Thursday, January 31, 2013

Princess Cruises Launches Five-Day Super Sale

Cruise vacations to Alaska, the California coast, Hawaii, Mexico and the Panama Canal are on sale during the Princess Cruises “5-Day Super Sale,” running from today, Jan 31 through Monday, Feb 4. With more than 150 West Coast cruises on sale, the event offers savings of up to $1,100 per person, plus the opportunity to get up to $100 in free spending money per stateroom.

Passengers can choose from a variety of cruise itineraries where they can enjoy the magnificent scenery and wildlife of Alaska, the tropical warmth of the Hawaiian Islands, the wonder of engineering that is the Panama Canal, the best of the Golden State on a California Coastal, or the colorful culture of Mexico.

In addition to special fares, passengers booking balcony staterooms or above will receive an onboard credit of $50 (cruises up to nine days) or $100 (for sailings 10 days or longer), and those booking interior or oceanview staterooms can get credits of $25 (cruises up to nine days) to $50 (cruises 10 days or longer).

More information about the cruise sale and pricing can be found at Princess.com/sale.

Examples of special Super Sale fares include:
California Coastal cruise – 7 days: $684 interior (was $834); $1,084 balcony (was $1,184)
Inside Passage Alaska cruise – 7 days: $749 interior (was $899); $1,149 balcony (was $1,399)
Gulf of Alaska cruise – 7 days: $854 interior (was $1,004); $1,304 balcony (was $1,454)
Hawaiian Islands cruise – 14 days: $1,090 interior (was $1,790); $1,690 balcony (was $2,690)
Panama Canal – 14 days: $1,499 interior (was $2,399); $2,049 balcony (was $3,149)
All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy and include government fees and taxes. The Super Sale runs from 12:01 a.m. PST on January 31 through 11:59 p.m. PST on February 4, 2013 and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available by visiting Princess.com.

Virtual Tour of Carnival Sunshine & “Grab Your Destiny” Contest Unveiled

Carnival Cruise Lines has unveiled a new inside/outside virtual tour of Carnival Sunshine, the line’s most comprehensive ship transformation project ever. Encompassing an unprecedented $155 million renovation, it will add a host of dining, bar, and entertainment innovations and spectacular outdoor spaces to the ship that is currently sailing as Carnival Destiny. The ship will emerge as Carnival Sunshine following a 49-day dry dock this spring, then launch a schedule of European voyages April 12, 2013, before repositioning to New Orleans for year-round Caribbean departures beginning Nov. 18, 2013.

The virtual tour below takes you on a flyover of Carnival Sunshine’s many new on-board features and innovations—all part of the line’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement initiative. From the glittering new Sunshine atrium and poolside watering holes RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar to soon-to-be-added spaces such as a three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat, Havana Bar, ShakeSpot, and JavaBlue Café, you get a sneak peek at these venues while graphics illustrate the dramatic transformation from Carnival Destiny to Carnival Sunshine.


For more videos and images documenting Carnival Sunshine’s ongoing construction progress, “before and after” pictures of Carnival Destiny and Carnival Sunshine spaces, and interviews with some of the people who are bringing the groundbreaking refurbishment project to life, visit Carnival.com/sunshine. There’s also a clock that counts down the number of days until Carnival Sunshine’s inaugural April 12, 2013, voyage from Venice.

Own a Piece of History & Win a Free Cruise!
Hosted at Carnival.com/grabyourdestiny, the four-week-long “Grab Your Destiny” contest opened this week and runs through Feb. 25, 2013. It utilizes a unique system to award prizes, with winners earning points for accomplishing designated on-line tasks—32 points for watching the contest promotional video, 25 points for taking the virtual tour, etc. In addition to prizes for the top 13 point-earners, including the grand prize of a European cruise for two on Carnival Sunshine for the most total points, random weekly drawings will be held for 100 Carnival Destiny mementos.

These include table tops from the All-Star Bar with signatures from Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Mickey Mantle, and other sports legends; the entrance sign from the Millionaire’s Casino and a classic car model from one of its slot machines; decorative treasure chests and an anchor from the miniature golf course; the entrance sign to the Palladium main show lounge; a clock from Spa Carnival; copies of the ship’s final Fun Times daily shipboard newsletter signed by the captain and senior officers; and illustrative “you are here” deck maps, among others. Complete contest rules and regulations are available at the link above.

European & Caribbean Itineraries
Carnival Sunshine debuts with a series of Mediterranean cruises beginning with a 14-day voyage from Venice to Barcelona April 12-26, 2013. The ship will then operate a series of 18 nine- and 12-day Mediterranean cruises either round-trip from Barcelona or sailing between Barcelona and Venice. Following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing departing Barcelona Nov. 1 and arriving New Orleans Nov. 17, Carnival Sunshine will operate a special six-day Caribbean cruise departing Nov. 18 before launching year-round 7-day Caribbean service from the Big Easy Nov. 24, 2013. Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Sunshine’s various European and Caribbean itineraries.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Celebrity Cruises Stars In "Top Chef" Episode

Celebrity Cruises, the cruise vacation brand known for award-winning, fresh-from-scratch cuisine and innovative onboard culinary experiences, has provided the unique setting for an episode of Bravo Media's Emmy® Award-winning Top Chef culinary competition series, now in its 10th season. Tonight's episode (January 30), airing at 10 pm Eastern/9 pm Central, was filmed onboard the 2,158-guest Celebrity Millennium and the 2,170-guest Celebrity Infinity while sailing in Alaska. During the episode, chef'testants were challenged to navigate the intricacies of Celebrity's top-quality culinary operation—with multiple galleys and diverse dining options—and prepare dishes served to guests onboard the vessels. Three Top Chef judges also were aboard to join in the action and assess the chef'testants' results.

In other foodie news, Celebrity is taking its own cuisine to the heart of Manhattan this week with "A Taste of Modern Luxury," an exclusive pop-up restaurant at The Kitchen NYC. Celebrity's own James Beard-featured chef, John Suley, will serve items from a three-course menu that includes several shipboard favorites as well as dishes inspired by the culinary flavors of Manhattan. Libations from Master Mixologist Junior Merino, aka "The Liquid Chef," will be served from his concept, The Molecular Bar, featured on Solstice-class ships. Thoughtfully paired beverages—from superior wines to local brews—and artful desserts round out the dining experience.

On Wednesday, Celebrity Cruises is hosting a private screening of the Top Chef episode at their pop-up location, with five talented former Top Chef chef'testants in attendance: Hung Huynh, Mike Isabella, Spike Mendelsohn, Hosea Rosenberg and Casey Thompson. Tickets to all other lunches and dinners at Celebrity's Manhattan pop-up restaurant are available at celebritycruisespopupnyc.eventbrite.com. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the Celebrity Cruises Scholarship at The Culinary Institute of America.

Celebrity Cruises has been known since its founding in 1990 for providing the best dining experience in premium cruising. In 2012, Celebrity became the first cruise line to cook dinner at the legendary James Beard House in New York City, and the first cruise line to open a land-based pop-up restaurant, which debuted in San Francisco.

Image (c) CruiseDiva.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oceania Cruises Introduces New Grand Dining Room Menu

Already noted for devoting extraordinary resources to its cuisine, Oceania Cruises is stepping up to the plate to enhance its menu options. The line has just announced the successful completion of an extensive new menu rollout featuring 85 new dishes for its Grand Dining Room on the line’s newest ship, Riviera. The new menus will be introduced fleetwide over the next three months.

While most cruise lines employ a single corporate chef, Oceania Cruises has an entire team at the helm of its culinary program, including its executive culinary director, renowned master chef Jacques Pépin. Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger, who travels the world sampling international cuisines to inspire his creation of dishes, led the team in conceiving the new menus. The Oceania Cruises culinary team has spent the past eight months designing and rigorously testing the new menu items. As the menus in the Grand Dining Room change daily, the rollout features a total of 85 new dishes, including three new lobster dishes and 10 new pastas and risottos.

New creations include dishes such as Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne (pictured above), Roast Segovian Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, and Diver Scallops over Orange-Braised Endive with Vanilla Vinaigrette Salad. The new dishes also feature unique, high-end ingredients such as Castilla–La Mancha saffron, Lessatini olive oil from Nice and Ibérico de Bellota pork. There is also a selection of new Canyon Ranch® dishes, including Dover Sole Meunière in Lemon Butter Sauce with Sweet Leek Puff Pastry and Steamed Potatoes, as well as Pulpo a la Gallega: Octopus on Warm Potato Salad with Sweet Spanish Paprika de la Vera. The rollout also includes an array of new wines by the bottle as well as an extended list of wines by the glass.

“Since the founding of Oceania Cruises 10 years ago, we have held a reputation for serving cuisine that is the finest at sea and even rivals the best restaurants ashore,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, the line’s president. “Our latest innovations in the Grand Dining Room are inspired by classic European fare, with a contemporary, creative touch. They reflect our ongoing commitment to provide an exceptional dining experience that starts with a thoughtful and meticulously researched menu concept, the highest-quality ingredients and the perfect execution of traditional culinary techniques.”

Oceania Cruises’ flagship restaurant, the Grand Dining Room, is a tribute to the five-star restaurants in Europe's grandest hotels, which inspired its dignified and elegant ambiance. Tuxedo-clad wait staff graciously serve course after course featuring classic European fare or delectable alternatives such as healthy, savory Canyon Ranch® selections or Jacques Pépin’s signature dishes. The Grand Dining Room features open-seating and accommodates parties from two to 10.

Image Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Monday, January 28, 2013

Complimentary Premium Beverage Packages On Tap Aboard Select Royal Caribbean Sailings in April 2013

Get on board for the romance and serenity of a classic ocean crossing with Royal Caribbean and, for a limited time, enjoy a complimentary Premium Beverage Package for two when booking a balcony- or higher-category stateroom aboard the following four trans-Atlantic cruises, sailing throughout April 2013:
• Navigator of the Seas’ 15-night sailing from New Orleans to Rome (Civitavecchia), Rome on Apr 6
• Independence of the Seas’ 13-night sailing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to Southampton, U.K. on Apr 7
• Brilliance of the Seas’ 11-night sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Lisbon, Portugal on Apr 13
• Adventure of the Seas’ 14-night sailing from San Juan to Southampton on Apr 21
The Complimentary Premium Beverage Package offer is applicable only for new U.S. and Canadian individual bookings made from now through Feb 15, 2013, in balcony and higher category staterooms. Complimentary Premium Beverage Package is only available for first two guests in a booking. The Premium Beverage Package, valued at $55 per person, per day, includes house wines, beers under $6.25 each, fountain sodas, and well, call and premium brands of liquors and frozen drinks at restaurants, bars and lounges when open. Offer not applicable for group bookings. For additional information, visit RoyalCaribbean.com.

Get the details about Royal Caribbean beverage packages here on Cruise Diva’s blog at "Adult" Beverage Packages For Royal Caribbean Cruisers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines Launches First-Ever Vacation Awesome-ation Promotion

Are you feeling lucky? If you book a Carnival cruise vacation this week, you could be a winner. Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a seven-day Vacation Awesome-ation promotion featuring $100,000 in cruise prize giveaways to create the ultimate, awesome vacation, beginning today (Sunday, Jan 27, 2013).

Consumers who book during the one-week promotional period can take advantage of 50 percent reduced deposits on the line’s most popular fares, including Past Guest rates and, for the first time, Early Saver rates. They are also entered to win a variety of spectacular prizes and upgrades on their Carnival cruise vacation.

Through Feb 2, 2013, consumers who book a cruise in any stateroom category will automatically be entered to win a prize package worth up to $1,000 that includes stateroom upgrades and an array of fantastic prizes including spa treatments, shore excursions and specialty dining, as well as drink and photo packages.

Sample stateroom upgrades include interior to ocean view, ocean view to balcony or balcony to suite accommodations, based on availability. Onboard credits include $280 worth of relaxing spa treatments; $160 worth of exciting shore excursions; along with additional credits for dinner in specialty restaurants, and drink and photo packages.

Prize packages will be awarded daily with 100 total winners during the week-long promotion. Guests are encouraged to book early as they will be re-entered into the prize drawing each day during the promotional period once they’ve made their reservation.

“The Vacation Awesome-ation event provides a great opportunity for consumers not only to get a terrific deal on a Carnival cruise but also a chance to win a variety of fantastic prizes to make a great vacation experience truly extraordinary,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Vacation Awesome-ation event runs from Jan 27 through Feb 2, 2013. For additional information regarding the promotion, including full promotion rules and alternative entry methods, please visit this link at Carnival.com.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Get On Board for a Silversea 'Grand Voyages' in 2013

Serious cruise travel aficionados dream of a world cruise, but let's face it—few of us have the time or disposable income to experience one. However, for travelers with the resources, Silversea Cruises has rolled out 10 exquisitely tailored "Grand Voyages" for 2013. Designed for the traveler who relishes a more leisurely pace, this special collection offers extended voyages from 34 to 54 days. These unique odysseys combine the luxury of sailing aboard intimate, elegant ships with expanded journeys to diverse regions of the world, featuring visits to must-see traditional ports, as well as exotic destinations that are off the beaten path.

Ellen Bettridge, Silversea's president of the Americas, tells us, "Our Grand Voyages are the perfect option for true travel enthusiasts who can spare the time and prefer a more immersive on-shore experience. You can circle South America, sail around Europe or sweep across hemispheres between Asia and the Americas, all while enjoying the personalized luxury of our intimate ships and all-inclusive shipboard lifestyle."

Below is a small sampling of Silversea's Grand Voyages for 2013:
-- MEDITERRANEAN: Silver Cloud departs Sept 16 on a 54-day "Three Continents Transatlantic" voyage from Istanbul to Barbados with calls in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Malta, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. Highlights include overnight stays in Valletta and Barcelona.
-- MEDITERRANEAN: Silver Spirit departs Oct 15 on a 41-day "Mediterranean Passage" from Athens to Fort Lauderdale with calls in Turkey, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia Malta, Monaco, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal and Bermuda. Highlights include an overnight stay in Barcelona and a two-night stopover in Venice.
-- FAR EAST & OCEANIA: Silver Shadow departs Nov 25 on a 40-day "Dragons, Kangaroos & Kiwis" voyage from Hong Kong to Auckland, with calls in Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Highlights include overnight stays in Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Bali, and Melbourne.
-- SOUTH AMERICA: Silver Cloud departs Nov 26 on an exciting 40-day "South America Serenade" voyage from Barbados to Santiago, with calls in Grenada, Tobago, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Falkland Islands and Chile. Highlights include a two-night stopover in Rio de Janeiro and overnight stays in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.
Aboard Silversea's intimate, all-suite ships, all guests enjoy spacious ocean-view accommodations, sumptuous gourmet cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and all gratuities. For a full list of itineraries, visit Silversea.com/destinations/grand-voyages.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Friday, January 25, 2013

Country Music Superstars to Set Sail on the Inaugural Country Music Cruise

When it comes to a music-themed cruise, there's no better way to enjoy the experience than on a full-ship charter such as the one just announced—the Inaugural Country Music Cruise hosted by Entertainment Cruise Productions.

The very first Country Music Cruise will launch on January 19, 2014 and sail through the Caribbean for an entire week with an incredible group of superstars and much-loved fan favorites onboard including Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Patty Loveless, Jo Dee Messina, Ronnie Milsap, and Restless Heart with television personality Lorraine Crook hosting the entire journey.

The vacation of a lifetime for country music fans, the cruise will hold intimate concerts every day, exclusive events not available anywhere else, activities, comedians, world class dining, deluxe accommodations, and much more for seven luxurious days aboard Holland America's MS Eurodam. All concert tickets, activities and meals are included, with further information available at CountryMusicCruise.com.

The stars scheduled to perform on the 2014 Country Music Cruise have an astounding 350 hit singles between them, with nearly 90 #1 hits. In addition to the headlining concerts, clubs on the ship will host performances by even more artists such as Andy Griggs, Wade Hayes, Ty Herndon, Jamie O'Neal, The Warren Brothers, Bryan White and others. Chuck Mead from BR549 will be playing daily poolside. Amidst the music, guests will be invited to a beach party on their very own private island, line dancing events, cooking exhibitions, wine tasting, songwriter workshops, spirited trivia contests, exclusive screenings of country music films and documentaries, games and more. The ship will also dock in several ports, where guests can explore the majestic beauty and vibrant culture of Grand Turk (Turks and Caicos), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Philipsburg (Saint Maarten), and Half Moon Cay (Bahamas). Not only will the voyage give fans the rare opportunity to see so many of their favorite singers all in one location, it all takes place among breathtaking ocean and island vistas on one of the most magnificent ships at sea.

"Country music fans are in for something really special," says Vince Gill. "Not only will they get to experience a luxurious ocean cruise, but they can enjoy exclusive concerts by country music's iconic superstars. The cruise is destined to become a vacation destination in the years to come." "I couldn't be more excited about performing on the Country Music Cruise and being a part of a vacation that my fans will never forget," adds Kenny Rogers.

"We have produced over 35 full ship charter music cruises and 'Country Music' is a perfect genre for an exciting and overall cruise experience," said Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of Entertainment Cruise Productions. The programming and entertainment opportunities for the Country Music Cruise are unparalleled. It will be so much fun."

Cabins are available now at CountryMusicCruise.com or by calling (toll free) 1 855 332 6868.

Kenny Rogers Image Courtesy of PR Newswire

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Let the Norwegian Breakaway Celebrations Begin

Norwegian Cruise Line is anxiously counting down the days in anticipation of the upcoming launch of Norwegian Breakaway, one of 2013’s hottest new ships.

Also known as “New York’s Ship” for its New York-inspired amenities and features, Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on April 26 for the start of her European inaugural events when she will be showcased to Continental European travel partners on a two day cruise. On April 29, travel partners in the UK will be invited onboard for a one-night preview. The ship will depart Southampton on April 30 and embark on her maiden voyage, a 7-day transatlantic crossing to New York City. Vacationers looking to set sail on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise and to be the first to experience the ship first-hand, can still book a stateroom on the transatlantic sailing.

Inaugural events will culminate with the ship’s spectacular christening in New York City – Norwegian Breakaway’s year-round homeport – on May 8 followed by a two-night exclusive inaugural cruise. One of New York’s most illustrious and beloved icons, The Rockettes, are set to serve as the ship’s Godmothers. During a second preview sailing over Mother’s Day weekend, May 10 through 12, the ship will host New York-area mothers affected by Hurricane Sandy as part of the line’s participation in the special holiday giveaway episode of Katie Couric’s talk show, Katie.

Norwegian Breakaway will begin her weekly summer 7-day cruises to Bermuda on Sunday, May 12 with a special guest onboard, the line’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sheehan. As part of their role as Godmothers, two Rockettes will sail aboard the first six sailings of Norwegian Breakaway, beginning May 12, and the first sailing of each month thereafter, taking part in special events for guests to enjoy. Beginning in October, New York’s ship will offer voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas & Florida and the Southern Caribbean.

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
· 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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Getting Ready to Sail: The Cruise Planning Timeline

Things To Do Before Your Cruise

You’ve booked the cruise of your dreams and the sailing date is drawing near.

Anticipation builds... but you'll need to come down off Cloud Nine for some practical considerations. I've tried to capture the really important things—and some of the merely convenient stuff—that you should keep in mind to prepare. These may not all apply to your cruise; however, you may be surprised by what you hadn't thought of doing.

Take a moment to check out The Cruise Planning Timeline.

Image (c) CruiseDiva.com


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Royal Princess Preview Sailings To Open For Booking

With the introduction of the newest addition to the fleet only months away, Princess Cruises has scheduled two preview cruises aboard Royal Princess, giving passengers a unique opportunity to get a taste of the new ship before its official inaugural voyage. The June 9 and June 14 cruises will sail roundtrip from Southampton on a two-night itinerary featuring a call in St. Peter Port, on the island of Guernsey. Passengers on the short sailings will be able to sample Royal Princess’ many ground-breaking features, including the dramatic over-water SeaWalk, Princess Live! television studio, and plush new poolside cabanas before the ship’s inaugural sailing on June 16, 2013. Both voyages will go on sale on Jan 29, with limited availability. Per person cruise fares start at $530 for an obstructed-view balcony stateroom.

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship 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/RoyalPrincess. 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
Princess Cruises Unveils Posh Royal Princess Sanctuary & Retreat Pool With New Features
Junior Cruisers Have A Lot to Look forward to In New Royal Princess Youth & Teen Centers
Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Monday, January 21, 2013

Two Luxury Cruise Lines Expand Short-Cruise Options

When vacation time is short, or you want to combine a cruise with a land trip to Europe, your choices have just expanded.

Silversea Cruises

In its continuing mission to provide guests with more choices, ultra-luxurious Silversea Cruises has just announced a new collection of eight shorter cruises for spring and summer 2013. These convenient 4- to 7-day voyages to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean aboard Silver Wind, Silver Cloud, and Silver Spirit are designed for time-strapped working professionals, travelers who like to combine a cruise with a land program or back-to-back with a longer voyage, and individuals who may be new to luxury cruising and would like a taste of Silversea's award-winning, all-inclusive experience.

"Many travelers today have busy schedules that make it difficult to fit in time for an extended luxury cruise vacation," said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea's president of the Americas. "It's important for us to offer options that cater to these consumers as well as those who have time for longer voyages."

Visit Silversea.com for a complete schedule of itineraries.

Crystal Cruises

Due to the overwhelming success of Crystal Cruises' new shorter "Getaways" cruises, the large-ship luxury line has added 26 voyage options throughout Europe from April to November this year. The new 5- to 8-day cruise segments provide more opportunities for time-strapped travelers to enjoy Crystal's all-inclusive, luxury vacation experience.

Twelve Mediterranean, ten Baltic, and four Western Europe cruise "Getaways" offer numerous choices for compact, port-packed cruises aboard Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony in 2013. In addition to time on board for relaxing rejuvenation and pampering, one or more local overnights are featured on most sailings.

"Our 'Getaways' have proven to be very attractive to travelers from all over the world who are younger, busy professionals, first-time Crystal cruisers, and/or want to combine cruising with longer stays on land," explains Jack Anderson, senior vice president of marketing and sales. "With great destinations, plus the luxury and service for which Crystal is known—including complimentary beverages and gratuities, a world-class spa, stylish accommodations, and even Nobu's cuisine—our 'Getaways' are a great way to tour Europe while simultaneously indulging in our 'World's Best' vacation experience."

The new European options join other 5- to 11-day Getaways already offered in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North America in early 2013. Pre- and Post-cruise Hotel Programs further expand vacation options in many popular European cities. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Size Matters: Two of the World's Largest LGBT Cruises Launching from Port Everglades in February

Greater Fort Lauderdale has solidified its status as a top Gay and Lesbian travel destination in the U.S., with two of the world’s largest gay cruises berthing in the destination in February. Atlantis Events, the world’s largest LGBT travel company, and RSVP Vacations, another big player in that market, will attract a combined 5,800 passengers for the two cruises throughout the Caribbean.

“Fort Lauderdale has become one of the largest and fastest growing gayborhoods in the country,” says Billy Kolber, founder of ManAboutWorld Magazine.

The year’s biggest gay cruise will navigate the Caribbean onboard Atlantis Events’ 3,700-guest Independence of the Seas from Feb. 2–10, visiting four islands including St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and the beaches of Royal Caribbean’s private sanctuary in Haiti, Labadee. The 2,100 gay and lesbian guests onboard RSVP Vacations’ Eurodam will sail to the Caribbean islands for Carnival in Curacao, as well as calls at Aruba and Holland America Line’s private island Half Moon Cay, from Feb. 9-16.

“With the largest resident LGBT community in Florida, and as one of the largest gay destinations in the U.S., the size of the market certainly does matter,” said Richard Gray, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (CVB) newly-appointed managing director for the LGBT Market. “Through initiatives like this we’re both attracting new visitors and supporting the visitors that come back to the destination every year.”

The LGBT cruises come on the (9-inch) heels of the CVB’s 2013 “Hello Sunny” marketing campaign that capitalizes on the annual $1 billion economic impact of more 1 million LGBT travelers visiting in the region each year. Apart from the sun, sand and surf, LGBT visitors are attracted to the cosmopolitan destination the region has become, with more than 150 gay owned and operated businesses.

The CVB recently launched the 2013 Hello Sunny Marketing Campaign with a focus on the LGBT community, including Mild to Wild, the LGBT Mobile Site which doubles as a digital stylist generating morning, afternoon, evening and late-night activities and events and serving up Foursquare deals from participating businesses.

Independence of the Seas Image © CruiseDiva.com

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Silversea Unveils 'Relais & Châteaux L'École des Chefs' Cooking School Series For 2013

Chef David Bilsland
Acclaimed culinary trainer David Bilsland, a former instructor at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London, is again set to host Silversea's exclusive "Relais & Châteaux L'École des Chefs" interactive cooking school in 2013. On 14 ultra-luxury voyages across the globe, Chef Bilsland will present a program developed in collaboration with Jacques Thorel, a consulting Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux. Silversea enjoys the privilege of featuring the only "Relais & Châteaux L'École des Chefs" cooking school at sea. The program—which is offered completely free of charge—provides guests with a special culinary curriculum, including hands-on instruction, and entertaining events.

With the curriculum for each of these cruises carefully designed to celebrate the cultural flavor of the ship's itinerary, participating guests may prepare Cajun-spiced shrimp, vegetable fritto misto, or spanakopita, as well as other international delicacies. Highlights include specialized workshops covering an array of topics from basic knife skills and kitchen terminology to sauces and baking; cooking demonstrations with wine pairings and interactive Q&A sessions; lively cooking competitions between Chef Bilsland and the ship's own culinary team; a "Lunch and Learn" event offering small groups of guests a chance to sample a delicious meal of specially prepared dishes; and inspired "Take It Home" recipes that will give guests an edge when entertaining at home. Also offered on certain voyages, when the itinerary permits, is a "Market to Plate" experience that provides an escorted tour of a local market followed by a cooking class, and a "Culinary Outing," an instructor-escorted excursion to a local restaurant, hotel or other venue where guests can enjoy a unique culinary exploration.

Following is a small selection of the L'École des Chefs voyages for 2013:

AFRICA
Silver Wind departs Las Palmas Dec 3 on an 18-day sailing to Cape Town with calls in Porto Novo, Praia, Dakar, Takoradi, Walvis Bay, and Lüderitz.

ASIA
• Silver Shadow departs Tokyo Sept 29 on a 10-day sailing to Shanghai with calls in Hiroshima, Busan, Jeju, and Tianjin (Beijing).

• Silver Shadow departs Tokyo Oct 19 on a 12-day sailing to Hong Kong with calls in Osaka, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Shanghai, and Xiamen.

MEDITERRANEAN
• Silver Wind departs Rome Nov 19 on a 7-day sailing to Málaga with calls in Sorrento, Trapani, Valletta, La Goulette, and Cartagena.

• Silver Wind departs Málaga Nov 26 on a 7-day sailing to Las Palmas with calls in Cádiz, Casablanca, Agadir, Arrecife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Santa Cruz de la Palma.

NORTHERN EUROPE
• Silver Explorer departs Lisbon April 29 on a 14-day "Flavors of Europe" voyage to Portsmouth with calls in Oporto (Leixoes), Vigo, Santander, St. Jean de Luz, Bordeaux, Quiberon, Saint-Malo, Guernsey, and Honfleur.

• Silver Cloud departs Southampton June 9 on a 10-day sailing to Copenhagen with calls in Honfleur, Oostende, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Warnemünde (Rostock), and Helsingborg.

SOUTH PACIFIC
• Silver Spirit departs Los Angeles Feb 1 on a 31-day roundtrip odyssey exploring the enchanting isles of the South Pacific with calls in the Marquesas Islands, Rangiroa, Society Islands, Kiribati, and Hawaii.

TRANSOCEANIC
• Silver Shadow departs Vancouver Sept 12 on a 16-day transpacific voyage to Tokyo with calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Kodiak, Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka), and Hakodate.

"What's really great about our L'École des Chefs cooking school is that it's free, fun and entertaining," said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea's president of the Americas. "And it lets our guests get hands-on training, working side by side with an accomplished chef to learn new cooking techniques and sample delectable dishes."

For a complete list of L'École des Chefs voyages, visit Silversea online.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Friday, January 18, 2013

‘Move Up in the World’ with Free Balcony Upgrades on MSC Cruises

The wave just keeps rolling along as MSC Cruises kicks off the 2013 “Wave Season” with complimentary balcony upgrades across the MSC fleet, featuring an exciting array of itineraries and destinations.

For as low as $82/day per person (including dining and entertainment), MSC guests will enjoy in the best vistas available of the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and the Caribbean from the lavish comfort of their very own balcony. Through March 31, 2013, cruise aficionados can take advantage of MSC’s “Move Up in the World” promotion and enjoy a balcony stateroom for the price of an oceanview. Available as part of the cruise industry’s traditional “Wave Season”, examples of sailings include:
3-night Caribbean cruises, starting at $369 per person
5-night Mediterranean cruises, starting at $499 per person
7-night Caribbean cruises, start at $679 per person
7-night Mediterranean cruises, start at $599 per person
7-night Northern European cruises, starting at $849 per person
Travelers taking advantage of this special offer will enjoy MSC’s renowned Mediterranean style, elegant and pristine décor, cosmopolitan flare, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and highly acclaimed world-class entertainment.

The “Move Up in the World” promotion is available on 11 of MSC’s 12-ship fleet with more than 200 different departure dates for European, Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises and a vast selection of itineraries and departure ports.

Samples of just some of the available sailings include:

Caribbean:

Travelers can choose from several alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, visiting ports, such as Cozumel, Mexico, Roatan Island, Honduras, Saint Maarten, St. John’s, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Georgetown, Cayman Islands and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

MSC Poesia sails 7 nights from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 9, 16, 23, March 9, 30 and April 6, 2013. Rates start at $679. The newly launched MSC Divina sails for the first time from Miami, beginning Fall 2013 through April 2014. 7-night sailings start at $749 and 3-night sailings start at $369.

