Friday, October 31, 2014

Cruise the Med's Legendary Ports Aboard Silver Wind

When Georgina and Humberto Cruz yearned for a cruise that called on legendary ports of call in the Mediterranean they chose Silversea Cruises' ultra-luxury Silver Wind for the voyage.

Join them as Georgina shares the details about the ship's recent makeover and highlights the luxurious experience.

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Thursday, October 30, 2014

You Should Be Dancing Aboard Holland America Line

Every Monday night I set aside time to watch ABC television’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars” to cheer on (and vote for) my favorite celebrity-and-pro dance pair. This year, it’s Sadie and Mark. If you’re like me, you probably would also like to meet your dance idols—and you can on a select Holland America Line cruise. The line has announced that it will continue the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” program in 2015/2016 due to its overwhelming popularity. For the third year, the collaboration brings the excitement of “Dancing with the Stars” to every ship in the Holland America Line fleet. The program will culminate with the annual Champions Cruise competition on ms Nieuw Amsterdam’s Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean voyage when the “Mirror Ball” trophy is awarded to the winner.

The 2015 schedule will continue to feature “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming on all sailings in addition to six special “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises highlighting the show’s professional dancers and celebrities. In 2013 and 2014 select theme cruises featured professional dancers Tristan MacManus, Kym Johnson, Sharna Burgess, Emma Slater, Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough, along with television personality Carson Kressley, singer Joey Fatone, actress Sabrina Bryan, and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

“On every cruise throughout the year our ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ lessons are a huge draw and the competition to dance for the Champions Cruise is intense, which tells us we have a very successful and engaging program,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs. “Dancing always has been a feature activity on our ships, and the partnership with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has enabled us to provide guests with a very special and exclusive experience.”

The six “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises for the 2015/16 season are:
• Jan. 3, 2015: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Westerdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
• Jan. 10, 2015: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Westerdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
• June 6, 2015: Seven-day Bermuda cruise aboard ms Veendam that sails roundtrip from Boston, Mass.
• June 13, 2015: Seven-day Canada/New England cruise aboard ms Veendam that sails from Boston, Mass, to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
• Jan. 3, 2016: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
• Champions Cruise: Jan. 10, 2016: Seven-day western Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Each theme cruise features lively guest performances from the professional dancers and celebrities who dazzle the audience with routines from the television show and exciting new choreographed dances. Additional events on theme cruises include dance lessons with the ship’s professional dancers, a special fashion show featuring glamorous show costumes, and a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, ask questions and take photos with them. Celebrities and professional dancers for 2015 will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Dance Competition for Guests
Dust off your dancing shoes to participate in “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming. Included are complimentary dance lessons with the ship’s dance pros and a dance competition that gives guests an opportunity to compete for a chance to represent their ship on the Champions Cruise. The range of eligible dance competition cruises vary slightly by ship based on actual departure dates; specific eligibility schedules and complete rules for the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competition are posted at

After preliminary rounds on each cruise, finalists are paired with a Holland America Line dance professional to perform center stage in the ship’s main show lounge. A judging panel—ship officers, shipboard professional dancers and other cruise staff—scores participants’ performances and combine those scores with audience appreciation scores for a total tally to determine the winning guest. Judges onboard the theme cruises may also include some of the “Dancing with the Stars” dance pros or celebrities.

Winners of the guest competitions with the highest scores from each of Holland America Line’s ships will win a free ocean-view stateroom for two on the Champions Cruise to compete for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy and title of Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion. There will be one winner from each ship on the Champions Cruise sailing aboard Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 10, 2016.

Image Courtesy of Holland America Line

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Christening Princess Cruises’ Latest “Newbuild”

Julie Benson Christens Princess Cruises’
Rose Parade Float
Every ship must be christened before it sets sail on its maiden voyage and even a landlocked ship needs a Godmother to perform the important task. Princess Cruises honored the nautical tradition by breaking a confetti-filled champagne bottle against the bow of its first-ever Rose Parade float before it “cruised” on its first test run in front of the Pasadena headquarters of Phoenix Decorating Company, the float's builder.

Princess Cruises Vice President of Public Relations Julie Benson served as the float’s godmother and pronounced, “I name this float Regal Princess. May God bless her and all who cruise down Colorado Boulevard on her.”

Depicting the cruise line’s newest ship Regal Princess symbolically sailing through some of the world’s most fascinating destinations and iconic landmarks, the Rose Parade float will pay tribute to The Love Boat television show that made Princess Cruises one of the most famous names in cruising and kick off a year of 50th anniversary celebrations in 2015. As a special feature, the six original cast members of The Love Boat will ride on the float’s bow.

Princess Cruises’ Rose Parade float will be 60 feet long and 24 feet high, and will be decorated with more than 24,000 thousand flowers and natural materials.

