Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2012 Update

As an alumni of the Malt Shop Memories Cruise, I received the email below and I know you all join me in wishing Bobby Rydell all the best for a speedy recovery.

Bobby Rydell Update: Bobby Is Doing Great!

Dear Linda,

We were all concerned when we heard the news that Bobby Rydell was in the hospital. Everyone was hoping that this legendary performer would be well and fine. The great news is that Bobby is doing very, very well and is hoping to join us on the cruise. It is too soon for him to commit, but our fingers are crossed. We know that all of our Guests would welcome him in a grand manner and wish him the best in his recovery. Very exciting news!

Block of Outside Cabins Just Became Available!
For those of you who have not, as yet, booked a cabin on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2012 and have been disappointed to learn that only Verandah cabins remain, we have good news. You'll be happy to hear that some very nice outside cabins are now available. The price is right, but the number of cabins available is limited, so act soon!

Chubby Checker and David Brenner
Although we have announced this a couple of times in the past, some of you were surprised to learn that Chubby Checker and David Brenner have been added to the cruise lineup for Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2012.

Fans had been clamoring for Chubby Checker, and he finally was able to clear his schedule for the cruise. So, once again, we will be twisting and having a great time with this legendary icon of rock 'n' roll. If there ever were a comedian perfect for this cruise, it would be the one-and-only David Brenner. His take on life is always hilarious and timely.

So, for those who have booked their cabin, we cannot wait to see you on the cruise, and for those of you who have not done so yet, book now on Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2012.

Get the best in talent, luxury and fun! Book online now or call 877.700.6258.

Watch Last Year's MSMC '11 Video
See for yourself how much fun cruise Guests had on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2011. Visit MaltShopCruise.com, and find the 2011 Malt Shop Memories Cruise video link in the lower left-hand corner.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cruise News: More Alaska on Tap in 2013 From Holland America Line

Although the 2012 Alaska season hasn’t ended yet, my motto is that it’s never too soon to start planning for next year’s cruise. For the 2013 Alaska cruise season, Holland America Line is increasing its presence in the region with more departures and more guests than in previous years. Although the number of Holland America ships deployed in Alaska will remain at seven—the same as 2012—ms Amsterdam will double its departures on new 7-day roundtrip sailings from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As a result, Alaska-season departures will increase 8.5 percent and guest capacity will increase 6 percent over 2012. Plus, Early Advantage savings feature complimentary upgrades and free and reduced fares for third or fourth guests who share the same stateroom on select sailings. By planning ahead, a family of four can take advantage of fares on select departure dates.

“Increasing our capacity in Alaska means that Holland America Line will offer nearly 1.6 million passenger days in the 2013 season,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “These itineraries have always been among our most popular, and Amsterdam’s new seven day departures will allow us to bring more guests to Alaska and show off the natural beauty of this part of the world. We also encourage travelers to book early and enjoy greater benefits with Early Advantage savings.”

When the 1,380-guest Amsterdam begins its Alaska season May 24, the ship will sail a series of 17 7-day Inside Passage voyages. The Vancouver sailings feature port calls at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as scenic cruising throughout Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm Fjord/Twin Sawyer glaciers.

For the 2013 Alaska cruise season, Holland America Line also will feature ms Zaandam and ms Statendam each sailing on 18 Gulf of Alaska departures from Vancouver. Statendam and Zaandam also will sail four total Inside Passage routes, along with Amsterdam (17), ms Volendam (21) and ms Zuiderdam (20). In addition, ms Oosterdam and ms Westerdam are slated to sail 21 and 20, respectively, 7-night voyages from Seattle, Wash.

Seven-day Alaskan Explorer Voyages Sail Roundtrip from Seattle
Starting May 5 and 11, respectively, the 1,916-guest Oosterdam (Sunday departures) and 1,916-guest Westerdam (Saturday departures) will sail 21 and 20 seven-day Alaskan Explorer voyages departing roundtrip from Seattle. The itinerary features port calls at Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska; Victoria, British Columbia; and a scenic cruising experience at Tracy Arm Fjord/Twin Sawyer glaciers or Glacier Bay National Park.

Seven-day Inside Passage Voyages Sail Roundtrip from Vancouver
Five Holland America Line ships, Amsterdam, Statendam, Volendam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam, will sail roundtrip from Vancouver on a series of 7-day Inside Passage voyages. The 1,432-guest Volendam (Wednesday departures) and 1,916-guest Zuiderdam (Saturday departures) sail a total of 41 voyages from May 1 to Sept 21. During those voyages guests will visit Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay National Park and make a shore excursion call at Tracy Arm Fjord.

Four additional Inside Passage cruises sail aboard Statendam and Zaandam. Statendam departs Vancouver May 5 and 12, and Sept 22. Zaandam departs May 5.

During embarkation for the Seattle voyages, a ranger from the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park will be available to talk to guests about the Klondike parks and other national parks located throughout the Inside Passage. On all Glacier Bay sailings, a park ranger and native interpreters from the Huna people board the ships to explain the origins of their tribe and cultural traditions.

Seven-Day Glacier Discovery Voyages Sail from Vancouver to Seward (or reverse)
The 1,260-guest Statendam and 1,432-guest Zaandam once again will provide the only mid-sized cruise ship experience available in the Gulf of Alaska. Glacier Discovery cruises sail between Vancouver and Seward (Anchorage) with Sunday departures May 13 through Sept 16. The itinerary features port calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, a day at sea in the Gulf of Alaska and scenic cruising through the Inside Passage. Each ship will sail 18 voyages and include a visit to Glacier Bay.

For more information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Glacier Bay Image (c) CruiseDiva.com

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cruise News: Celebrity Cruises' New Celebrity Reflection 'Clearly' Has The Cruise Industry's Most Unique Shower

Shower View From Inside
Earlier this year Celebrity Cruises revealed that the "Reflection Suite" on their newest Solstice-class ship Celebrity Reflection will feature an all-glass shower extending out over the edge of the ship. The line received so much interest that it has now released renderings of the intriguing space. The 1,636-square-foot Reflection Suite with 194-square-foot veranda will be Celebrity's first two-bedroom suite, complete with its distinctive sea-view bathroom with soothing rain shower, and the host of amenities associated with Celebrity's luxury suites, including the brand's round-the-clock European butler service.

Celebrity's Senior VP of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo was completely "transparent" about how the brand will preserve the privacy of guests using the unique glass shower: "We made a big investment in ensuring our guests can enjoy the shower entirely free of any concerns of being seen," said Lutoff-Perlo. "They can enjoy breathtaking sea views while discreetly showering, courtesy of the shower's special reflective glass. But, if they seek even further privacy, the shower also features 'smart glass.' At the flick of a switch, guests can activate an electrochromatic technology which instantly transforms the glass from transparent to translucent. We even went so far as to install a special sensor, so if guests prefer, the glass can be automatically transformed for them. It's yet another example of the modern luxury experience that only Celebrity delivers."

Shower With A View From Outside
Nestled in the highly desirable corner location of the ship's 14(th) deck, and designed by New York-based BG Studio International Inc., the Reflection Suite is adjacent to the brand's five new "Signature Suites," each offering a 441-square-foot stateroom area and 118-square foot veranda, with floor-to-ceiling windows and veranda doors, all designed to maximize the stunning views of the sea. Celebrity's Signature Suites each can accommodate up to four guests, and also will offer the luxurious 24/7 butler service that is a hallmark of every suite across the Celebrity fleet.

The entire area housing the Reflection Suite and Signature Suites can be accessed only by cardkey, exclusively among guests booked in the elite group of suites, such that a family or other group of up to 26 guests can enjoy a private, six-suite modern luxury vacation experience.

Driven by high demand for Celebrity's industry-first AquaClass category of spa-inspired accommodations, and by way of an additional deck being added to Celebrity Reflection, as previously announced, Celebrity also will introduce on Celebrity Reflection the line's first AquaClass Suites. Each will offer 300 square feet of luxurious interior space and spacious 79-square-foot verandas, paired with all the amenities associated with Celebrity's AquaClass accommodations, including exclusive and complimentary access to the highly-rated specialty restaurant, "Blu," noted for its inviting, modern design and flavorful, healthy cuisine. The new suites also will offer the luxurious 24/7 butler service that is a hallmark of every suite across the Celebrity fleet. In addition to the 34 new AquaClass Suites, Celebrity Reflection also will present an additional eight luxurious new Sky Suites, 19 additional plush ConciergeClass staterooms, and 11 additional inside staterooms, bringing the stateroom/suite total to 1,515.

Celebrity Reflection will enter service October 12, 2012, on a 9-night European cruise from Amsterdam to Barcelona. For more information, dial 1-800-437-3111, visit CelebrityCruises.com.

Images Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Saturday, July 28, 2012

World-Class Athletes Michelle Kwan & Greg Louganis Compete in Royal Caribbean Deck-Athlon at Sea

While sports fans are concentrating their attention on the Olympics in London, it’s “game on” this summer when world-class figure skating champion Michelle Kwan and world-champion diver Greg Louganis go head-to-head in the first-ever Royal Deck-athlon at sea onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas. The skating and diving legends are facing-off in two commercial spots that will air on NBC-owned stations throughout the country. Viewers will be directed to visit the cruise line’s Facebook page to see the legends compete in a series of 10 events onboard the world’s most revolutionary cruise ship including: surfing the FlowRider; climbing the rock wall; skating in the ice rink; diving at the AquaTheatre; zip lining across the Boardwalk; table tennis, mini-golf and basketball in the Sports Zone; playing blackjack in Casino Royale; and cupcake decorating in the Cupcake Cupboard.

Consumers can get in the game by voting for their favorite competitor at the cruise line’s Facebook page. Fans can vote once a day until August 12 for the chance to win daily prizes as well as the ultimate grand prize – the opportunity to recreate their own Deck-athlon on a 7-night Caribbean cruise for two on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.

“Whether you’re an amateur athlete or a world champion like Greg Louganis and Michelle Kwan, there’s something for everyone onboard our ships,” said Lisa Bauer, Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “Each day onboard a Royal Caribbean ship is a chance to take on a new challenge, and every moment on our fleet is an event you won’t find anywhere else at sea.”

The commercial spots featuring the world-class pair will air on NBC-owned stations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Francisco as well as select affiliates in Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers, West Palm Beach, and Atlanta this summer.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. For additional information, visit RoyalCaribbean.com.

Images Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Friday, July 27, 2012

Silversea’s Silver Cloud Docks in London

After a 16-day voyage from Copenhagen to London, Silversea’s ultra-luxury Silver Cloud proudly sailed under the Tower Bridge where the 2012 Olympic Rings are prominently displayed and tied up alongside the HMS Belfast.

Following her port call in London, Silver Cloud departed for a 9-day sold out voyage from London to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Image Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Abracadabra! Magic Castle Is Going To Sea On Crystal Cruises

While it isn't unusual to find magicians on cruise ships, Crystal Cruises has pulled the ultimate rabbit out of a hat with a new, industry-first program entitled "Magic Castle at Sea." Thanks to an exclusive arrangement magically orchestrated by Master Magician Rich Bloch, magicians from Hollywood's renowned private magicians' club, the Magic Castle, will come aboard to entertain and mystify guests of all ages.

Starting this week aboard Crystal Symphony and on August 6's Crystal Serenity voyage, the incredibly intimate evening shows add yet another live entertainment option to 13 luxury European cruises this year, and every voyage in 2013. The new affiliation also offers complimentary classes for adults to develop their own magical acts, educational enrichment on subjects like Houdini, and children's shows on select summer and holiday sailings...plus access to the secret Castle itself when in Los Angeles.

"Considering club guests can only gain entrance if they're in LA and invited by a member, Crystal's Magic Castle at Sea provides rare access to a truly spellbinding entertainment experience," says Crystal's Vice President of Entertainment, Bret Bullock. "We're thrilled to offer our guests yet another unique choice in high-caliber vacation fun."

Like at the Magic Castle itself, on-board performances are "invitation-only," with advance, complimentary "invitations"/tickets available at the ships' libraries. Guests can choose from multiple, half-hour performances over the course of several nights. Come showtime, they enter a special entrance to find the ship's Pulse or Luxe lounge transformed into the mysterious spirit of the Victorian-era Castle, with flameless candles, lighting, music, murals, bookshelves and magic movies from the 1920's. With attendance limited to just 25, audience members are privy to an extremely up-close look at sleight-of-hand tricks, impossible feats, and bewitching hocus pocus.

After vacation's end, invitations can further be used for one-time access to the real Magic Castle in Hollywood. Show attendees must call the number on the back of their used ticket to reserve entry, then present the same ticket upon arrival at the Castle.

Crystal's European season includes Baltic and Northern European cruises until Sept and Mediterranean sailings until Dec. Book Now fares for 7- to 12-day Magic Castle at Sea voyages have attractive air add-ons, plus savings for groups of six or more, combining cruises, and shorter, 5- to 8-day cruise itineraries. For more information, visit CrystalCruises.com.

Image Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Princess Cruises & Tommy Bahama Want Us To Relax

It's summer time and the living is supposed to be easy, but many of us don't find enough time to wind down and just chill out. August 15th is National Relaxation Day, so why are so many of us scheduled to work? Join Princess Cruises as they team up with island-inspired clothing designer Tommy Bahama to make National Relaxation Day a true national holiday!

Sign the petition and enter the sweepstakes at TommyBahama.com/relax and you could win a 14-day Hawaiian Islands cruise aboard a Princess Cruises ship.* One grand prize winner will also receive two roundtrip airline vouchers, a $3,000 Tommy Bahama Gift Card, and a $1,000 onboard credit, to use within the relaxing venues on board during the cruise, including The Sanctuary and the Lotus Spa.

Be sure to enter between now and August 15th or you might just miss your chance to win a relaxing Hawaiian holiday with Princess Cruises and a Tommy Bahama shopping spree.
*For official rules of the Tommy Bahama "National Relaxation Day" Hawaiian Cruise Giveaway click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Line to Host Second Annual #SeaTweetup Cruise

If you’re addicted to Twitter and Facebook, there’s a cruise to feed your inner social diva. Norwegian Cruise Line is set to host the second annual #SeaTweetup cruise on board Norwegian Sky from Oct 12-15, 2012. The social media infused sailing departs from Miami and will set sail on a weekend getaway to the Bahamas, visiting Nassau and Norwegian’s Private Island, Great Stirrup Cay. The interactive cruise, coordinated by influential members of the South Florida social media community, allows enthusiasts to participate in special networking events throughout the cruise including group activities, social media marketing panels and discussions, giveaways, and cocktail parties. Guests will also be amongst the first to experience the latest enhancements to Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay.

The 3-day cruise takes networking to the next level allowing social media insiders to share their experiences with followers, as they build and strengthen relationships, as well as create new ones. Participants will have access to the ship’s Internet Café and Wi-Fi network, as well as invitations to in-port events to post, tweet, and blog throughout the weekend to the twitter hashtag #SeaTweetup.

In addition to planned group activities, guests can enjoy the weekend at their leisure with the perks of Norwegian’s exclusive Freestyle Cruising. The 2,002-passenger Norwegian Sky sets sail year round from Miami to the Bahamas and has 10 dining options; more than 10 bars and lounges; a spa and fitness center; casino; and duty-free retail shops. For more information and to connect with other participants, follow @SeaTweetup and Norwegian (@CruiseNorwegian) on Twitter and include hashtag #SeaTweetup. To reserve your spot on the sailing, visit cruisedeals.com/groups/seatweetup/.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cruise News: Get On Board For The Rock Boat XIII

Our friends at Sixthman have again partnered up with Host Sister Hazel for the 13th adventure of The Rock Boat, the longest running music festival at sea. The Rock Boat XIII will set sail with over 2,000 fortunate guests aboard Norwegian Pearl on Feb 24–March 1, 2013 from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Featuring non-stop music and a unique itinerary with two days on Norwegian’s private island destination, this musical marathon will showcase both fan favorites and emerging talent across multiple stages around the ship as well as intimate activities with artists and collaborations between musicians that won’t be seen anywhere else but onboard this ocean based traveling circus. The Rock Boat host, Sister Hazel, will be joined by Alternate Routes, Bronze Radio Return, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers, Good Old War, Will Hoge, NEEDTOBREATHE, Ponderosa, Ben Rector, Red Wanting Blue, Rusted Root, Saints of Victory, DJ Soulman, Yacht Rock Revue, and many more artists to be announced.

“We had no idea that The Rock Boat would become the family of guests and artists that it has become when began in 2001. We are fortunate to be able to host some of the most promising new artists each year and are so excited to have NEEDTOBREATHE back for an encore performance,” said Sixthman CEO Andy Levine.

Norwegian Pearl was destined to be the new home of The Rock Boat XIII. With its 15 decks, guests will have access to thirteen bars and lounges, nineteen dining experiences, two pools, four hot tubs, and spa treatments to help forget about the world they left behind. Onboard concerts aren’t the only things that rock on Norwegian Pearl. Guests seeking more activities can visit the outdoor climbing wall, bowl a few frames at the onboard lanes, or tempt lady luck at The Pearl Club Casino. However, don’t tempt fate if you plan to sail. Past voyages have sold out quickly, so book as soon as possible at TheRockBoat.com to avoid missing the boat.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Cruise Review! Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

Experience more WOW in Alaska with E Schlenk aboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas. Join him as he explores the Great State on both northbound and southbound cruises.

Bringing on the WOW! If you missed it, Cruise Diva takes a first hand look after her complete makeover and shares the WOW you'll find in Alaska aboard Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Sea in Skagway
Photo © CruiseDiva.com

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cruise News: Celebrity Cruises Promises Even More Class In ‘ConciergeClass’

Everyone who goes on a cruise expects to be pampered, some more than others. Those who enjoy the personalized services of a professional concierge are likely to relish the new, modern luxury amenities Celebrity Cruises has added to its plush “ConciergeClass” accommodations.

Guests booked in Celebrity’s ConciergeClass staterooms still will be treated to the full slate of services and amenities associated with the category since it was introduced, including a bottle of chilled Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine with a commemorative label featuring exclusive artwork from the ArtCenter/South Florida artists upon arrival; fresh fruits and flowers; daily delivery of afternoon savories; pillow menu and the Celebrity eXhale™ bedding program, with premium mattresses, 100% Egyptian cotton linens, and plush duvets and pillows; personalized stationery; oversized tote bag; special room service breakfast menu; Frette bathrobes; plush bath rugs; two hair dryers; Hansgrohe massaging showerhead; use of in-stateroom golf umbrellas and binoculars; custom-blended bath amenities including fine shampoos, body lotions and soaps; a veranda table large enough for dining al fresco, with cushioned chairs; and special services including priority luggage delivery, dining time, shoe shine service, and priority embarkation and debarkation privileges.

Now, the list of services and amenities has been expanded to also include even more personalized service with hand-delivered, customized courtesy cards to ensure that guests can directly contact the Concierge at any time during the cruise for assistance with special occasions or any requests they may have. Additionally, priority debarkation services have been enhanced to include an exclusive ConciergeClass pre-departure lounge with complimentary coffee and juices.

“Expanding our already broad array of ConciergeClass amenities is yet another illustration of our recognition of how rare and important vacation time is for our guests, and our continuous focus on finding the best ways for them to maximize that time,” said Celebrity’s Senior VP of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. “Just as a professional, personal concierge is devoted to ensuring his or her clients’ specific, individual preferences are met, so is our ConciergeClass category of accommodations.”

ConciergeClass staterooms are offered on every ship in the Celebrity fleet, with the exception of Celebrity Xpedition, the line’s luxurious megayacht sailing year-round in the Galapagos Islands. For more information, visit CelebrityCruises.com.

Photo © CruiseDiva.com

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cruise News: Princess Cruises Shares A Look At New Royal Princess Fitness Facilities

The Summer Olympics are just around the corner and Princess Cruises wants you to plan to unleash your inner Olympian in the expansive sports and fitness features that will be featured aboard the new Royal Princess when the ship debuts next June. Passengers of all athletic abilities can test their mettle and keep in shape with a new outdoor jogging track and additional circuit exercises, the multi-activity Princess Sports Central and a fitness center full of the latest equipment with a private aerobics studio for special classes.

“Many of our passengers are very active on vacation,” said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises. “These new facilities will offer them state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge classes to keep up – or even step up – their fitness routines at sea.”

Take a look...

Among the fitness facilities on Royal Princess are:
Jogging Track – This new double-lane jogging track on Deck 18 features separate paths for runners and walkers. In addition, a new circuit program with unique outdoor exercise stations will be set at intervals along the track, making it the perfect place for passengers who want to burn a few extra calories or work on strength moves al fresco. This modern outdoor fitness equipment will offer a new option for those who wish to work out on deck and enjoy the sea air. The track area will be decorated with art picturing iconic global travel destinations, giving passengers the opportunity to “run around the world.”
Princess Sports Central – The multi-sport area on decks 18 and 19 is designed to offer a collection of fun options, including court games, lawn activities and even a lounge for virtual gaming. The Center Court can be used for basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton, while baseball fans can even practice their swing at the portable batting cage. Golfers will find a driving range facility, while the simulated laser shooting range offers a new onboard activity. On the upper level, the Lawn Court offers a grassy area for putting, bocce ball, croquet and lawn bowling. The Game Lounge will offer a comfortable space to meet up for games, including table tennis and virtual gaming with Kinect™ systems. The cruise staff will be on hand to organize sports competitions and fun group games.
Fitness Center/Aerobics Studio – The Fitness Center on Deck 17 pairs a state-of-the-art gym with spectacular ocean views. This multi-tiered facility will offer something for all fitness levels, so everyone from beginner to expert will find challenging exercise options. Passengers will find the latest in exercise equipment like treadmills, recumbent bicycles, elliptical machines, strength equipment, as well as a selection of free weights. Most equipment will feature personal TV screens, and some will even offer an interactive, virtual experience that makes exercising a bit more fun and engaging.
New to Royal Princess at the back of the gym is a private aerobics studio that will host a selection of fitness classes, including some intriguing new workout options to keep passengers on their toes. Among the class options will be:
• TRX® – Born of the U.S. Navy SEALS, TRX suspension training bodyweight exercise is a revolutionary method of functional training. Using a TRX Suspension Trainer combined with bodyweight, participants can perform hundreds of different exercises and control the intensity by adjusting body position and angle. Classes will be held in the indoor studio as well as outside on the fitness court.
MyRide – A new era in indoor cycling, MyRide offers the opportunity to ride through inspiring scenic landscapes from around the world, with varying levels of intensity controlled by the user.
Body Sculpt Boot Camp – Passengers can increase muscle tone, improve muscular strength, enhance endurance and energy levels with this workout program that burns up to 700 calories in the 40 minute class. Participants will receive a take-home poster/program which outlines all the exercises and breaks the program up into four manageable workouts so they can continue their workouts after the cruise.
Chi Ball Yoga – This relaxing new class uses an aromatherapy-scented ball infused with different mood-enhancing essential oils.
Passengers can meet with fitness instructors in consultation rooms where they can privately discuss their fitness goals and design a workout routine. The fitness center is part of the ship’s Lotus Spa, so passengers can wind down after their workout with a relaxing massage.

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises. Among the new features found on board will be a 50 percent larger atrium which is the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; a dazzling water and light show; the new Princess Live! television studio; a dedicated pastry shop; more dining options including a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private space that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. The ship’s 2013 maiden season will include cruises on the line’s signature Grand Mediterranean itinerary throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the fall. More information, visit princess.com/royalprincess.

Image and Video Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Princess Cruises Unveils Historic Alaskan Photo Exhibit

The steamer City of Topeka sails in Glacier Bay around 1895. 
This photo is one of 30 historic images currently 
displayed aboard Princess ships in Alaska.
Have you ever wondered what the earliest cruises were like in Alaska? Princess Cruises has unveiled a special exhibit aboard its seven Alaska ships that takes their passengers back in time to the early days of cruising in Alaska. Developed in partnership with Princess and the Alaska State Museum, the show, entitled “Then and Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska’s Waters,” gives cruisers a glimpse of Alaska and the Inside Passage as it was a century ago, as experienced by early steamship “excursionists.”

Displayed in the atrium of Princess ships during the port of call in Juneau, the exhibit features a selection of 30 historical photographs and artifacts largely from the collections of the Alaska State Library and Alaska State Museum, both in Juneau. The images, taken in the early 20th century in Vancouver, Victoria, Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway, and the Inside Passage are paired with premier historical artifacts from the museum’s collection. Most of the places in the photos are still traveler destinations today, so cruisers can learn the history of places they’ll visit during their vacation, and see how these places have changed over the past century.

“Although certainly Alaska has changed since these photos were taken, the essence of the state passengers visit today has its roots in the past century,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “This is a fascinating opportunity to learn a bit about those who made Alaska journeys before them.”

Alaska tourism had its beginnings in the late 1870s, not long after the United States purchased Russia’s claim to Alaska in 1867. “The steamships of the era were tiny compared to the cruise ships of today,” said Steve Henrikson, senior curator of collections for the Alaska State Museum, “and carried cargo and passengers, visitors as well as locals.”

Steamship accommodations were cramped and visitors were treated to, for better or worse, a “real Alaskan experience,” which could include visits to Native villages, big game hunts, wading through muddy streets, and frequent groundings. The early tourists didn’t just learn about history—they lived it. They encountered U.S. Navy ships practicing “gunboat diplomacy” with Alaska Natives, rubbed elbows with miners heading to the Klondike Gold Rush, or were even swindled by criminals such as Skagway’s Soapy Smith.

“Then and Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska’s Waters” will run through the summer Alaska cruise season. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available by visiting the company's website at Princess.com.

Image courtesy of the Alaska State Museum

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cruise News: Miami Welcomes Oceania Cruises’ ‘Riviera’ To Her Winter Season Homeport This Year

Riviera, Oceania Cruises’ newest ship has already made a splash during her inaugural European season, which kicked off in May after a gala christening ceremony in Barcelona. Even so, the excitement is already building in her winter homeport of Miami where she is scheduled to arrive on Nov 29th for her North American inaugural season. Riviera will sail five distinctive Caribbean voyages roundtrip from Miami over twelve departure dates that feature ports of calls from the Eastern to the deep Southern Caribbean. Guests can enjoy the sun-drenched beaches, natural wonders, and diverse cultures of the Caribbean while foodies can experience the line’s new Culinary Discovery Tours exploring the local food offerings of the islands side-by-side with an expert chef.

“Since her introduction, Riviera has been praised for her beautiful design, exceptional cuisine and outstanding service, consistently surpassing expectations,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, Oceania Cruises’ president. “With Miami as Riviera’s home port this winter, our guests will have the opportunity to enjoy this truly outstanding ship while experiencing all that the Caribbean has to offer.”

Five different itineraries are offered over 12 departure dates:
· Idyllic Isles: 11 days roundtrip from Miami, visiting Philipsburg, St. Maarten (new port for Oceania Cruises); St. John’s, Antigua; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, Saint Lucia; Gustavia, St. Barts; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Departs Nov 29.
· Mayan Mystique: 10 days roundtrip from Miami. Ports include George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Santo Tomas, Guatemala; Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Key West, Florida. Departs Dec 10, Jan 13, Feb 22, Mar 18.
· Island Holiday: 14 days roundtrip from Miami, calling at Charlestown, Nevis; St. John’s, Antigua; Kingstown, St. Vincent (new port for Oceania Cruises); Bridgetown, Barbados; St. George’s, Grenada; Gustavia, St. Barts; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Departs Dec 20. On this sailing, Riviera will celebrate the holidays with traditional décor, festive menus and themed entertainment with special guest performers.
· Caribbean Hideaways: 10 days roundtrip from Miami, with visits to Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. John’s, Antigua; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, Saint Lucia; and Gustavia, St. Barts. Departs Jan 3, Jan 23, Feb 2, Feb 12, Mar 28.
· Ultimate Southern Caribbean: 14 days roundtrip from Miami. Ports include Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; St. George’s, Grenada; Bridgetown, Barbados; Kingstown, St. Vincent; Castries, Saint Lucia; St. John’s, Antigua; and Gustavia, St. Barts. Departs Mar 4.
With evening departures from many ports, guests have ample time ashore to explore majestic Mayan ruins, relax on pristine beaches, or admire the colorful Dutch colonial architecture in Aruba, among many other options. In fact, Oceania has added numerous new shore excursions to its already robust Caribbean schedule as part of its Pillars of Distinction initiative. For example, in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, a new port of call for Oceania Cruises, motorcycle enthusiasts can sign up for the Harley in Paradise tour for a memorable island ride. Oceania Cruises’ Artist Loft tours, designed to showcase the immense creativity and natural beauty of a port through art, will be offered in Barbados (Barbados Photo Adventure), Saint Lucia (Saint Lucia for Art Lovers), and Antigua (The Art of Antigua).

Food lovers can partake in Oceania Cruises’ popular Culinary Discovery Tours and explore the gastronomic landscape of several Caribbean ports. These tours take culinary enrichment to a new level combining hands-on classroom learning in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center with visits to local food markets alongside the ship’s chefs. In Tortola, for example, the Culinary Discovery Tour includes a visit to Good Moon Farm, an organic oasis of plants and crops where the planting is orchestrated around the lunar cycle.

The 1,250-guest Riviera is purpose-built for epicureans with six open-seating, gourmet restaurants–including a French bistro by Master Chef Jacques Pépin. Interior design highlights include a Lalique-designed grand staircase, elegant public rooms, spacious accommodations and Owner’s Suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home.

Guests who book by Sept. 30th, will receive two-for-one cruise fares and free air transportation, and bonus savings of up to $3,000 per stateroom. For more information on Riviera’s 2012-2013 Caribbean season, visit OceaniaCruises.com.

Image Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Paul Gauguin Cruises Unveils Images of m/v Tere Moana

Balcony Stateroom
Paul Gauguin Cruises, best known as the operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, has shared artist renderings of its new luxury ship, the 90-guest m/v Tere Moana, which launches on Dec 29, 2012, for its inaugural sailing.

The ship, which is 330 feet long and can accommodate 90 guests with a staff of 57, will debut a luxurious new look—chic and stylish with Polynesian touches. To achieve the new design, a multimillion-dollar, multi-faced renovation will take place starting in Nov 2012, with Moana receiving new furniture, upholstery, art, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, paint schemes, flooring, and floor coverings for staterooms and public spaces.

Eight of Moana's 45 staterooms will offer private balconies. All staterooms will feature an ocean view; a queen-size bed, convertible to twin-bed configurations, with fine linens, feather-down duvets, robes, and cotton slippers; a flatscreen TV; a DVD/CD player; an in-stateroom refrigerator replenished daily with soft drinks, beer, and bottled water; and a bathroom with sumptuous bath products.

La Veranda
The Moana will offer two elegant dining venues and will incorporate regionally infused cuisine of destinations visited featuring fresh ingredients from local markets. L'Etoile will showcase an array of tempting specialties, expertly prepared each evening, including culinary creations by Jean-Pierre Vigato, Chef Proprietaire of the two-star Michelin-rated Apicius restaurant in Paris. La Veranda will feature delicious breakfast and lunch dishes with indoor and outdoor dining and will be transformed into a gourmet, reservation-only dining venue nightly.

Aboard the Moana, evenings will feature live piano music and informative lectures in Le Salon, the perfect place to enjoy cocktails and unwind after a day of adventure. La Boutique will showcase apparel, sundries, souvenirs, and jewelry. The Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm will offer signature spa treatments, and a fitness center will also be available, equipped with the latest cardio and weightlifting equipment. In select ports,the ship's watersports marina will offer kayaking and paddleboarding. Guests will be able to enjoy stunning views from the decks, relaxing on chaise lounges by the pool or a Balinese bed, cruising in style from one captivating port to the next.

Le Salon
Like the Gauguin, Moana will offer an elegant yet casual ambiance, luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, trademark Polynesian hospitality, and extraordinary all-inclusive value.

In Dec 2012 and March 2013, Moana sails 7-night Caribbean voyages from St. Martin, visiting a mix of sophisticated islands and unspoiled gems in the French West Indies, British Virgin Islands, and St. Kitts and Nevis. In Jan and Feb 2013, 13- and 14-night Panama Canal cruises feature a classic transit of the canal and a unique itinerary that includes enchanting Cartagena, Columbia, and the wildlife reserves of Costa Rica. From April through Nov 2013, Moana will operate a variety of European voyages. During spring and fall, 14-night transatlantic crossings are offered between Europe and the Caribbean.

Tere Moana Sun Deck
Paul Gauguin Cruises is extending savings of 50% off standard cruise fares on Moana. Past guests of Paul Gauguin enjoy additional savings of 5% off cruise fares, as a member of the Paul Gauguin Society. And, guests who book select departures by Sept 1, 2012, can enjoy double the Paul Gauguin Society benefit, for a total savings of 10% off final cruise fares.

For additional information on Paul Gauguin Cruises, visit PGCruises.com.

Images Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

Monday, July 16, 2012

Carnival Splendor Earns Unprecedented 6th Perfect Score on Most Recent US Public Health Inspection

Carnival Cruise Lines' 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor has proven to be one of the "healthiest" ships at sea after earning a perfect score of 100 on its United States Public Health Service inspection conducted last week in Long Beach, California. In its eight U.S.P.H. inspections since entering service in 2008, Carnival Splendor has achieved six 100 scores, as well as two near-perfect marks of 99 and 98, an unprecedented accomplishment in the cruise industry. The ship’s average U.S.P.H. inspection score during its four years of service is a remarkable 99.6.

Carnival Splendor received perfect marks on all 42 items that comprise the U.S. Public Health Service’s comprehensive Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) checklist. The unannounced inspections, which are conducted twice a year and required for any cruise ship with an international itinerary calling at a U.S. port, evaluate vessels in a variety of areas, including adherence to proper food handling, preparation and storage procedures, and overall galley cleanliness. Ships’ potable water supplies used in spas and pools are also evaluated.

Carnival Splendor, which currently operates 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach, will reposition to New York on year-round 8-day Caribbean/Bahamas voyages beginning March 23, 2013. Prior to its upcoming New York schedule, Carnival Splendor will offer three South America voyages in February and March 2013, visiting some of the continent’s most beautiful and breathtaking destinations.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Azamara Club Cruises Celebrates Christmas in July with “12 Days of Savings”

I used to love those department store Christmas in July sales and now Azamara Club Cruises is gifting holiday travelers with a similar promotion. Dubbed “12 Days of Savings,” beginning tomorrow, July 16, and for 12 days, the cruise line will feature a new onboard spending credit for vacationers booking a Club Oceanview or higher stateroom on either Azamara Journey’s 14-night Vietnam and Thailand voyage or Azamara Quest’s 9-night Christmas in South America voyage. The onboard credit offer ranges from a maximum of $1,200 to $100 decreasing by $100 each day. Holiday travelers may use this opportunity to leave the stress of the holiday season behind and experience an unforgettable Christmas onboard one of Azamara’s two intimate 694-passenger ships while enjoying its signature authentic hospitality.

“Azamara Club Cruises offers voyages that coincide with special cultural events and significant holidays, including Christmas, allowing our guests the opportunities, to not only celebrate, but to immerse themselves in a new region’s cultures and sites while doing so,” said Edie Bornstein, vice president of Sales and Marketing, Azamara Club Cruises. “The 12 Days of Savings offer provides travelers with an extra special stocking stuffer for them to use while onboard, where they also will enjoy our delectable dining options, collection of worldly boutique wines and warm and friendly hospitality.”

Guests may choose between the Far East, where Azamara Journey will sail roundtrip from Singapore on a 14-night voyage departing Dec. 23, and South America, where Azamara Quest will sail a 9-night voyage, departing Dec. 18, from Rio de Jainero, Brazil, to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Along the way, guests aboard Azamara Journey will be treated to five overnights in fascinating Asian destinations, including Ko Samui, Thailand. Guests will enjoy sailing the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok where they will have two days to explore the thriving city and visit the world heritage site, Angkor Wat. A late night stay in Sihanoukville also provides an opportunity to visit Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, before heading to Ho Chi Minh City where two overnights allow ample time to enjoy the city’s fantastic shopping and nightlife.

Guests aboard Azamara Quest will leave the holiday stress behind and sail along Brazil’s Costa Verde with calls at Parati, Porto Bello and Ilhabela, known for its lush green landscape. On Christmas morning guests will awake in Punta del Este where Uruguay’s natural beauty and penguin colonies await in addition to sophisticated restaurants, bars and shopping.

Azamara’s 12-Days of Savings:

July 16: $1,200
July 17: $1,100
July 18: $1,000
July19: $900
July 20: $800
July 21: $700
July 22: $600
July 23: $500
July 24: $400
July 25: $300
July 26: $200
July 27: $100

The offer is valid for new individual bookings made with full deposit by July 27, 2012, on either of the voyages above; the offer applies to Club Oceanview or higher categories only.

Travelers on either voyage also may enjoy additional savings on Azamara’s proprietary air-booking system ChoiceAir, with a $500 credit per guest, up to $1,000 per stateroom, when booking a Club Oceanview, Club Veranda, or Club Continent Suite category stateroom; and $1,000 per guest, up to a maximum of $2,000 per stateroom, in a Club Ocean and Club World Owner Suite. Full details for this ChoiceAir offer re available at: AzamaraClubCruises.com/ChoiceAir.

Azamara Club Cruises is a destination-immersive cruise line for up-market travelers who want to not only see the places and cultures they visit, but to live them. Azamara’s two intimate, 694-guest ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, with a combination of 347 suites and staterooms, offer a European-boutique hotel ambience with extraordinary service, fine cuisine and wines from around the world, and wellness and vitality programs, all while sailing to a host of destinations larger ships cannot reach.

Azamara Club Cruises sails European destinations, including the Baltic and Scandinavia, British Isles, Western Europe, French and Italian Rivieras, Greek Isles, Croatia, Holy Land and Black Sea, as well as Asia, South America and lesser-traveled islands of the West Indies, with more overnight and late-night stays in every region.

Guests aboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest also enjoy more inclusive amenities, such as included gratuities for housekeeping, dining, and bar staff; complimentary bottled water, sodas, specialty coffee, and teas, as well as complimentary red and white boutique wines to accompany lunch and dinner; complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Line Offers Additional Perks During Special “Cruise Event”

Norwegian Cruise Line is launching its “Cruise Event” limited time offer tomorrow, Sunday, July 15, 2012 giving guests the opportunity to earn additional on-board amenities when they book a new cruise vacation in 2012 to one of Norwegian’s popular destinations, including Europe, Alaska, Bermuda, Hawaii, the Bahamas and Florida, the Caribbean, Canada and New England, and more. Guests will receive a variety of on-board amenities based on stateroom category booked, plus reduced deposits, when they book any 2012 5-day or longer Norwegian Cruise vacation by Sunday, July 21, 2012.

As part of this limited time offer, guests receive perks based on stateroom category booked. Solo travelers who book a studio stateroom on board Norwegian Epic, or those who book any inside stateroom will receive a bottle of wine in their stateroom to toast to their vacation. Guests who sail in an ocean view stateroom will receive a bottle of wine, plus a plate of decadent chocolate covered strawberries. Balcony guests will also receive a bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries, along with a complimentary dinner for two in Norwegian’s signature Italian restaurant. Mini-suite guests will enjoy all of the amenities received by those in a balcony stateroom, plus an additional dinner for two at Cagney’s Steakhouse, a guest favorite specialty restaurant, located on every Norwegian ship. Suite guests will receive all of the amenities entitled to guests sailing in a mini-suite, plus an additional $50 spa credit to use towards any pampering treatment in the Mandara Spas on board. Guests who set sail in Norwegian’s luxurious suite complex, The Haven, available on board Norwegian Epic, Gem, Pearl, Jewel, or Jade, will enjoy all of the amenities received by suite guests, plus dinner for two in Norwegian’s signature French restaurant, Le Bistro, and an additional $75 dollar on board credit to use towards another spa treatment, shore excursions, dinner in another specialty restaurant, or towards beverages in one of the many bars and lounges on board.

To take advantage of the “Cruise Event” limited time offer, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit NCL.com.

Friday, July 13, 2012

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Sea Treasure

We enjoy collecting souvenirs from our cruise travels just as much as the next person, but we usually buy them, so I was surprised to read in Bermuda's The Royal Gazette that my fellow passengers were stealing Bermuda's treasures. And I'll bet they didn't even realize they were doing something that local residents consider seriously wrong. The paper reports that Bermuda's West End residents claim visiting cruise ship passengers are taking large quantities of sea glass from Bottle Beach.

One resident, who admitted that she herself has taken pieces of glass from the beach, told the Gazette reporter, “Today I was sitting on a bench outside and was horrified to see two cruise ship passengers walking along with enormous plastic bags filled up to the brim with sea glass.” She added, “I was told of two tourists who went to the beach with five-gallon buckets and filled them up and took them back to the ship. I am so angry I could spit. I am appalled. You are not allowed to take sand, shells, coral or sea fans out of Bermuda. Why allow sea glass? Once the sea glass has all gone, that’s it. It’s too terrible.”

You might wonder what so-called sea glass is and why it might have any value. Quite simply, it's formed from glass objects that have been tossed in the sea (think beer bottles). After it's been broken up and weathered smooth by the action of salt water and sand, it's often washed ashore. Sea glass is found not only on beaches throughout Bermuda, such as Bottle Beach, it's also common in the Caribbean. The necklace pictured here featuring a sea glass pendant is one I purchased from a local jewelry crafter in Grand Turk. With a few beads, a leather thong, and some silver wire to surround the sea glass, the creative jewelry maker sold it to me for about $25.

With the amount of glass that's discarded in the sea, I doubt that co-called sea glass will ever totally disappear from the beaches. What really captured my attention in the Gazette news story was the local woman's assertion that the removal of sand from Bermuda is not allowed. Many visitors are enchanted by the island's beauty and the pink sand beaches add to the allure. Is it really against the law to scoop some sand into a baggie and bring it home with you? I searched for an answer and came up empty handed about the legality of the practice, but I do have a small bottle of Bermuda Pink Sand.

My container of pink sand was purchased in a gift shop at King's Wharf nearly twenty years ago on my first trip to Bermuda. It was bottled by The Pink Sand Project of the Mental Health Services at St. Brendan's Hospital. The project, which offered me a way to take a bit of Bermuda home, also provided a meaningful activity for those suffering from mental illnesses. I'm not sure if anything similar is still available, but there certainly was a "legal" way to bring home sand from Bermuda beaches that benefited the community. If you're leery about openly collecting sand at the beach, you could always wait until you are back on the ship and pour the sand that's collected in your shoes into a bag.

Photos © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Celebrity Cruises' Chef To Cook Up Good Times At Miami Beach Hotspot

Around the country and around the globe—and especially at sea—sharing good food with friends is one of life's simplest and most satisfying pleasures, which is why fresh, made-from-scratch, award-winning cuisine is central to Celebrity Cruises' modern luxury vacation experience.

When friends not only share a meal but share in the preparation, the results are even more exceptional. Such will be the case at midnight this Friday, July 13, 2012, at Miami Beach hotspot Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, when Celebrity Cruises' director of culinary operations, James Beard Award-nominated Chef John Suley, joins longtime close friend and fellow James Beard nominee Chef Jeffrey McInnis as part of the highly acclaimed restaurant's Midnight Chef's Table Series.

The ongoing dinner series, which offers foodies the opportunity to dine family-style with notable and up-and-coming chefs, is presented in an intimate setting in front of Yardbird's open kitchen. Suley will create a menu reflective of his modern, upscale, creative approach to simple, stunning presentation, evident in Celebrity's luxurious culinary offerings. The menu will also reflect Suley's friendship with McInnis and their history of cooking together, both professionally and personally. The two will host the dinner together in a casual, relaxed style typical of the Midnight Chef's Table and Yardbird's friendly ambience, giving diners a glimpse into what makes them successful as chefs as well as an opportunity to hear about their history together. Most seating at the July 13 dinner has been reserved; however, to see if tickets are still available, call (305) 538-5220.

"Jeff was the first person I met when I moved to Miami in 2006, and now he's one of my best friends," Suley said. "We've seen a lot of growth in each other's careers in the past few years. Jeff has a great ability to adapt to any environment, and he cooks food that is tasty, clean and simple, while bringing a great energy to create an upbeat vibe - you can see it every day at Yardbird. We've worked together formally and informally, but we have the most fun when we hang together and cook, whether it's at each other's houses, on his boat, or doing nothing at all! "

"John and I have cooked a lot of great food together over the years," said McInnis. "July 13th will not just be a reunion of two great friends, but also a reunion of great food and I'm very much looking forward to it!"

An accomplished, dynamic chef who has worked with some of the world's leading culinarians, Suley leads the team of more than 2,000 chefs behind Celebrity Cruises' award-winning cuisine, one of the most memorable aspects of Celebrity's modern luxury vacation experience. On every Celebrity cruise, guests enjoy sophisticated, globally influenced and artfully presented cuisine and impeccable service in stunningly designed restaurants. Celebrity also offers "Excite the Senses" culinary theme cruises on select itineraries.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Luggage Tag Holders for UK Cruisers

As we reported on CruiseDiva.com some time ago, while most passengers have no complaint about printing e-documents for their cruise, luggage tags printed on paper are a cause for concern. At that time we presented An Updated Paper Luggage Tag Solution, but our two suppliers, Favors by Serendipity and WCBS4 Printing are both located in the U.S.

Sadly, our U.K. cruise mates looking for the tag holders found the overseas shipping charges prohibitive.
However, the good news for them is that Thanet Direct, the online shop of Thanet Plastics Ltd, a trade manufacturer based in Kent England, now offers similar luggage tag holders in three styles.

Standard Luggage E-tag holder
Standard Luggage E-tag holder £4.00 (for 2)
Keep your luggage tag secure and dry. This is made from strong clear vinyl, reinforced with a metal eyelet making it rip proof. It can be read from both sides and comes complete with a 150mm vinyl loop, which will keep it securely fastened to your suitcase handle.

Deluxe Luggage E-tag holder
Deluxe Luggage E-tag holder £5.00 (for 2)
Similar to the Standard E-tag holder, this style is made from strong clear vinyl, reinforced with a metal eyelet making it rip proof. It can be read both sides and comes complete with a 150mm vinyl loop. In addition it has a white top and tail on which “CRUISING” is printed in blue.

Supreme Luggage E-tag holder £7.00 (for 2)
Supreme Luggage E-tag holder
This is the top of the range E-ticket holder with welded out clear panels and a clear reinforced centre with a blue leather effect border with “CRUISING” printed in gold and comes complete with a leather strap for affixing to your suitcase handle.

All Cruise E-Tag Luggage holders are registered designed products and are all made to take A4 and American Quarto paper sizes (8½” x 11”) when folded for your printed E-tag. They can be used over and over again so you'll never again have to use sticky tape for laminating or a stapler to attach the E-tags. Simply fold up your printed paper tags, insert them into your holders, and look forward to a pleasant cruise with no worries about the security of your paper luggage tags.

Images Courtesy of Thanet Direct

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Memphis, The King & Steamboating

On the Main Street Trolley Line,
Memphis Marriott Downtown
You might not think of Memphis, Tennessee as a cruise departure city, but it's the riverboat home port of the American Queen Steamboat Company's iconic American Queen and a really fun city for a pre- or post-cruise visit.

If you're heading to Memphis, Tennessee to experience the charm and splendor of a riverboat cruise and plan to s stay for a few days, look into the Memphis Marriott Downtown, the city's largest hotel. Situated on the Main Street trolley line it's conveniently located near area attractions, such as the clubs and restaurants on world famous Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, AutoZone Park, FedEx Forum, and—most importantly for cruisers—the riverboat port. Accommodations featuring luxurious Revive bedding and magnificent views of the city are reputed to be among the best in Memphis and if you're feeling flush, you might want to book the Elvis Suite. The entirely smoke-free hotel has complimentary high speed WiFi available throughout for a nominal daily fee. For guests who drive to the city, self parking is available on site for $18/day; valet parking for $20/day; and off-site parking is $5/day.

Guest room
There's no more unique way to enjoy a Mississippi river cruise and experience the heritage, and culture of America's heartland and the deep south than a voyage aboard a genuine steamboat like the American Queen. Take a stroll through charming towns and vibrant Mississippi River cities and learn about the great events and people that have contributed to America's history. You can reserve a riverboat cruise with lodging at the Memphis Marriott Downtown by calling American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280. Discounts and exclusive packages may be available to riverboat travelers.

Images Courtesy of Memphis Marriott Downtown

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cruise From Charleston

Historic Homes Face The Battery in Charleston
One of my favorite southern cities is Charleston, South Carolina. If Mel and I and the Tabby Trio didn’t live where we do in Georgia, we’d live there. Part of Charleston’s charm is food related and with two culinary schools and a passion for good cooking, the city is home to dozens of world-class restaurants. It’s best to skip the chain eateries and dine like a local, which is why one of our favorite restaurants is Jestine’s Kitchen at 251 Meeting Street.

While surfing the ’Net recently I happened to run across an article about The Best fried Chicken in America and was pleased to see Jestine’s Kitchen was one of the choices. Jestine’s often has lines trailing out the door and around the corner, which has led some critics to dismiss it as a "tourist trap"—a misnomer for sure. Whatever you think, Jestine’s fried chicken is worth the wait. As the article says, "It’s been lauded as not only the best in the city, but also in the state, the world, the galaxy, and even the universe. The fried chicken served here is traditional, pure Southern comfort, and is available in all-white and all-dark meat orders. The kitchen serves up all things thoroughly Southern, and both Rachael Ray and Anthony Bourdain have graced its seats." Jestine’s has also been named the Food Network’s 'Best Of,' and received the Reader’s Choice Award from Southern Living magazine in 2009. The restaurant is named for Jestine Matthews, who was housekeeper and cook for generations of restaurant owner Dana Berlin’s family. Jestine lived until the ripe old age of 112 and, thankfully, her recipes live on.

I’ve been told that Jestine’s is Jimmy Buffett’s favorite place to dine in Charleston, which was a good enough recommendation for me to drop in the first time. Along with the fantastic fried chicken and other Southern-style "comfort" food, another of my personal favorites is the Shrimp Creole and either Bread Pudding or Coca-Cola Cake for dessert. Every meal should be accompanied by Jestine’s “Table Wine”—sweetened tea.

If you are Cruising From Charleston, The Antebellum Belle, restaurants on South Market Street range from the chain quality Bubba Gump Shrimp Company to the perennial local favorite, A. W. Shuck’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar. A bit further to walk, but certainly worth the trouble, is Jestine’s and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Expedition Cruising Coming to Hawaii in 2013

There’s a lot to see and do in Hawaii that involves water and an option for tourists in the fall of 2013 will include InnerSea Discoveries’ Wilderness Explorer. That’s when the 76-guest expedition vessel begins active adventure cruising among the Hawaiian Islands, joining the line’s 36-guest upscale yacht Safari Explorer to offer island explorations from the sea.

From Nov 2013 through April 2014, the Wilderness Explorer will sail 7-night Adventure Bound Hawaii cruises between Oahu and the Big Island and reverse. The itinerary visits Ka’ena Point State Park, Wai’anae Harbor, Maui, Lana’i, Honomalino Bay, Opihihali and Kailua-Kona. Guests will also enjoy scenic cruising and searching for whales and dolphins in the wildlife-rich Humpback National Marine Sanctuary.

Highlights of the new itinerary include snorkeling at Molokini’s undersea volcanic crater, a night snorkel with Giant Pacific Manta Rays, watching whales and dolphins and guided hikes exploring scenic areas on all four islands. Expert naturalists provide interpretation on guided excursions ashore and at sea.

Wilderness Explorer has a swim platform for easy access to water sports equipment and entry into the water. A specially built kayak launch platform comfortably launches four kayaks at once. Guests enjoy included water sports activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, skiff explorations and swimming. Guests may also take a spin on the innovative human-powered watercraft powered by two peddlers and up to six paddlers. On board, innovative meals are served buffet style to accommodate a flexible schedule of adventure activities. A wellness program includes a sauna, fitness equipment, complimentary yoga on deck, and massages for a fee. Cabins feature a flatscreen TV/DVD player, iPod dock, and eco-friendly bath amenities. In the lounge, guests will find a selection of games and a library of books and DVDs.

“We are sending the Wilderness Explorer to Hawaii to add another option for travelers seeking an active island adventure at a moderate price.” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s a tremendous value when you add in all the included activities and the ability to explore multiple scenic islands.”

For luxury adventures in the Hawaiian Islands this season, the line’s 36-guest Safari Explorer sails 7-night cruises between Hawaii, the Big Island and Lana’i with two days of activities on Moloka’i. Guests making a new reservation on the yacht by Sept 30, 2012 receive a $500 travel credit per couple for cruises Nov 2012-April 2013.

Image Courtesy of InnerSea Discoveries

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cruise News: Costa Concordia Removal Plans Proceed

Costa Concordia Wreck Removal Update

In a bit of irony, as part of the salvage plan to remove the wreck of Costa Concordia, which will be carried out by the Italo-American Titan-Micoperi consortium appointed by Costa Crociere, Fincantieri—the builder of Costa Concordia—has been awarded a contract worth tens of millions of euros for the construction of the watertight boxes, known as caissons, to be used in the operation to refloat the ship.

A total of 30 steel caissons, with combined weight of approximately 11,500 tons, will be built in different Fincantieri shipyards. The Costa Concordia salvage plan entails the use of these caissons to right and refloat the wreck so that it can be removed in one piece.

Once the ship has been stabilized, caissons will be fixed to the upper side of the hull and gradually filled with water as part of the operation to right the ship; righting will be performed using a system of “strand jacks”-a hydraulic mechanism for pulling cables -fixed to an undersea platform. When the ship is upright, caissons full of water also will be fixed to the other side of the hull. Then the caissons on both sides will be emptied to refloat the wreck; once floated, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port.

Meanwhile, on Giglio Island preliminary work to prepare the wreck for salvage is proceeding on schedule; this includes steel structural jobs needed to cut and remove some external parts of the ship (OVI SAT antenna, forward masthead light, water slide) and facilitate the next stage of the plan. The seabed also is being inspected regularly ahead of the site clean-up operation devised to conserve the marine environment, which will be the main focus once the wreck has been removed. The preliminary stage is expected to finish by the end of July; it will be followed by the ship stabilization phase.

On a related note, AFP reports:
The captain of a cruise ship that ran aground in January killing 32 people said a "divine hand" had guided him and saved lives the night of the disaster, as he was released from house arrest on Thursday.

As the ship was about to hit rocks off the Italian coast "a divine hand surely touched my head," Francesco Schettino said in a letter to his lawyers which was published by Italian media on Thursday.

"If I had continued on that path the ship's prow would have hit the rock. It would have been carnage," he said.

Schettino's comments came after Italian judges released him from house arrest but said he must not leave his home town while his trial continues.

All I can think of is that he sounds delusional.