Friday, October 30, 2015

Holland America Line Tells A Bold New Story

According to Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line President, the company is entering a new era of cruising with Koningsdam set to launch in April 2016 and an as yet unnamed sister ship that will join the fleet in fall 2018. Koningsdam's forward thinking design will tap into Holland America's rich history and deliver unforgettable experiences for passengers. In addition to the new vessels, the line is investing in the future by committing $300 million to enhance the existing fleet to bring it up to the standard set by Koningsdam.

As a reflection of those enhancements, Holland America Line has modernized its logo (pictured here), introduced the tag line "Savor The Journey" and formed three partnerships that will offer guests planning tools as well as a heightened onboard experience.

First, a collaboration with AFAR Media to help cruisers plan and prepare for their dream cruise vacation by providing "Destination Guides" for ports of call on Holland America Line's website. Each of the 400 Destination Guides will contain an overview of up to 20 top picks to see and do in the area; recommended restaurants, cafes and markets; and even shopping suggestions.

A second partnership with software platform Utrip simplifies personalizing the content found in new AFAR Destination Guides and narrows down the options available when selecting a cruise itinerary. Visitors to the Holland America Line website can either browse the information on their own or utilize the Utrip functionality to select desired ports of call and activities ashore. When using Utrip, guests will receive customized recommendations on Holland America Line's cruise itineraries, port highlights, and shore excursions tailored to their interests.

Once on board, the third partnership with BBC Earth will add to the experience with factual entertainment. The expanded enrichment program will include concerts, films, shows, children's activities, and theme cruises. For example, a highlight of the partnership will be a live concert specially adapted for Holland America Line based on the "Frozen Planet" program, which takes guests on a journey into the wilderness of the Polar Regions. The production will feature "Frozen Planet" footage and be accompanied by live musicians. Junior cruisers will also enjoy enriching activities and an on-board explorer trail, fun workshops, and BBC Earth animal and dinosaur fact shows.

All-in-all, with these partnerships, their newly simplified logo, and Savor The Journey tag line, Holland America is looking to the future as an ambassador of joy and maker of dreams. They believe that travel makes the world a better place by bring people together and aim to make the journey a seamless process.

For detailed information, see Cruise Diva's Cruise News.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cunard Hosts HRH Princess Anne In New York

Princess Anne at the National Museum
for the Royal Navy
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Patron of the UK's National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), will be the special guest at an exclusive New York luncheon today sponsored by Cunard Line in support of the world's most iconic warship, HMS Victory. The luncheon marks another milestone in Cunard's celebratory 175th year and coincides with the launch of HMS Victory 250 years ago.

The Trafalgar luncheon is a celebration of the history of British Sea Power and is hosted by the American Friends of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (AFNMRN), a not-for-profit organization that furthers the special relationship between the British and American navies and supports the NMRN's collections and educational programs. Following years of mostly stopgap reservation, HMS Victory is entering the most significant phase of conservation in her 250-year history to stabilize and preserve her. The luncheon marks the early stages of an international campaign to secure her long-term future.

The backdrop of Cunard's flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 will provide an inspirational setting to the luncheon while she is docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It is the second such event sponsored by Cunard in support of NMRN during this year, with the earlier function hosted aboard Queen Victoria in April while the ship was docked in Los Angeles (San Pedro), California.

All proceeds from the event will go towards the conservation of HMS Victory, which boasts a huge following in America. The ship, which legendarily led the British Fleet to victory against the French in 1805, is most famously associated with Admiral Lord Nelson, who was mortally wounded during the Battle of Trafalgar and is now possibly one of the Greatest Britons.

David W. Fleming, Founding President of the AFNMRN, said, "We are thrilled to welcome Her Royal Highness as guest of honor. There is a very special relationship and shared respect between our two navies, past and present. The awesome sea power of the UK's greatest flagship, HMS Victory, and the tactical genius of Admiral Lord Nelson capture the hearts and minds of many Americans."

Image Courtesy Cunard Line

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Princess Cruises to Introduce Style at Sea with TLC

Ladies, you know you've done this. What to pack, what to wear, and how to look stylish are just a few of the many questions you've asked yourself when preparing for a cruise vacation. Princess Cruises and TLC are coming to the rescue by introducing Style at Sea with TLC with the help of fashion expert Stacy London—famous for her time as co-host on TLC's What Not to Wear.

TLC has teamed up with Princess Cruises to provide style advice and how-tos to make dressing aboard a cruise carefree and fun. In addition, the cruise line's current Runway at Sea onboard activity, offering Princess guests the chance to model clothing from the line's boutiques, will be revamped.

"Style at Sea with TLC adds to our 'come back new' brand promise, and is designed to give our guests transformative style experiences," said Gordon Ho, senior vice president of global marketing for Princess Cruises. "We're proud to have Stacy London introduce this new program that will help our guests pack fashionably and with style specific to the destination as well as look and feel their best for their own celebrations at sea."

TLC personalities will host a video series to help women choose the best pieces of clothing for their cruise vacation. From providing tips to those who prefer to pack light, to accessorizing a bathing suit, dressing up for a special occasion, or applying make-up, Style at Sea with TLC will help take the guesswork out of how to dress for both day and night while on a cruise.

"The Style at Sea program is designed to make all women feel confident throughout their cruise," said London. "Whether they're relaxing on a beach in the Caribbean, whale watching in Alaska, quickly changing from day to night, or getting ready for a romantic celebration, I want all women to know how to express their personal style with confidence anywhere and everywhere, land or sea."

Style at Sea with TLC video content and articles will be available in early 2016.

Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Empress of the Seas to Return to Royal Caribbean Fleet

Unless you are a stockholder or industry watcher, cruise line earnings calls don't hold much interest. However, in between profit-and-loss and yields, there is often a gem revealed for consumers. Last week, Royal Caribbean's earnings call contained just such a treasure. While discussing the disappointing performance of the company's Spanish brand Pullmantur Cruises it was mentioned that the line's capacity would be adjusted by transferring the MS Empress out of the fleet. What that means for the North American market is the return of Empress of the Seas to Royal Caribbean International.

