ones."

The following 2011 voyages offer the perfect setting for celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or the New Year:

Silver Whisper: Santiago to Fort Lauderdale, 17 Days, Dec 20-Jan 6.
Silver Spirit: Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale, 14 Days, Dec 20-Jan 3.
Silver Shadow: Sydney to Auckland, 15 Days, Dec 21-Jan 5.
Silver Cloud: San Diego to Fort Lauderdale, 16 Days, Dec 22-Jan 7.
In addition, you can enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving feast on Nov 24 aboard all Silversea voyages. In the photo above, that's Cruise Diva's traditional turkey being carved aboard Silver Shadow on a previous Thanksgiving cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires.

For more information on Silversea Cruises, visit Silversea.com.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Twist On Motion Sickness Relief

I wish I were on a cruise this week, I really, really wish I were anywhere but here at home recovering from dental surgery. When the oral surgeon explained he could do my upcoming implant one of two ways, either with local or general anesthesia, I chose to be totally asleep. It was the right decision.

The only problem I could foresee was that when awakening from the anesthetic, I would be queasy. I always have been in the past. One trick I learned many years ago was to put an ice bag on my neck right under my chin. That stops the sick feeling, but isn't always practical.

As someone who often suffers from motion sickness, I recently got a pair of Psi Bands (pronounced "sigh") to use on my next cruise. Acupressure has always worked to quell my nausea on cruises, car trips, and even air flights and the adjustable Psi Bands are much nicer looking than those dumpy grey elastic bands I've used in the past.

I put the Psi Bands on before my dental procedure and I'm happy to report that I felt no queasiness after my oral surgery. Now, if only it were so easy to alleviate the pain.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Take a Deep Breath and eXhale' Aboard Celebrity Ships

Cruise lines have taken their cue from the hotel industry and joined the "bedding wars" afloat. As Cruise Diva reported in Get A Good Night’s Sleep At Sea, "You want to sleep well wherever you lay your head so it’s good to know that cruise lines consider that when selecting bedding for their ships." At that time, Celebrity Cruises didn’t make the cut of those lines with the beds we'd most like to sleep on, but from what we’re about to share, they surely will in the future.

There’s nothing sleepy about Celebrity Cruises’ "Solsticizing" program. Among the most ambitious revitalization initiatives in the cruise industry, the $140-million program will add to the line's Millennium Class ships a host of the venues and experiences guests enjoy the most on the Solstice Class ships. It’s all happening within less than two years, with each ship completing the massive transformation over the course of an only three-week drydock period. And now we get to one of the best features. Celebrity plans to complement the program further by rolling out an entirely new and ultimately fleetwide bedding program, "eXhale," which will be introduced when Celebrity Infinity emerges from her Solsticizing drydock on Dec 3, 2011.

Celebrity’s eXhale bedding program—to be featured in every stateroom on the newly-Solsticized Celebrity Infinity—will include new mattresses designed exclusively for Celebrity in partnership with Reverie®, a leader in the field of luxury bedding. Hand-made in the U.S. (let's hear it for an American-made product!) with natural raw materials such as bamboo and sustainable natural rubber, the mattresses are almost entirely recyclable and biodegradable. The unique technology of the Reverie mattress features removable, hypo-allergenic, antibacterial and dust mite-resistant covers, and a breathable, plush pillow top with a patented air flow design that helps circulate air through the mattress and keep guests cool as they sleep.

Celebrity’s guests in Penthouse Suites, Royal Suites, Celebrity Suites, and Sky Suites will enjoy a particularly unique sleep experience. In those spacious luxury accommodations, complete with 24/7 butler service, Celebrity will offer a premium Reverie mattress allowing guests to customize their sleep experience. With the expert help of their butler, guests sailing in those suites will be able to have their mattress tailored to their liking, within a range of options from extra plush to extra firm, all with the goal of precisely meeting their individual comfort preferences. Rounding out Celebrity's eXhale bedding program in each stateroom and suite will be custom-embroidered, 100% Egyptian cotton linens.

"We know how precious our guests’ vacation time is, so we set out to ensure that every moment of their vacation offers them the opportunity to do as much or as little as they choose and that very well may include relaxing in bed to read a book, watch TV, or, of course, sleep," said Celebrity’s Senior VP of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. "We are just as committed to offering a modern luxury experience with our bedding program as we are throughout the entire ship. It’s very exciting to introduce our new, premium, Reverie bedding system on a Millennium Class ship, as just one component of our vast Solsticizing program, and an appealing prelude to what guests in select suite categories will enjoy on Celebrity Reflection when she launches in Fall 2012."