Mediterranean:

Fall in love with the Mediterranean on board the MSC Divina, sailing 7 nights from Venice with ports of call in Bari, Italy, Katakolon (Olympia), Greece, Izmir (Ephesus), Istanbul, Turkey and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sailing March through October with rates starting at $669. For a late Fall and Winter Mediterranean experience, the MSC Fantasia sails 11 nights from Genoa, calling on Katakolon, Greece, Alexandria, Egypt, Haifa, Israel, Piraeus, Athens and Civitavecchia, Rome. Nov. 25, Dec. 6, 2013 and Jan. 8, 19, 30, 2014 sailings start at $899. Western Mediterranean cruises onboard the MSC Splendida. Sail 7 nights from Barcelona, Spain with calls on La Goulette, Tunisia, Palermo, Sicily, Civitavecchia, Rome, Genoa, Italy and Marseille, France. Nov.18, 25, Dec.2, 9, 16, 2013 sailings start at $649.

Scheduled to debut in March 2013, MSC’s newest ship, the MSC Preziosa sails from Barcelona, Spain, calling on Marseilles, France, Genoa, Naples, Messina, Italy and La Goulette, Tunisia. Sailing March through November with fares from $599 for 7 nights.

Northern Europe:

Sail through Scandinavia for 7-nights on MSC Opera from Southhampton, calling at Ijmuiden, Amsterdam, Flaam, Stavanger and Oslo, Norway. May through September fares start at $849.

Fares quoted are per person and vary by sail date. Government fees and taxes are additional and vary by ships and sailing dates. Consumers can book by phone by contacting their preferred travel advisor or MSC Cruises at 1.877.665.4655 and asking for the special “Wave Season 2013” promotion. For those interested in booking online, visit MSCCruisesUSA.com, pick a sailing date, and select “Wave Season 2013” from the “choose your promotion” drop-down menu.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cruising With Mickey From Miami

Travel journalist Georgina Cruz has just returned from a Disney Wonder cruise from Miami and shares the experience on board and the ports of call. You didn’t know you could take a cruise on a Disney Cruise Line ship from the Port of Miami?

As Georgina says, “We were enjoying the sail away festivities with Mickey, Minnie, and other Disney characters out on deck and taking time to enjoy our ship’s departure from the Port of Miami with the views of the city’s skyscrapers. But wait! Mickey and Miami? Yep! Since late December Disney Cruise Line has deployed for the first time ever its Disney Wonder to South Florida to offer a variety of voyages to the Bahamas and the Western Caribbean from Miami.”

Join her aboard Disney Wonder for a fun-filled cruise with Mickey and the gang.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway Gets A New “Boss”

 “Cake Boss,” Buddy Valastro
A “Cake Boss,” that is—and he’s one with his roots planted deeply in the New York food scene.

Master cake baker Buddy Valastro, star of the popular TLC television series “Cake Boss” and “Next Great Baker,” will open an extension of his family business, Carlo’s Bake Shop, on the new Norwegian Breakaway, coming to New York City in May 2013. Featuring all of the delicious treats and confections that the original bakery is known for, Carlo’s Bake Shop on Norwegian Breakaway will also give guests the opportunity to pre-order custom specialty cakes for celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries. For a challenging and fun experience, Carlo’s will offer cupcake decorating classes, where guests can learn some of Valastro’s tricks of the trade.

“Spending time with family is one of the most important things. A cruise is a wonderful opportunity for a family to relax and have fun together and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to bring Carlo’s aboard this fantastic cruise ship,” said Buddy Valastro. “I am thrilled to begin this partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line and open Carlo’s Bake Shop on Norwegian Breakaway, the ultimate ship for families.”

Carlo’s Bake Shop will be located on Deck 8 in the former Cakestand location. Featured menu items will include freshly baked cookies, cakes and pies, such as Buddy’s famous Oreo, Dark Chocolate Mousse and Purple Groovy Fondant cakes; Italian butter cookies; biscottis; and an assortment of cupcakes. Luscious chocolate and vanilla cannolis, cream-filled lobster tails, and individual treats such as strawberry cheesecake, chocolate truffle and tiramisu round out the menu. The delectable goodies will be available for purchase à la carte.

“The New York area is known for its outstanding bakeries,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “As with all features of this new incredible ship, we wanted to bring not just a taste of the region to our guests, but the very best out there. Buddy is known as the ultimate baker, so we knew he was the best choice for our new bakery on Norwegian Breakaway. We are thrilled to welcome Buddy to the Norwegian family.”

Buddy Valastro is an accomplished fourth generation baker born into the business owned and operated by his parents since 1910. He grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey in an old-fashioned Italian family. He showed a flair for cake decorating at an early age. His talent and passion for the family business, Carlo’s Bakery, has earned the straight-talking cake expert the moniker, and TLC TV show, Cake Boss. In December 2010, TLC premiered the spin-off series, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, now in its third season, where Buddy challenged bakers from around the country to compete for a chance to work alongside the Valastro family at Carlo’s. Proven he’s a master when it comes to sweets, in Buddy’s third TLC show, Kitchen Boss, he welcomes viewers into his kitchen to demonstrate he’s just as skilled at savory items, preparing his family favorite Italian recipes.

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
· 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
Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines ‘Dive-In Movies’ Feature Theme Nights, Logo Items & More

While on an 8-night Caribbean cruise from Miami aboard Carnival Breeze last month one of the features we enjoyed was the huge movie screen overlooking the pool deck. As we discovered, Carnival Cruise Lines has revamped its shipboard outdoor movie-viewing experience to feature theme nights, custom-made movie trailers, branded popcorn boxes, and more. Dubbed Dive-In Movies, the open-air theater experience is part of the line’s extensive “Fun Ship 2.0” product enhancement initiative that is being rolled out across the fleet.

Dive-In Movies include a wide range of popular titles appealing to all ages—from family films and animated features to action flicks and romantic comedies—which are shown on a massive 270-square-foot screen located poolside that features superior picture quality and a 70,000-watt sound system. As you can see pictured above, it’s even great for viewing during on a sunny day! Theme nights such “Date Night,” “Oscar Winners,” and “Classics” are screened, as are sporting events, news, concerts, and other programming, including the cruise director’s morning show.

Guests can view their favorite films from the Lido pool or relax in one of dozens of chaise lounges available. Branded logo items include popcorn boxes as well as complimentary blankets available for check out at a kiosk conveniently located on Lido Deck.

Dive-In Movies are currently available on 12 Carnival ships that offer LED screens—Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Victory, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Valor, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic, and the new Carnival Breeze. Dive-In movies will also be part of the on-board offerings of the Carnival Sunshine, which is currently sailing as Carnival Destiny and will emerge as Carnival Sunshine following a $155 million refit this spring.

Image (c) CruiseDiva.com

Monday, January 14, 2013

Crystal Cruises' Travel Planning Forecast: Younger. Shorter. Stronger. Broader.

It's Wave Season and all about cruise deals this time of year. To help you get on board with savings, we're sharing the best deals that come our way. Keep in mind that many of these special offers are for a limited time and space will go fast.

Luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises is kicking off 2013 with a younger clientele, shorter cruises, stronger 2013 bookings, a broader collection of ultra-luxe cruise destinations and savings.

How so? New Book Now fares, guaranteed only through Feb 28, 2013, offer up to $1500 off Asia, $1500 off Europe, $1600 off New England/Canada, $1700 off South America, $1000 off Holiday sailings, and more.

What's more...
-- Reduced Solo Travel Fares on 12 voyages in Asia, Mediterranean, Baltic and South America—as low as 110% for sole occupancy staterooms.
-- Kids Sail Free on select July and August Western and Northern European cruises, in a third berth when sharing a stateroom with two adults.
"Booking early reaps great benefits—in savings, third berth capacity, airfares, etc.," says Jack Anderson, senior vice president, marketing & sales. "When our last round of Book Now fares expired on Dec 28th, we raised rates on 25 cruises in 2013 and seven in 2014. By the end of December, we had over 70% of our targeted revenue on the books for 2013. The word is out that these extraordinary fares for our ultra-luxury cruises are not guaranteed forever."

Also significant, many more 2013 cruises are 10 days or less (almost half!), including a 250+% increase in shorter European cruises. Additionally, Crystal's wildly successful Fall 2012 series of short Getaways are returning for 2013 with more options to more destinations.
-- Crystal Getaways: As little as 5 days, 9 voyages in Asia, Australia/New Zealand, New England/Canada and Alaska start as low as $1,470 per person.
"More than 70% of our Getaways guests are new to Crystal and, on average, almost 10 years younger," says Anderson. "Some are time-crunched professionals. Some are combining with land stays. All in all, they've been blending in well with guests on more extended cruise vacations and are raving about their Crystal experience."

Also worth noting in 2013:
-- More than 50% increase in shipboard overnight stays in port on embarkation days—to better enjoy the destination and ease the travel experience.
-- 25% more port days than 2012.
In 2013, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity visit 226 ports of call in 62 countries, while 2014 brings 194 ports in 68 countries. Crystal's passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more "World's Best" awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history. With a host of complimentary amenities, from enlightening enrichment speakers and fitness classes to pampering pillow menus and specialty restaurant dining, featuring the cuisine of Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio, a Crystal cruise offers tremendous value in luxury resort vacationing worldwide. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Image Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pop Star Showdown on a Princess Cruise

Last week Cruise Diva shared the hilarious video Dancing Behind People on a Cruise Ship and we've since discovered other videos starring the hyper-dancing Greg Benson, who it turns out can also sing. Created on a Princess cruise to Hawaii, the following one, entitled HAROLD SINGS! Pop Star Showdown, is our favorite.


We love the way funny guy Greg treats Harold with dignity and respect during the interview portion at rehearsal. And, since anything can happen on a cruise, Harold has a really good shot at winning! I won't give away the ending though, you'll just have to watch the video to discover who won.

More videos can be found in Greg Benson's YouTube channel at Mediocre Films 2.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Princess Cruises Unveils New Blog with Tales of People “Linked by the Sea”

As they have done the past two years with their popular blogs “50 Essential Experiences” and “Inspired to Cruise,” Princess Cruises has launched a new blog for 2013. Called “Linked by the Sea,” it will explore the many relationships that begin, or are rekindled, at sea. Featuring touching stories from both passengers and crew members, the blog will recount personal tales of friendship, romance and meaningful connections forged at sea. The new blog, found at LinkedbytheSea.com (and linked here in Cruise Diva's Blogroll), will follow the outline of the line's previous blogs and chronicle a new story each week throughout the year.

“A cruise often includes the discovery of new friends or rekindled relationships that lead to meaningful or lifelong bonds,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “We frequently hear amazing stories from our passengers and crew about people they connect with at sea. These moving tales provided the perfect theme for our third blog and we know they will touch readers.”

In the first post, passenger Steve Deas tells how wearing a kilt on board became an icebreaker that led to an ongoing friendship with Princess Maître d’ Generoso Mazzone. This friendship led to a unique opportunity for Steve to surprise his wife with a secret vow renewal ceremony during a visit to Emerald Princess. What was supposed to be a friendly visit became an anniversary to remember.

Blog readers are encouraged to share their own “Linked by the Sea” stories through the blog as well. Submissions to linkedbythesea.com/share-your-story will be considered for future blog posts.

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Friday, January 11, 2013

InnerSea Discoveries + American Safari Cruises Are Officially Un-Cruise Adventures

While the combined—yet distinctive—small ship lines have always called their adventurous sailings “un-cruises,” they’ve made the moniker official. Marking another milestone in its 16 year evolution, adventure cruise line InnerSea Discoveries/American Safari Cruises has officially changed its name to Un-Cruise Adventures. The line operates seven boats carrying 22 to 88 guests in Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Columbia and Snake Rivers, and Coastal Washington and British Columbia.

“We’ve experienced phenomenal growth and success over the last four years,” said Dan Blanchard, principal and CEO. “What began as yacht cruising under the American Safari Cruises name has now expanded to include more styles of Un-Cruise Adventures, and this name change reflects that growth.”

The company has three yachts offering Luxury Adventures—22-guest Safari Quest, 36-guest Safari Explorer and 86-guest Safari Endeavour—an inclusive, upscale experience along with adventure activities. The 88-guest Safari Legacy, a replica Victorian steamer, debuts in August 2013 and will offer inclusive Heritage Adventures focusing on Living History aboard and ashore through presentations and tours. Three expedition vessels—60-guest Wilderness Adventurer, 76-guest Wilderness Discoverer and 76-guest Wilderness Explorer—offer Active Adventures for those desiring more outdoor explorations at a lower price point. Charter Adventures are also offered on all boats.

“Un-Cruise Adventures reflects the distinct nature of our small group travel by boat,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Luxury of Experience really speaks to what Un-Cruise Adventures is all about. With a cap of 88 guests, we are able to experience more of the destinations through a wide range of activities—kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and hiking under our Luxury and Active Adventures or reenacting history with Heritage Adventures.”

New in 2013: The 88-guest Safari Legacy begins operating in Alaska and then sails on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in fall and spring. It debuts Heritage Adventures—a new style of Un-Cruise Adventure with a focus on Living History aboard and ashore. In November 2013, the Wilderness Explorer will begin sailing Active Adventures in the Hawaiian Islands between Oahu and Hawaii, the Big Island. And three Alaska Unleashed departures are scheduled for the Wilderness Adventurer in Alaska for adventurers desiring an amped up week of high adventure.

Moving forward, all company materials will change to reflect the new name of Un-Cruise Adventures. The company’s website URL will change to un-cruise.com.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Upgrade Wave Continues With Norwegian Offering Repositioning Cruise Savings

Norwegian Cruise Line has launched its “Repositioning Bonus Days” offer today, providing guests the opportunity to save on all Transatlantic, Panama Canal, Pacific Coastal, and other Repositioning sailings of five days or longer. Guests who take advantage of this limited time offer will receive $100 to spend on board, free upgrades and an e-coupon booklet with more than $300 in on-board savings when they book a repositioning cruise reservation through tomorrow, Jan 11, 2013.

Vacationers looking to set sail on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise experience can do so on a relaxing voyage across the Atlantic. With fares starting at $449, guests can sail on board Norwegian Epic from Miami to Barcelona on an 11-day voyage departing April 20, 2013 or on a 13-day cruise on Oct 20, 2013 from Barcelona to Miami.

Norwegian Star embarks on two transatlantic voyages in 2013: a 16-day cruise from New Orleans to Copenhagen on April 21, 2013 and a 12-day cruise from Copenhagen to Miami on Oct 1, 2013.

The limited time offer also includes a variety of exciting Repositioning cruises. Cruisers looking to take an unforgettable voyage through the Panama Canal can do so onboard Norwegian Jewel, Pearl, Star, or Sun with fares starting at $949 per person. Panama Canal repositioning cruises range from 14 to 17 days, sailing from Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Guests can bask in the historical wonder as they sail through the narrow passage of the Panama Canal and have the opportunity to visit amazing ports such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas, Costa Rica and Cartagena, Colombia.

Norwegian Dawn will set sail on a 12-day Caribbean Escape from Tampa to Boston on April 21, 2013; and on Nov 1, 2013 the ship will sail back to Boston from Tampa on a 14-day Caribbean Escape.

The foliage of the Pacific Coast awaits, on a Pacific Coastal Repositioning cruise where guests can enjoy spectacular coastal views from the decks of Norwegian Jewel, Pearl, or Sun from Los Angeles, California or Vancouver, British Columbia, with fares starting at $349.

No matter which repositioning cruise vacationers embark upon, they are guaranteed to experience the voyage of a lifetime with a wealth of time to relax on deck, dine in a variety of delicious restaurants, enjoy the wide range of activities and entertainment on board, get pampered in the spa, or just enjoy the fresh ocean breeze while reading a book on a private balcony. All fares are based on double occupancy. To book the repositioning Bonus Days offer, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit NCL.com.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Launches New Blog: Luxury Goes Exploring

Did you notice the addition to Cruise Diva's Blogroll (over there in the right-hand column)? The latest cruise line to enter the blog-o-sphere is Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Its new blog, Luxury Goes Exploring, which launched this week, celebrates the tastes and traditions of the places that the luxury line visits along with valuable insider tips and destination information guests can use when planning their cruise vacation.

“Our discerning guests share our passion for exploring the world and learning more about the people, the culture and the food of the more than 300 ports of call we visit a year,” said Randall Soy, the line’s executive vice president. “The new blog and our enhanced social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter will provide guests with fascinating and useful information about the ports they will visit and give them a more intimate experience with cultures and customs of the world.”

As part of this effort, the line has appointed of Mara Papatheodorou as its special contributing editor. Papatheodorou, a taste and traditions expert, will provide a regular blog feature called Sail, Sip & Savor. A former editor at Bon Appétit magazine who oversaw the magazine’s international and entertaining stories, Papatheodorou will explore the history of cuisine and culture in popular ports of call and will also provide suggestions on where to dine locally and shop for special ingredients and other products unique to the region.

From Papatheodorou's extensive travels with a culinary perspective, she knows it is all there for the tasting whether it is limoncello in Capri, pizza in Naples, herbs in Provence, honey in Greece, whiskey in Scotland, paella in Valencia or gelato in Florence. As Papatheodorou says, "the joy of travel mixed with the intrigue of ingredients of a country’s culture and cuisine is a delicious and unforgettable combination."

Other regular blog features include More to Explore, an inside look at the best tours and excursions for every destination, and Insider, a behind-the-scenes look at the line from executives, staff and crew as well as special announcements on topics relevant to travelers.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line. Fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, acclaimed cuisine, fine wines and spirits, sightseeing excursions in every port, a pre-cruise luxury hotel package and gratuities. Three award-winning, all-suite vessels, Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager, are among the most spacious at sea and visit more than 300 destinations around the globe.

Image Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway will Light Up the Night with a Fireworks Show on Every Cruise

To date, the only cruise line that delights passengers with a fireworks show at sea has been Disney, but that is about to change, Norwegian Cruise Line is starting off 2013 with a “bang” by revealiing that Norwegian Breakaway, the line’s newest ship debuting this May in New York City, will feature an exciting fireworks show on every cruise. The environmentally-friendly pyrotechnics display will dazzle everyone on board on the second to last night at sea each week, after the ship departs Bermuda during her summer inaugural season. Building on the electrifying theme of the ship’s headlining Broadway show, ROCK OF AGES, the awe-inspiring fireworks will be the grand finale of a decadent 1980s-themed deck party and will be set to a specially-selected playlist of classic 1980s hits by artists like Madonna, Devo, and Prince.

“All the incredible entertainment and amenities on Norwegian Breakaway are going to wow our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO. “We wanted one additional element that would really blow them away and this incredible fireworks show is going to take the cruise to a new level of excitement.”

As guests boogie the night away at the high-energy party under the stars in the open-air Spice H20 venue at the aft of the ship, they will be transported to the 1980s, where music and fun reigned supreme. In a breathtaking finale, a mesmerizing color-filled fireworks show will light up the night sky, right above the ship. The fully-produced show is a visual masterpiece that is set to a playlist of classic 80s hits including “Comeon Feel the Noise,” by Quiet Riot; “Whip It,” by Devo; “Cherish,” by Madonna; “Final Countdown,” by Europe; and “Purple Rain,” by Prince. As the fireworks blast to the beat of the music, guests will enjoy an experience unlike anything else offered at sea on New York’s ship.

Take a peek...


The 4,000 passenger Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in her year-round homeport of New York City on May 7, 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 & Florida and the Southern Caribbean. Word is that those sailings will include the pyrotechnics display as well.

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 & 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.

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
· Norwegian Breakaway to Feature Cutting-Edge Spa & Fitness Experiences
· Norwegian Breakaway to Put NYC on Ice
Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cunard Announces Wave of Savings on Crossings & Europe Sailings

Is this your year to explore Europe or simply test the waters with an Atlantic crossing? For those looking to get an early start on planning this year’s cruise travel vacations, Cunard Line has announced significant savings on select Transatlantic Crossings aboard Queen Mary 2, and European cruises on board Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. In addition, substantial savings on airfare—up to $1000 per couple—are available on select European cruises.

Transatlantic Crossings
The most storied voyage on the seas, Cunard’s Transatlantic Crossing is the only itinerary for which the voyage itself becomes the destination, offering guests a true escape from the everyday. For more than 170 years, the Line’s Crossings have appealed to a broad range of sophisticated travelers who share a love of glamour, elegance and tradition.

Fares from $999 per person (including government fees and taxes) are now available for these 7-day 2013-2014 Transatlantic Crossings:
• April 26: Westbound, Southampton to New York, $999
• May 3: Eastbound, New York to Southampton, $1045
• May 25: Westbound, Southampton to New York, $1057
• Dec 15: Westbound, Southampton to New York, $1057
• Jan 3, 2014: Eastbound, New York to Southampton, $1045
On board Queen Mary 2, every day offers a wide variety of engaging opportunities: award-winning enrichment through the Cunard Insights program; well-being in the renowned first Canyon Ranch SpaClub® at sea; and entertainment provided by world-class companies such as the Juilliard Jazz School, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and London’s National Symphony Orchestra. Every night is like having “a night out on the town”—cocktails with friends, gourmet cuisine in a different restaurant each evening, ballroom dancing in the Queens Room, or stargazing in the only planetarium at sea.

Europe
From the magnificent Winter Palace to the Troll Wall, to the Stigfossen Waterfall and the Brandenburg Gate, Europe is home to some of the world’s most celebrated landmarks and destinations. On voyages to the region of 12 days or more, such as the popular St. Petersburg & Baltic Explorer aboard Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, guests will receive up to $1,000 in savings on airfare per couple when flights are booked via the Cunard CompleteAir® program either through a Travel Agent or by calling Cunard directly.

Guests can take advantage of Queen Elizabeth's fly-cruise Mediterranean program by opting to extend their stay in Athens, Rome or Venice up to two days before or after their voyage calls there, allowing for added discovery and adventure in port at one’s leisure. Additionally, guests booking a Britannia Club on the Queen Elizabeth’s May 26, 2013 Norwegian Fjords & North Cape Explorer can save up to $1,200 per stateroom in cruise fare.

Queen Elizabeth’s grand art deco interiors and unique art works, which pay homage to both the original Queen Elizabeth and Great Britain’s Royal Family, continue to fascinate and delight guests who sail aboard the Line’s newest Cunarder. The ship’s Grand Lobby prominently displays the 18.5 ft. marquetry piece of the original Queen Elizabeth created by David Linley, only nephew of Her Majesty The Queen; and a specially commissioned portrait of The Queen, created by artist Isobel Peachey particularly for the 2010 debut of Queen Elizabeth.

In grand Cunard tradition, Queen Victoria is designed in the spirit of the floating palaces of the past. Having debuted in December 2007, she captured the world stage in a way few ships ever do—becoming one of the most fêted ships to be introduced in recent years and quickly establishing herself in the Cunard fleet. Every inch of the 2,000-passenger liner is infused with a sense of luxury and tradition—from the Royal Court Theatre, which includes the first private viewing boxes at sea, to the signature two-story library with a spiral staircase and nearly 6,000 volumes. Queen Victoria features double- and triple-height public rooms that evoke the rich and well-recorded history of ocean liner and Victorian era design.

Fares are available on a space-available basis at time of reservation. Fares for other categories not shown and for other voyages may vary. Fares are per person, do not include air travel, are voyage only, are based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. Offer expires March 31, 2013. For more information, or to book a voyage, consult your Travel Agent, call Cunard toll-free at 1-800-728-6273, or visit Cunard.com.

Princess Cruises Rings in the New Year with A Wave Season Super Sale

Princess Cruises is starting off the New Year with an unprecedented sale called “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” for wave season, offering passengers savings on both cruise prices and airfare when booking with Princess eZAir. Featured cruise deals will save passengers up to $1,000 per stateroom on their sailing, plus up to $1,000 savings per couple on airfare as well.

“This year for wave season, our busiest booking period of the year, we wanted to make sure passengers could take full advantage of the great cruise deals available without being put off by the high cost of airfare,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “So we’re including big savings on both cruise and air costs this year.”

The “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” sale includes cruises in Europe and Alaska, with voyages to the beauty of the Mediterranean, the idyllic Greek Isles, the historic Holy Land, the intriguing British Isles, the unique cultures of Scandinavia & Russia, and the majestic scenery of the “Great Land” of Alaska. Full cruisetours to the best of Alaska by land and sea are also featured.

More information about the cruise sale and pricing can be found at www.princess.com/sale.

Sample cruise deals include:
• Greek Isles cruise, 12 days: $2,529 balcony (was $3,029); $1,879 interior (was $2,129). Air savings: $500
• Grand Mediterranean cruise, 12 days: $3,094 balcony (was $3,244); $2,244 interior (was $2,389). Air savings: $500
• Holy Land cruise, 12 days: $2,974 balcony (was $3,624); $2,374 interior (was $2,824). Air savings: $500
• British Isles cruise, 12 days: $2,844 balcony (was $3,194); $2,144 interior (was $2,294). Air savings: $400
• Scandinavia & Russia cruise, 11 days: $2,829 balcony (was $3,129); $2,129 interior (was $2,229). Air savings: $400
• Alaska cruise, 7 days: $1,299 balcony (was $1,399). Air savings: $100
• Alaska cruisetour Denali Explorer, 10 nights: $1,963 balcony (was $2,113). Air savings: $100
Air savings available to passengers booking Princess eZAir flights in conjunction with the cruise. Princess eZAir gives passengers easy and full control of their flights and the ability to seamlessly coordinate them with their cruise itinerary. Featuring real-time pricing and flight availability, immediate flight confirmation, competitive airfares, and next port protection in the event of flight delays, the innovative program provides passengers and their travel agents the ease of a single booking source for both air and cruise reservations. Travelers using Princess eZAir can choose air carriers and flights, as well as select their preferred cabin level and seating, all with no extra customization fee.

All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy and now include government fees and taxes. The “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” sale runs through Feb 15, 2013, and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company's website at Princess.com.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Cruise Ship Review: Welcome Aboard Carnival Breeze

Pierside in Miami, Carnival Breeze may look like just another Carnival Cruise Lines ship, but that appearance is deceiving. The third and final Dream-class ship is substantially different than her earlier fleetmates and even her other Dream-class sister-ships for that matter.

She may not appear larger, although at 130,000 tons the Carnival Breeze is the third of the the largest "Fun Ships" constructed by Carnival Cruise Lines to date.

However, while there is no doubt that she is Carnival ship, Carnival Breeze is truly an evolution in design and function. While her decor is toned down considerably, within her Caribbean inspired interiors you'll still find all the fun you expect 0n a Carnival ship and more.

Join Cruise Diva on board to explore Carnival Breeze,the newest and most feature-filled Carnival Cruise Lines ship, which is now sailing 6- and 8-night Caribbean cruises from Miami.

Image (c) CruiseDiva.com

Sunday, January 6, 2013

NEW Cruise Review: Caribbean Princess

Join our frequent cruise contributors Mary and Vincent Finelli for a Caribbean Princess Encore cruise to the Southern Caribbean as they return to sail for a third time aboard Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess.

The Finellis sum up their voyage, "This was our 18th cruise with Princess, thus we enjoyed the Elite benefits which, among other things, are incentives for us to return to Princess. In addition, we know the ship plans so well, since the newer ships have similar deck plans, so when we book a cruise we know exactly where and what are our choices in regard to cabin location, dining times and places. Also we always book future cruises while aboard, so we take the advantage of a lower booking deposit and the added benefit of on board credit. We have learned so much from the early days of cruising, that now we are enjoying ourselves more and more each cruise; we know what to expect from different ships and cruise lines, thus every cruise meets our expectation and sometimes exceeds it. The results are that we have never had a bad cruise yet, but only good ones and some better than others. This one was definitely better than many others."

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Paul Gauguin Cruises New Ship the m/v Tere Moana Christened in St. Martin

Paul Gauguin Cruises, best known as the operator of the m/s Paul Gauguin, the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, christened its new luxurious ship, the m/v Tere Moana, in an official ceremony held dockside on Dec 29, 2012, in Marigot, St. Martin. Cruise guests, local dignitaries, and media were in attendance.

Mireille Bailey, The Moana's godmother and wife of Richard Bailey, Chairman of Paul Gauguin Cruises and President and CEO of Pacific Beachcomber S.C., presided over the festivities, delivering a moving speech before christening Tere Moana with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Champagne. Mr. Bailey along with Diane Moore, President of Paul Gauguin Cruises, and Captain Rajko Zupan, the ship's Master, spoke during the ceremony, which included plaque presentations by St. Martin's Vice President of the Collectivite, Port Chairman, Port Director, and Tourist Board. Father Samson Dorival of St. Martin delivered the ship's blessing, and ceremony attendees were serenaded by the festive music of a Caribbean steel drum band.

After the ceremony, a Champagne reception followed by a gala dinner was held aboard before Tere Moana set sail on its inaugural 7-night Caribbean voyage to visit islands in the French West Indies, British Virgin Islands, and St. Kitts & Nevis. In January and February, Tere Moana embarks on 13- and 14-night Panama Canal cruises. From April through November, the ship operates a variety of 7-night European voyages. During spring and fall, 14-night transatlantic crossings are available between Europe and the Caribbean.

Like Paul Gauguin, Tere Moana offers an elegant yet casual ambiance, luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, trademark Polynesian hospitality, and extraordinary all-inclusive value. At 330 feet long and 46 feet wide, The Moana has a draft of 11.5 feet, and accommodates 90 guests with a staff of 60. The ship's 45 oceanview staterooms, 8 of which offer private balconies, feature a king-size bed dressed with fine linens and feather-down duvet; a flatscreen TV; DVD/CD player; iPod® docking station; in-stateroom refrigerator replenished daily with soft drinks, beer, and bottled water; robes and slippers; spacious closets; and a bathroom with sumptuous bath products.

Tere Moana offers two elegant dining venues and incorporates regionally infused cuisine of destinations visited featuring fresh ingredients from local markets. Evenings feature live piano music in Le Salon, the perfect place to enjoy cocktails and unwind after a day of adventure. The ship's Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm delivers signature spa treatments, and a fitness center is equipped with the latest cardio and weightlifting equipment. The ship's outdoor decks feature a swimming pool, hot tub, chaise lounges, and Balinese beds. In select ports,kayaking and paddleboarding are available from the ship's watersports marina. And the ship's La Boutique features jewelry, apparel, sundries, and souvenirs.

For more information on Paul Gauguin Cruises, visit PGCruises.com.

Image Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises