Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oceania Nautica Foils Attempted Pirate Action

On Nov 30, 2008, at approximately 9:28 Eastern Standard Time, 5:28 GMT, Oceania Cruises' M/S Nautica was transiting through the Gulf of Aden within the prescribed Maritime Safety Protection Area, which is patrolled by international anti-piracy task forces. As the vessel sailed past several groups of non-hostile fishing vessels, two small skiffs were sighted by the Officer on Duty and deemed potentially hostile. The skiffs, presumably manned by pirates, approaching from a range of approximately 1000 meters, attempted to intercept the vessel’s course. Captain Jurica Brajcic and his officers immediately began evasive maneuvers and took all prescribed precautions. Nautica was immediately brought to flank speed and was able to out run the two skiffs. One of the skiffs did manage to close the range to approximately 300 yards and fired eight rifle shots in the direction of the vessel before trailing off. No one aboard Nautica was harmed and no damage was sustained.

All guests and crew on board are safe and there were no injuries. All requisite international authorities have been notified and all anti-piracy precautions were in place prior to the event and all necessary measures were taken during the event.

Armchair Cruise Travel For The Holidays

Now that "Black Friday" has past, it's time to think even more seriously about holiday gift-giving. If your budget won't stretch far enough to pay for an actual cruise this year, how about some cruise travel reading material to tide you over until the economy catches up to your wanderlust?

Naturally I would recommend any of the Fodor's "Gold Guides" that cover cruise travel. After all, I write them and Fodor's editors are the best in the business. However, don't take my word for it... the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Travel Editor Spud Hilton says, "Unlike the travel guide companies that don't categorize cruises as 'serious travel,' Fodor's offers a series of books that are handy for anyone planning a voyage in Europe, Alaska, and the Caribbean. Most have been updated within the past 12 to 18 months, but make sure to get the most recent editions of European Ports of Call, The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises, Caribbean Ports of Call 2009, The Complete Guide to European Cruises, Bermuda 2009, and Alaska Ports of Call 2009."

For more titles, check out My Favorite Cruise Guidebooks in the sidebar on the right. Happy shopping!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cruise Lines Cancel Mumbai Port Calls

By now you've heard of the massive terrorist attacks that targeted Western visitors in the Indian business center of Mumbai. Cruise lines with scheduled stops there are watching the situation closely and altering their itineraries accordingly.

Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas, already on a 27-day voyage from Rome to Singapore, was scheduled to arrive in Mumbai tomorrow for a 2-day stay but now will go elsewhere.

Oceania Cruises has revised the itinerary for Nautica and will bypass Mumbai on Dec 9 Alternatives to other Indian ports are being considered should the security situation warrant. At present, calls at Mormugao, Mangalore, and Cochin are planned to be moved up a day, and Nautica will add a stop at Male in the Maldives on Dec 13 to replace the call in Mumbai.

Azamara Quest's Dec 7 call has also been cancelled, but no revised itinerary has been announced.

On its 18-day Dubai to Singapore cruise, Seabourn Spirit, will skip its Dec 7 Mumbai call and remain at sea with a stop in Goa on Dec 8. The remainder of the itinerary is not changed.

Mumbai the popular port where passengers can hop off for overland trips to the Taj Mahal.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Disney Cruise Line Premieres 3-D Movies at Sea

Disney Cruise Line has revolutionized movie entertainment at sea with the debut of Disney Digital 3-D, a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience premiering exclusively onboard the Disney Wonder during the Nov. 20 sailing and the Disney Magic during the Dec. 6 sailing. Passengers will delight as first-run Disney films leap off the silver screen and take on a whole new dimension thanks to Disney Digital 3-D technology being added to theaters on both vessels. Disney Cruise Line is the first cruise line to introduce 3-D entertainment on its ships.

Disney Cruise Line celebrated the debut of Disney Digital 3-D by hosting a special screening event for Walt Disney Animation Studios’ newest animated feature, “Bolt,” onboard the Nov. 20 three-night Disney Wonder cruise. As the calendar turned from Nov. 20 to Nov. 21, guests were be invited to a special midnight screening of “Bolt” at the Walt Disney Theatre–complete with meet-and-greet opportunities with lovable walk-around characters from the film. The film features super-dog Bolt (voice of John Travolta), whose every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue–at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet–a cross-country journey through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny (voice of Miley Cyrus). Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions–a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (voice of Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voice of Mark Walton)–Bolt discovers he doesn’t need superpowers to be a hero.

Leveraging this new technology, Disney Cruise Line will take 3-D into uncharted waters in early 2009 with the debut of an exciting new cinematic experience that combines full length Disney Digital 3-D films with in-theatre effects. Digital 3-D images will combine with lasers, fog, streamers, and special lighting effects to create an immersive movie-going experience like no other at sea. During these once-a-cruise special engagements, guests will feel the rush of being part of hottest show in town as in-theatre effects enhance 3-D films featuring popular Disney popstars in concert. “With Disney Digital 3-D we can provide extraordinary cinematic experiences for our guests that no other cruise line can offer,” said Tom McAlpin, president of Disney Cruise Line.

Disney Digital 3-D is the latest enhancement to join the robust menu of premium guest experiences and amenities included with a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Dazzling Broadway-style musical spectaculars, over-the-top deck parties with the only fireworks display at sea, a unique rotational dining concept, first-run movie releases and fantastic kids programming are just some of the advantages of cruising with Disney.A leader in the family cruise segment, Disney Cruise Line delivers a cruise experience that every member of the family feels was created for their own individual vacation wants and needs. Departing from Port Canaveral, FL, Disney Cruise Line offers 3-, 4- and 7-night itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Land/sea vacation packages that include a stay at Walt Disney World Resort are also available.

For a first-hand look at a Disney Cruise vacation, join Cruise Diva aboard Disney Magic and read other Disney Cruise Line Reviews at

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Dinners at Sea: Cruise Ship Cuisine

Don't want to cook your own holiday goose or turkey or ham? You don't have to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house for a perfect holiday meal or even stay at home. Sure, that's the American Dream version, but I admit I'm not much of a cook. Although I try, I've always wondered how other women manage to put everything together to serve a festive meal all at once. They make it appear effortless. But it's just not possible in my kitchen where the major food groups are packaged, canned, frozen, and (my favorite) RESERVATIONS.

If you're at home, like I am, and reading this, you might wonder what's in store for passengers celebrating Thanksgiving aboard a cruise ship. Trust me, they aren't cooking and they won't have to clear the table and clean up afterwards.

For a first-hand look at what we're missing, and to find out what ship that golden brown turkey pictured above was served on, join for Holiday Dinners at Sea.

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Carnival Cruise Lines to Increase Capacity on 2010 New York Departures

Carnival Cruise Lines will increase capacity on its seasonal cruise program from New York in 2010 with the 2,978-passenger Carnival Glory scheduled to operate a variety of 4- and 5-day Atlantic Canada voyages from June to Sept, followed by a series of five week-long fall foliage cruises.

It marks the first time that Carnival has deployed one of its largest ships on the highly popular program. The 110,000-ton Carnival Glory features a wide variety of exceptional facilities, amenities and stateroom accommodation categories. Additionally, departing from New York makes these cruises extremely convenient and attractive for the huge population base within driving distance of Manhattan, as well as for those in the larger eastern U.S. region who can take a short-haul flight to one of the area’s three major airports.

Four-day cruises departing Thursdays feature a call at Saint John, New Brunswick and scenic cruising in the Bay of Fundy, while 5-day cruises departing on Mondays and Saturdays include stops at Saint John and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The program commences with a 4-day voyage departing June 6, 2010 (a one-time Sunday departure).

Week-long fall foliage itineraries beginning Sat, Sept 11, 2010, feature four different ports of call, including Boston, Mass., Portland, Maine, Saint John and Halifax, offering a variety of opportunities to view stunning fall colors and explore these charming coastal cities.

The $500 million Carnival Glory features 22 lounges and bars, four swimming pools, a 214-foot-long water slide, a 14,500-square-foot health club, an Internet café, jogging track and extensive duty free shopping options. A comprehensive golf program offering instruction both aboard ship and during golf excursions is also featured. Carnival Glory also offers expansive facilities and complimentary activities for children and teens, with its “Camp Carnival,” “Circle C” and “Club O2” programs catering to different age groups.

In addition to a 1,400-seat poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria, the ship includes twin two-level formal restaurants and a reservations-only supper club offering U.S.D.A. prime dry-aged beef and other gourmet cuisine.

Sixty percent of Carnival Glory’s 1,489 spacious staterooms offer either an ocean view or private balcony. All staterooms feature the “Carnival Comfort Bed” sleep system with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality pillows and linens.

For a look at Carnival Glory on her inaugural sailing, visit's Carnival Glory Cruise Diary.

The cruise line is currently accepting reservations for both its 2009 and 2010 departures from New York (2009 voyages will operate on the Carnival Triumph). For additional information or reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, or visit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oasis of the Seas: Just Add Water

In just over one year, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas will make her debut, but she's already reached an important maritime milestone. Under construction at STX Europe in Turku, Finland, the ship was “floated out” last Friday when she was moved from dry dock to wet dock to begin the final stages of interior work. At official ceremonies held at the shipyard, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman and CEO Richard Fain was joined by other dignitaries to turn the valve releasing 87 million gallons of water into the wet dock area pictured here and below (click photos for larger images).

“This is a historic day for our company. After more than three years of intense planning and collaboration and with 65 percent of the ship already complete, it’s exciting to see Oasis entering its final stages,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Oasis of the Seas truly represents the innovative spirit that our company is known for and to see that come to fruition is wonderful.”

The line chose this important milestone to announce that Oasis of the Seas will enter service under the command of Captain William S. Wright and Captain Tor Olsen. Wright, a 15-year veteran of Royal Caribbean Intl, was also the start up Captain for Freedom of the Seas, currently the largest ship in the world with sister-ships Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, which are 40 percent smaller than Oasis of the Seas. Wright also is one of the few American captains in international cruising and currently serves as the senior vice president of Marine Operations for the cruise line. Born in Norway, Captain Tor Olsen has been on the high seas since the age of 16. He joined Royal Caribbean International in 1987 working on Song of America and has served as Captain on five Royal Caribbean ships from the Voyager-class to the Vision-class.

When Oasis launches in Dec 2009, she will feature the unique neighborhood concept planned to provide guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference, or mood in seven distinct areas of the ship. This unique concept, which also creates a vast array of accommodation choices for guests never before found at sea, is the result of a quantum leap forward in revolutionary cruise ship design.

An architectural marvel at sea, Oasis of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. She will be the first ship to tout the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place, and Youth Zone. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Additional information is available at:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review

Where is the grass always greener and a tree grows beneath the lawn? Why, it's aboard Celebrity Solstice, the highly anticipated new ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet.

As Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. says, "Everything about the Celebrity Cruises brand is authentic, so we knew nothing less than real grass would do."

She's innovative, yet simple—clean and crisp with an edgy vibe—come along for a preview of the first of Celebrity Cruises' Solstice-class vessels. Cruise Diva sailed on a pre-inaugural voyage from Fort Lauderdale this month and has all the details on accommodations, dining, lounges, and relaxation.

Get an in-depth, illustrated inside look at Celebrity Solstice at

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Cruising the Past" Web Site Features Cruise Ship & Travel History

Are you interested in maritime history? Then you'll want to visit "Cruising the Past," a fairly new web site that examines the history of cruise lines, steamships, and travel. Current stories include historical looks at the retiring QE 2 and the famous liner United States.

Michael L. Grace, a seasoned historian of cruise ship travel, is the editor of "Cruising the Past." Grace has traveled on over 50 passenger ships, has circled the globe three times, and has one of the major private collections of steamship memorabilia. The new web site presents a wide selection of travel material concerned with steamship travel, train travel, and cruising from the 1920s through the 1960s. "Cruising the Past" takes a close look at a "retro," elegant travel past, when there were no security checks, 24-hour buffets or baseball caps worn by passengers.

Grace is currently finishing a book focused on how the TV series "Love Boat" affected the cruise industry and the popularity of contemporary cruising. He started his TV career as a staff writer on the popular series "Love Boat" and says, "The 'Cruising the Past' website examines the glamor of steamship travel prior to the introduction of 747s and the mass cruise market created by the hit TV series 'Love Boat.'"

According to Grace, the site, which has been online for over six months, studies an age when "getting there was half the fun," in an era when travel was an event and not a nightmare. Grace adds, "We realize many aspects of modern-day cruising are much more comfortable than these earlier ships. Cabins are larger and there is a much wider choice of accommodations and activities. But certain aspects of social interaction are absent. There is no longer a feeling of gentility on most cruise ships. Most of the time you think you're stuck in some strip hotel in Vegas that's been dropped down in the sea."

Even if you aren't interested in trains—and I admit that I'm not—there are enough stories on "Cruising the Past" to keep ship junkies and 'Love Boat' fans entertained for hours.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

American Express Travel Offers A Variety Of Perks & Exclusive Cruise Deals

Cruising, particularly in the current economic climate, is increasingly emerging as an affordable way of enjoying diverse travel experiences. With the help of its various cruise partners, American Express Travel brings a variety of exclusive cruise deals and offerings to both experienced and first-time cruisers.

  • Cunard Line – Receive up to $500 onboard credit plus a 50% reduced deposit on select sailings. Offer valid for bookings made between Jan 19 and Feb 19, 2009 for travel between May and Oct 2009.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Free airfare or $400 discount off cruise fare on select Alaska sailings. Plus, kids sail free! Offer valid for travel between June and Aug 2009.
  • Crystal Cruises – $100 per person onboard credit plus pre-paid gratuities on select Mediterranean sailings. Offer valid for bookings made by Sept 25, 2009 for travel throughout 2009.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – Up to $50 onboard credit per balcony stateroom (or above) on select Mexican Riviera and Caribbean sailings. Offer valid for bookings made by Jan 15, 2009 for travel throughout 2009.

These featured offers and more are available through American Express Travel. American Express Cardmembers receive the added benefits of earning double Membership Rewards® Points and an annual travel benefit of $100 on cruise vacations of $3,000 or more. Another perk is the American Express Mariner Club, which partners with some of the world’s best cruise lines to bring cruisers a unique, fully hosted experience. Guests enjoy helpful hosts, unique shoreside events and exclusive cocktail parties. The above offers are available for booking by calling (877) 297-2060.

American Express Travel is also helping to educate and inform new cruise vacationers through its dedicated new cruiser website at In addition to explaining the basics of cruising and addressing frequently asked questions, the micro site details various on-board activities, top cruise destinations, and alluring shore excursions for popular ports of call, as well as offering advice on how to choose the most suitable accommodations and ship size, packing tips, and what amenities to expect from various cruise experiences.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Carnival Liberty Boasts Largest Suites of Any Carnival Cruise Lines Ship

Underscoring the increasing popularity of balcony and suite accommodations, Carnival Cruise Lines recently completed the construction of two super-sized new 750-square-foot suites aboard the Carnival Liberty. Pictured at left is the spacious living room with huge television and seating area.

The newly completed suites—the largest in Carnival's growing fleet of “Fun Ships”—feature an entirely new cabin configuration with a separate bedroom, expansive living area, not one, but two bathrooms, and a large balcony accessible from the living area and bedroom. They sound just right for families who want to spread out and cruise in comfort and style.

Located in the ship’s forward section on Deck 9, the deluxe penthouse suites can accommodate up to five guests—rare in cruise industry staterooms—and include two twin beds that convert to a king (illustrated here at left), a sofa bed, and two pull-down upper beds. Once again, ideal for families.

Carnival Liberty currently offers 7-day Caribbean cruises departing from Miami and in April 2009 will introduce new week-long Western and Exotic Eastern Caribbean itineraries.

Get an insider's look aboard Carnival Liberty from

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Royal Caribbean's Newest Freedom-Class Ship Arrives in the US

Royal Caribbean's newest Freedom-class ship, Independence of the Seas, made her US debut yesterday at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Sharing the title of world's largest cruise ship with her sister-ships, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas will be the line's first Freedom-class ship to sail from Port Everglades.

At 160,000 GRT and a capacity of 3,634 guests, Independence of the Seas features all of the industry-first amenities which are trademarks of the Freedom-class ships: a FlowRider surf simulator; the H20 Zone water park with its interactive sculpture garden for families and toddler pool; cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 ft. above the ocean in the adults-only Solarium; a full-size boxing ring and a 14-person family suite.Independence also features some of the other distinctive offerings the global cruise line is known for including, an ice-skating rink; a rock- climbing wall; an award-winning youth program; fine to casual dining venues; Broadway-style entertainment and the Royal Promenade - an entertainment boulevard stretching the length of the ship with shops, restaurants, bars and lounges, which provides guests with an endless variety of choices and experiences to suit their taste and preference.

Independence of the Seas will sail from Ft. Lauderdale and alternate between 8-night Eastern Caribbean and 6-night Western Caribbean itineraries. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary will call at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten and Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach destination in Haiti. The Western Caribbean itinerary will call at Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. shares a look at the Freedom-class ships:

Pictured above is Freedom of the Seas at anchor off Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean's private beach destination in the Bahamas

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Orient Lines Delays Launch

Orient Lines has announced that due to the current world economic climate, it shall delay the launch of its cruises currently scheduled to commence in April 2009.

Orient Lines’ President and CEO Wayne Heller stated that, “All guests that have booked a cruise with Orient Lines shall be given a full and prompt refund and, if requested, we will endeavor to offer them assistance with making alternate cruise vacation arrangements.”Heller added, “Even though the launch of Orient Lines is delayed, we are exploring possible options to re-launch our cruise program at a more favorable time in the near future.”

Lock in Early-bird 2-for-1 Alaska Deals: Great Alaskan TourSaver

It may seem early to be thinking about a cruise to Alaska next year, but savvy travelers are pre-ordering the all-new 2009 edition of the Great Alaskan TourSaver. With more than 135 2-for-1 travel coupons good throughout the state, this handy money-saving coupon book helps Alaska travelers see more of Alaska and spend less.

"Today's travelers demand more value for their hard-earned travel dollars," said publisher Scott McMurren, who writes a weekly travel column for the Anchorage Daily News. "The Great Alaskan TourSaver helps travelers get the best deal on their trip—since everything in the book is 2-for-1," he said.

The cost of the coupon book is $99.95. When you receive the book, start making reservations for your 2-for-1 flightseeing, bear viewing, accommodations, train rides, glacier cruises, wilderness adventures, fishing trips—everything you want to see and do throughout Alaska, either pre- or post-cruise, including:
  • Flightseeing on Mt. McKinley, including glacier landing.
  • Glacier cruises in Kenai Fjords National Park.
  • Salmon fishing on the world-famous Kenai River, in Juneau, Seward, and in Kodiak.
  • Grizzly bear viewing in Kodiak.
  • Rail tours on the Alaska Railroad.
  • Wilderness adventures in Lake Clark National Park (including air fare from Anchorage).
  • Air fare between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
  • Air fare from Juneau to Glacier Bay National Park, plus 2-for-1 accommodations and glacier cruise!
  • "Deadliest Catch" cruise tour on the Aleutian Ballad in Ketchikan.
  • Deluxe lodge accommodations at Princess Lodges near Mt. McKinley, Copper River and Kenai River.
  • Glacier hike in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
  • Accommodations in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Valdez, Seward—and more.
Remember, all of the above are great deals at 2-for-1 prices. Visit the Great Alaskan TourSaver website at for details and to find out how using just one coupon can recoup the cost. Travelers save hundreds or thousands of dollars with each and every book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MSC Cruises Ends Fuel Surcharge Beginning With April 2009 Sailings

MSC Cruises has eliminated the fuel surcharge for all its cruises departing on or after April 1, 2009. The surcharge will not be levied on any new bookings for cruises sailing from that date on, and the accounts of guests already booked on these cruises will be adjusted to remove the surcharge from their balances.

The line also has announced that it plans to drop the fuel surcharge for new bookings on sailings departing from Jan 1 through March 31, 2009, if fuel prices remain stable going into the new year. Guests booked on these cruises will receive a refund of the fuel surcharge in the form of an onboard credit if the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel is at or below $65 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on December 18, 2008.

"I said a year ago when we were compelled to implement the fuel surcharge on our cruise fares that we looked forward to the day when fuel prices would stabilize at a level that would allow us to eliminate this supplement. I am delighted to announce that that day has arrived," says Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc. "At MSC Cruises, we believe our guests should not have to wait another year to benefit from the recent drop in oil prices," Sasso adds. "That's why we are making this new policy effective starting in April of next year and will apply it earlier if possible."

Although MSC Cruises can not rule out the possibility that a future substantial increase in fuel costs might require re-implementing the fuel surcharge at a later date, the company reiterated its commitment that all reservations booked with a deposit prior to such a decision would be protected from any additional charge.

"That price protection policy makes this the ideal time for anyone planning a Caribbean or European vacation to book a cruise with MSC Cruises now," Sasso said. "They can take advantage of our best current promotions and know that the price they're quoted is the price they will pay, no matter what happens with the cost of fuel in the months ahead."

For more information about MSC Cruises, visit

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Review: Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess

"Welcome aboard, we're expecting you"!

Read an exclusive Cruise Diva ship preview of the newest jewel in the Princess Cruises' crown, Ruby Princess.

Carnival Splendor Debuts in Fort Lauderdale

Carnival Cruise Lines’ 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor—the line’s newest and largest “Fun Ship”—made its U.S. debut Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, when it arrived at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Europe.

Carnival Splendor has kicked off its Fort Lauderdale-based program with a series of three one-time voyages: a 2-day cruise to Nassau Nov. 15-17, a 4-day Bahamas/Turks & Caicos cruise Nov. 17-21 and an 8-day eastern Caribbean voyage Nov. 21-29.

Then, beginning Nov. 29, the ship will embark on a series of 10 seven-day eastern Caribbean voyages featuring four highly popular ports of call, including Casa de Campo/La Romana, Dominican Republic; St. Thomas/St. John, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Nassau, The Bahamas.

Finally, Carnival Splendor will operate a series of 14- to 18-day South America cruises—a first for Carnival. The ship will then launch year-round 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach, Calif., beginning in March 2009.

To find out more about Carnival Splendor, visit All Things Splendid at and the following blog entries from the inaugural sailing:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Norwegian Spirit Undergoes Multi-Million Dollar Renovation

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that Norwegian Spirit is undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment focused on enhancing the total guest experience. The 2,376 passenger Freestyle Cruising ship is receiving a total renovation to its public areas, staterooms and suites. These refurbishments are in addition to the enhancements already made as part of Freestyle 2.0, the company’s fleet-wide initiative to further improve the guest experience across all guest touch points from food and beverage to staterooms.

Norwegian Spirit’s total refurbishment includes:

§ 11 new staterooms are being added, eight of which are balconies;
§ one diesel engine is being replaced;
§ the Stardust Theater, with a capacity of approximately 700, is receiving all new seating and chairs;
§ seating throughout the ship is being reupholstered;
§ more than 21,000 sq meters of carpet is being replaced in public areas, stairwells, suites, and staterooms;
§ new wallpaper is being installed in suites, corridors and public areas;
§ new curtains are being added to all suites;
§ tile in 300 bathrooms throughout the ship is being replaced;
§ all open decks including the main pool, kid’s pool and four hot tubs are undergoing refurbishment;
§ the Roman Spa & Fitness Center is being upgraded with new doors, panels and seats;
§ more than 60 windows are being replaced;
§ the onboard phone system is being upgraded to a state-of-the-art wireless system.

Following the completion of the refurbishment, Norwegian Spirit will re-enter service on Nov 23, 2008 and begin a series of twenty-one 7-day Exotic Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, her homeport for the winter season, with calls in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; and Belize City, Belize.

Norwegian Spirit offers Freestyle Cruising with the flexibility of 11 restaurants, seven bars and lounges, multiple entertainment venues, two pools, extensive children’s facilities, a sports deck, casino, spa, and a variety of spacious public rooms. The ship joined the NCL fleet in 2004 and underwent a previous dry dock in 2005. For more information or to book a sailing on Norwegian Spirit, call your travel professional, go to, or contact NCL at 866-234-0292.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Get the Skinny on Seabourn Odyssey With New Blog

The countdown is on to Seabourn Odyssey’s launch on June 24, 2009 and The Yachts of Seabourn is providing weekly updates of creative features and more to keep avid cruisers up to date on the first luxury vessel in six years. While the cruise line's PR machine could go on and on about the luxury that awaits guests aboard Seabourn Odyssey—the hotly anticipated addition to The Yachts of Seabourn—why take their word for it? The designers, shipbuilders, and crew are set to tell you about it themselves in the Seabourn Blog, which is dedicated to the progress of Seabourn’s newest vessel. With regular postings of status reports, creative features, interactive reader forums, gorgeous photographs, video interviews with captain and crew, and even a countdown of “Days Till Launch,” the Seabourn blog is the first and best place to get the inside scoop on the new yacht.

“The focus at Seabourn has always been on our guests, and this new blog about Seabourn Odyssey assures they can keep up-to-date on each development of the exciting new addition to our fleet,” said Pamela C. Conover, President and CEO of The Yachts of Seabourn. “With so many more of our guests researching their cruises online, it made sense to create a blog about Odyssey so that guests can stay informed and share their feedback and comments every step of the way.”

The first luxury vessel to be launched in six years, Seabourn Odyssey is the first of three “new builds” to be introduced by Seabourn over the next three years. The 32,000-ton yacht will accommodate 450 guests in luxurious all-suite accommodations measuring from 290 to over 1,600 square feet, more than 90 percent of them outfitted with private verandas. The yacht will offer guests five dining alternatives, five lounges and bars, an expansive pool and sunbathing area, a spectacular two-deck, indoor/outdoor spa facility of more than 11,400 square feet and watersports from the vessel’s unique on-board marina. The vessel’s maiden season will include voyages from the grand cities and romantic isles of the Mediterranean to the sparkling waters of the Caribbean, before embarking on Seabourn’s first-ever World Cruise in January 2010. For more information or to make a reservation aboard Odyssey or any of three existing Yachts of Seabourn, please contact Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit

Friday, November 14, 2008

Celebrity Solstice at Sea

When asked what he thought of Celebrity Solstice when he saw her completed, Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO of Azamara Cruises and Celebrity Cruises said, “We did it. Four years later, we accomplished what we set out to do.”

Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd likened seeing the ship for the first time without protective coverings on the floors and furnishings to seeing his daughter dressed for her prom. Like Mr. Fain’s daughter, Celebrity Solstice is simply stunning.

There’s no question that Celebrity Solstice is a beautiful cruise ship. The public rooms all fit together and flow nicely one into the next. I regard the décor as contemporary, with just enough edginess in the artwork and accessories to make it interesting. There is a lot of cream and blue (my favorite color) with a punch of richer hues. Marble and silver metals add sparkle and flair. The vibe is sophisticated, elegant, and comfortable.

While touring Celebrity Solstice’s restaurants I decided that Murano (pictured above) would probably be my favorite. Talk about good fortune—I was assigned a table there last night and it proved to be an evening of fine dining in fashionable surroundings.

Our brief time aboard Celebrity Solstice has drawn to a close, but we’ve packed some terrific experiences into our short time on board. Watch for more reports and a complete ship review in the coming days. There’s the dining, the pizza, the gelato… and so much more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Celebrity Solstice: Day One

After some confusion regarding non-working boarding cards, we finally made it aboard Celebrity Solstice. Met at the bottom of the gangway by a ship’s steward, we were assisted with our carry-on luggage and accompanied to our stateroom, 1605 on Deck 11.

Our accommodations are in AquaClass, which means we have special amenities such as spa toiletries; a spa kit including foot spray, facial mist, and lip balm; loofah slippers, and the services of an AquaClass Concierge to assist us with our spa needs. We also have complimentary use of the Persian Garden in the AquaSpa where we can relax on heated tile loungers after unwinding in the herbal steam room or the aromatic suite.

The first order of business was naturally a bite of lunch in the bright and spacious Oceanview Café. Food stations make selection simple—there are stations for salads, a carving station, a dessert station, and so on. Tables are set with fabric napkins and silverware. We aren’t sure if any table service for beverages is offered, but will check that out tomorrow.

On our brief 2-day preview sailing on Celebrity Solstice we want to accomplish as much as possible so we began a ship’s tour at the Lawn Club (pictured above) where we could play croquet, simply wiggle our toes in the real grass, or watch the Hot Glass Show (seen at right). We skipped the croquet, but wandered barefoot through the grass before heading for the area set up for the Hot Glass Show. The show moderator shared some background information about glass blowing… the top question they are asked is, “Have you ever burned yourself?” And the answer is, “Yes.” The show is fascinating and something truly unique that you won’t want to miss. Oh, and if you get grass stains on your feet, there are foot washing stations adjacent to the Lawn Club.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Celebrity Solstice: Embarkation

It's always exciting to embark on a new ship and today is no exception as we make our way to Port Everglades to board Celebrity Solstice.

However, Celebrity Solstice is even more intriguing than usual because she's an all-new design with unique and innovative features and introduces a brand-new class of vessels for Celebrity Cruises. And at 122,000-tons, Celebrity Solstice is also the largest ship ever built for Celebrity.

While we certainly look forward to touring Celebrity Solstice to see the new features during our 2-night preview cruise, we also look forward to the traditional Celebrity Cruises' experience we've grown to love.

Check back here for the details and discoveries we make over the next two days. In case you missed our earlier articles, check out what's in store for us aboard:
  • Celebrity Solstice — Get an inside preview of what's new, what's not, what's cool, and what's hot on Celebrity Cruises' new class of cruise ships.
  • Celebrity Solstice Dining — Ten of 2008’s hottest new restaurants will open this fall, on board one of the year’s most anticipated new cruise ships.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whatever Happened to Carnival's Record-Breaking Pinata?

After all the hype and anticipation, Carnival Cruise Lines finally smashed open the World's Biggest pinata (Pinatazilla) this past weekend in downtown Philly. Here's video of the 8,000 lbs of candy enjoyed by the folks on hand—actually, several hundred "extras" hired to appear in the commercial being filmed.

Don't worry about the candy going to waste—the entire contents of the pinata will be donated by Carnival to charitable organizations in Philadelphia, such as Philabundance, the YMCA, Ronald McDonald House, Dignity Housing, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Travelers Aid Family Residence Center, among others. All that sugar is going to make a lot of kids happy.

World Record Breaking Pinata Busted Open

Monday, November 10, 2008

Royal Caribbean Asks, “Why Not?”

In an unprecedented move, Royal Caribbean has officially seceded from land and declared itself The Nation of Why Not, in the first new integrated advertising campaign for the global cruise line in nearly ten years. The campaign is set to roll out today in North America and globally in 2009 and includes print and online advertising, television commercials, collateral, as well as a new social networking website –

The Nation of Why Not kicks off with two television commercials (30-second and 60-second versions) inviting vacationers to secede from land and become citizens of “the nation.” The tongue-in-cheek spots – a combination of live action and animation – begin Nov 10, during morning show programming on ABC and NBC television networks, and during prime time programming on ABC and CBS. The commercials highlight Royal Caribbean’s global destinations and innovative onboard amenities, challenging viewers to do things at sea that they could not do on land, such as “Why not ice skate on the equator and climb mountains at sea?” Additionally, print ads will launch in forty newspapers nationwide on Sunday, Nov 16, 2008.

“The Nation of Why Not is a place where innovation and imagination rule supreme,” stated Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The founding of The Nation of Why Not is not a revolution, but an evolution of Royal Caribbean’s legacy of presenting guests with a variety of unexpected possibilities on board, such as rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, and surf simulators, which have always prompted the idea of ‘why not?’”

The citizens of The Nation of Why Not – from guests, cruise and shore-side staff to travel agents, architects, designers and builders – bring the concept of “Why Not?” to life by participating in, delivering and conceptualizing the global cruise line’s award-winning Gold Anchor service and signature onboard innovations. The new brand campaign not only resonates with Royal Caribbean cruisers, but is a natural fit within the existing company culture, which fosters creativity and dedication to developing the most innovative cruise ships in the world. Nine years ago the “Get Out There” campaign successfully redefined society’s perceptions about cruising and propelled Royal Caribbean to become the leader of the active cruise vacation market.

Today the Why Not? campaign connects the world to The Nation of Why Not’s “anything is possible” state-of-mind. I've already joined The Nation of Why Not and invite you to visit to sign up as well!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ruby Princess: Special Images will have a full new ship preview of Ruby Princess in the coming days, but until then we want to share some special images from our brief Inaugural Cruise...

First, the sky filled with ruby-red streamers as Ruby Princess was christened

The Piazza, the heart of Ruby Princess

Not just for big people, Ruby Princess has a lot of cool stuff for kids

And finally, the Cruise Diva met up with Gavin McLeod, best known as Captain Stubing of the "Love Boat"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Royal Caribbean Celebrates 2nd Annual First-Time Cruisers Month

In the cruise line’s continuous efforts to help its travel agent partners sell cruises and grow their businesses, Royal Caribbean Intl has unveiled a month of enticing offers for first-time cruisers, as well as for veteran cruisers, throughout November. Travel agents and vacationers will enjoy savings and benefits throughout First-Time Cruisers Month, from reduced thresholds for complimentary tour conductor’s staterooms and bonus GAP points, to dollars off and onboard credit for customers booking a cruise or cruisetour.

“Now is the best time to book a cruise vacation to anywhere in the world aboard a Royal Caribbean ship,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Services, Royal Caribbean International. “Whether for short-cruise getaways or extended cruisetours, our research shows that first-time cruisers with Royal Caribbean have the highest satisfaction rate compared to any other segment. Travel agent partners can take advantage of the offers during the second annual First-Time Cruisers Month to grow their customer base, add value to their customers’ vacations, and help ensure repeat business.”

Royal Caribbean is giving travel agents a wide array of incentives to pass on to their customers every week during First-Time Cruisers Month. Each new offer will feature a different region or destination coupled with savings of up to $200 per stateroom for new bookings. The First-Time Cruisers Month weekly offers are:
  • Week 1: $75 off or onboard credit per stateroom on all cruises through 2009 for bookings made on Nov 7 and 8, 2008 only
  • Week 2: Up to $200 off per stateroom on select sailings in 2009 for Crown & Anchor Society members – Royal Caribbean’s loyalty rewards program for past guests – which can be extended to a second stateroom for their friends or family for bookings made between Nov 10 and Nov 30
  • Week 3: Up to $200 off per stateroom on select Europe or Alaska sailings in 2009 for bookings made between Nov 17 and Nov 23
  • Week 4: Up to $100 off per stateroom on select Caribbean or Mexico sailings in 2009 made between Nov 24 and Nov 30
  • Throughout November, active and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces can enjoy savings of up to $200 per stateroom, up to three staterooms, for any sailing (except for Oasis of the Seas) through 2009. The military savings offer may not be combined with other offers or promotions.
First-time and veteran cruisers also can take advantage of some of the industry’s best pricing for a cruise this holiday season. Majesty of the Seas special Christmas short cruise to the Bahamas, departing Miami on Dec 22, starts at $319 per person; Adventure of the Seas’ Dec 21 sailing to the Southern Caribbean over Hanukkah and Christmas starts at $699 per person; or guests can herald in the New Year on the Mexican Riviera aboard Vision of the Seas’ Dec 28 departure, which starts at $949 per person. Guests aboard Royal Caribbean’s holiday sailings feature a breadth of special festive programming that reflects the traditions of each holiday, including traditional religious services for Hanukkah and Christmas, onboard holiday shows, festive decorations and extended New Years parties in every onboard lounge. All prices are based on double occupancy.

For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit online or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ruby Princess: At Sea Aboard The Inaugural Sailing

Ruby Princess is full of delightful surprises. While passing through the Piazza to get fresh brewed coffee at the International Café we’ve enjoyed such diverse entertainers as Spank, an acapella do wop group (pictured here), a unicyclist, and a performance of classical standards. There’s something going on all the time—and something to please everyone’s taste.

And speaking of taste, one tasty addition to Ruby Princess is the complimentary Pub Lunch in the Wheelhouse Bar. I highly recommend the fish and chips. I washed mine down with the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever been served at sea. Ruby Princess has a galley adjacent to the Wheelhouse Bar, as do Emerald Princess and Crown Princess, which will be adding the Pub Lunch as well.

There’s been a lot going on today, although the highlight is definitely a Tribute to Gavin McLeod. Best known as Merrill Stubing, the captain of television’s Love Boat (pictured here on the Movies Under The Stars screen aboard Ruby Princess), his impressive career also includes movies and the theater. Princess Cruises has honored the life and career of McLeod, their 20-year spokesman, with a must-see video and lively question-and-answer session.

Our brief cruise aboard Ruby Princess is drawing to a close, but we’ve packed some terrific experiences into our short time on board, including dinner last night in Sabatini’s and virtually non-stop entertainment.

After a taste of life aboard Ruby Princess, it will be difficult to disembark in the morning.

Ruby Princess: Romance Afloat

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Fort Lauderdale. A beautiful day for a wedding and for naming Princess Cruises’ newest ship Ruby Princess. Flanked by crewmembers, bride Danielle Vurpillat made her way down the staircases from Ruby Princess’ top deck and was met by former Love Boat captain Gavin McLeod, who escorted her to the altar where groom Kip Hickman and attendants Trista and Ryan Sutter awaited. Although the Sutters, who met on the hit television show Bachlorette, were their official attendants, it was appropriate that crewmembers of the newest “Love Boat” also participated in the nuptials.

As the sun slipped toward the horizon, the bride and groom were pronounced husband and wife and it was time to get down to the business of christening Princess Cruises’ new ship. In an unconventional twist, Trista and Ryan, who are celebrating their fifth anniversary milestone and expecting their second child, both shared the honors as godparents to name Ruby Princess. Amid hundreds of red roses the ceremony was capped by the traditional champagne smash as ruby red streamers filled the air.

It was a busy day and we didn’t have a lot of time to explore Ruby Princess. One point I’d like to share is that Ruby Princess is the last new ship Princess Cruises presently has on order and it will be a while before aditional vessels join the fleet. That gives the line the opportunity to hone their superior service. Just an example of that service was exhibited today by Sherwin, a crewmember who hails from the Philippines. As you may recall, I broke my leg a couple months ago and I am now wearing a boot-style brace for support and using a cane for walking. I can’t stand for lengthy periods and Sherwin went out of his way to find a chair for me to sit down. I really appreciate his kindness.

Today we’re at sea and will have a lot more to report later from aboard Ruby Princess.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Princess Celebrates Romance With The Launch of Ruby Princess

A spray of ruby-colored water from two escorting fireboats welcomed Ruby Princess, the newest ship in the Princess Cruises fleet, into Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday. For the launch of Ruby Princess, Princess Cruises is celebrating romantic moments and milestones in true Love Boat style. In honor of the occasion, celebrity couple Trista and Ryan Sutter, who met on ABC's hit reality series, "The Bachelorette," will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary and mark their milestone event during the Ruby Princess inaugural when they christen the ship today at 5 pm. In an industry first, a couple will also be married during the naming ceremony, with Love Boat captain Gavin MacLeod giving away the bride, and the Sutters serving as wedding attendants.

The romantic events continue as Princess hosts a “Ruby Red Tie” gala to celebrate the naming of its new ship, followed by a two-night preview cruise for hundreds of VIP guests, including the Cruise Diva. During the sailing, the ship will host an array of “ruby” and romance-themed activities, including a massive renewal of vows for all couples on Nov 7. Ruby Princess returns to Port Everglades on Nov 8 for its inaugural 7-day sailing to the Western Caribbean.

The 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess includes a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing line-up of street performers. Passengers will also enjoy Princess' other array of dining venues including the signature Sabatini's Italian restaurant (where I'll be dining tonight) and the Crown Grill steak house, plus a relaxing oasis just for adults called The Sanctuary. The new ship will also offer the many other innovations that define the Princess experience, including the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, Personal Choice Dining featuring traditional or Anytime seating, multiple entertainment venues, a relaxing Asian-style Lotus Spa with fitness center, an extensive children and teen's center, and a wedding chapel.

Be sure to check back here later for a first-hand account of the festivities with the Cruise Diva from on board Ruby Princess. In addition, the Ruby Princess naming ceremony and wedding will be available for viewing on line at at their web site beginning Nov 7.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fort Lauderdale Welcomes Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Cruises' employees and other South Florida residents turned out Monday morning to greet Celebrity Solstice as the ship begins its U.S. debut. The sleek, 122,000-ton ship includes the industry’s first half-acre Lawn Club with real grass and Hot Glass Show with live glassblowing demonstrations; 10 varied restaurants; truly unique entertainment expressly designed for the ship's state-of-the-art theater, and a breadth of accommodations, including an entirely new category, AquaClass. Amidst a series of preview cruises for invited travel agents, press and other dignitaries, Celebrity Solstice will be named in formal ceremonies Nov 14, and will enter service Nov 23 on a series of 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailings.

Cruise Diva will be on board from Nov 12-14 and reporting here on the blog. In case you missed our earlier articles, check out what's in store aboard:
  • Celebrity Solstice — Get an inside preview of what's new, what's not, what's cool, and what's hot on Celebrity Cruises' new class of cruise ships.
  • Celebrity Solstice Dining — Ten of 2008’s hottest new restaurants will open this fall, on board one of the year’s most anticipated new cruise ships.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oceania Cruises & Regent Seven Seas Cruises Adjust 2009, 2010 Fuel Supplements

Prestige Cruise Holdings, parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has announced that effective Nov 10, 2008, fuel supplement charges will be eliminated from all voyages departing in 2010 and the company has established specific guidelines under which the fuel supplement may be reimbursed to guests sailing on voyages departing in 2009.

For voyages departing in 2010, no fuel supplement will be charged on new reservations. For existing reservations on voyages departing in 2010, the fuel supplement charge will automatically be removed from the guests’ final payment balance. For voyages departing in 2009, the company will continue to apply a $15 per guest per day fuel supplement. Fuel supplement charge adjustments, if any, will be determined on a quarterly basis. Refunds, in the form of shipboard credits, will be applied to all reservations to which a fuel supplement had previously been charged if the quarterly closing price on the New York Mercantile Exchange of West Texas Intermediate fuel is below $65 per barrel two weeks prior to the beginning of the upcoming calendar quarter.

The dates on which the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel will be measured and the quarters during which refunds may be applied are listed in's Cruise News.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Carnival Cruise Lines Super Sizes "Fun" With A Piñata Block Party

Carnival Cruise Lines broke a Guinness Record for the world’s largest piñata during a Piñata Block Party event in Philadelphia on Sunday, Nov. 2. According to an onsite Guinness adjudicator, the giant mock donkey, which contained 8,000 pounds of candy, measured 60 feet, 4 inches long; 23 feet, 10.5 inches wide and 61 feet, 10.25 inches tall.

Designed to kick-off the cruise line’s new branding campaign as well as serve as the basis for an upcoming TV commercial, the event featured a variety of entertainment and activities, along with free food and giveaway items, including five 7-day Caribbean cruises from Baltimore on the Carnival Pride.

Unfortunately, the ultimate piñata smash and candy release—planned to have been accomplished with a wrecking ball—was postponed due to safety concerns. Philadelphia Police Department officials called a halt to the fun out of fear that the candy release might cause a stampede by the unexpectedly large number of attendees. The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that, "Though Philadelphians came out for a day of fun, some were upset when the breaking did not occur." While we understand their disappointment, we can't help but side with the official decision on this one. No amount of free candy is worth injury or worse.

Viking River Cruises Welcomes Ocean Cruisers

If you have ever taken an ocean cruise, Viking River Cruises wants you to give river cruising a try--because, they say, if you like ocean cruising, you will love river cruising. To encourage more ocean cruisers to discover the joys of river cruising, Viking River Cruises, which offers river cruises and cruisetours through Europe, Russia, and China, is giving anyone who has taken an ocean cruise a special promotional discount of $500 ($1,000 per couple) on any 2009 itinerary. This savings is in addition to early booking discount of up to $2,000 per couple currently available.

Many guests have found that river cruising is an even better way of experiencing the world than ocean cruising. River cruising is the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry, expanding at a compound rate of 23.4% per annum since 2001--more than three times the 7.7% growth rate of ocean cruising during the same period. But some travelers are still not familiar with it. "While river cruising has some similarities with ocean cruising, there are certain benefits travelers can only enjoy on a river cruise," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking River Cruises. "This offer is obviously designed to introduce river cruising to people who have taken an ocean cruise but are new to river cruising. However, we are always delighted to welcome back our past guests, so the offer is extended to them as well."

Why river cruising? Ocean cruisers are familiar with the convenience of unpacking just once in a comfortable stateroom. But river cruise ships are far smaller and more intimate than ocean cruising vessels, carrying only 150 to 300 passengers, and every stateroom is a comfortable "outside" stateroom with a view and/or balcony. With river cruising, meals are open seating, casual but elegant, and the ride is smooth and quiet with no worries about motion sickness or "sea legs." River cruise ships sail right into the heart of each destination and guests walk right off the ship--no hassles with embarkation or debarkation. And river cruise vacation packages are all-inclusive, covering not only accommodations and all onboard meals but the vast majority of shore excursions and supplemental cultural activities with no hidden charges. On a river cruise, there is ever-changing scenery and new destinations every day-guests spend their time being there, not getting there.

To take advantage of this offer, prospective guests need only tell Viking (or have their travel agent tell Viking) when they took their ocean cruise and with which cruise line. The ocean cruisers offer may be combined with up to two other current discounts being offered, including any advertised early booking discounts, Past Guest discounts and Refer-A-Friend travel credits. It is good on any 2009 itinerary and runs from Nov 1, 2008 through Dec 19, 2008. "River cruising is such a wonderful way to see the world's great cities and quaint towns," continued Mr. Hagen. "We take guests to places they would be unlikely to reach any other way, and they travel in comfort and style. In 2009, we hope to introduce river cruising in Europe, Russia or China to everyone who has taken an ocean cruise-they will love it!"

Since its 1997 inception, Viking River Cruises has grown to a fleet of 21 vessels, and provides unique, deluxe vacations to experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history. For additional information, contact Viking River Cruises toll-free at 1-877-668-4546, or visit the company' web site online.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Celebrity Solstice Makes Her Florida Debut November 3rd

If you live in South Florida or are visiting the area, you are in for a treat on Monday, Nov 3rd as one of the cruise industry’s most eagerly awaited ships of the year—Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice—will sail into Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL for the first time. Expected to arrive at the Port Everglades sea buoy at approximately 6 am, Celebrity Solstice should be dockside by approximately 7 am. Ideal viewing platforms include Fort Lauderdale Beach and surroundings, while residents with waterfront condominiums can enjoy a bird’s-eye view.

For her arrival, Celebrity Solstice will be fully “dressed” with vibrant flags flying above its industry-first half-acre Lawn Club, Hot Glass Show, and one of the highest percentages of verandas in the business, not to mention the wealth of attributes found inside the sleek, 122,000-ton ship.

Soon after its arrival, Celebrity Solstice will sail a series of 2-night preview cruises for invited guests and be named in formal ceremonies on Nov 14. Cruise Diva will be on board from Nov 12-14 and reporting here on the blog. In the meantime, check out what's in store aboard:
  • Celebrity Solstice — Get an inside preview of what's new, what's not, what's cool, and what's hot on Celebrity Cruises' new class of cruise ships.

  • Celebrity Solstice Dining — Ten of 2008’s hottest new restaurants will open this fall, on board one of the year’s most anticipated new cruise ships.

Upon completion of the introductory events, Celebrity Solstice will will embark on its inaugural season Nov 23, with a series of 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In spring 2009, the stunning new ship will introduce a series of romantic 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Rome.