Photo: Celebrity Solstice Cabin 1605 © Cruise Diva

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Princess Cruises to Name First-Ever Entertainer of the Year

Each year passengers aboard Princess Cruises ships enjoy thousands of performances from guest entertainers—comedians, magicians, tribute bands and other specialty acts. But next April only one performer will be able to claim the first-ever title of “Entertainer of the Year.” Passengers aboard Princess’ Entertainer of the Year cruise—Ruby Princess’ April 8, 2012 sailing to the Eastern Caribbean—will cast their ballots to help bestow the honor. And starting this month, Princess Facebook fans can also get into the act by helping to choose one of the five finalists.

Here’s what it’s all about,


“Because of the remarkable caliber of the more than 2,000 guest entertainers who perform on our ships, we’ve created this award to recognize the impressive level of talent we showcase at sea,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “And we want to give our passengers who enjoy these acts during their cruise a chance to help us select their favorite.” She added that among comedians alone, Princess presents 5,000 live comedy shows each year, so it will take an exceptional performer to capture the title.

To narrow down the field in advance of the cruise, the Princess Cruises entertainment department team will select four top finalists based on passenger surveys and onboard audience response. In addition, a “Facebook Favorite” will be selected by asking Princess’ Facebook fans to nominate their favorite act. Selection of the finalists will be complete in January, at which time video clips of each act will be posted on Princess’ YouTube and Facebook pages so fans can see the entertainers who are up for the award.

Aboard the Entertainer of the Year cruise next April, passengers will be able to see live performances from each finalist and then cast their ballot for their favorite. The winner will be announced on the final night of the cruise at a special party.

“We hope many fans of our entertainers will join us on Ruby Princess for this special cruise because it will be a rare opportunity to see many of Princess’ top-rated performers together on one ship,”added Swartz. The winner will receive a cash prize and select onboard perks, and will hold the title of “2011 Entertainer of the Year.”

Video Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

St. Augustine to be Featured in Two National Broadcast Programs

Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida's Historic Coast features historic St. Augustine and the place where Ponce de Leon first came ashore after his historic 1513 discovery of the land he named La Florida, an area whose boundaries included what would later become the eastern United States.

Our Nation's oldest city is becoming more and more popular with cruise travelers who sail from Jacksonville or who stop to visit the historic town (and shop in its expansive outlet malls) on their drive down I-95 to Port Canaveral. It's also become popular with national broadcast travel shows. In the past year, there have been at least six production crews that have visited St. Augustine to film nationally televised programs, both in English and Spanish. Two of them, HDNET's Drinking Made Easy and Univision's Despierta America!, will air this week.

The HDNet series Drinking Made Easy, features Zane Lamprey and his drinking buddy Steve McKenna as they travel the U.S. in search of the local drinks and drinking customs that have contributed to the birth, growth and distinction of our great country. In the episode to air tonight at 8pm, Zane visits St. Augustine and stops at several spots, including The Pirate Museum, where he downs grog with local pirates. Also featured are Salt Water Cowboys, Casa Monica's Cobalt Lounge (that's Casa Monica pictured above), and The Conch House.

Tomorrow morning at 10am, Despierta America, Univision's daily morning show, will feature correspondent Paola Gutierrez, touring the city and reporting about the "real" First Thanksgiving which took place in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. The segment includes a reenactment of the Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles' 1565 landing and the meal shared between Spaniards and the native Timucuan Indians, a cooking segment featuring Michael Lugo and Chef Matthieu Landillon at The Tasting Room, and other highlights about the city's fascinating colonial Spanish history and culture.

HDNet networks are available nationally via DIRECTV and Dish Network. Univision Television Network airs nationwide and provides an extensive lineup of Spanish language programming produced in the United States and throughout the Hispanic world. Despierta America is a daily news, information, lifestyle, and entertainment program for Hispanics throughout the United States. Check your local listings for channels and broadcast times in your area.

For more information about St. Augustine, visit CruiseDiva.com's virtual tour.

Photo Casa Monica © St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Royal Caribbean & Starbucks Start Brewing Aboard Oasis of the Seas

There was a time when you couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee at sea. At some point most cruise ships switched from ground coffee to a syrup base for brewing and the resulting java was often not drinkable. Happily, the tide has been turning for coffee lovers in recent years. Although they are paying the price for specialty coffee, they don’t seem to mind because they are accustomed to it ashore. Count Cruise Diva among those who are happy to enjoy a good cup of Joe, even at an additional cost.

One of the leaders in the name brand coffee trend, Royal Caribbean has announced that guests aboard the cruise line’s Oasis of the Seas are now able to enjoy their favorite individually brewed espresso beverage at the ship’s new Starbucks® store. Royal Caribbean premiered the first Starbucks at sea aboard sister-ship Allure of the Seas, when she launched in December 2010. Through a licensing agreement between Starbucks Coffee Company and Royal Caribbean, the second Starbucks at sea is now open aboard Oasis of the Seas.

“We are glad to feature the world’s only two Starbucks® stores at sea on our two largest cruise ships,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean Intl. “Starbucks is a huge hit on Allure of the Seas and the new Starbucks® store aboard Oasis of the Seas is sure to be equally as successful. It’s in bringing such established and well-regarded brands to our guests which helps make a Royal Caribbean cruise the most contemporary vacation experience, what we call the Royal Advantage.”

As fully licensed stores, the Starbucks aboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas offer the coffee company’s menu of signature and seasonal beverages prepared by trained baristas, as well as food and a selection of Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew products. Located at the forward end of the Royal Promenade between the On-Air Club and Boleros Latin-themed lounge, the Starbucks® stores aboard both ships are open from 7 am to 11 pm daily and pricing is a la carte.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Sabatini’s Menu Now Available Across Princess Cruises Fleet

Welcome to one of Cruise Diva’s favorite Italian restaurants on land or at sea. While we loved the experience before, we’re sure to enjoy it even more now...


That’s right, Princess Cruises’ signature Italian restaurant, Sabatini’s, has introduced an updated menu and new style of service, which is now available across the fleet aboard all ships featuring the popular eatery. Known for its pastas, seafood, and Italian specialties, Sabatini’s now features an updated collection of favorite Italian dishes and an a la carte experience giving diners more freedom of choice and the ability to streamline their selections, if they wish.

Sabatini’s debuted in 1998 on Grand Princess and quickly became a passenger favorite, now having been expanded to 13 of the line’s ships. With a refined yet casual Italian ambiance, Sabatini’s offers attentive personal service and the feeling of having just stepped into a ristorante in the heart of Tuscany. Previously, the restaurant featured a family-style experience with an abundance of courses brought to diners throughout the evening—the only item passengers would choose was their entrée. Whenever we made a dinner reservation in Sabatini’s, Cruise Diva and her crew would skip lunch in order to savor it all.

“Sabatini’s has always been the finest representation of Princess’ Italian dining tradition,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ executive vice president. “With this new menu we’re ensuring that the Sabatini’s experience continues to be fresh, current and exciting, especially for our loyal passengers who have grown to love it over the years.” She added that it wasn’t unusual for passengers to spend three hours in Sabatini’s enjoying the multiple courses, and that passenger feedback prompted the change, which will give diners a wonderful dining experience but also ample time to enjoy the ship’s full array of entertainment options either before or after dinner.

The restaurant’s culinary focus will continue to be on traditional Italian dishes and “new Italian cuisine,” freshly prepared to order. To start every meal, and to enjoy while deciding on menu selections, guests are served herbed focaccia grissini, rosemary flatbread with air-cured prosciutto, and marinated green and black olives. Passengers will then enjoy such antipasti choices as hand-formed cow’s milk burrata cheese with a creamy lava center on tomato carpaccio, or crisp buttermilk soft shell crab over baby arugula.

The nightly special pasta dish might feature braised ossobuco meat, and delectable secondi courses include such entrees as duck with fava beans and pancetta, or baked striped bass in a herbed salt crust. To complement the meal, Sabatini’s offers a robust selection of some of the finest Italian wines to pair with any of the dishes. A perfect end to the dining experience might include raspberry frangipane tart with macerated wild berries or an almond, hazelnut and pecan napoleon with praline mousse and caramel pecan brittle.

The cover charges are still a very reasonable $20 per person for adults and $10 for children under age 12. I don’t know about you, but after watching that video, I’m starving and would happily pay more for a table in Sabatini’s tonight.

Video Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas Makes Big Screen Debut In "Jack and Jill"

What better way to enjoy any holiday than on a cruise with family and friends? The ultimate family cruise vacation set sail last Friday with the premiere of Columbia Pictures' newest comedy film "Jack and Jill," the story of Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler), a successful advertising executive who dreads one event each year: the Thanksgiving visit of his identical twin sister Jill (also Adam Sandler). Along with his wife, Erin (played by Katie Holmes) and kids, Jack brings his sister Jill on a holiday cruise vacation aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, one of the world's two largest cruise ships. Once onboard, a mix of sibling rivalry and Jack's attempts to set his twin up with Al Pacino (played by himself), who takes a surprising interest in Jill, leads to chaos and calamity.

