Wednesday, May 31, 2017

To Keep an Eye on the Radar: Royal Caribbean Signs on First Chief Meteorologist

Casting a watchful eye on the world's weather around the clock is a tall order, and James Van Fleet is the meteorologist for the job—the first of its kind in the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean’s Chief Meteorologist develops forecasts for the cruise line’s fleet of 24 ships. Translating technical data into digestable information is second nature for Van Fleet, who’s a veteran TV meteorologist with more than two decades of experience. With his guidance, captains have the added support to continue making informed decisions and delivering the best possible vacation experience for the cruise line’s guests. This is what he has to say about the weather in regard to your next cruise...



Video Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

First Look at the New American Constellation

American Cruise Lines has released the photos above of its newest ship, American Constellation. On Sunday, American Constellation left Boston on the inaugural Grand New England cruise. The brand new ship accommodates 175 guests and is uniquely designed to navigate coastal waterways.

“We are excited to share this first look into our newest ship” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American Cruise Lines. “We have always pursued a progressive new build program and American Constellation continues that tradition.”

American Constellation will spend the remainder of 2017 on the East Coast before moving west for 2018.

American Cruise Lines, the largest U.S. 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.

Image Courtesy American Cruise Lines

Monday, May 29, 2017

Princess Cruises Debuts 2018-2019 Exotics Sailings

Princess Cruises has debuted its 2018-2019 Exotics program which will take guests to culturally rich and iconic cruise destinations around the globe. With more than 50 departures, ranging in length from three to 111 days. The diverse deployment includes six ships sailing on 27 unique itineraries throughout five continents, visiting 93 destinations and 47 countries. Guests can book cruises to South America, Southeast Asia and China. In addition, cruisers will experience less-traveled ports aboard the cruise line’s small ship that will circumvent the globe on a 111-day World Cruise sailings roundtrip from Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale.

“Our Exotics program offers our guests the chance to travel to intriguing destinations all over the world, allowing our guests to experience different cultures in places they’ve dreamed of visiting,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We’re proud that these award-winning itineraries make us a destination leader in the cruise industry.”

Exotics deployment highlight include:
• OCEAN Medallion-enabled Royal Princess sails her maiden voyage around Cape Horn on a 49-day South America Grand Adventure—the cruise line’s largest ship ever to visit South America. Guests will experience the highly anticipated, wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™. (O·C·E·A·N™), making possible a new level of personalization that delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.
Coral Princess sails a new 60-day Circle North Pacific voyage roundtrip Los Angeles, calling to 22 destinations in 8 countries, including Asia, Alaska and Hawaii.
Pacific Princess sails a new route on the 111-day World Cruise circumnavigating the Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
• Two new 14- and 15-day Grand Asia voyages on Sapphire Princess sailing out of Shanghai and Singapore, complement the previously announced 14-day Majestic Grand Asia voyages on Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Majestic Princess.
• MORE ASHORE evening stays and overnights will be offered on select itineraries in 18 ports across 5 continents.
• Guests will enjoy bucket-list destination to more than 20 UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Sites, including Glacier Bay National Park, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Komodo National Park, Great Barrier Reef, Robben Island in Cape Town and more.
Princess’ 2018-2019 Exotics cruise program includes:

Asia: Coral Princess, Diamond Princess & Sapphire Princess
Guests can choose from three ships, sailing 18 itineraries to 34 destinations, from four homeports with 31 departures, ranging from three to 60 days.

Coral Princess debuts an epic 60-day Circle North Pacific voyage (roundtrip Los Angeles) that includes Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii, as well as the best of Alaska, including Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising, Juneau, Icy Strait Point and our first call to Kodiak in nearly a decade. Nine ports feature MORE ASHORE evening stays in Juneau, Tokyo (Yokohama), Osaka, Seoul (Incheon), Beijing (Tianjin), Shanghai, Taipei (Keelung), Hong Kong and Honolulu. This voyage will also be offered as the following voyages:
• 28-day Circle North Pacific: Los Angeles to Shanghai
• 32-day Circle North Pacific: Shanghai to Los Angeles
Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess both return to homeport in Singapore together for a season of cruises ranging from three to 21 days, with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

For the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays, Diamond Princess sails a 10-day Southeast Asia and 11-day Malaysian Peninsula & Indonesia voyage, which can be combined for a 21-day vacation. Additionally, Sapphire Princess sails a 15-day Grand Asia voyage, featuring an overnight in Hong Kong. For the 2019 Lunar New Year, Sapphire Princess will be sailing a seven-day Vietnam & Thailand voyage (roundtrip Singapore).

South America: Royal Princess & Emerald Princess
In South America, two ships sailing seven itineraries to 25 destinations from 4 homeports, with 15 departures ranging from 14 to 49 days are offered.

OCEAN Medallion-enabled Royal Princess sails her maiden voyage to South America on a 49-day South America Grand Adventure, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles. In addition, Emerald Princess returns to South America, navigating around Cape Horn on five departures between Santiago (Valparaiso) and Buenos Aires.

Royal Princess and Emerald Princess both feature Peru, Chile and an overland to Machu Picchu on the 16-day Andes & South America cruises between Los Angeles and Santiago (Valparaiso), which can be combined with a 14-day Cape Horn cruise for a 30-day Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure. Both ships also sail 19-day Brazilian Adventure cruises between Fort Lauderdale and Buenos Aires, which can be combined with the 14-day Cape Horn cruises for a 33-day Cape Horn & Brazil Grand Adventure.

World Cruise: Pacific Princess
Pacific Princess offers a 111-day World Cruise voyage roundtrip from Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale, with 41 destinations, in 27 countries on 5 continents, featuring a circumnavigation around the Cape of Good Hope with overnights in Cape Town and Singapore. The cruise includes three maiden ports of call to Stewart Island (New Zealand), the remote island of St. Helena (U.K. territory) and Guadeloupe (Pointe-à-Pitre).

For a shorter world voyage, Pacific Princess offers the opportunity to sail a 96-day World Cruise embarking in Los Angeles and disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale. Princess Cruises also offers the opportunity to join the World Cruise for a portion of the journey including a 72-day South Pacific & Indian Ocean, 43-day Australia & Africa, 39-day Africa, South America & Panama Canal, 29-day Hawaii & South Pacific, 24-day Africa & South America and a choice of two 15-day Panama Canal Connoisseur voyages sailing between Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale.

Cruisetours
To further enhance the cruise vacation, Princess Cruises is pleased to offer two cruisetours for South America on Emerald Princess and Royal Princess.

During the Iguazú Falls Adventure cruisetour, guests visit Rio de Janeiro with a full-day sightseeing tour taking them to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue. The tour continues into the jungle at the border of Brazil and Argentina to incredible Iguazú Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the Machu Picchu Explorer cruisetour, guests ascend into the Andes to magical Machu Picchu, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and visit the historic city of Cusco and the Sacred Valley with sightseeing to Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo and an authentic Pisac Market.

Additional information is available at Princess.com.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Every Day is ‘National Burger Day’ on a Holland America Line Cruise

Today, May 28th, is National Burger Day, and Holland America Line is paying homage to the American classic that has elevated itself to worldwide admiration. Pleasing the palates of meat-eaters and vegetarians, alike, not only does the cruise line feature gourmet and veggie burgers at Dive-In at the Terrace Grill, but also patties can be found on the menus at Pinnacle Grill and The Dining Room, as well as in a featured demonstration in America’s Test Kitchen.

With 20 unique hamburger options onboard, including vegetarian portobello and black bean “burgers,” Holland America Line’s selections take guests on an epicurean adventure where creating the perfect burger goes beyond cheese, pickles and ketchup. With four styles at Dive-In, a signature burger at Pinnacle Grill and an astounding 14 rotating selections on The Main Dining Room lunch menu, burger connoisseurs on a weeklong cruise can enjoy a different burger every day of the voyage. In fact, Holland America Line serves more than 4,000 burgers on a seven-day cruise!

“When people think of culinary innovation, they often think of fine dining, but you can also be creative with a classic such as a burger to make it unique and gourmet like our Dive-In burgers,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “National Burger Day is the perfect day to tout the fact that we feature 20 different burgers that are the best at sea."

Specialty Burgers Make Dive-In a Guest Favorite
Dive-In out by the Lido Pool offers a menu of signature, made-to-order beef burgers that all are served with Holland America Line’s secret Dive-In Sauce. Four featured burgers are available at Dive-In:
• Cannonball: The most popular. Served with Gouda cheese, applewood smoked bacon, sweet caramelized onions, topped with chop-chop lettuce and sliced tomato on a toasted brioche bun.
• High-Dive: American cheddar cheese, topped with chop-chop lettuce and sliced tomato on a toasted brioche bun.
• Gainer: Served with a mound of crispy, frizzled onions, topped with chop-chop lettuce and sliced tomato on a toasted brioche bun.
• Freestyle: It’s not beef, but it’s the perfect vegetarian “burger” — a grilled portobella mushroom topped with cheddar and Gouda cheese, chop-chop lettuce, avocado, and sliced tomato on a toasted whole wheat bun.
Fourteen Burgers Highlight the Lunch Menu in The Dining Room
For lunch in The Dining Room, Holland America Line serves a cycle of 14 different burgers, featuring one a day. A guest on a weeklong cruise could enjoy a new burger every day without duplication. The diverse options include a Trattoria Burger with Roasted Bell Pepper, Pesto Mayonnaise and Mozzarella; Melted Brie Bistro Burger; Mushroom Fontina Burger; Bacon Egg Burger; Gouda Burger with Cabernet Onions; Andouille Burger with Crumbled Blue Cheese; Avocado and Bacon Burger; Cheeseburger on Sourdough Bun; Cowboy Burger with Grilled Mushrooms; Onion Barbecue Burger; Cordon Blue Burger; Mozzarella Burger with Arugula Pesto; Mushroom and Onion Burger; and a Blue Cheese Burger with Crispy Onions.

The Ultimate Gourmet Burger at Pinnacle Grill
Guests looking to indulge in the ultimate gourmet burger can head to the elegant Pinnacle Grill for lunch. The menu on the alternative dining menu features a burger with bacon jam, garlic chipotle aioli, Beecher’s cheddar cheese, Cabernet red onions and avocado.

America’s Test Kitchen Black Bean Burger
Through Holland America Line’s collaboration with America’s Test Kitchen, guests can attend shipboard cooking shows produced in partnership with the long-running public television program. A featured recipe is a Black Bean Burger with Chipotle Mayonnaise. America’s Test Kitchen has perfected the art of making the perfect vegetarian burger, and guests learn how to make the dish in the ship’s show kitchen from Holland America Line chefs trained by America’s Test Kitchen culinary experts.

Not to worry … guests who aren’t burger fans have hundreds of other options to choose from on Holland America Line’s menus, from hot dogs at Dive-In and filet mignon at Pinnacle Grill to pasta, chicken and fish dishes in The Dining Room or specialty restaurants. For more information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Image Courtesy Holland America Line

Friday, May 26, 2017

Majestic Princess Begins Epic Journey to China Along the Silk Road Sea Route

Princess Cruises and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (Friendship Association) have officially begun Majestic Princess' journey from Rome to China, which will feature a cultural exchange program themed "Telling the Chinese Story along the Silk Road Sea Route."

 During the 37-day voyage, performance groups including the Ansai Youth Waist Drum team and the Luochuan Youth Yangge Dance team, the China National Orchestra and the China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater will entertain and educate more than 6,500 guests from more than 40 countries.

Princess Cruises and the Friendship Association held a briefing and luncheon aboard prior to the ship's departure. The Ansai Youth Waist Drum team and the Luochuan Youth Yangge Dance team presented an authentic Shannbei style performance during the sail-away ceremony to celebrate the start of Silk Road Sea Route voyage.

"The Friendship Association aims to enhance international cooperation and promote common development between China and other countries," said Madame Li Xiaolin, President of the Friendship Association. "We continually develop innovative ways to communicate the China story by utilizing more active and engaging programs to present China's diverse culture along the Sea Silk Road. Our efforts support the economic development of the 'Belt and Road' initiatives and boost the cultural communication between countries along the route."

"Our partnership with the Friendship Association and celebrating Chinese culture reinforces our brand promise to provide authentic international experiences to our guests and reflects our commitment to the China market," said Anthony Kaufman, executive vice president of international operations, Princess Cruises. "The Chinese market is important to us and we are honored that Majestic Princess, our newest cruise ship which has been tailored for the Chinese market, will become a key part of this cross-cultural people to people program between the East and West."

Majestic Princess will visit some important Silk Road ports in countries including Greece, United Arab Emirates, India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia before arriving in its first Chinese port of Xiamen. Majestic Princess will arrive in Xiamen on June 26 and begin her first home-port season in Shanghai on July 11.

In 2018, two 14-day Grand Asia voyages sailing between Shanghai and Singapore on the fleet's newest ship 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 Feb 25, 2018, with the second departing Singapore on March 11, 2018.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Carnival Corporation's New Digital Companion Makes Cruising More Engaging

Carnival Corporation, the world's largest leisure travel company, has unveiled the Ocean Tagalong™, a customizable digital companion that will interact with guests on Ocean Medallion vacations as well as represent them in interactive games.

The Tagalong is part of the O•C•E•A•N (One Cruise Experience Access Network) Experience Platform that makes its global debut aboard Princess Cruises' Regal Princess in November at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Expected to be a game-changer for the guest experience, the platform enables a personal concierge by bridging the physical and digital worlds to deliver a new level of personalized service not previously considered possible. The Tagalong is the latest in a series of personal and engaging features being invented to significantly enhance the vacation experience.

When guests create a profile within the Ocean Compass—accessible starting this fall on Ocean.com—they will be invited to create their own unique Tagalong. These digital companions will follow them from initial registration to the end of their cruise (as well as rejoin them on future cruises). Everyone who creates an Ocean profile can personalize a Tagalong; cruise bookings will not be required.

Guests can select from three sea creatures—Sea Turtle, Seahorse or Butterfly Fish—to best reflect their "alter ego" and further customize their Tagalong by body shape, color, pattern, marks (like tattoos) and more. Once created, the animated and responsive Tagalongs will appear online within a guest's profile and in interactive PlayOcean games that can be played online, as well as interacting within Ocean Portals found onboard Medallion Class ships. Tagalongs even evolve throughout the cruise, reflecting the personality and interactions of the guest and collecting "charms" that show off their achievements.

Guest Tagalongs also will take center stage in the social gaming experience Tagalong Sprint, which pits guests' digital companions in a fast and fun race across the ocean floor. Guests will tap their personal Compass devices to see who can speed across the finish line first in this rhythm-based group game played on massive digital displays found onboard Medallion Class ships.

"The Ocean Tagalong is a great way for guests to express themselves and gives us the opportunity to engage them in unique experiences that amplify fun and stoke their competitive spirits," said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation. "Driven by the Ocean Medallion, guests will be amazed at how their Tagalongs appear in dynamic settings around the ship and delighted by the ways their companions can interact throughout their vacation."

For more information on inaugural Ocean Medallion vacations on Princess Cruises, please visit Princess.Com/Ocean. Inaugural voyages sail to the Caribbean beginning November 15 on Regal Princess.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Corporation

Crystal River Cruises' Expansion Of 'Rhine Class' Continues With Keel Laying Of Crystal Debussy & Crystal Ravel

Crystal River Cruises ushered in the next phase for its expanding "Rhine Class" fleet of river vessels this week, as the keels were laid for the company's next two new-builds, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel at a ceremony at MV WERFTEN shipyard in Wismar, Germany. In spring 2018, the two all-balcony, all-suite vessels are set to embark on their maiden voyages along Europe's mightiest rivers: the Rhine, Main and Danube. In the presence of Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman and Chief Executive of Genting Hong Kong; Jarmo Laakso, Managing Director of MV WERFTEN; Josef Lumetsberger, Crystal River Cruises' General Manager of Operations; Manfred Korous, Managing Director of Future Development and Director, Crystal River Cruises; and Harry Glawe, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's Economics Minister, plus numerous guests, the first sections of the luxury vessels were ceremoniously lowered into position on keel blocks.

Tan Sri Lim and Minister Glawe placed the traditional lucky coins on the keel blocks before the first two sections, each weighing 170 tons, were laid down. "We are pleased to celebrate this important milestone, the start of the block assembly, for two more ships for our brand Crystal River Cruises today at our own shipyard. These ships will offer their guests the highest standards in luxury cruising on Europe's most beautiful river routes," said Tan Sri Lim during the keel-laying ceremony.

"This ceremonial act represents a tremendous achievement for Crystal River Cruises and the entire Crystal fleet, as we introduce the next chapter of the continuing story of Crystal innovations throughout the travel and hospitality industry," said Crystal CEO and President, Edie Rodriguez.

All-Suite, All-Balcony, All-Butler
The most prominent features aboard Crystal's "Rhine Class" river vessels: the river cruising industry's first all-balcony, all-suite designs boasting every category of accommodation perched above the waterline. All four river yachts will also offer Crystal's acclaimed butler service in every room category, plush king-sized beds that face toward the 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.

The building of the river yachts, and other upcoming vessels for the Crystal fleet, at the MV WERFTEN Shipyard is significant as well, given that the yard shares a familial connection with Crystal. Crystal's parent company Genting Hong Kong completed the acquisition of the Lloyd Werft ship building yards in 2016 in anticipation of the company's extraordinary brand and fleet expansion, which, by 2022, will see four new build luxury river yachts, the world's first purpose-built polar class Crystal Endeavor mega-yacht, and the first of Crystal Cruises' Exclusive Class polar class ocean ships with Crystal Residences constructed at the yard.

Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will measure approximately 135 meters in length and 11.5 meters in breadth, accommodating 106 guests in Crystal's signature, all-suite luxury. Beginning in spring 2018, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, respectively, will sail routes of 7-, 10- and 14-days between Amsterdam, Basel and Vienna.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Norwegian Bliss' Keel Laying Ceremony Held at Meyer Werft in Germany

Norwegian Cruise Line and MEYER WERFT today celebrated the keel laying of Norwegian Bliss at the yard’s state of the art facility in Papenburg, Germany. During the ceremony, one of the keel blocks of the 167,800 gross ton vessel was lifted into the covered building hall, signifying a major milestone in the ship’s construction. Norwegian Bliss is due for delivery in April 2018 and will be the first cruise ship custom built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience.

Pictured above, Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief executive officer, was present in the hall and laid the traditional “lucky coin”, etched with the outline of the ship’s signature hull designed by wildlife artist Wyland, before the block was lowered into place.

“We are overjoyed to celebrate the keel laying of Norwegian Bliss, our sixteenth ship and sure to be our most innovative ship to date,” Stuart said. “We have seen overwhelming anticipation and excitement from our guests and travel partners for Norwegian Bliss, from her awe-inspiring custom-designed spaces like her observation lounges to her elegant suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, and we are all thrilled to see this magnificent ship begin to come to life with the craftsmanship, precision and cutting edge technology that MEYER WERFT consistently delivers.”

The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss will accommodate 4,000 guests and will be the 12th ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet to be built by MEYER WERFT. During her inaugural summer 2018 season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly 7-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from the recently expanded Pier 66 Cruise Terminal in Seattle, offering guests the premier way to see America’s last frontier, while also providing all of the innovative features, entertainment, signature dining and onboard experiences that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for around the globe. 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.

Norwegian Bliss’ curated 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 two observation lounges, including one exclusive to guests of The Haven®, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean.

Norwegian Cruise Line will take its award-winning entertainment programming to the next level aboard Norwegian Bliss, bringing the best of Broadway to sea, with the 2006 Tony Award® winner for “Best Musical,” Jersey Boys, and a completely new and original show created by Tony Award®-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, headlining on the ship’s main stage, the Bliss Theater. Norwegian Bliss will also feature a new theatrical cocktail hour experience, Happy Hour Prohibition-The Musical. Alibi, the ship’s reimagined comedy club and nightlife venue will feature two comedy performances six nights a week. Rock and roll will take center stage at The Cavern Club, an outpost of the legendary Liverpool club where the Beatles’ performed frequently in the 1960s, with nightly live performances and a Beatles cover band singing hits like “Penny Lane,” “Yellow Submarine,” and more.

Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ships’ 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 artwork will feature images of humpback whales, found in every ocean around the world. The ship’s hull will serve as a large canvas to showcase the importance of ocean conservation and preservation.

For more details about Norwegian Bliss, visit Bliss.NCL.com. Additional information on the ship’s dining and recreational activities will be shared in the coming months. For additional information about Norwegian Cruise Line visit NCL.com.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Seabourn Odyssey Debuts Signature Restaurant & Mindful Living Program

Luxury cruise line Seabourn has announced major enhancements to the travel experience aboard Seabourn Odyssey, including the new addition of its signature restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, and the new mindful living program created by Dr. Andrew Weil.

The programs are launched following a recently completed dry dock period for Seabourn Odyssey, where many surfaces and spaces aboard the ship also underwent meticulous, thoughtfully designed updates. Among them, The Spa has been refreshed, and the Fitness Center features new equipment. All suites have been recarpeted, and Seabourn's new bespoke luxury mattresses have been added. Newly designed furniture has been placed in the Wintergarden, forward Owner's and Signature suites. Guests will also find new carpet, furniture, teak flooring, and refinished woodwork throughout the ship.

"The additions of The Grill by Thomas Keller and Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil continue a new chapter in Seabourn's long history of offering the finest guest experiences in luxury travel," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows, noting Seabourn Odyssey as the third of the cruise line's four ships to offer The Grill and the second to feature Dr. Weil's program. "Through our outstanding partnerships with Chef Keller and Dr. Weil, we are excited to expand these programs on Seabourn Odyssey, with a fleet-wide rollout scheduled to be completed by the end of this year."

Inspired by the classic American chophouse, The Grill by Thomas Keller is a collaboration between three-star Michelin chef Thomas Keller and designer Adam D. Tihany, exclusively for Seabourn. The ship is also launching Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, a mindful living program offering guests a holistic spa and wellness experience that integrates physical, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. Eventually destined for every ship in the Seabourn fleet, Dr. Weil's program is the first-ever of its kind available at sea.

The Grill by Thomas Keller
Located on Deck 8, The Grill by Thomas Keller focuses on updated versions of iconic dishes where guests are treated to American chophouse classics as well as a range of other steakhouse favorites. The timeless menu draws on many artisan purveyors, while the wine list of domestic and old world labels personally curated by Chef Keller complements each dish.

The interior design by Adam D. Tihany enhances the dining experience with spaces that are distinctive to the ship, yet defined by intimate settings with an elegant and warm masculine quality. The Grill by Thomas Keller is located in newly renovated spaces formerly occupied by Restaurant 2, which was extensively refit during the dry dock period.

Chef Thomas Keller began his partnership with Seabourn in 2015 and underlines the luxury cruise line's commitment to offering outstanding guest experiences. The Grill is now featured on Seabourn Encore, Seabourn Quest, and Seabourn Odyssey, with Seabourn Sojourn scheduled for opening in late 2017. Seabourn Ovation will launch with the restaurant in May 2018.

Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil
Created in conjunction with The Onboard Spa by Steiner, Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil will be led by Seabourn Odyssey's onboard Mindful Living Coach, a certified yoga and meditation practitioner whose role is to inspire and educate guests throughout the voyage.

Central to the program is the daily practice of meditation and yoga, with some sessions offered on a complimentary basis. Guests can experience Mindful Meditation, which will introduce positive affirmations and mantras they can reflect on throughout the day. Yoga classes will be varied, offering guests the ability to choose classes that focus on various physical issues, such as yoga to heal back and joint pain, headaches and body alignment, as well as yoga to enhance creativity, mental focus and happiness.

The wellness program will also offer guests some complimentary Mind and Body seminars designed to educate guests on philosophies and practices that are aligned with the program's mission. Onboard seminars adapted from Dr. Weil's best-selling books and research include: Spontaneous Happiness & Spontaneous Healing; Anti-Inflammatory Foods; Healthy Aging; and Introduction to Mindful Meditation. Individualized one-on-one wellness sessions on select topics are also available for a fee.

For more details, visit Seabourn.com.

Images Courtesy of Seabourn

Holland America Line’s ms Veendam to Sail to Cuba Beginning December 2017

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard ms Veendam. Holland America Line becomes Carnival Corporation's third cruise line to be approved to sail to Cuba following the company's historic inaugural sailings to the island last year.

The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos, known as the model of early 19th century urban planning in Cuba. The 12-day holiday cruise showcases both Cuban ports. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“For many, travel is about seeking new places to explore and discovering meaningful new cultural opportunities, and Cuba is one of the most sought-after new destinations for many of our guests,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We are excited to finally be able to include Cuba in our itineraries, and our guests and travel partners have been anxiously awaiting a premium cruise experience to this relatively undiscovered Caribbean treasure.”

As leaders in destination immersion and experiential travel, Holland America Line adds Cuba to its itineraries in order to provide guests with a thoughtful cultural exchange experience. Most itineraries include an extended call at Havana, allowing guests the time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in a wide array of historical and cultural adventures. Additionally, a stop at Cienfuegos presents the opportunity for a special visit to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cuba’s province of Sancti Spíritus.

The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

On board, the Cuba experience will be enhanced through the line’s Explorations Central, or EXC, program, featuring EXC Guides who will bring the destination to life through presentations and EXC Talks that will enable guests to deepen their understanding of the Caribbean’s largest island. Also enriching the Cuba experience for guests are EXC Port Maps created for the Cuban calls, EXC Encounters that will showcase the culture and history of Cuba to guests before they visit the ports, and much more. In addition, educational and cultural EXC Tours are being developed in and near Havana and Cienfuegos with a highlight being Trinidad, one of the best-preserved historic towns in the Caribbean.

Bookings for Holland America Line’s cruises to Cuba will open May 26, 2017. Guests booked on Veendam’s previous deployment will be given a full refund and opportunity to book on another Holland America Line voyage. Fares for Cuba cruises begin at $899 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional.

The deployment of the 1,350-guest Veendam to Cuba adds Holland America Line to the historic launch of cruises to the island nation from the U.S. by Carnival Corporation sister brands Fathom and, more recently, Carnival Cruise Line.

The visits to Havana and Cienfuegos 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. All information about special requirements for travel to Cuba is available at HollandAmerica.com.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Princess Cruises Announces 2018-2019 Americas Season

Princess Cruises has announced its 2018-2019 Americas cruise itineraries including sailings to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii, the California Coast, and Alaska. On sale today, the upcoming season includes 12 ships, sailing to over 70 destinations on more than 40 unique itineraries on 250 departures from six North American homeports. Four of the 12 ships—Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Caribbean Princess and Island Princess—will be OCEAN Medallion enabled for this fall 2018-spring 2019 season. Guests will experience the highly anticipated, wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™ (O·C·E·A·N™), making possible a new level of personalization that delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.

Americas program highlights of the upcoming 2018-2019 season include:
• The debut of Royal Princess on the West Coast as the cruise line’s largest ship ever to sail to Mexico.
• Two new seven-day Pacific Coast itineraries featuring 7-day roundtrip departures from Seattle along the California Coast and 7-day roundtrip San Francisco to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
• Largest offering of 5-day Cabo San Lucas Getaways with nine all including overnight stays in the most popular port of Mexico.
• An expanded program of our Caribbean 7-day itineraries, now with departures on both Saturdays and Sundays.
• Returning season of three ways to see the Panama Canal—from the East Coast, from the West Coast or Ocean to Ocean.
• More sailings to Alaska roundtrip from Los Angeles with Ruby Princess and Star Princess both sailing on a 12-day itinerary in April 2019.
• MORE ASHORE evening stays will be offered on select itineraries in the Caribbean, California and Hawaii, including Aruba, Curacao, St. Thomas, Cozumel, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach and Honolulu—and overnight stays in Cabo San Lucas on the 5- and 10-day voyages from Los Angeles.
• UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Site opportunities offered, including the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from Hilo, Casco Viejo in Panama City and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
“Our 2018-19 Americas season brings local cultures and iconic destinations to our guests with award-winning itinerary options from six homeports in the United States,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “And, once on board, they can relax and unwind and let our warm and welcoming crew ensure they have an incredible cruise vacation and ‘come back new.’”

Mexico
There are five ships sailing four unique itineraries on over 35 departures to five destinations on five-, seven-, or 10-day voyages from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Royal Princess debuts sailing from Los Angeles as the largest Princess ship to sail the Mexican Riviera on a series of seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises. The ever-popular Mexican Riviera voyages return, and are available as seven-day cruises from Los Angeles visiting the ports of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas, or as 10-day voyages from San Francisco with the added port of Manzanillo. The 10-day Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez cruise returns on Star Princess, sailing from Los Angeles to the ports of La Paz, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta with an overnight stay in Cabo San Lucas.

Princess Cruises is offering more 5-day Cabo San Lucas Getaways than ever which include MORE ASHORE evening stays in Cabo San Lucas on Emerald Princess and Star Princess.

California Coast
This season offers eight ships, sailing 12 unique itineraries on over 25 departures to more than 10 destinations on voyages of one to 10 days from Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, B.C. and San Francisco.

Royal Princess will sail for the first time along the California Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. on a seven-day Pacific California Coast visiting San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco for a MORE ASHORE evening and overnight. Ruby Princess sails a brand new seven-day Northern California Coast voyage sailing roundtrip from Seattle with stops in Monterey, Astoria, and MORE ASHORE late evening stays in San Francisco and Victoria, B.C.

Also new for 2018 is a seven-day Pacific Northwest Coast cruise on Grand Princess sailing roundtrip from San Francisco visiting Astoria, Vancouver, B.C. , Victoria, B.C. and a More Ashore late evening stay in Seattle.

The Classic California Coast sailings return with seven-day voyages roundtrip from Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as a 10-day voyage from Vancouver. Star Princess and Emerald Princess will also sail on select four-day West Coast Getaway voyages from Los Angeles including Santa Barbara or Catalina Island as well as Ensenada, Mexico.

MORE ASHORE longer evening stays are featured on every call to San Francisco on these Coastal itineraries.

Caribbean
With five ships sailing 12 unique itineraries on over 120 departures to more than 35 destinations on voyages of seven to 20 days from Ft. Lauderdale and New York, guests can enjoy the best of the Caribbean with Princess Cruises.

The newly renovated Caribbean Princess sails 14-day Circle Caribbean voyages cruising roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, including visits to Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad, Aruba, Curacao, Antigua, St. Thomas, Amber Cove and St. Kitts. Guests can choose a special sailing spanning both Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Small ship Pacific Princess sails a holiday 14-day Caribbean Connoisseur voyage, visiting islands not typically included on other Caribbean itineraries, for an off-the-beaten path exploration including St. Barthelemy, Iles Des Saintes (maiden call), Grenadines, Tobago, and Virgin Gorda.

Crown Princess returns to the popular 10-day Southern Caribbean Medley and 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager which can be combined for a 20-day vacation. Seven-day Eastern Caribbean voyages will be offered on Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess with the choice of Saturday and Sunday departures. Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess will also offer a new 7-day Caribbean Explorer itinerary on select dates visiting San Juan, Amber Cove, Grand Turk and a stop at our private beach resort Princess Cays. Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess will all offer seven-day Western Caribbean voyages departing on Saturday or Sunday all visiting Grand Cayman and Cozumel, with two itinerary options including Roatan and Belize City or Jamaica (Falmouth) and Princess Cays.

Ports of calls with MORE ASHORE evening calls include Barbados, St Thomas, Aruba, St. Maarten and Curacao.

Panama Canal
There are four ships sailing seven unique itineraries on more than 35 departures to over 30 destinations on voyages of 10 to 22 days from Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver—offering three ways to see the region—roundtrip from the East Coast, roundtrip from the West Coast, or Ocean to Ocean.

Caribbean Princess and Island Princess both offer a transit through the locks and a day of scenic cruising through Gatun Lake from the Atlantic Ocean roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale on 10-day Panama Canal with Costa Rica & Caribbean voyages. Caribbean Princess will sail via the expanded Agua Clara locks while Island Princess transits the historic Gatun locks. Coral Princess, Island Princess and Pacific Princess all sail 15-day Panama Canal—Ocean to Ocean cruises with a full transit through all three sets of the historic locks—Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks. Coral Princess sails roundtrip from Los Angeles for transits through the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks for a 19-day Panama Canal Pacific Adventure.

Hawaiian Islands & Tahiti
Guests have a choice of four ships, sailing four unique itineraries on over 20 departures to 10 destinations on voyages of 15 or 28 days from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. Every 15-day Hawaiian Islands departure includes the four most popular islands—Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the big island of Hawaii, with roundtrip departures from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. Every voyage features a MORE ASHORE evening stay in Honolulu.

Emerald Princess and Star Princess will sail on two 28-day departures to Hawaii, Tahiti & Samoa in fall and spring roundtrip from Los Angeles. Both departures feature MORE ASHORE in Honolulu and Tahiti (Papeete).

Alaska: 12-day Alaska Inside Passage—Roundtrip Los Angeles
Returning due to popular demand, Ruby Princess and Star Princess will sail on 12-day Inside Passage Alaska sailings roundtrip from Los Angeles in April 2019. Port calls include Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. with scenic cruising of Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available by visiting Princess.com.

Carnival Cruise Line to Host Record 25,000 Shows at Fleetwide Punchliner Comedy Clubs in 2017

Carnival Cruise Line will provide its guests with more laughs than ever in 2017, hosting a record 25,000 shows at its Punchliner Comedy Clubs featured across its 25-ship fleet. Boasting more comedians and performances than any land-based comedy club in the U.S., Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Clubs feature a hilarious lineup of top-notch comedians who perform 30-minute shows multiple times each voyage with at least two comedians performing each night. All shows are offered on a complimentary basis.

Two early-evening PG-rated shows offer all-ages fun for the whole family while later performances feature more R-rated, adult-oriented comedy. Approximately 10 shows are presented during short cruise itineraries and with roughly 20 shows per cruise on longer length voyages.

“Our guests love to laugh and have fun and the Punchliner Comedy Club is by far one of the most popular venues on board with both established and up-and-coming comedians who keep audiences laughing and entertained,” said Sarah Reno, Carnival’s vice president of entertainment. “Plus, many guests have never been to a comedy club so this is a wonderful way for them to try something different and check out an entirely new form of entertainment,” she added.

Added Chris Nelson, Carnival’s senior director of entertainment, “We search the world for the top comedians and fly them onto each cruise for limited engagements. Not only is Carnival one of the largest presenters of comedy in the world, we are the only cruise line to provide an authentic comedy club experience on every single voyage.”

Carnival’s position as the leader in comedy has also extended to its popular Carnival LIVE concert series which has added top-name comedians to its diverse entertainment lineup. Recent comedy performances include Jay Leno, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Tucker, and Kathy Griffin. Jeff Foxworthy will also be performing two shows next month aboard Carnival Freedom and Carnival Ecstasy while those ships are docked in Nassau.

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line Celebrates American Craft Beer Week

To celebrate American Craft Beer Week, Carnival Cruise Line has created a special one-of-a-kind tropical-flavored beer served exclusively at Carnival Vista’s RedFrog Pub & Brewery, the first brewery aboard a North American-based cruise ship.

The new Miami Guava Wheat beer was unveiled this weekend at a shipboard ceremony during which Carnival Vista’s expert brewmaster Colin Presby tapped the first cask of the deliciously refreshing new brew. Guests on board were the first to sample the highly drinkable beer, hand-crafted by Presby using the finest ingredients and inspired by Carnival Vista’s Miami homeport. Miami Guava Wheat reflects the tropics with a light body and palate-pleasing notes of tangy pink guava, the primary ingredient in Miami’s ever-popular guava pastries.

“Since Carnival Vista began sailing from Miami, I’ve become fascinated by tropical fruit and Cuban cuisine so I’m beyond thrilled to create this new Miami Guava Wheat in honor of American Craft Beer Week for our guests to enjoy,” Presby said.

Available on a limited basis, Miami Guava Wheat joins the three other original draft beers brewed only onboard Carnival Vista—ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA, offering aromatic, floral and hoppy notes with tropical and citrus overtones; ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat, an unfiltered wheat beer with flavors of orange and spices; and FriskyFrog Java Stout, a take on a traditional stout, rich and creamy with hints of coffee.

The brewed-on-board beers are just several of the many innovative food and beverage offerings on Carnival Vista which also features the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the New England-inspired Seafood Shack, JiJi Asian Kitchen serving authentic cuisine from across the Far East, Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, and Cucina del Capitano, a family-style Italian eatery.

Other features aboard Carnival Vista include a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, the first IMAX Theatre at sea, Family Harbor featuring family-friendly accommodations and the Family Harbor Lounge, and vibrant Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

Carnival Vista operates 6- and 8-day Caribbean cruises from PortMiami to the Caribbean and will shift to Galveston, Texas, in fall 2018 when its sister ship, Carnival Horizon, launches year-round service from Miami.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Windstar Cruises Adds 20 New Itineraries in Europe

Small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises continues to make big changes to its deployment, announcing eight new itineraries in Northern Europe and 12 new Mediterranean itineraries, bringing Windstar’s total unique itineraries in Europe for 2018 to an impressive 40. The itineraries beget 26 new European ports, increasing the company’s global number of maiden ports to 93 for 2018.

The sailings, running April through October, include a bevy of unique “small ship-only” experiences, like cruising the impossibly narrow Trollfjord in the Lofoten Islands; docking in downtown London near the Tower of London, where guests can marvel at Tower Bridge as they sail underneath the iconic structure; or tucking into exclusive San Remo on the Riviera of Flowers, known as Italy’s own Monte Carlo.

“These 20 new itineraries are just the latest development in response to our growing customer demand, we’re keenly focused on offering more and varied sailings that effectively leverage our fleet of six small ships,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “Our team constantly seeks out new experiences, lesser known ports and harbors everywhere we sail—hidden treasures that only true small ships can access. Unveiling these new itineraries further demonstrates our commitment to destination authenticity—delivering incredible experiences in a highly customized way.”

Windstar’s three all-suite power yachts have opened up new places for the company to explore, including more ports in Northern Europe and smaller, charming ports in the Mediterranean. The yachts are perfectly suited to sailing into smaller harbors and fjords, scenic coastal cruising, and traversing larger distances at higher speeds.

Windstar’s destination expansion brings a ship to Asia later this year on a host of new itineraries, also on tap for 2018 are recently announced new voyages in Alaska, Canada, and New England.

Europe 2018 cruises will have something for everyone, from shorter week-long sailings to epic multi-week voyages. Here are a few notable highlights in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean for 2018:

  • Secrets of the Faroe, Shetland & Orkney Islands – Difficult to get to and often listed on “the traveler who has done it all’s must-see list,” the remote islands of the North Atlantic are perfectly suited to exploration by small ship. Most cruise ships merely stop briefly on their way to Iceland, but Windstar is the only cruise line to offer a seven-day journey (round trip from Edinburgh) to these wild landscapes, with access to Shetland ponies, Atlantic Puffins, and the opportunity to meet the laird of a castle.
  • Norway’s Famous Fjords – With a focus on scenic cruising in some of the best fjords in Norway, this eight-day, round-trip journey from Copenhagen puts guests into ports like Geirangerfjord and Sognefjrod, which are stunning from every angle. Windstar will ensure guests can take advantage of the region’s hiking, kayaking, and fishing opportunities, as well as immerse them in the traditional mountain lifestyle with visits to local sheep farms.
  • Sailing Southern Italy & Croatia – Windstar’s new 11-day exploration of both coasts of Italy and the Croatian Riviera lets guests take in medieval walled cities, glittering resort towns, and some of the finest cuisine in the Mediterranean. From Rome to Venice, the itinerary includes two stops in trendy Puglia’s whitewashed villages: Bari and Brindisi.
  • Hidden Harbors of the Côte d’Azur – From Nice to Barcelona over eight days, this sailing visits less-frequented ports of call along the famous coastline. With stops in Bastia, Corsica; Le Lavandou, Marseille, and Sanary-sur-Mer in France; as well as Palamos in Spain, guests can enjoy plenty of palm-lined promenades, local delicacies like Provençal bouillabaisse, and an eclectic mix of art and architecture.

For additional information, visit WindstarCruises.com.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Holland America Line’s 2017-18 Mexico Cruise Season to Feature a Second Vista-Class Ship

For the 2017-18 Mexico cruise season, Holland America Line’s ms Oosterdam is joining ms Westerdam on roundtrip itineraries from San Diego, California. From September 2017 through February 2018, the 1,964-guest ships will sail 11 seven-day cruises calling at Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Boasting sun-kissed skies, golden beaches and azure seas, the Mexican Riviera is an ideal getaway for travelers looking to visit a vibrant destination that’s rich in culture, color and cuisine. On board, Explorations Central programming brings the country to life through local entertainment, regional dishes, destination presentations and more.

“Holland America Line’s last season in Mexico was very popular so we are adding capacity for the next season so that more of our guests can enjoy these itineraries that truly showcase the allure of the destination,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Our Mexico cruises offer convenience and ease, especially for a multigenerational family looking for a unique vacation. By calling at three ports, we’re able to fully immerse our guests in the culture, history, entertainment, recreation and cuisine of the country.”

Seven-Day Mexican Riviera Sailings Roundtrip from San Diego
During the Mexican Riviera cruises both ships will call at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta, giving guests a great feel for the country and all it has to offer. Three days at sea provide plenty of time to relax and explore the abundance of amenities offered on board.

To kick off the season, Oosterdam departs on Sept. 30 with two back-to-back seven-day sailings. Westerdam departs Nov. 24, 2017, on the first of two 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises. The ship’s other cruise departs Dec. 1. Oosterdam follows up with two similar Holiday sailings Dec. 20 and 27 and then departs on the same Mexican Riviera itinerary Jan. 3 and 10 and Feb. 4, 11 and 25.

Popular Ports Highlight the Itinerary
During the sail into San Diego, guests are treated to scenic cruising past Coronado Island, Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma. The ships conveniently dock near downtown, so guests can walk on Coronado Island’s sandy beach, take in the Old Town or have a wild time at the famous San Diego Zoo, time permitting. 
At the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is one of Mexico’s most recognizable ports of call thanks to its unique rock arch formation. Whether lounging on a golden beach, exploring on a four-wheel-drive adventure or taking to the sea in search of gray whales, guests will find Cabo offers something for every type of traveler. 
Mazatlán, known as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” is where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet, making it an alluring coastal city. It’s a haven for water sports, historic sites and nature, as well as incredible sport-fishing. 
Puerto Vallarta has it all—from gorgeous beaches and activities galore to chic shops and stylish restaurants. The quaint Old Town greets visitors with an enticing mix of red-tiled buildings, cobbled streets and bustling open markets, while eco-adventures show off Mexico’s flora and fauna in this paradise on Earth.
Explorations Central Brings Mexican Culture On Board
Throughout the voyages, EXC programming brings Mexico’s local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life onboard. Through EXC Encounters, local cultural ambassadors teach local crafts, language and dance lessons throughout the voyage and a mariachi band performs for guests at one of the ports of call. Guests who want to learn more about the country can attend an EXC Talk by an EXC Guide or head to America’s Test Kitchen for a cooking demonstration, cooking class or themed mixology class featuring local fare.

The main dining room and Lido Market also will showcase the flavors of Mexico, while bars will offer a variety of Mexican liquors and ingredients. The ships’ ambiance will be enhanced by Mexican floral varieties, and guests will be delighted in their staterooms with Mexican towel creations.

The EXC Team will provide further customized guidance for the Mexican calls, and online EXC Port Planners using tips and information from AFAR Media provide exclusive handbooks for each destination. For guests who enjoy exploring on their own, on-line and printable EXC Maps present a simple view of the best each port has to offer. The in-stateroom EXC Channel will feature a selection of curated films, documentaries and TV shows exploring destinations on the ship’s itinerary. For more information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Photo © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

Carnival Cruise Line Unveils 'Carnival Studios,' State-Of-The-Art Rehearsal Space

In a move designed to further elevate its award-winning entertainment offerings across the fleet, Carnival Cruise Line has unveiled "Carnival Studios," a state-of-the-art 44,500-square-foot rehearsal venue in Davie, Florida, near the company's Miami headquarters.

Three years in development, Carnival Studios brings entire bands, casts, and technical teams from every ship together shoreside for intensive rehearsals as a team, while providing additional opportunities to conceptualize innovative new shows on site. More than 500 entertainers and performers will convene at Carnival Studios to rehearse new shows that are constantly being rolled out across the fleet. The expansive space encompasses eight dedicated music studios, five full-stage dance studios, a training room, a green room and offices for the line's entertainment department many of whom will be relocating to the Davie campus.

"Whether it's our elaborate production shows, our popular rock bands or solo artists performing throughout the ship, entertainment is a huge part of the Carnival vacation experience and this spectacular rehearsal space provides us with unprecedented opportunities to develop exciting new choices for our guests," said Sarah Beth Reno, Carnival's vice president of entertainment.

Designed as a creative hub for Carnival's entertainment department, every single space within Carnival Studios has been outfitted with the latest digital sound, lighting and recording technology. At Carnival Studios, the main theater stages within the fleet have been replicated within five full-scale studios. One of the dance studios boasts a massive 480-square-foot LED screen that is an integral part of the line's high-tech Playlist Productions shows, allowing performers to hone their craft with daily interactions with the groundbreaking technology. The development of Carnival Studios also enables entertainers to work with top-rated talent from Broadway, London's West End, Las Vegas and award-winning partners across the globe in conceptualizing new innovations in shipboard entertainment.

"We designed the space to encourage interaction and engagement between everyone who works on our shows—from cast members and musicians to technicians and backstage crew," said Chris Nelson, Carnival's senior director of entertainment. "It is in these sometimes intentional and sometimes impromptu collaborations that the strongest ideas take shape, inspiring synergy and building relationships that last a lifetime," he added.

In addition to Playlist Productions and live bands that span all musical genres, Carnival's fleetwide entertainment lineup includes the Punchliner Comedy Clubs, Lip Sync Battle based on the hit SpikeTV show, Hasbro, The Game Show with larger-than-life adaptations of the company's iconic games, and Carnival LIVE featuring top-name musical and comedy acts who perform on board. To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit Carnival.com.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Novelties Onboard: Disney Fantasy Receives Spring Enhancements

By Georgina Cruz

Minnie & Mickey enjoy Sweet on You
New magic overflows on the 130,000-ton, 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy, launched by Disney Cruise Line in 2012, after an April-May dry-dock. The makeover, just in time for the line’s busy summer season, has added new features for young sailors, a new ice cream shop for all ages and a store from one of the world’s most famous names in jewelry and gifts.

These novelties were unveiled in mid-May and offer children the chance to explore the universe of the “Star Wars” movies and the world of Marvel and give young and old opportunities to enjoy new spaces and features. Here is a summary of the major aspects of the makeover:
BB8
• In the kids’ Oceaneer Club, young sailors have the new space “Star Wars: Command Post” where they can undertake a journey to the “Star Wars” universe to train with heroes of the popular series, and they can help in missions against the evil doers of the First Order. Here, kids can interact with holographic models on a unique holographic table that features images of the Millennium Falcon, Death Star and other famous spaceships of the “Star Wars” series and they encounter members of the Resistance to learn how to join the Force. The cute android BB8 makes an appearance in person, er, androidhood! Oh, to be 3 to 12 years old again—the ages the Oceaneer Club caters to!
“Cool!” an eight-year-old boy told me of his encounter with BB8. It is indeed such a cool place that, as expected, kids don’t want to leave, and surprisingly—or not so surprisingly, perhaps—adults really want to enjoy it too, so “Open Houses” are available during the cruise, and during them, “there are more adults than kids in here,” a staff member told us, so Moms and Dads and other adults can also enjoy these features from a galaxy far, far away.
Doctor Strange
• The new Marvel Super Hero Academy, also in the Oceaneer Club, is another fabulous place, offering exclusive programs themed to Marvel, and kids can learn from Marvel heroes who appear in person in the club, such as Thor. The heroes teach heroic qualities like bravery, dignity and loyalty. Children can also learn about the mystic arts from Doctor Strange, who is appearing for the first time in person on a Disney Cruise Line ship.
• A new space themed to Mickey Mouse cartoons is Sweet on You. This ice cream and goodies shop offers 16 flavors of ice cream, 20 types of gelato (Yum!), 32 types of toppings for the ice cream/gelato, sinful sundaes, a variety of chocolates, truffles, and a wide selection of candy. It is located near the family pool, so it is very convenient for a cool afternoon snack after time in the pool. A darling sculpture of Mickey and Minnie sharing an ice cream soda and other artwork celebrates Disney’s short films.
• A first in Disney Cruise Line history is the addition of one of the world’s most famous jewelry stores, Tiffany & Co., located off the Atrium on Deck 4. This exclusive store on the Disney Fantasy features the company’s collections of jewelry and accessories, including the elegant Tiffany T collection of diamond jewelry. One of my favorite features of the boutique is a photo of Audrey Hepburn, the star of the classic film, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” wearing Tiffany jewelry. It is a great place to make a purchase or buy a gift to mark a special occasion, and in my case, just to spend time browsing!
In addition to gaining these new spaces and features, the ship received regularly scheduled, wide-ranging maintenance to keep the vessel ship-shape. After a 3-night cruise to the Bahamas on May 17, the Disney Fantasy resumes her regular alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral. Eastern Caribbean itinerary ports include St. Thomas, Tortola and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas). Western Caribbean runs visit Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Castaway Cay. Since the only port that is repeated is Castaway Cay, the two itineraries are combinable for a two-week cruise vacation.

Many families, my husband Humberto and I included, also add a pre- or post-cruise stay at nearby Walt Disney World in Orlando where novelties abound for the summer, including a whole new “land,” “Pandora—The World of Avatar,” which is in previews now and debuts officially on May 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Inspired in James Cameron’s blockbuster film “Avatar,” the new “land” offers several attractions including “Avatar Flight of Passage,” a thrilling flight over Pandora on the back of a Banshee, and “Na’vi River Journey” a raft ride through a bioluminescent forest with other-worldly flora and fauna. Good centrally located lodgings in Orlando include the Embassy Suites International Drive Orlando (a Hilton property) with free, made-to-order breakfast and complimentary manager’s evening reception with beverages and snacks, and the Buena Vista Palace, another Hilton property, with a lazy river feature and situated across the street from the expanding Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

For more Disney Cruise Line information, visit DisneyCruise.com.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bookings Open for ms Nieuw Statendam’s Premiere Voyage and Inaugural Season of Caribbean Cruises

Bookings are now open for the Premiere Voyage and 2018-19 inaugural Caribbean cruise season of Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Statendam. Due for delivery Dec. 1, 2018, the second Pinnacle Class ship in the fleet currently is under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy. When Nieuw Statendam departs the yard, it will be delivered in Venice, Italy, Dec. 1. After arriving at Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, Nieuw Statendam departs Dec. 5 on its Premiere Voyage with guests—a 14-day transatlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ship will then spend the winter season cruising roundtrip from the South Florida port on 7-day Caribbean itineraries, with select 3-, 4- and 10-day options.

“Every milestone we reach with Nieuw Statendam brings us closer to delivery, and opening for bookings in the inaugural season is an exciting step as we officially give guests the opportunity to start planning their vacations on this beautiful new ship,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “The crossing is a great chance for guests to really get to know the ship and explore every corner during the sea days, and the Caribbean season is a perfect blend of ports that highlight the beauty, diversity and relaxed ambiance of that region.”

Premiere Voyage Repositions to Caribbean Winter Home Port
When Nieuw Statendam departs Civitavecchia Dec. 5 on its Premiere Voyage, it will spend 14 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Fort Lauderdale. After leaving Italy, the ship will call at Cartagena and Málaga, Spain, and Funchal, Madeira, before spending seven days at sea where guests can experience all the newbuild’s amenities. Guests will enjoy an overnight call at Fort Lauderdale before leaving the ship Dec. 19.

Nieuw Statendam to Offer a Variety of Caribbean Cruises in Winter/Spring 2018-19
From December 2018 through April 2019, Nieuw Statendam will spend its inaugural season exploring the golden beaches and sun-kissed skies of the Caribbean on roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruises. All Caribbean itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island known for its pristine landscapes, exciting shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and child-friendly activities.

Nieuw Statendam’s first Caribbean cruise is a 4-day itinerary that calls at Half Moon Cay and Key West, Florida, departing Dec. 19. The ship then embarks on a series of 7-day sailings, including a Dec. 23 Holiday cruise that calls at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay. A Dec. 30, 2018, New Year’s cruise departure calls at Half Moon Cay; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. A similar Jan. 6 cruise replaces Ocho Rios with Montego Bay, Jamaica. The ship then sets sail Jan. 13 on a seven-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Guests looking for an extended Caribbean adventure on Nieuw Statendam can depart Jan. 20 on a 10-day cruise to the ABC Islands with calls at Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstad, Curaçao; and Oranjestad, Aruba. For a quick get-away, a 3-day cruise departs roundtrip Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 30 and includes a call at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

For the remainder of the season, the ship will feature western and eastern Caribbean itineraries: the first calls at Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while the second features calls at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay—with the March 17 departure swapping Amber Cove for Grand Turk.

About Nieuw Statendam
The 99,500-ton ship will reflect the ongoing evolution of the Holland America Line experience. While much of the ship’s design will be similar to ms Koningsdam, the first Pinnacle Class ship, Nieuw Statendam will carry 2,666 guests and have exclusive public spaces and its own style created by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten.

Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898, and this will be the sixth ship in the company’s history to carry the name. In combining the Dutch word for “new” with the classic Statendam, Holland America Line is celebrating the company’s past, present and future. For more information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Image Courtesy Holland America Line

MSC Cruises Reveals Concepts For The Two New Cirque Du Soleil Shows Exclusively On Board MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises has revealed the names and concepts for the two exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows that will be performed on board MSC Cruises' new next-generation flagship, MSC Meraviglia. The long-term partnership between MSC Cruises and Cirque du Soleil will set new standards in live entertainment at sea. The world leader in artistic entertainment will create a total of eight original shows exclusively available on MSC Cruises' Meraviglia generation ships, coming into service between June 4, 2017—with MSC Meraviglia—and Fall 2020.

"We are committed to creating unique opportunities that elevate the guest experience to new heights and, for this, we work with innovative, world-class leaders in their sector. It was thus only natural that, when it comes to entertainment, we would look to partner with Cirque du Soleil," said Gianni Onorato, Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises. He added, "Today we are delighted to reveal the concepts and inspiration behind the Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows that will soon premiere on our new flagship MSC Meraviglia. By creating two different shows for each of the four Meraviglia and Meraviglia-plus generation ships, we will make available exclusively to our guests something new and exciting with each ship's launch. Moreover, these shows will be a true first at sea."

Cirque du Soleil set out to create two very different, contrasting shows, each with a different concept, ambiance, storyline, costumes and make-up. With two performances each night, six nights a week, guests will have the opportunity to see both distinct productions.

VIAGGIO, the first of two shows, is the story of a passionate and eccentric artist who hears the call of his Faceless Muse. Mysterious and seductive, she beckons him into the vivid world of his unbridled imagination to complete his masterpiece. With each stroke of his paintbrush, the painter reveals the details of his grandiose tableau. Electrifying colors fill the space with intriguing motifs and rich textures. Majestic acts transform the theater into a living canvas. Before our very eyes, a masterpiece comes to life.

With sound at its heart, SONOR, the second show, takes guests on an auditory adventure with dancers, acrobats and characters, all moving to the rhythm. Conjuring a world of unique sensations, astonishing sounds, bold music and immersive projections, SONOR culminates in a grand finale for the senses. Each show will offer its own unique cocktail or dinner experience

"We wanted to elevate the experience even further for our guests and for this we have worked hand in hand with the creative team from Cirque du Soleil to create the first Dinner & Show experience on our fleet," Onorato concluded.

The dinner experience will be a gastronomic delight, where every detail from the table settings, costumes, music and visual effects to the menus have been specially designed to complement each pre-show experience. Starting one hour before the show begins, the dining experience will be a treat for the senses with surprise animation from performers, live music, stylish table settings topped with a table d'hôte three-course menu of eclectic dishes. For the dining experience to complement SONOR, guests will be invited into a parallel world where culinary creations will not only trick the eye but the senses, while VIAGGIO will immerse guests in a universe of color, testing the imagination of guests from beginning to end. Other guests will be able enjoy a Cocktail & Show experience that will begin 30 minutes before the performance starts and will include a specially designed signature cocktail and tempting treats.

Cirque du Soleil at Sea needs to be pre-booked by guests either before the cruise or once on board. The theater is limited to 413 seats, so guests should book early to secure a space and enjoy the experience.

The Carousel Lounge High-Tech Theater
MSC Meraviglia will become the first cruise ship ever to feature an entertainment lounge built specifically for Cirque du Soleil. Designed by MSC Cruises, in partnership with architect Marco De Jorio, the purpose-built Carousel Lounge was crafted to meet the specific needs of Cirque du Soleil while at sea. Equipped with cutting-edge technology and special rigging, the Carousel Lounge will enable Cirque du Soleil performers to deliver sublime performances exclusively for MSC Cruises guests to enjoy. The lounge is an intimate space, hosting up to 413 guests for each performance—one of the smallest venues for Cirque du Soleil—providing for an up-close and special interaction between the guests and performers.

The name carousel was chosen to convey the combined spirit of MSC Cruises' unforgettable experiences and Cirque du Soleil's unique performances, evoking joyful and magical emotions. A carousel is associated with childhood memories of festive outdoor fairs. There is something inherently captivating about a carousel. Music, colors, lights, movement all combine in a unique, breath-taking experience.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Carnival Adds Variety of Fun Programming for This Summer’s Alaska Season

For this year’s Alaska season, Carnival Cruise Line has introduced a number of fun new activities and programming to make voyages to the Last Frontier even more special and memorable. Carnival’s 2017 Alaska season kicked off this week and runs through September with 7-day voyages departing from Seattle aboard Carnival Legend.

The new activities include a Frontier Festival deck party with parlor games, ice carving demonstrations and an Alaska-themed photo booth, along with trivia games, the Carnival Gold Bar tower game, and Gold Rush bingo where the winners pan for gold in search of the $750 grand prize. During Creative Cove arts classes, guests can create vibrant canvases featuring Alaska scenes like a whale tail in a moonlit ocean, an abstract of the famous Northern Lights and more. Many of the activities are hosted by crew members dressed as historical figures from the Gold Rush and Klondike eras.

Carnival Legend will operate 18 Alaska cruises round-trip from the Port of Seattle from May 9 to Aug. 29, 2017. Port calls on these voyages include the popular Alaskan destinations of Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria, B.C., and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord. There is also a 7-day voyage departing Seattle Sept. 5 and arriving in Vancouver Sept. 12 with stops at Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Ketchikan along the way.

Each of these destinations offers a rich history and culture, along with awe-inspiring natural wonders, including calving glaciers, magnificent fjords and native sea and animal life. A wide range of shore excursions—from helicopter flightseeing and rainforest canopy tours to hiking, canoeing and kayaking expeditions—are also available. Carnival Legend also features an on-board naturalist who educates guests on the region’s colorful history and points out animal and marine life from the ship’s bridge.

Carnival Legend is the ideal ship for Alaska, with 80 percent of staterooms featuring an ocean view or balcony along with stunning indoor and outdoor promenades—perfect for viewing the spectacular surroundings. For additional information regarding Carnival’s Alaska cruises, visit Carnival.com.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Emerald Waterways Completes Handover of a Trilogy of New Ships

April and May have been busy months for Emerald Waterways, during which the growing river cruise line has taken delivery of three innovative new Star-Ships—Destiny, Liberté, and Radiance—bringing its total fleet to seven. Each of these three new state-of-the-art ships has been built to follow the design specifications of its already successful fleet, and customized to sail a variety of Europe’s most-iconic rivers.

The 186-passenger Emerald Destiny was christened on May 9 in Vienna by Godmother Coleen Christie, a well-known Canadian broadcaster. Destiny is the river cruise line’s fifth ship to sail through the heart of Europe on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

Emerald Liberté was custom-built to sail France’s Rhône and Saône, as part of the new Sensations of Southern France itinerary, from Lyon to Avignon. The sleek Emerald Radiance, sailing round trip from Porto, Portugal, has a serenity pool on the Sun Deck that is perfect for making the most of the Portuguese sun, as it sails on the Secrets of the Douro cruise.

“We are thrilled to unveil the Emerald Liberté, Radiance and Destiny, as we continue to build on our fleet of innovative river ships,” said Lisa Norton, Vice President of Brand Management, Emerald Waterways North America. “When building our latest ships, it was important to listen to our guests, who have told us they love our relaxed, contemporary design.”

Since the launch of its first Star-Ships, Sky and Star, which were christened in Amsterdam three years ago by fashion icon, Twiggy, the line has enjoyed phenomenal growth within the European river cruise market.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ Family of Brands has grown over its 30-year history to include award-winning, all-inclusive escorted tours that take participants to many of the world’s most fascinating destinations; two award-winning river cruise lines—Scenic and Emerald Waterways; and, in 2018, the World’s First Discovery Yacht—Scenic Eclipse. Emerald Waterways' seven Star-Ships offer deluxe cruises in Europe, the Mekong, and Russia, while Scenic’s 15 Space-Ships offer the only truly all-inclusive, five-star river cruises in the same destinations as well as the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Additional information can be found by contacting your local travel agent; on Emerald Waterways’ website, EmeraldWaterways.com.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cunard Shares Behind the Scenes Video of Aft Lido Deck Being Lifted onto Queen Victoria

Following Cunard’s recent announcement of plans for a $40 million refurbishment of Queen Victoria, the luxury cruise line has revealed the behind the scenes video below of the stunning aft lido sun deck being lifted into place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy. The exquisite extended lounge space—only one of the many highlights among the new and refreshed on-board features—provides guests with additional deck space and unprecedented access to rays of light from sunrise to sunset.


Queen Victoria was taken out of service on May 5 and is scheduled for completion on June 4, 2017. The newly refurbished ship will then return to Southampton before embarking on its maiden four night voyage, via Amsterdam and Bruges, before arriving back at Southampton.

For more information about Queen Victoria, visit Cunard.com.

Video Courtesy of Cunard Line

Alaskan Dream Cruises Announces 2018 Season

The Alaska Native-owned, small-ship cruise line Alaskan Dream Cruises will celebrate its eighth cruise season in 2018 with the launch of the new “Alaska’s Frontier & Wilderness Quest” itinerary. Special pricing is available for those booking early or traveling solo. All 2018 sailings can be purchased at 2017 rates when booked before Aug. 1. In addition, multiple departures of the 7-night “Alaska’s Glacier Bay & Island Adventure” itinerary on Chichagof Dream, the cruise line’s newest vessel, will be discounted for solo travelers. The single supplement fee will be waived for any A or AA category cabins on the May 13, 20 and 27, and Sept. 2 and 9 departures.

The 2018 season runs from May 11 through mid-September with 58 sailings on six itineraries. Many of those cruises, including the new 10-night “Alaska’s Frontier & Wilderness Quest,” will sail aboard the 74-passenger Chichagof Dream, which sailed its inaugural Alaskan Dream Cruises voyage in 2016.

The “Alaska’s Frontier & Wilderness Quest” itinerary explores in depth the rich and varied regions of Alaska’s Inside Passage, including two full days in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and a day in Skagway. Guests travel from Sitka to Juneau, spending time in more remote areas and small communities, such as Kake, Wrangell, and Petersburg, where cultural excursions and walking tours are planned. A full day in Tracy Arm Fjord provides exceptional glacier and wildlife viewing. An evening at the cruise line’s private Orca Point Lodge allows guests to feast on fresh king crab legs and salmon before relaxing by a bonfire on the beach. The small-ship expedition also includes kayaking, hiking and shallow-water exploration by small, motorized boats (DIBs) in wilderness areas. The itinerary is offered on June 3 and 13, 2018.

“Every single day of this itinerary delivers the true Alaska moments that we emphasize,” said Alaskan Dream Cruises Vice President of Sales Michelle Glass. “Our guests will find themselves close enough to hear glaciers calving, interact with locals, learn about Alaska Native culture and marvel at the whales, bears, bald eagles and other wildlife.”

The small-ship cruise line will also bring back its 7-night “Alaska’s Islands, Whales & Glaciers,” “Alaska’s Glacier Bay & Island Adventure” and “True Alaskan Family” cruises; the eight-night “Alaska’s Inside Passage Sojourn” itinerary and the 10-night “Alaska’s Southeast Explorer” sailing.

Alaskan Dream Cruises has made cultural exploration a major focal point of every itinerary. Each cruise is staffed with a Cultural Heritage Guide, often an Alaska Native, who teaches guests about Alaska Native culture, including historical and modern-day customs. Shore excursions often include cultural dance performances, historical walking tours, totem carving demonstrations and time with local residents in Alaska Native villages, like Kake, Kasaan and Metlakatla. Wildlife viewing and wilderness exploration are also prioritized, with flexible itineraries allowing ship captains to alter plans when extraordinary viewing opportunities arise.

Alaskan Dream Cruises’ five-ship fleet also includes the Alaskan Dream, Admiralty Dream, Baranof Dream, and Misty Fjord. These ships hold between 10 and 58 passengers. The full 2018 cruise schedule and rates can be found online at AlaskanDreamCruises.com.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Regent Guests Enjoy Free, Unlimited Alaska Shore Excursions & $500 Shipboard Credit

The time is now for travelers to couple the most-inclusive luxury Alaska cruise with the best offer in the market to help cross off one of the most coveted, bucket-list destinations with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The cruise line’s Seven Seas Mariner will sail Alaskan waters from late May through August 2017 and provide guests an expansive catalog of free and unlimited shore excursions for the best value to immerse themselves in the Last Frontier. Additionally, travelers can take advantage of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ limited-time Book Now Bonus offer to receive US$500 shipboard credit per new suite booking to apply toward select, once-in-a-lifetime Alaska adventures while sailing aboard Seven Seas Mariner.

“Shore excursions are particularly important in order to experience the most of Alaska, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers up to 43 free, unlimited shore excursions on our seven-night Alaska voyages,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO of the cruise line. “And with our limited-time Book Now Bonus offer, travelers receive a generous shipboard credit to apply toward some incredibly breathtaking, supplementary experiences while sailing aboard Seven Seas Mariner. Throughout, guests will enjoy impeccable personalized service, a variety of fine dining, and exhilarating enrichment for a luxury Alaska adventure like no other.”

For example, the July 5, 2017 voyage will cruise up to Hubbard Glacier’s more than 325 ft.-high face so guests can potentially witness iceberg calvings. Guests can also try their hand at panning for gold when calling on Skagway; hike and marvel at Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate rainforest, at Sitka; cruise George Inlet and savor a fresh-from-the-sea Dungeness crab feast at Ketchikan; and spot humpback whales and marine wildlife aboard a catamaran at Juneau. These are just a small sample of the enriching, immersive free shore excursions that Regent Seven Seas Cruises guests can enjoy.

Guests can apply their $500 shipboard credit toward Regent Choice options, a curated collection of extra-special, immersive experiences. Due to their uniqueness, individual or small-group basis, and extraordinary nature, Regent Choice experiences carry an additional charge. With the shipboard credit, guests can cement a Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Alaska adventure among their most unforgettable lifetime moments.

On the same July 5, 2017 voyage aboard Seven Seas Mariner, guests can utilize their shipboard credits on a three-hour, six-guest salmon sport-fishing excursion from Sitka, where they have additional option to process and ship their catch home. From Skagway, guests can choose a relaxing, rafting ride through the Valley of the Eagles to catch sight of raptors swooping for fish among towering mountains, hanging glaciers and lush forestry. Of course, no visit to Alaska is complete without seeing indigenous bears, and a short floatplane ride to Prince of Wales Island will take guests to view the largest population of black bears in their ideal habitat. But, no greater Alaska bragging right exists than mushing a dogsled atop Mendenhall Glacier like an Iditarod racer via a short helicopter ride from Juneau.

The Book Now Bonus offer is valid for bookings made from April 1 through May 31, 2017 on all 2017 Alaska voyages. U.S. and Canadian travel agents also will receive up to a US$200 gift card for each new booking they make for their clients in these regions. Guests must register the code “Book Now” at the time of reservation in order to receive the offer. The Book Now Bonus offer is also combinable with the doubled Ambassador Offer for 25th Anniversary voyages, public National Account promotions, and Seven Seas Society savings of up to $700 per suite for returning guests.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world's most inclusive luxury cruise line 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, which entered service on July 20, 2016, and has since been recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built.

A leader in luxury cruising, the line's fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, gratuities, ground transfers, and a pre-cruise hotel package for guests staying in concierge-level suites and higher. Beginning in summer 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises also will include Business Class air for all intercontinental flights. For more information about the most-inclusive Alaska travel experience, visit RSSC.com/Alaska.

Image Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises