Thursday, July 20, 2017

Princess Cruises Celebrates Newly Redesigned Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers

Hakeem Oluseyi of Science Channel and Tory Belleci of Discovery Channel's MythBusters were onboard the Grand Princess in San Francisco to celebrate Princess Cruises' new Camp Discovery youth and teen centers, conducting the official ribbon cutting pictured here.

At the start of the day, invited kids and their parents enjoyed special opportunities to participate in activities that highlighted Discovery at Sea programs on board. Oluseyi treated kids on board to a guided "stargazing," while Belleci spoke about Shark Myths. Kids then had the opportunity to play in the redesigned Camp Discovery.

Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes in Camp Discovery. Kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle, including:
• The Treehouse, ages 3-7 (formerly Pelicans): A bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed center including captivating creatures and hands-on activities for kids to focus on play time, creativity and the world around them.
• The Lodge, ages 8-12 (formerly Shockwaves): Inspired by the great outdoors, this cozy center is filled with sports activities and fun places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge.
• The Beach House, for ages 13-17 (formerly Remix) offers a contemporary surf-themed lounge, featuring a cool place for teens to hang out and socialize.
New youth and teen center programming includes MythBusters science activities with hands-on challenges. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focusing on the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe will immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature and customs of these regions. In addition, fun for the whole family can be enjoyed through a family fair in the Piazza featuring carnival-like booths and activities, family trivia, Stargazing with Discovery at Sea, family game night and new soon-to-be announced family-themed programs.

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

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

New Itineraries Added To Crystal Mahler's 2018 Spring Season

Crystal River Cruises has unveiled four new 2018 itineraries for its second "Rhine Class" vessel, Crystal Mahler. In April and May next year, the brand new river ship will sail three seven-day "Danube Serenade" routes between Budapest and Vienna, and one 11-day "Reflections on the Danube" sailing. The new voyages are a shorter complement to Crystal Mahler's 16-day "Grand Europe" itineraries, which sail between Amsterdam and Budapest for most of the year, cruising the Rhine and Main Rivers.

"We're delighted to offer these new sailings aboard Crystal Mahler, allowing travelers to explore the beautiful locales along the Danube in the sleek luxury of our new 'Rhine Class' vessels, with the added convenience of shorter itineraries for those with limited time away," says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez.

The newly added itineraries depart April 10, 17, 24 and May 1 and visit European hamlets including Krems, Spitz, Linz and Melk, Austria and Bratislava, Slovakia. Three of the voyages feature dedicated theme programming, including special guest Nancy Brinker—former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation—aboard the April 10 sailing discussing Art & Diplomacy, the annual "President's Cruise" with Edie Rodriguez on the April 24 sailing, and an in-depth focus on Jewish Heritage excursions aboard the May 1 sailing.

The added itineraries further enhance the all-inclusive Crystal River Cruises experience. The line's first ship, the 154-guest Crystal Mozart, currently sails itineraries along the Danube, while the "Rhine Class" new-builds will predominantly sail the Rhine and Main Rivers. Crystal Mahler will embark on her maiden voyage in September from Amsterdam, joining Crystal Bach on the mighty European waterways. Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will join the luxurious fleet in 2018.

In each destination aboard every Crystal River Cruises itinerary, travelers can choose from a selection of complimentary Crystal Adventures ashore, or opt for further exploration with additional curated excursions.

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

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line To Be Featured on Upcoming Episode of CNBC's "The Profit"

Norwegian Cruise Line will set sail for primetime this summer, as the popular cruise brand will be featured in a one-hour episode of CNBC’s hit reality series “The Profit”. The show follows serial entrepreneur and investor Marcus Lemonis, who puts his own money on the line to help save and grow struggling small businesses across the country. Filmed on board Miami-based Norwegian Escape, the episode will highlight small business Zoe’s Chocolates, as they present their product to Norwegian executives in the hopes of securing a deal.

The episode featuring Norwegian Cruise Line will be airing on Tuesday, July 25th at 10PM ET/PT on CNBC.

In each one-hour episode of “The Profit,” Lemonis makes an offer that’s impossible to refuse; his cash for a piece of the business and a percentage of the profits. Once inside these companies, Lemonis does almost everything he can to save the business and make himself a profit; even if it means firing the president, promoting the secretary, or doing the work himself. Norwegian Cruise Line is featured on the show as one of today’s top cruise brands, highlighting the line’s unique brand proposition of freedom and flexibility and premium offerings, which are a strong match for the high quality chocolates offered by Zoe’s. Viewers will get an inside look at what cruise executives look for in partners and why aligning with like-minded brands builds strong business relationships that bring value to guests.

Norwegian Escape, currently sailing the Eastern and Western Caribbean from her homeport in Miami, features 27 dining options, 21 bars and lounges, and entertainment options to thrill cruisers of all ages with the largest Ropes Course at sea, the largest Aqua Park at sea, and dedicated adults-only and kids-only spaces. Norwegian Escape’s dining experiences include outposts of several popular land-based outlets, including the floating Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront featuring live nightly performances where guests can enjoy the sounds of the tropics. Norwegian Escape features Miami’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Seabourn Collection Available For A Limited Time At Molton Brown Stores

Luxury cruise line Seabourn has been working with Molton Brown, London's bath, body & beauty connoisseurs, for more than 15 years. Last year, Molton Brown created two bespoke fragrances for Seabourn—The Seabourn Collection—which, up until now, has only been available on board Seabourn's luxurious ships. This summer, the entire collection will be available to buy for a limited time in Molton Brown stores in the UK, globally, and online at MoltonBrown.com from July 17th until August 29th. The new collection is normally available exclusively as complimentary bath amenities in guest suites on board Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, Seabourn Quest, and Seabourn Encore.

Seabourn President Richard Meadows said, "We worked very closely with the Molton Brown team to develop these unique fragrances, resulting in completely bespoke blends and packaging designs that reflect Seabourn's luxurious guest experience. The scents should evoke strong memories of wonderful experiences for any guest who has sailed with us since these scents first rolled out last year."

The Inspiring Basil & Vetiver Hair Care Collection and the Immersive Samphire & Eucalyptus Bath & Body Collection are inspired by Seabourn's spirit of discovery and Molton Brown's exploratory nature of sourcing the world's finest ingredients. When designing the fragrances, Molton Brown delved deep into the ports and destinations visited by Seabourn ships. The result is two exclusive Seabourn Signature Scents, suitable for both men and women, each blended from four ethically sourced ingredients from the coastlines that Seabourn's small ships explore:
Immersive Samphire & Eucalyptus: The uplifting aromas of fresh samphire from the rocky, salt-sprayed Atlantic coast of France and enlivening eucalyptus from China are balanced with cardamom, cedarwood, violet and mint for a captivating finish in the body lotion and bath & shower gel. The olfactory profile is refreshing, clean and aromatic with green nuances.
o Perfumer Philippe Bousseton, who developed the blend, describes the Seabourn Signature Scent as, "a revitalising and very fresh blend ideal for bathing, reminiscent of the sea and, ultimately, of the Seabourn experience."
Inspiring Basil & Vetiver: Mirroring the relaxing, sanctuary-like ambience of The Spa at Seabourn, this scent blends Vietnamese basil oil and aromatic vetiver with cardamom, bergamot, cedarwood and petitgrain for a shampoo and conditioner. It should be noted that Vetiver is used in folk magic for its purported ability to provide safety and increase financial resources. The olfactory profile displays aromatic verdancy, fragrant rootiness, subtle and refreshing citrusiness, with a wonderful hint of woodiness.
o Perfumer Heidrun Harder crafted the combination and describes the scent as, "very sophisticated, rounded and clean thanks to aromatic notes of basil and vetiver, perfect for hair care."
Celebrated British coast-based illustrator Angela McKay has hand drawn the fragrance's botanical ingredients on the bottles, adding a tailored, elegant touch.

For more details about the Seabourn fleet, visit Seabourn.com.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn

Pleasing Palates Around The World: Crafting Royal Caribbean's Main Dining Room Menu

With ships sailing around the world, Royal Caribbean welcomes guests from nearly every country. When it comes to dining, while their appetites and tastes differ, their expectations remain the same—fresh, delicious, and authentic cuisine. Traveling chefs from across the fleet collaborate to perfect new menu items, but guest feedback ultimately determines which dishes make the cut. Every aspect of the ships’ main dining rooms, from the menu to the atmosphere to the service, sets the table for an unforgettable experience. This is how they determine what’s for dinner...



Monday, July 17, 2017

Disney Cruise Line Announces Planned Seventh Ship to Nearly Double Size of the Fleet

Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, has announced plans to add a seventh ship to Disney Cruise Line's fleet, giving families even more opportunities to create magical memories at sea and visit spectacular destinations around the globe. Last year, the line announced plans to build two new ships at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany with scheduled completion dates of 2021 and 2023. The seventh ship will be built at the same shipyard and is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

"We decided two ships wouldn't be enough to hold all of the exciting new experiences we have been dreaming up to take family cruise vacations to a whole new level with immersive Disney storytelling, world-class family entertainment, and imaginative innovations that are fantastically fun and uniquely Disney," Chapek said. "By the time all three new ships are sailing, we'll have nearly doubled the size of our existing fleet."

All ship names, design plans, and itineraries are still in development, with each of the ships expected to have their own unique experiences. The three new ships will be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas and be the same size—approximately 135,000 gross tons with about 1,250 guest staterooms planned—which is slightly larger than the newest Disney Cruise Line ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Since first setting sail in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has provided a quintessential family cruise vacation experience that combines the magic of Disney with the wonder of exploring different parts of the world. Guests step aboard majestic and beautiful ocean liners to enjoy legendary Disney entertainment, exquisite dining, spacious and well-appointed staterooms, and magnificent public spaces.

With the launch of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy in 2011 and 2012, the company introduced several firsts for the industry, including a water coaster at sea (AquaDuck) and virtual portholes in interior staterooms (Magical Portholes) that provide real-time views of the sea as well as sightings of animated Disney characters. With a legacy of revolutionary design, Disney Cruise Line's new ships will usher in the next generation of innovative cruise experiences designed especially for families that will transform the art-of-cruising and take guests on adventures in a way never dreamed of before.

About Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line was established in 1998 and continues to provide vacation experiences where families can reconnect, adults can recharge, and kids can immerse themselves in worlds of fantasy only Disney can create. To learn more about Disney Cruise Line, visit DisneyCruise.com.

Image © Disney Cruise Line

Seven Seas Mariner to sail Regent's 2020 World Cruise

Spanning approximately 33,870 nautical miles across 11 seas in three oceans, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new 2020 world cruise will deliver infinite, unforgettable opportunities for luxury travelers seeking to experience the world for the first time—or again. The all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner will host Regent’s new 2020 Navigate the World cruise, a captivating 131-night itinerary, departing January 24, 2020, roundtrip from San Francisco, to idyllic islands of the South Pacific and ancient cultures of subcontinental India and around the Arabian Peninsula, and then plying the halcyon Mediterranean in springtime and cruising the Caribbean and Central America in early summer.

Seven Seas Mariner’s guests will touch on 30 countries on six continents as they circumnavigate the globe, visiting 36 UNESCO World Heritage sites among a total of 66 ports, 13 in which are overnight stays. The Most Inclusive Luxury Experience, Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers up to 330 free, unlimited shore excursions for guests to fully explore each exciting port, and kick off their grand adventure at the exclusive, pre-cruise Gala Dinner Event in San Francisco, as well as revel in three additional authentic shoreside events as they sail the world.

“Regent Seven Seas Cruises is renowned for our world cruises and sailing aboard Seven Seas Mariner in 2020 will be simply spectacular,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “The beautiful Seven Seas Navigator, our most intimate ship, is scheduled to sail Regent’s 2018 and 2019 world cruises. The all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner takes over in 2020 and offers another unforgettable opportunity to travel the world, ensconced in Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ trademark of The Most Inclusive Luxury Experience. Throughout, guests will enjoy highly personalized service from every member of our exceptional staff and crew.”

To provide convenience for travelers on the U.S. East Coast, Regent Seven Seas Cruises also offers the option to embark the 2020 World Cruise, departing January 6, 2020, roundtrip from Miami. World cruise guests sailing roundtrip from Miami also will enjoy a complimentary one-night, pre-cruise luxury hotel stay on January 5, 2020 in addition to all the world cruise privileges of guests embarking in San Francisco. Both roundtrip San Francisco and Miami 131-night World Cruises aboard Seven Seas Mariner will be open for bookings on July 20, 2017.
Navigate the

World with Exclusive Bespoke Amenities
Guests begin their world cruise at the 1909 landmark Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco with an exquisite dinner that features globally inspired Californian cuisine and lively entertainment as they mingle with fellow world cruise guests. Together, all world cruise guests also will join in exclusive shoreside events in New Zealand, Singapore and Tuscany. These events include authentic cultural events, such as a Lord of the Rings-themed dinner event in the Auckland War Museum; or a private evening in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay for an extravagant dinner and lively cultural show in Flower Field Hall. Finally, guests will take in an unforgettable private April afternoon and evening in Il Borro Villa and Village, a meticulously preserved 13th century Tuscan estate, where they can tour the estate’s superb wine cellar and view its classic fine art collection before enjoying a sumptuous local, farm-to-table dinner over a Renaissance-themed performance in the Villa’s amphitheater.

In addition to the exclusive world-cruise shoreside events, Navigate the World 2020 guests also enjoy additional amenities, including free roundtrip first-class air, unlimited laundry (including dry cleaning and pressing), door-to-door luggage service, comprehensive Visa package, and onboard medical service. These exclusive world cruise amenities are in addition to Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Most Inclusive Luxury Experience, which comprises highly personalized service from every member of the exceptional staff and crew, all-suite accommodations, and free unlimited shore excursions, WiFi, unlimited beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, and open bars and lounges plus daily in-suite minibar replenishment, specialty restaurants, prepaid gratuities, and ground transfers between airport and ship.

Overland Programs for a Deeper Experience
Along the way, 2020 World Cruises guests also can choose among optional Overland Programs to explore colorful cultures, dramatic landscapes and exquisite landmarks found farther inland. Overland Program guests disembark the ship for up to three nights in small, private groups with knowledgeable guides on fascinating experiences, such as a three-night Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia program from Bali, Indonesia; a three-night Taj Mahal: The Eternal Experience program from Cochin, India; or a one-night Egypt’s Renowned Relics: Luxor and the Pyramids. There is a supplemental charge for Overland Programs, details for which will become available after the general opening for bookings.

For its part, Seven Seas Mariner will re-emerge in April 2018 from drydock after an extensive bow-to-stern refurbishment and conclude Regent Seven Seas Cruises current $125 million fleetwide refurbishment program. The ship, with a capacity for 700 guests, will be elevated to the level of elegance found throughout the Regent fleet of ships, all reflecting the standard set by Seven Seas Explorer, recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built since launched on July 13,

A leader in luxury cruising and celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world's most inclusive luxury experience with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 425 destinations around the world. For more information, visit RSSC.com.

Image Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Friday, July 14, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces 2017/18 Meet the Winemaker Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line Has revealed the lineup for the brand’s 2017/18 Meet The Winemaker Cruises, a selection of cruises aboard Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Dawn during which guests will have the opportunity to wine and dine with leaders and legends of the winemaking industry. The full series was revealed during the first Winemaker Dinner cruise of the season, held this week on Norwegian Escape and featuring Antonio Hidalgo, President of Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana. Hidalgo represents the 8th generation of the sherry winery, family owned and operated since 1792. Norwegian’s Winemaker Dinner series is hosted at the line’s popular wine venue The Cellars, a Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, and is in celebration of Norwegian’s successful ongoing partnership with the family and other valued beverage partners, including Moët Hennessy.

“Given the incredible reception of Michael Mondavi’s past visits aboard our ships, we are excited to expand upon this concept to provide our guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with renowned experts within the winemaking industry,” said Mark Kansley, senior vice president of Hotel Operations for Norwegian Cruise Line. “As we strive to continually enhance our beverage program and onboard offerings, these partnerships represent our ongoing goal to serve as innovators in the cruising industry.”

In 2015, the Michael Mondavi Family partnered with Norwegian to introduce the line’s first branded wine bar aboard Norwegian Escape—The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar—boasting a curated wine list and service provided by a Court of Master Sommeliers certified Sommelier. The venue invites guests to participate in a variety of interactive, fun and educational wine activities including seminars, tastings, pairings and workshops. This partnership was further expanded upon when The Cellars opened aboard Norwegian Dawn in 2016 after ship-wide enhancements. Mondavi is recognized as one of the global emissaries of California wine and is widely credited with helping to establish and build the Napa Valley wine industry as we know it. The newly-announced series of sailings evolves from the popular and well-received visits Mondavi has made to Norwegian Escape in celebration of the partnership.

Guests aboard these select sailings will have several opportunities to engage with the wine makers and experts, enhancing their onboard experience with a variety of enriching seminars and activities. On the second day of each cruise, guests will have the chance to dive into the seasoned minds of the visiting experts with an open-forum question and answer session, held in the Atrium of the ship. Following the open forum, guests will have the chance to purchase featured wines selected by the wine makers and varietals from the ship’s wine list, meet the expert and have him sign the bottle to take home as a memento. The open forum and personal meet and greet are complimentary and open to all guests.

For a more intimate experience, guests can indulge in an interactive, hands-on wine tasting and educational seminar hosted by the vintner in The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. The vintner will take the guests on a tour of the winemaking world and the elements that complement it, providing tailored insight into their specific area of expertise. The tastings will feature wines hand-picked by the expert and brought on board for the seminar. Pricing for the tastings will be $19.95 per person.

Guests seeking an unforgettable gourmet experience can attend an exclusive wine dinner, hosted by the vintner or industry expert. They will be treated to a truly special event, consisting of five decadent courses paired with wine specifically chosen for each course. The cost of the dinner with wine pairings is $59.95 per person. Seating is limited for both the tasting seminars and wine pairing dinner and reservations will only be available on board the ship. The full lineup of the 2017/18 Meet The Winemaker series includes:
• September 22, 2017 - Norwegian Dawn: Michael Mondavi, founder of the Michael Mondavi Family Estate, co-founder of Folio Fine Wine Partners and co-founder of The Cellars - A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. Mondavi represents the third generation representative of the prestigious family of wineries in Napa Valley.
• November 4, 2017 - Norwegian Escape: Bill Whiting, Director of Wine Education at Banfi Vintners. As the grandson of John F. Mariani Sr., founder of Banfi Vintners, Whiting carries on the tradition of the award-winning Castello Banfi estate, founded in 1919 in the Brunello region of Tuscany.
• December 2, 2017 - Norwegian Escape: Aarón Sánchez. Famed TV Chef and James Beard award winner, Aarón Sánchez is the official ambassador and spokesperson for Terrazas de los Andes wines and is considered one of the world’s leading contemporary Latin chefs.
• February 17, 2018 - Norwegian Escape: Gerard Bertrand, renowned vintner of Languedoc-Roussillon. Bertrand, a legendary expert in the winemaking industry, boasts 20 years of experience and a breadth of awards and accolades.
• March 2018, Norwegian Escape: Salvatore Ferragamo, heir of famed Italian fashion house and owner at Il Borro Winery in Tuscany, Italy. Salvatore, whose father Ferruccio, bought the beautiful Il Borro Esatate in 1993, has replanted the family's vineyard and has been releasing delicious Tuscan wines since 1999.
Norwegian Dawn sails to Bermuda from June through October and to Canada & New England in September and October from her seasonal homeport in Boston. The ship boasts 14 dining options including Los Lobos Cantina, an upscale Mexican restaurant and brand-new concept for the Norwegian fleet; 11 bars and lounges; activities for every member of the family, whether they are young or young at heart; fabulous entertainment including Elements, an enchanting performance showcasing the four elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, and The Second City, Chicago’s legendary comedy theater; and a wide variety of accommodations including the 6,694 sq. ft. Garden Villas, the largest suites at sea.

Norwegian Escape, currently sailing the Eastern and Western Caribbean from her homeport in Miami, features 27 dining options, 21 bars and lounges, and entertainment options to thrill cruisers of all ages with the largest Ropes Course at sea, the largest Aqua Park at sea, and dedicated adults-only and kids-only spaces including the brand’s first nursery offering supervised care for young cruisers ages six months to two years old. The ship offers dazzling entertainment and a variety of flexible accommodations including Norwegian’s Studio staterooms designed and priced for solo travelers, family staterooms that accommodate up to four guests, and expansive suites in The Haven™, Norwegian’s ship-within-a-ship luxury suite complex featuring amenities including private butler and concierge service, exclusive restaurant and private pool, courtyard and sundeck. In April 2018, Norwegian Escape will reposition for the first time since she was christened in 2015, sailing from New York City to Bermuda on seven-day cruises to every Sunday, offering New York-area guests a new ship to enjoy.

For additional information, visit NCL.com.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Steel Cutting Ceremony Held for New 133,500-ton Vista-Class Ship Set to Debut in 2019

The steel cutting ceremony for Carnival Cruise Line’s third 133,500-ton Vista-class ship set to debut in 2019 was held earlier this week at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy. Additional information on the as-yet-unnamed ship, including homeport, design, and itinerary details, will be announced in the coming months.

The new 3,934-passenger ship will be a sister to the hugely popular Carnival Vista, the namesake vessel in the series which debuted in May 2016. A second Vista-class ship, Carnival Horizon, is currently under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard and scheduled to enter service in Europe April 2, 2018. The three Vista-class ships are the largest ever constructed for Carnival Cruise Line.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Honduran Shores Attract New Cruise Lines

Honduras has reported a sharp increase in the number of cruise passengers and cruise ships in 2016 compared with the previous year, reflecting a growing interest in the Central American country as a tourist destination. New vessels calling at Honduran ports this season included Azamara Cruises’ Azamara Quest, with a visitor capacity of 690 people, Swan Hellenic Cruises’ Minerva welcoming 350 tourists per ship, and Tui Cruises’ Mein Schiff 4, with a total capacity of more than 2500 passengers.

With the recent addition of these three lines, 18 different cruise ship companies now stop in Honduran ports of call, including: Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland American Line, Thomson Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Tui Cruises, MSC Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, P&O Cruises, Silversea, Noble Caledonia, Swan Hellenic Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and Sea Cloud Cruises.

Per official port statistics, 1,052,738 cruise passengers docked in Honduras in 2016, a 14.7 percent increase over the previous year’s figure of 917,938. Approximately 85 percent of these passengers disembarked on Honduran shores to enjoy some of the country’s natural beauty. Per the Honduran Institute of Tourism (IHT) a 3 percent increase in cruises is expected during 2017. In total, 341 cruise ships called at Honduran ports during 2016, 6.6 percent more than the 320 ships that docked in the country in 2015. The largest of these cruise ships carried 6,882 passengers. Per-passenger average cruise spend reached US$80 in 2016.

Cruise passengers wishing to visit Honduras can now choose departure locations from Miami, Tampa, Port Everglades (near Fort Lauderdale), New Orleans and Galveston (near Houston).

ROATÁN
Most cruise passengers visiting Honduras disembark on the Caribbean island of Roatán, some 30 miles north of the mainland. In 2016, Roatán welcomed 1,037,647 cruise passengers, approximately 80 percent of them Americans who were surprised to learn that Roatán is English-dominant, owing to its British colonial legacy.

Roatán is known internationally for its white sand beaches, pristine bays and proximity to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef in the world. West Bay Beach in Roatán received the 2017 Traveler's Choice Trip Advisor award for the best beach in Central America and one of the 25 best beaches in the world. Frommer’s recently highlighted Roatán in its Undiscovered Caribbean Islands: Insiders’ Guide; the HGTV show House Hunters International has featured Roatán in a handful of recent episodes, and Islands Magazine listed Roatán as one of the Best Islands to Retire. Visitors flock to Roatán to snorkel, scuba dive and swim among exotic marine creatures such as whale sharks, mantas, wild dolphins, sea turtles and schools of fish, while they can also enjoy water activities such as kayaking, water skiing, sailing and wakeboarding.

Since the remodeling of Roatán’s main port (Coxen Hole) in 2008, and building Port Mahogany Bay (Dixon Cove) in 2010, more cruise lines servicing the Western Caribbean have incorporated Honduras into their itineraries. The Port of Roatán can accommodate one ship at a time and has three spaces in the anchorage area, while Port Mahogany Bay can serve up to two ships at a time.

While vacationing on this paradisiacal island, visitors interested in native flora and fauna can explore the Carambola Botanical Gardens at Sandy Bay, the Gumbalimba Conservation Park or the quiet islands near Maya Key and Little French Key.

The cruise lines’ ships listed below are just some of the 18 lines that service Roatán:
• The 3,080-passenger Crown Princess, one of Princess Cruises’ largest ships
• Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Breeze, Conquest , Dream, Fantasy, Freedom, Glory, Magic, Miracle, Paradise, Sunshine, Splendor, and Vista
• Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway, Dawn, Epic, Escape, Gem, Getaway, Jade, and Pearl
• Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Vision of the Seas from the Port of New Orleans, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, Serenade of the Seas from Port Everglades and Allure of the Seas from Miami and others, for a total of 18 itineraries
• Regent Seven Sea Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Explorer, and Seven Seas Voyager
• Costa Cruises’ Costa Deliziosa, departing from Port Everglades
TRUJILLO
In 2014, Trujillo, situated on Honduras’ northern (Caribbean) coast, became the first continental port in the country to receive cruise passengers. The development of the port was made possible by a US$30 million investment by Canadian concessionaire Banana Coast to dredge the port and spearhead local beautification projects.

In 2016, five ships visited the port, including RCCL Azamara Quest followed by P&O Cruises' Adonia, Holland American Line's MS Veendam, Oceania Cruises' Riviera and Thomson Cruises’ Thomson Dream.

Shore excursions include tobogganing, tram rides through Trujillo’s colonial center and nearby nature reserves, kayaking in the Guaimoreto Lagoon and ATV tours. Passengers can also explore the culture of the Garífunas, descendants of African slaves who arrived in the region between the 17th and 18th centuries.

PUERTO CORTÉS
Puerto Cortés, located in a natural bay on Honduras’ Caribbean coast north of San Pedro Sula, is not only the largest seaport in Central America and the 36th largest in the world in terms of traffic volume, but also an important cruise port, welcoming local cruise ships such as El Europa 2 and El Viajero de los Mares, collectively carrying 1,634 cruise passengers, in 2016. As part of their tour of Puerto Cortés, many cruise passengers head to San Fernando Fortress, one of the few surviving colonial fortresses in the Americas, located in the nearby city of Omoa.

THE PACIFIC COAST
Cruise passengers looking for new ports to explore will be delighted to know that the Pacific coast of Honduras will soon be able to welcome them. In 2018, Honduras hopes to open the Amapala cruise port on Isla del Tigre (Tiger Island), just off its Pacific Coast. Amapala’s naturally deep channel will easily allow ships to dock, without requiring further dredging.

Cruises are an excellent first introduction to Honduras, and many day visitors are returning as tourists to explore the country’s other attractions such as the ancient Mayan city of Copán and Pico Bonito/PANACAM National Parks. From 2015 to 2016, Honduras’ international tourism numbers increased 4 percent and international tourism revenues grew 6.8 percent. Learn more Honduras’ diverse tourism offerings by visiting: Honduras.travel/en/.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DNCE To Star In Total Eclipse Concert On Royal Caribbean's Oasis Of The Seas

The stars have aligned with the return of multi-platinum selling band DNCE aboard Royal Caribbean International for a live musical performance to celebrate the Great American Eclipse, a phenomenon 99 years in the making. On Aug. 21, DNCE will headline Royal Caribbean's bucket-list-worthy solar eclipse viewing party with a surprise guest for an out-of-this-world performance aboard the exclusive 7-night Total Eclipse Cruise on board Oasis of the Seas, one of the world's largest and most adventure-packed cruise ships.

Adventure-seekers will have the vantage point of the century when Oasis of the Seas positions itself along the eclipse's path of totality where the moon completely masks the sun for a few minutes of total darkness. Building up to the unprecedented moment at sea, DNCE frontman Joe Jonas and all-star bandmates, including bassist and keyboardist Cole Whittle, guitarist JinJoo and drummer Jack Lawless, will perform the band's heart-pumping hits like "Kissing Strangers," "Body Moves" and, of course, "Cake by the Ocean." Guests booked on the Total Eclipse Cruise can visit Royal Caribbean's website and reserve their complimentary seats for the concert by logging on to their reservation.

"When we were invited to headline this once-in-a-lifetime event, we didn't think twice. What could be more out of this world than witnessing a full solar eclipse at sea?" said Joe Jonas. "We're stoked about coming back on board with Royal Caribbean to put on a lights-out performance with a very special guest. It's beyond exciting to be able to celebrate this crazy moment in history out in the middle of the ocean."

The viewing party will last far into the night, long after the moon eclipses the sun, creating social media-worthy moments for what is predicted to be one of the most trending topics of 2017. In addition to the viewing party, guests on Oasis of the Seas will be treated to other eclipse-themed activities, including dance parties, trivia, interactive science fun for kids and their families, and tasty cocktails and dishes.

Travelers sailing on board Oasis of the Seas will also enjoy the ship's bold and unexpected lineup of experiences and amenities. From two FlowRider surf simulators and a zip line nine decks high—speeding riders 82 feet across an open-air atrium—to unparalleled entertainment, including Broadway-style shows and high-diving, acrobatic performances in the iconic AquaTheater; and world-class dining at 150 Central Park by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, there is an adventure for travelers of all ages aboard Oasis.

The 7-night Total Eclipse Cruise on board Oasis of the Seas will set sail on Aug. 20, 2017 from Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida, and visit Caribbean destinations in the Eastern Caribbean, including Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Nassau, The Bahamas. Adventurers can book now to witness this historic event at sea by visiting RoyalCaribbean.com/TotalEclipse.

Royal Caribbean's seven other ships sailing to the Caribbean during the total solar eclipse will provide guests with extraordinary partial views of the phenomenon and special celebrations featuring the cruise line's onboard entertainment offerings. The seven ships are Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Empress of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and Majesty of the Seas.

Image Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

The Third Annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage & Creativity Awarded to The Right Honorable Paul Martin

Cunard, along with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, will award the third annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity to former Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honorable Paul Martin, P.C., C.C. The distinguished official will receive the award on August 10, 2017, on board flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 while she is docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Samuel Cunard Prize was inaugurated in 2015 to celebrate the company’s 175th Anniversary in the ancestral home of its founder, Sir Samuel Cunard. The award acknowledges an extraordinary individual who demonstrates the qualities exemplified by Cunard throughout his life.

“Receiving the 2017 Samuel Cunard Prize is a great honour,” said Martin. “To do so in Halifax, the ancestral city of one of the Maritime Industry's greatest sons and on board the Queen Mary 2 makes it all the more special and I am very grateful to the three sponsoring organizations.”

Before entering politics, Paul Martin had a distinguished career as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CSL Group Inc., which he acquired in 1981. Under his leadership, Canada Steamship Lines was transformed from a mid-sized shipping company centered in the Great Lakes into the largest self-unloading shipping company in the world ̶ a global transportation powerhouse.

Paul Martin was the Minister of Finance in Canada from 1993 to 2002, the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006 and served as the Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard in Montréal, Québec from 1988 to 2008. Since leaving office, Martin co-chaired a United Nations panel, co-chaired a panel for the African Development Bank, was a founding co-chair of the Congo Basin Forest Fund and an administrator for the Global Ocean Commission. Martin was a co-founder and the inaugural chair of the Finance Ministers’ G-20 as well as being appointed a Companion to the Order of Canada.

At home in Canada, Paul Martin has founded the Martin Family Initiative (MFI) focusing on elementary and secondary education opportunities for Indigenous students, and the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship (CAPE) Fund, an investment fund developing business expertise and mentoring for Indigenous business.

This year, Cunard will salute the 150th Anniversary of Canada’s Confederation with a special sailaway by Queen Mary 2 as she departs Halifax on the evening of August 10 for New York.

Local dignitaries, port officials and key members of the community will be in attendance to celebrate Martin’s award and the journey he has taken to receive it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Silversea Launches Expedition Leadership Training Academy

Luxury expedition cruise specialist Silversea has established a new leadership training academy aimed at recruiting and developing high-quality talent to join its expedition teams. Featured on every expedition voyage, expedition teams include some of the world's most knowledgeable and experienced specialists in the areas of wildlife, biology, anthropology, geology, history, and more. They give lectures, run workshops, lead Zodiac® trips and guide nature walks, activities all designed to ensure an enriching experience for guests.

The multiphase training initiative begins with remote skills development through webinar sessions focusing on various aspects of working as a Silversea expedition guide including life at sea, and guest relations. Practical experience will deal with the fundamentals of boat handling, first aid, and safety at sea courses and certification. Participants will be invited to train for approximately 6 weeks aboard the newly refurbished Silver Cloud when the ship joins the expedition fleet in mid-November for her first season in Antarctica.

Aboard Silver Cloud, core competencies will be further developed through intensive hands-on training. Attention will also be given to cross training in various academic disciplines, environmental and ecological knowledge, sustainability protocols, and cultural sensitivity as well as further skills development which includes boat handling, practical field first aid, and “how to guide” training. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from experienced expedition staff as well as additional educators that will be traveling on board the vessel.

After successfully completing a tiered system of increasing responsibility, participants will have the opportunity to work the balance of the Antarctic season as members of the expedition team and, ultimately, on expedition voyages to other regions of the world.

"Our new leadership training academy underscores our commitment to exploring the world with the absolute best team of hand-picked experts to guide and enlighten our guests on expeditions," said Conrad Combrink, Silversea’s vice president of expedition planning & strategic development. "The goal is to attract candidates who are knowledgeable and passionate, and prepare them for an exciting career working aboard a ship that will take them to amazing places where they will guide our guests in understanding the local history, culture and wildlife."

Individuals interested in the program may contact Silversea's manager of expedition product support, Kit van Wagner, at kitw@silversea.com.

Image Courtesy Silversea

Princess Cruises’ New Majestic Princess Arrives in Shanghai to Begin Inaugural Season in China

Princess Cruises announced on Monday that Majestic Princess, the first new international luxury cruise liner tailor-made for China, had arrived in Shanghai to begin her maiden season.

Pictured here, Yao Ming and Ye Li served as Naming Ambassadors and officially named Majestic Princess during an inaugural ceremony. The ceremony was also attended by Wang Hong, the party secretary of Baoshan District and director general of Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute, Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc and Jan Swartz, group president, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia, Chinese travel agent partners, national and local media and key opinions leaders.

“The Majestic Princess inaugural celebration was remarkable for Princess Cruises as well as Carnival Corporation, as we continue to strategically reinforce our long-term commitment to the growing cruise industry in China,” said Arnold Donald, president & chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & plc, “We believe all Chinese families will appreciate the value of cruising as a new vacation option and create life-long memories from their experiences aboard Majestic Princess.”

“We are honored to serve as the Majestic Princess Naming Ambassadors for Princess Cruises,” said Yao Ming. “I’m inspired that Princess Cruises also cares so deeply about youth development in China and appreciate their support of our foundation. We look forward to enjoying a future cruise vacation aboard Majestic Princess.”

Majestic Princess promises the ultimate cruise vacation, offering Princess Cruises' renowned warm, welcoming, international service experience. The new cruise ship features two specialty dinner menus designed exclusively for Princess by Michelin star-awarded chefs Emmanuel Renaut (La Mer) and Richard Chen (Harmony); the largest duty-free shops at sea; the most technologically-advanced, immersive musical and cinematic production at sea, “Fantastic Journey,” featuring drones and state-of-the-art video mapping; a new youth program, “Camp Discovery” for Chinese children; and the Princess Luxury Bed developed in collaboration with board-certified doctor and sleep expert, Michael Breus, PhD.

Majestic Princess, our new flagship, is a perfect demonstration of an ’East meets West’ international cruise vacation experience” said Jan Swartz. “Representing over 50 years of experience, we are confident Majestic Princess has redefined the luxury cruising experience.”

All guests who attended the inaugural celebration experienced the international luxury cruising experience as well as a range of enriching activities. Highlights included:

Elegant Design and Retail Offerings:
Majestic Princess showcases classically-modern designs, infused with fashion, art and history. The ship has the largest Atrium among the Princess Cruises fleet, featuring elegantly detailed design finishes, a range of restaurants, lounges, shops and services, plus events and activities throughout the day and evening. The Shops of Princess features the highest quality products direct from the brands’ manufacturers showcased in nearly 1,100 square meters of luxury boutiques, the largest shopping space at sea.

Exceptional Dining:
La Mer by three Michelin-star chef Emmanuel Renaut and Harmony, a specialty restaurant with modern decor, sophisticated Cantonese with a dinner menu designed by Michelin-star chef Richard Chen present guests with options of exceptional French and Chinese dining experiences.

In addition, there are more options, such as the World Fresh Marketplace, with food and flavors from around the world including traditional Chinese comfort foods at a dedicated wok station, to Mediterranean dishes, a pasta specialty counter, colorful farmer's market salads, fruits, and an array of other cold dishes. There are new specialty counters offering "East meets West" street foods, including Japanese yakitori, ramen, and satays, German grilled sausages and French crepes. In The Bakery, savor Chinese bakery favorites like egg tarts and custard and meat floss buns, as well as classic Western and European pastries and Danishes. Majestic Princess also offers guests Gong Cha, the famous bubble milk tea brand; the authentic American steakhouse experience of Crown Grill familiar across the global fleet; Lobster Grill and Dim Sum Bar as well as Alfredo’s featuring Italian cuisine and “The Best Pizza at Sea.”

Premier Entertainment:
The world premiere of “Fantastic Journey” presents the most technologically-advanced, immersive musical and cinematic experience at sea produced exclusively for Chinese guests aboard Majestic Princess. The ship also offers “Sing on the Sea” private karaoke, Water Color Fantasy (water fountain and multi-media light show), as well as Movies Under The Stars, the largest LED viewing screen on the Princess fleet which impressively entertains guests aboard.

In addition, as the Captain can look through glass panels in the floor of the bridge, guests onboard Majestic Princess can now share in that breathtaking view on SeaWalk, a dramatic over-the-ocean glass walkway. The SeaWalk is the first of its kind at sea. At 60 feet long, cantilevered 128 feet above the waves and extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship, it affords thrilling vistas of the ever-changing seascape. Across the ship, the SeaView Bar goes one step further with a glass paneled floor and drinks prepared during exciting shows with flair.

Family Enrichment at Sea:
Debuting for China Camp Discovery is 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—designed to foster creativity and initiate a love for learning that prepares children to better navigate their education and development at early learning ages.

Silk Road Sea Route
Majestic Princess recently finished the “Silk Road Sea Route,” a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai. During the voyage the ship visited a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang, Xiamen, Hong Kong, and Japan before arriving in Shanghai, her new homeport in China. Majestic Princess embarked on her first cruise from China yesterday, carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of cruise destinations.

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. Additional information is available  at Princess.com.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Enhances Summer 2018 Deployment in Alaska & the Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced updates to the their summer 2018 deployment, featuring new opportunities for guests to set sail to their dream destinations, while unpacking just once and enjoying the most free and flexible cruising experience at sea. New for 2018, Norwegian Sun will reposition to Port Canaveral and offer all-inclusive 4-day cruises to Havana, Cuba and Key West, and 3-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Jewel will rejoin the youngest fleet sailing to Alaska in summer 2018, with a multitude of exciting itineraries including 7- and 9-day sailings from Seattle, Seward, and Vancouver.

“Alaska continues to be one of the most popular destinations we sail to around the world. We are thrilled to be significantly increasing capacity in the region in summer 2018 with the redeployment of Norwegian Jewel and the inaugural season for Norwegian Bliss, providing more opportunities for our guests to experience a vacation of a lifetime in this incredible pristine destination,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “Our all-inclusive model aboard Norwegian Sky has been very well-received and as we evaluated the opportunity to expand upon that concept, we felt that Port Canaveral was the ideal location to offer our guests a value-rich on board experience and exciting action-packed ports-of-call, including an overnight call in Havana, Cuba.”

Following her fall/winter season in South America and a dry dock enhancement, Norwegian Sun will spend her summer 2018 season sailing all-inclusive cruises from Port Canaveral, offering 4-day itineraries that call on Key West and Havana, Cuba, along with 3-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Sun accommodates 1,936 guests, providing freedom, flexibility and superior guest service with 16 dining options, 12 bars and lounges, entertainment options for all ages and more. All guests sailing aboard one of Norwegian Sun’s Cuba or Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages included in their cruise fare as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program. Norwegian Sun’s new itineraries include the following:
Norwegian Sun will undergo a two-and-a-half week dry dock in Victoria, British Columbia as a part of the Norwegian Edge™, the brand’s revitalization program encompassing the entire guest experience, and re-enter service on April 19, 2018 where she will begin her journey to the east coast with a 17-day Panama Canal cruise departing from Seattle.
Norwegian Sun’s 4-day cruises to Cuba will depart Port Canaveral each Monday, beginning May 7, 2018, and feature a call on Key West, Florida and an overnight stay in Havana, returning to Port Canaveral each Friday. Norwegian Sun will transport guests to the heart of the action in both Key West and Havana, calling in Key West’s Old Town district and Havana Harbor, located in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Norwegian Sun will offer guests the opportunity to experience the wonderful culture and incredible history of Cuba, along with the warmth and friendliness of the Cuban people during OFAC-compliant* shore excursions.
Norwegian Sun’s 3-day cruises to the Bahamas will feature calls in Nassau** and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s popular private island beach paradise that was recently enhanced with new food and beverage outlets, expanded Cabanas for daily rental and a new underwater snorkeling garden.
Following her winter 2017/2018 season sailing in Australia and Asia, Norwegian Jewel will journey from Tokyo (Yokohama) to Seattle and will replace Norwegian Sun as Norwegian’s third ship sailing in Alaska in summer 2018. As the namesake of Norwegian’s "Jewel Class" ships, the 2376-passenger Norwegian Jewel is a guest favorite and thrills with a myriad of dining and entertainment offerings. Featuring 16 dining options including Norwegian’s signature specialty restaurants Cagney’s, La Cucina and Le Bistro; along with 15 bars and nightclubs, Norwegian Jewel is a perfect ship to explore the stunning beauty of Alaska. Her wide variety of accommodations includes some of the largest suites at sea in The Haven® by Norwegian, the ship’s exclusive suite complex. The famous three-bedroom Garden Villa boasts nearly 5000 square feet of luxury and is located at the top of the ship, with an expansive 2314 square foot balcony that comes complete with a hot tub and private sundeck. The ship’s onboard activities and entertainment include shows Le Cirque Bijou and Band on the Run, a sports deck for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and much more. Norwegian Jewel’s new summer 2018 itineraries include the following itineraries:
• Beginning May 26, 2018, Norwegian Jewel will reposition from Seattle to Vancouver with a nine-day Alaska cruise. This scenic itinerary will visit the region’s best destinations, with calls in Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan.
Norwegian Jewel will sail a 7-day roundtrip cruise from Vancouver to Alaska departing on June 4, 2018 with calls on Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
• Beginning June 11, 2018 from Vancouver, Norwegian will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to enjoy alternating embarkation ports in Vancouver and Seward. From Vancouver, Norwegian Jewel will sail 7-day Glacier Bay cruises calling on Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and disembarking in Seward. From Seward, Norwegian Jewel will feature 7-day Inside Passage Alaska cruises calling on Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and disembarking in Vancouver. Both itineraries will include a sail past the breathtaking Hubbard Glacier.
* Norwegian Cruise Line is currently authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer carrier services to authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba under the travel guidelines for US citizen travel to Cuba. Norwegian Cruise Line will continue to work with the administrations in both Cuba and the US to comply with any policy changes and regulations so that the brand may provide guests with educational and culturally rich experiences in Cuba, with all sailings subject to potential changes due to governmental relations.

** Selected dates to include calls on Freeport and Great Stirrup Cay.


Photo Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

HMS Queen Elizabeth Meets RMS Queen Elizabeth

Cunard's RMS Queen Elizabeth met HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time on Thursday, Jul. 6, 2017 off the coast of Scotland. The rendezvous of the two ships, that share the same name and which were both christened by The Queen, took place in the Moray Firth off the coast of Scotland during Queen Elizabeth's 13-night tour of the British Isles.

"It is a huge honor for myself and the crew of Cunard's Queen Elizabeth to meet HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time,” said Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. “To share the sea with the Royal Navy's lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carrier and the largest warship ever built for the UK is a pleasure and I would like to take this opportunity to wish Commander Kyd and his crew well with their sea trials."

Image Courtesy of Cunard Line

Monday, July 10, 2017

Seabourn Brings Famous Jazz Musicians and Keynote Speakers to 2017 Fall Sailings

Luxury cruise line Seabourn is offering a series of extended voyages with unique features sailing to destinations around the globe through fall 2017. The itineraries range from 18 to 32 days and include multi-week explorations of natural and human-made wonders, perfect for a longer getaway.

Two sailings will separately feature world-renowned jazz musicians, Arturo Sandoval and John Pizzarelli, who will entertain guests lucky enough to be onboard. Clients seeking cultural or wondrous destinations will find visits to the Holy Land, the Panama Canal, the South Pacific, and Hawaiian Islands. For the active and adventurous traveler, the Great Barrier Reef and icy landscapes of Antarctica are sure to please. One itinerary begins and ends in Los Angeles, a popular U.S. travel hub.

"Seabourn promises the finest cruises with exquisite onboard luxuries, carefully crafted itineraries, and experiences guests will always remember," said Chris Austin, senior vice president of global marketing and sales for Seabourn. "This selection of itineraries offers travelers a means to take a journey to many extraordinary global destinations with some inspiring features attached. If I were a traveler in Southern California, the 32-day experience where I didn't have to fly would be very attractive."

The highlighted fall 2017 sailings include:
• 21-Day Holy Land & Arabian Gems (Oct 4, Seabourn Encore) - From the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, this three-week cruise departs from Civitavecchia (Rome) with stops at Naples (Pompeii), and Syracuse in Italy. The Holy Land welcomes at Haifa (Tel Aviv) and Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel, and then cruises the Suez Canal before reaching the remarkable beauty of Aqaba (Petra), Jordan and finally Dubai in United Arab Emirates.
• 32-Day Hawaii Pacific Sojourn (Oct 14, Seabourn Sojourn) - This voyage takes guests from Los Angeles to the Hawaiian Islands and back, for a month-long round trip itinerary. Depart for a week on the Pacific before touring French Polynesia with stops at Papeete; Moorea; and Bora Bora. Cross the International Dateline twice, with a landing at Tabuaeran (Fanning Island), Kiribati, before heading to Hawaii with stops at Manele Bay, rarely visited Lanai; Nawiliwili Kauai; and Lahaina. Destinations experts Richard Hayman and Ian Cox will also join this sailing as part of the Seabourn Conversations program.
• 24-Day Caribbean & Brazilian Exploration (Nov 5, Seabourn Quest) - Cruise from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with stops in the Caribbean at Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke, BVI; Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy; Terre-de-Haut, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe; and Bridgetown, Barbados. Additional destinations include Vitoria, Armacao dos Buzios, and two days at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Montevideo, Uruguay, before reaching the Argentine capital. This itinerary will host Arturo Sandoval, the award-winning and legendary jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer.
• 24-Day Orchid Isles & Great Barrier Reef (Nov 10, Seabourn Encore) - Discover the beauty of Southeast Asia and Australia on this remarkable three-week cruise departing Singapore en route to Java, Surabaya, and three landings over as many days on Bali, Indonesia. The cruise sails on to Australia with a landing at Darwin, two days exploring the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns, and Townsville, Hamilton Island and Mooloolaba in Queensland before arriving at Sydney. Seabourn Conversations will feature the Royal Portrait Painter, Richard Stone, who has captured most of Britain's Royal Family on canvas, as well as leading members of society and the community.
• 18-Day Panama Canal Sojourn (Nov 15, Seabourn Sojourn) - This cruise heads south from Los Angeles with stops at Huatulco, and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, as well as Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala and Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica. Arrival at Panama Canal Balboa leads to three days heading west to east through the engineering wonder that is the Panama Canal. The last destination is Cartagena, Colombia before three days at sea en route to Miami. During this voyage, Seabourn Conversations will host John Pizzarelli, a world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer, among the prime revivalists of the great American songbook.
• 21-Day Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia (Nov 29, Seabourn Quest) - This three-week cruise departs Buenos Aires before heading south for a six-day Antarctic Experience with exploration and wildlife spotting under guidance of the ship's Ventures by Seabourn Expedition Team. The Antarctic Experience includes a complimentary Zodiac landing each day to selected Antarctic locations, digital photography workshops, Seabourn parka and backpack, frequent wildlife sightings from the ship and shore and special guest speakers on board.
Seabourn guests enjoy intimate, all-suite accommodations; intuitive, personalized service; critically acclaimed culinary offerings; in-depth shore excursions; and itineraries dotted with hidden gems that larger ships are unable to access. There are also onboard offerings including Seabourn Conversations, the popular onboard enrichment and special guest entertainment program featuring distinguished speakers and sparkling personalities, as well as optional, for-charge Ventures by Seabourn excursions led by the talented, expert guides of the onboard expedition team.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

Best Way to Visit Cuba? Go In Style on a Cruise For Worry-Free Travel

Carnival Paradise Arrives in Havana
Once a forbidden place, Cuba is a jewel in the Caribbean that should be on every traveler's bucket list. And now there's a way to confidently travel to Cuba—by cruise ship. Two of the most popular and well-known cruise lines recently received approval for sailings to Cuba—Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, two of the 10 cruise brands that are part of Carnival Corporation, the world's largest cruise company.

Carnival Corporation made history in May 2016 when its Fathom brand became the first cruise line to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in more than 40 years. So the company has had plenty of recent experience in sailing guests to Cuba—and fine-tuning how to provide their guests with a great experience. And on June 29, history was again made as Carnival Cruise Line's 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise set sail from Tampa to Havana, becoming the largest U.S. cruise ship ever to sail from the U.S. to Cuba.

Carnival Cruise Line is currently offering 4- and 5- day cruises starting this summer and fall that will overnight in Havana, giving guests the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the city's rich culture and history, as well as its vibrant nightlife. Five-day sailings also call at Key West or Cozumel.

ms Veendam
On December 22, Holland America Line—widely recognized as a leader in the premium segment of the cruise industry—will become Carnival Corporation's third cruise line to sail to Cuba. Holland America Line's 1,350-passenger ms Veendam will sail on 7-, 11- and 12-day itineraries during the 2017-2018 winter and spring seasons from Fort Lauderdale. The ship's itineraries will visit Havana and some also call at Cienfuegos, known as Cuba's "Pearl of the South," which will include shore excursions to the stunningly preserved colonial city of Trinidad. Depending on the itinerary, passengers will also have opportunity to explore other ports of call in the Caribbean, including the Bahamas and Mexico.

The opening of Cuba gives travelers a new, must-see destination to visit and explore in the Caribbean, the world's most popular cruising region. The Spanish-speaking country is like no other place, filled with legendary history, culture and architecture, with people known for their work ethic, entrepreneurship and vibrant spirit for life. Only 90 miles from the U.S., Cuba was for generations a place that U.S. travelers could only dream about visiting on a cruise ship. While the country is more accessible than ever by sea, it still feels like another world.

The opportunity to learn more about the Cuban culture directly from the Cuban people only enhances the experience of visiting Cuba. People-to-people exchanges, which meet U.S. guidelines for travel to Cuba, are arranged by the cruise lines on half-day and full-day shore excursions. After a complete day of exploration and immersion, guests can also experience nighttime shore excursions.

"Guests will get the chance to participate in culturally enriching experiences such as visiting historical sites and engaging directly with the Cuban people, which ultimately will expand horizons," said Terry Thornton, Carnival Cruise Line's senior vice president of Port Operations. "Our team has created a variety of great shore excursions that we are excited about and believe will create special memories for our guests."

Global cruise travelers and enrichment seekers are naturally curious about new destinations and places that are not easily visited. Cuba is one of these places, and Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line guests will find opportunities to learn about a country that most have only seen in photos and news reports.

"Many of the tours are designed in order to have our guests interact with small family-run operations to give them an authentic Cuban experience," said Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president of Revenue Management and Global Deployment for Holland America Line. "We have done all the legwork in creating meaningful experiences that meet all U.S. regulatory requirements. In our view, cruising is the best and most worry-free way to travel to Cuba, even more so going forward."

"The history, culture, amazing sites, art, music and interactions with the Cuban people are unique to this special destination," added Thornton. "A cruise to Cuba will provide lasting memories from being one of the first U.S. guests to visit this fascinating island nation."

Arriving in Havana
Do not miss the sail-in through the narrow channel into Old Havana, with the beautiful, historically significant Morro Castle watching over your cruise ship as it sails into the harbor. Among the city's stately buildings, keep an eye out for the Hotel Nacional, a landmark on the waterfront since 1930. Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a jaw-dropping place to explore, a history-rich capital city with cobblestone streets, examples of baroque and neoclassical architecture, broad plazas and the impressive Malecón seawall on the Straits of Florida.

Your ship will dock right in Old Havana, an easy walk to museums and other historical landmarks, such as La Bodeguita del Medio, where a scribble on the wall is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It's hard to believe this time capsule of a city is a metropolis that is home to two million people. It feels like a living breathing slice of history.

Cienfuegos & Trinidad
On Holland America Line cruises, guests will have the additional opportunity to see the sophisticated neoclassical buildings of Cienfuegos, a port city carefully planned out by French settlers in the 19th century. Book an excursion to Trinidad and you will drive about 60 miles through the countryside to a beautifully preserved Spanish colonial city of cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas, founded in 1514 by the conquistador Diego Velázquez and located on a hilltop overlooking the Caribbean. Both Cienfuegos and Trinidad were significant trading capitals that like Old Havana are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Tips for Cuba cruise travel
While U.S. residents are free to travel to Cuba, you need to do so under regulations established by the U.S. government. Here are some things to know about traveling to Cuba:
1. Required paperwork. All U.S. citizens and most international travelers must have a valid passport. All guests are required to obtain a visa in order to enter Cuba. The type of visa that a guest will need will depend on certain factors, including the reason for travel to Cuba. Most guests will be able to enter Cuba utilizing a "Tarjeta Turistica" (or tourist card) visa. Guests will be able to purchase the "Tarjeta Turistica" from the cruise line at a cost of $75 per person. The visa is distributed at the time of boarding your ship. You can alternatively obtain a visa from the Cuban consulate or a visa service, but going through your cruise line is a major benefit.
2. Health fee. The Cuban government requires all guests to purchase health insurance, which will be automatically included in your port charges.
3. Shore excursions. Shore excursions offered by Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line meet the people-to-people educational activities requirement. Both lines offer a wide range of shore excursions.
4. Money matters. Your ATM and credit cards may not work in Cuba. You should plan on bringing cash for any purchases. Pending any updated U.S. Department of Treasury rules, U.S. dollars can be exchanged for Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs). There is an exchange office at the Havana cruise terminal. The transaction fee for converting U.S. dollars to CUCs is approximately 10%.
5. Staying in touch. Wi-Fi in Cuba requires the use of cards with codes. You are best off sharing experiences with your friends using your ship's Internet access. If you are planning to use your cellphone, check with your provider regarding service and fees.
Veendam Image Courtesy Holland America Line
Carnival Paradise Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Friday, July 7, 2017

Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess Arrives in China

Majestic Princess, the newest flagship in the Princess Cruises fleet, arrived in Xiamen, China, this week after a 37-day journey along the Silk Road Sea Route. The arrival also marked the successful completion of the cultural programs and performances for guests aboard the Majestic Princess under the theme “Telling the Chinese Story along the Silk Road Sea Route.”

From May 21, Majestic Princess sailed from Rome to embark on the “Silk Road Sea Route” and visited countries including Greece, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, and Singapore along the ancient Silk Road trading route. The route sought to revitalize the Silk Road Sea Route and promote Chinese culture and tradition.

Chinese cultural organizations were invited to showcase traditional Chinese dance, fashion, music and opera. These performances demonstrated the spirit of the ancient Silk Road to more than 7,000 guests from more than 40 countries aboard the Majestic Princess. These organizations include Yan’an Youth Waist Drum Team and Yangge Dance Team, China National Orchestra, China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater and Shaoxing and Sichuan People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

“The success of the Majestic Princess’ Silk Road Sea Route is another important milestone for Princess Cruises in China,” said Anthony Kaufman, Princess Cruises Executive Vice President, International Operations. “Princess Cruises has always placed significant value in the Chinese market. This cooperation with Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries demonstrates Princess Cruises’ commitment to promote the spirit of China’s Belt and Road initiative and to offer the ultimate cruise vacation for Chinese travelers.”

Majestic Princess will continue its Silk Road Sea Route voyage by visiting ports including Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, and will arrive at her Asia homeport in Shanghai on July 9, where she will be officially named by Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li. She will commence her first cruise from Shanghai on July 11, where she is set to offer Chinese guests an exceptional international cruise vacation.

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

Carnival Cruise Line Thanks the Troops with a Special Barbecue at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego

Carnival Cruise Line, which carries more active and retired military personnel than any other cruise operator, joined forces with Operation Homefront on Wednesday to extend the July 4th holiday and thank men and women in uniform by hosting the world’s first “social media powered barbecue” for military troops at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The unique summertime feast featured burgers whose buns were lasered with heartfelt messages of thanks to service members using a one-of-a-kind culinary laser printer.

Using the hashtag #ThankYouBurger, Americans were encouraged to show their appreciation of the U.S. military by tweeting and posting messages of gratitude via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. More than 15,000 thank you messages were transmitted in real time to a tech-enabled grill at the base in San Diego, and then laser printed onto burger buns and served to military troops during a backyard barbecue themed event. In recognition of the thousands of #ThankYouBurger tweets and posts received, Carnival donated $25,000 to help the organization fulfill its mission of building strong, stable and secure military families.

Deshauna Barber, godmother to Carnival Vista and the first woman serving in the military to be named Miss USA, joined Carnival Chief Maritime Officer William Burke and Operation Homefront president and CEO Brig. Gen. (ret) John I. Pray Jr. to personally serve nearly 2,000 burgers to military personnel.

“We wanted to create a platform for Americans looking to connect with the military and show our gratitude for their service during the July 4th holiday,” said Burke. “We all want the troops to know how grateful we—and our country—are for protecting our freedom and this unique social media-powered barbecue is a fantastic way to show our appreciation.”

“As an American who serves in the military, I really appreciate that Carnival Cruise Line looks for meaningful ways to serve us and I’m honored to be a part of this fun event,” said Barber.

"Thanks to the continuing commitment of amazing partners like Carnival Cruise Line, Operation Homefront is able to meet the critical needs of America’s military families,” added Pray. “Since 2011, we have fulfilled over 35,000 requests for financial assistance. I’m especially thankful to those on social media who helped make this $25,000 donation from Carnival Cruise Line possible as we will be able to deliver even more goodness to those that have done so much for all of us—our nation’s military families."

This special event is part of a continuing partnership between Carnival and Operation Homefront. Last year, hundreds of military families were welcomed aboard the company’s newest ship, Carnival Vista, prior to its inaugural sailing from the U.S. The festivities, were the culmination of a year-long campaign called Honor.Family.Fun which helped raise funds and awareness for Operation Homefront and its cause.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Crystal River Cruises Unveils Authentic, Inspired Culinary Concepts For Crystal Bach

Crystal River Cruises has unveiled detailed highlights of the culinary concepts and offerings to be featured aboard Crystal Bach, the first of the company's "Rhine Class" river yachts, debuting in August. Sailing routes along the Rhine, Danube and Main Rivers, the all-balcony, all-suite vessel will offer sophisticated menus of cuisine inspired by the region, artfully crafted by a team of expert European chefs. And while the specialties themselves will be creatively designed specifically for Crystal Bach's stunning itineraries, the philosophy of culinary excellence remains rooted in Crystal's commitment to using the freshest ingredients sourced from local suppliers and serving dishes that authentically represent the destinations visited.

"As the first 'Rhine Class' river yacht, Crystal Bach will introduce a new standard of luxury in river cruising on many fronts, including the culinary concept and innovative experiences found on board," says Edie Rodriguez, CEO and president of Crystal. "While we are always pursuing new and distinctive experiences on each of our luxury vessels, our overall dedication to unsurpassed quality and abundant choices remains constant."

Guests will dine on fresh fish and seafood from Holland, seasonal fruits and vegetables from Germany and the Netherlands, meat and poultry from farmers in Bavaria and the Austrian Alps, along with wine, beer and cheese specific to the region. Uniquely European delicacies will also be featured on the expansive menus, including sturgeon caviar from Eindhoven and river crawfish from the Rhine. Additionally, as aboard Crystal's first luxury river ship, Crystal Mozart, coffees and teas by Julius Meinl, a prestigious Vienna-based company who has crafted the beverages since 1862, will be served on Crystal Bach.

Crystal chefs will create dishes that have been favored by local people and nobility for centuries, as well as some options that boast a modern twist on the classics. From the elegant Waterside Restaurant—the main dining room aboard Crystal River vessels—to the relaxed Bistro Café and exclusive Vintage Room, guests will find farm-to-table, Michelin-inspired cuisine that complements the cultural discoveries of their journey.

Dutch herring on dill mousse and German green split pea soup with smoked duck join other European delicacies like Dornfelder braised oxtail ragout and Boeuf Bourguignonne. Mouthwatering dishes such as truffle spring chicken cassoulet "En Croute," broiled dover sole "Meuniere" and cold-water lobster served with a creamy leek risotto are also among the culinary palate pleasers. A brand new dedicated selection of vegetarian dishes will also be offered aboard Crystal Bach, which will offer the same fresh and authentic approach as the overall menu.

"The culinary experience aboard all Crystal vessels is meant to inspire travelers to discover more about the world they explore, as food and the camaraderie of dining is such an integral part of the travel experience," says Toni Neumeister, senior vice president of hotel operations. "Guests aboard Crystal Bach will not only enjoy extraordinary new and classic flavors, but also a taste of the history and culture of this beautiful region."

In addition to the inspired cuisine served on board the luxury river yacht, guests can indulge in exclusive dining experiences at Michelin star-awarded restaurants in select destinations. Each 2017 itinerary will feature at least one opportunity to indulge in signature fare of renowned eateries ashore, the first of which will be complementary.

The vessels will be the river cruising industry's first all-balcony, all-suite designs boasting every category of accommodation perched above the waterline. Every suite will 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. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Paul Gauguin Cruises Announces 2019 Voyages

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is pleased to announce its 2019 voyages in Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji, and the South Pacific.

The Gauguin returns to the tropical wonderland of Fiji on two voyages in 2019 that also feature Tonga, the Cook Islands, and the Society Islands. Blessed with blue skies, high mountains, lush vegetation, ivory beaches, and shimmering azure waters, Fiji is the very picture of paradise. The 13-night voyage departs Papeete, Tahiti, on September 7, 2019, and visits: Moorea, Society Islands; Taha’a (Motu Mahana), Society Islands; Bora Bora, Society Islands (overnight); Aitutaki, Cook Islands; At Sea (2 days); Vava’u, Tonga; At Sea; Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji; Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji; Beqa Island, Fiji; and Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji. The 12-night reverse itinerary departs September 21, 2019, and calls at the same ports except Beqa Island, Fiji.

The Gauguin will also be showcasing its most sought-after itineraries in 2019: the 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands; 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus; 11-night Cook Islands & Society Islands; and 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands. The new-for-2018 Society Islands & Tahiti Iti 7-night itinerary will also be back in 2019.

Designed specifically to sail the pristine lagoons of these islands, the Gauguin provides an up-close, authentic experience of the South Seas and offers an elegant yet casual ambiance with luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, trademark Polynesian hospitality, and extraordinary all-inclusive value. Guests also receive complimentary access to Paul Gauguin Cruises’ two exclusive retreats. Off the coast of Taha’a lies the islet of Motu Mahana, where guests can enjoy a day of watersports, Polynesian activities, a sumptuous barbecue feast, and cocktails from full and floating bars. In Bora Bora, guests can relax on a private, white-sand beach and enjoy refreshments, a game of volleyball, and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.

To launch its 2019 voyages, Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering savings of 50% off standard cruise fares on all voyages, plus included airfare from Los Angeles. Past guests of Paul Gauguin Cruises enjoy additional savings up to 15% off final cruise fares as members of Paul Gauguin Society. For rates or more information on Paul Gauguin Cruises, visit PGCruises.com.

Image Courtesy Paul Gauguin Cruises