Monday, December 31, 2012

Princess Cruises Shares Final Reason on “Inspired to Cruise” Blog

In 2011, Princess Cruises rolled out their first blog, 50 Essential Experiences, The Travel Bucket List in which Princess destination experts and readers shared their Essential Travel Experience of the Week (Cruise Diva's is here, The Hidden Value of Travel: Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Inspired by the success of that year-long themed blog, Princess launched a new one for 2012 entitled “Inspired to Cruise: A Year of Reasons to Get Away From the Everyday.”

Princess Cruises has now shared the final passenger story on its 2012 blog, which personifies their promise to help passemgers escape completely.” In the story “My Yearly Retreat to Escape Completely,” Patricia Mengel of Brighton, Michigan shares how each day of her cruise she is able to let go a bit more from her busy job as a cardiac medical assistant. Even her patients know about her yearly cruise to let go of work stress and come home feeling refreshed and renewed.

Throughout 2012, the blog chronicled 52 diverse reasons why passengers are compelled to take a cruise vacation, including a mix of celebrations, accomplishments, family milestones and other deeply personal reasons to cruise. Among the many reasons were romantic stories: to get married, to honeymoon, to pop the question, to renew vows and even to save a marriage. Others conquered fears, quit smoking, chased an eclipse, ran a marathon and made peace with wartime memories. Family also featured prominently as passengers reconnected with parents, visited relatives in far-flung locales and honored those who had passed.

The blog, one of the most popular in the travel industry, generated 2.7 million page views and more than 4,000 comments from readers who have been inspired to find their own reasons to cruise. In addition, the blog also featured a series of short “Escape Inspiration” videos. These 30-second cruise moments were introduced by a Princess crew member who explained why the scene has meaning for them.

As the year draws to a close, take a look back at all the reasons your fellow shipmates are inspired to cruise and you may find you have a lot in common. I certainly did.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Royal Caribbean Orders Third Oasis-Class Vessel

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has ended months of speculation by announcing that it has executed a contract with shipbuilder STX France to construct a third Oasis-class vessel for delivery in mid-2016. The order is consistent with the plan announced by the company in October to build a sister-ship to Royal Caribbean Intl's very successful Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

"The Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have fundamentally transformed the cruise experience for our guests," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "These ships have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results. We are thrilled to be adding a sister to this extraordinary class of vessels at a compelling price. Being back building in France just adds to the pleasure."

The newbuild contract includes the transfer of Pullmantur's Atlantic Star to STX France as part of the consideration. Additionally, the contract is subject to satisfaction of financing and other conditions. STX France has also provided the company with a one-year option for the mid-year 2018 delivery of a fourth Oasis-class vessel at similar pricing.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are the largest and most revolutionary cruise ships in the world. Architectural marvels at sea, they span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carrying 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. The ships sail weekly from their home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas debuted in November 2009 and November 2010 respectively, introducing a range of unique industry "firsts" and engineering marvels including a neighborhood concept—seven themed areas providing guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood. Within these seven neighborhoods—Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone—are extraordinary elements such as the first park at sea, a thrilling zip line that races diagonally nine-decks above an open-air atrium, an original handcrafted carousel, 28 multilevel urban-style loft suites boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, an aquatic amphitheater—called the AquaTheater that serves as a pool by day and a dazzling ocean front theater by night; and an array of epicurean innovations that allow for new culinary experiences each day of a guest's cruise vacation.

"As the cruise line that revolutionized the industry with the FlowRider surf simulator, ice-skating rinks, cantilevered whirlpools and rock climbing walls, we are eager to add this third award winning Oasis-class ship to our brand portfolio. This addition will allow us to showcase our legacy of innovation and imagination to even more guests around the world," said Adam Goldstein, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International.

With the success of the Oasis-class ships, Royal Caribbean Intl is currently undergoing a fleetwide revitalization program to bring the latest innovations and the highest guest-rated programs from Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas to the cruise line's ships across the fleet. For additional information, visit

Friday, December 28, 2012

Culinary Masters Warm Up Crystal Cruises' Arctic Voyage In 2013

Cruise Diva has always said that the food alone is a good enough reason to sail on a Crystal cruise and when the luxury line schedules a culinary adventure, that's an added bonus. Next summer a Norwegian Culinary Olympics Team member, Cordon Bleu Master Chef, and Domaine Laroche Brand Ambassador will bring spice to the ice during Crystal Cruises' 2013 voyage through the Arctic Circle. The special guests will be aboard as part of a "Wine and Food" theme enhancing the line's annual North Cape cruise. The Crystal Serenity voyage begins July 5, 2013, sailing from Copenhagen to Stockholm, visiting 10 ports over 15 days filled with sipping Europe's finest local beverages, learning about local dishes from gourmands, and seeing the breathtaking scenery of Lapland.

The culinary experts currently scheduled are:
-- Sven Erik Renaa: Proprietor of Norway's renowned Renaa Restaurants, winner of numerous Chef of the Year awards, and manager of the champion Norwegian National Culinary Team.
-- Gwenael Laroche: Brand Ambasadress for (and family member of) Burgundy's Domaine Laroche winery, a name that is virtually synonymous with Chablis and has won "The Best White Wine in the World" from Wine Spectator.
-- Mark Cummings: A certified Cordon Bleu Master Chef, restaurateur, and star of TV's The Very Best of Everything.
They will offer hands-on instruction in preparing chef specialties, live cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and specially-designed menus for select Crystal Dining Room dinners.

Foodie fun also segues to shore, with Crystal Adventures that take travelers on a "Quest for King Crab" in the waters of Sarnesfjorden (followed by eating the day's catch); to Tromso's oldest pub and Mack's Brewery to learn (and taste!) the art of crafting arctic beer; and to three different ice bars (in Leknes, Stockholm, Honningsvag) for perfectly-chilled vodka sipping. The voyage includes overnights in Copenhagen and Stockholm at the cruise's beginning and end; calls in Geiranger, Honningsvag, Tromso, Lofoten, Alesund, Loen, and Bergen, Norway; Crystal's first return to Murmansk, Russia in 18 years; and cruising the Norwegian Fjords, North Cape/Arctic Circle, and North, Barents, and Baltic Seas. All-inclusive "Book Now" fares offer special savings.

Extraordinary culinary experiences are a hallmark of every Crystal vacation. Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity's extensive, innovative choices for gourmandizing include the ultra-luxury line's coveted cheese and wine cellars, overseen by on-board, certified cheese and wine sommeliers (Court of Master Sommeliers-certified); and gourmet dining options at every meal, whether in the Crystal Dining Room, at afternoon tea, or in Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio's specialty restaurants. Get more information and get on board by visiting

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Costa Cruises Names Newbuild Costa Diadema

The first block of the hull was laid earlier this month at Fincantieri's Marghera, Italy, shipyard forming the central part of Costa Diadema, the future flagship of Costa Cruises. Diadema in Italian means "tiara" and the name was selected for the new ship that will serve as the crown jewel and flagship of the Costa Cruises fleet.

During the ceremony on Dec 10th, the block—weighing approximately 496 tons, measuring 51.5 feet wide by 95 feet long—was lifted by a crane and laid in the dry dock where the ship will be built.

Construction and fitting out will continue until Oct 30, 2014, the scheduled date of delivery. Construction of Costa Diadema will employ approximately 1,000 shipyard workers plus another 2,500 employees of allied industries. About 400 contracted suppliers, most of which are Italian firms, will be involved in the project, especially regarding fitting out the ship's interiors.

"The construction of the Costa Diadema is a tangible commitment to the future growth of our company," said Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Crociere S.p.A. "It is significant not only for us but also for Italy in general and Venice in particular. The Costa Diadema consolidates our alliance with Fincantieri, which has already resulted in the building of 10 new ships for us since 2000, worth a total of almost 5 billion euros."

Costa will invest around 550 million euros in the new flagship. Costa Diadema will be the largest cruise ship flying the Italian flag, at 132,500 gross tons, 1,004 feet long, 122 feet in the beam, carrying 4,947 total guests and 1,253 crewmembers, with 1,854 guest cabins.

Image (c)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Un-Cruise Adventures Adds Themes To Select Hawaii & Sea of Cortés Sailings in 2013

You want adventure and have a passion for marine biology or photography? Or you have young kids in tow, but have never considered a cruise vacation? Now you can find a theme cruise catering to your interest this winter. Un-Cruise Adventures adds themes to ten sailings in the Hawaiian Islands and Mexico’s Sea of Cortés.

Photography and marine biology theme cruises include an expert guest host on board for the week. Special presentations will be held in the lounge and guests are free to interact with the guest host throughout the week aboard the boat or on excursions. One-on-one time allows for questions to be answered and hands-on help with photography.

Kids in Nature departures cater to families traveling with kids 12 and younger. The expedition team gears the program to a variety of ages and activity levels with a focus on educating kids of all ages. Hiking excursions, kayaking trips, skiff explorations and snorkeling all provide hands-on learning in a fun environment. Active explorations in nature and wildlife sightings engage all ages.

“Themes bring together people with common interests and adds one more benefit for booking these dates,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing.
2013 Theme Cruises in Hawaii
-- Jan 5: Photography and Whales with Flip Nicklin, regarded as the premier whale photographer in the world
-- March 9 & 30: Kids in Nature; spring break departures for the whole family
-- April 6: Photography with Peter West Carey, a professional photographer whose love for travel has taken him around the world

2013 Theme Cruises in the Sea of Cortés
-- Jan 12: Marine Biology with Rodrigo Rocha Gosselin, a La Paz resident passionate about conservation and nature
-- Feb 16: Photography with David Julian, a professional photographer with 30 years’ experience capturing the essence of places, people and light with creative vision
-- March 16: Photography with Ellen Barone, an intrepid traveler, freelance writer and photographer
-- March 30: Marine Biology with Giovanni Malagrino, an oceanologist and professor of marine biology
-- March 9 and 23: Kids in Nature; spring break departures for the whole family
For Luxury Adventures in the Hawaiian Islands, the line’s 36-guest Safari Explorer (pictured above) sails 7-night cruises between Hawaii, the Big Island and Lana’i (or reverse) with two days of activities on Moloka’i. Flexible yacht itineraries focus on the leeward side of the eastern-most Hawaiian Islands with explorations of four islands—Lana’i, Moloka’i, Maui and Hawaii, the Big Island.

In the Sea of Cortés, the 86-guest Safari Endeavour sails Luxury Adventures roundtrip La Paz, Baja, Mexico. An unstructured itinerary explores hideaways such as Isla Espíritu Santo, Isla San Francisco, Bahia Agua Verde, Los Islotes and Loreto.

In the Hawaiian Islands and the Sea of Cortés, guests can be as active as they like and activities include trekking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and skiff excursions. Expert naturalists provide interpretation on guided excursions ashore and at sea. The unstructured itinerary allows time for viewing wildlife such as whales and dolphins. For additional information, visit the Un-Cruise experts at American Safari Cruises.

Image Courtesy of American Safari Cruises

Monday, December 24, 2012

New Cruise Ship Review: Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Reflection isn't a mirror image, but it's no surprise that the final "sister" ship in Celebrity Cruises' Solstice class series is just as impressive as the first.

As expected, each of the five ships is similar in layout, with a few innovations added as the series evolved. Cruisers who have sailed on previous Solstice class ships will find unique additions on Celebrity Reflection as well as favorite signature features. The aft-facing Sunset Bar and the adjacent Lawn Club have been expanded, and an additional deck offers more space for lounging and relaxation. The spa has been redesigned with new treatments added to the menu, and the Persian Garden relaxation suite has been expanded to include a cold room and a Turkish-style Hammam. A conference facility/banquet space ideal for wedding receptions and meetings replaces the dance club found on previous ships.

Join the Cruise Diva crew on board in Miami for an inside look at Celebrity Reflection.

Photo © Cruise Diva

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kids To Sail Free In Baltic & Mediterranean On Crystal In Summer 2013

It isn't often that you see young children and teens on luxury cruise ships and there's a reason for that. Crystal Cruises' dedicated on-board kids and teens areas are a rarity among the luxury lines.

Taking advantage of those youth spaces, Crystal Cruises is expanding the opportunity for luxury minded travelers to enjoy an upscale family-friendly summer cruise with their new "Kids Sail Free" offers in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. On four June and July voyages, junior cruisers age 17 and under can travel for free when sharing a third berth stateroom with two adults. This is the first time ever the popular program has been offered in the Baltic, with three Crystal Serenity sailings of 10 days each on June 25, July 20 and 30, through Stockholm (overnight), Sweden; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia (two overnights); Helsinki, Finland; Berlin/Warnemunde, Germany; and Copenhagen, Denmark. A 7-day sailing through the Mediterranean departs July 6 on Crystal Symphony, visiting Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; and Sicily/Taormina, Sorrento, and Rome/Civitavecchia, Italy.

"With attractive savings for bringing the kids along, combined with incredible opportunities to see and learn about Europe's history firsthand, these cruises offer not only great value, but also invaluable experiences in terms of family bonding, world education, and memories," explains Jack Anderson, Crystal's senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

During summers and holidays, junior activities directors host complimentary supervised activities on board, ranging from behind-the scenes tours to cooking classes and scavenger hunts. The Crystal Visions Enrichment Program also offers entertaining education, including Magic Castle at Sea shows and classes, iPad Digital Filmmaking classes in association with USC's School of Cinematic Arts, and presentations from expert speakers. Every cruise also has babysitting services, "finicky eater" foods, movies, library books, family-friendly excursions, and more available.

With sophisticated tours worldwide, enriching learning opportunities, international cuisine, complimentary voluntourism excursions, and a host of other activities for all ages, the Crystal experience gives families exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime access to creating intimate bonds, gleaning a global education, and building lifelong memories while sailing in elegance, making Crystal Cruises the leader in family-friendly luxury cruising. As an added bonus, the Crystal Family Memories program also offers additional free berths and perks for groups of six or more.

For more information, visit

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Pre-Cruise Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Pier 66

Since we live within a day's drive of south Florida embarkation ports, Mel and I often begin our cruise travel with a road trip rather than flying to port. We always spend a night in the area before departing on our cruises.

We've stayed at many hotels in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas over the years and recently spent the night at one of our favorites, the Hyatt Regency Pier 66. Pictured here is our spacious Junior Suite in the hotel's high-rise tower.

Who could have imagined that the 22 acres of swamp land purchased by Phillips Petroleum over a half century ago would grow from a simple watercraft gas station to one of Fort Lauderdale's premier landmarks? Take a fresh look at Hyatt Regency Pier 66.

Image: Hyatt Regency Pier 66 (c)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Line, Katie Couric & Carnival Corp Honor NY Victims of Hurricane Sandy With Cruises & Donations

Wow, is Katie Couric the “new” Oprah? She certainly is a nice woman—Mel and I met her when she served as Godmother for Carnival Valor some years ago. She graciously posed for photos with us and chatted like we were old friends. And now she has proven she is as giving as the former Queen of Television Talk.

In the Dec 19th “Katie Gives Back: Holiday Extravaganza,” the Katie talk show’s audience included 150 New York-area mothers who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. During the grand prize giveaway, Norwegian Breakaway’s godmothers, the legendary Rockettes®, presented the audience with the cruise giveaway provided by Norwegian Cruise Line, which invited all audience members and their families onboard the exclusive inaugural sailing of the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, over Mother’s Day weekend, May 10–12, 2013. The weekend will include spectacular dining, entertainment, and fun, as the best of New York sails to sea aboard the brand new ship.

“As a New Yorker, I know firsthand the kind of damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted on this area,” said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are so pleased to offer these deserving families a chance to relax and reconnect during our exclusive inaugural sailing of Norwegian Breakaway, to experience the luxury, incredible amenities and wonderful service that New York’s ship has to offer.”

Not to be overlooked for their generosity, Carnival Corporation—the world’s largest cruise company, with a portfolio of cruise brands comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Ibero Cruises, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (UK)— is donating $2 million to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy that struck the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, and devastated New Jersey and New York. The funds are earmarked for four charities providing an array of relief and rebuilding services and support. The Robin Hood Relief Fund will receive $1 million, Habitat for Humanity International will receive $500,000, and Save the Children and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City—Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts each will receive $250,000.

“Super Storm Sandy was one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history and on behalf of the 90,000 global employees of Carnival Corporation & plc we are pleased to provide this financial support to those who were affected by the storm,” said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. “We also have a special relationship with the region, with several ships either homeported or visiting the area as a port of call, as well as hundreds of thousands of residents who sail on the fleets of our various cruise brands.”

Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Junior Cruisers Have A Lot To Look Forward To In New Royal Princess Youth and Teen Centers

Royal Princess youth centers will include new outdoor
lounge and play spaces
Adults will have the Sanctuary and numerous lounges and restaurants, but even the youngest passengers will enjoy the many special features aboard Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess when the ship debuts in June next year.

Just revealed are the amenities designed especially for kids and teens that will wow younger cruisers aboard the new ship. Royal Princess will offer expanded space for youth centers that adds a new level to the onboard experience for young passengers. All age groups will find more space with dedicated outdoor areas, including a new teen lounge. Toddlers can also join the fun with a special fun area just for kids under age three.

Some of the fun that young passengers will find on Royal Princess includes:
Princess Pelicans (ages 3-7): The youngest age group will enjoy a great space for group activities like movie nights, a new mini air hockey table, a special area for arts and crafts programs, and a new indoor play structure. In addition, they’ll have a new outdoor play area, which includes toys, games, tricycles, and a new playground. These features add to the lineup of popular activities that kids love on Princess ships, including the Jr. Chef@Sea program, educational workshops, pajama and ice cream parties, and a Kid's Fun Fair. 
Shockwaves (ages 8-12): Junior passengers in the middle group will now have their own dedicated outside area complete with lounge chairs and a variety of fun games. Shockwaves kids will really get into activities geared for their age – like air hockey, skeeball, and exciting game stations. They’ll also find their own lounge with a giant TV, a DJ Booth, and arts and crafts tables with activities led by Princess’ youth counselors. Plus they can hang out and enjoy their own pizza and ice cream parties or kids-only dinners. 
Remix (ages 13-17): The Remix area for teens will feature a Princess DJ booth loaded with cutting-edge tracks where music lovers can create their own playlist, kick back, relax, or dance to the latest club mix. In addition, there’s a new lounge area, perfect for meeting new friends, with games like foosball, skeeball and the latest video games. A brand new outdoor lounge fulfills a request from teens, and offers cool club lighting, contemporary seating, a great new wading pool, and of course music perfect for parties under the stars. Teens will also enjoy activities specially designed for their age group, including sports competitions, late-night movies, hip hop dance classes, teens-only “mocktail” parties, formal dinners, and the always-popular video game tournaments.
For more insight into the features, the new areas for kids and teens are detailed in the company’s latest Royal Princess preview video below.

“It's always important to us that passengers of all ages have a great time onboard,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Naturally we’ve included features on Royal Princess to make every moment of the cruise memorable for our youngest passengers. We love hearing them tell their parents that they can’t wait to come back.”

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises. Among the special features found on board will be a greatly expanded atrium, 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; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience 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.

Find more Royal Princess details, images, and videos on Cruise Diva's blog at:
Princess Cruises Newest Ship Will Be A Royal
Royal Princess: Expanded Atrium, New Features
Royal Princess Introduces Updated Amenities and A New Balcony Stateroom Category
Royal Princess: Expanded Atrium, New Features
Princess Cruises Raises the Curtain on New Royal Princess Entertainment Venue
The Ultimate In Relaxation Coming Aboard Royal Princess
Princess Cruises Shares A Look At New Royal Princess Fitness Facilities
Princess Cruises Takes Dining To The Next Level With New Royal Princess
Princess Cruises Unveils Posh Royal Princess Sanctuary & Retreat Pool With New Features
Photo and Video Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces 2014/2015 Itineraries From U.S. Homeports

For the ultimate in sun and fun, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its deployment plans for the fall and winter 2014/2015 season with eight ships sailing to the Caribbean and Bahamas & Florida from five homeports: Miami, New York, Tampa, Houston, and New Orleans.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the announcement is that the line will also increase its 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles and offer a series of Panama Canal voyages between Los Angeles and Miami. There's no doubt that Mexico's tourism representatives will be pleased with that news as so many cruise lines have cut back calls to their ports in recent years.

Details on the west coast deployment, including the increasingly popular Pacific Coastal cruises, follow below. You'll find complete deployment information for other homeports (including Transatlantic crossings) available in's Cruise News.

Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coastal
Norwegian will increase the number of Mexican Riviera sailings in 2014, offering a series of 7-day cruises from Los Angeles, California on Norwegian Star from Nov 30, 2014 through Dec 28, 2014. Norwegian Star will then return to the Mexican Riviera in 2015 between March 1 and April 12, 2015. Ports of call include: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, along with three days at sea. Norwegian Star will also sail seven Panama Canal cruises between Miami and Los Angeles or from Los Angeles to Miami in 2014 and three additional Panama Canal sailings in 2015.

On April 20, 2014, Norwegian Jewel will sail a 15-day Panama Canal cruise from New Orleans to Los Angeles, followed by a 5-day Pacific Coastal voyage from Los Angeles to Vancouver, British Columbia on May 5, 2014.
On Sept 20, 2014, Norwegian Jewel will sail a 5-day Pacific Coastal voyage from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, followed by a 16-day Panama Canal cruise from Los Angeles to Houston departing on Sept 25, 2014. 
Norwegian Pearl will sail a 15-day Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Los Angeles on April 18, 2014, followed by a 7-day British Colombia and US West Coast cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver on May 3, 2014. The ship will depart Vancouver on Sept 28, 2014 on a 5-day Pacific Coastal cruise to Los Angeles, followed by a 14-day Panama Canal sailing to Miami on Oct 3, 2014.
Norwegian Sun will depart Miami on April 28, 2014 on a 15-day Panama Canal voyage to Los Angeles, followed by a 6-day Pacific Coastal cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver on May 13, 2014. The ship will depart Vancouver on Sept 29 as it embarks on a 5-day Pacific Coastal cruise to Los Angeles. On Oct 4, 2014, Norwegian Sun departs Los Angeles on a 15-day Panama Canal cruise ending in Tampa.
To book any of the new sailings in conjunction with Norwegian’s “The Upgrade Wave” sales event, contact a travel professional, call 866-234-7350 or visit

Photo (c)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New "Adult" Beverage Packages For Royal Caribbean Cruisers

Considering their popularity on other cruise lines, it was only a matter of time until Royal Caribbean expanded their own onboard beverage program to include packages that add a selection of adult drinks in addition to wine. Wine packages, along with soft drink, water, or juice packages, have been offered by Royal Caribbean for some time now. The two new beverage packages, called the Classic Beverage Package and the Premium Beverage Package, make it possible for passengers to pay a flat price for a selection of alcoholic, as well as non-alcoholic, beverages for the entire cruise.

The charge for a Classic Beverage Package is $45 per passenger, per day. The Premium Beverage Package charge is $55 per passenger, per day. Charges for both packages include the service charge and packages must be purchased on the first day of the sailing.

Currently available on thirteen ships, the packages will be available fleetwide on ships with 7-night or longer itineraries early in 2013. The catch is that they are only available on cruises of seven or more nights and packages must be purchased by all guests 21 years old or older who are sharing the same stateroom.

What's included...

Classic Beverage Package:
• beer
• house wines by the glass
• all non-alcoholic cocktails
• fountain soft drinks
• juices
Premium Beverage Package:
• beer
• frozen drinks
• all alcoholic cocktails, including premium brands
• house wines by the glass
• all non-alcoholic cocktails
• fountain soft drinks
• juices

Monday, December 17, 2012

Carnival Cruise Lines' Platinum Perks

Over the years--actually since our first Carnival cruise on the line's original ship, Mardi Gras--we've accumulated enough sailings to reach the Platinum level in Carnival's Very Important Fun Person past passenger program.

Benefits to Platinum and above members that we most appreciate are priority embarkation and debarkation, logo gift items (which have included such keepsakes as photo frames and tote bags) along with ship-specific pins, a concierge desk on board, complimentary wash and fold laundry service (2 bags on a 3–6 day cruises, 3 bags on a 7+ day cruises), a complimentary alcoholic or specialty beverage at breakfast or lunch or at the Punchliner Comedy Brunch, and members-only shipboard cocktail parties with complimentary drinks and appetizers.

Once aboard Carnival Breeze last week we were delighted to receive the latest logo gift, the insulated tumblers pictured above. Trust me, they got a lot of use during our cruise for morning coffee and afternoon lemonade. The tumblers are designed to keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold. With the lids, we avoided spills and. perhaps best of all, they are dishwasher proof.

For more information, see Carnival Cruise Lines Rewards Past Guests With “Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) Club” Perks here on the Cruise Diva Blog.

Photo (c)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Douglas Ward, Your Go-To Cruise Guide

For more than a quarter of a century (28 years to be exact), Douglas Ward has been sharing his knowledge about cruise travel and cruise ships with readers in Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships. The 2013 edition, now available in bookstores and on (the link provided above), continues the tradition of being known as "the cruise industry Bible" for its detailed description of 285 ocean-going cruise vessels.

Ward has spent over 5,800 days at sea, beginning when he worked for Cunard Line, and has taken over 1,020 cruises and completed 157 transatlantic crossings. However, his isn't the usual cruise experience. Cruise Diva has traveled on several sailings where Ward was busy at work and he seldom relaxes. His sharp eye catches nearly every detail, like accessibility for the disabled, the softness of towels and linens, the temperature of the buffet food, and even the proper height of toilets for comfort.

The Berlitz guidebook is divided into three sections. The first combines Ward's authoritative text with color photographs to illustrate the cruise experience and help readers make their desicions about what style of cruise, cruise line, and ship size is most appealing for them. The second section contains reviews of every major cruise ship, from the smallest yacht-like vessels to the world's largest, from ships for budget minded travelers to the most luxurious and expensive. Details include specifications on size, number of cabins, passengers, and crewmembers, as well as an overview of what features to expect on board. Section three shares practical information on subjects such as booking, costs and budgeting, on board etiquette, and travel insurace, plus a listing of where to find the cruise lines on the Internet.

If you want to take your cruise research with you in digital form on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, the Berlitz Cruise Ships 2013 app is available to download from the iTunes App Store.

With holiday gift-giving just around the corner, either the guidebook or app would put a smile on any avid cruise traveler's face.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Carnival Breeze: The Caribbean Vibe

Caribbean cruises are all about the outdoors—the sun, the sea, the beaches. The ports we visited had the best of the latter. The beaches on St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, and Nassau are hard to beat. As for the sun and sea, Carnival Breeze provides them whether in port or at sea.

No matter your age or interests, there’s certainly something you’ll find appealing on board. The promenade deck features four whirlpools that are cantilevered over the side of the ship and are some of the most popular spots on board all day and into the night. In addition, the aft-located Tides pool has two more whirlpools and is the quieter of the two swimming pool areas.

There are no whirlpools at the Beach pool, but the main lido area surrounding it has ample loungers in the sun and shade and the added advantage of the super-sized 270-square-foot LED Seaside Theatre screen overhead. Programming such as the Cruise Director’s morning show, concerts, and sporting events is shown during the day. After dark “Dive-In Movies” (think of a seagoing drive in) are scheduled and the popcorn is free!

Fun for kids and their elders is the WaterWorks high atop the ship with watery thrills such as a 312-foot-long Twister water slide, the DrainPipe slide, a tipping bucket, and a water play area with side-by side racing slides for the little ones. Nearby are pleasant seating areas for parents to keep on eye on the kids as they have fun amid the water jets and other water park-style attractions.

If all that isn’t enough to keep everyone busy, there’s SportSquare, the open deck recreation complex with a suspended ropes course overhead, miniature golf, ping-pong, pool, and foosball tables, a sports court, and even a hot dog cart nearby in case hunger strikes. A centrally located bar has non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic beverages. Surrounding the SportSquare is a jogging track and there are exercise machines nearby to get in a work out in the fresh air.

Maybe your idea of working out is working on your tan or enjoying a good beach read. In that case, there is Serenity—the tranquil oasis for adults only where there are plush chaise lounges, hammocks, two whirlpools, a bar, and a snack area serving light fare.

All the outside attractions are available at no charge, except for beverages. Take heed, though—to get the prime lounging spots on the popular Serenity deck, you’ll have to arrive early.

About the ropes course... I know someone will ask if I tried it. Not yet, but the cruise isn’t quite over and there is still time.

Images Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Friday, December 14, 2012

Carnival Breeze, So Entertaining

“Divas” on Carnival Breeze
Music is very personal and a big part of our lives whether at home or on a cruise. Here aboard Carnival Breeze it’s possible for everyone to enjoy their favorite style—whether they frequent the Piano Bar 88 or attend the all-new Playlist Production shows.

The high-tech production shows in the Ovation Theater combine live performances with LED staging and special effects, but it’s the talented artists who sing and dance that set it apart as fresh and new. Four revues are currently offered on Carnival Cruise Lines ships–“Divas,” “Latin Nights,” “The Brits!” and “Motor City.” Our 8-night Carnival Breeze sailing features the first three, each highlighting popular and memorable music of a particular genre or era.

“Divas” is a mix of music, fashion, and dance that features popular contemporary female artists we know by a single name, such as Barbra, Beyonce, Celine, Cher, Madonna, and Whitney, closing the show with a personal favorite—Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night.” The passionate Latin culture comes alive in “Latin Nights” through the fusion of music made popular by Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Santana, and Shakira. “The Brits!” is a musical tribute to the British invasion featuring a mix of live action and animation and songs by The Beatles, The Who, Herman’s Hermits and Elton John. It certainly brings back memories.

Sadly we didn’t see “Motor City” during our cruise, which surely would have been my favorite with the R&B soul sounds of the 1960s and ‘70s, including hits from the Commodores, Lionel Richie, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and Stevie Wonder. No problem, though—we can always head to Carnival Breeze’s Ocean Plaza where the Cool Breeze Band has been entertaining us in the evening with many of our Motown favorites to dance to, or to Piano Bar 88 to request the oldies we love and sing along. By the way, the Piano Bar 88 serves the best Martinis on board.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Carnival Breeze Dining Afloat

Our diet (and recent weight loss) is becoming a bit strained aboard Carnival Breeze. We could show more restraint, but it’s a cruise so we’re allowing ourselves some dietary leeway. The main dining room has served some wonderful menu items (including chocolate melting cake every night), but we’ve also experienced some special alternative dining options that includes our favorite—which on Carnival Breeze is 555 Fahrenheit Steakhouse.

After starting out with crab cake and lobster bisque (escargot, shrimp cocktail, salad, and onion soup are also among the offerings), I chose a 9-ouce filet and Mel selected the 18-ounce “Cowboy” steak, a prime rib chop described as for the real beef gourmet. Other selections included surf ‘n turf—a filet and lobster tail—as well as grilled lobster tail, rosemary infused chicken, lamp chops, lobster ravioli, rib eye steak, New York strip steak, and fish of the day. We passed on dessert in favor of saving up our carbohydrate for later, but did sample the excellent cheesecake ordered by a tablemate. Dinner is a very reasonable $35 per person.

By saving up our carb allotment, we were ready for dinner at Cucina del Capitano, the Captain’s Table Italian restaurant that pays homage to the heritage of Carnival Cruise Lines’ captains, who are all Italian. The family style restaurant features appetizers, soups, salads, and pasta dishes that are favorites with the captains and some are made from their own family recipes. Lunch in Cucina del Capitano is complimentary; dinner charges are $12 for adults and $5 for children.

A third specialty dining choice on Carnival Breeze is the line’s first a la carte Asian-style eatery—Bonsai Sushi. featuring artwork by graffiti artist Erni Vales and several Bonsai trees. On the menu are appetizers, soup and salad, sushi, sashimi, and a variety of rolls, and chef specials that include a sushi “ship” for two with an assortment of menu items. All items are individually priced. For passengers who like sushi, but not the charge, complimentary sushi is still served on Carnival Breeze in the Marketplace buffet restaurant.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fun & Games Aboard Carnival Breeze

If your family is like mine, games were a big part of fun evenings at home when we were growing up, especially during the holidays when several generations gathered together. Our favorites included Sorry and Trivial Pursuit and we enjoyed many hours of play over the years.

Here aboard the “Fun Ship” Carnival Breeze—to ramp up the fun for adults and children alike—our Cruise Director Butch and his entertainment staff present Hasbro, The Game Show, a series of interactive activities based on the Family Game Night television series produced by Hasbro Studios.

Hasbro, The Game Show pits teams of participants selected from the audience against one another in larger-than-life Hasbro games to compete for prizes. There are three challenges scheduled during our cruise so everyone has the opportunity to attend. In the first challenge, teams were chosen based on enthusiasm shown by passengers who wanted to play—and there were many very enthusiastic potential gamers. When chosen at random from throughout the theater, each one had to answer a Hasbro game-style question correctly in order to qualify for the teams. Players then competed in Simon Flash, where the teams wear giant light-up color boxes and have to shuffle themselves quickly into different color sequences (the first to finish wins the round) and Connect 4 Basketball, in which a basketball setup is used rather than the traditional checkers and players try to toss their basketballs into the “game board” to line up four in a row.

Winning team members from the two games each selected a Monopoly Electronic Banking Card and when the play concluded each winner’s card was processed by the Monopoly Electronic Banking Machine—the ultimate grand prize winner was the contestant whose card received the most points. The grand prize was a collection of Hasbro games to take home for family game nights.

However, there are no losers aboard Carnival Breeze and none of the players went home empty-handed. Each participant received a Hasbro game and fond memories of a fun afternoon.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Carnival Breeze—Only On “C” Days

One of the new casual lunchtime dining options on Carnival Breeze is only available on sea days and with three of them on this 8-night cruise so we’ll have several opportunities to enjoy Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ. Pictured here, Fat Jimmy’s is located outside on Promenade Deck near the Ocean Plaza, where the grill serves up traditional favorites—grilled barbecued chicken breast, Italian sausage, kielbasa, and authentic pulled pork sandwiches. Barbecue fare is rounded out with baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, creamed corn, and mini-corn muffins.

It’s just like a backyard barbecue with a twist—Carnival Breeze’s grill chefs do all the cooking and all you have to do is clean your plate (but you don’t have to wash it).

Additional casual lunch options, also with no extra charge, that we can enjoy any day aboard Carnival Breeze include the freshly made burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, created in partnerships with Food Network celebrity Guy Fieri (thousands of his burger creations are consumed on a typical sea day) and BlueIguana Cantina where authentic tacos and burritos can be personalized with toppings at an extensive salsa bar. For those who want light fare, there’s also a salad bar in the Ocean Plaza, and Marketplace, the Lido Deck buffet restaurant, is always popular.

With so many choices—not to mention free 24-hour room service and pizza—we won’t go hungry aboard Carnival Breeze.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Monday, December 10, 2012

Carnival Breeze: A Breeze-y Home Away From Home

After attending the gala naming ceremony and christening by her godmother—motivational speaker and founder of the Honey Shine mentoring program, Tracy Wilson Mourning—the Cruise Diva crew has made ourselves at home aboard Carnival Breeze. I’ve always felt that Carnival Cruise Lines ships have some of the most comfortable standard accommodations at sea and our ocean view stateroom with a balcony on Carnival Breeze’s Deck Six is no exception.

What’s new is the soothing tropical decor reflecting the colors of the Caribbean sky, sea, and sand. Its features include light wood cabinetry, mirrored accents, small refrigerator, personal safe for valuables, a sitting area with sofa, chair and table, and a hairdryer in a vanity/desk drawer. A convenience is plenty of shelving for all the odds and ends I pack. Closet and drawer space, as well as bathroom shelves, are more than adequate. Terrycloth bathrobes are provided for use during the cruise in all Oceanview accommodations, so happily I didn’t have to pack one.

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than a sad lumpy bed with scratchy sheets and pancake thin pillow. To insure sweet dreams, the exclusive “Carnival Comfort Bed” systems are a delight. They start with plush mattresses and add soft and comfy duvets and upgraded pillows and linens for a good night’s sleep.

Bathroom amenities include shampoo and bath gel in shower mounted dispensers and an array of sample toiletries. The shower itself is roomy and has a pull-out clothesline for drying bathing suits or hand laundry. A real bonus is the two-sided (regular and magnifying) bathroom shaving/make up mirror.

With accommodations for 3,690 passengers, Carnival Breeze offers a wide array of staterooms and suites from which to choose, ranging from standard Interior and Oceanview staterooms to Oceanview staterooms with private balconies and Suites with spacious interiors and even larger private balconies. More than 60% of all staterooms have an ocean view and, of those, more than a whopping 84% have balconies. Particularly appealing for families are accommodations with a two-bathroom, five-berth configuration, as well as staterooms with connecting doors. Cove balcony cabins are located closer to the water line and the no-smoking-allowed spa staterooms provide special spa access and benefits.

With my home on Carnival Breeze conveniently located near the aft staircase, and just one deck above the Promenade Deck, I can pop down to where all the action is taking place in a jiffy. A minor drawback with this location is that it can get noisy from down below at times. My only complaint? I couldn’t bring along Elvis, Priscilla, and Lisa Marie, my tabbies who are at home being pampered by their cat sitters.

Photo (c)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Fresh Breeze in Miami

Fresh, tropical, and fun. While Carnival Breeze spent a season sailing the Mediterranean after her introduction last summer, the newest vessel in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet wasn’t christened until yesterday in her home port of Miami. We’re glad they waited and were honored to be among the invited guests.

Godmother Tracy Wilson Mourning, founder of the Honey Shine mentoring program for young girls, wife of NBA legend Alonzo Mourning, and mother of that adorable little fellow pictured here who joined her on stage, is not only a hero to the young ladies she calls “Honey Bugs,” but an inspiration to us all.

During the gala Carnival Breeze naming ceremony we learned about the Honey Shine program and how young participants are encouraged to meet their goals. Ms. Wilson Mourning says, “Anything is possible” for participants in the workshops and summer program. The girls consider her another mother—one who encourages them to find strength, seek knowledge, and earn respect. Many of the young women who volunteer in the program were participants once themselves.

Congratulations to Carnival Cruise Lines upon the christening of their new Carnival Breeze and to Ms. Wilson Mourning for setting such a fine example to the girls who look up to her and strive to follow in her footsteps.

Image (c)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Carnival Cruise Lines Introduces A New Gift Card Program

Just in time for holiday gift giving, Carnival Cruise Lines has launched its first-ever gift card program—a pre-paid card that can be used as payment toward a “Fun Ship” vacation or a variety of shipboard purchases. Available online at Carnival Gift Cards or on board Carnival’s ships, the cards are ideal for any occasion—from weddings and graduations to birthdays and anniversaries—offering consumers flexibility and convenience in their vacation purchases. The cards can be pre-loaded with funds ranging from a minimum of $10 to a maximum of $1,000.

“What better gift for friends and family than the gift of fun and great memories?” said Gus Antorcha, Carnival’s senior vice president of guest commerce. “These new gift cards are convenient and easy to use and can be applied either toward the purchase of a cruise or a wide variety of cruise-related experiences such as a relaxing spa treatment, an exciting shore excursion or a delectable meal in one of our specialty restaurants, to name a few.”

The Carnival Gift Card is simple to use—it may be applied online via the dedicated web site using the 16-digit card number, redeemed by calling 1-800-CARNIVAL, or used like cash on board as payment toward guests’ “Sail & Sign” shipboard account. For additional information and reservations, visit

Friday, December 7, 2012

Princess Cruises Ships Deck the Halls for Festive Holidays at Sea

Snow at sea!
With the holiday season fast approaching, Princess Cruises ships are ready to celebrate this joyful time of year around the world. Whether they are sailing through the islands of the Caribbean and South Pacific or cruising through the waters Down Under in Australia and New Zealand, the ships will be decked from stem to stern, and may even experience an unusual snowfall. Now a favorite holiday feature on Princess ships, most ships offer a daily snowfall using an innovative snow-making process that creates falling flakes that vanish on contact, letting passengers enjoy the excitement of snow flurries without the need to bundle up.

Even when the snow isn’t falling, Princess ships will feature a merry atmosphere. Vessels are decked out in holiday décor—many vessels’ masts even include a Christmas tree—and strolling carolers fill the air with the sounds of the season.

Seasonal activities are offered to keep passengers merry, including a “gingerbread challenge,” where teams test their holiday house-building skills in a fun-filled competition to construct the most creative gingerbread structure. Kids can test their holiday craft skills by creating a personalized ornament. Turkey-carving demonstrations will prepare passengers to do the honors at their next holiday feast.

Special events also include a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” for children by either the captain or cruise director, and a holiday variety show adds a seasonal element to the ship’s entertainment offerings. For those who can’t get enough of Christmas carols, the ships’ Princess Pop Star talent show will feature a holiday edition where competitors can croon their favorite seasonal songs.

Religious services are held as well, and passengers can attend midnight mass or an inter-denominational church service. Passengers will receive a stocking turndown gift and can enjoy classic holiday films or even relax in front of a traditional burning Yule log … on their stateroom television!

Holiday Feasts — Each Princess ship’s culinary team will prepare spectacular holiday displays and serve up several delicious feasts. Christmas breakfast includes complimentary eggnog. On Christmas Day, passengers will sit down to a dinner of traditional holiday fare including roast turkey and all the trimmings. Freshly prepared stollen and Christmas cookies (even some for Santa) round out the seasonal treats.

Christmas For Children — Santa Claus makes an appearance on his big day with a gift for each child, and a fun-filled holiday fair in the atrium offers youngsters the opportunity to try their hand at Christmas cookie decorating, balloon making, face painting, games, and other competitions. Youth centers host holiday parties and kids can make decorations to display on the center’s Christmas tree. Youngsters can get creative with other holiday-themed arts and crafts projects throughout the cruise, and sing Christmas carols for passengers. Free late-night group kid sitting sessions will be available on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Hanukkah — For passengers celebrating the Festival of Lights, beginning December 8 a special area of the ship is reserved for those participating in Hanukkah events. Ships display menorahs and fresh flower arrangements decorated in blue, silver and white. Children also get into the act with themed arts and crafts relating to the holiday.

Happy New Year — Passengers can ring in 2013 with festive New Year's Eve parties, complete with music, confetti, noise-makers, and a balloon drop to count down to the new year. Earlier in the evening, the dinner menu will feature special treats just for New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Day, football fans won’t miss the holiday’s traditional college bowl games, as the telecasts will be shown (as available by satellite) on the giant Movies Under the Stars screens or in shipboard lounges.

“Our ships offer the perfect holiday combination—a relaxing warm-weather vacation mixed with the merriment of Christmas as well as the celebrations of Hanukkah and the chance to ring in the New Year,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “And don’t be surprised to see snowflakes falling in the atrium.”

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Miami Artist David "LEBO" Le Batard Designs Norwegian Getaway's Hull Artwork

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that popular Miami modern artist and muralist David “LEBO” Le Batard has been commissioned to paint the signature hull artwork for Norwegian Getaway, which is set to launch in January 2014. The hull artwork features a whimsical tropical ocean theme to honor the ship’s year-round home port of Miami, complete with a mermaid holding the sun, pelicans, and palm trees.

Born in New York City in 1972 to Cuban émigré parents, LEBO was raised in South Florida and was heavily influenced by Miami’s Cuban art scene. LEBO explains that Norwegian Getaway’s hull art design is centered on a mythical mermaid, an iconic image that represents humanity’s connection to the sea, and features her seemingly skimming across the surface of the water. Surrounding the mermaid is a fusion of sea and sky dancing across the ship, where three pelicans gracefully glide along in the artist’s version of a tropical paradise.

Norwegian Getaway will be Miami’s ship and, therefore, we wanted to ensure that her hull was designed by an artist with strong ties to Miami and the Latin community,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Having begun his career in South Florida, Dave is an artist that is entrenched here. His work adorns the city and I’ve learned that he is also a genuinely nice guy. He is a shining star in Miami, as well as the global art community. This artwork will surely make Norwegian Getaway an iconic part of the Miami skyline when she arrives as Miami’s largest year-round ship in 2014.”

Currently under construction at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Getaway will be 146,600 gross tons and offer a wide range of accommodations. The ship represents an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to “get away” from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true respite at sea that reflects the energy and culture that Miami is known for worldwide.

The ship will also feature a rich mix of stateroom options, including The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 Suites at the top of the ship in an exclusive, private key-card enclave and 22 additional Suites located throughout the ship; the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; a wide range of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites; along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa.

Norwegian Getaway will sail 7-day cruises from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on Feb 1, 2014, with ports of call including Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Getaway’s sister ship, Norwegian Breakaway, will begin sailing from her year-round home port of New York City in May 2013.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

After Celebrity Reflection, What’s In The Future For Celebrity Cruises?

Reflection Suite: Cantilevered Sea View Shower
With the naming ceremony and official launch of Celebrity Reflection, the fifth and last of the Solstice-class newbuilds behind them, the line’s executives expressed their vision of the future during a meeting with the media on board last weekend.

At the top of their list is working to improve their culinary and entertainment departments to satisfy their targeted affluent and upscale passenger demographic. That market segment will already be delighted by the additional high end suites and amenities added to Celebrity Reflection.

For 2014, watch for Celebrity’s announcement of exciting new itineraries and destinations on all seven continents that will entice travelers looking for new adventures around the globe.

A more immediate upgrade will be the enhancement of Captain’s Club, the Celebrity Cruises loyalty program. While details are sketchy right now, expect to see new levels added to the program in 2013 that will further reward their most dedicated past passengers.

Most importantly, Celebrity Cruises plans to continue to deliver a high end premium product to meet and exceed passengers’ expectations. Celebrity Reflection certainly accomplishes that.

Image ©

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Celebrity Cruises Gift Cards Go Further For The Holidays

Celebrity Cruises is offering a fantastic deal for consumers in the U.S. and Canada eager to give the gift of a premium cruise vacation this season, with the “Double Your Gift Card Holiday Offer.”

Here’s how it works... When a Celebrity Cruises Gift Card is purchased during the month of December, the cruise line will double the value up to $500 when the card is used to purchase a cruise by Jan 31, 2013. With more than 450 sailings to choose from, featuring destinations around the world, Celebrity Cruises offers something for everyone on your holiday gift list, whether it’s Caribbean island hopping, plying the historic waters of the Old World, adventure-seeking Down Under, or taking in the sheer majesty of Alaska.

While onboard, guests are immersed in a world of modern luxury with fine dining options, premium spa amenities, exciting entertainment, and service that will leave them fully relaxed and restored. Gift-givers can help friends and family make the most of their precious vacation time, or their own, by taking advantage of this extraordinary offer by buying a Celebrity Cruises Gift Card by Dec 31, 2012.

Celebrity Cruises will match up to $200 for a booking on 4- to 7-night sailings, and up to $500 for booking on sailings that are eight nights or longer. All itineraries are eligible, with the exceptions of transatlantic voyages and vacations on Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos Islands.

Celebrity Cruises Gift Cards can be sent as e-Cards or delivered via standard mail. For gift cards to be delivered in time for Christmas, you should order by Dec 21, 2012. Orders can be placed by calling 1-866-225-6450, via, or by contacting a travel agent.

Image (c)

Celebrity Reflection's North America Debut

Godmothers cut the ribbons to release the bottle &
christen Celebrity Reflection 
Last Saturday, Celebrity Reflection, the fifth and final ship in Celebrity Cruises' Solstice class, was formally christened in a gala ceremony in Miami, following its transatlantic crossing from Europe.

Held in the ship's Reflection Theater, the event was filled with music, solemnity, and joyous tradition. After Celebrity Cruises executives entered the theater, led by the St. Andrews Pipe Band of Miami, the ship's Godmothers, four employees of the line whose lives have been changed by their quest to conquer breast cancer, were presented. They are:
-- Jovanka Goronjic, Celebrity Solstice AquaSpa manager, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. In her mother's honor, she donated her hair for the creation of wigs for cancer patients.
-- Megan Mathie, a glassblower in the Hot Glass Show aboard Celebrity Solstice whose mother and sister were diagnosed with breast cancer. On every cruise she hosts a Hot Pink Glass Show as a tribute to them.
-- Helen O'Connell, the manager of community relations for Celebrity, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. She serves as the corporate liaison with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
-- Rosey Rodriguez, a 17-year employee of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines who manages the company's special events team and was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.
Celebrity Reflection's Greek Officers
In a tribute to Celebrity Cruises' original Greek owners, the Chandris family, the Greek national anthem was performed by Captain Nicholas Pagonis and Celebrity Reflection's Greek officers, followed by a moving a capella version of the Star Spangled Banner, performed by the ship's entertainers Uncommon Ground.

Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, parent company of Celebrity Cruises noted that the Song of Norway, the first ship in the Royal Caribbean International line, was named at the same pier 42 years ago. The company has certainly come a long way in more than four decades. The beautiful new 126,000-ton, 3,046-passenger Celebrity Reflection is a testament to the company's growth and vision.

Images (c)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Disney Cruise Line Prepares for Miami Inaugural Season

Captain Mickey Mouse officially kicked off the countdown for the arrival of the Disney Wonder to Port Miami with a Disney-style unveiling of a larger than life banner proclaiming "See You Real Soon."

When the Disney Wonder arrives in Miami on Dec. 23, 2012, it will mark the first time a Disney Cruise Line ship has home-ported in South Florida. Disney Cruise Line will sail from Miami on a variety of itineraries to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean, with most cruises taking guests to Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Image by Photographer Kent Phillips Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Asia Cruise Opportunities From Princess Cruises

A rescheduled Diamond Princess drydock has opened up a great opportunity for Princess Cruises to offer travelers some intriguing new Asia options. Two new Asia sailings added to Diamond Princess’ schedule offer unique itineraries that explore some of the most alluring ports in the region.

Departing in October and November 2013, the 10- and 11-day Asia cruises will sail roundtrip from Singapore, taking in some of the best of Southeast Asia’s ports of call, including Bangkok, Bali, Nha Trang and Phuket, as well as two ports not usually visited on Diamond Princess itineraries—Penang, Malaysia and Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

The new cruises are:
Southeast Asia—11 Days (Departing Oct 24, 2013)
Sailing roundtrip from Singapore, Diamond Princess will call at Brunei, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Sihanoukville (Cambodia), Bangkok, and Ko Samui in Thailand.
Malaysia Peninsula & Indonesia—10 days (Departing Nov 4, 2013)
Also cruising roundtrip from Singapore, passengers will explore exotic Bali, Malaysia’s Capital of Kuala Lumpur, Penang (Malaysia), and Thailand’s beach resort of Phuket.
If you have more time, both sailings can be combined into a 21-day Southeast Asia Grand Adventure. Passengers on these sailings can enjoy shore excursion options that include some of Asia’s most intriguing sights and experiences, including the stunningly beautiful Grand Palace in Bangkok, Long Son Pagoda with its bird’s-eye view of Nha Trang, the skilled artisans of Mas Village in Bali, and Phuket’s most important Buddhist temple at Wat Chalong. An overland excursion offers visitors the opportunity to visit the magnificent Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available on the company’s website at

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Crystal Cruises Exploring New Med Ports Next Year

Been there, done that, and got the tee-shirt? Many of their well-traveled passengers have, so for the 2013 Mediterranean cruise season, Crystal Cruises is making first-time-ever visits to Canakkale, Turkey; La Spezia, Italy; and Castellon de la Plana, Spain. The maiden calls offer new exploration of historic and off-the-beaten path areas from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the west, including the Dardanelles/Adriatic, Italian Riviera, and Costa del Azahar. The 7- to 13-day itineraries surrounding the new destinations also offer cultural capital overnights and extra port intensiveness.

Highlights of, and cruises featuring, the inaugural ports include:

CANAKKALE: A popular vacation getaway for local Turks, the harbor city also offers easy access to the archaeological site of Troy and Gallipoli's historic battlefield and monuments.
-- May 9, Crystal Serenity: 9 days: Rome, Sorrento (overnight), and Sicily/Taormina, Italy; Santorini, Greece; Kusadasi, Çanakkale, and Istanbul (overnight), Turkey
-- July 25, Crystal Symphony: 9 days: Istanbul (overnight), Çanakkale, and Kusadasi, Turkey; Valletta, Malta; Sicily/Taormina, Sorrento (overnight), and Rome, Italy

LA SPEZIA: Balcony-lined streets and a palm-lined promenade usher travelers into Italy's Liguria region, offering a point of departure for walking uber-picturesque Cinque Terre, or a less-touristed day of sampling fine museums or delicious local cheese stalls in the town's
outdoor market.
-- Sept. 28, Crystal Serenity: 7 days: Monte Carlo (overnight), Monaco; Genoa and La Spezia, Italy; St. Tropez and Marseille, France; Barcelona (overnight), Spain

CASTELLON DE LA PLANA: Dating back to 1251, this Valencian town is the capital of one of Spain's most mountainous provinces, offering a range of rural tourism, a Gothic and Renaissance-architecture "old quarter," and fragrant orange trees blossoming in the Fall.
-- Nov. 2, Crystal Serenity: 13 days: Rome, Florence, and Porto Venere, Italy; Monte Carlo (overnight), Monaco; Palamos, Barcelona (overnight), Castellon de la Plana, and Cartagena, Spain; Gibraltar, UK; Cadiz/Seville, Spain; Lisbon (overnight), Portugal
"New adventures are part of Crystal's signature travel experience, even in such a popular cruising area as the Mediterranean," says Jack Anderson, senior vice president sales and marketing. "After sailing for more than two decades, we're thrilled to still be finding novel destinations for our guests to discover, and combine them with much beloved locales to which they also love returning, time and time again."

For more information, visit