Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Philanthropist Lin Arison To Serve As Godmother Of Carnival Sunshine

Lin Arison, wife of the late Ted Arison, founder of Carnival Cruise Lines, will serve as godmother of Carnival Sunshine, the former Carnival Destiny, which was renamed following a massive $155 million makeover earlier this year. Arison will officially name Carnival Sunshine during an invitation-only ceremony held on board the completely transformed 102,853-ton ship at its new U.S. homeport of New Orleans, Nov. 17. During the event, Carnival will donate $25,000 each to the Miami-based National YoungArts Foundation and New World Symphony.

Carnival Sunshine’s transformation was nothing short of spectacular and we wanted someone as special as Lin, who has a deep connection with Carnival Cruise Lines, to serve as godmother,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. “Providing families with a memorable vacation experience is at the heart of our success and Lin’s passion for fostering the artistic development of youth through her charitable endeavors made her the perfect choice.”

Carnival Sunshine holds a special place in my heart, and I am honored to serve as godmother,” said Arison. Lin’s association with Carnival Cruise Lines dates back to the company’s inception in 1972 when she named Mardi Gras, the line’s first ship. She also served as godmother to Carnival Destiny—at that time the world’s largest cruise ship—when it entered service in 1996. She is the only person to be godmother to three Carnival ships, having also named the Holiday in 1985.

Arison has dedicated her life to the advancement of the arts and the support of young and developing artists in Miami and around the world. Recently, she was awarded the 2012 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama for her contributions as a philanthropist and arts education advocate. She is responsible for many of the major initiatives that sparked Miami’s cultural renaissance and, along with her late husband, founded the National YoungArts Foundation and its core program, YoungArts, as well as the New World Symphony (NWS) in Miami Beach. YoungArts is an arts scholarship program that identifies emerging artists and assists them in their educational and professional development.

Carnival Sunshine debuted in Europe in May 2013 following an unprecedented transformation that introduced a host of on-board innovations, including a variety of dining, bar and entertainment options that are part of the Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program. Carnival Sunshine’s innovations include top-deck attractions such as the SportSquare recreation area, a spectacular three-level Serenity adults-only retreat, and the WaterWorks water park featuring the longest slide in the “Fun Ship” fleet, as well as a wide range of engaging bars, including the RedFrog Pub, Havana Bar, EA Sports Bar, and the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. Among the ship’s many dining options are Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, the line’s first full-service Asian restaurant, as well as the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, BlueIguana Cantina, and Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

The ship will make its North American debut with a series of 7-day Caribbean cruises from New Orleans November 2013 through March 2014. Carnival Sunshine will sail a special 11-day cruise departing April 6, 2014, from New Orleans to Port Canaveral, visiting Montego Bay, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Thomas. Following a one-time two-day Bahamas cruise departing April 17, the ship will launch year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral April 19. Carnival Sunshine’s year-round schedule from Port Canaveral includes port-intensive 7-day cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean, along with a number of 8-day Caribbean cruises and 5-day departures featuring Florida, Caribbean, and Bahamian ports.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gearing Up For Seabourn's Ultimate Antarctica

Even before you begin packing for a trip that includes 'extreme' climate changes you will surely check your wardrobe to determine what you have and what you need. Seabourn recognizes that such a trip isn't always easy to plan for—especially if what you need is out of season—and has launched "Seabourn's Adventure Outfitter," a convenient online site providing suggested lists of equipment and clothing, for guests preparing to join the company's "Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia" voyages later this year aboard Seabourn Quest.

The cruise line has teamed up with an experienced polar outfitter to create a site for guests who wish to purchase expedition wear or to make arrangements to have the specialized insulated boots suggested for Antarctica available to them directly on the ship. This eliminates the need for guests to pack and carry these somewhat heavy and bulky boots which are only needed during the time in Antarctica. The outfitting site offers a full range of expedition gear with convenient direct to ship delivery and can be reached from A selection of suggested books, field guides and maps is also available from the site for guests who wish to prepare in advance for the adventure.

"All guests on these cruises will be provided a beautiful complimentary Seabourn expedition parka and a handy daypack for secure, hands-free carrying of cameras and other items during the beach landings," noted John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president of marketing and sales. "Guests seeking other cold-weather pieces may also purchase additional clothing either as a package or by the piece on the website. All of the items available for sale have already been tested and are suitable for excursions ashore in the chilly Antarctic climate."

Temperatures will vary between Austral summer conditions in South America to chillier winter conditions during the five days in Antarctica where temperatures are expected to average in the mid-thirties Fahrenheit. Wind and precipitation can affect comfort, as well. Guests will also want to be on deck during cruising in the Chilean fjords, around glaciers and at other times, so suitable clothing will help them make the most of the entire cruise.

Beginning Nov. 20, 2013, Seabourn Quest will sail on a series of four 21- to 24-day voyages between Valparaíso, (Santiago) Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. They include days exploring the Chilean coast and fjords, Beagle Channel, Glacier Alley, the breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park, Cape Horn, the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, Montevideo and five days of cruising and landings on the Antarctic Continent in uncompromised Seabourn luxury. A 24-day Holiday version, departing Dec. 11, 2013, will include a rare visit to the sub-Antarctic wildlife Eden of South Georgia Island, renowned for its beauty and its vast, teeming rookeries of king penguins and other seabirds, as well as breeding elephant and fur seals.

Seabourn Quest Image Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

Monday, July 29, 2013

Queen Mary 2 Makes a Milestone 200th Transatlantic Crossing

Queen Mary 2 has completed her 200th Transatlantic Crossing, which departed New York for Southampton, England, on July 6, 2013 and to share this historic event with those of us who couldn't be on board, Cunard has released highlights from the flagship’s milestone Atlantic voyage in the video below.

With footage of the ship’s special sail-by of the iconic Statue of Liberty and the always anticipated sailing under the Verrazano Bridge, the video gives a sense of the majesty associated with such a voyage. In addition, Commodore Christopher Rynd makes an appearance to speak about this significant Crossing, which included lectures by Queen Mary 2’s Chief Naval Architect, Stephen Payne; and famed BBC broadcaster, Nick Owens; entertaining performances by Juilliard Jazz School musicians; and a grand, celebratory dinner.

Join Cruise Diva for an inside look at Crossing the Atlantic in Royal Style.

Image & Video Courtesy of Cunard Line

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tropical Storm Dorian Alters Carnival Freedom Itinerary

Carnival Cruise Lines Statement:

We continue to closely monitor the track of Tropical Storm Dorian in the Atlantic. As always, the safety of our guests and crew is our number one concern and our ships will always maintain a safe distance from the storm.

In an abundance of caution and in order to provide a better guest experience, we have modified the itinerary for the Carnival Freedom sailing 7/27/13. The revised itinerary is listed below:
Sat Fort Lauderdale, FL, depart 4:00pm
Sun Fun Day at Sea
Mon Fun Day at Sea
Tue Aruba, arrive 9:00am, remain overnight
Wed Aruba, depart 1:00pm
Thu La Romana, arrive 9:00am, depart 5:00pm
Fri Grand Turk, arrive Noon, depart 7:00pm
Sat Fun Day at Sea
Sun Fort Lauderdale, FL, arrive 8:00am
All sailings departing on or after Saturday, July 27, 2013 continue to operate as scheduled. In the event we need to make a deviation to the itinerary, we will update our guests.

UPDATE: 7:00pm

Tropical Storm Dorian has now dissipated into a tropical wave. Therefore, all sailings departing on or after Sunday, July 28, 2013 will continue to operate as scheduled. In the event we need to make any modifications to any itineraries, we will update our guests.

Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian to Host Dining Experiences at Sea Aboard Norwegian Breakaway

From the moment that celebrity chefs began lending their names, expertise, and menus to cruise ship restaurants, we wondered if, and when, they would actually show up in the galley. Some sail often, while others not so much.

Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is living up to his reputation as a hands-on kind of guy in terms of the restaurant at sea named for him and will host a number of special activities on board Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Breakaway during two of the ship’s upcoming sailings: Nov 3 and Dec 1, 2013. These sailings will feature an exclusive opportunity to meet and interact with the Iron Chef in his on-board restaurant, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian.

While sailing on board Norwegian Breakaway from Nov through 10 and Dec 5 through Dec 8, Zakarian will offer Norwegian guests a variety of unique and interactive opportunities. He will host a meet and greet session, giving guests the chance to take a photo with their favorite Iron Chef, and a dynamic cooking demonstration, followed by a personalized book signing of his latest cookbook. The special event of each cruise will be the opportunity to attend an intimate dining experience (a cover charge applies) where a limited number of guests will enjoy a specially-curated Ocean Blue tasting menu served by the Iron Chef himself.

Geoffrey Zakarian recently launched three brand new seafood-centric restaurants on Norwegian’s New York City-inspired ship, Norwegian Breakaway: Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, an elegant seafood dining experience that focuses on premium ingredients and expert culinary techniques; The Raw Bar, an adjacent bar that highlights crustaceans, crudos, cocktails, and wines by the glass; and Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, a more casual dining option that serves fun and easy fare. All three of these unique venues utilize the freshest ingredients and finest techniques that Zakarian employs in his land-based restaurants, truly bringing the best of New York City dining experiences to sea on board Norwegian Breakaway. Showcasing his eye for details, Zakarian also orchestrated every element of the restaurant from menus, to uniforms, to glassware and utensils.

Zakarian's taste, style and passion for fine cuisine have defined his career, which has spanned more than 25 years. An accomplished chef who has presided over some of the country's top kitchens, he currently has two popular restaurants in New York City, one in Atlantic City, and a highly acclaimed cookbook “Geoffrey Zakarian’s Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table.” Zakarian emerged victorious in the recent fourth season of Food Network's The Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs and appears regularly on Iron Chef America. When he's not battling in kitchen stadiums, Zakarian stays busy filming CHOPPED, where he is featured as a recurring judge, and highlights his favorite dishes on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

For more information on the 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
· Norwegian Breakaway to Feature Cutting-Edge Spa & Fitness Experiences
· Norwegian Breakaway to Put NYC on Ice
· Norwegian Breakaway will Light Up the Night with Fireworks Shows
· Norwegian Breakaway Gets A New “Boss”
Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Friday, July 26, 2013

Silversea responds to Sanitation Score Failure

As you may know, cruise ships that sail under the Centers for Disease Control Vessel Sanitation Program’s jurisdiction are subject to two unannounced inspections each year. Under the VSP guidelines, ships are scored on a 100-point scale and must achieve a score of 86 to pass. Most ships pass their inspections with fairly high scores in the 90s and some even reach a perfect 100 score.

With that in mind, it was a surprise when Silversea Cruises’Silver Shadow failed its inspection last month with a dismal 82. Many of the violations reported on the CDC website were minor, but this one has caught the attention of the public and media:
“An organized effort was made to physically remove over 15 full trolleys of dry foods, spices, canned foods, cooked foods, milk, raw meats, pasteurized eggs, cheeses of all types, baking goods, raw fruits, raw vegetables, and a variety of both hand held and counter model food equipment, pans, dishware and utensils to over 10 individual cabins shared by two or three galley crew members in order to avoid inspection by VSP staff. All the out of temperature potentially hazardous foods were discarded along with most other foods that were not canned or in original containers. The lead VSP inspector poured concentrated chlorine liquid over all the discarded foods as they were dumped into garbage bags to ensure they would not be used again.”
That revelation alone is enough to raise a yuck factor in most of us, but Silversea assured us that the line has taken appropriate action by responding to some specific concerns that are addressed below:

Q. What is Silversea going to do to ensure standards are regularly met and that this practice is not used on ships within the fleet?

A. Silversea Cruises has fully investigated this matter and the accusations of a previous crew member. We take this infraction extremely seriously and wish to reassure all guests on our cruises that from all our investigations we believe this to be an extremely uncommon occurrence on Silversea vessels. Our record of inspections with the VSP shows that we maintain extremely high standards of hygiene on our vessels. As a result of this inspection, we have taken this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the highest possible standards of food hygiene and focused all our attentions on actions to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again.

Q. What specific actions have you taken?

A. We have assigned an external sanitation specialist consultant to travel on-board Silver Shadow. Together with our own managers, the consultant has worked through every aspect of the USPHS inspection report to ensure full compliance.
-Our Fleet Executive Chef spent one month on-board the Silver Shadow retraining the Galley management Team through policies and procedures.
-Additional training was provided for all food handlers and supervisors, butlers, cooks, waiters and bar staff to reinforce company procedures, with particular emphasis on food sanitation.
-All equipment that does not meet the requirements of the CDC inspection has been discarded and replaced.
-CCTV is being placed in appropriate corridors at the next dry-docking to ensure no foodstuffs or other equipment is brought into crew accommodation areas.
-A procedure in which any member of staff can inform management, anonymously, of any failures to follow procedures involving food handling and preparation is being introduced immediately.
-Finally, a zero tolerance policy has been instituted in relation to improper food handling at all times, including USPHS inspections.
Q. Have people been held accountable for these actions?

A. Yes, the individuals responsible for this situation are no longer with Silversea. We will not identify the crew members’ names or positions. In addition, we realize that Silversea management has to take its share of a responsibility and ensure that this does not happen again.

Q. Has Silversea management ever pressured crew to hide violations from health authorities?

A. Silversea Cruises management directs staff to be transparent with USPHS/CDC inspectors. Our investigation indicates that, in the Silver Shadow situation, some of our staff made an impulsive decision, and we need to look at what happened, who found it necessary to authorise such activity and how we can avoid having this situation happen again. Our Executive Chef, external sanitation expert and other managers have spent much time on-board since the inspection re training and briefing teams on what is expected of them in the full understanding that the chefs and their staffs have to provide some of the finest food available anywhere in the world to our guests in the safest manner possible.

In an added statement by Silversea, the line says “there will be a further inspection by the United States Public Health Service before the Silver Shadow leaves Alaskan waters at the end of August, which we welcome as we believe and trust the results of any follow-up inspection will demonstrate Silversea’s commitment to maintain the best standards in sanitation and hygiene on board its fleet.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Princess Commits to Houston Homeport for Two More Years

Texas cruisers, in addition to officials in charge of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal, have a lot to Yee Haw about.

Princess cruises will be sailing from the Port of Houston for an additional two seasons beyond what was previously announced in an earlier agreement with the Port Authority. Extending their presence in the Houston area, Princess Cruises has committed to sailing from the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena, Texas during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 cruise seasons. Also included in the agreement are two one-year options, which could mean Princess will homeport there into 2018.

Caribbean Princess kicks off the inaugural season with a Nov. 5, 2013 cruise to support US veterans, which is expected to raise up to $1m for two veterans organizations. Caribbean Princess will continue to sail from Bayport for the rest of the 2013-14 season. In late-2014 Emerald Princess will take over and make Houston its homeport for Western Caribbean sailings.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Say “I Do” At Sea With Norwegian Cruise Line

Vegas used to be the wedding location of choice for brides-to-be who wanted their big day to be as free of hassle as possible... just show up at the chapel in your dress and say “I Do”—voila! From bride to wife with no running around meeting with florists, musicians, and caterers.

Even simpler, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the introduction of three new, customizable destination wedding experiences for couples wishing to celebrate their nuptials on one of Norwegian’s ships or in one of the line’s spectacular destinations. In partnership with Vancouver-based Royal Ocean Events, Norwegian offers couples the opportunity to have the wedding of a lifetime during their cruise, whether they choose to tie the knot overlooking the sparkling ocean, atop a majestic glacier in Alaska, or under a canopy of palm trees on an exotic Caribbean beach.

Couples planning their dream destination wedding with Norwegian can choose from three wedding ceremony options: “Symbolic,” performed on board while at sea; “Harborside,” performed on board while the ship is docked in select ports of call; or “Destination,” performed on shore in select ports of call.

Ceremonies are available in a wide range of ports, including Norwegian’s domestic embarkation ports, as well as beautiful destinations in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. From a romantic, intimate ceremony in Santorini, Greece to an elaborate portside affair with hundreds of guests, brides and grooms sailing with Norwegian can commemorate the most important day of their life as they’ve always imagined it.

Packages by Royal Ocean Events offer everything that couples need for their perfect celebration, starting at $1600—a steal in today’s wedding market. The happy couple can relax, as an experienced wedding coordinator will assist them every step of the way during the planning process and, once on board, they will enjoy their big day stress free, as Norwegian’s on-site wedding coordinators handle all of the day’s details. All packages include an officiant or ship officer to perform the ceremony, on-site wedding coordinator, private ceremony location, ceremony vows, bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, prerecorded ceremony music, a bottle of sparkling wine, keepsake wedding certificate and wedding cake.

Norwegian also offers a wide selection of enhancements that couples can choose from to further personalize their celebration, including spa and beauty treatments, flowers (including custom orders), décor and ceremony enhancements, live music, photography and videography, transportation to and from the ship or wedding location, priority check-in, and a variety of wedding reception options, ranging from an elegant cocktail reception with gourmet selections and open bar to a four-course sit-down luncheon with wine service.

For married couples who wish to re-confirm their love while at sea, Norwegian’s “Vow Renewal” package offers a group vow renewal ceremony performed by a crew member starting at $299. Also included are bottle of sparkling wine, a celebration cake for two, a commemorative certificate, dinner for two in the line’s romantic Le Bistro French Restaurant, an 8x10 professional portrait, sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to their stateroom, and a bouquet of flowers or $50 on board credit to use towards photo prints. Couples who want a more personal experience can select the “Deluxe Vow Renewal,” offering a private ceremony by the ship’s Captain, an invitation from the Captain to tour the bridge while the ship is in port, plus all of the amenities included in the Vow Renewal package.

For grooms-to-be who want to “pop the question” while at sea, Norwegian and Royal Ocean Weddings can arrange the ultimate proposal. The “Engagement” package includes an ideal proposal setting onboard, a bouquet of classic red roses, sparkling wine and strawberries waiting for the couple in their stateroom, two 25-minute half-body Swedish massages, in-room tea service, breakfast-in-bed for two, and dinner for two in Le Bistro, with pricing starting at $399.

For additional information, availability, and package pricing for weddings contact Royal Ocean Events at 1-888-475-5511 (Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm PST) or email For any questions regarding Vow Renewal and Engagement Packages, contact Norwegian’s Group Events Department at More details on weddings with Norwegian can be found at

Best of all? With a wedding at sea the honeymoon is “included.”

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Celebrity Cruises Debuts a Shipbuilding Documentary

If you ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look into the building of a cruise ship, for a price now you can.

Celebrity Cruises has announced the debut of a new documentary, “The Making of Celebrity Reflection—The Fifth in Class.” It's an insider's journey from the laying of the keel to installing the azipods, from the first float-out to the celebratory naming ceremony. The 70-minute documentary is an entertaining view of cruise ship building hosted by longtime Cruise Director Nick Weir and captured over the course of 18 months, as the fifth in the Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Reflection, was constructed at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

That video is a trailer for the “The Making of Celebrity Reflection” and you can purchase the entire documentary online at the retail price of $16.95 at, or across the fleet at the Guest Relations Desk.

Video Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Monday, July 22, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines Will Launch Carnival Vista in 2016

Carnival Vista is the name selected by Carnival Cruise Lines for its new 135,000-ton ‘Fun Ship’ scheduled to enter service in 2016. To be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, the 4,000-passenger Carnival Vista will be the 25th vessel in the line’s fleet.