Here's the film trailer and exclusive behind the scenes footage from Royal Caribbean,


Scenes for the movie, which was written and produced by Adam Sandler and directed by Dennis Dugan, were filmed aboard Allure of the Seas last November during the ship's pre-inaugural celebrations. Moviegoers just might be inspired to take their own family cruise vacation after watching the activities and antics Jack and Jill participate in while onboard, especially when it results in a surprising bonding experience for the unlikely twins. From enjoying the ship's variety of restaurants and dining options, to one-upping each other in the pool or during a match of double-dutch, audiences will catch a glimpse of all that a family cruise vacation can offer.

To celebrate the ship's film debut, Royal Caribbean is offering you the opportunity to win a "Jack and Jill" inspired cruise vacation on Allure of the Seas by visiting the line's Facebook page from now through Dec 7. "Jack and Jill" opened in theaters nationwide on Friday, Nov 11.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Splendour of the Seas’ Revitalization Doubles Dining Options

When specialty dining restaurants began appearing on cruise ships some lines immediately embraced the concept, while others were somewhat slower out of the gate. Royal Caribbean was one line whose onboard restaurants evolved at a slower pace; however, they are certainly playing catch-up with popular dining venues that were initially introduced on the newest ships now showing up on older, refurbished fleetmates.

To build on the success of Radiance of the Sea’s newly introduced restaurants (see Royal Caribbean Embarks on “Revitalization of the Seas”), RCI’s Splendour of the Seas will undergo a similar transformation and emerge from an extensive revitalization on Nov 25, 2011. With more than twice the number of dining options previously available to guests, the enhancements include a variety of new restaurants that were first introduced aboard Oasis-class ships.

Splendour of the Seas’ dry dock is part of Royal Caribbean’s multi-ship enhancement and revitalization program to offer across the fleet the most popular and innovative concepts first introduced on our revolutionary Oasis-class ships,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean Intl. “As a result, guests sailing aboard Splendour of the Seas will now have a variety of restaurants, both fine-dining and casual, to choose from providing them with an exceptional and customizable vacation experience.”

Among the dining concepts debuting onboard Splendour of the Seas, guests will find the Asian Izumi restaurant; the line’s signature steakhouse, Chops Grille; as well as the Boardwalk Dog House hotdog counter; the Park Café deli-style restaurant and the exclusive Chef’s Table dining experience. The line also will introduce a new a la carte menu in the Viking Crown Lounge, which will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy bite sized portions of their favorite classics.

Here’s what’s coming, with pricing for the new restaurants:

· Boardwalk Dog House: Guests can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats, sausages and other delicious linked meats and a variety of toppings to split a long bun (open for lunch and dinner, complimentary).
· Chef’s Table: An exclusive experience co-hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier for an intimate wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 cover charge).
· Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse will be located adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge and features a menu of prime cuts prepared a la minute (open for dinner, $30 cover charge).
· Izumi: Featuring mouthwatering flavors and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking, the pan Asian cuisine restaurant is a no-hassle, authentic dining experience. Izumi will be located adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner plus a la carte menu pricing).
· Park Café: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary).
· Viking Crown Lounge: The line’s signature space will feature a new menu of classic dishes such as jumbo shrimp cocktail or Kobe beef sliders, Asian inspired tempuras and soft shell crab and much more (a la carte pricing).
Guests eager to experience Royal Caribbean’s signature innovations will find additional new amenities on Splendour of the Seas including 124 new balconies, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge, a Concierge Lounge, and upgraded technology throughout. Upon completion of the refurbishments, Splendour of the Seas will sail a trans-Atlantic voyage on Nov 25 from Lisbon, Portugal to her seasonal homeport of Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. From there she will offer a variety of South American itineraries that take advantage of the Brazilian summer season.

Image Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Intl

Friday, November 11, 2011

Galveston Island Celebrates Arrival of ‘Carnival Magic’ this Weekend & More Ships in the Future

As Galveston becomes the homeport of Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest ship this weekend, officials on the island are celebrating what is expected to be a tremendous economic contributor to the island’s tourism industry.

The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic, a brand new ship that will receive a celebrity-style U.S. debut from the GRAMMY Award-winning band Maroon 5 this Sunday in Galveston, has the potential to drastically increase the number of visitors to the island each year. Based on double occupancy, the ship can carry 24 percent more passengers than its predecessor, the Carnival Conquest.

If you add that to the increased capacity created by the arrival of the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph in Galveston last month, Carnival Cruise Lines has the potential to bring approximately 100,000 more visitors to the island in 2012, creating a potential $10 million or more in direct economic impact to the island’s tourism industry.

“Quality cruise lines attract tourists, which spend millions of dollars at our hotels, attractions, restaurants and shops,” said Leah Cast, public relations manager for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are coming off the best summer tourism season on record for Galveston and we believe the exposure and added value we’ll receive from the Carnival Magic being here is only going to help keep that momentum going.”

An economic impact study conducted by Angelou Economics in 2008 showed that, on average, visitors to Galveston spend $103 per person per day. For that reason, the island’s tourism industry for years has been working to capture the attention of cruise passengers by selling the island as a pre- or post-cruise destination.

It’s not just Carnival bringing new cruise ships to the island. Today, Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas arrives at the Port of Galveston for seasonal cruises. The ship, built in 2003, will replace the Voyager of the Seas that has sailed from Galveston for several years. The ships have the same passenger capacity.

Next year, Disney Cruise Line will begin sailing from Galveston with the 2,400-passenger Disney Magic that arrives in September. Also next year, Princess Cruises will return to Texas for the first time since 2007 with its 3,080-passenger Crown Princess sailing out of Galveston beginning in December. The Port of Galveston serves as the primary point of embarkation for cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean. In 2010, the port welcomed 869,347 passengers. For more information please visit Port of Galveston.

Photo © CruiseDiva.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Unique New Cruise Offerings From Port Canaveral Aboard Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Cruise Lines launched the cruise industry’s only 4- and 5-day Bahamas/Caribbean program from Port Canaveral this week when Carnival Ecstasy departed Tuesday on a 5-day sold-out cruise to Nassau, Freeport, and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay–the first of 78 annual voyages from the Space Coast.

Carnival Ecstasy’s one-of-a-kind schedule includes two different 4-day itineraries, along with two different 5-day choices. Four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport, while 5-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays, calling at Nassau, Freeport, and Half Moon Cay or Key West.

Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule continues the line’s longstanding relationship with Port Canaveral, which began in 1990 with a single 950-passenger ship carrying approximately 100,000 passengers annually. Over the past 21 years, Carnival has dramatically expanded its presence at the port, adding newer and larger ships along with new schedules and itineraries. In addition to offering consumers more diverse choices of short-term cruise vacations, the new program further bolsters the line’s position as Port Canaveral’s largest cruise operator with three year-round ships carrying approximately 600,000 guests annually. Combined with Carnival Sensation’s 3- and 4-day Bahamas cruises and Carnival Dream’s 7-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages, the line offers an unprecedented variety of itineraries, cruise lengths, and departure days from Port Canaveral.

“The growth of Port Canaveral as a cruise departure point is truly extraordinary and millions of consumers have discovered the benefits of sailing from this convenient and centrally located homeport,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. “The Canaveral Port Authority is an outstanding business partner and deploying a third year-round ship is a testament to our relationship with the port and our confidence in its continued success,” he added.

Carnival Ecstasy underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2009 that added a host of new facilities and features, including an expansive WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot-long spiral water slide, a tropical-themed resort-style main pool area, and a Serenity adults-only retreat. Ninety-eight balconies were added to existing staterooms, as well. These features complement the ship’s wide range of on-board amenities such as a renovated 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health club, three restaurants, complimentary programs for children in three age groups, a 24-hour pizzeria, a jogging track, and 12 lounges, bars and nightspots.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Princess Cruises Offers Veterans Day Sale & Year-Round Military Onboard Credit

Princess Cruises is offering a special Veterans Day Sale on a selection of 70 itineraries in Europe and Asia. The holiday promotion, which runs from Nov 9-14, features savings of up to $1,800 on a balcony stateroom, plus as much as $100 in onboard credit per stateroom.

Itineraries on sale include some of the line’s most popular European routes, including the Mediterranean and Scandinavia and Russia, plus Southeast Asia and China sailings. In addition to special fares, passengers booking interior or oceanview staterooms will receive an onboard credit of $25 (cruises up to nine days) to $50 (cruises 10 days or longer), and passengers in balcony staterooms or above can get credits of $50 (cruises up to nine days) or $100 (for sailings 10 days or longer).

Examples of savings on balcony staterooms include:

12-day Grand Mediterranean - $2,540 (was $3,040)
12-day British Isles - $2,790 (was $3,140)
11-day Scandinavia & Russia - $2,490 (was $2,840)
16-day Southeast Asia & China - $2,295 (was $3,195)
In addition to the Veterans Day Sale, Princess is also reminding military personnel that the line offers a special onboard credit program for active military and veterans. This credit of up to $250 (depending upon the length of the cruise) is available year round, and can be combined with the credit available through the Veterans Day Sale. Princess has also made it easier for veterans to obtain the special discount. Past passengers who have qualified for retired or veteran-status Military Personnel Benefits on previous sailings will no longer be required to resubmit requests for future voyages, but will have this discount automatically applied to their booking.

The Veterans Day Sale runs from 12:01 am PST on Nov 9 to 11:59 pm PST on Nov 14, and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Deposits made during this promotion are non-refundable and non-transferable. All cruise prices quoted above are per person based on double occupancy, and onboard credits are per stateroom. This promotion is not combinable with past passenger offers. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available on the company's website at Princess.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looks Like He’s A Hit

You just never know who you are going to see aboard cruise ships these days. That’s Florida Governor Rick Scott pictured here (at left) with Carnival Cruise Lines’ disc jockey Ro Parrish aboard the Carnival Imagination during a turnaround day at the Port of Miami. In addition to spinning the latest hits, Governor Scott took time out of his schedule to participate in a line dance with Carnival Imagination guests and Carnival employees.

The governor was at the Port of Miami to spend the day working in various occupations within the cruise and cargo industries as part of his jobs promotion program for Florida.

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

Photo Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Monday, November 7, 2011

For Carnival Cruisers, Here's A Tip

For the first time in a decade, Carnival Cruise Lines has raised the recommended gratuity amount for service staff on their ships. The new total amount is $11.50 per guest, per day, effective on voyages departing Dec 1, 2011 and onward.

For convenience, gratuities are automatically charged to your onboard account. Broken down, this is how the $11.50 is distributed:

• $3.70 Per Day Stateroom Services
• $5.80 Per Day Dining Room Services
• $2.00 Per Day Alternative Services: for kitchen, entertainment, guest services, and other hotel staff members.
Unchanged, fifteen percent of the bill total for beverage services is automatically added to the Sail and Sign charge. Room Service staff may be tipped as service is rendered.

While Carnival assures us that their staff is totally committed to exceed your expectations in every way possible, if you are not satisfied with the service you receive, they encourage you to contact the Guest Services desk while onboard. This will allow them to address your concerns in a timely and appropriate fashion. At your discretion, you may adjust the gratuities at any time while onboard. Gratuities will be deemed undisputed unless a request to modify is received prior to disembarking the ship.

EXCEPTIONS:
• Gratuities do not apply to guests less than 2 years of age.
• Guests who have previously pre-paid gratuities on sailings that depart after Dec 1st will not be assessed the additional gratuity.
• For Cruises-To-Nowhere, gratuities of $11.50 per guest, per day must be pre-paid.
• All gratuities are pre-paid and automatically added during the booking process for Barbados itineraries.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oceania Cruises to Christen New ‘Riviera’ in Monaco

Oceania Cruises’ new 1,250-guest Riviera will be christened in Monte Carlo on April 19, 2012. The lavish, invitation-only gala ceremony will take place pier-side at Monaco’s Port Hercules overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Design plans call for trellises of fresh local flowers, plants and columns to transform the pier into a garden taking its inspiration from the famous Princess Grace Rose Garden. Following the ceremony, guests will enjoy a gala reception and dinner onboard Riviera.

“It is truly an honor and very fitting that we christen Riviera—the newest jewel in the Oceania Cruises’ fleet—in Monte Carlo, certainly the crowning jewel of the Riviera,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, the line’s president. “The success of Marina, launched earlier in 2011, has heightened the anticipation for Riviera in the marketplace and we look forward to officially welcoming her next spring.”

Oceania Cruises’ new Riviera will feature 625 elegantly appointed and custom-crafted accommodations that are among the largest at sea, ranging from 174 to 2,000+ square feet. Her top suites will exude residential elegance and feature furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home and designs by Dakota Jackson of New York and S.B. Long Interiors of Greenwich, CT. The ship will also feature a Lalique-designed grand lobby, 10 dining venues and numerous bars and lounges. Facilities will include a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub, innovative Bon Appétit Culinary Center, swimming pool and hot tubs.

Following the christening cruise, Riviera will embark on her maiden voyage, the 12-day Ancient Grandeur itinerary. Departing Piraeus April 24, Riviera will visit Alexandria and Port Said, Egypt; Haifa and Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel; Rhodes and Patmos, Greece; and Alanya, Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Istanbul, where the ship will overnight before guests disembark. Riviera will spend the summer and fall cruising the Mediterranean and then cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean where she will operate a series of winter cruises. For more information, visit OceaniaCruises.com.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Silversea Launches Exclusive New Entertainment Program

The Cast of Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Guests aboard Silversea Cruises' ships will soon have something new to sing (and dance) about. The ultra-luxury line has announced it is launching a totally revamped entertainment program created exclusively for the company's ships by Nevada-based Choozi Entertainment, which creates, produces, and directs live stage shows around the world.

In a move away from traditional production shows, the new concert-style concept will feature an outstanding cast of classically trained vocalists and musicians performing a lively celebration of music from Motown to opera to pop and rock. The star-studded cast and production team are headed by Nevada-based visionary director and choreographer Christopher Childers and his sister, Suzanne Childers.

The new shows feature a unique blend of music that follows the decades and offers Silversea guests distinct choices in their entertainment options. Here's a snapshot of the shows and their venues:

SHOW LOUNGE
Signed, Sealed, Delivered—A musical journey through Motown's prolific songbook. Capturing the essence of this musical genre, the cast recreates the iconic choreography with a contemporary feel, taking the audience back to a time when America captured the world's imagination with this fabulous music.

High C's—Classical music and well-known arias take the stage to enchant and delight. From Puccini to Verdi to the most popular songwriters of today, Hi C's takes the classics and gives them a fresh twist, in the same manner as Il Divo, Josh Groban, and Sarah Brightman.

Fabbalicious—The music of ABBA comes alive as the cast faithfully recreates the original sound and iconic look of the legendary '70s Swedish pop group. Designed to get the audience on their feet, singing and dancing along with the cast, this show celebrates what is arguably the most infectious and fun music of our time.
POOL DECK
Decades—From Madonna to Lady Gaga, and almost everyone in between, this fun-filled deck party is a tongue-in-cheek look at pop music through the decades … from glam rock, to electronica, to dance pop. Famous stars come to life as costumes are pulled from a trunk and the performers become one music legend after the next.
PANORAMA LOUNGE
In addition to headlining shows, performers on each ship will showcase the songbook of different composers or musicals in intimate, club-like settings, such as the Panorama Lounge. The musical selections currently planned are Lennon and McCartney, on Silver Cloud; Boublil and Schönberg, the creators of Miss Saigon and Les Misérables, on Silver Whisper; Billy Joel's songbook from the Tony Award-winning show Movin' Out, on Silver Wind; and today's newest musicals … from the West End to Broadway, on Silver Shadow.
"Our guests expect world-class amenities and entertainment is a big part of their overall shipboard experience," said Christian Sauleau, Silversea's executive vice president of fleet operations. "By partnering with Choozi, we are elevating the caliber of entertainment and creating variety that will delight our guests and enhance their cruise experience."

The new entertainment offerings are currently debuting on the Oct 24 sailing of Silver Cloud, with additional shows opening this month on Silver Whisper, Silver Wind and Silver Shadow. The program will also be rolled out to Silver Spirit in March 2012. For more information on Silversea Cruises, visit Silversea.com.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Friday, November 4, 2011

Carnival Recognizes U.S. & Canadian Military Families With A Special Promotion

In recognition of Veteran’s Day, which falls on Friday, November 11 this year, Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a promotion throughout the month of November allowing active and retired U.S. and Canadian military personnel to book up to three “Fun Ship” staterooms at discounted rates for themselves and their friends and family members.

Reservations must be made between Nov 1-30, 2011, to qualify for this special offer, that is available in conjunction with a variety of 3- to 8-day “Fun Ship” departures through April 30, 2013, including cruises to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, and Alaska that operate from a wide variety of convenient North American homeports along the east and west coasts and Gulf of Mexico. Rates start at $229 per person for 3-day cruises; $259 per person for 4-day cruises; $299 per person for 5-day voyages; $399 per person for 6-day departures; $449 per person for 7-day voyages; and $579 per person for 8-day sailings.

The promotion is valid for individual bookings only. Military personnel must provide proof of service. Eligible military personnel must sail to take advantage of this offer. Certain other restrictions apply. For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit Carnival.com.

Image: Carnival Cruise Lines

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bravo, Norwegian Gem: Nightmare At Sea Ends Well

Imagine sailing your 39-foot sailboat Sanctuary in the North Atlantic when the sea turns ugly and you are still 350 miles from land. Then imagine your boat is taking on water after it has lost power. To make matters worse, your life raft is swept away. That's the nightmare situation five Canadians found themselves in last Saturday, Oct 29th. As we reported in Norwegian Gem Rescues Storm Tossed North Atlantic Sailors, their lives were saved when Norwegian Cruise Line's New York-bound cruise ship Norwegian Gem changed course and came to their rescue.

