Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Seabourn Names Captain, Hotel Director for New Seabourn Ovation

Pictured left to right, Hotel Director Helmut Huber
& Captain Stig Betten
Luxury cruise line Seabourn has named Stig Betten as captain of its newest vessel, Seabourn Ovation, and Helmut Huber as hotel director.

Betten will oversee all operations of the line's newest vessel, which is scheduled to launch in May 2018 in Italy. Huber will oversee the hotel department, which includes suites, housekeeping, and food & beverage services.

"These gentlemen are two seasoned professionals and they will be fantastic as we launch Seabourn Ovation," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "They both have years of luxury experience to guide them and our guests and crews have really enjoyed their distinct personalities during prior assignments on our ships. I'm confident they will do well as they provide leadership throughout the ship's delivery and into the maiden season."

Betten was born and raised in the small village called Surnadal on the west coast of Norway. Hailing from many generations of seafarers, it was natural for Betten to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great grandfather by choosing a career at sea. Betten began his seagoing career in 1997, initially with a Norwegian seismic exploration company. He joined Seabourn in 2001 and has worked his way up the ranks from Second Officer to Captain. He has been assigned on past Seabourn ships Pride, Spirit, and Legend, as well as Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, and Seabourn Quest, including being a part of the start-up team as Staff Captain during the construction of Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest. When he is not at sea, Betten enjoys spending time with his family in Istanbul. When visiting his hometown in Norway, he enjoys fishing, trekking and hunting.

Huber is a native of Innsbruck, Austria. He started his career in the cruise industry in 1992 as a busboy/assistant waiter, working his way up through various positions to the management level. After almost 10 years at sea, Huber decided to go back to university, acquiring several degrees and certificates. Once he completed his studies, he returned to the hospitality industry in Food & Beverage and Hotel Management positions at luxury properties before returning to the cruise industry in 2007. Huber joined Seabourn in 2015 as Hotel Director. He splits time between Innsbruck and Los Angeles during his time off, where he enjoys activities such as scuba diving, snow skiing, mountain biking and travel.

Seabourn Ovation will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Ovation will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service. A sister ship, Seabourn Encore, launched to much acclaim in December 2016.

Designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, Seabourn Ovation will feature modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance in a yacht-like environment. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. Every suite will also feature a private veranda supported by impeccable service.

Image Coortesy of Seabourn

Holland America Line Sponsors Hometown Golfer Landon Jackson in the Boeing Classic PGA TOUR Champions Event

Holland America Line, Seattle’s Hometown Cruise Line, is sponsoring golf professional Landon Jackson at the Boeing Classic, a PGA Tour Champions Event. A Seattle native, Jackson is participating in the event with an eye on the 2018 PGA TOUR Champions Tour. Holland America Line also has sponsored Jackson as he competed in several other tournaments this summer throughout Arizona, finishing in the top 20 in every tournament this season.

In addition to sponsoring Jackson, Holland America Line is a sponsor of the Boeing Classic taking place Aug. 21-27 at the Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. Jackson will be competing against 73 other PGA TOUR Champions professionals and will lead a team in the Pro-Am two-day tournament during the week and provide instruction to aspiring junior golfers at the Youth Clinic Aug. 22.

“As Seattle’s Hometown Cruise Line, it’s exciting to have Holland America Line’s first-ever sponsored golfer be a local talent like Landon as he pursues making it on to the PGA TOUR Champions,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Our mission every day is to fulfill the vacation dreams of our guests, and supporting Landon on his path to realizing his dreams is gratifying, and we’re eager to see the great things that Landon has waiting for him in his golfing future.”

A graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle, Jackson was the first African-American pro at Pebble Beach Golf Links, where he was an assistant golf pro. He then moved to another Pebble Beach property, Del Monte Golf Course, on California’s Monterey Peninsula before returning to Pebble Beach. During his career, Jackson has conducted clinics that teach not only golf skills but also golf etiquette, and he co-founded the Monterey Junior Golf Summer Clinics for the Monterey Boys and Girls Club.

Jackson played on the golf team at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, winning a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship. Among the highlights of his career were instructing during the first Fir State Golf Club Clinics, where he played with a then 16-year-old Tiger Woods; qualifying for the Ben Hogan tour; and meeting presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Royal Caribbean Teams Up With Shay Mitchell As Adventure Ambassador

Royal Caribbean International is teaming up with award-winning actress and avid traveler Shay Mitchell to be the brand's Adventurist—an adventure adviser and storyteller for the world's most adventurous cruise line. In addition to embarking on inspirational journeys with the brand and sharing her experiences, Shay will collaborate with Royal Caribbean experts to develop a series of destination experiences for the ultimate Caribbean cruise, to be revealed this fall. As a seasoned traveler, Shay will personally set sail on board one of Royal Caribbean's adventure-packed ships this month to begin shaping the new, Shay-recommended adventures.

"I've always had a love for travel, and am fortunate to have been able to explore some of the most amazing places around the world, learning quickly that the journey is as important as the destination," said Shay. "I'm thrilled to take what I have learned from my own travels and dive in with Royal Caribbean to develop the ultimate Caribbean adventure for travelers like me, who are always seeking something new and craving deeper connections to the destinations they visit."

"It's in Royal Caribbean's nature to seek and deliver the unexpected—the adventures and experiences that make travelers' jaws drop, their adrenaline rise and their memories unforgettable," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "When we started to think of who could perfectly embody what vacationing with us is all about in our newly created Adventurist role, Shay was someone who rose to the top immediately. She personifies who we are and our spirit—the spirit to 'Come Seek.' The ideas that Shay brings to the table will help create an adventure in the Caribbean that will redefine what many think of as a cruise vacation and inspire the next generation of cruisers."

A star in one of TV's most popular dramas, "Pretty Little Liars," Shay's adventurous spirit has led her to visit some of the world's most inspiring destinations, from hot-air ballooning over Morocco to skydiving in Dubai. She's become an expert at seeking out authentic experiences, sharing them with her following of more than 17 million across several social media platforms, including her immersive YouTube series—Shaycation—which debuted in 2015 and gives viewers an inside look at her wanderlust-inducing explorations.

Shay Mitchell Image Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Crystal River Cruises Names Internationally Renowned Soprano Anna-maria Kaufmann Godmother Of Crystal Bach

Crystal River Cruises, the Luxury River Cruise Line, has announced that famed soprano vocalist and beloved German performer, Anna-Maria Kaufmann, is the godmother of Crystal Bach. The newly-built "Rhine Class" river ship embarked on her maiden voyage from Amsterdam, Sunday, August 13, and was christened by Kaufmann during her call to Rüdesheim, Germany, on August 20.

Kaufmann's decades-long career has spanned the globe, bringing her from her native Edmonton, Alberta to some of the world's most prestigious stages and events. As Crystal Bach's godmother, she blessed the ship during the christening ceremony, and serenaded her and attending guests with her own special performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air."

"It is an honor to have one of Germany's most gifted and cherished talents christen Crystal Bach as she officially embarks on the Rhine as part of the award-winning Crystal fleet," says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. "Naturally, Anna-Maria's remarkable career in classical music and passion for her chosen homeland are apropos for this stunning ship, but beyond that, her grace and internationally recognizable charm are representative of the elegance found aboard a Crystal river voyage."

Crystal Bach is the first of four Crystal "Rhine Class" river ships to debut on the rivers of Europe, joining Crystal Mozart as part of the Crystal River Cruises fleet. Sailing 10- and 14-day voyages predominantly along the Rhine River, she will call in medieval towns and modern hubs in Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

Crystal's "Rhine Class" river ships are the river cruising industry's first and only all-balcony, all-suite vessels in Europe, with every category of accommodation perched above the waterline. All four river ships will offer Crystal's acclaimed butler service in every room category, king-sized beds, Panoramic Balcony-Windows, walk-in closets and dual vanity in the bathrooms in most categories, ETRO robes and slippers, wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs, and Nespresso machines. Additional enticing features include Crystal's farm-to-table, Michelin-inspired cuisine in multiple, open-seating eateries: the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro cafés and the exclusive Vintage Room; and the Palm Court. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Monday, August 21, 2017

Silversea's Grand Voyage 2018 Unveils the Wonders of South America

Guests will fall under the magical spell of South America when Silversea's new Silver Muse sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale on January 3, 2018 on an immersive 69-day Grand Voyage to some of the most remarkable and culturally enriching places in the Southern Hemisphere. They will completely circumnavigate South America, visiting 34 ports in 14 countries, while experiencing the mystery and pulsating rhythm of this vast continent on an intimate, ultra-luxury voyage that is Simply Divine™.

Designed for travelers who can spare the time and prefer a more immersive experience, Grand Voyage 2018 combines the luxury of sailing aboard an intimate, elegant ship with the excitement of discovering fascinating destinations. Highlights include a crossing of the Panama Canal, cruising Chile's majestic fjords, a three-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro in time for Carnival, plus overnight calls in Valparaiso, Punta Arenas, Buenos Aires, and Manaus, nestled in the heart of the Amazon.

"Grand Voyage 2018 is perfectly tailored to travelers who have the time and passion to indulge in travel on a grand scale. It combines adventure and immersive cultural experiences with leisurely days wrapped in the exquisite luxury and impeccable service of our beautiful new Silver Muse," said Mark Conroy, Silversea's managing director for the Americas.

Guests will enjoy an exceptional onboard enrichment program featuring distinguished destination experts, academics, journalists, diplomats and other specialists. Local entertainment, guest chefs, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and regional specialties—many featured poolside at the new Chef's Table interactive experience—will provide further immersion in each destination.

Ark of Taste
Through Silversea's association with Slow Food Italy, a selection of Ark of Taste products, such as Ecuador's Nacional cacao, Peru's native potatoes, Chile's Merkén chili peppers, and sugarcane products from Santa Rita, Brazil, will be sourced locally by Silversea chefs to introduce guests to the remarkable flavors of these cultural treasures, which are being catalogued by the Ark of Taste to help ensure their preservation.

Aboard Silver Muse guests will enjoy spacious ocean-view suites, sumptuous cuisine at eight dining venues, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including a complimentary selection of wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks; in-suite bar stocked with guests' preferences; in-suite 24-hour dining service; lecture and enrichment programs; roundtrip transportation into town (in most ports); and onboard gratuities (exclusive of spa treatments).

Exclusive Added-Value Benefits
In addition to a gala Bon Voyage dinner and overnight stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Fort Lauderdale on January 2; a unique "Panama Hat Party" event at the Montecristi Golf Club in Manta, Ecuador on January 12, showcasing the talents of local artisans; and a box-seat view of the Carnival Winners' Parade at the Sambadrome in Rio on February 17, full-voyage guests will enjoy a generous array of benefits, including:
—$2,000 Onboard Spending Credit (per suite)
—Free unlimited Wi-Fi
—Baggage valet service
—Visa service (U.S., Canada and select markets)
—Commemorative gifts
Fares for Grand Voyage 2018 start at $36,955 per guest, based on double occupancy. For further information and the complete itinerary, please visit Silversea.com.

Image Courtesy of Silversea

Stop Snoozing on Sleep, Celebrity Cruises & Canyon Ranch SpaClub Introduce Mindful Dreams

Celebrity Cruises and Canyon Ranch SpaClub want to ensure that modern travelers remember the importance of beauty sleep with the launch of their new wellness program, Mindful Dreams.

This curated program invites modern luxury travelers to experience new treatments, products and sleeping aids. Additionally guests receive nutrition advice on the best culinary choices to aid in sleep, access to expert lectures and special instructional classes promoting a holistic approach to mindful sleep, both on land and at sea.

“Vacation is a prime opportunity to rest and recharge, so partnering with Canyon Ranch SpaClub to offer Mindful Dreams was a natural evolution of our wellness program onboard,” shared Susan Bonner, Vice President, Revenue Management and Onboard Revenue, Celebrity Cruises. “Through this partnership we hope to not only help guests further relax during their sailing, but also take home a lifetime of wellness tips that they can incorporate mindfully into their daily routines.”

“Sleep is no luxury,” states Param Dedhia, Director of Sleep Medicine, Canyon Ranch, adamantly. “With a restorative night’s sleep, you nourish your mind, body and spirit.”

Among the exclusive offerings is the relaxation treatment of which the program takes its namesake—Mindful Dreams. This incomparable sleep-encouraging experience incorporates products specifically designed to soothe alongside a sleep-inducing cultural massage and meditation techniques. This focused treatment promises to evoke instant tranquility and fosters inner well-being, calmness and serenity, transporting guests to the perfect getaway state-of-mind.

Additional treatments include:
• Organic lavender and seaweed sugar glow
• Age-defying restorative facial
• Lazy days detox seaweed bath
• And more!
The program features VOYA luxury products designed to deeply hydrate and smooth even the driest skin. The lavender body care range, Tranquility, incorporated in many of the treatments, helps to ease the stresses of everyday life, leading to a feeling of relaxation and peace. All ingredients are organic and sustainably harvested on the western coast of Ireland.

Mindful Dreams programming will debut on Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Summit in August 2017 and become available fleet wide throughout September 2017. For more information on Mindful Dreams, please visit CelebrityCruises.com and CanyonRanch.com/at-sea.

Image Courtesy Celebrity Cruises

Northwest Passage Commemorative Coffee Table Book Added To 'Exclusively Crystal' Collection

Crystal's 2016 history-making voyage through the elusive region is now commemorated in the gloriously colorful pages of the Northwest Passage Coffee Table Book: Aboard Crystal Serenity August 2016. The photographic tome is available for purchase through the Exclusively Crystal online boutique, just as the award-winning vessel embarks on her second epic Arctic journey, which departed last week from Anchorage/Seward, Alaska, with 100 percent of all proceeds from the book going toward the Inuit communities that graciously welcome Crystal guests into their villages. Amidst breathtaking photography of polar bears and other wildlife, as well as the wild frozen landscapes and remote harbors of the far north, are accounts of the memorable visits to local Inuit communities as well as a look into the extensive planning and behind-the-scenes logistics of the voyage. The featured images range from stunning professional photographs to memorable moments captured by guests.

"While it is impossible to translate the profound magnificence of the Northwest Passage journey into ink and paper, we do hope this commemorative book serves to inspire travelers to discover places and cultures outside of traditional 'comfort zones,' and showcases the brilliance of the region and warmth of the local people there," says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. "It is truly our privilege to share the proceeds of this beautiful publication with the people of those communities, as they so warmly shared their traditions and personal time with us."

Crystal reciprocated the hospitality of the local towns along the voyage, many of which wait for months in between shipments of basic necessities due to their remote locations and dynamic weather conditions. During the 2016 sailing, Crystal Serenity delivered school supplies to Ulukhaktok, Pond Inlet and Cambridge Bay, as a token of appreciation for the special experiences offered to guests by the local people. Additionally, Crystal presented the town of Pond Inlet with a symbolic direction sign, perched atop "Contemplation Hill," a gift to the town perfectly situated for gazing into the endless landscapes. Special gifts and assistance are planned for the 2017 voyage, as well. The commemorative Northwest Passage Coffee Table Book retails for $55.

For the second year, Crystal Serenity's 32-day Northwest Passage voyage is captained by Master Birger J. Vorland, who last year entered an exclusive club of maritime explorers to successfully lead a vessel through the Northwest Passage, and joined Norwegian-born sailors Roald Amundsen and Henry Larsen on achieving the professional milestone. During the route of the Northwest Territories the luxury ship will be accompanied by an escort vessel, which will provide Crystal Serenity's already enhanced crew with icebreaking assistance, and will also carry additional expert guides and crew and specialized safety and adventure equipment.

Flight-seeing journeys over glaciers; navigating floating sea ice via kayaks; "wet landing" by zodiac; overnights at ice camps; possible polar bear and other wildlife sightings; and Crystal's Unexpected Adventures (impromptu opportunities to explore ashore and in the surrounding areas) will all satisfy guests' inner explorers. Likewise, engaging events with local residents in the Inuit communities visited will provide authentic insights into daily life in the remote Arctic.

True to its policy to continually "surprise and delight" guests by exceeding their expectations of enriching world travel, Crystal has seen to every detail to ensure travelers are comfortable and prepared for the unprecedented trip. Specially designed parkas, boots and other outdoor gear have been provided to guests, sporting official Crystal Northwest Passage expedition patches, while added technological perks are evident throughout the ship. Four premium telescopic binocular sets stand at the ready near the floor-to-ceiling windows in Palm Court, as well as large flat-screen TVs for streaming updates from crew and expedition team members, safety precautions and fascinating facts about the voyage. An in-depth photographic journey into the history of the passage and its previous explorers is displayed near the posh Galaxy Lounge.

"No detail has gone unaddressed, no forethought missed in the planning process of this journey," says Rodriguez. "The magnitude of the transit combined with the immense cultural and natural encounters in store for guests is so great, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that our guests' experience is as remarkable as the region itself."

For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Royal Caribbean to Feature Bonnie Tyler Singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on Total Eclipse Cruise

Guests aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas Total Eclipse Cruise will have a very meta experience, with pop singer Bonnie Tyler singing her hit song during an actual eclipse.

Tyler, who sang the 1983 hit song, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," will be featured aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas special sailing centered around the upcoming total eclipse of the sun.

Tyler will be a special guest on the Oasis of the Seas for a few days of the week-long cruise, which departs from Port Canaveral on Aug. 20. Her performance is in addition to pop-rock band DNCE.

In addition to these performances, guests on Oasis of the Seas will be treated to other eclipse-themed activities, including dance parties, trivia, interactive science fun for kids and their families, and tasty cocktails and dishes.

Royal Caribbean will stream Bonnie Tyler's performance on Instagram on Monday 8/21, 1pm EST.

Image Courtesy Royal Caribbean

Friday, August 18, 2017

Princess Cruises Ships Present Unique Viewing For Great American Eclipse on August 21

For the first time in 99 years, a total eclipse of the sun will pass over the continental United States on August 21, and Princess Cruises guests sailing on six cruise ships in Alaska will be invited to special viewing parties as part of the cruise line’s exclusive Stargazing with Discovery at Sea program.

From the top decks in Alaska, nearly 18,000 guests aboard Coral Princess, Emerald Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Ruby Princess, and Star Princess will be invited to enjoy an approximately 54 percent view of the eclipse.

Guests will be provided specially-branded Science Channel™/Discovery at Sea eclipse glasses for ultimate viewing, paired with educational background on what causes an eclipse from the exclusive Stargazing with Discovery at Sea staff as they provide a “tour” of three intervals the morning of August 21.

“Through our exclusive partnership with Discovery Communications, we’re able to offer expert tips and background from Science Channel experts that provide intriguing commentary around this rare phenomenon and for the ultimate viewing party onboard,” said Denise Saviss, Princess Cruises vice president, entertainment experiences.

The Great American Eclipse onboard event is part of the Stargazing with Discovery at Sea program which is led by Discovery at Sea Science Channel Ambassador and astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi who has created entertaining family stargazing programming enabling the crew to lead cosmic voyages from the ship’s top deck. Branded posters, Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center solar projector building projects, and even specialty Eclipse Cookies also will be offered to celebrate this rare occasion.

In partnership with Discovery, Princess Cruises introduced Discovery at Sea in 2015, offering memorable cruise vacation experiences for the whole family to enjoy based on Discovery’s breadth of brands and programming like Shark Week and Mythbusters. Interactive experiences are designed to bring to life the nature, wildlife and history of the regions guests are sailing. Guests can let their imaginations roam free with a variety of activities including stargazing, exclusive Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions and newly introduced Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers.

While it’s too late to get on board for the eclipse cruises, additional information about Princess Cruises is available by visiting Princess.com.

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Carnival Paradise To Offer Five Additional Cruises to Havana, Cuba, from Port of Tampa in 2018

Carnival Paradise Arrives in Havana
Following strong response to its first-ever cruises to Cuba announced earlier this year, Carnival Cruise Line has added five more voyages featuring extended calls in Havana in 2018 aboard Carnival Paradise, sailing from Tampa. The new voyages include three 5-day cruises to Havana and Cozumel or Key West departing Feb. 17, July 2 and Sept. 5, 2018; a 6-day sailing featuring Havana and Grand Cayman departing Aug. 26, 2018; and an 8-day voyage with stops at Havana, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel departing Aug. 18, 2018. All of the voyages include a day-long call and overnight in Havana with the 8-day cruise of Aug. 18, 2018, offering two full days at the historic Cuban capital.

“Our cruises to Cuba have been very well received and we’re delighted to provide our guests with additional opportunities to experience and explore this fascinating and sought-after destination,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Earlier this year, Carnival announced a series of 4- and 5-day voyages to Havana that kicked off in late June. Upcoming voyages in the initial program include 4-day cruises departing Aug. 24, Sept. 7 and 21, and Oct. 5 and 19, 2017 as well as May 3, 2018 and 5-day voyages departing Aug. 28, Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, 2017.

Carnival Paradise guests can select from nearly 20 different shore excursion experiences that showcase Cuba’s vibrant culture, majestic beauty and centuries-old architectural landmarks. Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment, including newly added Cuban-themed entertainment and activities. Dining options include two full-service main dining rooms and expansive poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria.

The ship also features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises as well as fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. Four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long cascading water slide are also featured.

The visits to Havana comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control. To learn more, visit Carnival.com.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Marks First Major Construction Milestone of the New Quantum Ultra Ship, Spectrum of the Seas

Excitement was in the air this week at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, as Royal Caribbean International marked the official start of construction by cutting the first piece of steel for its new Quantum Ultra ship. The next engineering marvel in the innovative cruise line’s lineup will officially be named Spectrum of the Seas.

Set to debut in 2019, Spectrum will be the next evolution of the cruise line’s groundbreaking and high-tech Quantum class of ships placing the ship in a new class of her own. The revolutionary Quantum Ultra ship will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.

“Today is a very special day in the development of our new Quantum Ultra ship, Spectrum of the Seas. We are now one step closer to delighting our guests in Asia Pacific with this remarkable ship,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Spectrum will be another giant leap forward in vessel design and guest experiences that will provide travelers with ample opportunities to create unforgettable memories.”

Image Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Sun to be Celebrated in Unique Style Aboard Carnival Cruise Line Ships

Leave it to Carnival Cruise Line to find a unique and creative way to celebrate the upcoming total eclipse of the sun set for Monday, August 21, at approximately 2 p.m. EDT.

To mark this truly rare and fascinating astronomical event—which is the result of the alignment of the sun, Earth and moon to block sunlight from reaching the Earth—Carnival Cruise Line is offering a number of activities across its fleet, everything from eclipsed-themed viewing and sailaway parties complete with appropriate music, games, and more to a Sun Dance Competition with participants vying to “bring out the sun” on deck. In keeping with the spirit of the eclipse, specials on Blue Moon beer will be available throughout the event.

So if you’re sailing on a Carnival Cruise Line ship on August 21st be sure to check out all the eclipse-themed fun they have planned for you!

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Cunard Prepares to Set Sail for QE2 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Luxury cruise brand Cunard, is honoring the 50th anniversary of its longest serving ocean liner, QE2, with a special voyage onboard the luxury cruise liner Queen Elizabeth.

The 50th anniversary of this much-loved ship will be remembered as Queen Elizabeth sets sail from Southampton on Friday, September 8 for a 17-night voyage. Departing guests will enjoy Venice’s iconic canals, mythical Mount Etna in Sicily and Corfu's leafy beauty.

Angus Struthers, Vice President, Cunard said, “This Mediterranean cruise is perfectly timed to pay tribute to QE2’s launch and naming by HM Queen Elizabeth II 50 years ago. When QE2 came into service in the 1960s, many critics said she wouldn’t last a decade in the age of the jet but her unique design as a dual-purpose ship meant that she was versatile enough to operate both as a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship.” He added, “Given how famous and loved she was, we felt this was a great opportunity to pay tribute to this Cunarder’s remarkable life onboard our newest ship, Queen Elizabeth; herself designed to offer a perfect luxury cruise holiday.”

Celebrations focus on five special theme days, each of which will be accompanied by QE2 inspired menus, talks from special guests, historical snippets in the daily program, past-passenger gatherings, and QE2 quizzes. Themes include Moving in Royal Circles which looks back at the unique and special bond between QE2 and the Royal Family; The Falklands which acknowledges the ship’s service as a troop ship in the 1982 conflict; Triumph of a Great Tradition examining the QE2’s remarkable career achievements and the long history of Cunard ‘firsts’, and World Flagship in tribute to QE2’s 26 world cruises that made her an icon in cities across the globe.

Celebrations culminate on QE2 Day—September 20, 2017—exactly 50 years since the ship was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Events will include a QE2 ball, and a historical retrospective of the ship’s service life to be hosted in Queen Elizabeth’s 850 seat Royal Court Theatre.

As part of Cunard’s renowned and award winning Insights Speaker program, a number of special guests connected to QE2 will be sailing onboard. One such guest is Captain Ian McNaught, QE2’s last Master, who said, “This voyage is a significant and timely tribute to the world’s best loved ship. QE2 remains the longest serving express liner in history. She carried 2.5 million passengers over 5.6 million miles; that's further than any passenger ship—ever! This remarkable ship sailed alone on the North Atlantic for most of her career. She carried the Cunard tradition from the bygone era of the ocean liner and sustained it into the 21st century. The QE2 carried Royalty, celebrities and served in the Falklands War.” He added: “What I remember most as her Master, were the passengers. Everyday people who saved up to experience life onboard the world's best loved ship. Many came back time and time again. That is a tribute to the countless people who served as QE2's crew, each one making the experience special and memorable. QE2 has been gone for nearly a decade now, however on her 50th anniversary the memory of her is strong. It is very fitting to be acknowledging the QE2's remarkable career here onboard Queen Elizabeth."

Other guests include Commodore R. W. Warwick who served as QE2’s Captain for 13 years; QE2 social hostess Maureen Ryan who served onboard the original Cunard Queens as well as Queen Mary 2; and maritime historian Chris Frame, author of a series of books about QE2 and Cunard.

The voyage departs September 8 and returns September 25. For additional information, visit Cunard.com.

QE2 Image Courtesy Cunard Line; Queen Elizabeth Photo © CruiseDiva.com

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils Features for Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship, which has been designed for the ultimate cruising experience and will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera beginning in June 2018. Custom-built for the spectacular, Norwegian Bliss will boast many firsts at sea for the global market including the largest competitive race track at sea and an open-air laser tag course. The ship’s exciting new features will join the brand’s signature elements of freedom and flexibility that Norwegian is known for across the globe including a myriad of dining options and a vibrant onboard atmosphere fueled by dynamic intimate spaces and a multitude of bars and lounges, award-winning youth programs and more.

Norwegian Bliss will no doubt be our most incredible ship to date,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer. “We have elevated Norwegian Bliss’s onboard experience to new heights, bringing the best features from across our fleet plus exciting new first-at-sea activities like the largest race track and new dining concepts to create the ultimate cruising experience.”

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss is currently being constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018.

Imagine Exhilaration
Norwegian Bliss will boast excitement around every corner and delight guests with thrills, with activities spanning the entirety of the ship’s top deck. Following overwhelming popularity aboard Norwegian Bliss’ sister ship in China, Norwegian Joy, guests will be able to put the pedal to the metal for the first time aboard a North American-based cruise ship with a two level electric-car race track. The competitive track, the longest at sea at nearly 1,000 feet, will rev up the hearts of all who race around her many twists and turns with four speed settings accommodating novice, intermediate and advanced drivers, reaching up to 30 miles per hourwith a special “turbo boost” available on each lap. The electric cars run silent so as to not disturb those seeking to enjoy the serene environment. But guests will have the full racing experience while they channel their inner Andretti, as the sounds of a race car engine are piped in through speakers located in the car’s headrest. After burning rubber at the race track, guests can test their agility at the open-air laser tag course. Themed as an abandoned space station, the course comes to life both day and night as guests go into stealth-mode and compete against family and friends with state-of-the art laser guns.

After working up a sweat, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can cool down at the ship’s expansive pool and sundeck featuring two spacious pools and six infinity hot tubs that scale the side of the ship. The ship’s Aqua Park also includes two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Ocean Loops free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and a second see-through loop that stretches down to the deck below, sure to offer a wet and wild ride. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet, with a translucent section that provides stunning ocean views as guests twist and turn to the finish line.

Junior cruisers can splish, splash and have a blast at the Kids’ Aqua Park, a watery wonderland of splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and slides. The little ones will also have a blast at Splash Academy, the fleet’s award-winning complimentary youth program. Centrally-located on Deck 5, Splash Academy will offer age-appropriate supervised activities for children aged three to 12 with fun and energetic programming including games with the conservation-minded Officer Snook, a circus spectacular celebration, jungle-themed nights and more. Teens aged 13 through 17 will enjoy their own space aboard Norwegian Bliss on deck 5, Entourage, adjacent to the ship’s arcade. The exclusive teen space features plush lounge furniture, gaming stations, foosball, air hockey and a dancefloor with neon lighting, as the space transitions to the hottest teen nightclub at sea in the evening hours. Even tiny cruisers, ages six months to just under three years old, will have an dedicated space to enjoy aboard Norwegian Bliss with the fleet’s largest Guppies playroom, where Early Years Coordinators will host sensory-play activities for parents and babies including messy play, exploration, music and movement. In line with its youth programming across the fleet, Norwegian Bliss will offer a wide range of family-friendly activities for guests to enjoy including family balloon twisting, interactive games and the Family Glow Party.

Imagine Delectable
Foodies and cocktail connoisseurs will be able to dine, sip and savor to their heart’s delight with a breadth of dining and bar options aboard Norwegian Bliss, including signature Norwegian favorites as well as exclusive new concepts that will debut aboard the line’s newest ship.

Modern décor and premium ingredients will meet southern flavors at the all-new Texas Smokehouse, Q, where guests will be able to tap their boots to the beat of live contemporary pop country music each night as they indulge in authentic Texas barbeque in a sleek urban setting. The new à la carte specialty restaurant will infuse an explosion of flavors in every bite with a selection brisket, ribs, chicken and sausages and more freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods. Q will offer generous portions of sides and starters including deviled eggs with natural air cured ham, pickled jalapeños, fresh cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac-n-cheese, baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon and more. Guests can round out their meal at Q with a mason jar of fresh banana pudding or indulge in bread pudding in whiskey sauce.

The flavors aboard Norwegian Bliss will travel south-of-the-border with Los Lobos, an outpost of the brand’s new restaurant serving elevated Mexican cuisine that made its debut in 2016 aboard Norwegian Dawn during her extensive dry dock enhancement under the Norwegian Edge, the brand’s investment program that encompasses the entire guest experience. Los Lobos will offer an upscale, modern take on traditional favorites like fresh guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole, handcrafted margaritas featuring private-label Patron Barrel Select, Norwegian's own tequila blend, and more. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating located on deck 8 aft, Los Lobos will be adjacent to Cagney’s Steakhouse, Norwegian’s popular signature American-style steakhouse that serves up choice cuts of Hartley Ranch Premium Black Angus Beef including the larger-than-life 20 oz. Porterhouse, an incredibly tender 8 oz. filet mignon, and signature ribeye. Between Los Lobos and Cagney’s Steakhouse, The A-List Bar, named for Norwegian President & CEO and 30-year veteran Andy Stuart, will serve handcrafted cocktails, wines and premium spirits.

Sweets and treats will be served up day and night at Coco’s, a completely new à la carte dessert venue located on deck 6 in the heart of the ship, 678 Ocean Place, where liquid chocolate in an enclosed oversized chocolate fountain will adorn its entranceway, delighting kids and kids at heart. The chocolate-themed dessert restaurant will feature handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other decadent treats paired with fine coffees and teas.

In a nod to the ship’s homeport of Seattle, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can warm up for their glacier walk with a Caramel Macchiato or grab a Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade to sip on while lounging on a pristine Caribbean beach with a full service Starbucks® store on board. Guests can start their day with Starbucks® coffees, teas and bites available à la carte.

Norwegian will bring together the best of its specialty dining experiences aboard Norwegian Bliss with signature à la carte restaurants including French cuisine at Le Bistro; the tastes of Tuscany at La Cucina; the finest fresh seafood at Ocean Blue; global fusion cuisine featuring sushi, dumplings, handhelds and more at Food Republic; Cheeseburgers in Paradise® at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville® at Sea; and handmade cupcakes and macarons at The Bake Shop. Teppanyaki, the brand’s family-favorite Japanese hibachi steakhouse will also be onboard at cover charge pricing.

Norwegian Bliss will serve up premium quality cuisine with fresh ingredients in all complimentary dining venues with rotating menus curated by the brand’s coveted culinary team. In a new complimentary dining concept, The Local will offer guests pub fare in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere 24 hours a day.

Norwegian’s original beverage concepts will round out the ship’s culinary offerings. The District Brew House will serve 24 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers, along with bites from the adjacent Food Republic. Local favorites on tap at The District will include craft beers from Red Hook Brewery and Elysian Brewery in Seattle as well as Wynwood Brewery and M.I.A. Beer Company in Miami. The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar will offer a curated wine list featuring 35 grape varietals including top selections from Washington-area vineyards, Tuscany and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate, as well as light bites from La Cucina. Wine will come to life at The Cellars with interactive educational seminars and tastings daily. Paying homage to her homeport cities, Norwegian Bliss’ beverage program will also feature a selection of local craft cocktails developed by Seattle-based celebrity mixologist and chef Kathy Casey as well as Miami-based Gabe Orta, one of the master curator’s behind the city’s ultra-popular BarLab concepts.

Imagine Tranquility
After glacier trekking in Alaska or discovering hidden caves and sea pools at the Baths of Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean, Norwegian Bliss guests will be able to revive, refresh and recharge at the ship’s Mandara Spa. Located on deck 16 aft, the Mandara Spa will offer the ultimate pampering experience with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon and barber shop, fitness center and thermal suite. The Fitness Center will offer latest state-of-the-art TechnoGym® cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as personal training and group fitness classes including TRX, Norwegian Fight Club, RYDE Cycle and more. The ship’s expansive thermal suite will be an exclusive enclave of relaxation where guests can soothe aching joints in the vitality pool and heated whirlpool; rinse off and clear mind and spirit in special experience showers; reduce inflammation and improve respiratory functions in the salt room; cleanse the body in the steam room or sauna; cool down in the snow room; or catch up on their latest reading on one of the 17 heated stone loungers. Passes to the exclusive enclave of relaxation will be available for purchase for a limited number of guests each sailing. In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will be able to unwind in two private lounge spaces while cruising aboard Norwegian Bliss at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O.

Imagine a New Scene
During her inaugural summer season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly 7-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, where she will be the largest and most innovative ship to ever seasonally homeport on the West Coast. Unlike any other ship sailing the West coast, Norwegian Bliss will feature the brand’s most celebrated elements of freedom and flexibility including 678 Ocean Place, a three-deck central hub where the pulse of the ship’s action takes place with restaurants, shops, entertainment and guest services all conveniently located in one area. Also a first for a ship on the West coast will be The Waterfront (pictured here), a popular feature that debuted on Norwegian Breakaway in 2013; the outdoor promenade is designed to enhance guests’ connection to the ocean with al fresco dining, bars and lounge spaces and offer spectacular views of Alaska’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife or the Caribbean’s stunning turquoise waters.

Norwegian’s vibrant nightlife scene will be taken to the next level aboard Norwegian Bliss with live entertainment, electrifying deck parties at Spice H2O and an expansive casino featuring hundreds of slot machines and table games to suit the likes of novice and pro gamblers alike. In a first for Norwegian, the casino will now offer a smoking and a non-smoking casino to cater to all guest preferences.

Norwegian Bliss’ custom design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodations including luxurious suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms for solo travelers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families traveling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature an incredible lineup of entertainment offerings including the Tony-Award winner for “Best Musical” Jersey Boys and two observation lounges, including the exclusive Horizon Lounge for guests of The Haven®, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean, and more. Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ship’s hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line has commissioned Wyland, one of the world’s premier marine life artists, to design the hull art for Norwegian Bliss.

The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising. Norwegian Bliss will sail her inaugural Winter season beginning in November 2018, sailing 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami, featuring calls in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Images Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess Christened

American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess was christened this week in New Orleans on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. The 166-guest riverboat, the first all-suite paddlewheeler on America’s rivers, officially joins the company’s fleet with the Memphis-based American Queen and the American Empress, based in the Pacific Northwest. Marissa Applegate, daughter of Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, is the godmother of the American Duchess and broke a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon on the boat’s hull culminating the ceremonial festivities.

“I could not be more appreciative of all the hard work from every person involved in making the American Duchess dream come true; it’s times like these that I am reminded just how incredible this team and family is,” shared American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “Thank you for being here to witness this special celebration with our entire crew and myself. We are thrilled to welcome the American Duchess to our fleet.”

During the ceremony remarks were made by executives and dignitaries including John Waggoner, American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO; Ted Sykes, American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO; Wayne Arguin, New Orleans Port Captain at the U.S. Coast Guard and Bill Samuels, Jr., Chairman of Maker’s Mark. Joy Manthey of Seaman’s Church blessed the American Duchess and the ceremony concluded with a bourbon presentation by Maker’s Mark to celebrate the line’s partnership with American Queen Steamboat Company.

“The American Duchess is a culmination of our company’s core values and finest attributes, poised to deliver our trademark level of gracious service, first-class entertainment, superlative fine dining and award-winning shore excursions,” described American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “With the first Loft Suites on U.S. rivers, she is an innovation that will no doubt set new standards for excellence within the industry.”

Before christening the American Duchess, Marissa Applegate shared what it meant to join the elite club of ship godmothers including Princess Kate Middleton, Sophia Loren, American Queen Godmother Priscilla Presley and American Empress Godmother Claudette Waggoner. “In addition to the pride I take being the godmother of the American Duchess today, it has been such a joy to stand by my father and watch him grow this company from the ground up,” she said. “Thank you to everyone for bestowing this honor on me and letting me be a part of this special day.”

The American Duchess features a generous space ratio showcased by three 550 sq. ft. Owner’s Suites, four 550 sq. ft. Loft Suites, a U.S. riverboat first; and spacious Veranda Suites with sliding glass doors to private balconies and Interior Suites. The new vessel incorporates the highest standards of service, entertainment and shore excursions customers have come to expect from the American Queen Steamboat Company. Featuring open seating with two dining venues, The Grand Dining Room and The River Club and Terrace offer regionally inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen.

After the christening, the American Duchess departed on her maiden voyage up the Mississippi River with stops in Natchez, Ms., Vicksburg, Ms., Memphis, Tn., Paducah, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., and other charming ports before arriving in her disembarkation city of Red Wing, Mn. near the northern terminus of the river. This 23-day voyage spans the length of the mighty Mississippi and will provide guests with an unforgettable vantage point of America’s heartland.

A variety of voyage lengths, ranging from six days and up, offers exceptional value and convenience, with little or no flying required. Pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, all bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner, and complimentary shore adventures are included in each port of call. For additional information, visit AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com.

Image Courtesy American Queen Steamboat Company

Crystal Christens Crystal Skye, Names Veteran Travel Expert Matthew D. Upchurch Godfather Of Custom B777

Crystal AirCruises' fully custom, gorgeously appointed Boeing 777, was christened Crystal Skye at an event last week at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. Presiding over the christening of this groundbreaking vessel alongside Chairman and Chief Executive of Genting Hong Kong Tan Sri Kok Thay Lim and Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, was Crystal Skye's godfather, Matthew D. Upchurch. Upchurch has long been renowned as a visionary in travel, spending much of his esteemed career specializing in the luxury realm. In his role as chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, one of the world's leading luxury travel networks, Upchurch has collaborated closely with Crystal and its partners to deliver exclusive travel experiences throughout the world.

The ceremony reached far beyond the guests attending, as Crystal livestreamed the occasion via its Facebook Live feed, effectively welcoming travelers from all over the globe to witness Crystal Skye's debut. Rodriguez and Upchurch both expressed sentiments of appreciation for the massive collaboration executed by all teams involved in the creation of the groundbreaking aircraft, as well the outlook for Crystal Skye's significance to the travel industry overall. Following their remarks and the breaking of champagne against the aircraft's hull, Rodriguez welcomed guests aboard Crystal Skye to see the signature design touches and luxurious space first hand.

"As Crystal continues to innovate new experiences that appeal to a growing audience of luxury travelers around the world, we are proud to support the vision and ambition shared by Edie Rodriguez and all the experts at Crystal, and we celebrate the milestone of Crystal Skye's introduction to the world," says Chairman Tan Sri KT Lim.

"It is tremendously rewarding to officially welcome Crystal Skye to the Crystal fleet, as she represents a bold new venture for our company, effectively creating an entirely new category of luxury travel in the industry," says Rodriguez. "Beyond Crystal's own award-winning fleet and internationally acclaimed brand of luxury, this aircraft pushes the boundaries of bespoke chartered aviation industry-wide." She continues, "It is fitting that such a revered leader in luxury travel would christen a vessel that will set an entirely new standard in the industry; and even more so that her godfather would be a member of the travel professional community. We're delighted to collaborate with Matthew for this milestone occasion, and to continue collaborating with all of our travel agent partners when Crystal Skye takes to the skies."

"It is an incredible honor to be named godfather of Crystal Skye, an aircraft that carries forward Crystal's longstanding commitment to excellence," says Upchurch. "Virtuoso has enjoyed a strong partnership with Crystal Cruises since the launch of its first ship, and the company has been named a favorite amongst our advisors for the service and experience our clients enjoy with Crystal. As Crystal diversifies its offerings, we look forward to supporting their efforts, just as they continue to support the travel advisor community and Virtuoso."

With a spacious design for up to 88 guests, Crystal Skye is appointed with features rarely found in even the most luxurious private jets. She has the highest crew to passenger ratio of any twin-aisle aircraft and a non-stop range of 19.5 hours, allowing travelers to explore the far reaches of the earth while enjoying the personalized service for which Crystal is renowned worldwide. Bespoke Crystal Exclusive Class seats are designed for maximum personal space and ergonomic comfort, and convert to 180-degree lie-flat beds. The expansive social lounge with stand-up bar fosters friendly camaraderie among luxury travelers. Cuisine will be prepared by an executive chef, in two state-of-the-art galleys and paired with an elegant premium wine list from the Crystal SkyeCellar.

Boeing 777 Crystal Skye is operated for Crystal AirCruises by Comlux Aruba NV. For charter inquirers in the U.S., call 855-207-2778.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Announces New 2019-20 Deployment

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has unveiled its new 2019-20 voyages season, comprising 118 new sailings, departing from March 2019 through June 2020 aboard four of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships, Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Voyager, and Seven Seas Navigator.

Travelers can choose among new, enriching and immersive itineraries that range from seven to 131 nights in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, Alaska, Canada & New England, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Australia and the South Pacific. A leader in luxury cruising, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ fares include all-suite accommodations and exquisite dining, free roundtrip, business-class air on all intercontinental flights originating in the U.S. and Canada, and roundtrip air on domestic flights, free unlimited shore excursions, free unlimited Wifi, unlimited beverages—including fine wines and premium spirits, specialty dining, prepaid gratuities, and transfers between airport and ship. Guests in Concierge-level suites and higher also enjoy a free one-night, pre-cruise hotel stay before embarking their ship. The new 2019-20 voyages collection will open for general booking on August 16, 2017.

“There is no better way to explore the world than with Regent Seven Seas Cruises,” said Jason Montague, President and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “With these latest 2019-20 voyages, travelers have four years of fascinating itineraries from which to choose an unforgettable and in-depth luxurious experience. Whether it’s your first time with Regent Seven Seas Cruises or your fortieth, our exceptional staff and crew will make every guest feel instantly at home with our highly personalized signature service from the moment they step aboard.”

Travelers also can choose among two new exciting Grand Voyages, which provide guests a regionally immersive and extended experience with no repeating ports. The 77-night, Grand Arctic Quest, sailing from London to New York aboard Seven Seas Navigator, will take guests throughout the British Isles, Iceland, Scandinavia, Greenland and New England. The 66-night, Circle South America itinerary will sail roundtrip from Miami aboard Seven Seas Mariner and circumnavigate South America and cruise up the Amazon River. Guests aboard a Grand Voyage or World Cruise enjoy even more included, bespoke amenities, such as free first-class air, exclusive shoreside events, unlimited laundry—including dry cleaning and pressing, a commemorative gift, and phone time per suite, among others.

Fascinating Itineraries aboard the World’s Most Luxurious Ships
Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious ship ever built, will sail Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries from April through November 2019, and cruise the Caribbean from December 2019 through February 2020. Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) will be a maiden port on Christmas Eve 2019.The ship also will offer a westward and an eastward trans-Panama Canal voyage in March 2020 before returning to Europe in April.

Travelers can choose the best value on an Alaska cruise aboard Seven Seas Mariner, which returns to the region from May through September 2019. The ship will cruise the Caribbean in October—making a maiden call on Acujulta (El Salvador)—before embarking on the 66-night South America circumnavigation voyage. After a Panama Canal transit from Miami, the 2020 world cruise begins on January 24 from San Francisco for an epic 131-night, roundtrip itinerary.

Seven Seas Voyager will return to the Mediterranean from April through October 2019, and then sail Asia and the South Pacific from November 2019 through March 2020. Travelers also can choose one of two Australia and New Zealand itineraries in January. Maiden ports include Kos (Greece), Calvi (Corsica, France), Miyazaki (Aburatsu, Japan), and Nelson (New Zealand).

For its part, Seven Seas Navigator will ply Northern European waters in June and July 2019 and make maiden port calls on Cherbourg (France), Fishguard (Wales), Galway (Ireland), Kollafjord (Faroe Islands), Patreksfjordur and Husavik (Iceland), and Molde (Norway). The ship will sail Bermuda, Canada and New England itineraries from August through October 2019, and then reposition to sail Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries through March 2020. While in the South Pacific, Isle of Pines (New Caledonia), Phllip Island (Australia), and Adamstown (Pitcairn Islands) will also be maiden ports of call.

Enjoy More & Explore More
On select Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator sailings in Asia and the South Pacific, guests in all suite categories enjoy a free three-night, pre- or post-cruise land program to delve deeper into the cultures and experiences of destinations such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, Sydney, New Zealand, and Dubai and the Emirates. Additionally, guests can choose optional one- to three-night, overland programs that take them to visit cultural landmarks only found inland, such as India’s Taj Mahal mausoleum, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, and the Egyptian city of Luxor. Overland Programs start at $999 per guest.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world's most inclusive luxury experience with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 425 destinations around the world. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is currently undergoing a $125 million fleetwide refurbishment that will elevate the level of elegance found throughout the fleet to the standard set by Seven Seas Explorer. For more information about world’s most inclusive luxury experience, visit RSSC.com

Seven Seas Navigator Image Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Windstar Debuts New Land Tours, Added Itineraries & Adventurous Shore Excursions in Asia

Travelers looking for the perfect mix of casual comfort and outright adventure should look no further than upscale cruise line Windstar Cruises. The 212-guest Star Legend will ply the ancient waterways of Asia in the way only small ships can. The line just announced five new cruise dates in fall 2018 running September to November and has added to already diverse offerings in Asia for 2017 and 2018 on 18 different itineraries with 25 different departure dates spanning 7 to 34 days.

Visiting both well-known ports and hidden harbors across Southeast and East Asia vacation options include a President’s Cruise to the Philippines and Borneo, fresh land tour options, recently added itineraries, and fascinating shore excursions that show off the region in the line’s “180 degrees from ordinary” style of cruising.

“Windstar’s Asia Collection now offers larger-than-life adventures and exceptional experiences only possible on a small ship,” says Windstar President John Delaney. “Reaching dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and bringing guests in contact with some of Asia’s less frequented landmarks. Windstar will also proudly sail straight into the heart of must-see Asian cities where larger ships typically dock on the outskirts. I’m really looking forward to hosting our guests and visiting some extraordinary locations on the President’s Cruise, along with Star Legend Godmother and legendary travel professional Gloria Bohan.”

After two intriguing itineraries in Arabia, Windstar’s Asia cruise season begins in December of 2017 and sails through May of 2018, when the ship navigates to Alaska for the summer season. The itinerary offerings are exceedingly diverse with port calls to small exotic harbors where cruise ships rarely call to epic visits at the icons of Asia including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo (Yokohama), Singapore and Bangkok.

SMALL SHIP OFFERS BIG ADVANTAGES FOR AN ASIAN VACATION
Windstar guests will embark upon a journey that allows them to enjoy a wider range of locales on land with four new pre- and post-cruise tours, while also getting to spend a lengthier time at sea with the addition of five longer itineraries via Windstar’s new Star Collector Voyages. Aboard the sophisticated Star Legend accommodating an intimate 212 guests, the casually elegant ship will provide access to distinctive cultural, historical, and culinary experiences, tantalizing all the senses and making for an unforgettable holiday.

The new itineraries and land tours cover architectural favorites and geological splendors like the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, and Mount Fuji, as well as the chance to sail across the Pacific from Anchorage to Yokohama. (Newly added for the fall of 2018, visitors will delve into the magnificent and rustic Alaskan wilderness before soaking up all that Japan has to offer.)

PRESIDENT’S CRUISE TO FEATURE SHIP’S GODMOTHER
A highlight of 2018 in Asia is Windstar's President's Cruise, setting sail on The Best of the Philippines & Borneo itinerary January 6 with Windstar President John Delaney and Star Legend Godmother Gloria Bohan. The cruise is made even more special because many of Windstar's crew is from the Philippines, so it's a homecoming of sorts. As such, this cruise is an incredible way to explore the culture and country alongside those who love and know it best; Filipino crew will join guests on shore excursions to visit their native landmarks and will share tips on their favorite activities and beloved locations in their homeland.

There are a variety of special events planned on board the 14-day cruise, including time getting to know the president and godmother of the small ship cruise line, and an itinerary chock-full of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world like Palawan and Boracay. The voyage features an overnight in Manila and a stop at the oft-overlooked (and rarely visited by cruises) Hundred Islands National Park. A visit to Brunei takes guests inside one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, affording a look at some of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Asia.

“Being godmother of Star Legend is one of the greatest highlights of my career,” says Bohan, who is founder and president of Omega World Travel. “I have grown to love her staff and crew, who now feel like family each time I board. The President's Cruise will introduce the homelands of many of the crew and will let us experience a unique adventure to many exotic islands and ports, something Star Legend excels at.”

TREEPOD ZIPLINE DINING A HIGHLIGHT OF ADVENTUROUS TOURS ROSTER
Additionally, Asia shore excursions are now “live” on Windstar’s website and able to be booked by guests. With so many new and noteworthy offerings from culinary adventures to must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, advance reservations are recommended particularly with the more popular and unique experiences like Ko Kut Treepod Dining. Offered by Windstar aboard the Icons of Southeast Asia cruise, this one-of-a-kind dining affair, inspired by the free-spirited nature of childhood, involves climbing up high to a leafy canopy where guests are comfortably seated in a bamboo pod. They are then gently hoisted high up onto tropical foliage of Ko Kut’s ancient rainforest, taking in the shoreline views as a gourmet feast is delivered to them via the zipline acrobatics of a personal waiter.

NEW LAND TOURS EXTEND THE JOURNEY
Uniting land and sea is the Angkor Wat Land Tour to/from Bangkok with four pre- and post- cruise options on Windstar. Over the course of three days on land, guests will have the chance to marvel over the impressive architecture of religious temples, predominantly Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here guests, who wish, will be driven in the wee hours of the morning to witness a breath-taking sunrise over this Seventh Wonder of the World. A visit to Wat Atvea Pagoda, located in the Angkor Archeological Park, is also included where there will be an opportunity to meet monks and receive a traditional Khmer Water Blessing from them. Similarly, Windstar is offering the Angkor Wat Land Tour to/from Singapore with pre- and post- cruise options on eleven different sail dates/itineraries.

The Beijing and Xian Land Tour can be experienced as a pre- or post-cruise option on three of Windstar’s Asia cruises, with a three-day land journey that begins in Beijing at the Temple of Heaven, providing an authentic look into local city life. From there, the “Forbidden City” will present visitors with some of the best-preserved pieces of classical Chinese architecture before they head to Tiananmen Square, home to Chairman Mao’s remains. No holiday in China is complete without sampling the flavorful, local cuisine, so guests will be taken to a famous Peking duck restaurant in Beijing. Guests will also experience the Great Wall before flying to Xian to encounter the Terracotta Warriors and visit the old city.

The Kyoto/Osaka Land Tour is a three-day option pre- or post-cruise on Windstar’s Grand Japan. Highlights include Osaka Castle, the UNESCO Site of Nijo Castle and Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion and aptly named because the walls and eaves are covered in shimmering gold leaf.

NEW & LONGER ASIA CRUISES
There are five new sailings in the Asia Collection open for bookings in fall 2018 and five new Star Collector Voyages in Asia, which combine some of Windstar’s itineraries in the region for a more in-depth exploration. Free daily laundry is also included. These sailings range from 14-34 days, below are a few highlights.

Singapore & Siam Holiday presents an exotic and stress-free alternative to celebrating the holidays over seven glorious days. Let the festivities begin with an overnight stay in Singapore before sailing to Malaysia to Penang’s UNESCO World Heritage Site in Colonial George Town and then ascend on the Langkawi Gondola to get a bird’s-eye-view of the rainforest wonders. Upon arriving in Ko Yao Noi, sea lovers can swim with the colorful butterfly fish in the aquamarine waters of this Thai island paradise or venture inland to scope out the quaint rural villages. An overnight stay in picturesque Phuket tops off this unparalleled holiday escape.

What better way to ring in the New Year than with a Taste of Siam & Singapore New Year’s Eve cruise? Guests will spend seven days sailing from Phuket (Patong Bay), Thailand to Singapore, stopping in Malaysia along the way. This exhilarating voyage commences in Phuket, famous for its pristine beaches. It continues onto Ko Phi Phi, made popular by the 2000 film The Beach, where party-goers can pop open their bubbly to celebrate the arrival of 2018. After a day at sea, create iconic memories in Ipoh, the fourth-largest city in Malaysia, where evidence of a British colonial past remain, and then take in the 360-degree views from the top of one of the world’s highest towers in Kuala Lumur. The trip concludes with a visit to the UNESCO city of Malacca and an overnight stay in bustling Singapore.

Aleutians & North Pacific Crossing will create an extraordinary passage between Seward, Alaska and Tokyo, Japan over the course of 16 days in fall 2018. A cruise that emphasizes the less-frequented ports of call will retrace the route of Russian-America fur trade, island-hopping along the Aleutian Archipelago. Visitors can live out their wildest adventures as they sportfish in Kodiak—possibly spotting one of their famous bears—or kayak in the remote waters of Sand Point catching glimpses of bison. Fans of “The Deadliest Catch” will get the chance to visit Dutch Harbor which was featured on this TV Show for being the only deep-water port in the Aleutians and main delivery port for king crab. This awe-inspiring excursion continues in Japan with Kushiro, home to Japan’s largest marshland and endangered Japanese cranes, and Miyako, a city slowly recovering from the devastating 2011 tsunami and whose Jodogahama Beach has been nationally dubbed a “Place of Scenic Beauty.”

While Windstar’s 10-day Grand Japan itinerary was originally announced solely for the spring of 2018, Windstar has now added two new fall 2018 sailings on this already wildly popular itinerary. Fall colors promise to be spectacular, along with fewer crowds during this less-visited but no less gorgeous time to explore Japan and South Korea.

For another take on Japan with a taste of Korean and Chinese culture, Pop Culture Kings of Asia offers 11 days of uncovering over 17 UNESCO sites, as well as the birthplace of J-Pop and Harajuku culture, in fall 2018. Beginning in Tokyo and ending in Beijing, cruise dwellers can choose to immerse themselves in retail heaven in the largest underground mall in Seoul or meditate in the serenity of Kyoto, Japan’s Bamboo Forest. Other highlights of the trip include Shimizu, home to Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, the nearby 65-foot Shiraito Waterfall, and the unforgettable Tamano (Uno), a location where very few vessels are able to pass through. Of course, stopping in Hiroshima to sample the Okonomiyaki savory pancakes cannot be overlooked before sailing over to South Korea where the dormant Hallasan Volcano and the world’s longest lava tunnels are also a must-see.

Comprehensive China Exploration is just that—an 11-day experience highlighting the best of China and Taiwan and featuring overnights in Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong in fall 2018. This is a foodie’s dream come true with opportunities to taste the umami of oyster pancakes found in the night markets of Taiwan, sample authentic dim sum in Hong Kong, and sip the local brewed beer in Qingdao. Senses will be tantalized in Shanghai, the “Pearl of the Orient,” from the maze of shops and vendors in Old Shanghai to the colorful tall buildings dotting the impressive skyline. In Zhoushan, the “Venice of China” sightseers can explore the 36 bridges connecting the city or the nearby island of Putuoshan, home to 80 Buddhist monasteries and gardens.

For additional information on yacht-style cruising with Windstar, visit WindstarCruises.com.

Image Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Princess Cruises Eighth Annual Relaxation Report Reveals Half of Americans Don’t Get the Sleep They Need

Dr Breus & Candice Olson
Leading up to today's National Relaxation Day, Princess Cruises has released the results of its eighth annual Relaxation Report, which revealed that when it comes to relaxation and sleep, many Americans are in need of a wakeup call. According to results of the survey by Wakefield Research for Princess Cruises, Americans aren’t carving out enough time in their days for sleep or relaxation, with approximately half (49%) reporting they aren’t getting the sleep they need and 78% saying they don’t set aside time to relax each day.

Relaxation and sleep go hand-in-hand, and the lack of both appears to be catching up with Americans. Rather than getting the most enjoyment out of their vacation, working adults take an average of four days off per year just to catch up on sleep. Whether it’s a full vacation or even just a few minutes of downtime, learning how to carve out more “me” time is clearly becoming a necessity. Even going on vacation doesn’t guarantee better rest, according to the survey, which found that 63% of Americans frequently struggle to get a good night’s sleep while on vacation.

As one of the world’s largest international premium cruise brand, Princess Cruises, is committed to ensuring its guests come back from vacation feeling refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated. As part of its Come Back New Promise, Princess Cruises partnered with leading experts in both the science and beauty of sleep to develop the Princess Luxury Bed. Together with board-certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and designer Candice Olson, Princess Cruises now delivers its guests the ultimate night of sleep at sea.

“The number one advice I give people is that sleep is a sensory experience and all five of your senses must be prepared for slumber in order for you to fall asleep easily and stay asleep all night long,” said Dr. Breus. “I’m thrilled to have partnered with Princess Cruises and believe we have come up with a bed that will allow guests to achieve the ultimate in rest and relaxation.”

The Relaxation Report revealed factors that Dr. Breus notes are causes for Americans to not get the sleep and relaxation they need, including:
● Consuming caffeine too late in the day: Caffeine can linger in the system for up to eight hours, and yet 44% of Americans admit to drinking caffeine at 2 p.m. or later
● Indulging in a nightcap: Even though alcohol can prevent people from getting quality sleep, more than half (53%) of Americans age 21 or older admit to having had a drink within three hours of going to sleep in the past last two weeks
● Stress over current events: For 67% of Americans, today’s political climate has made it harder for them to relax. Taking a break from the 24/7 political news cycle may be the prescription for more relaxation and better sleep
● Not sticking to a schedule: One in four Americans (25%) don’t go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Setting a consistent alarm is an easy way to get more satisfying sleep
● The urban grind: The hustle and bustle of the city can take its toll on the body. Working city-dwellers are significantly more likely to take five or more days off per year just to catch up on sleep (45%) compared to just 25% of those who live in the suburbs and 24% of those who live in rural areas
● Not using time off: Among working Americans, about 1 in 3 (31%) didn’t use all the time available to them. Among Americans who didn’t use all of their paid time off, the top reason is they had too much work to get done (37%)
The Princess Luxury Bed is rolling out to more than 44,000 staterooms through 2019. The bed features a plush, two-inch thick pillow top, a nine-inch, single-sided medium firm mattress for enhanced support, individually wrapped coils for less partner disturbance, a European-inspired duvet and 100% luxurious Jacquard-woven cotton linens.

To prepare guests for the ultimate night of sleep at sea, Princess Cruises and Dr. Breus optimized the staterooms for a sleep-friendly sensory experience. As an extension to the sensory stateroom offerings, we offer a SLEEP by Princess Kit which includes additional sleep-inducing items such as eye shades, earplugs, aromatherapy scents, Dr. Breus' Good Night™ app and more.

Images Courtesy Princess Cruises

Acapulco Registers a 78 Percent Increase in Cruise Ship Arrivals During 2017

Acapulco announces a massive increase in the number of new cruise ship arrivals throughout 2017. The city’s port is expected to welcome 32 ships this year, versus 18 for 2016, a 78 percent increase. Currently, the following nine cruise lines operate in the city: Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, V-Ships, Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Global, Saga, and Hapag Lloyd. Acapulco will continue to promote and supervise its port’s operations to attract more ships, in collaboration with international cruise lines.

“Acapulco is experiencing a major renaissance in its cruise ship arrivals for 2017, with 14 more ships arriving this year over 2016,” says Ernesto Rodríguez Escalona, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Guerrero. “This significant increase is a testament to our commitment to growth supported by new projects and investments from both the public and private sectors.”

Earlier this year in March, a delegation headed by the Acapulco Tourism Board and integrated by the directive of the Integral Port Administration (API) of Acapulco, executives of the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office and several tour operators were present at the international convention, Seatrade Cruise Global, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The delegation met with the major shipping companies. Similarly, a firsthand report on the operation of cruise ships at the destination is distributed monthly to the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

Additionally, Acapulco recently announced that it will be the port of origin for the 1,400 passenger Magellan cruise of Cruise and Maritime Voyages, starting in the winter of 2018. The roundtrip cruise will depart from Acapulco and make stops in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas, before returning to port.

Acapulco is a destination that attracts both national and international travelers year-round to enjoy the destination’s beaches, nightlife, natural attractions and the local people’s warmth and hospitality. New attractions in Acapulco like XTASEA, the world’s largest over water zip-line, spanning over a mile and crossing the Bay of Puerto Marqués, along with long time favorites like the La Quebrada diving cliff are major draws for cruise line passengers to Acapulco.

Cruise operations in the Port of Acapulco are assisted by the Center for Tourist Attention and Protection (CAPTA), an innovative organization recognized worldwide for tourism assistance and safety implemented for the first time in Mexico. The federal, state and municipal authorities reiterate their commitment to the successful operation of the cruise ships in Acapulco and will continue collaborating with the international cruise lines, resolving their concerns while continually attracting tourists, as well as providing the necessary conditions for their visit.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line To Sail from Mobile, Alabama Through December 2018

Visit Mobile shares the exciting news of Carnival Cruise Line extending their contract with the City of Mobile through December 2018. Based on surveys from passengers, the Carnival Fantasy is ranked number one in friendliness and hospitality within the Carnival fleet. On a normal day, 150 employees assist 5,200 passengers disembarking and embarking the ship handling luggage, parking vehicles and receiving trailer loads of food and supplies.

“We are excited and proud that Carnival Cruise Line has extended their contract for another year with Mobile—it shows their commitment to our city and to over 190,000 cruisers choosing Mobile as their port of preference,” says David Clark, President/CEO, Visit Mobile. “Carnival Cruise Line has ten brands and accounts for almost 50% of the global cruise market. We are excited to continue celebrating the Carnival Fantasy cruising from Mobile!”

Cruisers have seen a significant growth in Downtown Mobile with over a dozen new restaurants, shops, and entertainment options that are open daily for them to enjoy before or after their cruise.

Visit Mobile continues to spearhead initiatives that improve the overall visitor experience. In partnership with area hotels who are offering Park and Cruise Packages, Visit Mobile has created a ‘Very Important Cruiser’ (VIC) program which includes welcome packets for hotel guests staying on the package and additional discounts to almost twenty attractions throughout Mobile, redeemable by showing their boarding passes.

Visit Mobile continues to manage a Facebook page that serves as a direct communication tool to incoming cruisers. With a steadily growing audience, “Cruising From Mobile” has become a resource for cruisers to get local information and learn all about the activities they can do while they are in Mobile. As an alternative way to encourage cruisers to spend some time in Mobile, Visit Mobile has a team in place at the Alabama Cruise Terminal each time the cruise ship is docked. The team is there to answer any questions cruisers have and to hand out goody bags that has Mardi Gras beads, coupons, and Visit Mobile’s Destination Guides.

Since the Carnival Fantasy’s first cruise departed last year, the City of Mobile Cruise Terminal has generated over $4.7 M in gross revenue. Over the course of the full calendar year, the terminal's gross revenue is expected to exceed $6.4 M, over 190,000 cruisers will spend more than $18 M in Mobile and the overall direct impact is expected to exceed $35 M.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin Awarded Third Annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage & Creativity

The Third Annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity was awarded last week to Former Prime Minister Paul Martin on board Cunard’s flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2. The ship was docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of the company’s founder, Sir Samuel Cunard.

Martin was joined by Captain Stephen Howarth, Master of Queen Mary 2, along with local dignitaries, port officials, and key members of the community including The Honorable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of the Government of Canada; Karen Casey, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance and the Treasury Board of the Province of Nova Scotia; Senator Jim Cowan; last year’s prize recipient John Risley; and John Young and Allan Shaw, Co-Chairs, Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation.

The award was inaugurated in 2015 to celebrate the company’s 175th Anniversary in the ancestral home of its founder Sir Samuel Cunard. Created in partnership with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Cunard, the award acknowledges an extraordinary individual who demonstrates the qualities exemplified by Samuel Cunard throughout his life.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, Queen Mary 2 executed a rare sail away spectacle for residents of Halifax by performing a counter clockwise turn in the harbor to acknowledge the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic while escorted by Theodore Tugboat, The Spitfire, and HMCS Summerside. A naval artillery salute took place shore side from the wharf of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic with music provided by the Naval Reserve Band. As part of the activities, noted Cunard historian, John Langley, was honored at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic as he donated his extensive Cunard collection to the museum.

For more information about Cunard, visit Cunard.com.

Image Courtesy Cunard Line