You may remember the ship was launched in 1990 as Nordic Empress and renamed Empress of the Seas in 2004 to conform to the "of the Seas" ship name branding adapted by Royal Caribbean. In 2008 she sailed off to join the Pullmantur fleet. A smallish ship by today's standards at 48,563 tons, she accommodated 1,600 passengers in double occupancy (with a maximum capacity of 2,022) and 685 crew members. An "extensive" dry-dock that Royal Caribbean plans before the ship enters service as Empress of the Seas in 2016 should freshen up the public areas and perhaps add some new features. Sadly, the tiny staterooms won't likely receive more than cosmetic upgrades. While no deployment has been announced, we predict that Empress of the Seas will revive her short cruise getaway schedule of 3- and 4-night sailings for which the ship is ideally suited.

Image Courtesy WikiEK

Monday, October 26, 2015

Puerto Vallarta Back to Normal For Cruise Ships

After harrowing predictions about the path of Hurricane Patricia last weekend, Puerto Vallarta is again fully operational with 100% of its hotel and restaurant facilities open, as well as its International Airport (PVR), marina, cruise port, and Convention Center. All domestic and international airlines as well as buses, taxis and other ground transport companies have resumed their normal service schedule.

All tourists who were transferred to shelters and hotels outside of Puerto Vallarta as a precaution measure were safely returned to Puerto Vallarta to enjoy clear skies and sunshine. Southwest Airlines scheduled two recovery flights from PVR to Houston (HOU) and Phoenix (PHX) to help with getting people home.

No changes to upcoming cruise schedules have been made. The Disney Wonder cruise ship, carrying 2,400 passengers, will arrive in Puerto Vallarta as scheduled on Monday October 26, 2015; and Norwegian Jewel and Ruby Princess will make their scheduled call on Wednesday October 28, 2015 as planned.

No human loss or infrastructure damages have been reported as a result of Hurricane Patricia.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Norwegian Pearl to Feature Legends in Concert

One of our favorite shows from a Norwegian Epic cruise—the iconic tribute show, Legends in Concert—will soon have a new home on the high seas. After five successful years aboard Norwegian Epic, the show has now made its way to fleetmate, Norwegian Pearl. A staple on Las Vegas’ center strip for the past 32 years, Legends in Concert is known as the pioneer of live tribute shows and has assembled the greatest collection of live tribute artists and celebrity look-alikes in the industry.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is committed to pushing the envelope to provide the highest quality of entertainment at sea,” said Richard Ambrose, Vice President of Entertainment and Cruise Programming for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “Norwegian Epic revolutionized the cruise industry by being the first ship to offer branded entertainment experiences like Legends in Concert; we are thrilled to continue that legacy and bring this guest favorite to Norwegian Pearl.”

The brand new Legends in Concert production aboard Norwegian Pearl features three legendary tribute artists paying homage to the “Material Girl” Madonna, Elton John and the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Tina Turner.

The perfect home for Legends in Concert, Norwegian Pearl is also home to many music festivals and theme cruises throughout her 2015/2016 fall/winter season. In addition, Norwegian Pearl will sail a number of itineraries through the Panama Canal for the 2015/2016 fall/winter season, and will sail a 7-day roundtrip itinerary to Alaska from Seattle during the summer months of 2016 .

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Silversea Reveals New Information on the Simply Divine Silver Muse

Silver Muse—Veranda Suite
We're excited to share the latest news about Silversea Cruises' Silver Muse, the line's newest ship, which proudly embodies the tagline "Simply Divine." Luxury cruise guests can find detailed information on suites and restaurants, as well as many other exciting elements, on silvermuse.info, the website specifically dedicated to the new ship. Destined to be the highest expression of Silversea excellence when she sets sail in spring 2017, further information, such as details on itineraries, public spaces, deck plans, and more, will be added in the coming weeks.

"We're thrilled to announce more detailed features of our new flagship," said Kristian Anderson, Silversea's senior vice president and general manager for the Americas. "Our beautiful new site utilizes the latest technology to bring to life the state-of-the-art design and luxe, modern amenities of Silver Muse. We are sure that many discerning travelers will love it, and will be eager to learn more about this highly anticipated new addition to our ocean fleet."

Visitors to the site are greeted by an interactive discovery of Silver Muse with a ground-breaking 360-degree virtual tour, which provides a variety of viewing options, including day and night renderings of the ship at sea. A convenient "Stay Updated" tab enables visitors to register to receive the latest Silver Muse news by email.

The site showcases Silver Muse's elegant accommodations with artist's renderings of contemporary interior furnishings dressed in warm earth tones of cream, saffron, green, and sienna. With the highest number of large suites (Silver, Royal, Grand and Owner's) in the fleet, and greatest number of connecting suites for families and friends, Silver Muse offers a welcoming blend of spaciousness, luxury, and comfort, where guests can feel immediately at home.

By simply clicking on the interactive ship diagram, a range of gracefully appointed suites is available to explore—from the Classic Veranda Suite, with 387 square feet (36 square meters) of luxurious living space, to the two-bedroom Owner's Suite, a stylish apartment suite offering the ultimate level of spaciousness and comfort at 1,389 square feet (129 square meters).

Of particular importance to guests is the increased number of the wildly popular Silver Suites, 34, now available across three top decks, and the addition of new two-bedroom Silver Suite configurations, each measuring 1,119 square feet (104 square meters).

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oceania Cruises Reveals Suite Designs for Sirena

Vista Suite
When Oceania Cruises newest ship, Sirena, launches next spring its top suites will have undergone a major transformation. As part of the ship’s $40 million refurbishment, the Owner’s and Vista Suites will debut with an elegant new design featuring a crisp and modern motif.

Spacious and exceptionally luxurious, the six Owner’s Suites have been re-designed and furnished in a fresh, contemporary style. Spanning nearly 1,000 square feet, these suites feature every imaginable amenity including plush custom-made furnishings, Oceania Cruises’ exclusive Prestige Tranquility Bed, a newly renovated master bath with an oversized shower, a half-bath for guests, and a private teak veranda offering stunning views over the horizon.

The four re-designed Vista Suites exude elegance through their opulent, yet welcoming design. The well-appointed suites feature a cozy sitting area, a sizeable bedroom with Prestige Tranquility Bed, a marble-infused master bath with expansive shower, a second bath for guests, and a private veranda with sweeping views over the ship’s bow.

Both the Owner’s Suites and Vista Suites radiate style with a spacious design that is complemented by a clean, airy color palette and contemporary, custom-made furnishings. Vibrant artwork adorning the walls and dark walnut finishes provide contrast with the lighter hues featured in the furnishings and plush carpet flooring. Every detail has been carefully chosen to enhance the overall simple yet sophisticated design for each suite.

Perfectly complementing the elegant accommodations onboard Sirena, Oceania Cruises will introduce a new collection of fine Bvlgari bath amenities for guests booked at the Concierge Level or above. Guests can now select from a variety of Bvlgari tea scented amenities including The Blanc, The Vert, The Rouge, and a new scent offered exclusively by Oceania Cruises, The Blu.

The menu option of scents is reserved for guests staying at the Concierge Level or higher; however, all guests sailing with Oceania Cruises receive Bvlgari amenities, which include shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, pleat-wrapped soap, and other luxurious products. Additionally, Owner’s and Vista Suite guests are presented with a keepsake gift box of Bvlgari amenities entitled “The Bvlgari Hotel Gift Collection” which they can enjoy while onboard or take home.

The 684-guest Sirena will enter service on April 27, 2016 after a 35-day dry dock brings the ship up to the Oceania Cruises’ standard of elegance, using the recent makeover of Insignia as a blueprint.

Image Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

American Cruise Lines Awarded Additional “Prime Use Days” in Alaska’s Glacier Bay

When researching an Alaska cruise one of the things we look for is a day in Glacier Bay—a highlight of cruises that include it in the itinerary. To satisfy their guests’ desire for this amazing experience, American Cruise Lines has proudly announced that the line has been awarded additional prime use days as an exclusive tour vessel in Glacier Bay. This will allow American Cruise Lines to spend more time there than ever before. The five-year contract will go into effect Jan 1, 2016 for the spring itineraries.

American Cruise Lines holds a unique position as the only non-excursion company to be granted tour vessel exclusivity. Staying true to the heritage of American Cruise Lines, its focus will remain on providing outstanding service and superb comfort to their guests in the midst of the panoramically spectacular preserve. In order to protect and preserve the park’s resources, regulations allow only three tour vessels in Glacier Bay proper per day and access is strictly limited to companies holding concession contracts with the National Park Services (NPS). Upon review by technical experts from the NPS, American Cruise Lines was one of only four companies to receive the coveted contract.

“The increase of prime use days is a testament to the ongoing partnership between American Cruise Lines and the National Park Services. We’re delighted to be part of the ongoing preservation and conservation of Glacier Bay,” said Charles A. Robertson, CEO of American Cruise Lines. “We are continuously looking for ways to provide our guests with the most memorable cruising experience and the rare glimpse of the world’s most magnificent biosphere does just that.”

Located roughly 60 miles west of Juneau on the Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, Glacier Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest biosphere, covering 3.3 million acres. The American Spirit cruises to Glacier Bay by way of its Southeast Alaska itinerary. On this 7-night cruise, guests will receive an enriched onboard experience, gaining access to a National Park Service Ranger and his/her expert knowledge of Glacier Bay’s marine wilderness as well as a Huna Tlingit Cultural Interpreter who will share the fascinating human history of Glacier Bay’s native clans and people. Guests will also experience the famous South Sawyer Glacier located at the end of the majestic Tracy Arm Fjord, the quaint and authentic fishing village of Petersburg, and the historic gold mining route of the Yukon and White Pass Railway.

The American Spirit boasts spaciously large and beautifully furnished staterooms, with opening panoramic windows or private balconies to offer guests once-in-a-lifetime views of Alaska’s finest scenery and wildlife, all at the highest standard of cruising comfort. American Cruise Lines’ reputation for outstanding service is paramount on the American Spirit where thoughtful and attentive crew invite guests to feel right at home in an intimately crafted onboard setting. The standard of excellence provided by an all American crew and staff create an outstanding and personalized journey for all guests onboard the American Spirit.

Image Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

Monday, October 19, 2015

Puerto Vallarta Welcoming Arrivals of Flights & Cruise Ships

After harrowing predictions surrounding Hurricane Patricia, Puerto Vallarta is fully operational with 100% of its hotel and restaurant facilities open, as well as its International Airport (PVR), marina, cruise port, and Convention Center. All domestic and international airlines as well as buses, taxis and other ground transport companies have resumed their normal service schedule.

All tourists who were transferred to shelters and hotels outside of Puerto Vallarta as a precaution measure were safely returned to Puerto Vallarta and are enjoying clear skies and sunshine.

Southwest Airlines scheduled two recovery flights from PVR to Houston (HOU) and Phoenix (PHX) to help with getting people home.

No changes to the cruise schedule have been made. The Disney Wonder cruise ship, carrying 2,400 passengers, will arrive in Puerto Vallarta as scheduled on Monday October 26, 2015; and Norwegian Jewel and the Ruby Princess will make their scheduled call on Wednesday October 28, 2015 as planned.

No human loss or infrastructure damages have been reported as a result of Hurricane Patricia.

Carnival Cruise Line is China-Bound

On the heels of rival Norwegian Cruise Line’s announcement last week, Carnival Cruise Line has revealed that it will also begin cruise operations in China starting in spring 2017 with one vessel based in China year-round offering cruises marketed to Chinese guests.

Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise brand, will offer cruise vacation experiences to Chinese guests featuring outstanding service, extensive, high quality family programming, and expansive dining and entertainment choices. Some aspects of the shipboard experience will be modified to cater to Asian tastes.

“We are very excited to bring the truly special and unique cruise experience that has made Carnival the world’s most popular cruise line to China,” said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy. “More than 4.5 million guests a year choose to spend their vacations with us based on the high quality, enjoyable and memorable experience we provide and we look forward to introducing Chinese consumers to the Carnival brand.”

The company will be partnering closely with sister company Costa Asia for sales, marketing, and operational support. Costa has a well-established presence in Asia and has operated cruises in China for the past nine years. Carnival Cruise Line’s China operations will also utilize the services of the newly announced Carnival Corporation Shared Services Group based in Shanghai.

While additional details will be announced in the near future, including specific ship and itinerary information, we wonder if Carnival will follow the lead of other lines and send their latest and most innovative ship to China. We’ll keep you posted.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Friday, October 16, 2015

For 2016, Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships

While Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 won’t be published until Nov. 1, 2015), we've had a first look at author and cruise expert Douglas Ward's latest annual cruise travel guide.

Ward has spent over 6,070 days at sea, beginning when he worked for Cunard Line in 1965 aboard Queen Elizabeth 2, and has taken over 1,070 cruises and completed 158 transatlantic crossings. However, his sailings aren't the usual cruiser's experience. Cruise Diva has traveled on several voyages where Ward was busy at work and he seldom relaxes. His sharp eye catches nearly every detail, like accessibility for the disabled, the softness of towels and linens, the temperature of the buffet food, and even the proper height of toilets for comfort.

The Berlitz guidebook is divided into two main sections. The first combines Ward's authoritative text with some never before seen color photographs to illustrate the cruise experience and help readers make their decisions about what style of cruise, cruise line, and ship size is most appealing for them. Included is practical information from subjects such as booking and what things cost to safety and environmental concerns. The second section contains reviews of every major cruise ship, from the smallest yacht-like vessels to the world's largest, from ships for budget minded travelers to the most luxurious and expensive. Details include specifications on size, number of cabins, passengers, and crewmembers, as well as an overview of what features to expect on board. Finally, a Ship Ratings Index puts Ward's ratings at your fingertips for quick comparision.

In addition to revealing his favorite cruise experiences of the past 31 years, Ward shares impartial information that you just don't get anywhere else and compares the strengths and weaknesses of the minor cruise lines. There is also an expanded frequently-asked-questions section, information about themed sailings, a look at the industry's star performers and Ward's selection of the top five ships in eleven "Best in Class" categories, as well as a preview at new ships set to debut in 2016.

Widely known as "the cruise industry Bible" for its candid description of every ocean-going cruise vessel at sea, Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 is available to order on Amazon.com (at that link) and there is even a Kindle edition.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Announces 2016-17 Winter Itineraries & Adds Free Unlimited WiFi to Amenities

Before you get too excited—that free WiFi won’t be available for another year, but it’s a great perk to look forward to. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, already the most all-inclusive luxury cruise line, will be even more inclusive by offering free unlimited WiFi on all voyages beginning with its 2016-17 Winter Collection of itineraries. The complimentary unlimited WiFi will be available to all suite categories and provide Internet access from any location on the ships via laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Along with the complimentary WiFi, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering even more inclusive elements for its Winter Collection of itineraries by expanding its free land tour program to include 11 sailings in Asia and Africa.

With the Winter Collection, Regent Seven Seas Cruises revealed an array of destination-driven voyages for the late-2016, early-2017 time period. In total, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will offer 56 sailings on its four vessel fleet, ranging from seven to 128 nights in length and visiting an eclectic array of global destinations.

“For 25 incredible years, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has helped guests realize their dream of traveling the world in luxury with the most inclusive experience at sea,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “To celebrate our milestone anniversary, we’re taking our all-inclusive luxury experience to the next level by adding complimentary unlimited WiFi and expanding our free land tour offerings to include even more iconic destinations.”

To mark its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will offer a special 10-night Barcelona-to-Venice journey departing April 9th aboard the new Seven Seas Explorer. Hosted by Regent Seven Seas Cruises executives, the voyage will feature private dinners, a festive sail-away party, a commemorative gift, and many other anniversary surprises.

Featured destinations in the 2016-17 Winter Collection include the ancient lands of Asia and Africa, where on 11 select sailings guests can further enrich their cruise vacation with a free, three-night land adventure in exotic locales such as Cape Town, Angkor Wat, Hong Kong, or Beijing. The free land program is available in all suite categories and includes sightseeing adventures such as an African safari, a Thai elephant camp, and a visit to the 2,000-year old Great Wall of China. The Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet will also visit iconic cities in South America and the Mediterranean, and explore the natural wonders of the Caribbean and the South Pacific as part of the 2016-17 Winter Collection. For specific itinerary details and other information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, visit RSSC.com.

Photo: Seven Seas Mariner © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cozumel’s Puerta Maya Cruise Terminal Gets a Third Berth

Owned by Carnival Corporation, Puerta Maya, one of three cruise terminals in Cozumel, has expanded with a third berth added to the company’s pier. With an investment of more than $20 million, the all-new “arm” was added to the company’s existing pier to allow three ships to be moored at the terminal at the same time. To mark the occasion, three of the company’s ships—Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, and Carnival Triumph—became the first trio of ships to use the new three-berth pier. The pier will accommodate any ship across Carnival Corporation’s 10 brands, including its next-generation ships.

With 3.3 million cruise guests annually, Cozumel is the busiest cruise destination in the Caribbean, the world’s largest global cruise market. Carnival Corporation’s extra capacity with the expanded pier will allow more ships to call on Cozumel, increasing the number of guests who can visit the destination while also providing a significant economic boost to the local economy. In 2014, about 1.5 million Carnival Corporation guests visited Puerta Maya on 25 different ships originating from eight homeports and two countries across six of the company’s brands, and the company expects this to grow over the years with the added capacity at the port.

“Cozumel is the Caribbean’s most visited cruise ship destination and consistently receives high ratings from our guests,” said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. “So the destination is in demand by our guests, and we are excited about officially opening the third berth to our pier, since it gives our brands greater flexibility for visiting Cozumel and more of our guests the opportunity to enjoy the island.”

While the new berth has been in the planning stages since 2005, work started on the new pier in May 2014. The existing two-berth pier was re-opened in October 2008, following an extensive $50 million reconstruction to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 which included destruction of the original pier. The rebuilt two-berth pier and the all-new arm providing a third berth at the pier have been constructed to withstand a threshold category 5 hurricane, in addition to being able to accommodate any ship in Carnival Corporation’s fleet.

The Puerta Maya pier and welcome cruise center is located on the southwestern part of Cozumel, approximately five miles south of San Miguel, the island's largest city. The cruise center houses over 50 different retail outlets, 15 stand-alone carts where local merchants market souvenirs, and a number of popular bars and restaurants. The shore excursion pier, separate from the main pier, allows for quick and convenient access to water-bound excursions serving both the mainland of the state of Quintana Roo and island of Cozumel.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ships We'll Never See—or Sail

It’s well known that Miami has long been considered the world’s cruise capital, but there’s a growing shift farther afloat to the Far East—specifically to China. The burgeoning market there has in the past had to settle for older vessels converted for their culture and tastes, but traditional cruise lines are now preparing their newest ships specifically for their Chinese passengers. The trend seemed to begin with Royal Caribbean positioning Quantum of the Seas in China after an introductory season in the United States and other lines are following in its wake.

Last week Princess Cruises announced that its ship now under construction, a sister ship to Royal Princess and Regal Princess, will be named Majestic Princess be based in China year-round beginning in summer 2017. It will be their first vessel built specifically for Chinese guests incorporating a unique blend of international and Chinese features. Befitting her dedication to the Chinese market, Majestic Princess will also carry a Chinese name on the hull, 盛世公主号, an interpretation selected by Carnival plc’s China employees, which has the suggestive meaning of “Grand World” or “Grand Spirit.”

Royal Princess and Regal Princess were named after iconic previous vessels, while Majestic Princess will carry a name that was chosen by our global employees,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “The name Majestic Princess is well suited to the Princess Cruises experience in China, and she will offer a truly magnificent experience to our Chinese guests,” added Swartz.

The 143,000-ton vessel, Majestic Princess will be home-ported in Shanghai, carrying 3,560 guests for cruises to Japan and Korea, and will offer many of the special features that have made Royal Princess and Regal Princess so popular and distinctive. These include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; the unique over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a glass-floor walkway extending 8 meters (28 feet) beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and the special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds guests in a curtain of light.

“We’re excited that Shanghai will be welcoming this newest, most advanced addition to the Princess fleet, as it represents our brand’s long-term commitment to the continuing growth of the China market,” said Swartz.

Majestic Princess will offer the international flavor of cruising with Princess, drawn from the brand’s expertise as a leader in premium destination cruising. The cruise ship’s cuisine will span the globe, serving authentic dishes from Italy, France, North and South America, Southeast Asia, Japan, and China—all freshly prepared on board. Guests will enjoy a festival celebrating dance, music, and crafts of exotic cultures; an array of international guest entertainers; and Las Vegas-style production shows starring a cast of singers and dancers from around the world.

Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line will introduce their first purpose-built ship customized for the China market in 2017. Currently under construction, the yet-to-be-named new ship is being designed for the China market with accommodations, cuisine, and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests.

“Our new purpose-built ship for China will have characteristics that are authentic to Norwegian Cruise Line and yet distinctively Chinese in all of its sensibility,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. CEO Frank Del Rio. “With this new ship, Norwegian will unquestionably offer our Chinese guests a superior product and introduce a new standard of innovation and excellence into the marketplace, with an unrivaled level of customization for the Chinese consumer. It will perfectly suit what modern Chinese travelers value from an upscale cruise experience.”

The new ship will be the second of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus class and features the line’s unique style of cruising known as Freestyle Cruising—interestingly, which was first introduced in Asia by Star Cruises before being adopted by Norwegian. Aboard NCL ships, Chinese guests will indulge in a resort-style vacation experience, with the freedom and flexibility to spend time doing whatever they wish, from enjoying world-class entertainment to fine Mandarin, Cantonese, and Continental dining; from duty-free luxury shopping to participating in any number of first-at-sea activities on board; all on their own time schedule.

With a capacity of 4,200 guests, this new Breakaway Plus-class vessel will provide the same sense of freedom and flexibility found on all Norwegian Cruise Line ships, but with experiences and amenities designed specifically with Chinese guest in mind. The level of customization will go beyond the physical design of the ship. Working with partners in China and local experts on the subtleties of Chinese culture, Chinese guests who sail on this new ship will be provided with an unmatched quality-level for service, cuisine, entertainment and overall experience that is simply not available in the China market today. Additional details, including the ship's name, homeport, accommodations, dining, and entertainment will be shared in the coming months.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Celebrity Cruises Ships to Receive Updates

After making a multi-million dollar investment to “Solsticize” its Millennium Class ships, Celebrity Cruises is planning even more upgrades to two of those ships, with a series of refreshes that will elevate the onboard experience even higher. As the first cruise line to offer a spacious lawn of real, growing grass on the top decks of its ships, Celebrity will expand its lineup of outdoor spaces when Celebrity Infinity receives a new “Rooftop Terrace” venue—the first in Celebrity’s fleet—during a scheduled drydock. With chic furniture and unique artistic elements, a large, outdoor film screen and stereo surround sound will highlight this space, which fuses movies with unique food experiences. The drydock work also will broaden Celebrity’s commitment to its Suite Class, with significant renovations to the ships’ Penthouse and Royal Suites, and will include conversion of the ship’s specialty restaurant to one of Celebrity’s signature venues, Tuscan Grille. Celebrity Summit will follow with a similar scheduled drydock in March of 2016.

With modular furniture, a metal “garden-like” design, and cabanas, the new, multi-functional Rooftop Terrace pictured here will offer guests a relaxing, open space during the day. By night, the space will be illuminated by unique decorative lighting, and a large screen and soundscape will showcase movies and other entertainment. Rounding out the unique outdoor experience will be a variety of specially curated food options available for purchase and presented in unique serving vessels, inspired by the entertainment content, the destination, or the occasion. The Rooftop Terrace, which opens Dec 5, 2015, will be located aft on the 12th deck.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises, said, “The popularity of our Lawn Club venues has shown us that some of the richest moments our guests enjoy are when relaxing in beautiful outdoor spaces. In creating the Rooftop Terrace, we wanted to create a hot spot where guests can kick back under the stars in the middle of the ocean, with amazing entertainment and food.”

As part of the $16 million refresh plan, Celebrity is investing heavily in its Suite Class experience on Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit, as every Penthouse and Royal Suite will receive new fixtures, marble surfaces, and comfortable seats in the bathrooms. The rest of the suite will get refreshing touches like new carpeting, drapes, and bed linens.

Perhaps most surprising will be the conversion of Celebrity Infinity’s S.S. United States restaurant to Tuscan Grille, Celebrity’s Mediterranean-inspired steakhouse that debuted on its Solstice Class ships. The changes include complete refinishing of the space and the introduction of a refreshed menu, including fresh pasta made in-house; an Italian cocktail menu, a first for Tuscan Grille; a wine list focused on the wine-growing regions of Italy; and new foods like artisanal salumi and cheeses; crispy crab arancini with lemon pepper aioli; grilled branzino with spinach and olive oil; swordfish with Castelvetrano olives, fennel and white wine; and oven-roasted USDA Prime dry-aged steak. Guests who are currently booked in the S.S. United States for sailings beginning on Oct 29, 2015 or later, will be given the first opportunity to cancel their reservations in order to rebook in Tuscan Grille. On Celebrity Summit, The Normandie will be converted into Tuscan Grille. Guests who are currently booked in The Normandie for sailings beginning on March 19, 2016 or later, will also have first dibs on reservations in Tuscan Grille.

On Celebrity Infinity, the maritime artifacts in the S.S. United States will be featured in a special display area in the casino’s entry vestibule. Items include charts, maps, an original place setting, a ship model, and more. On Celebrity Summit’s Normandie also features numerous artifacts that will be preserved and displayed in a special area onboard. These include photographs, artistic works, a ship model, and more.

Additional work taking place onboard both ships will include:
• The addition of an enclosed portrait studio similar to that found on Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships, Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Equinox
• The creation of a new future cruise sales office, where guests can take advantage of special offers
• A refresh of the Solarium, with new furniture, new floors, and refinished pool tops, and a refresh of finishes in the spa café
• The removal of the themed décor in the ship’s casino
Celebrity Infinity enters drydock on Oct 15 and will emerge on Oct 29, 2015, before sailing several Panama Canal itineraries leading up to Dec 5. Then, Celebrity Infinity will begin its South America season, which will be followed by an Alaska season beginning in May 2016. Celebrity Summit will sail 7-night Southern Caribbean itineraries this winter, both before and after her drydock from Feb 27 to March 12, 2016, before heading to Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey in April, for her summer season of 7-night cruises to Bermuda. Both drydocks will take place at Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.

Image Courtesy Celebrity Cruises

Friday, October 9, 2015

Norwegian Escape Gets a GODFATHER

In a break from the tradition that dictates new ships are named by a GODMOTHER, Norwegian Cruise Line has chosen international music sensation Pitbull to serve as GODFATHER for its newest ship, Norwegian Escape. On Monday, Nov 9, Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, will be the honorary Godfather and headline performer at Norwegian Escape’s christening ceremony at PortMiami. Norwegian Escape will be the largest ship to homeport year-round in Miami and features a multitude of innovative dining venues and entertainment offerings.

It is a longstanding tradition in the maritime world to name a Godparent of a new sea-going vessel—usually a woman. This honor is bestowed upon an individual who officially names and christens a new ship, and remains in their role for the life of the vessel. Pitbull will serve as the honorary Godfather for Norwegian Escape, becoming one of the naming ceremony’s central figures. The christening ceremonyt will take place while the ship is docked in PortMiami on Monday, Nov 9, where Pitbull will officially christen the ship during a high-energy pier side ceremony. The selection of Pitbull as the ship’s Godfather reinforces Norwegian’s non-traditional cruising that focuses on freedom and flexibility for guests.

“Pitbull has been an excellent partner and great friend to Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president. “A Miami native, he epitomizes and contributes to the energy, excitement and local flavor that our ships so proudly embody and we’re excited to build upon our relationship and have him serve in this special role as Godfather to Norwegian Escape.”

This new role builds on the star’s previous relationship with Norwegian, as the international recording artist entertained the crowd during the February 2014 christening ceremony for Norwegian Getaway, which also featured the introduction of his signature Voli vodka brand to cruise goers. Voli is available across the Norwegian fleet and featured in several signature cocktails including the Mr. Worldwide and Dale.

Armando Christian Perez, known around the world as Pitbull, is an internationally successful musician, performer, business entrepreneur, fashion icon, and actor. His rise to popularity exemplifies the American Dream: He began on the streets of Miami and now commands stages around the world. Away from the spotlight, he is also an education advocate. From Mr. 305 to Mr. Worldwide, he transforms challenges into positive experiences and lives by a personal code that balances hard work with enjoying life. He now joins Marlon Brando as a Godfather.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Princess Increases Gratuities

Unfortunately, tipping is something cruise passengers can't escape from these days without an embarrassing trip to the reception desk to adjust the amount automatically charged to their onboard account, or eliminate it entirely if they prefer to tip with cash. Like other lines have done recently, Princess Cruises is raising their "recommended" gratuities.

Effective on voyages departing on or after Jan 1, 2016, the new daily gratuity charge will be $13.95 (up from $12.00) per guest for mini-suites and suites, and $12.95 (up from $11.50) per guest for interior, oceanview, and balcony staterooms. This gratuity will be shared among staff, including all waitstaff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards, and housekeeping staff across the fleet. The good news is that you can avoid the increase if you currently hold a reservation and prepay the gratuities by Oct 15, 2015.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Carnival Cruise Line Launches 'Fly2Fun' Air Program

Cruise line air-and-sea programs often leave travelers less than satisfied with poor scheduling and few options. To counter that, Carnival Cruise Line is launching a new air program that is designed to provide guests with maximum value, choice, and convenience when making their air arrangements in conjunction with their cruise. The new Fly2Fun program is highly flexible as it allows guests to customize their air reservations with a wide array of options, including the ability to specify their preferred air carrier, departure point, specific flight schedule, and type of accommodation (coach, business, etc.). Immediate confirmation is received once the reservation is made, thus streamlining the vacation-planning process. Flights can also be customized for those who wish to extend their vacation with a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Carnival even has you covered in the event of a flight delay. Fly2Fun also includes the Flight Protection Program that ensures guests will be flown to the next port of call to begin their cruise should they miss their departure due to airline mechanical or weather-related issues. Carnival will cover air, hotel, transportation, and meal costs for guests to meet the ship in the next port of call.

“Our new Fly2Fun program is a convenient tool that saves our guests valuable time when booking their flights while offering attractive features like the Flight Protection Program that provides peace of mind knowing we’ll fly them to the next port should they miss their cruise,” said Vicky Blanch, Carnival’s director of travel operations.

Two different options are available within Fly2Fun—Flexible Air and Restricted Air. With Flexible Air, guests or their travel agent can book travel on major carriers up to four days prior to sailing with an attractive “Book Now–Pay Later” feature in which payment for air is collected with the final cruise payment. Additionally, there are no change fees if modifications are made outside of 60 days of departure. With the Restricted Air option, tickets are non-refundable. Air tickets must be paid at the time of booking and change fees are based on the airlines’ policies once the ticket is issued. Fly2Fun must be booked via phone. Once a cruise reservation is in place, just can call 1-800-CARNIVAL to make the air reservation.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sail Away on a Magical Winter Holiday with Disney Cruise Line

With autumn colors all around us it isn’t too early to start thinking about the upcoming winter holiday season. And it isn’t too early to think about giving a gift that’s both nautical and nice: a cruise on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, or Disney Fantasy, all decked out with holiday cheer.

Starting early November, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship during Very Merrytime Cruises, 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. During these voyages through the new year, special stem-to-stern holiday events include:
• “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” in the atrium lobby on the first night of the cruise, where Disney characters lead holiday carols and the lighting of the glittering, three-deck-tall tree.
• “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” in the atrium lobby, where Disney cruisers welcome the guests of honor, Santa and Mrs. Claus, with a grand celebration featuring Broadway-style entertainment, favorite Disney characters and classic holiday tunes. This evening of enchantment is made complete when a special pair of royal sisters joins the party and causes a flurry of “frozen” fun as a magical snowfall overtakes the atrium.
• Holiday story time beneath the giant tree, where children gather to hear classic tales of Christmas and Hanukkah, including a cozy and intimate storytelling with Mrs. Claus as she shares some of her favorite Christmas stories.
• Dickens-inspired carolers carrying the spirit of the holidays throughout the ship while singing holiday classics, sometimes with the help of favorite Disney friends. At the end of the cruise, children will have the opportunity to join the carolers onstage for a special farewell show.
• Family holiday activities including building gingerbread houses and meeting Santa Claus.
• Youth holiday crafts such as decorating stockings and gingerbread men cookies, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cells.
• “Deck the Deck Holiday Party,” 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.
• A special holiday edition of the cheerful farewell celebration 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, visits from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. Also during the special Thanksgiving voyages, NFL football games will be broadcast live on the ships’ outdoor, jumbo LED screens—Funnel Vision—located near the family pool.

Christmas morning at the atrium lobby tree Santa Claus and his helpers will have a surprise for all the kids, and guests will delight in a special musical performance from the children. A traditional Christmas Dinner will be served that night in the dining rooms. Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah services will be held each day, Dec. 6 to Dec. 14.

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, special amenities are available for stateroom delivery. Purchased in advance of sailing, these include holiday-themed gift packages and treat baskets and even mini Christmas trees decorated with ornaments, red berries, mini carnations and a bow topper. Plus, during the holiday cruises, the Disney Cruise Line holiday merchandise collection and ever-popular Disney Cruise Line ornaments will be available in the gift shops.

To ring in 2016, voyages include a special New Year’s Eve party, complete with music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes, and a midnight countdown.

To celebrate the holidays, Disney Magic sails 4- and 5-night Bahamian and Caribbean cruises departing Nov. 11 to Dec. 23; Disney Wonder sails 4-, 6- and 7-night Bahamian and Caribbean cruises departing Nov. 6 to Dec. 24; Disney Dream sails 3- and 4-night Bahamian cruises departing Nov. 9 to Dec. 24; and Disney Fantasy sails 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruises departing Nov. 14 to Dec. 19.

Image Courtesy Disney Cruise Line

Monday, October 5, 2015

Vantage Deluxe World Travel Celebrates Heroic Families

Every holiday season Vantage Deluxe World Travel celebrates by giving back: the renowned tour operator recognizes a group of local heroes by providing them with a unique, restorative travel experience. This year, Vantage has selected the family members and loved ones of the United Flight 93 victims. These Vantage Heroes will embark on a free European cruise with the goal of growing and healing alongside others who lost loved ones. Family members of the victims of United Flight 93 were chosen to honor the heroism that their loved ones displayed during the events of September 11, 2001, and to acknowledge the courage the families have shown in persevering through a tragedy that inspired so many people.

"The bravery that was shown on United Flight 93 is something that this nation will never forget, but it is just as important to recognize the heroism that the families of the victims have also shown in the wake of this catastrophe," said Patricia Lewis of Vantage Deluxe World Travel. "These people have been through a life-changing tragedy and to show our appreciation, we wanted to provide them with a unique opportunity to bond and share their experiences and their strength with one another."

Attendees will include Hamilton Peterson of Washington, DC, whose father and stepmother both perished on Flight 93 and who has since served as the president of the Families of Flight 93, the organization that was key to the building of the Flight 93 National Memorial that was recently unveiled on the 14th anniversary of the tragedy. Other guests include Lorne Von Lyles of Orlando, Florida, whose wife was a flight attendant; Melodie Antoinette Homer of Wilmington, Virginia, who lost her husband and is the author of Where I Stand: Flight #93 Pilot's Widow Sets The Record Straight; and Lloyd Glick of Newark, New Jersey, whose son was one of the many passengers credited with taking action to try to foil the hijackers on the flight.

The passengers will depart the United States for the 7-day Holiday Magic on the River Seine Cruise on Dec 5, 2015. Upon arrival in Paris, France, passengers will transfer to the deluxe ms River Venture. The journey will explore the Seine River including Paris, Vernon, Rouen, Normandy D-Day beaches, Les Andelys, Conflans, and Versailles during the magical holiday season. Guests will enjoy Vantage Travel Lifestyle features such as a Gala Captain's Dinner, five guided sightseeing tours in Vernon, Rouen, Normandy DDay Beaches, Les Andelys, and Versailles, complimentary use of bikes and onboard entertainment. In addition to cruise and air travel, all taxes and port charges, transfers and baggage handling are provided for these special guests.

ms River Venture Photo © Mel Coffman, for CruiseDiva.com

Friday, October 2, 2015

Oceania Cruises Unveils New Culinary Experiences for Their Newest Ship—Sirena

Tuscan Steak
When Sirena—a former R-ship and the newest member of the Oceania Cruises fleet—debuts she will feature two new specialty restaurants: Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger. Additionally, the line will transform the Grand Dining Room into Jacques Bistro for lunch, offering an exclusive menu featuring some of legendary chef Jacques Pépin’s signature dishes. The overwhelming popularity of Red Ginger and Jacques on the line’s recent new builds, Marina and Riviera, led Oceania Cruises to add variations of these dining experiences to the more intimate Sirena.

“The addition of Tuscan Steak, Red Ginger, and Jacques Bistro to Sirena further exemplifies our commitment to epicurean excellence and steadfast focus on serving our guests the finest cuisine at sea,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer for Oceania Cruises. “These new dining experiences, along with Sirena’s collection of unique, destination-rich itineraries will provide guests with another exciting choice within the Oceania Cruises’ portfolio.”

Sirena will be the first ship in the Oceania Cruises fleet to offer this collection of dining options, providing guests with new culinary indulgences to explore.

Tuscan Steak, a completely new restaurant concept, was inspired by both Oceania Cruises’ traditional steak house, Polo Grill, and the line’s authentic Italian restaurant, Toscana. The innovative and diverse menu offers succulent steaks and seafood with a Tuscan flair, cooked to perfection and expertly served in an elegant, contemporary setting. Its eclectic menu will offer authentic favorites that celebrate the passion and tradition of Italian dining, while continuing to offer savory steakhouse fare. Among its varied and delectable offerings will be the signature Tuscan porterhouse, bistecca alla fiorentina; iberico de bellota pork chop with gaeta black olives; and Maine lobster fra diavolo. Featuring glossy wood paneling with a platinum and silver color scheme and hardwood floors, the motif at Tuscan Steak is a modernized treatment of the classic steakhouse. Adorning the entrance will be a stunning wine cellar featuring an extensive selection of the fine vintages to perfectly complement the meal.

Red Ginger
Red Ginger, the contemporary Asian-inspired restaurant currently available on Marina and Riviera, will offer familiar culinary delights such Miso Glazed Sea Bass and Lobster Pad Thai. The restaurant’s décor features vibrant red crystal chandeliers, ebony wood furnishings and a striking collection of modern Asian artwork. The stylish, contemporary décor is a study in feng shui, and perfectly complements the restaurant’s Pan-Asian cuisine.

Available for lunch, Jacques Bistro will transport guests to an authentic Parisian bistro in Sirena’s Grand Dining Room. Inspired by Oceania Cruises’ Executive Culinary Director and world-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pépin’s namesake restaurant on Marina and Riviera, the bistro will offer simple and elegant French fare. As evidenced by its hand-written chalkboard displaying the day’s specialty items, Jacques Bistro will convey a comfortable and warm mid-day charm. The menu at Jacques Bistro will be seasonal in nature, with its hot weather menu focused on grilled and short-cooked fare, and its cold weather menu featuring more sauce- and stew-oriented dishes. Menu highlights include lemon sole fillet with seafood cream sauce, free-range chicken fricassee, and braised oxtail terrine.

Fine Dining… and More
The 684-passenger Sirena will offer diverse and destination-rich itineraries appealing to both seasoned world travelers and passionate cruisers who crave a more intimate cruise experience. Before entering service the ship will be elevated to Oceania Cruises’ standard of elegance by undergoing a 35-day, $40 million refurbishment. The ship’s decks will be resplendent in the finest teak, custom stone, and tile work; and its lounges, suites, and staterooms will be completely refreshed, including major design changes to the Owner’s Suites, Vista Suites, and Horizons Lounge.

Following the design blueprint of its sister ships Regatta, Insignia, and Nautica, Sirena will feature a world-class fitness center and spa, six lounges and bars, a casino, and 342 lavish suites and luxurious staterooms, nearly 70% of which feature private verandas.

Sirena is scheduled to enter service on April 27, 2016 with a 14-night cruise from Barcelona to Venice. During its inaugural season, the ship will feature a mix of classic destinations and exotic new ports of call, including the famed beaches of Gaeta, Italy; the pristine rainforest of Golfito, Costa Rica; and the well-preserved provincial township of La Paz, Mexico.

The recent expansion of OLife Advantage, the line’s early booking incentive program, provides guests who book any suite or stateroom category on Sirena or any of its sister ships by Dec. 31, 2015 with numerous complimentary amenities, including free shore excursions, unlimited Internet, and pre-paid gratuities.

Images Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Azamara to Reimagine Suites & Staterooms

Up-market line Azamara Club Cruises has unveiled new design plans for its suites and staterooms as part of the line’s program to Reimagine Azamara that is set to take place next year when Azamara Journey enters dry dock in January 2016 in the Bahamas and Azamara Quest follows in April 2016 in Singapore. Gone are the English Country and Laura Ashley-style decors of the R-ship days as you can see in the rendering of the Club Continent Suite pictured here.

“Azamara is all about Destination Immersion and we spend more time in ports at night and stay overnight to ensure our guests can spend enough time in the destination to come away with an authentic experience. Our Azamazing Evenings, Nights and Cool Places, Insider Access and Cruise Global, Eat Local are just a few of the programs we provide guests to make the most of their time in port,” says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “When our guests return to the ship, we recognize the importance of offering accommodations that provide a respite from their adventures and functions like a moving upscale hotel. Keeping all areas of our ships contemporary in design as well as offering services and amenities that match is paramount. This is why we are so excited to dig into every aspect of our onboard offerings during this upcoming dry dock period.”

Club Continent Suite Bathroom
Azamara has contracted several of the world's leading design consultants for the hospitality, leisure, and entertainment industries, to help transform the suites and staterooms into modern oases at sea. As design teams undertake the ship project, they look to bring the style and comforts travelers look for in travel to the high seas. Partnering with the design teams, Azamara participated in the very detailed process to choose colors and mood palates along with overall furnishings and fabrics. The result will be an overall ambiance that is comfortable as well as timeless and elegant. Authentic materials will be used, with beautiful stone and porcelain throughout and custom designed built-ins. The colors that were selected will be dusted and faded adding to the overall theme. Additionally, the bathrooms will get an overhaul making them a much more efficient use of space. Guests will enjoy all of the new amenities while relaxing before dinner or preparing for another day of touring in the next amazing destination.

The Spa Suites will be two brand new additions to both ships. These suites will be built adjacent to the Sanctum Spa and will feature an elegant look with organic and muted colors. The bathroom shower and tub will have a view of the water, giving guests the opportunity to experience a breathtaking view when relaxing in their shower or tub. Guests who are staying in these suites will also have exclusive access to unique spa amenities that will be included in the price of these staterooms.

Stateroom Bathroom
The Club World Ocean and Owner’s Suites will undergo major revitalizations. Coffee tables, consoles and dining tables will be replaced with modern furnishings featuring an updated style and overall feel. The sound and lighting systems will also be updated in order to make the overall mood much more inviting and relaxing. Additionally, the bathrooms will get an overhaul making them larger and a much more efficient use of space. Guests will enjoy all of the new amenities while relaxing before dinner or preparing for another day of touring in the next amazing destination.

The Club Continent Suites will have a top to bottom refresh that includes new drapes, fabrics, and furnishings. Guests will feel truly relaxed and refreshed waking up each day onboard in these deluxe staterooms.

In all other staterooms, guests will see new blackout curtains, bed linens, furniture, carpeting, lighting, and a complete bathroom modernization. These updates will give guests a better experience on board Azamara ships

Renderings Courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises