Friday, June 23, 2017

Yao Ming & Ye Li to Serve as Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors for Princess Cruises in China & Officially Name the New Majestic Princess

Princess Cruises, the world’s largest international premium cruise line announced that Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, will serve as Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors for Princess Cruises in China and officially name the new Majestic Princess during a ceremony and gala celebration.

The inaugural festivities will take place aboard the ship in Shanghai on July 9, as the culmination of weeks of celebrations, upholding maritime traditions, as well as featuring traditional Chinese, contemporary Chinese, and western-inspired cultural performances that took place between Rome and Xiamen.

“It is a great honor that Yao Ming and Ye Li have graciously accepted our invitation to officially name Majestic Princess and serve as the Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors at our celebration welcoming our newest ship to China,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Yao Ming is globally recognized for his success in China and the United States, truly embodying the ‘East meets West’ spirit of our international cruise line.”

Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, were both born in Shanghai and were both team members of China’s national basketball teams. Yao Ming is an icon, one of the world’s best-known athletes, a global ambassador of basketball, an eight-time NBA All-Star, and most recently, an inductee into the NBA Hall of Fame. The couple has established The Yao Foundation in response to the devastating 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China in 2008. The Yao Foundation funded the construction of 23 schools in the region, Yao Foundation Hope Primary Schools, and is currently focused on helping provide sports education to the youth generation in the countryside regions of China with the implementation of “Yao Foundation Hope Primary School Basketball Season" projects. They help to select volunteers to support sports education and basketball training, organize basketball leagues for the rural primary schools to help more students learn the team sport and understand the importance of growing up with fitness and good health. This year will be the 10th year for "Yao Foundation Charity event." It has become the biggest, the longest and most influential sports charity event in China. In 2017, Yao Foundation Charity event tournament will begin on July 30 in Hong Kong.

Majestic Princess promises the ultimate cruise vacation for Chinese travelers, offering Princess Cruises' renowned warm, welcoming, international service—now enhanced for Chinese travelers’ satisfaction. The new cruise ship also features two specialty dinner menus by Michelin star-awarded chefs at Harmony and La Mer, “Fantastic Journey,” the most technologically-advanced, immersive musical and cinematic production show at sea, and the Princess Luxury Bed developed with board-of-medicine certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus.

Princess Cruises is also debuting “Camp Discovery”—an interactive family enrichment program developed in part by Discovery Communications, California Science Center, and educators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University—that is designed to foster creativity and initiate a love for learning that prepares children to better navigate their education and development at early learning ages.

Majestic Princess is currently sailing on her “Silk Road Sea Route”—a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai, retracing the ancient Chinese maritime Silk Road trade route. During the voyage, she will have visited a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang, and Xiamen before her arrival at Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal. Majestic Princess will begin her first homeport season in Shanghai on July 11.

In 2018, two 14-day Grand Asia voyage sailings between Shanghai and Singapore, will be available to guests throughout the world on Majestic Princess. These sailings will visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, including spending more time ashore on the late night call in Hong Kong. The first voyage departs Shanghai on February 25, 2018, with the second departing Singapore on March 11, 2018.

Princess Cruises will also call Australia home from September 2018 to March 2019. Majestic Princess will sail itineraries from Sydney and Auckland on voyages from 6 to 13 days in length, and will call in ports at destinations including New Zealand, Tasmania, Fiji and other islands in the South Pacific.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Seabourn Announces Distinguished Speakers for 2017-2018 Seabourn Conversations Program

Luxury cruise line Seabourn continues its mission to intrigue and inform guests with an additional new series of Seabourn Conversations for the 2017-2018 cruise season. The popular onboard enrichment program will host distinguished speakers and personalities from a variety of fields including journalism, government, preservation and the arts. The Seabourn Conversations line-up is populated with both first-time and returning speakers and is featured on board Seabourn's award-winning, intimate ships.

"Whatever the season or the destination, we are pleased to bring the most engaging personalities onboard to inform and entertain our guests," said Seabourn President, Richard Meadows. "The highly successful series continues to introduce prominent personalities to share their life's work and experiences from a rarely heard perspective."

Select speakers of the 2017-2018 Seabourn Conversations program include:
Margaret Trudeau (Seabourn Quest, Oct 2, 2017) - The former wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the mother of the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, she will share thoughts on Canadian politics and the global landscape.
Paul Deegan (Seabourn Encore, Oct 25, 2017) - Award-winning author, motivational speaker, and veteran climber of mountainous regions on five continents, Deegan was co-leader of the first environmental expedition to Mount Everest at age 18.
Arturo Sandoval (Seabourn Quest, Nov 5, 2017) - Award-winning and legendary jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer, Sandoval is one of the most dynamic performers in modern jazz.
Richard Stone (Seabourn Encore, Nov 10, 2017) - As the Royal Portrait Painter, Stone has captured most members of Britain's Royal Family on canvas, as well as leading members of society and the community.
John Pizzarelli (Seabourn Sojourn, Nov 15, 2017) - The world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer, Pizzarelli is among the prime revivalists of the great American songbook, bringing to his work the cool jazz flavor of his brilliant guitar playing.
Steve Wozniak (Seabourn Quest, Dec 20, 2017) - Designer of the hardware, circuit board designs and operating system for the Apple I personal computer, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Hoover Medal in 2014.
Brad Goreski (Seabourn Sojourn, Dec 21, 2017) - No one knows what to wear better than celebrity fashion stylist and TV personality Goreski, co-host of Fashion Police on E!, brand stylist for Kate Spade NY, and author of the 2012 memoir Born to Be Brad: My Life and Style, So Far.
Grant Harrold (Seabourn Encore, Jan 5, 2018) - "The Royal Butler" draws on decades of passion for good manners, including time spent in Royal Households and leading his own The Royal School of Etiquette and Butlers, to be Britain's Official Etiquette Expert.
Sir Tim Rice (Seabourn Quest, Jan 13, 2018) - English author and lyricist Rice's talent has earned him awards at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Tonys, and Grammys. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, he is perhaps most renowned for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and more. His production show, An Evening With Tim Rice, is currently playing fleet wide on all Seabourn ships.
Jeffrey Archer (Seabourn Encore, Aug 18, 2018 & Aug 25, 2018) - An Oxford alum and member of Parliament who wrote his first novel, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less in 1976 at the age of 34. He has gone on to write many novels and is now published in 97 countries and more than 33 languages.
For the full schedule of speakers participating in Seabourn Conversations for 2017-2018, visit Seabourn.com.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seabourn is Offering New Cruise Itineraries for the 2018 & 2019 Season

Luxury cruise line Seabourn will feature new worldwide itineraries for the fall 2018 and winter 2019 seasons. The new program includes 37 unique sailings to hidden harbors, marquee ports and must see cities accessible only by smaller ships.

As always, Seabourn guests can look forward to exceptional personalized service, lavish amenities and unique experiences from the newest and most modern fleet in the luxury segment. Guests will have the opportunity to sail aboard Seabourn's newest ships, Seabourn Encore, which launched in late 2016, and Seabourn Ovation, which is scheduled to launch in May 2018.

The fall 2018 and winter 2019 seasons will allow guests to see our Extraordinary World with 103 departures of seven to 66 days in length, visiting exotic destinations in South America & Antarctica, India, Arabia, Australia & New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, along with classic favorites including the Panama Canal, Canada/New England, and the Caribbean.

"Each year we meticulously craft itineraries with carefully selected experiences to show guests the world as only Seabourn can," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "These itineraries will be truly exciting for our guests as they visit fascinating destinations around the world from the comforts of the finest ultra-luxury experience at sea."
Highlights for the Seabourn fleet include:
Seabourn Ovation—Following the ship's 2018 inaugural summer season in Europe, the line's newest ship will depart Athens on a 20-day Holy Land and Arabia voyage headed to Dubai. An additional 18-day voyage of Arabia, India and Sri Lanka will position the ship in Singapore to begin the ship's inaugural Asia season of five 14-day voyages between Singapore and Hong Kong. These itineraries will feature the line's popular Caviar in the Surf beach parties at Ko Kood in Thailand, an overnight stay at Ho Chi Minh City and an extended day at Halong Bay in Vietnam, allowing for optional excursions to Hanoi. The season will also include a 14-day voyage from Hong Kong to Singapore visiting China, the Philippines, and Kota Kinabalu (Borneo) in Malaysia, providing options for appealing 28-day combo cruises with the Vietnam/Thailand voyages. The ship will then depart Singapore on a 22-day voyage to Dubai via Myanmar, India and Oman, followed by a 20-day voyage to Arabia and the Holy Land, arriving in Athens to begin the 2019 Europe season.
Seabourn Encore—Following the summer season, Seabourn Encore will depart the Mediterranean bound for Australia & New Zealand via four voyages: 19 days through the Holy Land and Arabia; 18 days through Arabia and India to Singapore; a seven-day voyage between Singapore and Benoa, Bali, visiting Java and Celukan Bawang, Bali; and an 18-day sailing from Bali to Sydney via the Great Barrier Reef. The 2018-2019 season in Australia & New Zealand will consist of four 16-day voyages between Sydney and Auckland, interspersed with two alternate 16-day South Pacific Islands voyages round-trip from Auckland, visiting New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. The start of spring will see Seabourn Encore depart Sydney for a 16-day voyage, featuring the Queensland Coast & Great Barrier Reef, plus Indonesia islands to Bali. A 10-day Gems of the Java Sea voyage will highlight Bali and Komodo, plus several ports on Java before reaching Singapore. The return to Europe will include a 16-day cruise through India and Arabia to Dubai, and an 18-day voyage from Dubai to Athens via the Holy Land.
Seabourn Quest—During fall 2018, Seabourn Quest will sail on four 10-day Canadian Maritimes & New England voyages between Montreal and Boston, as well as a 12-day cruise round-trip from Montreal. A 14-day positioning cruise ends in Miami, from which Seabourn Quest will sail 25 days southward to visit Key West, pass through the Panama Canal, and explore the Inca Coast of Peru. Seabourn Quest will then sail on five voyages in Antarctica & Patagonia, including a 24-day Holiday voyage from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso that features the South Georgia Experience and Ventures by Seabourn optional kayaking excursions led by the ship's top-flight expedition team. In spring 2019, Seabourn Quest will depart from Buenos Aires to travel up the coast of Brazil on a 21-day voyage into the Amazon. The ship will then sail a 24-day itinerary from Manaus, down the Amazon and across the Atlantic to Lisbon for its summer season in Europe.
Seabourn Odyssey—Following an Atlantic crossing, Seabourn Odyssey's fall 2018 season begins with a series of 18 seven-day Caribbean cruises between Bridgetown, Barbados and Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. Each of the cruises will offer both a Caviar in the Surf beach barbecue at Carambola Beach, St. Kitts or Mayreau in the Grenadines, as well as a Marina Day at Jost Van Dyke or Iles des Saintes. (All subject to conditions.) In early spring, Seabourn Odyssey will cross the Atlantic to Lisbon in 11 days, and then sail 14 days through the Canary Islands, Morocco and Spain to Barcelona to be poised for another European season.
Itineraries for Seabourn Sojourn are currently being finalized and will be announced soon. The ship will feature a number of Extended Explorations voyages in late 2018 & 2019, which are suited to the traveler looking for a longer, more in-depth experience from their journey.

As the youngest luxury fleet in the industry, Seabourn's intimate ships offer key elements that set the line apart: spacious, thoughtfully appointed suites, many with verandas and all 100% ocean front; superb dining in a choice of venues including The Grill by Thomas Keller; differentiated evening experiences in partnership with Sir Tim Rice, Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, open bars throughout the ship; fine wines poured at lunch and dinner; award-winning service and a relaxed, sociable atmosphere that makes guests feel right at home onboard. The ships travel the globe to many of the world's most desirable destinations, including marquee cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and lesser-known ports and hideaways. Travelers who covet outdoor adventures will also find the Ventures by Seabourn optional for-charge excursion program on many itineraries, including Alaska, Antarctica, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Guests may book these tours in advance on Seabourn's website.

The itineraries, fares, and additional details of Seabourn's complete fall 2018/winter 2019 cruise schedule can be viewed at Seabourn.com.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn

Crystal Gives Guests VIP Access To Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Formula 1 Race

Adrenaline rushes are inevitable for Crystal Symphony guests in Abu Dhabi this November, as Crystal unveils three exclusive ways for travelers to experience the most glamorous international event in the United Arab Emirates. During the "Indian Ocean Discovery" voyage, the luxury ship will arrive in Abu Dhabi on November 25 for an overnight stay just in time for the capital city's Formula 1 Grand Prix at the famed Yas Marina Circuit. The 55-lap, approximately 190-mile race draws drivers from around the world to compete for the pole position. Crystal guests will enjoy VIP views for each lap, heightening the thrill of the event.
The most exclusive Crystal package for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix transports guests by luxury coach from the ship to Yas Island, where the Marina is located, and positions them in the heart of the action with Formula TEAM One Paddock Club™ access, with either Team Red Bull or Team Ferrari. Participants will walk the pit lane and enjoy premier seating in the air-conditioned upper floors of the pit building, as well as fine cuisine and beverage service throughout the day, open bar and access to the roof terrace to mingle with fellow VIP guests. Fares for this option are $9,999 per person.

A second race option offers premium hospitality seating in the shaded top level in the grand stand, offering access to an air-conditioned lounge where food and non-alcoholic beverages will be served throughout the race. Fares for this option are $2,399 per person.

A third option offers guests race tickets with premium grand stand seating, affording the opportunity to take in the contest amidst the excitement of the crowd and fellow race enthusiasts. Fares for this option are $999 per person.
"Regardless of one's chosen level of exclusive access, attendance of this remarkable international event is an unforgettable opportunity for any traveller," says Crystal CEO and President Edie Rodriguez.

In addition to Abu Dhabi, the 17-day voyage begins with an overnight in Dubai and a maiden call in Doha, Qatar before cruising the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean en route to Mahé/Victoria, Seychelles; Nosy Bé and Maroantsetra (maiden call), Madagascar; and Mauritius/Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius.

Cruise Industry Reveals Fast Facts about the Small Ship Cruise Experience

Interest in small ship cruising, traveling aboard ships with a smaller passenger capacity, is on the rise among travelers. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, has uncovered some interesting facts about small ship cruising.

“The small ship sector is a vital and constantly-evolving part of the overall cruise industry that excels at creating unmatched travel experiences, making it more popular than ever” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “Small ship cruising allows for a unique and intimate cruise unlike any other.”

Five fast facts about small ship cruising:

1.) Small Ships Can Cruise the World: Contrary to popular myth, small ships have the ability to sail to a myriad of destinations around the world, some of which are unattainable by bigger ships. Small ships often cruise along famous and historic rivers, offering a chance for the mode of transportation to become a wonder in itself. To create an even more memorable experience, many small ship cruise lines also offer themed itineraries that focus on different interests like diving or beer tasting.
• Avalon Waterways’ Danube Dreams for Beer Enthusiasts is a ten day European voyage that sets its sights on beer-lovers with ale-centric activities both on board and on land. This small ship cruise allows travelers to visit historic breweries; attend special beer tastings; learn about European beer-brewing techniques during onboard lectures and workshops; and take part in a beer expert-led dining experience. Not into beer and looking to see another part of the world? Avalon’s exclusive Golden Myanmar & the Alluring Irrawaddy cruise takes 36 passengers all the way from Bhamo, near the border of China, along the Irrawaddy River.
• In 2018, Paul Gauguin Cruises will be the first cruise line to visit the port city of Vairao in Tahiti Iti, the smaller of two landmasses that comprise the island of Tahiti and offers a wild coastline, ancient temples, Polynesian culture, and incredible surfing. The line takes travelers to hidden pockets of the world in a unique way with sailings to islands previously unsailed.
• In a partnership with BBC Earth, Tauck is taking cruise travelers to far-reaching destinations ranging from Costa Rica and Antarctica to the Galapagos Islands with a deeper understanding of each destination. Travelers can view destination-specific nature documentaries created by BBC Earth filmmakers and partake in shore excursions in which they use BBC Earth experts’ technologies, including thermal imaging cameras and underwater hydrophones, in order to truly become one with nature.
2.) Small Ship Cruising is Affordable for a Variety of Budgets: In the case of small ship cruising, exclusivity and intimacy don’t mean the experience is unattainable for the majority. In fact, small ship cruises are affordable at a variety of different price points.
• All-inclusive cruises can lend themselves to a variety of budgets. Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, personalized service, cuisine in specialty restaurants, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, gratuities, ground transfers and a pre-cruise hotel package for guests staying in concierge-level suites and higher. The cruise line also offers unlimited sightseeing excursions in every port and nearly 90 percent of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ shore excursions are free and unlimited for travelers to choose, as long as their time allows.
• Oceania has a wide range of small ship cruises available for every price point with voyages ranging from seven days to 180 days. Every guest is privy to Oceania’s trademark fine cuisine at sea, with meals cooked to order and always prepped with the freshest, finest quality ingredients that are cycled out every three to five days with an opportunity for onboard, intimate cooking lessons.
• SeaDream is yet another line offering small ship getaways at a variety of price points. Travelers on a tighter budget can still live the luxurious small ship life on a transatlantic crossing or five-day voyage. Those looking to spend a bit more can travel the cruise line’s 9+ day Mediterranean trips during peak season and spring for an all-inclusive trip. At any price point, cruisers can enjoy ocean views; gourmet meals that include a Raw food, vegan, and organic selection; and daily sunrise yoga and tai chi. While onboard, those looking to splurge can also indulge in SeaDream’s spa which features the only Thai-certification at sea, while also offering the highest therapist-to-guest ratio at sea.
3.) Small Ships Offer Unique Experiences On Board and On Shore: Just because smaller ships lack space doesn’t mean they lack amenities or entertainment. In fact, on many small ships the crew-to-traveler ratio is quite impressive, with some ships having a nearly one-on-one service ratio. Another large draw to small ship cruising is sailing to unique destinations thought nearly unattainable by ship and being able to enjoy all that those destinations have to offer on-land with port-intensive itineraries.
• Complete with all of the opulent finishing touches for which Scenic is universally celebrated, the Scenic Sapphire and Diamond ships have been transformed after emerging from the shipyard this season. In addition to opulent design touches, each vessel also received a host of new features and amenities, including a vitality pool, gym, spa and, for the first time ever, a private cooking area where guests can participate in  new cookery courses, Scenic Culinaire. Scenic refurbished the interior of its Space-Ships in France and is now offering a unique Culinaire experience that is unrivaled on the rivers. Small groups can spend the day with an onboard chef, in addition to accompanying the chef to the market to buy fresh ingredients that will be used to prepare a meal on board. The cooking station features a real-time overhead camera and screen to ensure each participant can see every cooking move in detail.
• Emerald Waterways has a unique indoor/outdoor pool with vitality lane for lap swimming that can be converted into a cinema in the evening. This is a great space for one to find quiet space in the morning, to get exercise anytime, or to host a group meeting or special cocktail reception. All of the star ships in Europe, with the exception of the Emerald Radiance in Portugal, have this feature. Due to the nature of the Douro River, and therefore the smaller size of the ship, a lounging pool on the upper deck replaces the indoor/outdoor pool and cinema.
• Uniworld itineraries offer exclusive experiences onshore that are only available to guests. The popular Enchanting Danube itinerary, for example, offers a “Morning with the Masters,” an exclusive early opening and art tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, showcasing the Habsburg’s imperial treasures and magnificent works of art by some of the world’s greatest artists. The same eight-day itinerary offers a Dürnstein “Village Day,” which includes a guided tour of the village and a choice of activities, including a sampling of the organic wines at the historic Nikolaihof estate, perhaps the oldest winery in Austria, which produces some of the world’s best Rieslings.
4.) Small Ship Cruising is Flexible to Each Traveler: Just because the ships are smaller doesn’t mean the schedule or planning is more rigid. In fact, small ship cruising lends itself to creating personalized trips for every type of traveler. There is something for everyone on a cruise, no matter the size of the ship.
• Fitness fanatics and active travelers, through AmaWaterways get a chance to get active and explore new destinations through hiking and biking excursions. AmaWaterways European fleet carries bicycles onboard for travelers hoping to take a guided bike tour through a port town or those looking to explore on their own. Enhanced active offerings for even more adventurous travelers are available on special sailings in partnership with Backroads. On board their AmaLyra ship, the cruise line is currently testing a wellness program that includes yoga, running, cardio, circuit training, and health and relaxation-focused discussion groups. Not into fitness? AmaWaterways’ offers more than 50 wine cruises that feature onboard wine experts, educational discussions, and wine tastings.
• Cruisers looking to enrich their lives in specific ways can find a multitude of flexible and passion-driven enrichment programs on Silversea Cruises. Opera and ballet fans, food and wine connoisseurs, bridge players, wellness enthusiasts and lifelong learners can appreciate indulging their passions with Silversea's onboard enrichment programs in 2017 that can be tailored to each participant’s liking in an intimate setting. Looking to satisfy travel companions who may not be so passionate about your interests? Silversea also offers signature cruise luxuries like sun decks, spas, delicious cuisine, and guest pools.
5.) Small Ship Cruising Differs from Large Ship Cruising in Ways Big and Small: It’s no secret that small ship cruising differs from travel on larger vessels, but small ships have points of differentiation that can make even the most skeptical cruise traveler fall in love. Small ships can navigate more narrow channels, offering a chance for cruisers to visit hidden gems unattainable by other means of sailing.
• Small ship cruising offers a more intimate travel experience in many ways. For example, Seabourn ships have no more than 300 suites and are modeled similar to private clubs where travelers share open decks, social spaces, and enjoy personalized attention from the crew. In fact, at its “Caviar in the Surf” beach barbecue, staff plunge into the water to offer guests iced champagne and caviar at a surfboard bar—a unique and personal experience for each traveler. Another one-on-one style perk of small ship cruising is a behind the scenes peek. Seabourn also offers travelers a chance to accompany the ship’s Executive Chef on a trip to the local market to learn more about local produce and prepare them together back in the ship kitchen.
• The size of the ship can create a unique experience in a variety of destinations. For instance, many large ships travel through the Panama Canal, but small ships are able to offer the most intimate experience along the famed canal. Windstar Cruises offers wet landings and access to ports like Bahia Drake, Puerto Jimenez, Parida, and Bocas del Toro in Costa Rica and Panama so travelers can get an up close and personal experience. In addition to the Panama Canal, Windstar also offers themed cruises for travelers with a specific passion like wine or racing. The line’s Barcelona & Grand Prix of Monaco voyage allows cruisers to experience the Grand Prix with a Formula One racing expert and cocktail reception.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Photos Show Off Extensive Enhancements to Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam

When Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam emerged from a 12-day dry dock at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Palermo, Italy, in late April, the ship debuted major renovations that added many new public spaces and amenities, including two firsts for the fleet: Explorations Central, or EXC, in the Crow’s Nest and Rijksmuseum at Sea. Westerdam also received the popular Music Walk venues Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, the intimate Gallery Bar, a reimagined Lido Market and The Retreat area with private cabanas.

Newly released photos show the renovations, along with additional upgrades and modifications including suite upgrades, enhancements to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, renovations to youth areas Club HAL and The Loft, and the new Holland America Line logo on the funnels. Deck 10 saw the addition of 25 guest staterooms, including 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms, increasing the capacity of the ship to 1,964 guests.

“We have many innovative new programs and enhancements launching across the fleet, and it’s exciting to see them finally come to life on Westerdam, which is the first Holland America Line ship to get Rijksmuseum at Sea and EXC,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Holland America Line is in a transformative era, and that will be reflected in on board spaces over the coming years as ships are updated with new venues and programming that are moving our brand forward.”

Rijksmuseum at Sea Introduced on Westerdam
Holland America Line’s partnership with Rijksmuseum—the Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam—celebrates the company’s Dutch heritage. With Rijksmuseum at Sea on Westerdam (pictured left), reproductions of some of the museum’s most famous masterpieces are showcased at a dedicated space located on Deck One of the Atrium. Guests also can view videos about the museum and its collections on the in-stateroom television.

New EXC (Explorations Central) Program Unveiled on Westerdam
Holland America Line is amplifying its destination immersion experiences with the launch of EXC programming on Westerdam. The multifaceted EXC experience combines a wide array of indispensable travel resources with enrichment opportunities for guests making their travel experience more engaging, vivid and meaningful. Much of the EXC experience is featured in the newly created Exploration Central’s hub located in the Crow’s Nest (pictured at right), now a comprehensive resource and engagement center with interactive screens and a Virtual Bridge. EXC programming also offers a full EXC Team to engage with guests, EXC Tours, EXC Destination Guides, EXC Channel and Theater EXC.

Music Walk Adds Lincoln Center Stage & Billboard Onboard
Guests have even more entertainment options with the addition of Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard (pictured left), complementing the already-existing and wildly popular B.B. King’s Blues Club. Under the exclusive partnership, Lincoln Center Stage showcases an ensemble of world-class musicians performing multiple chamber music programs nightly, while Billboard Onboard features the talents of two pianists performing dynamic shows centered around the interesting facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard.

Raising a Glass in Gallery Bar
During the dry dock, Westerdam received the intimate Gallery Bar (pictured right). The sophisticated venue, serving an exclusive cocktail menu created by celebrity mixologist Dale DeGroff, replaces Northern Lights and is adorned with an eclectic and whimsical mix of artwork including portraits, landscapes, still lifes and abstract pieces.

America’s Test Kitchen Receives New Look
America’s Test Kitchen also sports a new look with the room receiving a new color palate and enhancements to the show kitchen featuring gray and red motifs as well as new tables and chairs for guests viewing the cooking demonstrations. Produced in partnership with the namesake, long-running public television cooking program, America’s Test Kitchen features shipboard cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops—with topics ranging from creating authentic Asian dumplings to making the perfect pie crust—that will combine foolproof, accessible recipes and cooking techniques that are rooted in the rigorous testing and science-based approach of America’s Test Kitchen.

Food & Service Reign at Lido Market
The traditional, casual Lido buffet has been transformed into the Lido Market concept—a marketplace with different themed stations offering a selection of delicious options guests can grab on the go or have quickly made to order. Areas include fresh-baked breads and pastries at Breadboard, classic comfort food at Homestead, dishes from around the globe at Distant Lands, Wild Harvest’s freshly made personalized salads, and sweet treats at Sweet Spot. Service at Lido Market is enhanced with coffee, juices, water and iced tea served tableside, and in the evening the tables have an upgraded setting with placemats, glassware and cutlery awaiting guests after they have selected their food from the new menu.

The Atrium
Additional Upgrades and Enhancements to Westerdam
To further complete Westerdam’s transformation, 25 new staterooms were added near the top of the ship on Deck 10. The 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms increase the ship’s capacity to 1,964 guests.

Additionally, the suites on board received the fleetwide suite upgrades. The main living area was refreshed with a new headboard, new carpet, wall coverings, a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt. New quartz-stone surfaces were added to the desk, dresser, nightstands and makeup vanity which, along with new vanity lighting, enhance the cosmetic transformation. Electronic upgrades include a new USB outlet added to the bed’s headboard, bedside LED lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod. Suite bathrooms also were upgraded, including a wall of designer glass tile, new vanity area, stylish floor tiles and a nightlight.

A new interactive television system was installed throughout the ship, featuring large LED flat-screen TVs with complimentary movies and popular TV shows on demand as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing.

The Retreat on Deck 11
The Retreat was relocated from Deck 10, providing a quiet lounging area and 15 private cabanas available for rental that offer a relaxing oasis on deck. (pictured right)

Various other public spaces around the ship received new soft furnishings including carpets, drapery, chairs and sofas, while additional outside enhancements include new pool deck loungers and teak decking.

Westerdam is currently cruising the Mediterranean on 12-day itineraries between Barcelona, Spain, and Venice or Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. For additional information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Images Courtesy Holland America Line

Royal Caribbean Brings Underwater Adventures To Life With First-Of-Its-Kind Snapchat Experience

Royal Caribbean invites the world to experience a first-of-its-kind underwater adventure through the lens of Snapchat Spectacles. From June 21 to June 25, Royal Caribbean's Snapchat channel will immerse viewers in a one of-a-kind underwater adventure thanks to a custom-designed scuba mask dubbed "SeaSeekers." The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life. Fans can #SeekDeeper by following @RoyalCaribbean on Snapchat.

"The SeaSeekers will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer and SVP of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travelers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to. We've even taken the added step of applying for a patent for the SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring it to our guests exclusively."

The three dives will feature incredible underwater adventures seen through the eyes of three well-known divers. In Cozumel, Mexico marine wildlife photographer and conservationist Roberto Ochoa will give viewers a rare glimpse into the annual migration of Whale Sharks. Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava and co-founder of the organization Oceanus, A.C. based in Mexico, will then take viewers to see a coral reef restoration project where she and her team have been working to restore the local reefs. In Belize, fans can follow along as free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that is believed to be the largest of its kind.

Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean's Snapchat channel or by searching on other social platforms by using #SeekDeeper.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

American Cruise Lines Expanding in the Pacific Northwest

American Cruise Lines’ newest ship, American Constellation, will be heading to the West Coast in 2018. The decision came as a result of increased demand for American’s popular Southeast Alaska, Alaska Inside Passage, and Puget Sound itineraries. American Constellation began its inaugural season in May of this year and is currently serving a number of American’s East Coast cruises.

The addition of the 175 passenger ship will more than double American Cruise Lines’ capacity in the Pacific Northwest and add 18 cruises to the 2018 season. The new addition will allow an expanded schedule in Alaska aboard American Constellation, while enabling American Spirit to operate the company’s popular Puget Sound & San Juan Islands itinerary through July and August of 2018. This will be the first time American has ever offered summer cruises in Puget Sound.

While expanding its existing schedule, American Cruise Lines has also added a brand new itinerary, the Grand Puget Sound, for the 2018 cruise season. This 11-day round-trip out of Seattle will travel to some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific Northwest, including a number of ports not often accessed by larger cruise ships, such as Olympia and Tacoma. Additional details about the new itinerary will be announced soon.

“Small ship cruising is the best way to experience Alaska and Puget Sound,” says Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American “and with our brand new ships, we are able to accommodate evolving guest expectations for premium comfort.”

Before heading west, American Constellation will spend the remainder of 2017 on the East Coast serving American’s Grand New England, Hudson River, Grand Historic South, and Historic South cruises. New for 2018, American Constitution will be taking over these itineraries.

American Cruise Lines, the largest U.S. small-ship cruise line, is committed to continuous growth through an innovative ship building program that elevates the standard of cruising in America. The line is the leader in the US with more than 35 itineraries ranging from 4 to 21-nights in length, which visit the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New England, the Southeast and the Mississippi River. The line has been continuously recognized for its new ships and for providing superb service to guests and travel agents before, during, and after a cruise. To learn more about American Cruise Lines, visit AmericanCruiseLines.com.

American Constellation Image Courtesy American Cruise Lines

Cunard & The New York Times Collaborate to offer “The Crossword Crossing”

Queen Mary 2 Sails From New York City
Cunard and The New York Times have collaborated again, this time to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The New York Times crossword. Passengers will have an opportunity to test their skills while traveling on the flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton, England, departing Dec 8, 2017 on The Crossword Crossing (M745). The 7-night Transatlantic Crossing will feature crossword experts from the venerable newspaper including Deb Amlen, Joel Fagliano and Ben Zimmer, who will provide insight into the popular puzzles through daily game sessions, lectures and on-board activities.

“The New York Times is one of the most esteemed news organizations in the world,” said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. “We are proud to offer collaborations like this one, which will give our guests an extraordinary travel experience that they would not be able to find anywhere else.”

The first New York Times crossword puzzle was published in 1942, when, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor a Times editor made a decision to run a crossword in the paper to offer comfort and distraction to its readers. By 1950, the crossword had become a daily occurrence, and today remains one of the paper’s most popular and enjoyable features.

More about the on board experts:
• Deb Amlen is the columnist and editor of "Wordplay,” the crossword column of The New York Times. She has been making people laugh and learn things they didn't think they needed to know since 2011. Amlen has also been a senior columnist for David Pogue's Yahoo! Tech, and is the author of "It's Not P.M.S., It's You." Her work can also be seen in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Establishment and BUST Magazine, among others.
• Joel Fagliano has been a digital puzzles editor for The New York Times since March 2016. Before that, Fagliano was an assistant to Will Shortz, who is currently the crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times
• Ben Zimmer, linguist and lexicographer, is the language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former columnist for The Boston Globe and The New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of the Linguistic Society of America's first ever Linguistics Journalism Award and was recently awarded a Poynter Fellowship in Journalism from Yale University.
An exclusive cruise package that includes brunch at The New York Times, hosted by the “Puzzle Master” Will Shortz, is also available. This package is only available when booked direct with Times Journeys at 1-855-698-7979.

For more information about Queen Mary 2, visit the Cunard Line website.

Image Courtesy of Cunard Line

Monday, June 19, 2017

Silversea Reveals Inspiring Enrichment Opportunities On 2017 Voyages

Silver Spirit at Sea
Opera and ballet fans, food and wine connoisseurs, bridge players, wellness enthusiasts, and lifelong learners will appreciate indulging their passions with Silversea's exciting onboard enrichment program in 2017.

"We are delighted to feature such an inspiring collection of renowned artists, experts and guest speakers on our voyages," said Barbara Muckermann, Silversea's chief marketing officer. "Our enrichment programming has always been about offering culturally immersive experiences and unique perspectives, and we believe these carefully curated presentations will both engage and enlighten our guests."

Following below is a snapshot of enrichment opportunities:

Opera Cruises in Partnership with Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Based in Milan, Italy, Accademia Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theatre Academy) is one of the world's foremost performing arts academies. Its internationally renowned performers and instructors offer the highest level of artistic education for aspiring and gifted singers, dancers, and musicians from every corner of the world. Soloists from its Academy of Lyric Opera and a piano accompanist will perform a selection of opera's most beautiful librettos for the enjoyment of Silversea guests aboard three Mediterranean cruises: two aboard Silver Spirit, including a June 25 Rouen-to-Lisbon voyage that will feature the special presence of operatic star Luciana Serra, and a September 21 sailing from Athens to Venice; plus one aboard Silver Muse on July 15, sailing Athens to Rome.

Bolshoi Ballet Soloists
Ballet Cruises with Acclaimed Russian Ballet Soloists
Daria Khokhlova and Artemy Belyakov, ballet performers of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia, one of the world's most renowned ballet companies, are returning to Silversea for exclusive engagements aboard Silver Spirit's August 25 and September 3 Mediterranean voyages. The dance stars, whose wonderful performances have captivated Silver Spirit audiences in recent years, will again appear on stage in the ship's elegant Show Lounge for two performances during each sailing.

Ballet Cruise with L'Opéra de Paris Star
Solo performer Jean-Sébastien Colau of L'Opéra de Paris, one of the world's greatest companies, will treat audiences to his artistry when he and a partner take to the stage aboard Silver Whisper's June 16 Northern Europe voyage and its October 23 sailing from Montreal to New York.

Culinary Arts & Wine Voyages
A collection of specialty voyages highlights the culinary arts with guest chefs and vintners:
--Silver Spirit's June 14 "Champagne Cruise" from Lisbon to Rouen will present special onboard tastings and classes, plus a shore excursion in partnership with Pommery Champagne.
--An October 7 "Tastes of the Mediterranean" cruise aboard Silver Spirit, hosted by guest chefs Umberto Menghi and Michael Jacob, will feature culinary demonstrations, market visits, gala dinners and culinary-focused shore excursions.
--Silver Shadow's October 8 "Relais & Châteaux® Gourmet Cruise" will welcome Relais & Châteaux guest chef Dominique Bouchet, owner of the eponymous restaurant in Tokyo, for gala dinners and cooking demonstrations presented in addition to a L'École de Chefs cooking school program hosted by David Bilsland, Silversea corporate chef.
--Silver Spirit's October 23 "Wine Cruise" is presented in partnership with Comitato Grandi Cru d'Italia, an association of top Italian winemakers, and the Professional Association of Italian Sommeliers (ASPI). Its wine enrichment program will spotlight a collection of some of Italy's finest vintages as top sommeliers Gennaro Buono and Giuseppe Vaccarini guide and educate guests in the art of winemaking.
--Silver Explorer's October 25 "Culinary Expedition Voyage" in South America will showcase Peruvian and Chilean guest chefs and regional specialties. Guests will have a chance to prepare their own seafood dishes.
Wellness Expedition Voyages
Silver Discoverer offers wellness-themed programming on a quartet of expedition voyages to Micronesia, Melanesia and Australia, including departures on October 4, 18 and 25, and one on November 9. Guests enjoy a comprehensive—and complimentary—program that includes stretching, yoga and Pilates classes, daily lectures and cooking demonstrations, gym sessions led by personal trainers using Technogym fitness equipment, and choice of one complimentary spa massage treatment.

Bridge Cruise
Silversea has created a special experience for bridge enthusiasts. On Silver Wind’s November 10 Barcelona-to-Barbados sailing, guests can compete to win prizes in the second Silversea bridge tournament. On this special voyage, featuring American Contract Bridge League life masters Gerald Fox and Steve Smolen, guests can earn ACBL master points, attend seminars, and meet other bridge players from around the world.

Silver Perspectives®
For guests seeking to enrich their minds and enjoy a richer travel experience, the Silver Perspectives enrichment program welcomes destination experts and distinguished guest speakers on board for fascinating lectures and stimulating conversation. Invited speakers include authors, journalists, naturalists, diplomats, professors and other specialists whose topics range from politics and the environment to tribal customs and ancient history.

Visit Silversea.com for additional details about each voyage and enrichment opportunities.

Images Courtesy of Silversea

Norwegian Joy Completes First Preview Cruise from Shanghai

After maiden calls to Singapore, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian), a leading global cruise brand of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., welcomed its newest cruise ship, Norwegian Joy, to her new home port of Shanghai, China. The arrival of Norwegian Joy to Shanghai marks a significant milestone for the storied cruise line as it enters the Chinese cruise market. Norwegian Joy was engineered in Germany and designed for China.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is extremely proud to welcome the newest addition to our fleet, Norwegian Joy, to her home port of Shanghai, China” said David Herrera, President of NCLH China. "Norwegian Joy's arrival demonstrates our commitment to the Chinese cruise market. She was custom-built with Chinese cruise guests in mind.”

From the first race track at sea to the innovative virtual reality experiences available at the Galaxy Pavilion to the 28 local and international dining options, Norwegian Joy has an abundance of features that appeal to the modern Chinese family, including staterooms especially designed for multi-generational families traveling together. An international standard of entertainment is easily accessible, with Las Vegas-style performances, as well as a wide variety of luxury shopping options. With this incredible ship, Norwegian’s signature onboard experience has been expanded and customized, adding exciting features, services and amenities that combine both the East and the West to deliver a “First Class at Sea” experience.

On a preview voyage that departed from Shanghai on June 10, Norwegian Cruise Line welcomed more than 1,700 VIP members and guests of Alibaba Group (Alibaba), the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company, for a four-day preview cruise.

In welcoming Norwegian Joy’s passengers, Herrera also emphasized, “It was our distinct pleasure to welcome Alibaba’s members and guests to enjoy a ‘First Class at Sea’ experience on Norwegian Joy during this preview cruise. The voyage marks the latest step in our recently announced partnership with Alibaba and supports one of its main objectives, which is to promote, develop and expand awareness and attraction of cruising among Chinese travelers.”

Norwegian Joy’s voyage with the Alibaba Group departed from Shanghai and called on the Japanese port of Kochi before returning to Shanghai. The ship’s christening ceremony will take place on June 27 in Shanghai, featuring the ship’s Godfather, ‘King of Chinese Pop,’ Wang Leehom. Year-round voyages on Norwegian Joy from Shanghai begin on June 28 with a season of sailings from Tianjin from August 26 to September 15.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Create Your Own 2018 World Cruise with Exclusive Savings from Crystal Cruises

With creativity and imagination, Crystal's 2018 World Cruise collection aboard both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity offers an unprecedented four fascinating odysseys of 97 to 129 days presenting you with incredible choices for global discovery.

Together, these two award-winning ships offer 14 unique World Voyages, individual segments ranging from 11 to 24 days, inviting your inner explorer to curate an itinerary to suit your wanderlust—from tropical Edens of the Pacific, Australian adventures and South American treasures to Asian wonders, Arabian meccas and the Holy Lands. Book any combination of back-to-back voyages to create your own epic journey and enjoy special cruise fare savings of 5% or more!

For additional information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Response to Trump Administration announcement about Cuba

Based on the information shared today, we are very pleased to learn the news that cruises to Cuba will continue under the new guidelines laid out by the Administration. All of our cruises to, and shore excursions in, Cuba are in full compliance with regulations set forth by the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC"), and we will work with the Administration to comply with any changes to those and any other regulations that will result from its decision. We are also pleased that education travel and travel that supports the Cuban people will continue.

We were very concerned about any potential changes, given how popular Cuba itineraries have proven to be with our guests, and we view this as a win for the cruise industry, our valued guests, and travel partners. Across our three brands, there are 70,000 guests booked to sail to Cuba who would have been very disappointed if they were unable to experience this spectacular destination. We are delighted our guests will continue to have the opportunity to experience the wonderful culture and incredible history of Cuba along with the warmth and friendliness of the Cuban people through OFAC-compliant shore excursions that support private businesses and the Cuban people, an opportunity that was restricted for over fifty years.

Carnival Corporation Statement on Updates to Cuba Policy

Carnival Corporation is pleased that the policy changes announced by the Trump administration will allow our ships to continue to sail to Cuba. We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but our guests have already been traveling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba since we undertook our historic first cruise to Cuba more than a year ago.

Our experience in Cuba this past year has been extremely positive. We look forward to the new cruises being planned for Cuba with Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We also have requested approval for our other brands to travel to Cuba.

Travel brings people and cultures together, so we are excited about the upcoming cruises to Cuba for our guests.

Princess Cruises & Seattle Seahawks Host End of School Bash for Boys and Girls Club of King County

Princess Cruises, the Official Cruise Line of the Seattle Seahawks, hosted the "End of School Bash" for a group of lucky Boys and Girls Club of King County members, featuring Seahawks Offensive Tackle George Fant, the Sea Gals, and mascot Blitz. Attended by over 50 youth from the King County area, the event was a farewell to the school year and kick off to the summer season.

The celebration included a kid's clinic put on by the Seattle Seahawks Sea Gals cheerleaders, a Green Screen Photo experience, cookie decorating, and an art activity. The children enjoyed a pizza party lunch on the deck of Ruby Princess, where they were surprised by special guest Seattle Seahawks Offensive Tackle George Fant.

The community event builds on the partnership Princess Cruises and the Seattle Seahawks established in 2015, offering fans special cruise deals on Princess cruise vacations and opportunities to win a cruise. Princess Cruises also shows NFL games on its giant "Movies Under the Stars" poolside LED screen and throws tailgate parties at sea on Caribbean cruises and West Coast cruises, allowing football fans to catch the action-packed season during their cruise vacations. Princess Cruises operates two cruise ships out of Seattle, sailing to Alaska from May to September.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available at Princess.com.

Senior Officers Team Selected for New Carnival Horizon

Carnival Cruise Line has announced the appointment of the senior officers for its newest ship, the 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon, which is currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy and set to debut in spring 2018. Comprised of some of the most talented and experienced mariners in the cruise industry, Carnival Horizon’s senior officers will include:
• Captain Luigi De Angelis: A 22-year veteran of Carnival Cruise Line, De Angelis joined the company as a deck cadet aboard the Carnival Imagination in 1995 and was named captain in 2010. During his Carnival career, De Angelis has been part of the start-up teams of five ships and most recently served as master of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Vista, during its inaugural season in Miami.
• Chief Engineer Rosario Capilli: Capilli joined Carnival in 1990 following a career in the tanker and cargo industries in his native Italy. He was named chief engineer in 2002 and has served in this capacity on a number of Carnival ships, including Carnival Vista during its inaugural season. During his 27-year Carnival career, Capilli has served on the start-up teams for three Carnival ships.
• Hotel Director Pierre B. Camilleri: Now in his 13th year with Carnival, Camilleri joined the company as hotel director after managing hotel and resort properties in his native Malta, as well as North Africa, Italy, and China. He has served as hotel director on several Carnival ships and traveled to Italy to be a part of the inaugural teams for the line’s two most recent newbuilds—Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista.
These professionals will lead a team of nearly 1,400 dedicated employees who will travel to Marghera, Italy, to prepare the ship for its April 2, 2018 maiden voyage—a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona.

Carnival Horizon will also operate two 7-day Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona departing April 15 and 22, 2018, and a 10-day Mediterranean cruise departing April 29, 2018, before repositioning to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Carnival Horizon will then operate a summer schedule of 4-day Bermuda and 8-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple before shifting to Miami to launch year-round 6- and 8-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special 2-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

As the line’s newest ship, Carnival Horizon will offer a wide range of onboard innovations, including a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre, and a delicious array of dining choices, including the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and Ji Ji Asian Kitchen. Carnival Horizon will also be the first ship to feature a colorful Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks parkpart of an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit Carnival.com.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cunard Announces Official Sponsorship of War Paint

Patti LuPone & a Cunard Bellman
Cunard Line is excited to announce sponsorship of War Paint, the new musical starring Broadway legends Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole.

With book written by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, War Paint portrays trailblazing cosmetic icons Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, and their famous rivalry, which began in the 1930s. In Helena Rubinstein’s (LuPone’s) opening scene, she arrives in New York City by disembarking a Cunard ship, allowing for a natural partnership between the show and the cruise line.

Cunard sponsored an industry event for War Paint, which was held in NYC on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at the Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel. Two Cunard White Star Bellmen were in attendance, posing with guests for photos and sharing laughs with the cast.

The sponsorship will also allow the Concierge for Cunard’s Princess & Queens Grill guests special access to seats to the Broadway show at the Nederlander Theatre.

For more information, visit Cunard.com.

Image Courtesy Cunard Line

New Orleans Saints Players Cameron Jordan & Mark Ingram Showcase Their Talents During Fun Lip Sync Battle for Charity Aboard Carnival Dream

New Orleans Saints players Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram channeled their inner rock stars as they participated in the first-ever “Lip Sync Battle” for charity to a packed house this week aboard Carnival Dream while the ship was docked at the Port of New Orleans.

Carnival is the Official Cruise Line of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans’ largest cruise operator with two year-round ships carrying more than 450,000 passengers annually—the most of any cruise line.

The fun competition mirrored Lip Sync Battle Carnival, an authentic recreation of SpikeTV’s pop culture phenomenon that is currently being rolled out across the fleet. During Lip Sync Battle Carnival contestants face off in a head-to-head competition to create the most unforgettable lip sync performances to popular songs amidst a backdrop of the show’s recognizable marquee.

Ingram had a chance to live out his rock star fantasy performing the 1980s anthem “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake with colorful and iconic costumes and props inspired by the hair bands of that era.
Jordan also brought the house down with his unique interpretation of Usher’s “Yeah!” decked out in a metallic silver jacket with precision choreography from his team of talented backup dancers from the Carnival Dream’s Playlist Productions show.

Although the audience vote was close, in the end it was Jordan who took home the coveted Lip Sync Battle Carnival belt and earned a $10,000 for United Way. Ingram was also a winner, collecting a $5,000 donation to the Mark Ingram Foundation.

“Today’s event was a great way to partner with the New Orleans Saints to showcase this fantastic new entertainment choice while also raising money for two worthwhile local charities,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Mark and Cameron were certainly good sports in every sense of the word and many thanks to them for their efforts to help the New Orleans community,” she added.

Lip Sync Battle Carnival debuted on Carnival Vista last December. In addition to Carnival Dream, the unique shipboard activity is currently featured on Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Sunshine with additional ships being rolled out in 2017. Lip Sync Battle Carnival further expands on the already wide range of entertainment options onboard which includes Carnival Live, Playlist Productions, The Punchliner Comedy Club and Hasbro, The Game Show.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit Carnival.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pacific Princess Emerges from Drydock with Modern Touches Amid Traditional Charm

After a two-week, multi-million-dollar renovation, Pacific Princess debuted last Friday in Fort Lauderdale with new modern colors, patterns and textures, while still keeping the small ship essence and traditional architecture revered by Princess Cruises loyalists.

Guests will now experience several new enhancements with the addition of the new livery hull design pictured here, which features the cruise line's iconic brand mark; 700 Princess Luxury Beds and 336 refreshed staterooms including the new Club Class Mini-Suites; four refurbished dining venues; an updated Atrium and pool deck; and 178,000 square feet of new carpet. The Princess Luxury Beds and Club Class Mini-Suites add to the cruise line's previously announced "Come Back New Promise," a multi-year, multi-million-dollar program introducing new product innovations that offer guests enriching vacation experiences.


"We carefully considered how to incorporate modern design elements and comfort while keeping the traditional elements of small ship cruising that have always been the hallmark of Pacific Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "The results are incredible and Pacific Princess now offers approachable luxury for the world-class traveler to craft an authentic cruising experience."

Elegant Welcome
Upon boarding Pacific Princess, guests walk into a modernized, yet familiar, welcoming Atrium. This area, as well the overall ship style, maintains the existing classical Beaux-Arts dark, rich, architectural millwork, ornamentation, vaulted stained glass ceiling and spectacular grand staircase. In contrast, guests will experience modern styling with warm, light tonal elements and that take their cue from the sophisticated uptown luxury hotels lining Central Park in New York City.

Renovated Dining Venues
The four dining areas now offer a range of intimate to expanded gathering spaces, including:
• Sterling Steakhouse – this traditional steakhouse offers décor reminiscent of the infamous Rush Street Steakhouses of Chicago and the golden era of the Hollywood Brown Derby. Diners are surrounded by silky drapery, comfortable upholstered arm chairs and black and white photographs of movie stars, both classic and contemporary, for guests of all ages to enjoy.
• Sabatini's Restaurant – drawing inspiration from Sabatini's authentic heritage, the beloved specialty restaurant is updated with modern Italian-designed furnishings, freshly painted walls and ceiling, new carpet, reupholstered chairs, refreshed draperies and a new lounge area in front of the restaurant.
• The Club Restaurant – the main dining room enhancements were inspired by the fashionable district and hotels of Central London with classic architectural millwork surrounding the rhythmic pattern of Palladium arched windows, softened by contemporary draperies, overlooking the ocean. The room's rich, dark woods are contrasted with a warm and inviting light palette highlighted with fresh, vibrant, jewel-tones within the modern furnishings, updated carpets, draperies and upholstered arm chairs.
• The Panorama Buffet – also receiving a complete makeover, the room invites guests in with new carpeting, fresh paint, new tilework, updated furniture, draperies and awnings. The dining room opens up to the outdoor deck, alfresco dining area with spectacular views overlooking exotic ports of call.
Modernized Pool Deck
The heart of the ship is transformed into a cool garden-like atmosphere, inspired by the swanky Art Deco boutique hotels of South Beach. With new tiles, refinished teak woods, lounge furniture including double bed loungers and casual seating groups of outdoor living sofas, lounge chairs and pool chaises for guests to relax, unwind and soak up the sun.

Enhanced Luxurious Staterooms
All guests can delight in the ultimate sleep at sea in the Princess Luxury Bed, as Pacific Princess has 700 new beds and plush linens. Developed in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV designer Candice Olson, the bed combines the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design. In addition, the 10 luxury guest suites and all staterooms have been updated with new plush light-colored carpet, fully upholstered headboards, modern style draperies and decorative lamps and wall sconces with USB ports incorporated into the fixtures for guest convenience. The suites also will have new contemporary furniture including a sleeper sofa, dining room table and chairs, lounge chairs and desks.

New Club Class Mini-Suites
Pacific Princess now offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with first priority in choosing their preferred seating and expanded menu options and priority embarkation and disembarkation. See additional information at Princess Introduces Club Class Mini-Suite Category.

Pacific Princess is currently crossing the Atlantic on an 18-day Fire & Ice Explorer cruise between Fort Lauderdale and London. The ship will sail various European itineraries through December, before departing on a 111-day World Cruise from Los Angeles on January 20, 2018.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Holland America Line Adds a BBC Presenter, a Filmmaker & a Digital Specialist to ms Maasdam's July 8 BBC Earth Feature Cruise

Holland America Line is adding the talents of popular BBC presenter Michaela Strachan, wildlife filmmaker James Brickell, and innovative digital specialist Simon Baxter to the July 8, 2017, BBC Earth theme cruise. Guests on ms Maasdam's 7-day cruise to Canada and New England will be able to attend presentations and masterclasses by the trio, who will share their expertise and behind-the-scenes stories of how BBC programs are made.

"No one brings the world to life like BBC Earth, and through our partnership it's exciting to give our guests access to talent like Michaela, James and Simon on this incredible feature cruise," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The BBC Earth experiences on board have grown to be among the most popular we offer, and the feature cruises take the enrichment programming to another level for our guests who seek to become more knowledgeable about the world and the places we visit."

BBC Host Michaela Strachan
Michaela Strachan is one of the BBC's most well-known TV hosts. Hugely popular in the U.K., Strachan started off presenting children's television, but today she is best known for her wildlife programs. For the past few years she has been one of the main anchors on BBC "Springwatch," a live primetime British wildlife series that follows the emergence of spring. Her natural effervescence and engaging humor endear her to live audiences, and with her extensive experience in wildlife conservation around the world, Strachan has some amusing anecdotes from the field that are sure to entertain.

Filmmaker James Brickell
James Brickell has directed some of the most highly regarded BBC Earth shows, including "Big Cat Diary," "Life in Cold Blood," "Life in the Air" and the successful "Deadly 60." He has captured some genuine world firsts in wildlife filming such as wild rattlesnakes hunting (never previously observed) and snakes jumping across a mudflat in the Far East (behavior that was new to science). Brickell's work as a filmmaker and his enormous passion for wild animals have taken him all over the world, from the jungles of South America and the Mojave Desert to the Arctic Circle and West African Plains (and just about everywhere in-between). Brickell has won an array of prestigious awards for his work, and he has many entertaining stories from the field, including some classics that involve the great Sir David Attenborough.

Digital Specialist & Filmmaker Simon Baxter
Simon Baxter has directed a variety of wildlife films for many exciting platforms, including more than a hundred short films for the BBC's ever popular "The One Show." He's raced a peregrine falcon against a world champion mountain bike rider in a YouTube viral hit, and he's directed BBC Earth films for the widest indoor screen in the world, stretching 131 feet across. Baxter is currently trying to harness 3-D, 360-degree cameras to help capture wildlife moments and epic landscapes for audiences to enjoy in virtual reality. Storytelling is at the heart of every project he works on, and he always finds a new way of using equipment—whether it's the latest "ultra-high-definition" lens or simply by adapting the camera on a smart phone. Above all, Baxter ensures everything he does is fun to inspire the next generation of animal enthusiasts.

BBC Earth Partnership
Through its partnership with award-winning BBC Earth, world-class education and entertainment are brought onboard Holland America Line's ships through live presentations, master classes, films, enrichment experiences and children's activities—in addition to the special theme cruises.
For Holland America Line's 70th anniversary season in Alaska in 2017, BBC Earth launched a new "Alaska in Concert" multimedia production in the same format as the stunning "Frozen Planet Live" performance. Combining live music set against a backdrop of mesmerizing footage from the BBC Earth television series "Wild Alaska," audiences experience the cycle of four seasons and see this place is as unforgiving as it is beautiful.

BBC Earth is a global factual brand which tells the greatest stories about our world, capturing the astonishing wonders of the universe and sharing them with audiences everywhere. From the epic to the everyday, BBC Earth brings you face to face with heart pounding action, mind blowing ideas and the sheer wonder of being human. Celebrating the natural world is more important than ever, so our teams continually push the boundaries of possibility to bring us the remarkable stories that change our perspectives and inspire us to care. Commercially and internationally the brand is managed by BBC Worldwide across multiple platforms, by means of television, live events, social media and online, theatrical releases for cinema and giant screen films.

For additional information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Silversea Unveils Grand Asia Pacific Voyage In Partnership with The Peninsula Hotels

Silversea Cruises announced a partnership with The Peninsula Hotels that will enhance the programming for Silver Muse's 73-day Grand Asia Pacific Voyage, departing on February 2, 2019 as part of the First Quarter Itinerary for 2019 now open to reservations. The two renowned luxury brands will also collaborate on other Asia-focused itineraries.

The Grand Asia Pacific Voyage will sail from Sydney to Tokyo, visiting 39 enchanting destinations in 12 countries. On this extraordinary journey, Silver Muse will trace a path through lands Down Under, revealing its unique cultures and breath-taking scenery—from Sydney's iconic Opera House to the green-draped fjords of New Zealand's Milford Sound. The adventure then continues to the timeless treasures and futuristic vision of Asia, with a trio of segments encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.

The Peninsula Hotels will enrich the experience for Silversea guests with insider knowledge provided on the exotic Asian destination by an on board team of local specialists and chefs. Guests will also enjoy exclusive events in select Asian cities, arranged in collaboration with The Peninsula Hotels.

The Peninsula Tokyo
Providing the perfect finishing touch will be a three-night post-cruise stay at The Peninsula Tokyo, where guests will be treated to a Japanese-themed dinner event in the hotel's elegant Grand Ballroom.

"We are delighted and honored to have this opportunity to partner with such a legendary brand," said Mr Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea's executive chairman. "The Peninsula Hotels shares our commitment to excellence and providing the highest level of personal attention, and we are certain this will be reflected in every detail of their contributions to our guests' travel experience."

Aboard Silver Muse guests 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); on board gratuities (exclusive of spa treatments); and one hour of complimentary Wi-Fi per day for all guests. For additional details, visit Silversea.com.

Images Courtesy Silversea

Comedian Chris Tucker To Perform Two Shows As Part Of Carnival Live Concert Series

Back by popular demand, comedian Chris Tucker has signed on for two shows aboard Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty this fall as part of the Carnival LIVE Concert Series.

Carnival LIVE is a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience that brings the best in live music and comedy to the seas and provides guests an opportunity to enjoy captivating performances in an intimate venue by major artists at a tremendous value. Performances are held in the ships’ main theaters—ranging in guest capacity from 900 to 1,300—meaning there’s never a bad seat in the house.

Famous for his starring role in the blockbuster Rush Hour movie series, Tucker will keep guests laughing with his hilarious outlook on life with two shows—one aboard Carnival Breeze Sept. 21 and another aboard Carnival Liberty Sept. 22 while the ships are docked in Nassau.

After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream, Tucker was a staple on the Def Comedy Jam series before breaking into movies and continuing his legendary stand-up comedy career. Most recently, he starred in a self-titled comedy show, Chris Tucker—Live, on Netflix.

Carnival LIVE tickets for Chris Tucker range are $30 for general admission, significantly less than land-based venues. VIP tickets are available for $100 and include seating in the first few rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.

Additional Carnival LIVE acts are expected to be announced in the coming months. A full listing of all Carnival LIVE performances is available at Carnival.com/CarnivalLIVE.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cunard Reveals Completion of $40 Million Refurbishment of Queen Victoria

The Winter Garden
Cunard’s iconic Queen Victoria, made her much-anticipated return to Southampton last week, showing off an array of stunning new features following an impressive $40 million refurbishment.

First-look photography reveals the fruits of Cunard’s labor, from large mesmerizing enhancements to the subtle details, impeccable care and diligence has been taken to ensure passengers are greeted with the ultimate luxury experience from the moment they step on board.

Britannia Club stateroom
Exquisite interior design takes centre stage in the new Britannia Club Restaurant and continues to triumph within the new 43 spacious Britannia Club staterooms. Further enhancements on board include beautifully refined and redesigned Grand and Penthouse Suites, as well as a luxurious new sun deck offering space and tranquillity and a stunning enhanced Winter Garden. Every stateroom has been refreshed, including the installation of large flat screen TVs and much requested tea and coffee making facilites.

Aft Lido Pool Deck
The regal ship, which was taken out of service on May 5 to undergo the refit at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo in Italy, returned to service in style, setting off on a floral adventure to the Canary Islands, as part of a special Festival of Flowers voyage.

“The combined investment of $172 million for Queen Victoria’s refit along with Queen Mary 2’s remastering is a testament to Cunard’s commitment to our iconic vessels and enhancing our passenger experience,” said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. “With the new designs and enhanced onboard offerings Queen Victoria is poised to sail the next generation of Cunarders offering unparalleled voyages.”

For more information, visit Cunard.com.

Images Courtesy Cunard Line

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas Has Floated Out of Dry Dock

The newest member of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis class of ships, Symphony of the Seas, is now one step closer to full completion as her April 2018 debut approaches. With the exterior now complete, Symphony of the Seas was floated out of her dry dock to begin the next phase of interior construction.

Symphony of the Seas will spend her inaugural summer season exploring the awe-inspiring destinations of the Mediterranean calling on ports in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. She will then arrive to Miami in early November to begin 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the world’s largest—and most adventure-filled—cruise ship, offering 28 more staterooms than her newest sister ship Harmony of the Seas and encompassing 230,000 gross registered tons.

Touting new features and amenities for guests, Symphony also will boast all the groundbreaking innovations and thrilling experiences that have garnered worldwide recognition for Harmony of the Seas. Among the award-winning and acclaimed favorites are the distinct seven-neighborhood concept, imaginative and sophisticated dining, Bionic Bar robot bartenders powered by Makr Shakr, Broadway-caliber entertainment, the iconic waterfront AquaTheater, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, and Ultimate Abyss—the tallest slide at sea.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Celebrate Summer with Crystal's Kids Sail Free

Kayak through spectacular glacial landscapes, hike picturesque mountain trails, or go horseback riding in ancient forests … the possibilities for family fun and discovery are as grand as your imagination on a summer vacation cruise with Crystal. On select 2017 and 2018 voyages aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, treat yourself to special value and benefits designed to sweeten the all-inclusive luxury experience for the whole family. Junior cruisers age 17 and under sailing with two full-fare adults enjoy complimentary third berths, plus enrichment and entertainment programs created specifically for them. From fashion shows and karaoke dancing to behind-the-scenes experiences and high-tech video games, there's a world of kid-friendly activities waiting to be discovered aboard Crystal's ships. Junior cruisers will delight in dedicated play and gaming facilities, while also enjoying special programs created just for them such as scavenger hunts, fashion shows, cookie decorating, karaoke dancing, team games and more on select sailings.

On 'Kids Sail Free' Voyages, Enjoy Exclusive Limited-Time Savings & Added Perks:
• 2-for-1 Cruise-Only Fares with additional savings when booked by June 30, 2017
• Complimentary fine wines, premium spirits, and champagnes
• Complimentary gratuities for all dining, bar, housekeeping and Penthouse butler staff
• Complimentary evening of specialty dining in Nobu Matsuhisa's Silk Road and Sushi Bar or Prego, with additional evening reservations available for a $30 per person fee, subject to availability
• Complimentary enrichment via the innovative Creative Learning Institute and the Computer University@Sea with classes and presentations on a diverse array of topics
• Complimentary fitness programs with classes in yoga, Pilates, Spinning, and more
Book by June 30, 2017 for the best value on your Crystal family vacation. For more information and sailing dates, visit Crystal Cruises.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises