Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cruise News: Costa Cruises Simplifies Stateroom Category Selection

At last! A cruise line is finally simplifying stateroom categories to make it easier for consumers to decide which one to book. Most cruise ship accommodations are prefabricated and slipped into place, making them similar—if not identical—but you'd never know that when faced with the challenge of picking one from amongst a dozen or more categories that are typically offered.

Costa Cruises is now streamlining the system by introducing a new stateroom categorization plan beginning on December 2012 sailings that provides new benefits for both travel sellers and guests. Cabin categories will be reduced to four—Classic, Premium, Samsara and Suites—offering a price point and amenity level for every cruiser. You'll still have to take care when picking a specific stateroom, but the new categorization should help by specifying exactly what's included.

"By reducing our cabin categories down to four, we're hoping to eliminate a lot of the frustration and confusion that can happen when there are too many options and levels of accommodation," said Scott Knutson, vice president of sales and marketing for Costa Cruises North America. "With the enhanced cabin categorization plan our guests can select to new added-value benefits, while our travel partners have higher available earning potential."
• Classic category includes standard-size cabins where guests enjoy all of the standard services of the ship. They offer the most affordable prices and are located on the lower decks of the ship.
• Premium staterooms are on the upper decks and provide the best choice of cabin location, confirmed dining times, complimentary in-room breakfast, 24/7 room service and double Costa Club points, plus a 10 percent future cruise discount.
• Samara cabins and suites are located inside or near the spa area and feature unlimited access to the spa, an exclusive restaurant, welcome ritual and a series of wellness treatments. This category also receives all benefits of a Premium cabin.
• Suites provide first-class services for a luxury vacation. Suite guests receive all Premium benefits plus many other exclusive services and amenities. Guests in Suites also are entitled to priority boarding, a dedicated valet (excluding Mini Suites) and a bottle of sparkling wine.
Members of Costa Club, Costa's complimentary loyalty program for past guests, also qualify for tailor-made privileges including complimentary cabin amenities, on-board discounts, preferential boarding and disembarkation, luggage delivery and shore tour privileges, plus priority restaurant seating.

For 64 years Costa Cruises’ ships have sailed worldwide, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine. The line’s ships visit 250 destinations throughout the Mediterranean, northern Europe, the Baltic, Caribbean, South America, United Arab Emirates, Far East and Indian Ocean. The line has 15 ships in service and one new 130,000-ton ship on order from Fincantieri for delivery in October 2014.For more information on Costa Cruises, visit CostaCruises.com.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cruise News: Princess Cruises Reveals Royal Princess Top Deck Features

Royal Princess' top deck will feature the SeaWalk,
dancing fountains and a larger Movies Under the Stars Screen
If you enjoy the spectacle of the dancing fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Princess Cruises has a ship for you. The “Love Boat” line has unveiled additional details about the outdoor entertainment features in store for you on the top deck of their new ship Royal Princess and some of them are pretty romantic, including the pool areas where you will find an evening water and light show and a 30 percent larger Movies Under the Stars poolside theater. Details are highlighted in the very realistic video below.

“We’re placing even more emphasis on our outdoor entertainment options with this new ship,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “With all of these exciting features on the top decks, passengers will truly enjoy their time under the sun—or stars.”

Among the new top-deck features you’ll find aboard Royal Princess are:

• Sea Walk – Extending 28 feet beyond the starboard side of the ship, the SeaWalk will be one of the ship’s most striking features. At 60 feet long and hovering 128 feet above the ocean, this dramatic glass-bottomed walkway offers unparalleled views available on no other ship. Just as the captain on the bridge can look through glass panels in the floor of the bridge to get a look at the sea conditions below, passengers will now have that same sense of stepping out from the side of the ship for a breathtaking experience. Across the ship the SeaView Bar also extends over the waves for cocktails with unbeatable vistas.

• Fresh Water Pools – Directly adjacent to the SeaWalk on the ship’s expansive top deck area passengers will find a host of lounging options, beautiful palm trees, and two fresh water pools flanking an island area between them. During the day passengers can relax and rejuvenate poolside in a variety of seating options, including circular loungers, garden-style furniture, bar-height tables and stools, and chaise lounges. In the pool areas, entertainment options will include games and live music inspired by the ship’s ports of call.

• Water and Light Show – As illustrated above, at night the top deck of Royal Princess will transform with architectural lighting effects to set the mood. The island area between the two pools will become a stage showcasing an interactive sound and light show featuring dancing fountains. With a sophisticated lighting and sound system, and a computerized fountain featuring 85 water jets, passengers will marvel as streams of water shoot 33 feet into the night sky. Okay, maybe not quite as impressive as the Bellagio, but we anticipate it to be the best at sea!

• Movies Under the Stars – Princess’ signature poolside theater will feature a 30 percent larger screen for true widescreen viewing, coupled with a high-tech visual and audio system for an unforgettable open-air movie-going experience. Passengers can enjoy movies, sporting events, and concerts while relaxing on a comfortable chaise lounge, complete with pillow, blanket, and free popcorn. For those who’d like to watch from the water, the ship’s large whirlpool spas above the pools offer great sightlines for enjoying Movies Under the Stars while soaking.

• Evening Entertainment – On select evenings, the island will be transformed into an outdoor dance floor and will play host to the popular Ultimate Deck Party. Perched two decks up on a special balcony, a DJ will get the crowd moving with an energetic music mix.


The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises. Among the special features found on board will be a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. The ship’s 2013 maiden season will include cruises on the line’s signature Grand Mediterranean itinerary throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the fall. More information and video previews of the ship are available at Princess.com.

Find more Royal Princess details, images, and videos on Cruise Diva's blog at:

Princess Cruises Newest Ship Will Be A Royal
Royal Princess: Expanded Atrium, New Features
Royal Princess Introduces Updated Amenities and A New Balcony Stateroom Category
Royal Princess: Expanded Atrium, New Features
Princess Cruises Raises the Curtain on New Royal Princess Entertainment Venue
The Ultimate In Relaxation Coming Aboard Royal Princess
Princess Cruises Shares A Look At New Royal Princess Fitness Facilities
Princess Cruises Takes Dining To The Next Level With New Royal Princess
Image and Video Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cruise News: Silversea Marks a Historic First in Corfu

Sister ships often cross paths during their sailings around the globe, but it's rare to see half of a cruise line's fleet in the same port at the same time. This meet-up is a photo op that must be shared.

For the first time in Silversea Cruises' 18-year history, three of the ultra-luxury line's six ships—Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, and Silver Spirit—called in the same port on the same day. The historic convergence of the three ships took place yesterday in beautiful Corfu, a Greek island renowned for its lush green hills and pure white beaches. Surrounded by the sparkling turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, and Silver Spirit greeted each other by sounding their whistles as they sailed into this charming and sophisticated port.

Corfu (or Kérkyra in Greek) is the second largest of the Ionian islands, and a land rich in history and myth. It was likely the last stop for Homer's Odysseus on his fabled journey back to his homeland of Ithaca. For Silversea, Corfu will always carry special significance as the port that hosted an important milestone in the company's own unfolding story.

Silver Wind and Silver Spirit are on 7-day sailings in the Greek Isles. Both itineraries include stops in Croatia and Italy, as well as Montenegro for Silver Wind. Silver Cloud is sailing from Venice to Barcelona on a 12-day Mediterranean voyage.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Norwegian Breakaway to Feature Cutting-Edge Spa & Fitness Experiences

When most travelers think of a cruise, they think of relaxation. Almost any ship’s spa will do if all you want is a simple massage, but Norwegian Breakaway will redefine relaxation and fitness at sea when the ship launches in late April 2013, featuring an expansive spa with the first-ever salt room at sea and state-of-the-art fitness facility offering a variety of innovative fitness options. The combined spa and fitness area spans two decks, encompassing more than 23,000 square feet.

Offering the ultimate in indulgent experiences, Norwegian Breakaway’s tranquil Mandara Spa and thermal suite will offer guests the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of New York City and will feature the first-ever salt room at sea. Popular in top spas around the world, salt room therapy has been proven to alleviate respiratory and skin ailments, strengthen the immune system, promote better sleep and have a long-term positive impact on overall lung function. Spa guests visiting the Salt Room will be immersed in a dramatic grotto setting as they enjoy this unique, indulgent and beneficial spa experience. The tranquil thermal suite also offers guests spectacular unobstructed views of the ocean, the opportunity to melt away on one of the 13 heated loungers, vitality pool, whirlpools, sauna, solarium and steam room, along with a full-service salon and barber shop. This is something I can’t wait to try!

The 22 treatment rooms will feature more than 50 signature services for both men and women including Elemis signature facials such as the luxurious “24 Karat Gold Facial,” massages such as the Thai Herbal Poultice Massage, the Bamboo Massage and the Freestyle™ Massage; and two bliss® services: the bliss® triple oxygen treatment and the bliss® fatgirlslim. Norwegian Breakaway will also offer acupuncture, teeth whitening and cosmetic medical treatments, performed by a licensed medi-spa doctor, such as Botox® Cosmetic, Dysport™, Restylane® and Perlane®. The full service salon will offer hair, nail, waxing and special kid-friendly services. The area also features a full service Barber Shop, exclusively for men, offering treatments including haircuts and traditional warm shaves.

In a nod to her homeport, fitness enthusiasts and active New Yorkers will enjoy the variety of cutting-edge fitness programs offered on board Norwegian Breakaway. Inspired by an “urban New York City playground,” guests can choose from a range of innovative fitness options to really get their heart pumping. The ship will feature the first-ever Nexersys® interactive fight training modules at sea, offering guests the opportunity to engage in high-intensity, interval training against an avatar, through the use of a simulator. Boxing lovers will also enjoy Norwegian’s all new “Freestyle Fight Klub,” which combines Nexersys® training with a cardio boxing class, utilizing the fitness center’s 12 heavy bags.

Those who prefer biking will delight in the first-ever “Black Light Spinning” class at sea. Guests will jump on their spinning bike and pedal away to the hottest music in a room lit entirely by black lights and neon graffiti art, giving riders a once-in-a lifetime adrenaline rush. The fitness center will also offer a variety of all-new low-impact classes such as “Spirals,” a Pilates-inspired class that utilizes weighted balls for added resistance; and “Chi Balls,” a group class inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, combining elements of yoga, tai chi and meditation that completely exercise both the mind and body. Additional fitness offerings include TRX, the biggest fitness phenomenon of 2012, kettle bell training, yoga, Pilates, reformers and body sculpting boot camp style classes. Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in a fitness class developed by the Rockettes, one of New York’s most illustrious and beloved icons, who will christen Norwegian Breakaway as the official Godmothers. Personal training sessions will also be available, along with nutritional consultations and metabolic testing.

Guests who prefer to workout independently will enjoy the latest Technogym® cardio equipment and weights. All cardio equipment synchs to iPod music devices and features a large, HD screen from which guests can watch television, follow a set training program, or navigate the playlist on their iPod.

Norwegian Breakaway
The 4,000 passenger Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in her year-round homeport of New York City in early May 2013. The ship will begin weekly summer 7-day cruises to Bermuda on Sunday, May 12, 2013. From October 2013 through April 2014, the ship will offer voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas and Florida and the Southern Caribbean.

To date, the company has revealed the ship’s groundbreaking design, including The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that will create a whole new complex at sea that enhances guests’ connection with the ocean. The top decks of Norwegian Breakaway will feature the first Aqua Park at sea with five full-size water slides, including twin Free Fall slides, the first ever at sea, and a three-story sports complex that includes the largest ropes course at sea, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall and more.

The ship will also feature a rich mix of stateroom options including The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 Suites at the top of the ship and 18 additional Suites located throughout the ship; the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; the re-introduction of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites; along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa. For more information on the incredible features and accommodations on Norwegian Breakaway, visit Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway micro-site and these links on the Cruise Diva Blog:
· Norwegian Cruise Line Begins “Project Breakaway” Reveal
· Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces “The Haven”
· “The Haven” by Norwegian: Posh Accommodations For Project Breakaway
· Norwegian Breaks Out More Project Breakaway Accommodations
· Innovative Spaces Planned For Norwegian’s Norwegian Breakaway
· Norwegian Breakaway Is Set To Be A Teen-Pleaser
· Dining and Entertainment Options for Norwegian Breakaway
· Norwegian Breakaway’s Hull Artwork Unveiled
· NYC’s Iconic Rockettes Named As Norwegian Breakaway Godmothers
Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Interactive Online Game & Sweepstakes From Celebrity Cruises Highlights Celebrity Reflection

Cruise Diva is anxious to get an up close look at Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Cruises is betting that you are too. There is a lot to look forward to as Celebrity Cruises’ modern, luxurious ships are known for taking guests to exciting destinations while they enjoy airy staterooms, award-winning cuisine created by a James Beard-featured chef, stylish spaces in which to relax, and personalized service. Celebrity’s new interactive, social experience, “Celebrity Reflection Launch to Luxury Game and Sweepstakes,” lets vacationers and travel agents have fun while learning about Celebrity Reflection, the latest in Celebrity’s award-winning Solstice Class of ships, debuting in Miami later this year. Players have the opportunity to win a cruise on Celebrity Reflection and weekly cash prizes.

“Launch to Luxury” offers different incentives for different players. All players have the opportunity to win a 7-night Caribbean cruise for two in an AquaClass stateroom on Celebrity Reflection. Members of Celebrity’s loyalty program, Captain’s Club, who play “Launch to Luxury” will also be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a stateroom on one of the ship’s invitation-only preview cruises in Miami this December. And if you win one of those, maybe we’ll see one another on board! Travel agents who participate will also be entered into a drawing for a 7-night Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Reflection in an AquaClass stateroom.

The game is played in stages, with a new set of levels opening each week that the game is live. Players earn points for correctly answering trivia questions and sharing the game with friends; each point earns a sweepstakes entry for the cruise and cash prizes. The player with the highest score becomes “Captain” of Celebrity Reflection and the “Captain” at the end of the game wins a 7-night Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Reflection in an AquaClass Suite–one of the newest suite categories found exclusively on Celebrity Reflection. All the answers to the questions can be found on Celebrity’s website; even the player with little to no knowledge has an opportunity to find what they need to advance in the game.

The game can be played online from Sept 24 through Oct 26, 2012, and is open to residents of the US and Canada (excluding Quebec). To play the game and for official rules visit launchtoluxury.com.

Image (c) CruiseDiva.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rick Sasso Talks Romance with Suzanne Somers

Rick Sasso and Suzanne Somers
Aboard MSC Poesia
Anyone who has ever met the charismatic President and CEO of MSC Cruises USA knows Richard Sasso as a warm and genuinely caring individual. Cruise Diva had the opportunity to sail with Rick and Ms. Suzanne Somers a few years ago when MSC Poesia Arrived in Port Everglades and we got to know Rick as a gracious host with a wonderful sense of humor and fun.

After meeting and sailing with those two delightful people, we were quite pleased to hear the news that they are meeting up again. MSC Cruises is going to be featured tomorrow night on the SUZANNE show on Lifetime Television. Please tune in to watch Richard Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises USA, on Wednesday, Sept 26th at 7am EST/PST, as he discusses "Revitalizing Romance at Sea" with Suzanne.

In other news, Sasso will also be on CBS 4 Miami local news at 6am and 5pm promoting his new book and foundation "Unselfish World". Be sure to watch if you live in the area. If you don't, Unselfish World is an easy-to-read and heartwarming reflection of how we can empower our instincts to be more unselfish and work in harmony toward the ultimate goal of a better world. Read more about Unselfish World.

Image (c) CruiseDiva.com

Princess Cruises Launches “The Campaign to Escape Completely”

Turn on your television and it seems that there’s no news but bad news these days. From higher taxes to out-of-sight unemployment to the upcoming election, it’s depressing. Even Dancing With The Stars All-Stars is a bit ho-hum this season. Princess Cruises is stepping into the void to help people get away from it all with the launch of “The Campaign to Escape Completely” for a chance to win free cruises and gifts.

Now through Nov 6, Princess Cruises is focusing on what it does best—offering consumers the opportunity to escape completely by giving away free Caribbean and West Coast Getaway cruises. Plus, the line is offering a chance to win a cruise on the new Royal Princess through games and sweepstakes.

The light-hearted “anti-negativity” campaign was inspired by the line’s employees who wanted to play off the current election theme but instead spread some cheer and help people escape from the discouraging headlines. The campaign will feature a series of videos which are cast entirely with Princess Cruises employees who rally to deliver happiness and fun to passengers.

“This initiative came from our own employees’ passion to help our passengers escape completely,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Part of the campaign is a series of social videos our employees created to spread some cheer, especially now when so much of the news is negative. In addition, we’ll surprise and delight consumers with free cruises and gifts to remind them that Princess Cruises offers THE best way to get away from the everyday and just relax.”

The campaign offers two ways to win a free cruise:
• Free Cruise Giveaways in Consumer Emails — Consumers who are registered to receive emails from Princess will have a chance to win a free Getaway cruise. Princess will hide a “Golden Ticket” in 10 emails each week of the campaign.
• “Ballot Box Trivia Challenge” — In addition, Princess is promoting a sweepstakes for a chance to win a cruise on the new Royal Princess. Play the four different trivia games on princess.com for additional entries. Plus, the first five people who answer all questions correctly will win a gift to use on their next cruise, including a $200 Lotus Spa treatment or Chef’s Table experience for two, among others.
More details about “The Campaign to Escape Completely,” can be found at Princess.com.

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Monday, September 24, 2012

Disney Cruise Line Received a Texas-sized Fanfare in Galveston

On Saturday, Sept 22nd, Disney Magic arrived in Texas, kicking off the Disney Cruise Line inaugural season sailing from the Port of Galveston. With a cowboy hat adorning Mickey's image on the funnel, the Lone Star flag displayed on the giant screen overlooking the pool, and characters and crewmembers lining the railing, the whole Disney gang is ready for some boot stomping fun.

To salute the arrival of Disney Magic to the Lone Star State, members of the Ghostriders equestrian drill team from Houston galloped nearby as the ship sailed into port.

In 2012 and 2013, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Galveston on a variety of itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas, with some cruises taking guests to the Walt Disney World Resort and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. For more itinerary details, see Cruise Diva's report, Disney Cruise Line’s Itineraries From Galveston Offer More Options.

Images: Matt Stroshane, photographer

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Batter Up! For MSC Cruises' Baseball Greats Cruise

Football may be what we’re watching on television right now, but followers of America’s favorite pastime have something to look forward to in addition to next year’s season opener. Once again, baseball fans will have the opportunity of a lifetime to cruise with baseball legends representing leading teams on select MSC Cruises 2012-2013 Caribbean sailings. On what has been one of MSC Cruises’ most popular “theme” sailings for nine years running, guests can interact with former Major League Baseball stars as they sail to balmy Caribbean destinations onboard MSC Poesia on several “Baseball Greats” theme cruises.

Host and emcee for all of the onboard activities on each of these MSC Poesia cruises is former New York Yankees star pitcher, Stan Bahnsen. “Baseball Greats” cruises offer free guest/player activities including a player-hosted trivia game, a question-and-answer session, a guest pitching contest and a lively storytelling session. Baseball players host hitting, fielding, base running, and defense strategy clinics. A free autograph session is one of the most popular aspects of the “Baseball Greats” experience. If you happen to be a baseball spouse and not interested in the events, there’s always the spa, the pool, and other activities to keep you entertained. It’s a win-win cruise for everyone.

These Caribbean cruises sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and feature the following itineraries and baseball greats (the lineup of participating players is subject to change):
• 10-night “Southern Caribbean Dream,” calling at San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. John’s, Antigua; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Roseau, Dominica; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Freepost, Bahamas, with 3 days at sea.
-- Dec. 11, 2012: Jesse Barfield, Glenn Beckert, Bill Russell, Dave Campbell, Stan Bahnsen
• 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment,” calling in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Nassau, Bahamas, with 3 days at sea.
-- Feb. 9, 2013: Ken Griffey Sr., Jim Fregosi, Stan Bahnsen, Ed Herrmann, Larry Parrish
-- Feb. 23, 2013: Tommy Davis, Cookie Rojas, Stan Bahnsen, Clarence Jones, Juan Marichal
-- March 9, 2013: Gorman Thomas, Gary Peters, Stan Bahnsen, Wallace Johnson, Rico Petrocelli
• 7-night “Colors of the Caribbean,” calling at St. John’s, Antigua; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Freeport, Bahamas, with 3 days at sea.
-- April 6, 2013: Randy Hundley, Stan Bahnsen, Jack Billingham, Ellis Valentine
For more information about MSC Cruises and its “Baseball Greats” theme cruises, visit MSCCruisesUSA.com.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines


For the first time ever, Cruise Diva will be celebrating Halloween on a cruise ship and, sadly it's not sailing from New Orleans so we can't participate in this event, which sounds like so much fun... tickets are now on sale for Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines! The annual Audubon Zoo Halloween event for children up to age 12 features trick-or-treat houses with candy, a Ghost Train, a haunted house (scary and non-scary), games with prizes and entertainment and even more fun from Carnival Cruise Lines. All games and treats are free with $17 admission (for children and adults), excluding concessions. Tickets are now available at AudubonInstitute.org or at any Audubon attraction ticket window.

Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines will be held on four nights over two weekends including: Friday, Oct 19 and Saturday, Oct 20, Friday, Oct 26 and Saturday, Oct 27 from 5:00-9:00PM each night. To ensure that each little ghost and goblin has the best possible experience, a limited number of tickets will be sold for each evening. Those interested in attending are encouraged to order tickets early for this highly popular, often sold-out annual event.

Welcome Aboard, Carnival Cruise Lines: Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo are proud to welcome Carnival Cruise Lines, a long-standing supporter of New Orleans and the local community, as the presenting sponsor of Boo at the Zoo. New Orleans’ leading cruise line will bring its signature brand of fun for all to the event, with exciting family-friendly activities and entertainment including a jack-o-lantern-filled Fun Ship replica nearly 70 feet long, pumpkin carving creations, children’s decoration stations and tropical-themed treats. Carnival, which offers 4-, 5-, and 7-day voyages year-round from New Orleans, next month will welcome back Carnival Conquest from a two-week dry dock with a host of exciting new dining, bar and entertainment options as part of the company’s Fun Ship 2.0 initiative.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo, two terrific organizations serving the families of New Orleans and the Gulf area,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. “Giving back to our homeport communities is extremely important to us and at this year’s Boo at the Zoo event, we look forward to providing everyone a Halloween-themed taste of the fun and excitement our guests experience aboard a Carnival cruise – all while supporting a great cause.”

Visitors can enjoy many features this year:
-- Carnival Cruise Lines welcome booth offering the first “treats” of the night
-- A spectacular giant Carnival cruise ship Halloween display and light show
-- Perfect a Perfect Pumpkin the Carnival Way decorating stations
-- Three entertainment stages:
- Carnival Cruise Lines performers on the Capital One Stage
- Local favorites Papillion, Johnette Downing and Dennis and Co. in the Toddler Area in Audubon Zoo’s Cool Zoo (Note: no water will be running)
- Star Wars performers return at the Shell Wildlife Theater
-- Zombie-themed Ghost Train Ride
-- Elephant shows until dusk
-- Mascot appearances and activities courtesy of the New Orleans VooDoo Arena Football League team
-- Videogaming Experience by Games2U Nola (October 26 and 27 only)
-- Family photos by Lakeside Camera Photoworks for $6
-- New Orleans Hornets basketball team’s Mathmobile and Bookmobile
-- Haunted Maze returns by a-MAZE-ing
-- Included in admission: Dinosaur Adventure
Event Information at a Glance:
- Ticket prices are $17 per person (adult or child). Handling fees apply.
- Adults must purchase tickets as well as all children over the age of 12 months.
- Children under 12 months of age are admitted free.
- Adult and children tickets are the same price.
- Event is from 5:00-9:00 PM. Ticket holders may enter at any time during event hours.
- A ticket is required for each person to be admitted. Event is held rain or shine.
- Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines is a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo. Should a ticket holder be unable to attend, the purchase should be considered a donation. There will be no refunds nor will tickets be honored at another time.
- No outside food and beverages allowed.
- Please note that the Zoo is not open during Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines.
- A special bag will be distributed to each child upon admission for trick or treating throughout the event, so there’s no need to bring additional bags.
- NOTE: GHOST TRAIN RIDE MAY CLOSE AS EARLY AS 8 PM DEPENDING ON VOLUME OF GUESTS WAITING! Train ride can be scary for children under 8 years of age.
- Tickets will be honored ONLY for the date purchased. Those ticket holders attempting to enter on another night will be not be allowed entry.
Audubon Zoo will close at 3 pm each day to prepare for the evening event. Tickets can be purchased online at AudubonInstitute.org or at any Audubon attraction ticket window. A “print at home” option allows tickets to be e-mailed and printed from any computer. Tickets also can be placed at Will Call. No tickets will be mailed.

About Children’s Hospital: Children’s Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit medical center offering the most advanced pediatric care for children from birth to 21 years. With more than 40 pediatric specialties and nearly 400 physicians, it is the only full-service hospital exclusively for children in Louisiana and the Gulf South. For more information about Children’s Hospital, visit chnola.org.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Friday, September 21, 2012

Silversea Unveils World Cruise 2014 Itineraries

Their next World Cruise won't set sail until January 2013, but Silversea Cruises is already tempting travelers beyond that by taking the wraps off its World Cruise 2014. It will be an incomparable 113-day odyssey from Los Angeles to Barcelona aboard Silver Whisper, January 6 to April 30, 2014. Silversea celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014 and will launch the festivities with this far-reaching and stimulating exploration of the world, which is now available for reservation.

Guests aboard World Cruise 2014 will visit 54 destinations in 29 countries, enjoying 12 overnight stays along the way. Silver Whisper will follow a westward path across the Pacific to call on Polynesia and lands Down Under, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Australia, and New Zealand. From there, the ship will sail up to the remote island of Koror and then head west to spend a month exploring Asian cultures, from China, Japan, and Vietnam to Thailand, Singapore, and India, including three days in Yangon, Myanmar. Silver Whisper will conclude her global tour calling on modern capitals and ancient cities in the Mediterranean.

"We designed the itinerary for next year's World Cruise based on input from our past guests," said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea's president of the Americas. "It's a world voyage crafted for connoisseurs. With several overnight visits and late-night departures, our guests will have plenty of time for in-depth cultural exploration in places that most travelers only dream about."

Since extended visits in port offer travelers the chance to truly immerse themselves in local culture, World Cruise 2014 will not only feature two-night stays in Yangon and Hong Kong, but overnight calls in Sydney, Cairns, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Singapore, Istanbul and Barcelona. Silversea is offering guests the option to extend their World Cruise by adding a pre-cruise Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles (17 days), or extend from Barcelona to Lisbon (7 days) or Southampton (16 days).

Full World Cruise guests will enjoy a variety of special amenities, including a gala Bon Voyage evening at a luxury Beverly Hills hotel, baggage valet service, complimentary Business Class air and transfers (or air credit), a generous onboard spending credit, complimentary laundry service and commemorative gifts.

There will also be exclusive complimentary shoreside events:

--The Rising Dragon: This elegant evening event in Hong Kong will be hosted at the spectacularly situated Four Seasons Hotel, where guests will savor fine cuisine in a richly decorated setting that reflects both traditional and contemporary elements of this vibrant metropolis.
--Sunset Over Angkor Wat: From Bangkok guests will fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to explore the magnificent temple complex at Angkor Wat, enjoying overnight accommodations at a 5-star hotel, and dinner surrounded by colossal statues in the spectacular Bayon Temple.
--Supper in a Sultan's Palace: Highlighting this immersive experience in Istanbul is a panoramic cruise along the Bosphorus, bordering Asia and Europe, followed by an atmospheric dinner in the glorious Ciragan Palace, once home to powerful sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
Plus two complimentary Silversea Experiences will showcase the fascinating cultures of Fanning Island, Kiribati, and Alotau, Papua New Guinea. Guests will also have the chance to meet and mingle with distinguished destination experts, academics, journalists, diplomats and other specialists. Local entertainment, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and regional specialties will provide further immersion in each global destination.

The intimate Silver Whisper is the perfect escort to the far corners of the globe. She can sail along secluded waterways or into small harbors for authentic, life-changing encounters with nature, wildlife and the seldom-seen.

All-Inclusive Silversea distinctions include:

--Intimate, ultra-luxury ship for just 382 guests
--All-suite accommodations, over 80% with verandas
--Butler service for every suite
--Complimentary wines and spirits
--Included onboard gratuities
--Complimentary transportation to town (most ports)
To view the complete itinerary, visit Silversea.com/worldcruise2014.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Carnival Celebrates Grand Opening of Port Canaveral’s New Terminal 6

Carnival Cruise Lines used the grand opening of Port Canaveral’s new Terminal 6 to continue the line’s support of its homeport communities by making a donation of $10,000 to the United Way of Brevard during the festivities. Carnival also provided a 7-day Caribbean cruise for two from Port Canaveral aboard the Carnival Dream to one lucky attendee of the event, which kicked off the United Way of Brevard’s fall campaign.

Carnival’s Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra served as the keynote speaker for the event, which featured a fun Wizard of Oz theme with characters from the legendary film interacting with guests and the new terminal decorated to resemble the fabled Emerald City. Berra’s comments highlighted the outstanding, mutually beneficial relationship between the cruise line and the Canaveral Port Authority that dates back more than 20 years. With three ships based year-round and two additional ships visiting the Space Coast as a port of call, Carnival is Port Canaveral’s number one cruise line, accounting for nearly 800,000 passengers annually.

Image: Carnival Dream Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cruise News: NYC’s Iconic Rockettes Named As Norwegian Breakaway Godmothers

Drum roll...or high kick, please! Norwegian Cruise Line and MSG (Madison Square Garden) Entertainment have announced that the Rockettes, one of New York’s most illustrious entertainment icons, will christen Norwegian Breakaway as the official Godmothers. The christening ceremony will take place in New York City on May 8, 2013 on board Norwegian Breakaway, the largest ship to homeport year-round in New York. The partnership with the Rockettes will include Norwegian Cruise Line as the designated “Official Cruise Line” of the Rockettes and Radio City Music Hall, and as the “Official Partner”of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. As part of their role as Godmothers, two Rockettes will sail aboard the first six sailings of Norwegian Breakaway, beginning May 12, 2013, and the first sailing of each month thereafter, taking part in special events for guests to enjoy.

Norwegian Breakaway is being designed as New York’s ship and we want everyone to know that this is the “must-sail” cruise ship from New York in 2013 and beyond,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “I strongly believe that the Rockettes, one of the most beloved and recognizable New York icons, are the perfect choice to serve as the ship’s Godmothers. The Rockettes not only epitomize New York, they are known as strong role models and talented stars. We couldn’t be more pleased to have these renowned dancers as the Godmothers of New York’s ship, Norwegian Breakaway.”

The larger partnership with Radio City Music Hall, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and the Rockettes will create expansive brand exposure for Norwegian Cruise Line at Radio City Music Hall, including onsite venue presence during the 2012 production of the Christmas Spectacular when there will be something extra for the audience as well. Guests attending this year’s Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall can participate in the “Spectacular Sweeps,” a sweepstakes that can be entered right from their seats with the opportunity to win one of two cruises for a family of four on Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian Cruise Line will have a year-round display in Radio City Music Hall’s Grand Lounge that features an 11-foot replica of Norwegian Breakaway, along with information on the ship’s unique attributes, entertainment, dining, destinations and more.

Onboard Norwegian Breakaway, the Rockettes, with their unparalleled grace, athleticism and precision technique that has made them part of the fabric of New York City for 85 years, will be showcased with a variety of offerings, including a historical retrospective in the ship’s library, exclusive fitness class designed by the Rockettes, featured beverages, and more. On select sailings, guests will have the exclusive opportunity to meet two of the Rockettes. Sailing on the first six cruises from New York, as well as the first sailing of every month, two Rockettes will offer special fitness classes, photo opportunities, meet and greet speaker series, and more.

About The Godmothers
Starting with their inaugural New York City performance in 1927, the Rockettes have wowed audiences for the last 85 years. From appearances on the Tony Awards, Project Runway, Dancing with the Stars and the Super Bowl Halftime Show to Presidential inaugurations, the Rockettes are the epitome of teamwork and the embodiment of the belief that “together we're better.” Each dancer achieved their lifelong dream of becoming a Rockette through hard work, determination, dedication and dreaming big. Known for their rich history, unrivaled talent, strength, dynamism, precision and athleticism, the Rockettes have become one of the nation's most beloved icons. As the stars of the annual Christmas Spectacular production, the Rockettes entertain more than one million people each year and have played to 75 different cities across the country with the national touring production.

About Norwegian Breakaway
The 4,000 passenger Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in her year-round homeport of New York City in early May 2013. The ship will begin weekly summer 7-day cruises to Bermuda on Sunday, May 12, 2013. From Oct 2013 through April 2014, New York’s ship will offer 7-day voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas and Florida, as well as two 12-day sailings to the Southern Caribbean.

To date, Norwegian has revealed the ship’s groundbreaking design, including The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place; a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that will create a whole new complex at sea that enhances guests’ connection with the ocean. Norwegian Breakaway’s entertainment will include three Broadway shows: five-time Tony nominated ROCK OF AGES; the dance sensation BURN THE FLOOR; and CIRQUE DREAMS & DINNER JUNGLE FANTASY. The famed comedy troupe The Second City, Howl at the Moon dueling pianos, and New York’s own Slam Allen will also perform on the vessel. Celebrity Chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will also debut his first restaurant at sea on Norwegian Breakaway: Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian.

The top decks of Norwegian Breakaway will feature the first Aqua Park at sea with five full-size water slides, including twin Free Fall slides, the first ever at sea, and a three-story sports complex that includes the largest ropes course at sea, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall and more.

The ship will also feature a rich mix of stateroom options including The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 Suites at the top of the ship in an exclusive, private key-card enclave and 22 additional Suites located throughout the ship; the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; the re-introduction of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites; along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa.

For more information on the incredible features and accommodations on Norwegian Breakaway, visit Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway micro-site and these links on the Cruise Diva Blog:
· Norwegian Cruise Line Begins “Project Breakaway” Reveal
· Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces “The Haven”
· “The Haven” by Norwegian: Posh Accommodations For Project Breakaway
· Norwegian Breaks Out More Project Breakaway Accommodations
· Innovative Spaces Planned For Norwegian’s Norwegian Breakaway
· Norwegian Breakaway Is Set To Be A Teen-Pleaser
· Dining and Entertainment Options for Norwegian Breakaway
· Norwegian Breakaway’s Hull Artwork Unveiled
Images Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cruise News: Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection Leaves Meyer Werft Shipyard

Celebrity Cruises’ highly-anticipated fifth and final ship in the Solstice Class, Celebrity Reflection, has departed the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, to make its way to the North Sea. The 1,047-foot long, 121-foot wide vessel crossed the Ems River in about 10 hours, an amazing feat, considering the scale of the ship and the geography of the shipyard required the Captain to steer the ship backward, assisted by tugboats fore and aft.

Preparations for the transit, known as “the conveyance,” include removing power lines and railway tracks that normally pass over the river, to allow the ship to pass through. The journey must take place when wind conditions are calm and at high tide to ensure ample depth of water in the river to prevent the possibility of the ship scraping its multi-million-dollar paintwork. As in the past, thousands of spectators lined the river to witness the conveyance. Traveling at less than four miles per hour, Celebrity Reflection joins four award-winning Solstice Class sister ships which have made the same complex journey prior to officially entering service. Re-live a "Conveyance" Journey by setting sail with Cruise Diva on the conveyance of Celebrity Eclipse, the third Solstice-class ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet. Following sea trials and the completion of finishing work while in Emshaven, The Netherlands, Celebrity Reflection will host an invitation-only preview sailing before embarking Oct 12th on her first cruise from Amsterdam.

Celebrity Reflection boasts a number of firsts, including AquaClass Suites, Signature Suites, and the ultra-luxurious Reflection Suite—the first to include a glass shower extending out over the edge of the ship. The ship also will feature designer boutiques, Celebrity’s signature specialty dining venues, a glamorous main dining room, and expanded AquaSpa by Elemis experiences.

After offering vacations from Amsterdam to Belgium and France to Barcelona, ​Celebrity Reflection will cross the Atlantic Ocean to arrive in Miami Dec 1st—when Cruise Diva will be on board for a first-hand report, for an invitation-only promotional sailings—and depart for its inaugural Caribbean sailing Dec 5th. The sleek, new ship will offer guests a series of 7-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries roundtrip from Miami, Florida.

Image Courtesy of Meyer Werft

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Look Below the Decks on Celebrity Cruises

The heartbeat of every cruise ship is the crew that works around the clock to ensure every detail of the experience is executed flawlessly under any conditions, anywhere in the world.

Celebrity Cruises celebrates their hard working crew with a look at how much care they take to make sure your cruise vacation is satisfying.


Video Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Royal Caribbean Alters Mariner of the Seas' Itinerary to Bypass Alexandria, Egypt

Royal Caribbean Statement: Protests in Egypt

Royal Caribbean International is closely monitoring the protests currently taking place in Egypt.

In an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel Mariner of the Seas’ next port call to Egypt. Mariner of the Seas, which departed Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, on Saturday, September 15, will no longer call on Alexandria, Egypt, on Tuesday, September 18. Instead, the ship will now call to Sicily (Messina), Italy, on Sunday, September 16, and Valletta, Malta, on Monday, September 17.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Egypt and will contact guests or their travel agents should we make additional modifications to upcoming itineraries.

"Top Chef: The Cruise" Adds New Chef'testants & Announces First Onboard Activities

Last month, Bravo Media, Celebrity Cruises, Magical Elves and Rose Tours announced the inaugural launch of "Top Chef: The Cruise" aboard the modern Celebrity Constellation. Setting sail from Miami, Florida from April 11-15, 2013, the one-of-a-kind culinary vacation experience invites fans of the Emmy-winning "Top Chef" reality competition series the chance to break bread and rub elbows with the show's judges and chefs.

"Top Chef: The Cruise" is gaining momentum with the addition of four new chef'testants to an already impressive roster of Top Chef Alums. "Top Chef All Stars" winner Richard Blais, "Top Chef Just Desserts" season one winner Yigit Pura, "Top Chef: Texas" winner Paul Qui, and "Fan Favorite" winner Fabio Viviani join hosts Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, along with 11 previously announced Alums, on this culinary journey. For sneak peek of the cruise, here's a video from bravotv.com (sorry about the commercial, but it's brief).


During the voyage, guests will have a chance to participate in interactive events and onboard activities. Guests will have the ultimate "Top Chef" experience with behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, and a chance to experience what it's like to be on the hit competition series by watching and participating in live "Quickfire" challenges. Fans will also have the chance to ask their burning questions to the judges, Masters and chef'testants, who will participate in a Q-ans-A session. Additionally, DJ and Top Chef Master, Hubert Keller will host an evening dance party, and passengers can put their taste buds to the test with an exclusive "Dining in the Dark" experience that will surely enlighten the senses.

Blais, Pura, Qui and Viviani join previously announced hosts, Colicchio and Simmons, and past chef'testants of "Top Chef," "Top Chef Masters" and "Top Chef Just Desserts," Hubert Keller, Tim Love, Jennifer Carroll, Tiffany Derry, Chris Hanmer, Michael Isabella, Spike Mendelsohn, Hosea Rosenberg, Angelo Sosa and Casey Thompson. With the most recent chef additions, fans of the franchise will be treated to the entire cast of Bravo's upcoming docu-series "Life After Top Chef," Blais, Carroll, Mendelsohn and Viviani, premiering October 3 at 10pm ET/PT, who will be onboard the cruise.

The culinary journey aboard the Celebrity Constellation sails roundtrip from Miami, Florida, with stops in Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Staterooms are on sale at topchefthecruise.com. Additional information can also be found at the site.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cunard Line Shares A New World Voyage Video Series Starring Real Passengers

A World Cruise is a journey some of us can only dream of, but Cunard Line is making it possible for us all to “see” the thrill of a World Cruise through the eyes of their frequent World Voyage passengers in a new video series. In the first video below, Michigan residents Richard and Pat Donahey (Belleville), Dr. Martin and Linda Weissman (Birmingham) and Maryland residents Peggy and Pamela Zirkle (Berwyn Heights) share some of their favorite World Voyage experiences and memories.


The guests share how they came to first sail on a Cunard World Voyage, and why they have frequently sailed since then; what they enjoy about life on board; and the many interesting people they’ve met over the years, from globally known personalities such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu to their many friendships that have developed with people from all over the world. One guest speaks enthusiastically about her love for dressing up on formal nights and such events as Cunard’s Black and White Ball, and even gives viewers a peek into her “cruise closet,” replete with gowns reserved only for her Cunard voyages. Now, there’s a woman after my own heart!

The second video (available next month) will highlight these guests’ travel experiences, ranging from exploring India’s Taj Mahal and touring the Egyptian Pyramids, to walking on the Great Wall of China and climbing Australia’s famed Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“For nearly a century, Cunard has served the adventure-seeking traveller with unrivaled access to the world’s most storied regions since the advent of our World Voyage Program in 1922,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “These World Voyage guests provide a glimpse into this legendary experience and explain why Cunard compels so many guests to return to the World Voyage year after year.”

Cunard’s 2014 World Voyage Season will cover more than 116,000 nautical miles across six continents and visits to 85 unique ports of call in 40 countries. The program features three World Voyages ranging from eight to 133 days aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth, with embarkation points in Southampton (England), New York, Fort Lauderdale, and San Francisco.

Video Courtesy of Cunard Line

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crystal Symphony Debuts Living Wall at Sea

Other ships have live plants, flowers, and even real grass lawns, but in an industry first for a luxury line, Crystal Cruises has unveiled a unique self-contained, free-standing living wall aboard Crystal Symphony. Created and crafted by UK-based ANS Group Europe, the designer spent two days installing the living wall on the 922-guest ship as it sailed from Portland to Dover to complete its 11-night "British Isle Brilliance" voyage.

A living wall is a vertical garden that is pre-planted in panels and then attached to the wall or facade of a building. Plants stay intact in their vertical positions because their root structures are anchored in two to four inches of soil kept within the panel. Designed for an al fresco area in Crystal Symphony's Deck 11 Trident Grill, the unique living wall uses a varied and diverse selection of indoor plants to display a world map, as illustrated below. The living wall is 37.7 feet long and 7.9 feet high and will receive regular maintenance by the ship's onboard team of florists.


The installation of the wall on Crystal Symphony is yet another example of Crystal's "Crystal Clean" environmental and educational efforts both onboard and on shore. A living wall acts as a bio filter, enhancing air quality by breaking down harmful airborne contaminants and transforming them into clean oxygen. By absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, it reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Images Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Healthy Cruising: Leave Your Elastic Pants at Home!

Here at the Cruise Diva headquarters we're always watching our weight. In recent years we've watched it go up and down, depending on how many trips we take. At home it isn't so hard, but on a cruise it seems impossible to resist the temptation of delicious food and no prices on the right-hand side of the menu.

Don't despair, help is on the way as Brenda K. Uekert, the author of Healthy Cruising: Leave Your Elastic Pants at Home! shares her insight. Yes, you don’t need to abandon your healthy lifestyle to enjoy a cruise. In fact, she says cruises offer fantastic opportunities that could lead to a healthier fitter you. Her booklet will guide you in making smart food and fitness choices to manage your weight on a cruise. Limit your weight gain, maintain your weight, and even lose weight by following this six-step program. The guide includes a bonus resource with healthy cruising tips for 13 of the most popular cruise lines in the world.

While the booklet is normally $3.99, today and for the next two days, if you have a Kindle it's free! Here are the details:
· Visit this link on the Amazon website: amazon.com.
· Download the guide on your Kindle player for FREE.
· The offer begins today, Sept 13 and expires at midnight on Sat, Sept 15.
· If you find the guide useful, please submit a review on the Amazon website.
About The Author: Brenda K. Uekert has a knack for taking complex subjects and turning them into manageable step-driving processes. She enjoys writing motivational books and guides on a diverse range of subjects, such as international adoption, healthy travel and financial freedom. In her professional career, she addresses justice response to elder issues. Brenda has a PhD in Sociology from Syracuse University and resides in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cruise News: Carnival Dream Dry Dock Adds New Features

Namesake of Carnival Cruise Line’s “Dream Class,” the Carnival Dream began a two-week dry dock last weekend that will add some of the line’s innovative “Fun Ship” 2.0 features being instituted across the fleet. Included during the dry dock will be two new bars—RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar—along with Cherry on Top, a retail outlet specializing in confections, custom apparel, and other merchandise.

RedFrog Rum Bar offers the vibe of the tropics, with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s private label draft brew, ThirstyFrog Red. Just across the deck will be BlueIguana Tequila Bar, providing a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere offering delicious tequila-based frozen drinks and Mexican beers. Cherry on Top celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun-and-fanciful gifts, just-because novelties, colorful custom apparel, and more.

As you can see in the photo here, workers have already begun the process of preparing the Carnival Dream’s Lido Deck for the addition of the two new poolside watering holes which are part of the $500 million enhancement program that was introduced after Carnival Dream’s entered service in 2008. Sadly, it appears that the ship will not get other popular features that subsequent “Dream Class” sister-ships had upon launch, such as the RedFrog Pub (on Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze) and Guy’s Burger Joint (on Carnival Breeze).

These new options complement the wide variety of on-board features already available on Carnival Dream, including an expansive WaterWorks aqua park, an indoor/outdoor café/live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza, and The Lanai, a half-mile wraparound outdoor promenade with whirlpools that extend out over the ship’s sides. Following the dry dock, Carnival Dream is scheduled to resume its year-round 7-day Caribbean schedule from Port Canaveral, FL, Sept 22.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cruise News: Ultra Modern Cruise Facility Planned For Barbados

The Caribbean island Barbados has unveiled plans to construct an ultra-modern cruise facility, in the capital city of Bridgetown. When completed, the Sugar Point Cruise facility will allow the tourism-driven country to welcome some of the largest cruise ships in the world. Another advantage of the facility is that it will in effect separate cruise and cargo activities, thereby addressing complaints about the two competing for limited space within the port.

The development will take place along Trevor's Way and involve reclaiming 15 acres of land from the sea, 100,000 square feet of which will be provided for commercial activity. Dredging is slated to begin in November. Minister of International Business and International Transport George Hutson said the project will be done in two phases, the first of which is estimated to cost 300 million dollars. He said the initial stage will include two cruise piers, arrival and departure facilities, along with parking lots.

The two-year project will be spearheaded by Barbados Port Incorporated in a joint venture with a consortium comprising Barbadian company SMI Infrastructure Solutions Incorporated and Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited, the world's second largest cruise operator.

A minimum of 200 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with 500 more added through related commercial activities. Once completed, the facility is also expected to feature Barbados rum and sugar culture as a major theme throughout. Minister Hutson said the government is banking on the new facility to attract more cruise ships, with a view to increasing the revenue generated from their passengers. He pointed out that for Barbados to effectively compete with new and emerging tourism markets, it must improve the customer experience and satisfaction. It is with that in mind, that the new facility will be constructed in such a manner as to offer the opportunity to experience local music, cuisine and even see local artisans prepare their products for sale.

The facility will bring Bridgetown to cruise passengers, the minister said. He also said that the development would assist Barbados' efforts to become a hub for cruise tourism. Cruise tourism in Barbados has grown from just over 127,000 in 1985 to 726,543 last year. The highest number of cruise passengers 812,863 was recorded in 2004. According to the latest Central Bank of Barbados figures, which are for the first half of this year, the number of cruise passengers rose slightly, by 2.5 percent, although 21 fewer cruise ships visited.

Image Courtesy of Totally Barbados

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Cruise Review: The More, The Merrier At Sea Aboard Disney Fantasy!

When it comes to getting the family together for a reunion, or simply an enjoyable time with one another, a cruise can be the ideal venue for everyone.

As my friend and colleague Georgina Cruz says, "Through the years, we have enjoyed more than a dozen three-generational get-togethers afloat. Why? Because on a cruise ship, no member of the party gets stuck with the cooking, cleaning and other chores for a family gathering or reunion, and, just as important, because on a ship there is something for all ages with plenty of activities and entertainment for the whole family."

Welcome aboard a fun-filled, triple-generation family cruise with Georgina, her husband Humberto, their daughter Veronica, and grandsons Aidan, 11, and Julian, 8 aboard Disney Cruise Line's beautiful new Disney Fantasy. Explore the ship—with its activities, entertainment, and food—as well as the ports of call they enjoyed.

Image Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cruise News: Azamara Club Cruises Plans Fleetwide Renovation

While their ships didn’t set sail under the Azamara flag until 2007, both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest were first launched by Renaissance Cruises during an over-ambitious building boom in 2000. Just five years ago, Azamara Club Cruises spent tens-of-millions refreshing the ships and it showed. My initial impression was that the rejuvenation made them look like they should have when they first sailed. Where they once appeared stuffy, they became welcoming. Forward and high atop the ship, the observation lounges appeared more open and airy; the casino was expanded without diminishing the appeal of the adjacent lounge with its faux fireplace; the addition of Mosaic Café was a natural fit for the upper lobby; and the Sunset Bar aft of the buffet restaurant filled a previously underutilized space with a congenial gathering spot.

That was five years ago and this is now, so Azamara Club Cruises has announced plans for an upcoming extensive renovation of its two European boutique hotel-style ships. Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest are scheduled to enter drydocks in 2012 and 2013, respectively, where each will receive a shipwide facelift and a new profile with a new dark-blue hull. Guests will then enjoy beautifully refreshed ships, along with Azamara’s signature personal service from every staff and crew member, fascinating destinations around the world where larger ships cannot reach, and more late night and overnight stays in port to be immersed in the nightlife of the destinations.

“Azamara Club Cruises is offering up-market travelers more of what they love about our brand,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “Our distinctive destination-immersion proposition and the warm and authentic personal service from every staff and crew member have really resonated with up-market travelers. Guest satisfaction has consistently pushed 100 percent, and we are going to continue to deliver travel in a way that will surmount all guest expectations – on land and on board.”

Shipwide renovations will include new carpets, upholstery, and a new color palette in public spaces reflecting the cruise line’s inviting atmosphere; new mattresses and upgraded veranda furniture for suites and staterooms; and a resurfaced pool, and new sun loungers and pool towels on the outer decks. The Casino Bar also will be expanded and enhanced with new furniture, while the Spa and fitness center will be refreshed with a new steam room, showers, and state-of-the-art Life Fitness cardio equipment. Furthermore, a range of enhancements will be made behind the scenes in the staff and crew area to add to the comfort of the cruise line’s most valuable asset.

On the culinary front, guests onboard will soon enjoy a new caviar and champagne bar within Aqualina, one of the ships’ two specialty dining venues, as well as a new Chef’s Table concept featuring three wine degustation menus—Italian, French, and Californian. At Mosaic Café, the ships’ central gathering spot, guests will be able to purchase a freshly brewed cup of bespoke coffee.

Azamara Quest will spend eight nights in drydock at Navantia Shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, starting Nov 7, 2012. With renovations complete, Azamara Quest will then sail a 13-night Madeira and Canary Islands voyage, beginning Nov 15, followed by a 4-night Spanish and Northern Africa voyage on Nov 28. The ship then departs on Dec 2, to embark on a 16-night, trans-Atlantic voyage to Rio De Janeiro for its South America season.

Following, Azamara Journey will enter Singapore’s Sembawang Shipyard (a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd.) on Jan 6, 2013, for a 7-night renovation drydock. Azamara Journey will then continue its Asia season with a 13-night Indonesia voyage round-trip from Singapore on Jan 13.

For more information, visit AzamaraClubCruises.com.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Barbie Goes Cruising With Royal Caribbbean

Little girls love Barbie. In fact, some of us ladies of a certain age loved her when we were little and we still have our favorite Barbie. The Barbie in this photo is mine and I think she's trying to tell me something...Barbie wants to take a cruise.

Royal Caribbean is making it possible for all fans of the iconic teenage doll to join Barbie at sea with its "Barbie Experience" for girls four to eleven years old (we assume boys won't be interested), featuring Barbie-themed movie nights, story times, and other Barbie-related activities in the children's program.

In addition, girls can sleep in Barbie themed cabins, design Barbie's outfits, have tea together, attend a dance class, and even take part in a fashion show at the end of the cruise. For that full Barbie treatment, Royal Caribbean will offer the "Barbie Premium Experience" at a cost of $349 per child, which also features a cruise ship-themed Barbie doll with outfits, as well as the Barbie-themed blanket, pillowcase, and other Barbie items that decorate their cabins to take home. Since most fangirls already have their own Barbie, we hope the outfits can be purchased separately, but there's no word on that yet.

While the Barbie Experience is tailored for little girls, Royal Caribbean expects some adult fans may wish to participate in the "Barbie Premium Experience" as well, particularly Barbie collectors. There's no Ken in sight, so we still assume little boys probably won't be taking part in the feminine fun.

The new offering will roll out across Royal Caribbean fleetwide between January and March of 2013 and the line will begin accepting bookings in October 2012.

Girls, in case your parents can't quite afford the "Barbie Premium Experience" package, you're still in luck. Royal Caribbean has kicked off the "Win a Barbie Cruise Vacation" sweepstakes. You'll want to read the rules online and have your parents' permission to enter. Sorry, but the sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia ("DC") who are between the ages of 3 and 15 at time of entry.

Bummer. That leaves me and my Barbie out since we're both older than fifteen.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pride of America: Enhancements To Be Proud Of

Pride of America Suite
The largest US-flagged passenger ship to fly Old Glory in over fifty years was launched in 2005 and since then Pride of America’s American officers and crew have proudly been providing guests with cruises through the Hawaiian Islands.

In the seven years since her introduction, tastes and styles have changed and she is ready for an extreme ship make-over. That’s why Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that Pride of America will be the next vessel to undergo the company’s ship revitalization program when she enters dry dock in March 2013 for major enhancements, including the addition of new luxurious suites and studio staterooms.

“As the only large US-flagged cruise ship, Pride of America offers a unique and extraordinary vacation to four of Hawaii’s most popular islands,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “We want to ensure that we are continuing to enhance the guest experience on this one-of-a-kind vessel. Therefore, we are making a major investment—over $30 million—in enhancing this ship with beautiful new suites, studios for solo travelers, new restaurants, and more.”

When Pride of America enters a 14-day dry dock on March 23, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii the 2,124-passenger ship will receive major renovations including the addition of 24 ultra-luxurious suites, four Studio staterooms, and four inside staterooms—that will take the place of underutilized meeting rooms on Deck 13; Moderno Churrascaria, the line’s signature Brazilian-style steakhouse; ship wide wireless internet connectivity; new carpeting throughout; flat screen televisions in all staterooms; updated décor; upgrades to the fitness center; new directional signage; and renovations to the gift shop, photo gallery, and art gallery.

The 24 new suites will be outfitted with premium custom furnishings, fabrics, carpets and ultra-luxurious bathrooms. Two of the 24 suites will be Deluxe Owners Suites. These 566 square foot suites, sleeping up to four guests, will feature a large bedroom, separate living area and a state of the art bathroom featuring custom mosaic tiles. The remaining suites will be Family Suites ranging from 363 to 416 square feet, most sleeping up to six guests. The two Deluxe Owners Suites will have connecting doors to the adjacent Family Suites, sleeping up to 10 guests when combined, the perfect option for families or groups who wish to travel in luxury together. Two of the Family Balcony Suites will be ADA compliant to accommodate guests with disabilities. One of the many highlights of the suites will be their expansive balconies, ranging from 245 square feet for Family Suites to 410 square feet for the Deluxe Owners Suites, giving Pride of America’s suite guests the largest balconies in the fleet, perfect for taking in the jaw-dropping Hawaii scenery.

In addition to all of the incredible features in the suites, guests will enjoy pampering service from dedicated butlers and concierge, plus an array of exclusive amenities such as luxurious Tranquility mattresses from the Bliss Collection by Norwegian, Lavazza Espresso Makers, Elemis bath products, private dining for breakfast and lunch, and more.

Guests wishing to travel solo in Hawaii will be able do so in one of four new Studio staterooms on board Pride of America. Designed and priced for the solo traveler, these staterooms will feature a full-size bed, along with a separate bathroom area. Four new inside staterooms will also be added to the area on Deck 13.

The refurbishments include:
· Upgraded flat screen televisions in all guest and crew staterooms broadcast on a digital signal;
· Wireless internet access throughout the entire ship, including crew areas;
· Replacement of carpet throughout the ship in guest staterooms and public areas;
· Video, sound and light enhancements throughout the ship;
· Upgrades to fitness center equipment;
· Décor updates in the Aloha Cafe, the ship’s buffet restaurant;
· Lazy J’s Steakhouse converted to Norwegian’s signature steakhouse, Cagney’s;
· Updated signage throughout the ship;
· Renovations to Photo and Art Gallery
Pride of America will return to her 7-day Hawaii itinerary departing from Honolulu every Saturday when she returns to service in early April 2013. Ports of call include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; Kona, Hawaii; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kauai; and an afternoon cruise past the breathtaking Nãpali Coast. Since it will take longer than the two-week dry dock to complete the work on them, the new suites and staterooms will go on sale Oct 1, 2012, but won’t be available for occupancy until Sept 7, 2013. For more information, visit NCL.com.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cruise News: Disney Cruise Line’s New 2013 Itineraries From Galveston Offer More Options

Yee haw! Everything is bigger in Texas, so y’all come on down to Galveston next year where Disney Cruise Line will offer a variety of new itineraries departing from the premiere Lone Star State port. With even more cruise options in addition to 6-night Western Caribbean sailings, new choices include 4-night Caribbean getaway cruises and 8-night itineraries that feature the opportunity to visit both Walt Disney World Resort and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

“We are excited to add even more variety to our offering of itineraries from the Port of Galveston,” said Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz. “The addition of shorter getaway cruises and voyages that call on our most popular port of call, Disney’s Castaway Cay, rounds out an impressive array of itinerary options from Galveston.”

Highlights of the 2013 Galveston itineraries include…
• In the early part of 2013, the Disney Magic will sail from the Port of Galveston to the Western Caribbean and Bahamas with 4-, 6-, and 8-night itineraries.
• NEW: Four-night Caribbean sailings are perfect for a quick getaway and include two days at sea to sample the one-of-a-kind Disney Cruise Line shipboard experience. Ports: Galveston, Cozumel; Departure dates: Feb. 1, 5, March 15, 19, April 12, 16
• Six-night Western Caribbean cruises offer a tropical vacation with world-class entertainment and impeccable guest service found on Disney Cruise Line. Ports: Galveston, Grand Cayman, Cozumel; Departure dates: Jan. 12, 26, Feb. 9, 23, March 9, 23, April 6, 20. May 4
• NEW: Eight-night Bahamas sailings include a day at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay; and a stop at Port Canaveral, Florida, giving guests an opportunity to visit the nearby Walt Disney World Resort. As part of this itinerary, each guest will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and roundtrip transportation between their Disney ship and the resort. Ports: Galveston, Castaway Cay, Port Canaveral, Key West, Florida; Departure dates: Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 1, 29, April 26, May 10
• Eight-night Western Caribbean cruises include stops in Mexico and Key West Florida. Ports: Galveston, Key West, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel; Departure dates: Jan. 4
• Later in 2013, the Disney Wonder is scheduled to sail 7-night cruises from Galveston to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel.
Image Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cruise News: Norwegian Breakaway’s Hull Artwork by Artist Peter Max Unveiled

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed Norwegian Breakaway’s signature hull artwork designed by pop icon and America’s most popular living artist, Peter Max.

This is the first time Norwegian has commissioned a well-known artist to paint the hull artwork on one of its ships. Launching in April 2013, Norwegian Breakaway will be the largest ship to homeport in New York City year-round. Max’s signature artwork will cover approximately 40,000 square feet of Norwegian Breakaway’s hull.

“While it has been an honor to have my art exhibited in museums and galleries, I have also enjoyed creating giant ‘canvases’ for public view, including my 600 ft. Woodstock stage, a giant World’s Fair mural, the body of a Continental 777 super jet, and now, the hull of Norwegian Breakaway,” said Peter Max from his New York studio. “The artwork is a composite of New York City and cosmic imagery—the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, a giant sunburst, planets, stars, and musical notes. That’s my New York! And now Norwegian Breakaway is my New York cruise ship ‘canvas.’”

Norwegian Breakaway is New York’s ship and this colorful artwork by Peter Max will make the ship an instant icon,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “The Big Apple is known for its love of art and its many galleries—and now, Norwegian Breakaway becomes a floating piece of art that will cruise in and dock every Saturday on New York’s West Side. With this distinctive design, unlike anything else on the water, the ship will be recognizable to the millions of New Yorkers who will see her as she journeys up and down the Hudson River each week.”

Peter Max
With paintings on exhibition in hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, Max and his vibrant colors have become part of the fabric of contemporary culture. Max has been successively called a Pop Icon, Neo Fauvist, Abstract Expressionist and the United States’ "Painter Laureate." Max has achieved his place in history having painted for various Heads of State, including six U.S. Presidents. From art that appeared on the first U.S. 10-cent stamp bearing the title “Preserve the Environment,” to 235 U.S. Border murals greeting millions of people entering America each year, Peter Max seeks to capture themes of America at its finest in his art.

He has a long-standing career as the preeminent Pop artist in America. His art has appeared on a Continental Boeing 777 jumbo jet; a 600-foot stage for the Woodstock Music Festival; the covers of Verizon's New York City yellow and white pages; and a giant mural unveiled at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Max has also been designated Official Artist of five Super Bowls, six Grammy Awards, World Cup USA, The World Series, the United Nations Earth Summit, and numerous other events. Max was honored at the Jefferson Awards with an award for his lifetime dedication to America, and its charitable causes.

Norwegian Breakaway
The 4,000 passenger Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in her year-round homeport of New York City in early May 2013. The ship will begin weekly summer 7-day cruises to Bermuda on Sunday, May 12, 2013. From October 2013 through April 2014, New York’s ship will offer voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas and Florida and the Southern Caribbean.

To date, the company has revealed the ship’s groundbreaking design, including The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place; a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that will create a whole new complex at sea that enhances guests’ connection with the ocean. Norwegian Breakaway’s entertainment will include three Broadway shows: five-time Tony nominated ROCK OF AGES; the dance sensation BURN THE FLOOR; and CIRQUE DREAMS and DINNER JUNGLE FANTASY. The famed comedy troupe The Second City, Howl at the Moon dueling pianos, and New York’s own Slam Allen will also perform on the vessel. Celebrity Chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will also debut his first restaurant at sea on Norwegian Breakaway: Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian.

The top decks of Norwegian Breakaway will feature the first Aqua Park at sea with five full-size water slides, including twin Free Fall slides, the first ever at sea, and a three-story sports complex that includes the largest ropes course at sea, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall and more.

The ship will also feature a rich mix of stateroom options including The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 Suites at the top of the ship and 18 additional Suites located throughout the ship; the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; the re-introduction of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites; along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa.

For more information on the incredible features and accommodations on Norwegian Breakaway, visit Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway micro-site and these links on the Cruise Diva Blog:
· Norwegian Cruise Line Begins “Project Breakaway” Reveal
· Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces “The Haven”
· “The Haven” by Norwegian: Posh Accommodations For Project Breakaway
· Norwegian Breaks Out More Project Breakaway Accommodations
· Innovative Spaces Planned For Norwegian’s Norwegian Breakaway
· Norwegian Breakaway Is Set To Be A Teen-Pleaser
· Dining and Entertainment Options for Norwegian Breakaway
Images Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line