Carnival Vista will offer a wide variety of dining, bar and entertainment options that are part of the line’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative, along with a number of innovations unique to the vessel. Additional design details regarding Carnival Vista, as well as homeport deployment and itinerary information, will be announced at a later date.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hit the Beach with a Shark Pack

Mako $24.95
What’s a day at the beach without water? Or sand? You’d probably call the lack of those elements “a day at work,” but you’re on a cruise so there will be opportunities to live the beach lifestyle.

Before heading off your cruise ship for a fun day of frolicking on a Caribbean beach, you have a few things to think about. No doubt you’ll want to enjoy the water—possibly snorkeling, kayaking, or riding a jet ski. You want to share the enjoyment as a family, in a group, or with your significant other.

But you have belongings to worry about if you all hop into the surf together. Unless someone stays behind to keep an eye on everything, your valuables are a tempting target for thievery. And no one wants to be left behind while everyone else is having fun.

Some beaches have facilities with lockers to rent for the day, but most don’t so you’ll want to keep those necessities you brought along safe—your wallet, cash, credit cards, ship keycard, and small camera or cell phone.

Great White $19.99
You can hit the beach and enjoy the water without a concern by stowing those things in a Shark Pack. These ingenious waterproof and sand proof packs allow you to safely keep your belongings with you, even while in the water. Each of the packs shown here can be attached to an included lanyard for hands-free convenience. The Great White cell phone wallet can be inflated to provide flotation in the water and the Mako wallet floats and can also be used with an arm wrap to keep it out of the way and securely attached to your upper arm.

While I haven’t used these at the beach yet, I did submerse them in the bathtub and both performed as described. The seal bar at the top is engaged with two wheels that turn to open and close. I found them stiff and somewhat difficult to operate upon my first attempt, but got used to them quickly. That’s what keeps out the water and sand, though, and they are designed that way.

My son, who is into kayaking, is looking forward to borrowing the Mako wallet for his next excursion and I feel confident that it will serve him well.

Images (c)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Silver Spirit Visits Legendary Cities on a Memorable Voyage

Join cruise travel journalist Georgina Cruz on a Voyage to Legendary Cities aboard Silversea Cruises' luxurious Silver Spirit.

As Georgina begins, “The glories of two legendary cities, Athens and Venice, were like elegant “bookends” to a luxury cruise aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit. And the voyage, on the Ionian, Aegean, Adriatic, and Mediterranean Seas, those cradles of major civilizations, also opened pages to other great, iconic sites along the way.”

Follow the link above to experience those other legendary sites as well as an unforgettable evening classical music concert by a local sextet that took place in front of the Library of Celsus at Ephesus.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sail On A Magical Winter Holiday With Disney Cruise Line

It isn’t too early to be thinking about your holiday plans and gift-giving. This season, surprise your family with a present that’s both nautical and nice: a cruise on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, or Disney Fantasy, all decked to the “raft-ers” with holiday cheer.

Starting in early-November, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship, with traditional “turkey day” fanfare, Christmas feasts, “snow flurries” and New Year’s Eve galas. But the best part might just be relaxing on deck instead of shoveling snow.

To kick off the holiday cheer, special Very Merrytime Cruises begin Nov. 9 with a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy and a 7-night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Wonder, followed by a 5-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic, and a 4-night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream departing Nov. 10.

During these voyages through the new year, special stem-to-stern holiday events include:
• “King Triton’s Tree Lighting Ceremony” in the atrium lobby on the first night of the cruise, where a young guest helps Disney characters light the glittering, three-deck-tall tree.
• Family holiday activities including building gingerbread houses and meeting Santa Claus and his elves.
• Youth holiday crafts such as decorating stockings and gingerbread men cookies, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cells.
• Holiday storytellers sharing tales of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Plus, a story just for Disney Cruise Line guests about the magical feeling of the holidays on a ship.
• “Deck the Deck Holiday Party” (Disney Fantasy/Disney Magic/Disney Wonder), a tropical celebration with Disney friends leading games such as hula hooping and limbo under oversized candy canes, along with dances for the whole family like the “Yuletide Slide” and a conga line around the pool.
• “Til We Meet Again” features a special holiday edition of Disney Cruise Line’s cheerful farewell on the final night of each cruise with beloved Disney characters and the ship’s crew in an engaging musical finale led by Mickey Mouse.
On Thanksgiving Day, guests will enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving Day feast, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and friends dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire and a special turkey towel animal in their stateroom upon turndown. Also during the special Thanksgiving voyages, big NFL football games will be broadcast live on the ships’ outdoor, jumbo LED screen–Funnel Vision–located near the family pool.

Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah services will be held each day, Nov. 28-Dec. 5. Christmas morning at the atrium lobby tree Santa Claus and his elves will have surprises for all the kids. Later in the day, guests will enjoy caroling from the crew choir plus a special musical performance from the children. A traditional Christmas Dinner will be served that night in the dining rooms.

When the ships stop at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, during the holidays, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday island music.

For an extra sprinkle of holiday joy, mini Christmas trees decorated with ornaments, red berries, mini carnations and a bow topper, in addition to special holiday-themed gift packages and treat baskets, are available for purchase prior to the voyages for stateroom delivery. Plus, during the holiday cruises, Disney Cruise Line’s holiday merchandise collection, along with the popular Disney Cruise Line ornaments, will be available onboard in the gift shops.

To celebrate the new year, voyages include a special New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2014, complete with music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes and a midnight countdown with balloon drops.

Image Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line Confirms Their Order For A Second “Breakaway Plus” Cruise Ship

It’s official. Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed its order for a second “Breakaway Plus” vessel to be constructed by Meyer Werft of Papenburg, Germany for delivery in spring 2017. Along with the first Breakaway Plus ship, which is scheduled for delivery in October 2015, the two newest shops will be the largest in Norwegian’s fleet at approximately 163,000 gross tons and 4,200 passenger berths each and will be similar in design to the line’s current Breakaway class, the first of which, Norwegian Breakaway, launched in New York in early May.

“The incredible response we’ve received from guests, travel agents and media regarding Norwegian Breakaway only reinforced our decision to add a second Breakaway Plus vessel to our fleet,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “With groundbreaking elements, yet to be announced, and an additional deck to incorporate further innovations, our two Breakaway Plus ships will provide guests even more ways to experience all that the new Norwegian has to offer.”

Meyer Werft delivered Norwegian Breakaway, the first of Norwegian’s two new 146,600 gross ton, 4,000-passenger Breakaway class vessels on April 25, 2013; and will deliver Norwegian Getaway, in mid-January 2014. Prior to the Breakaway class ships, Meyer Werft built Norwegian’s four Jewel-class ships—Norwegian Gem delivered in 2007, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jade delivered in 2006, and Norwegian Jewel delivered in 2005. These two new Breakaway Plus vessels on order will be the tenth and eleventh that the Company will build with Meyer Werft.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines Statement Regarding U.S. Coast Guard Final Report On Investigation Into Carnival Splendor Fire

Carnival Splendor
“The U.S. Coast Guard released a report detailing the findings of its investigation into the fire that took place on Carnival Splendor more than two and a half years ago in November 2010. We appreciate the work of the U.S. Coast Guard in its investigation and provided our full cooperation and support during that process. As a result of Carnival’s own investigation and our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in all aspects of our operations, we have already implemented numerous actions throughout our fleet. We look forward to reviewing today’s published report in greater detail.

In late 2010, Carnival Cruise Lines launched its own comprehensive investigation with the involvement of multiple third-party experts. We agree with the U.S. Coast Guard’s conclusions surrounding fire detection and firefighting processes and took numerous actions throughout our fleet as a result, including the creation of a Fire Safety Task Force. Those efforts resulted in the implementation and enhancements of a number of processes, training and equipment, as well as the formation of a new Marine Safety department. These actions directly contributed to the rapid detection and suppression of the fire on Carnival Triumph in February of 2013. Additionally, on April 17 of this year, the company announced a $300 million fleet-wide enhancement program that is currently underway to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, further strengthen existing fire safety systems by installing the most advanced technology available, and improve the level of operating redundancies across our entire 24-ship fleet.

Carnival Cruise Lines has maintained an excellent safety record throughout our 41-year history. All of Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships operate safely and meet or exceed all regulatory requirements. There were no injuries as a direct result of the Carnival Splendor or Triumph incidents and, at Carnival, the safety and comfort of our guests is our paramount focus.

We look forward to the opportunity to review the U.S. Coast Guard report in detail to fully examine the findings and recommendations.”

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunscreen, Sandals… Health Insurance Card?

One national travel survey predicts that millions of Americans are vacation bound this summer, with nearly 9 out of 10 planning a trip. One of the last things vacationers want to think about is a medical emergency or illness while away from home. It stands to reason that with so many people traveling away from home, some are likely to require health care. Whether traveling overseas or within the United States, it is important to be prepared. UnitedHealthcare’s Golden Rule Insurance Company has shared five quick tips for travelers to help prepare for unexpected medical needs while away from home.
1. Make sure you understand your coverage before you leave. Know what you would have to pay out of your own pocket if you need medical care while traveling.
2 Always carry your health insurance card. It will make it much easier for you and the health care provider to contact your insurance company if questions arise.
3. Bring a list of your prescription drugs. Include any over-the-counter drugs you take regularly.
4. Find out which urgent care centers, hospitals and pharmacies in your destination city belong to your insurance provider networks. Check your insurer’s website or consider downloading an app such as UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me, which helps locate the nearest in-network doctor, clinic or hospital.
5. If you plan to travel abroad, learn whether your health insurance plan covers treatment outside the United States. Make note of what documentation you need and the process for filing claims, especially if you are overseas. Consider buying an international policy if overseas medical expenses are not covered.
With a few minutes of planning before leaving home, you can help protect your health and your wallet.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Grandeur of the Seas Returns to Service

Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas resumed service yesterday from the Port of Baltimore.

In a symbolic commitment to the port and the city of Baltimore, the ship flew the historic Star-Spangled Banner flag as she passed Ft. McHenry, as well as the U.S. Navy's famous flag with the battle cry “Don't Give Up The Ship,” a reminder that cruising is a great vacation option.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Silversea Cruises Offers Australian Open Tour Package

Tennis fans take line Silversea Cruises is offering an optional three night pre-cruise "2014 Australian Open" land package for enthusiasts of the sport sailing on Silver Shadow's Jan 19, 2014 voyage. The first of four major international tennis events held annually (the others are the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open), the Australian Open attracts the best-of-the-best tennis players from around the globe—all competing for the first Grand Slam title of the year.

"Tickets for the Australian Open are not expected to go on sale to the general public until early October, making this a very exclusive opportunity," said Darius Mehta, Silversea's vice president of air and land programs. "We're delighted to offer our guests this unique chance to witness some of the biggest names in tennis going head-to-head as they battle for the top prize."

On Jan 17 and 18, the middle weekend of the competition, Silver Shadow guests will have the opportunity to experience the tournament action at Melbourne Park, enjoying reserved seating in the Rod Laver Arena, access to all outdoor courts, meals at select dining venues, an official Australian Open tournament program, access to exclusive bars, facilities and services, plus access to the Melbourne Park precinct for night sessions.

The package includes a three-night stay at the luxurious Sofitel Melbourne hotel on Collins Street—a short walk from major shopping, entertainment, and business areas. Some meals at the hotel are included. Transfers between the airport, hotel, Australian Open and Silver Shadow are included as well. Priced at $3,689 per guest, based on double occupancy, this special land adventure is only available on Silver Shadow's Jan 19, 2014 voyage (#3402), sailing from Melbourne to Bali and requires advance booking through Silversea's reservations department. For more information, visit

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Orders New “Seven Seas Explorer” Cruise Ship

The big news out of Miami this week is that one of our favorite cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has entered into a definitive contract with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard to build the most luxurious cruise ship in today’s top drawer market with delivery scheduled in summer 2016. Accommodating just 738 guests, the new ship will be named Seven Seas Explorer and will be the luxury line’s third all-suite, all-balcony ship. At 54,000 gross-registered tons, Seven Seas Explorer will be the largest vessel in the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet.

“This new ship order represents an exciting time of growth for our company as we build the next generation of cruise ships for the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line,” said Frank J. Del Rio, Prestige Cruise Holdings Chairman and CEO. “Seven Seas Explorer will be the most luxurious cruise ship ever built, boasting one of the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios ever seen in the modern era of cruising enabling us to deliver the highly personalized service and extraordinary experience that is the hallmark of the Regent brand.” According to Del Rio, “The moment you step aboard, you’ll know you’ve arrived somewhere special. The ship’s upscale yet timeless design, extreme use of exotic stones and polished woods, designer furniture, rich fabrics and sophisticated lighting combined with what promises to be a museum-quality, eclectic art collection will clearly position Seven Seas Explorer as the new standard in luxury cruising.”

Seven Seas Explorer will feature spacious and sophisticated designer suites, ultra-elegant public areas, a wide-range of gourmet dining options, a world-class spa, and many other amenities all created with the personality, warmth and soul of classic and timeless design. “At Regent, we believe more is best,” Del Rio quipped.

World-renowned architectural and interior design firms Tillberg Design AB, RTKL Associates and ICrave are designing the vessel, which will feature 369 suites ranging from 300 square feet to 1,500 square feet, six open-seating gourmet restaurants, Regent’s signature nine-deck atrium, the two-story Explorer Theater, three boutiques, and an expansive Canyon Ranch SpaClub®.

The specifications for the ship call for a hull 732 feet long, with a beam of 102 feet and a draft of 23 feet. The ship will be powered by diesel-electric engines with a service speed of 20 knots. Seven Seas Explorer will be a “green ship” employing the most advanced environmental systems and state-of-the-art technology. With the Seven Seas Explorer, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ overall fleet capacity will grow nearly 40 percent, making the brand the world’s largest luxury cruise line.

“This new ship order is part of our disciplined growth strategy to expand our footprint in the luxury market,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “Since we purchased the Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand in 2008, the ships have sailed full with industry-leading yields. We strongly believe that now is the right time to expand our fleet as our loyal guests have asked for a greater array of itineraries and our travel partners have proven that there is pent-up demand for a new Regent ship.”

Further details about the ship will be announced in the coming months. Seven Seas Explorer will join a fleet of three award-winning luxury vessels that appear continuously on annual “world’s best” and “top” awards lists by noted media.

Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager carry luxury-mindedguests to ports worldwide. Public areas are resplendent with rich fabrics, textures and furnishings. Guests can choose to dine in several open-seating gourmet restaurants, including Prime 7, a contemporary American steakhouse, and Sette Mari at La Veranda, the line’s Italian dining experience. Amenities include elegant bars, a show lounge, casino, library, Internet center, card room, outdoor pool, and the Canyon Ranch SpaClub®. For more information, visit

For more information on theses voyages on Regent Seven Seas Cruises and more, visit

Photo: Seven Seas Mariner © Linda Coffman,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tropical Storm Chantal Begins Altering Carnival Cruise Ship Itineraries

The Carnival Liberty schedule has changed as follows:


07/06/2013 Sat MIAMI, FL
07/07/2013 Sun HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
07/08/2013 Mon "FUN DAY" AT SEA
07/09/2013 Tue ST. THOMAS, USVI 10:00 AM- 6:00 PM
07/10/2013 Wed SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO 7:00 AM- 3:30 PM
07/11/2013 Thu GRAND TURK 11:00 AM-5:30 PM
07/12/2013 Fri "FUN DAY" AT SEA
07/13/2013 Sat MIAMI, FL


07/06/2013 Sat MIAMI, FL 8:00 AM 4:00 PM
07/07/2013 Sun HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
07/08/2013 Mon "FUN DAY" AT SEA
07/09/2013 Tue SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO 7:00 AM-3:30 PM
07/10/2013 Wed GRAND TURK 11:00 AM-5:30 PM
07/11/2013 Thu "FUN DAY" AT SEA
07/12/2013 Fri NASSAU, BAHAMAS 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
07/13/2013 Sat MIAMI, FL

Carnival Victory's itinerary has changed due to Tropical Storm Chantal:


07/08/2013 Mon MIAMI, FL
07/09/2013 Tue "FUN DAY" AT SEA
07/10/2013 Wed GRAND TURK 7:00 AM -2:30 PM
07/11/2013 Thu HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS 9:30 AM-5:30 PM
07/12/2013 Fri NASSAU, BAHAMAS 7:00 AM-5:00 PM
07/13/2013 Sat MIAMI, FL

07/08/2013 Mon MIAMI, FL
07/09/2013 Tue NASSAU, BAHAMAS 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
07/10/2013 Wed HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS 7:00 AM-4:00 PM
07/11/2013 Thu FREEPORT, BAHAMAS 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
07/12/2013 Fri "FUN DAY" AT SEA
07/13/2013 Sat MIAMI, FL 8:00 AM 4:00 PM

Tropical Storm Chantal Heading Our Way

Tropical Storm Chantal, the third named Atlantic storm of the 2014 season, formed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean late Sunday night and has made its way into the Caribbean. The system bypassed the usual tropical depression phase to become a tropical storm right away by developing as a strong tropical wave with tropical storm force winds and finally developing a closed circulation late Sunday.

Tropical storm conditions were experienced in the Windward Islands Tuesday and may be felt in Puerto Rico into early Wednesday. Additionally, Chantal is expected to affect portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Puerto Rico and parts of the Dominican Republic, along with a number of islands in the Lesser Antilles, including Barbados, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. Other areas, including Haiti and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are under tropical storm watches.

Residents in the southern United States, particularly Florida, should pay attention and be prepared. Current forecasts place the center of TS Chantal over the Bahamas Friday into early Saturday, but portions of Florida could feel its affects at the end of the week.

Will TS Chantal scramble cruise ships in the Bahamas and Caribbean? We'll keep you posted.

Holland America Line's 2014 Grand Voyages Span The Globe

One of our good friends and a Cruise Diva contributor took the "voyage of a lifetime" on Holland America Line's 2012 World Cruise aboard Amsterdam and she just told me they are doing it again next year! Wow, am I envisou? Of course, especially when she said the itinerary had changed and they would be visiting new ports when Holland America Line's Amsterdam kicks off the new year on Jan. 4, 2014 with a 113-day journey that calls at 38 ports across five continents. The Grand World Voyage is just one of four Grand Voyages featured by the line in 2014. Amsterdam and fleetmate Prinsendam will each sail two itineraries designed to discover and explore remarkable destinations on every traveler's list.

"Our Grand Voyages are dream cruises because they offer extensive explorations in all parts of the world," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "Africa is highlighted on two 2014 Grand Voyages, and there are numerous additional unique opportunities for our guests, both new and loyal repeaters, to be excited about."

Holland America Line's Grand Voyages make taking a longer vacation easier and more affordable. In addition, for those guests residing in the United States there is no need to fly internationally to board the ship if taking the full cruise except on the Grand Africa and Mediterranean Voyage. Whether visiting one or several global destinations, the voyages feature famous landmarks, new destinations and extended time in port with late departures, overnight calls and overland tours.

Each Grand Voyage also offers grand experiences on board. Guests can relax and unwind during leisurely days at sea, taking advantage of the extra time to indulge in a massage at the Greenhouse Spa, take in a lecture by a renowned expert, enjoy a cooking demonstration by a celebrated chef in the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine, learn how to share photos at a class in the Digital Workshop powered by Windows®, or simply lounge on deck and watch the world sail by. Evening shipboard activities shine as well with local cultural entertainment. Festive gala balls and formal nights create memorable moments, along with an exclusive Captain's Grand Voyage Dinner for full-cruise guests. Dining is elevated on each Grand Voyage, with menus that change daily and are seldom repeated, featuring local ingredients and regional cuisine.

Grand World Voyage
Amsterdam departs Jan. 4 on its 2014 Grand World Voyage that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Rather than taking a traditional course back through Europe, Amsterdam crosses the equator four times and sails a route that deeply explores the Southern Hemisphere. The ship begins the journey by sailing west with a daylight transit of the Panama Canal followed by two full overnights at Callao, Peru. After calling at beautiful islands in the South Pacific, Amsterdam continues along the east coast of Australia up to Micronesia, the Far East and Indian Ocean. Adding to the adventure, the ship then travels south to explore several ports in east, south and west Africa before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean en route back to South Florida.

Eight segments ranging in length from 20 to 86 days are available from departure ports along the route for guests who have less time to travel. The seven overnight calls included in the 2014 Grand World Voyage give guests an opportunity to visit Machu Picchu from Callao (Lima); snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef from Sydney, Australia; shop at the night market in Hong Kong, China; and go on a safari from Cape Town, South Africa. Additional overnight calls include Papeete, Tahiti; Victoria, Seychelles, and Singapore.

Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage
Prinsendam returns to South America, Antarctica and the Amazon in 2014 on a 68-day itinerary sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale Jan. 5. After passing through the Panama Canal, the ship will reach South America's Pacific coast and continue on to circumnavigate the continent.

During the voyage, Prinsendam will spend seven full days cruising the Amazon River and four days of scenic cruising in Antarctic, weather permitting. The 2014 itinerary also features overnight calls at Manaus, Brazil, in the Amazon; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina, and two full nights at Callao (Lima). Segments of 32 and 36 days between Fort Lauderdale and Buenos Aires also are available.

Grand Africa & Mediterranean Voyage
Immediately following its Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage, Prinsendam departs on a 57-day Grand Africa and Mediterranean Voyage that sails from Fort Lauderdale to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. The ship visits the Caribbean before crossing over to Africa and making calls at Cape Verde, Gambia and Dakar. Following the Canary Islands, Prinsendam explores northern Africa, Spain, Italy, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. Calls in the Holy Land allow for a visit to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel, or the Giza Pyramids in Alexandria (Cairo), Egypt.An overnight call at Venice, Italy, allows ample time for shopping, exploring and a traditional gondola ride.

A 27-day segment from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona, Spain, and a 30-day segment from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome) are available. This voyage can be combined with the Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage for an extended 120-day cruise.

Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage
In fall 2014, Amsterdam will wrap up the year with a 78-day Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage sailing from Seattle, Washington, to San Diego, California. Departing Sept. 21, the ship takes a northerly route to Alaska before extensively exploring Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali and Indonesia. The voyage continues to Australia before circling back and visiting ports in the South Pacific and Hawaii en route to San Diego. This voyage includes eight overnight calls along the way at Tokyo, Japan; Incheon (Seoul), South Korea; Xingang (Beijing), Shanghai and Hong Kong, China; Singapore; Sydney, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

Reservations & More Info
Reservations are currently being taken for all of Holland America Line's 2014 Grand Voyages, and early-booking bonus amenities for full-cruise guests include prepaid hotel service charges, shipboard credit, luggage delivery service, and a complimentary shore excursion or event when booking select stateroom categories. Amenities vary by cruise, stateroom category, and booking date. For guests based in North America, book a Penthouse Suite or Deluxe Verandah Suite on the full Grand Africa and Mediterranean Voyage and receive complimentary domestic business class air with deluxe transfer or $1,000 per person additional cruise savings. This offer expires July 31, 2013.

While at port, guests can choose from a multitude of diverse shore excursions including Overland Adventures, off-the-beaten-track explorations, Signature Collection private-car touring and exclusive Medallion Collection excursions. For more information on the 2014 Grand Voyages, visit

Monday, July 8, 2013

Carnival Elation Heads To New Orleans

Update: The Mississippi River has opened to ship traffic and Carnival Elation is proceeding to New Orleans.

Message from Carnival Cruise Lines to July 8, 2013 embarking Carnival Elation passengers (sent on July 7, 2013):
We know you are looking forward to your cruise tomorrow which is why we want to take a moment to provide you with some important information.
As you may have heard, the Mississippi River is currently closed to ship traffic so the US Coast Guard can continue their assessment of the area impacted by the wreckage of the sunken vessel. Authorities are planning to provide an update by 3:00pm today and we remain optimistic the river will re-open so that we can operate your cruise as scheduled tomorrow.
If the river opens by midnight, we will modify check-in and our departure times. Check-in for your cruise will be scheduled from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Erato Street Terminal, located at 1100 Port of New Orleans Place. We will sail at 7:00 PM. This delay will not impact our scheduled itinerary.
For your comfort and convenience and to ensure a smooth embarkation experience, we ask that you please not arrive earlier as we will be busy checking in Carnival Conquest guests (their sailing was delayed by a day due to the river closure).
In the event the river does not open by midnight, we will provide you with an update on our plans in the morning.
In the meantime, to stay in touch, we encourage you to sign up for text alerts by texting CCL2 to CRUISE (278473) to receive updates. If you have already done so during your online check-in, you will automatically receive updates. We apologize for this delay and thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Most importantly, we can't wait to welcome you aboard for a fun and memorable cruise vacation. See you soon!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Carnival Conquest Diverted to Mobile

The Port of Mobile has a ship once again, if only for a day...

Carnival Cruise Lines Statement
Yesterday evening we were advised of the closure of the Mississippi River as a result of a sunken vessel which the U.S. Coast Guard was working to locate to determine if it posed a hazard for other vessels transiting the river. We were advised to expect another update at midday today. Given the uncertainty as to the when the river may re-open and the approximate nine hour transit time required from the mouth of the river to New Orleans, it was decided last night to divert the ship to Mobile to ensure we are able to get our guests home as quickly as possible. 
Once the ship arrives in Mobile guests will be transferred to New Orleans via motor coach (an approximate two-and-a-half hour distance). 
The next voyage is being shortened to a 6-day cruise which will depart Mobile on Monday and call at Freeport and Nassau, The Bahamas. Guests sailing on the shortened voyage will receive a one-day pro-rated refund of their cruise fare and have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund if they do not wish to proceed with the voyage. Embarkation for the new 6-day cruise will take place in New Orleans and guests will be transferred via motor coach to Mobileto board the ship. 
Carnival is encouraging guests scheduled for the new cruise departing Monday to sign up for text alerts by texting CCL1 to CRUISE (278473) to receive updates.
We sincerely apologize to our guests for the inconvenience this unanticipated deviation may cause. Unfortunately, with no indication as to when the river may re-open, we chose the one option that would guarantee we are able to get our guests home as quickly as possible.

Friday, July 5, 2013

“Malt Shop Scoop” See you in November!

The Happenings
Just when we thought the Malt Shop Memories Cruise couldn't be any better, our hosts at Entertainment Cruise Productions are filling Eurodam with MORE entertainment and music! In this month's “Malt Shop Scoop” they announced The Happenings are joining us on this year's Malt Shop Memories Cruise. We loved this great vocal group's hits… “See You In September,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “Go Away Little Girl” in our (ahem) younger days and look forward to the three shows they will be performing on board, including a very special Prom Night.

Although the Eurodam is already 85% sold out, there are still some cabins available, but probably not for long—Malt Shop Memories Cruise ’12 sold out and the pace of sales for Malt Shop Memories Cruise ’13 is even faster. Some cabins remain in almost every category, but the selection will be best among the Deluxe Staterooms with Verandah. Call 888.852.9987 for information on accommodations.

More information is available on the Malt shop Memories Cruise web site. Hope to see you in November on board!
Image Courtesy of the Malt Shop Memories Cruise

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Disney Magic Returns to Venice, Italy

In the photo here—taken July 3, 2013 and supplied to us by Disney Cruise Line—Disney Magic is shown calling on Venice, Italy for the first time since the ship was constructed in nearby Marghera and Ancona, and the vessel set sail from Venice on July 1, 1998.

With overnight calls to Venice during the 2013 Mediterranean season, Disney Magic guests will have more time to experience the spectacular and beautiful city. In 2014, Disney Magic will return to Europe with Venice as its homeport for select sailings.

To discover the highlights of the new “magic” in store for guests aboard Disney Magic after an upcoming “reimagineering” transformation of the ship that is scheduled to take place in dry dock Sept. 7-Oct. 10, 2013 in Cadiz, Spain, see Reimagine Disney Magic

Image: Matt Stroshane, photographer

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

‘Towel Animal Zoo’ A Big Hit Aboard Carnival Sunshine

No, those aren't personal items placed on pool loungers by “chair hogs” who got up early to “save” a poolside spot for themselves to use later. What you are seeing is a “towel animal zoo” with 206 different terrycloth creations situated on deck chairs surrounding Carnival Sunshine’s main pool on Lido Deck.

Ten stateroom stewards got up extra early one morning and spent more than three hours each folding the towels into ducks, swans, elephants, turtles, and other creatures to surprise the guests onboard for a Mediterranean cruise.

Expanding upon Carnival’s signature “towel animals” that greet guests as they return to their staterooms each evening, the “towel animal zoo” was a huge hit with Carnival Sunshine guests, many of whom were seen snapping photos to send to their friends and family members back home.

Carnival Sunshine, which underwent a massive $155 million makeover earlier this year, entered service in Europe on May 5th and is operating a series of 9- and 12-day Mediterranean cruises through October before it repositions to its temporary New Orleans homeport for a series of 7-day Caribbean cruises beginning in November. In April 2014 Carnival Sunshine will relocate to Port Canaveral where it is scheduled to operate year-round voyages that include port-intensive 7-day cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean, a number of 8-day Caribbean cruises, and 5-day departures featuring Florida, Caribbean, and Bahamian ports.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Start Your Next Cruise With A Piña Colada

What does the Cruise Diva have in common with Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, and John Wayne? We've all enjoyed a Piña Colada at the Caribe Hilton.

National Piña Colada Day is coming up next week on July 10th and the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico is sharing their recipe, which was originally created at the hotel in 1954 by bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero. He continued to serve the fruity tropical concoction at the hotel for 35 years and left quite the legacy, as the Piña Colada is now the official drink of Puerto Rico!

You can enjoy the same drink Monchito created and personally served to Caribe Hilton guests, including the luminaries mentioned above.

The original Piña Colada recipe is:
Ramón "Monchito" Marrero
2 ounces light rum
1 ounce coconut cream
1 ounce heavy cream
6 ounces fresh pineapple juice
1/2 cup crushed ice
Pineapple wedge & maraschino cherry for garnish
Pour rum, coconut cream, cream, and pineapple juice in blender. Add ice. Blend for 15 seconds. Pour into a 12-ounce glass. Add garnishes.

For those who prefer a tasty non-alcoholic Virgin Colada, just leave out the rum.

Of course many of us order a Piña Colada during cruises. If you'd like to learn more about Ramón "Monchito" Marrero and his famous concoction, visit Bon Voyage Drinks, Chill Out With a Piña Colada.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paula Deen Sails On and On

Ad From Alice Travel
First, I have to admit that I’m not a foodie and don’t watch the Food Network on television, so I have never seen Paula Deen in action. However, her cooking style sounds pretty similar to that of my late mother-in-law—a real southern lady. From recent accounts, Paula may not have been as lady-like as my mother-in-law was, but the meals we sat down to in her kitchen were pure south and mighty tempting indeed. It would come as no surprise that Ms. Deen’s are as well.

No doubt you’ve heard of the recent controversy surrounding Ms. Deen and the accusations made in a lawsuit filed by a former employee. Whether the employee was disgruntled over her workplace situation or not is a matter of opinion, but as a result of the reports surrounding the lawsuit Deen has not only been dropped from the Food Network, but has also lost numerous sponsors. However, not all her fans have deserted her. In fact, some are so loyal that they are signing up for not one, but two Paula Deen Cruises now on tap for next year.

Hosted by Alice Travel, a New Jersey agency that schedules special interest travel, the Paula Deen Cruise is now in its fourth year and is adding a second theme cruise with the beleaguered chef in 2014 as a result of high demand from her fans. While the cruise groups are sailing on Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean ships, the lines have no partnership or any formal association with Paula Deen. This is clearly spelled out in the announcement posted by Alice Travel on the Paula Deen Cruise Facebook page that gives the dates, ships, and itineraries:
YOU MUST BOOK THRU ALICE TRAVEL IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY OF THE PAULA DEEN ACTIVITIES (Those booked with other agents or the cruise line directly will not be allowed access to our events.)
Jan 18-25, Celebrity Reflection
July 19-26, Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas
In my experience, the requirement to book through a specific agency to have access to special programming—for participants only—is pretty typical of groups booked on cruises featuring celebrities. Fares for the cruises have not been announced yet, but they are likely to be higher than bookings on the sailings for non-group passengers, due to the special events planned.