This dramatic video shot by a passenger aboard Norwegian Gem illustrates the terrible conditions and bravery of all involved.


"This rescue operation was conducted under extremely difficult circumstances," said Norwegian Gem's Captain Svedung. "I am proud of our crew who braved their lives to rescue the five people in distress."

Well done, Norwegian Gem!

Video Courtesy of dianethx

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mission Accomplished: Princess Cruises’ Fleetwide Rollout of “The Sanctuary” Afloat & Relaxation For The Landlocked

The Sanctuary: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Aboard Sapphire Princess
When The Sanctuary debuted in 2006 aboard Crown Princess, Princess Cruises knew they had a winning feature. It was an instant success as the perfect spot for adult passengers to enjoy a relaxing break and indulge in a private getaway with plush seating, massage cabanas, signature beverages, light meals, attentive service by “serenity stewards,” and soothing personal entertainment. Now, with the snip of a ribbon aboard Sapphire Princess, the line has marked the completion of a three-year project to add their signature “pocket of tranquility”—The Sanctuary—across the fleet. The popular no-kids-allowed retreat is available on 14 Princess ships (sadly, small ships Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess do not offer it).

To make room for the newest Sanctuary, the sports court on Sapphire Princess was relocated to a new space on top of Skywalkers nightclub. This new area high atop the ship also offers extra lounge chairs and dramatic ocean views. The installation of The Sanctuary on Sapphire Princess marks the beginning of a transformation for the ship, which will receive many more Princess hallmark features when it goes into drydock from Jan 7 to Feb 4, 2012. During this extensive revitalization, the ship will receive the signature Piazza atrium with its International Café and Vines wine bar; the line’s second “Alfredo’s” pizzeria which was introduced earlier this year aboard Grand Princess; and the distinctive Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen.

Not Sailing Soon?
No worries, Princess has a relaxing option for those of us who are currently landlocked. To offer a unique way to get away from our everyday routines, Princess Cruises has launched its own radio station on Pandora Internet radio. A first in the cruise industry, the new Princess Cruises Radio features three musical options: the “Relax” station playing soothing easy listening music, the “Rejuvenate” station with more lively, up-tempo sounds, and the “Escape Completely” station for a blend of both relaxing and energizing tracks. Just choose which option you prefer by sliding a controller shaped like a Princess ship.

As Cruise Diva discovered, the music featured on the new Princess station is wide-ranging, with a playlist heavily inspired by the sounds of the 60s, 70s, and 80s—eras that evoke memories of good times for many of us—music that reminds us of positive life events and celebrations. Sort of a way to turn back the clock for those of us who are (ahem) “seasoned” sailors.

Complementing Princess Cruises Radio is a series of a videos available through the Pandora station called “Escape Breaks” that offer you a brief, relaxing cruise-related moments—from watching a sunset to seeing an Alaskan glacier calving into the sea.


In the image above, Sapphire Princess Captain Ivan Jerman cuts the ribbon to open the new Sanctuary with assistance from Cruise Director Tim Donovan (from left) and Hotel General Manager Melania Parnisari. Also on hand were (rear, from left) the Serenity Stewards, Maitre d’ Jean Paul Musiu, Food & Beverage Director Roman Moser, Executive Housekeeper Monico Reyes, Assistant Maitre d’ Vitor Silva, and Customer Services Director Giancarlo Cappa.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Windstar Cruises To Include Complimentary Soft Drinks

As a rule, items that most passengers are unhappy about having to pay for during their cruises are bottled water and sodas. Most luxury lines include them in the fare and now Windstar Cruises will as well. Soft drinks will be complimentary on all voyages starting this December, including bottled water, sparkling water, sodas, fresh juices, milk, fruit smoothies, tea, coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, and espresso. The new benefit will be available just in time for the start of Windstar's Caribbean, Panama Canal, and Costa Rica voyages. The addition of soft drinks increases Windstar's complimentary offerings which include dining at Windstar's specialty restaurants—Candles Grill on each of the three yachts, and Degrees and Le Marche on Wind Surf; complimentary watersports such as kayaking, waterskiing, sail boating, and windsurfing from Windstar's Watersports platform; and complimentary DVD and iPod use.

In addition to new itineraries in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Baltic, and Mediterranean for 2012, Windstar recently announced an $18 million fleet refurbishment plan, which will be completed in phases beginning this fall. Each yacht will receive stylish, new furniture, upholstery, art, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floor coverings, elevating the look and feel to ultimate luxury at sea, providing an unparalleled guest experience. For more information, visit Windstar Cruises online at WindstarCruises.com.

Image: Wind Surf © CruiseDiva.com