Monday, November 30, 2009

Celebrity Cruises Rolls Out Unlimited Beer & Alcohol Packages

After the shops, bars, and casino close on the last night of every cruise, an armada of stewards delivers one final piece of paper to each passenger cabin. You find it when you arise that last morning and probably set it aside while you head for breakfast. To some, it's no surprise, to most it's an indication of what a good time they had during their cruise. It's the itemized statement of your onboard spending account.

For years, cruisers have bemoaned the fact that so many beverages, particularly adult beverages, are not "included" in the price of their cruise fare. In the past, "drink cards" that allowed you to pre-pay for a certain number of cocktails have come and gone, depending on popularity aboard some ships. And, while "soda packages" have long been available for unlimited soft drinks, none have covered unlimited beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverage purchases.

Celebrity Cruises has changed all that with the introduction of a beer package and two liquor packages. Unlike the soda package, the beer and liquor packages must be pre-reserved a minimum of four days before you sail, according to Celebrity Cruises' web site. When the order is placed and confirmed online, the order cannot be modified. However, you may cancel the order and then repurchase it if you change your mind. Celebrity's website also states, "To purchase beverage packages onboard, please visit the Guest Relations desk for more information." That statement makes it a bit unclear as to whether the pre-purchase is required, but at the per person prices below, we wonder if there will be many takers.

Beer Package
Enjoy a cold beer throughout the duration of your cruise when you purchase a Beer Package. Simply show your icon on your SeaPass Card, and sit back and enjoy your choice of domestic and imported beers. This package provides the ultimate in value and convenience. Enjoy an unlimited variety of your choice from our selection of domestic and imported brews. This includes Corona®, Heineken®, Budweiser®, and other favorites. *Starting from: $34.50 Per Night

Whether you choose the Classic or Premium Liquor Package, you can take advantage of an unlimited variety of the selection of spirits available onboard Celebrity, per person. Whether in a bar, lounge, or any of our restaurants, simply show your SeaPass Card to indicate your participation.

Premium Liquor Package
Our Premium package offers a distinctive collection of premium spirits such as Knob Creek®, Remy Martin VSOP®, and Patron Silver®, to name a few. Participants in the Premium Liquor Package may select spirits from the Classic Liquor Package offering, as well. *Starting from: $76.00 Per Night

Classic Liquor Package
Choose your favorite libation from our wide array of Classic brands, including Dewar's White Label®, Jack Daniel’s®, and Absolut®. Available at all bars, lounges and any of our restaurants. *Starting from: $51.50 Per Night


Coming up!

Don't let the Travel Bloggers' Caravan pass you by.

Starting tomorrow, be sure to check here on the Cruise Diva Blog to find out what it is and how to be a winner as daily prizes are awarded on each Caravan stop.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Carnival Cruise Lines Supports St. Jude Children's Hospital

Carnival Cruise Lines is known for their generosity, especially when it comes to children, and to kick off a three-year partnership with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the line presented the organization with a $50,000 check following a waterslide christening ceremony on the new Carnival Dream during which 9-year-old Hailee Steberger inaugurated the vessel’s 303-foot-long Twister slide, the longest on a cruise ship.

The monies were raised through Carnival’s Big Book of Dreams contest that asked children ages 7 to 12 to share their dreams, along with a hand-drawn illustration, via a special web site. Carnival donated $1 per vote to St. Jude and Steberger garnered the most votes to earn the distinction as the cruise industry’s first waterslide godchild.

Pictured holding the check at the presentation ceremony aboard the Carnival Dream are (from left): John Remington, senior vice president–corporate alliances for ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude; Hailee Steberger; and Jim Berra, Carnival’s chief marketing officer.

As part of its three-year partnership with St. Jude, Carnival aims to raise $3 million to help achieve the hospital’s mission of finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. To support the hospital, under the theme “Care to Play,” Carnival is creating fun, interactive on-board fundraising activities that will involve guest participation.

Carnival Dream, the line’s newest and largest ship, launches year-round Caribbean service from Port Canaveral, Florida on Dec. 3.

Coming up!

Don't let the Travel Bloggers' Caravan pass you by.

Starting Dec 1st, be sure to check here on the Cruise Diva Blog to find out what it is and how to be a winner as daily prizes are awarded on each Caravan stop.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Follow The Progress: Tahitian Princess Is Transformed Into Ocean Princess

Once again, Princess Cruises is taking viewers behind the scenes as the line's ships go through drydock. However, this time the vessel isn't simply going through the renovation process. In the newest installment of the Princess online drydock journal, the current Tahitian Princess will not only undergo a makeover, but also get a new name. Tahitian Princess, one of the small ships of Princess, will be transformed into Ocean Princess during the two-week process, giving her a new moniker reflecting her global range of fascinating itineraries.

The fifth in this unprecedented series, the Ocean Princess Drydock Journal will run through Dec 2 on, and will be updated regularly with photos as the ship progresses through its drydock at Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. Viewers can follow along as the ship's name is removed and replaced on the bow and throughout the vessel, including on equipment such as the lifeboats. The journal will also chronicle changes as the ship is lifted from the water and receives a new coating of energy-efficient silicone paint, plus the interior refurbishments, with new upholstery, carpet, and flooring.

"Response to our drydock journals has been remarkable—passengers love to see what's done to the ship and how much work is involved in such a short time," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "This latest journal will give cruise fans yet another insiders' peek behind the scenes, with the added interest in seeing the name change."

The Ocean Princess Drydock Journal follows the enthusiastically received online journals chronicling work on Golden Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess, and Coral Princess. The journal can be found on the Ocean Princess page in the website's "Ships" section, and it will be updated throughout the ship's two-week drydock.

After the drydock the newly named Ocean Princess will set sail on a 16-day Treasures of Southeast Asia cruise from Singapore to Shanghai, beginning a season of unique Asia, India, and Africa sailings, followed by a summer of European voyages. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company's website at

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cruising to Alaska? Save with 2-for-1 Shore Excursions

If you're cruising to Alaska in summer 2010, there are a lot of things you'll want to see and do when your ship docks in ports of call. Many of those must-do experiences are rather pricey, but you can get 2-for-1 savings on some of the most popular shore excursions with a copy of the latest edition of the Great Alaskan TourSaver.

Just in time for Black Friday shopping, the Great Alaskan TourSaver features more than 130 2-for-1 offers around the state and is the ideal companion for every value-conscious traveler to the Great State. While the book itself costs $99.95, it's packed with coupons and a 2-for-1 flightseeing adventure or whale watching excursion will recoup the cost in savings. These are some of the top attractions featured in the Great Alaskan TourSaver:

In Juneau
1. 2-for-1 Mt. Roberts Tram ride up the mountain from the cruise ship dock
2. 2-for-1 helicopter flightseeing tour of Mendenhall Glacier (with landing and guided walk)
3. 2-for-1 Sled Dog Summer Camp - see Alaskan huskies in training
4. 2-for-1 Glacier Gardens rainforest tour
5. 2-for-1 whale watching. See humpback whales feeding from a deluxe boat!
6. 2-for-1 salmon bake

In Ketchikan
1. 2-for-1 Misty Fjords flightseeing with Taquan Air
2. 2-for-1 zipline adventure with Alaska Canopy Tours
3. 2-for-1 rainforest hike with Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary
4. 2-for-1 kayak adventure with Southeast Sea Kayaks

In Anchorage
1. 2-for-1 admission to the Alaska Native Heritage Museum
2. 2-for-1 admission to the Anchorage Museum
3. 2-for-1 tram ride up Mt. Alyeska

In Seward
1. 2-for-1 cruise of Kenai Fjords National Park
2. 2-for-1 admission to the Alaska SeaLife Center
3. 2-for-1 kayak rental
4. 2-for-1 half-day or full-day charter fishing for halibut or salmon

For more than 12 years, Alaska travelers have trusted the Great Alaskan TourSaver to deliver travel bargains throughout the state. Take a look at the Great Alaskan TourSaver online; you might just save a bundle during your Alaska cruise.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our home to yours, we wish everyone a peaceful and Happy Thanksgiving.

Like many of you, I'll be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television while preparing our holiday feast. I'm always struck with a how'd-they-do-that moment when the massive balloons float by so I was delighted by this video from Disney Cruise Line featuring the making of the Sailor Mickey Balloon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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, as I presently 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 traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner pictured above was served on, join for Holiday Dinners at Sea.

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cunard’s Newest Queen Receives Her Legendary Name

For more than 70 years, Cunard ships graced with the name Queen Elizabeth have been a significant part of maritime history, British heritage and an unparalleled cruise liner experience. And now, with less than a year to go until her maiden voyage, the legendary letters that will identify the newest addition to Cunard’s regal fleet of Queens have been welded onto the bow of Queen Elizabeth at the Fincantieri yard in Trieste, Italy.

“It is a rare honor for any ship to bear the name Queen Elizabeth, and as I saw the famous name being welded to the bow, I was overcome by the historical significance,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “A milestone such as this only continues to build on the already wide anticipation of the debut of our gracious new Cunarder.”

Limited space is still available on voyages for Queen Elizabeth’s maiden 2010 season, comprised of six legendary voyages, calling on 32 distinct ports in 18 countries. Her Maiden Voyage, now sold out, will depart from Cunard’s homeport of Southampton, UK, on Oct 12, 2010, en route to the Atlantic Isles.

During a recent call to Venice (Italy) aboard Queen Victoria, Entertainment Director Alastair Greener was able to visit the Trieste shipyard and post more progress photos on Cunard’s blog at We Are Cunard.

For more information about Cunard Line and to book a voyage aboard Queen Elizabeth, contact your Travel Agent, call toll-free 1-800-7-CUNARD or visit Cunard online.

Monday, November 23, 2009

MSC Poesia: Cruise Review

When MSC Poesia arrived in the United States the Musica-class ship had a second christening of sorts as she was welcomed to Port Everglades by television icon, author, and entrepreneur Suzanne Somers.

The five-night sailing was also the President's Cruise and Richard Sasso, CEO & President of MSC Cruises USA was on hand to host activities and events, such as this cooking demonstration. Sasso and the executive chef prepared delicious Vermicelli With Fresh Seashells and Cherry Tomatoes.

Join Cruise Diva on board for a first-hand look at the accommodations, food, activities, and events on an MSC Poesia Caribbean Cruise.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Air & Sea: Getting To The Port On Time

For the second time in just a little over a year a glitch in the FAA flight plan system caused widespread flight cancellations and delays throughout the nation this past Thursday.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Intl Airport, the world's busiest airport, was affected as early as 8:00am, with JetBlue and Delta cancelling and/or delaying numerous flights. Everyone in the south knows that when Hartsfield has a problem, it snowballs throughout the area. No one gets off the ground.

Were you on your way to embark on a cruise while the FAA was working to restore their system? If so, I hope you were following Cruise Diva's most important advice to cruisers who must fly to their embarkation port—leave a day early.

Here's what you need to know about cruise line Air & Sea Programs and missing the boat. Air & Sea: Solutions for the Landlocked

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is St. Kitts Vying For An Oasis?

Royal Caribbean has spent nearly a week now wowing pre-inaugural guests aboard Oasis of the Seas and at least one of them is prepared to wow the cruise line right back. As an invited guest of Royal Caribbean Intl and Celebrity Cruises, Senator Ricky Skerritt, St. Kitts' Minister of State for Tourism, spent last Sunday and Monday nights aboard the massive Oasis, docked at Florida's new Port Everglades Cruise Terminal 18, which was designed and built especially as the ship's home port.

While on board, Minister Skerritt toured the impressive ship, attended orientation workshops, and held discussions with his hosts, including Royal Caribbean's Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain and Senior Vice President for Land Operations, Craig Milan. Skerritt described the 5,400 passenger ship as "awesome" and his experience on board as "enlightening." According to him, "The innovative designs and standards being employed onboard in delivering customer service, use of technology, and various energy and environmental management systems are instructive for all who have interests in the future of tourism."

And, oh by the way, Minister Skerritt revealed that St. Kitts' Port Zante can physically accommodate Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, the largest and newest cruise ship in the world, and it may happen sometime in the future as the island's cruise port has been officially assessed as "Oasis capable."

Royal Caribbean Intl and Celebrity Cruises brought 76,772 passengers to St. Kitts last season and will almost double those numbers to 130,368 this season. Minister Skerritt predicts that Royal Caribbean's numbers will increase by a further thirty percent in 2010/2011. Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, St. Kitts offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination's natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island's stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the Caribbean's only scenic passenger railway, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (an UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the more traditional vacation pastimes such as watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, gourmet dining, gaming at one of St. Kitts' two casinos, or simply relaxing on one of the island's sandy beaches.

For information about St. Kitts, visit St. Kitts Tourism or check out what to see and do there on

Photo: Oasis of the Seas Docked at Terminal 18, Port Everglades
©Linda Coffman,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Now Sailing From Cruise Terminal 18 at Port Everglades: Oasis of the Seas

Yesterday was a really big day for which officials at Port Everglades have spent months preparing. It marked a crucial test of Cruise Terminal 18 as the 225,282 ton Oasis of the Seas boarded guests for an overnight sailing. Today, more guests will arrive for a scheduled two-night preview cruise. By the time Cruise Terminal 18 greets Oasis' first revenue passengers on Dec 1st and those who've booked the the inaugural cruise departing Dec 5th, the embarkation/disembarkation process should be running like a well-oiled machine.

Oasis of the Seas' sister-ship Allure of the Seas will also homeport at Port Everglades when launched, so to accommodate this class of revolutionary cruise ships, the Port invested approximately $75 million to build Cruise Terminal 18. The terminal is mega-sized to handle the mega-ships' more than 5,400 cruise passengers and their luggage. In addition, it was designed so that arriving and departing passengers can simultaneously proceed through processing procedures.

While Royal Caribbean has already used Cruise Terminal 18 with other ships to tweak the state-of-the-art systems, Port Everglades has been busy making sure the entire embarkation process is as seamless as possible for arriving (and departing) passengers. That means an updated taxi queue system and a speedier process for turning around taxis, which now use a separate entrance to the port. Buses will also enter through a designated gate, freeing up the entry security check points for private vehicles and improving traffic flow. Upon arrival, passengers driving to port will find an expanded 1,010 space parking lot (the fee is presently $15/day).

Purpose built for 15-minute "curb-to-ship" service, Cruise Terminal 18 is, by necessity, a vast facility and at 240,000 square feet (5.5 acres), it's more than three times larger than it was just 22 months prior to opening. Yet, it's not intimidating and most passengers should find it easy to navigate, not to mention comfortable. There's even an inviting children's play area just in case you have a short wait to board your ship.

Cruise Diva recently visited Cruise Terminal 18 and will share a fully illustrated arrival-to-embarkation photo tour on in the coming days.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oasis of the Seas: The SEVEN Godmothers

With seven "neighborhoods" to christen on board, the world's largest cruise ship Oasis of the Seas will have seven (count 'em! seven!) Godmothers to do the honors. We know that much for certain, but other details are sketchy and, despite a phone call to Royal Caribbean for confirmation, the Godmother names below were not verified until hours after we learned them.

However, unless someone hacked into their Oasis and Allure account yesterday, Royal Caribbean announced one Godmother per hour on the ubiquitous Twitter web site. So far there's no word on which Godmother will name which neighborhood—we understand that will be revealed "later"—but some are sort of obvious.

So, without further ado, here are the seven Godmothers, whose names are now official:

  • The first Godmother to be named is Gloria Estefan. I'm a huge fan of Ms. Estefan's music and she certainly has a South Florida-Caribbean connection and a history with Royal Caribbean; Ms. Estafan was Godmother of the line's Empress of the Seas. She's an excellent choice. I'm listening to Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine on my iPod as I type.
  • For their second Godmother, World Champion figure skater and Olympian Michelle Kwan was chosen. Another fan favorite and, with the ice skating program on Oasis of the Seas, an appropriate selection.
  • Emmy Award winning actress Jane Seymour was the third Oasis Godmother to be revealed. I loved her as a Bond Girl and cheered her on during her time as a Dancing With the Stars competitor—unlike most of the participants, she really is a star.
  • Royal Caribbean teased us with their drawn-out announcements, but then stated that it wouldn't be an Olympic lineup of Godmothers without swimmer Dara Torres, who they were happy to announce as the fourth Oasis Godmother. With all the water-related facilities and pools on board, another outstanding selection.
  • The line was (once again) happy to announce their fifth Godmother is actress Keisha Knight Pulliam. I remember her as Rudy Huxtable on the Cosby Show many years ago. Cute little girl, but what's she been up to since 1992?
  • Getting back to the announcements, the sixth Godmother is yet another Olympian and 2008 medalist, gymnast Shawn Johnson. Wasn't she also on Dancing With the Stars? Is this a trend? To answer my own question, Johnson and her partner won the mirror ball trophy on DWTS.
  • And, drum roll please... the seventh Godmother is Daisy Fuentes, international television personality and producer. Who?

Well, there you have it. Seven ladies who will participate in a christening ceremony unlike any other. As Richard Fain recently described in his Chairman's Blog, "An extraordinary and innovative ship deserves an extraordinary and innovative naming. For Oasis of the Seas we have decided to use seven godmothers because we have seven neighborhoods. Each godmother will start in her own area and then they will all convene at the AquaTheatre for the formal naming. All seven godmothers will cut a ribbon which will require seven complete cuts to release the bottle."

Unless plans have changed, the official naming ceremony for Oasis of the Seas will take place on Nov 30 during a one-night inaugural celebration-fundraiser to benefit the non-profit Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

More information about Oasis of the Seas from at:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two "Christenings" for Carnival Dream

While Academy Award and Tony Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden officially named Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest and largest ship, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, during a shipboard ceremony in New York last Thursday, Hailee Steberger acted as a sort of Junior Godmother during a second christening ceremony.

Attired in a Carnival wet suit, 9-year-old Hailee, of Egg Harbor Township, NJ, inaugurated the Twister waterslide on Carnival Dream during a shipboard ceremony held on Friday, Nov 13th, in New York City. Hailee was selected from more than 500 contest entrants who created a drawing and essay that focused on their favorite dream.

Following a pair of 8-day voyages from New York, Carnival Dream will launch year-round Caribbean service from Port Canaveral, Florida on Dec 3rd.

Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Advanced Photo System to Debut on Oasis of the Seas

Anyone who has combed through displays of the many (many!) photos taken by shipboard photographers may be dreading that process aboard the world’s largest cruise ship. Now there’s word that you won’t have to.

When Oasis of the Seas debuts at Port Everglades this month, also debuting will be the world’s most advanced photography system at sea. Image, Royal Caribbean’s photo concessionaire for 22 years, has implemented a series of state-of-the-art technologies that will streamline the gallery sales process and enable guests to easily find and manage their cruise memories. With its patented youFinder automated photo indexing technology, Image has implemented a more guest-centric way of displaying cruise memories. Combined with digital workflow systems that manage the large number of images produced, youFinder can separate guest images into logical groupings—by cabin number or traveling companions.

“youFinder represents a fundamental change in the shipboard photography business,” said Brynley Davies, managing director of the Image Group. “Despite the advent of digital mini-labs on cruise ships, retail display of photos in galleries is still largely based on film technology, where there has been no effective way to link a photo to a guest.”

Davies noted the gallery sales process has remained essentially unchanged since the cruise industry began in the 1970s. Photos are taken, printed and displayed by event—embarkation, formal night, port arrivals, etc—in the photo gallery. Guests seek out their photos on the display and make a purchase decision.

As cruise ships have become larger with more passengers and more photos, that process has become less efficient for guests. Image has developed a storage mechanism that works in tandem with youFinder to place all of a guest’s cruise photos in one location. Guests come back to the same location each time they want to view their photos, eliminating the need to hunt through the panel displays. In addition to viewing printed photos in the gallery, guests also can view their images electronically using the new Image photo kiosk, which has a 35 percent larger display screen than previous versions. The kiosk’s software has been rewritten and a new user interface created, which substantially improves guest satisfaction.

“Oasis of the Seas has the most advanced digital photo system ever operated on a cruise ship,” said Davies. “Image is redefining shipboard photography by fundamentally changing the way guests find and interact with their cruise images. Over the next few months we plan to introduce a number of significant new products and services on Oasis of the Seas that will continue this trend toward innovation.”

More information about Oasis of the Seas from at:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Epic Entertainment To Shine Aboard Norwegian Epic

Last year when Norwegian Cruise Line chose Las Vegas as the venue to present the nightlife options planned for their newest, largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date, debuting in June 2010, Norwegian Epic, that was a clue that the entertainment to be presented on board would be a bit out of the norm for cruise ships as well.

First NCL revealed that they landed the popular Vegas act Blue Man Group to present their show aboard Norwegian Epic and now they have announced that Legends in Concert, the original and world’s greatest live tribute show, will be featured for the first time at sea in more than a decade on Norwegian Epic. A staple on Las Vegas’ center strip for the past 25 years, Legends in Concert is known as the pioneer of live tribute shows and has assembled the greatest collection of live tribute artists and celebrity look-alikes in the industry. Norwegian Epic will also welcome Howl at the Moon, the world’s greatest rock ‘n roll dueling piano show that encourages audience participation.

“Norwegian Epic has already made headlines with its world-class entertainment offerings, featuring Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams™ and Dinner, and The Second City. Now, with the addition of Legends in Concert and Howl at the Moon, we have raised the bar even higher, taking cruise ship entertainment to a whole new level, on par with major entertainment hubs like Las Vegas and New York,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer.

Legends In Concert: Legends in Concert is a live musical celebration featuring the world’s greatest celebrity tribute artists such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Jones, Tina Turner, Madonna, Garth Brooks, Rod Stewart, Cher, Barry White, Tim McGraw, and Shania Twain, among many others. Legends in Concert on Norwegian Epic will feature three celebrity tribute performers taking the stage in the Epic Theater for six 45-minute shows over three days during a 7-day cruise. In addition, a cabaret-style show will be performed on three additional nights in the Manhattan Room, the ship’s New York-inspired supper club, providing an unprecedented dining and entertainment experience on Norwegian Epic. The celebrity performers will change every four months, keeping the show fresh and exciting. Each universally-renowned Legends in Concert performer not only looks and sounds like the star they portray, they transform themselves through hours of practice at their craft. This is accomplished by using their own natural voices and every detail is taken into consideration from choreography, to hair, make-up, and mannerisms.

Howl at the Moon: Performing four times per cruise in Headliners, Norwegian Epic’s comedy club, Howl at the Moon is a total entertainment experience where the talented piano players not only entertain the guests; the guests become part of the show. The fun is centered around two baby grand pianos and a full out rock show with Howl’s entertainers playing the best music from 70’s rock to hip-hop for four hours per show. Howl at the Moon, with multiple locations across the United States, encourages people to live out their inner rock star, so guests should be ready to clap, sing, dance, and howl.

Norwegian Epic: In addition to world-class entertainment, the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic incorporates many innovations including several new types of accommodations—the curved New Wave staterooms; the largest Villas suite complex at sea, comprising 60 suites and villas on two private decks at the top of the ship; and spa and family-friendly accommodations. The ship also boasts unique nightlife options with the first Ice Bar at sea and Spice H20 with non-stop entertainment day and night; an expansive Aqua Park with the only tube slide and largest bowl slide at sea —The Epic Plunge; seven decks of Freestyle Family Fun with highlights including a 33-foot high, 64-foot wide extreme rock climbing wall and the first ever rappelling wall at sea; the most bowling lanes at sea with six in two venues; a mixed-use sports deck with the ability for guests to engage in eight different athletic activities; as well as three separate kids’ and teen activity areas. In addition, Norwegian Epic will offer the next generation of Freestyle Dining with 20 dining choices and 20 bars and lounges.

Originally known by its project name “F3” Cruise Diva charts Norwegian Epic’s progress:
For more information on Norwegian Epic, or to book a cruise to the Eastern or Western Caribbean call Norwegian at 866-234-7350, visit, or call a travel agent.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cruise Ships: How to Score a Perfect 100 in a US Public Health Inspection

Most passengers don’t give the cleanliness of their cruise ship a second thought because everything appears spotless and there are crewmembers present vacuuming and polishing at all hours. However, there are people who care very deeply about cleanliness in areas most passenters will never see. Did you know that the Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) developed its Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), which operates under the U.S. Public Health Service Act, to inspect all cruise ships that offer foreign itineraries with U.S. ports, and assist the cruise ship industry in the implementation of systems to protect the health of travelers? Under the VSP, cruise ships are subject to unannounced health inspections.

Here’s the scene aboard Crystal Cruise’ ultra-luxurious, award-winning Crystal Symphony recently. Following an intensive inspection by a team of U.S. Public Health officers, Crystal Symphony received a “perfect” score of 100 from the CDC. The audit occurred during the ship’s Oct 21st call in Boston, Massachusetts. Scoring is based on 41 inspection items of the potable water system; food preparation and storage areas; waste management systems, including filters, ventilation devices and sanitizing temperatures; cleaning sequences and standards of accommodations and public areas; and general environmental health issues. Swimming pools and spas are also inspected. In addition, fleetmate Crystal Serenity received a perfect 100 during her most recent call in Canada in May.

While it didn’t hurt that earlier in the month Crystal Symphony emerged from drydock with freshly redesigned Crystal Penthouses and Penthouse Suites, elegant Lido Café and Prego Italian restaurant and completely transformed pool deck, among other transformations. The $25+ million makeover reinforced Crystal’s commitment to delivering a product that consistently earns the industry’s top accolades. However, it doesn't take an intense rejuvenation for a ship to receive a perfect score from the CDC. What it does take, though, is a lot of hard work, dedication, determination, and pride.

For more information about how cruise ships rank, Cruise Diva offers a summary of CDC Inspection Scores for all ships inspected, as well as a chart indicating the ones that have achieved perfection.

Additional information about Crystal Cruises can be found on their web site.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Welcome: Carnival, Seabourn, MSC Cruises & Royal Caribbean Ships

It’s been a really big week for first-time ship arrivals in United States port cities.

The activity started as Port Everglades greeted Seabourn Odyssey at dawn on Nov 10 and MSC Poesia arrived on Nov 11. Finally, the Fort Lauderdale port welcomed brand-new Oasis of the Seas at the brand-new Terminal 18 on Nov 13.

There was real excitement in New York City aboard Carnival Dream as she arrived in that city to be christened on Nov 12 by Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden (pictured here).

Friday, November 13, 2009

On Board MSC Poesia

The majority of passengers aboard MSC Poesia for this week's 5-night inaugural Caribbean cruise are Americans (about 2,400 of the 2,612 sailing) and there’s plenty to keep them busy.

All day long you’ll find exercise classes, table soccer, tennis, mini-golf, pool games, cooking demonstrations, and bingo. Making an appearance today is a unique challenge—lasersport clay pigeon shooting. While “real” clay pigeon shooting disappeared from cruise ship activities some years ago, the new lasersport shooting contest should be a unique test of skill.

Italians love music and dancing and the Zebra Lounge is the hot spot to enjoy both with the high energy Entertainment Team, which has been on hand to lead dance lessons, musical games, and the selection of Miss Poesia, the Queen of the Cruise. Other lounges are equally active with music ranging from soft piano sounds to the electric atmosphere of the disco. For a more sedentary late-night pursuit, movies under the stars on the maxi-screen overlooking the pool are occasionally scheduled.

We’ll let you know how we fared with lasersport clay pigeon shooting in Cruise Diva’s report of the entire MSC Poesia experience, so watch for it at next week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MSC Poesia At Sea

Have you ever wondered how your cabin steward intuitively knew when you left the stateroom? He seems to magically appear as soon as you’re gone and when you return the bed is made and towels replaced. Here’s how they do it aboard MSC Poesia

When you enter your stateroom, you must insert your key card in a slot by the door. That activates the stateroom overhead lights and also lights up a small orange bulb outside the door. When the steward sees the light on in the passageway ceiling, he knows you’re “home” and when it’s off, he’s alerted that you’re out and he can enter to clean and straighten up. Plus, the slot that activates the stateroom lights is an energy-saving device. You have to remove your key when you leave in order to get back in and the lights won’t stay on when it’s out of the slot. Thus, it’s impossible to leave the lights on and waste electricity.

Accommodations on MSC Poesia have other useful features as well. From the interactive television, you can book shore excursions, order from room service, preview items in the onboard shops, and watch movies. Beside the television there’s an Ethernet outlet for connection to the Internet from personal laptop computers and four outlets for electric appliances are located at the desk/dressing table. Two outlets are 110-volt and two are 220-volt. Just bring along a couple plug converters and you can use all four outlets, providing that two are dual voltage.

Closet, drawer, and shelf space is quite adequate for a week long cruise. Even standard bathrooms with a shower have a spacious feel and feature storage shelves on the wall and beneath the sink. Showers are outfitted with wall mounted dispensers filled with shampoo and shower gel. Bring your own body lotion as none is provided in standard accommodations, but leave your bathrobe at home—fluffy terrycloth robes are provided for use during your cruise. A powerful hairdryer is mounted in the top drawer of the desk/dressing table and a mini-bar completes the stateroom amenities.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MSC Poesia Arrives in Port Everglades

Yesterday marked the introduction of MSC Cruises's MS Poesia to North America and the beginning of her maiden Caribbean season.

While MSC Poesia was christened in Dover, England by Ms. Sophia Lauren in April 2008, she had a second christening of sorts as she was welcomed to Port Everglades by television icon, author, and entrepreneur Suzanne Somers. Probably best known as a star of Three’s Company, Ms. Somers remarked that being aboard MSC Poesia was serendipitous as her first published work was a collection of her poetry.

Also on hand at the celebration, and sailing this week to host the President’s Cruise, was Richard Sasso, CEO and President of MSC Cruises USA. After a welcome aboard lunch, invited guests gathered for a traditional exchange of plaques and keys between MSC Poesia’s Captain Giacomo Romano and Ms. Somers, port officials, and local dignitaries.

All the good wishes for calm seas and fair weather during her send off must have done the trick. The effects of Hurricane Ida have disappeared and passengers aboard MSC Poesia are experiencing sunny skies and smooth sailing during a day at sea. Watch for more progress as we make our way to Jamaica.

Cruise History, Holland America Line

An ancient practice of shipbuilders is to perform a traditional Coin-Under-the-Mast ceremony when a ship is "floated out." It's said to bring good fortune to the vessel.

Two special coins used in the recent floating out ceremony of Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Amsterdam, currently under construction at Fincantieri shipyard at Marghera, Italy, were minted to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the river in New York that bears his name. In 1609, Hudson, an English explorer employed by the Dutch East India Company, sailed his ship Half Moon up that river. Hudson’s explorations eventually led to the first permanent Dutch settlement in North America—a tiny village on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, which was named Nieuw Amsterdam.

In recognition of that longstanding connection, several rooms on Nieuw Amsterdam will have New York City themes. The main restaurant is the Manhattan Dining Room, the atrium art is inspired by the city’s skyscrapers, and the youth area will feature an authentic 1981 New York Checker cab.

The poster above is from the Holland America Line collection of historical company posters, illustrating the line's Nieuw Amsterdam in service in 1953. As you may have guessed, Holland America Line often "recycles" ship names and the new Nieuw Amsterdam, to be launched in 2010, will be the fourth vessel christened with that name.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good Clean Fun: 'Soap Cruise' Returns to Celebrity Century

Fans of soap opera stars will have the rare opportunity to spend four days with their favorite actors at sea, when Celebrity Century again hosts "Soap Cruise," departing from Miami on Jan 28, 2010. Soap Cruise, the third voyage of its kind, is a special offering that pairs Celebrity's exceptional service with exclusive activities allowing guests who have purchased the Soap Cruise package the opportunity to directly interact with 20 of the hottest actors on several of daytime TV's most popular shows.

Among the activities that Soap Cruise organizers have arranged exclusively for Soap Cruise guests will be autograph and photo sessions, soap opera trivia games, an elite beach party with the stars, and other special events allowing guests to mingle with their favorite actors. Fans of Guiding Light, the show that shined for 72 years, will have the opportunity to meet top actors from the landmark show, including Kim Zimmer ("Reva"), Robert Newman ("Josh") and Jeff Branson ("Shayne").

Hosting Soap Cruise will be Cameron Mathison, who plays "Ryan" on All My Children and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Joining him on Celebrity Century will be fellow All My Children actors Jacob Young ("J.R.") and Vincent Irizarry ("David"); Austin Peck ("Brad") and Julie Pinson ("Janet") from As the World Turns; Brandon Beemer ("Owen"), Don Diamont ("Bill") and Winsor Harmon ("Thorne") of The Bold and the Beautiful; Nadia Bjorlin ("Chloe"), Drake Hogestyn ("John") and James Scott ("E.J.") of Days of Our Lives; Bradford Anderson ("Spinelli") and Laura Wright ("Carly") from General Hospital; Jeff Branson ("Shayne"), Robert Newman ("Josh)" and Kim Zimmer ("Reva") of Guiding Light; Bree Williamson ("Jessica") and John Brotherton ("Jared") on One Life to Live; and Daniel Goddard ("Cane") and Christian LeBlanc ("Michael") of The Young and the Restless.

The stars will mix it up exclusively with guests who have booked the Soap Cruise package on Celebrity Century's Jan 28 itinerary departing roundtrip from Miami, with visits to Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico. But, "like sand in the hourglass," time is running out for booking the opportunity. A limited number of staterooms remain for guests interested in experiencing Soap Cruise. For reservations, visit, or call 888-381-4654. Bookings on Celebrity Century's Jan 28 itinerary through other avenues will not include access to Soap Cruise activities.

Monday, November 9, 2009

World's Largest Cruise Terminal Opens in Port Everglades

The largest cruise ships in the world need the world's largest cruise terminal and now they have one in their Fort Lauderdale homeport at Port Everglades. Terminal 18 officially opened on Friday, Nov 6, one week prior to the arrival of Royal Caribbean International's 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas.

Local county and city officials, as well as Royal Caribbean executives, were on hand for the opening celebration. The event also featured Royal Caribbean dancers, who performed a number from the Hairspray musical.

“We finished building Cruise Terminal 18 on time and under budget, which is a demonstration of government at its best,” said Port Everglades Director Phil Allen. Port Everglades, located within the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Dania Beach, Florida, is governed by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. “There may be bigger terminals that service two ships at the same time, but Terminal 18 was constructed specifically to handle one Oasis-class ship at a time.”

At 240,000 square feet (5.5 acres), Cruise Terminal 18 is more than three times larger than it was just 22 months prior to opening when Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) reached an agreement with Broward County to homeport both of the new Oasis-class of ships at Port Everglades.

To accommodate these revolutionary cruise ships, the Port invested approximately $75 million to build Cruise Terminal 18. The terminal's mega-size will accommodate the more than 5,400 cruise guests and their luggage so that both arriving and departing guests can go through processing procedures simultaneously. Each Oasis-class ship is projected to generate approximately 584,000 passenger movements annually at Port Everglades. The first of the 225,282-gross-registered-ton ships, Oasis of the Seas, is scheduled to begin sailing year-round from Port Everglades in December 2009, with the second sister-ship, Allure of the Seas, to begin year-round sailings one year later.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Silver Spirit Completes Sea Trials

Pictured here, Silverseas Cruises' soon-to-be introduced Silver Spirit recently completed final Sea Trials in the Adriatic Sea.

Silver Spirit's Grand Inaugural Voyage, a 91-day extended journey designed to introduce Silversea's newest ship to the Americas, departs Fort Lauderdale on Jan 21, 2010. Silver Spirit is set to explore over 20 countries and 45 ports for the very first time. She will set a southward course to Rio (for an unforgettable evening at Carnaval), sail around Cape Horn and through the majestic Chilean Fjords before heading to the Mexican Riviera. Guests have the option to personalize their voyage by disembarking in Los Angeles, or sailing through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, or continuing up America's colonial coast to New York City.

Costa Cruises Unveils Names of Newest Fleet Members

After more than 16,000 suggestions from more than 40,000 travel agents and fans around the world, the names of the 16th and 17th ships in the Costa fleet have been selected. The two sister ships, set to debut in 2011 and 2012, will be named the Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa.

The Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, (114,500 gross tons with a double occupancy of 3,000 each) will be delivered in summer 2011 and spring 2012 respectively. The two new sister ships, built by Fincantieri at its Marghera shipyard, are part of a major fleet expansion plan for Costa with five new ships due for delivery between 2009 and 2012. This plan includes the launch of the Costa Luminosa the Costa Pacifica (June 2009) and the Costa Deliziosa (set to debut in Jan 2010). The Costa Favolosa will be the first of the two new vessels to enter service. The laying of the first “building block” took place on Thursday, Nov 5 at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard.

The selections were chosen as a result of Costa’s “Send Us a Sea of Names” project whereby travel agents and fans sent in name suggestions for the two ships. The final selections were chosen based on their definition of the all-encompassing magic, glamour, emotion and passion reflected on all of Costa’s ships. The choice of names was guided by 40,000 travel agents in over 40 countries who submitted more than 16,000 pairs of names. The initiative encouraged travel agents, customers and web users all over the world to take part in the search for the names for the two new Costa flagships. The submissions were summarized in a list of 25 pairs of names posted on All web site visitors were invited to choose their favorite pairing. More than 42,000 votes were received.

Magic, glamour, emotion and passion are elements that have always inspired Costa Cruises in the design of its ships and the creation of a unique and unforgettable cruise experience. The Costa Favolosa is intended to be the epitome of ship interior design, interpreting the excitement and emotion of people who see cruises as a magical voyage in a “contemporary enchanted castle.” The Costa Fascinosa is designed to express the special glamour of a cruise ship and her capacity to ignite strong emotion and passion.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bon Voyage, Carnival Holiday & Norwegian Majesty

Last week the 1,452-passenger Holiday sailed its final voyage for Carnival Cruise Lines when it departed on a 5-day western Caribbean cruise from Mobile, Alabama. For the past 24 years, the 46,052-ton vessel has operated a wide variety of itineraries for the line, playing a critical role in the company’s rise to world’s largest cruise operator.

Launched in 1985, the Holiday was revolutionary for its enclosed double width promenade and inventive interior design, which included a1930s-era bus that sat along the promenade. The Holiday also played an important role in pioneering the short cruise market, introducing 3- and 4-day service from Southern California and, most recently, 4- and 5-day voyages from Mobile. Upon returning from its final Carnival voyage, the Holiday will undergo a refurbishment and be transferred to IberoCruises, Carnival’s Spanish cruise operator. The 2,056-passenger Fantasy will replace the Holiday in Mobile beginning Nov. 10.

Meanwhile, with little fanfare, Norwegian Majesty has wrapped up service in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. Originally launched as Royal Majesty for Majesty Cruise Line in 1992, the 1,462-passenger Norwegian Majesty sailed for more than a decade under the NCL flag, most recently to Bermuda from the northeast and the Caribbean from Charleston, SC. At this time NCL has no plans to replace her winter cruise itineraries from Charleston with another ship. Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Spirit will carry on the tradition of NCL cruises to Bermuda.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Tale of Two Crossings: Carnival Dream & Oasis of the Seas

While both Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Dream & Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas are crossing the Atlantic, there's good news and bad news from their respective headquarters. Carnival's is good, so we'll share that first.

To celebrate the launch of its newest, largest and most family-friendly "Fun Ship" ever, Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden will serve as godmother of the new Carnival Dream and will unveil the world's largest children's book in New York City today, along with a major, multi-year partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

New Yorker and mother of three, Harden will officially name the new ship when it makes its North American debut in New York on Nov 12, 2009. In honor of Carnival Dream's much-anticipated arrival, the Tony Award-winning actress will unveil Carnival's Big Book of Dreams, measuring 15.5 feet high by 20 feet wide, in New York City's Rockefeller Center today and will conduct a special reading of the larger-than-life story to dozens of schoolchildren. Inspired by the imaginative dreams of children who sailed on Carnival Cruise Lines this spring, "The Dream Plucker of Perrysport" tells the tale of a group of young friends who find themselves on a unique adventure after they encounter a furry orange monster in a quest to remember their dreams. The book will remain on display at Rockefeller Center Nov 6 and 7 as part of a series of free, activity-filled Carnival "Dream Big" events for the whole family.

During the three-year partnership with St. Jude, Carnival Cruise Lines' goal is to raise $3 million to help achieve the hospital's mission of finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. To support the hospital, under the theme "Care to Play," Carnival is creating a number of fun, interactive on-board fundraising activities that will involve guest participation. Carnival will also donate hundreds of kid-sized copies of "The Dream Plucker of Perrysport" to the hospital.To learn more about Carnival Dream and the Carnival Book of Dreams, visit

Carnival Dream is a new class of vessel for the line and ushers in an exciting new era in "Fun Ship" cruising. The 3,646-passenger ship offers a host of innovations including more than 19,000 square feet of space dedicated to children and families, as well as an expansive WaterWorks aqua park featuring the longest water slide at sea. The ship also offers a stunning indoor/outdoor café and entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza, a two-level Serenity adults-only retreat, a wrap-around promenade encircling the ship and a 23,750-square-foot health spa. On Sept 21, the Dream began its inaugural voyages in Europe and will make its North American debut in New York on Nov 12, followed by its launche of year-round 7-day Caribbean service from Port Canaveral, Florida on Dec. 12, 2009.

Meanwhile, on day seven of its North Atlantic crossing on its way to Port Everglades, Florida, Royal Caribbean's massive new ship Oasis of the Seas has encountered strong winds and high seas. Due to the inclement weather, Oasis of the Seas is now scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades on the morning of Nov 13, 2009, two days later than originally scheduled. The late arrival will not impact any inaugural events, promotional activities or revenue sailings.

You may continue to follow Oasis’ journey on Oasis of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. Termed an architectural marvel at sea, it spans 16 decks, encompasses 225,282 gross registered tons, carries 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,700 staterooms. Oasis of the Seas is the first ship to tout the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which includes 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 weekly to the Caribbean from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Oceania Cruises Launches Option For Pre-Cruise Specialty Restaurant Reservations

It’s pretty much a given that we cruise travelers are a compulsive lot. We plan months in advance to insure that we encounter only smooth sailing once underway on our highly anticipated cruises. That includes our dining choices. To that end, Oceania Cruises is introducing a new online portal that will allow booked guests make advance reservations for specialty restaurants from the comfort of their home.

Oceania Cruises’ three 684-guest vessels–Regatta, Insignia, and Nautica–offer a choice of four different dining venues, all of which come under the watchful eye of renowned master chef, Jacques Pépin, who serves as executive culinary director for the cruise line. Guests can choose from The Grand Dining Room, Polo Grill, Toscana and Tapas on the Terrace. Oceania Cruises’ brand new, 1,258-guest Marina, scheduled to launch in winter 2010, will offer 10 different dining venues, six of which will be gourmet restaurants to be included on the Dining Reservations Calendar. A plus is that the new online “Dining Reservations Calendar” conveniently includes the times the ship is in port, as well as any pre-reserved shore excursions to assist guests in selecting the ideal dining times. Reservations can be made 90 days in advance of sailing, once final payment has been received, and will remain available until 10 days prior to departure.

Access to the Dining Reservations Calendar begins with the 2009-2010 Winter Collection voyages of Regatta, Insignia and Nautica to Asia and Australia, South America, and the Caribbean. To use the calendar, guests must register in the “Already Booked” section of By year-end, travel agents will also have the ability to make dinner reservations on behalf of their clients via the travel agent center on Oceania Cruises’ Web site.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Princess Debuts Fully Digital Travel Documents

Think back to the last time you were issued an actual paper airline ticket. Can't remember? Neither can I. The technology that enabled us to print our own boarding passes and check in online for flights quickly displaced tickets that were traditionally necessary to obtain a boarding pass at the airport. In much the same manner, technology is overtaking tradition in the cruise industry.

Which is why Princess Cruises has debuted an innovative array of digital documents designed to transform the way passengers plan for and learn about their upcoming cruise. The all-new electronic format will deliver more information about their cruise than ever before, arriving conveniently by email and right to their computer desktop from the time of booking and continuing through departure. The timely digital documents include a brand-new email series filled with personalized pre-cruise information, a downloadable Princess Countdown Connection™ widget that delivers useful and entertaining information to a passenger’s computer, personalized online luggage tags, and customizable shore excursion eBooks. The change from printed information to fully digital documents applies to all North American passengers on voyages departing on or after Jan 21, 2010.

Princess’ new digital documents include:

Personalized Pre-Cruise Emails: As soon as passengers book their cruise, they will begin to receive a new series of four emails that are timed to deliver just the right information needed for each stage of the cruise planning process. Replacing a printed Cruise Answer Book, the emails include the passenger booking details and interactive content that gives passengers a fun, engaging way to learn more about the signature amenities and activities they will experience on their ship. The information will be customized to the itinerary and the ship the passenger is sailing, and greetings are featured from some of the senior officers who will be sailing on their cruise. An array of links are also provided to such things as ship videos and virtual tours, bridge cams, dining options, entertainment choices, shipboard features and amenities, travel logistics, weather information, packing tips, frequently asked questions, Captain’s Circle benefits, important notices and reminders, and how to stay connected to family and friends while on board.

Princess Countdown Connection™: To help passengers anticipate and prepare for their upcoming sailing, the innovative Princess Countdown Connection™ widget is an eye-catching online clock that ticks down the days, hours and minutes until their cruise departs. The new application, which can be downloaded from the pre-cruise emails, can live right on a passenger’s computer desktop, and will automatically deliver an array of personalized information to them about their upcoming sailing such as dining, onboard activities, shore excursions, and notices.

Personalized Online Luggage Tags: Passengers will also be able to print their own personalized luggage tags from their home or office computer. These new tags not only include the passenger's name, but also feature their Captain's Circle membership status, cabin number and embarkation information. Passengers will be able to print as many tags as needed to ensure all their luggage is properly marked prior to boarding the ship. The printable luggage tags debut for all voyages departing after Dec 1, 2009, and are accessible through the Cruise Personalizer. They can be printed up to 75 days prior to the sailing date. Generic luggage tags will continue to be available at the pier for passengers who may need them.

Shore Excursion eBooks: Beginning in December, passengers will be able to print their own personalized shore excursion eBook for their cruise. Using this innovative tool, passengers will be able to select their favorite excursions from the wide array offered in each port, and create their own customized eBook of shoreside experiences. Further details will be available next month.

Worried about those paper luggage tags? Cruise Diva has had occasion to print out and use the paper tags and offers suggestions for how to keep them securely in place: Luggage Tags, Then & Now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oasis of the Seas: Day Five

Capt Wright introduces Day Five as Oasis of the Seas is finally crossing the Atlantic, but encountering 30-foot-plus seas. He says she's taking it in her stride and the ride appears steady & stable from his vantage point on the bridge where he calls her "a well-behaved lady."

Elsewhere, the entertainers on board are rehearsing in pretty extreme conditions. The cast of Hairspray on Oasis of the Seas has been working hard to be ready for the show's premiere. Meet the lead actors and director as they share what it means to be part of this incredible production as Broadway Debuts at Sea, which you can view in the Oasis of the Seas Video Gallery.

Oasis of the Seas: Restaurant Openings, A Spa Announcement, and Nasty Weather

Aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, no one has time to spare as all venues are being tested while the ship crosses the Atlantic and heads to her homeport in Fort Lauderdale.

From on board Oasis, Lisa Bauer, Senior VP, Hotel Operations reports in the Why Not? Blog that Park Café opened in the Central Park neighborhood, as did the the most exclusive dining venue on the ship, 150 Central Park restaurant (pictured here in an artist's rendering). The first diners in 150 Central Park included Capt. Bill Wright, his wife Kiki, and Bauer's senior leadership team onboard. Celebrity Chef Keriann Von Raesfeld herself cut the ribbon with a very large kitchen knife and officially opened the doors for the grand opening of her restaurant. The group for the first night was small and each night they will add more capacity to properly ramp up, right up until capacity is reached. Bauer pronounced the dining experience as "magical."

Back in Miami, and writing in his Chairman’s Blog, Richard Fain describes the sea conditions Oasis of the Seas is encountering, "The one thing you can never count on, though, is the weather. It seems that we have managed to time our crossing perfectly to coincide with the worst of a north Atlantic winter storm. That storm has resulted in relative wind speeds of 60-70 mph (a hurricane starts at 74 mph). It has also resulted in significant wave heights of up to 30 feet (significant wave heights essentially means consistently over a period of time). Some individual waves reach even higher. Capt. Bill is considering now what is the best course and speed for the ship to minimize the impact of the storm. I’m told that the ship is so stable that the crew can barely feel the storm. But on deck it is a different story and the storm is preventing us from doing the work on the outdoor decks that we had hoped including rehearsing in the AquaTheatre."

Meanwhile, on Oasis of the Seas the spa opened and Bauer "stress tested" it out first-hand. She had, "A Bamboo massage, which is a new treatment... With this massage, it is a partial regular massage, and then similar to a hot stone massage, but instead of stones, they use bamboo. It is heated and then they use the various sizes of bamboo and apply pressure. No stress in this test–all 100% relaxation. I think it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. The spa actually officially opened for the crew today. There are 25 different treatment rooms, in addition to a full beauty salon. The salon has 5 manicure and 5 pedicure stations, an eyebrow bar, and full hair salon offerings. We also moved the Clean Shave services to the spa area as well."

Bauer let slip that they are getting ready to announce the ability to pre-book spa appointments pre-cruise and advises, "Stay tuned for the actual press release, I am sure I will get in trouble for even writing about it."

More information about Oasis of the Seas from at:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Buzz in Miami: Norwegian Epic

There's no need to fear for the safety of the “people” rappelling down a building in downtown Miami. They are part of a 106-foot tall wallscape signaling the second phase of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic advertising campaign entitled “That’s Epic,” in support of the line’s largest and most impressive ship to date, set to cruise to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Miami next summer.

The latest installment of the campaign can be seen by residents and commuters throughout Miami with more than a dozen billboards, such as the billboard depicting the ship’s largest bowl slide at sea pictured here, and wallscapes depicting Norwegian Epic’s impressive array of on-board activities and entertainment including Blue Man Group; a multi-slide Aqua Park with the biggest bowl slide on water–the Epic Plunge; the first true Ice Bar at sea; and the largest and first-ever rappelling wall at sea. The billboards are visible along Biscayne Boulevard, up and down Interstate 95 in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, and as far away as Ft. Myers and Tampa.

In addition, Norwegian Epic will take to the radio in markets throughout Florida including Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Ft. Myers, Orlando, and Tampa, as well as in New York City. Taxi tops in both New York and Miami, and bus shelters throughout Florida will announce Norwegian Epic’s arrival in summer 2010. Both English and Spanish versions of the advertising campaign can be seen and heard in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale. and Tampa.

Norwegian Epic’s first Eastern Caribbean sailing from Miami is scheduled for July 17, 2010 and the ship’s alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries are available through April 2011. Norwegian Epic’s Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes calls in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship’s Western Caribbean itinerary includes calls in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Originally known by its project name “F3” Cruise Diva charts Norwegian Epic’s progress:
For more information on Norwegian Epic, or to book a cruise to the Eastern or Western Caribbean call Norwegian at 866-234-7350, visit, or call a travel agent.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Oasis of the Seas: Under a Bridge & On the Journey to Meet 7 Godmothers

For last week's ceremonial changeover and flag ceremony in Finland, Royal Caribbean hosted executives and invited guests aboard Oasis of the Seas. In his Chairman’s Blog, Richard Fain describes the event, "Rising Tide Bar was used as a stage. Everyone involved in the ceremony came on to the bar at the Central Park level and, at the appointed hour, the bar was lowered and the ceremony took place with the bar in the halfway position. It couldn’t have been better... although we hadn’t intended the bar to be a platform for entertainment, it served that purpose brilliantly. The view onto the Royal Promenade was simply breathtaking. Seeing the Promenade in action with 1,500 guests (who only took up about half the space) sent chills up my spine. Somehow the ceremony really made more tangible the completion of this milestone."

Fain also reports that, "During the flag ceremony, we started the preparations for the naming and publicly provided more color on what we plan. An extraordinary and innovative ship deserves an extraordinary and innovative naming. For Oasis of the Seas we have decided to use seven godmothers because we have seven neighborhoods. Each godmother will start in her own area and then they will all convene at the AquaTheatre for the formal naming. All seven godmothers will cut a ribbon which will require seven complete cuts to release the bottle. Seven special scissors have been prepared and a special case holding the seven scissors was displayed during the flag ceremony."

She's on her way to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but first, the world's largest ship had to make it under the Great Belt Bridge, Denmark. With only feet to spare, Oasis of the Seas passed the landmark with her telescopic funnels retracted as illustrated in the photo above and in this nail-biting video of the event as narrated by Capt. Bill Wright... Clearing a Landmark. in the Oasis of the Seas Video Gallery.

More information about Oasis of the Seas from at:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nieuw Amsterdam Floats

With all the hype over new ships being introduced before year’s end, news about Holland America Line’s dignified and elegant Signature-class ship currently under construction has been somewhat overshadowed. However, Nieuw Amsterdam has reached a significant milestone at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy.

Happily, we’re pleased to report that last Friday at 3 pm Venice, Italy time, water began flowing into the ship’s building dry dock. She floats! Nieuw Amsterdam was expected to be towed out of the dock to the outfitting quay yesterday.

Nieuw Amsterdam’s inaugural cruise sails July 4, 2010 on a 10-day roundtrip cruise from Venice to ports in Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, and Italy. After several Mediterranean sailings, Nieuw Amsterdam embarks on a fall crossing of the Atlantic as she heads to warmth of the Caribbean for the remaining winter months.