The Rose Parade has been a world-renowned tradition since 1890 and is broadcast to approximately 80 million viewers around the world every New Year’s Day.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bionic Bartenders Set Sail Aboard Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's newest ship Quantum of the Seas is about to make her appearance here in the U.S. with one of the most intriguing elements, the Bionic Bar. While the innovative new bar won't serve every cocktail you can think of, its robotic bartenders have the ability to create a wide variety of favorite libations and entertain patrons while doing so. Guests will place their drink orders via tablets by selecting the ingredients and even the pour order and then sit back and watch the robotic bartenders hard at work mixing them up to be served either at the bar or delivered to a table by a human. It's not quite like watching a young Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie Cocktail, but entertaining nonetheless.

Shaken or stirred (strained or muddled), the cocktail concoctions seem endless at Quantum of the Seas's Bionic Bar powered by Makr Shakr. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to create Royal Caribbean's two newest hard-working crew members B1-0 and N1-C.

Image & Video Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Cruise Review—Norwegian Getaway

Regular contributors Mary & Vincent Finelli are impressed by their first look at Norwegian Getaway as they sailed from Miami. They describe the ship as “sober elegance—nautical style,” with lots of dark walnut wood and white walls accented by brass. Their review describes the features on board and they share that, “This is a beautiful ship with lots of innovative ideas. There is much to see and do for passengers of all ages. Actually a 7-day cruise is too short for enjoying all the dining venues aboard.”

Once on board Mary & Vincent found the ship very accessible (they both have mobility issues). However, a near-accident on the gangway could have cut their voyage short. We hope that gangway accessabilty is something that is taken care of by the Port of Miami in the future.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Friday, October 24, 2014

Norwegian Escape to Feature Miami’s Legendary Bar Tobacco Road

In just over a year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape will debut in Miami with the city’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road, on board. The acclaimed establishment, which was issued Miami’s very first liquor license, is closing its original location this week after 102 years in business. In an effort to preserve the tradition of this iconic Miami landmark, Tobacco Road and Norwegian Cruise Line partnered to bring the Tobacco Road experience aboard Norwegian Escape.

“We are thrilled to be able to preserve a piece of Miami’s history and provide this famous Miami institution a home at sea on board the incredible new Norwegian Escape,” said Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Located within 678 Ocean Place, the new incarnation of the celebrated tavern will incorporate elements of the original Tobacco Road, including the iconic neon sign, memorabilia, and photographs that will showcase the history of Miami through the lens of events and happenings at the bar over the past century.

In addition to favorite beers and spirits, Tobacco Road Bar on board Norwegian Escape will also feature a selection of cocktails created by Tobacco Road’s resident mixologist, Leo Holtzman. The libations from Holtzman’s Cocktail Collection will include favorites like the Chili Mule, featuring ginger puree, Cointreau, and vodka topped with a sliced seranno pepper; and the Gateway, a rum-based drink that incorporates yuzu juice, elderflower syrup, and Prosecco.

Norwegian Escape will begin weekly 7-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on Nov. 14, 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship’s signature hull artwork, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife, is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation Guy Harvey.

Accommodations include the company’s signature luxury ship–within-a-ship complex: The Haven by Norwegian; along with Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts, and more. Additional information about Norwegian Escape is available at

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘Tis the Season to Cruise to the Caribbean on Holland America Line’s Holiday Sailings

With the holiday season right around the corner, we’re hearing a lot about the incentives to sail that cruise lines are offering their guests. With special all-inclusive packages in verandah staterooms and suites, you can leave the hustle and hassle behind and let Holland America Line spread the holiday cheer by doing all of the decorating, cooking, and cleaning. Just like visiting mom, only better. Bring her along and she won’t have to lift a finger either.

“The holidays are a magical time on our ships, and these special offers make it even more appealing to take a cruise to the Caribbean with us this season,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “We invite our guests to let Holland America Line do all of the work— just come on board, relax and have a great time.”

All-Inclusive Package
Guests looking to splurge on a verandah cabin or suite can take advantage of the all-inclusive package that starts at just $1,899 per person, double occupancy. The package includes roundtrip air from select U.S. gateways*; transfers between the airport and ship; the cruise fare; taxes; a Signature Beverage Package valued at $50 per person, per day; and a $25 per-person shipboard credit. All-inclusive third and fourth fares for guests in the cabin with two full fares start at $799 per person and include air, transfers, cruise and taxes.

Special Packages for Third/Fourth Guests
In addition to all-inclusive fares, Holland America Line offers special cruise-only ocean-view and interior stateroom fares for third and fourth guests on 7-day Caribbean holiday sailings. Making it affordable for a family of four to set sail for as little as $1,596, double occupancy cruise-only rates start at just $599 per person and reduced third/fourth fares begin at $199 per person.

‘Tis the Season to Cruise to the Caribbean
Holland America Line has six ships cruising the clear blue waters of the eastern and western Caribbean on 7-day itineraries in December 2014 that are included in the packages. Guests can sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Westerdam, and ms Zuiderdam. Each ship offers two holiday sailings: one over Christmas and one over New Year’s.

The ships call at a variety of ports including Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Falmouth and Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Key West, Fla.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. All roundtrip Fort Lauderdale itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay, the line’s private Bahamian island known for its pristine beaches, diverse shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and kid-friendly activities.

The only ship in the fleet sailing roundtrip from Tampa, Florida, ms Ryndam also has two holiday departures and calls at Key West; Banana Coast, Honduras; Santo Tomas, Guatemala; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Amsterdam, ms Maasdam and ms Prinsendam also will be in the Caribbean during the holidays, but those cruises are not included in the Holiday all-inclusive packages.

Holiday Cruises Around the World
The Caribbean isn’t the only region to welcome a Holland America Line ship this season. While not part of the packages, travelers can still celebrate the holidays on a cruise to South America, Mexico & Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Far East, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

‘Deck the Hulls’ Onboard
During the holiday cruises, guests can take part in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, enjoy traditional holiday meals with all of the trimmings and a special Royal Dutch High Tea with fanciful holiday cookies and pastries. The ships’ international crew chorus performs a magical holiday show, while caroling and singalongs take place around the ship. Kids will delight in a visit from Santa Claus and holiday-themed crafts.

The New Year’s Eve sailings are the ideal setting to ring in 2015, featuring a festive holiday ball with a champagne toast at midnight.
* Air gateways for the all-inclusive package are Atlanta, GA.; Chicago, IL.; Dallas & Fort Worth, TX; and New York, NY (JFK only); The all-inclusive package also is available from 21 additional U.S. and Canadian cities for an additional surcharge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Celebrate the Holidays Caribbean Style Aboard MSC Divina

It’s that time of year when the holiday season is upon us and it’s not too late to plan the break you deserve with a winter escape on MSC Cruises’ stunning MSC Divina, one of the largest cruise ships sailing from Miami. With MSC Cruises taking care of the cooking, entertainment, and clean up, the entire family has the opportunity to relax and spend time together while enjoying all the amenities aboard MSC Divina and visiting some of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations.

“The holiday season is really about spending quality time with family and friends,” said Ken Muskat, executive vice president of sales, PR & guest services for MSC Cruises. “We’ve worked very hard to ensure that guests sailing on MSC Divina this holiday season can enjoy the festivities and traditions that come along with the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, without worrying about all the planning details.”

Highlights of MSC Divina holiday celebrations include:
Thanksgiving – Nov. 22nd departure to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas: Spend Thanksgiving Day at sea enjoying festive entertainment, a traditional Turkey dinner and all-day football displayed on multiple large screens in the sports bar. Kids ages 3-11 can participate in a special Turkey Day cooking class and a Thanksgiving Day costume parade and show. A Thanksgiving scavenger hunt, flash mob and party will take place for children ages 12-17.

Hanukkah – Dec. 13th departure to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas: For those celebrating Hanukkah, MSC Divina will host a nightly Menorah lighting as well as serve traditional Hanukkah foods. Special kosher meals can also be ordered in advance.

Christmas – Dec. 20th departure to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas: For Christmas, MSC Divina will be decked out in the traditional trimmings, with lights, decorations, and festive Christmas trees. Guests will enjoy traditional Christmas carols, a visit by Santa Claus who will present a gift to every child on board, and special Christmas menus honoring the culinary traditions of the holiday. In addition, kids can take part in in Christmas-themed cooking classes, parades, scavenger hunts, and disco dances. A Christmas mass will also be celebrated onboard.
Bookings made by Oct. 31, 2014 qualify for the line’s National Cruise Vacation Month deal, which includes balcony staterooms at ocean view rates, plus kids aged 11 and under sail free. MSC Cruises is also offering a complimentary drink package on these select sailings for those who upgrade to their new “Fantastica experience.” Finally, bookings made before the end of the month will qualify for pre-paid gratuities for all MSC Divina 7-night Caribbean sailings between now and Dec 13, 2014. For more information, visit

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love is in the Sea Air on Princess Cruises

With more newlyweds than ever taking to sea to celebrate their nuptials, Princess Cruises is helping them plan their dream honeymoon with a new online Honeymoon Wishes Registry. Couples can sign up at the honeymoon registry page, select desired gifts to enhance their cruise vacation and share with family and friends. This feature allows couples to choose from a list of options they wish to enjoy on their honeymoon, from contributions to the cruise, drinks by the pool, specialty dining, spa treatments, and shore excursions. All gifts are applied as an onboard credit to the couple’s stateroom account to use on board during their honeymoon cruise. Couples can also create a wedding website to share photos and details about how they met, their engagement and wedding, e-mail their friends and family directing them to the registry, and print out announcement cards that can be shared.

“Our new online Honeymoon Wishes Registry feature gives newlyweds a simple way to customize their honeymoon cruise and select their desired amenities to enjoy on board,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “For the last 16 years, we’ve made wedding dreams come true with our unique weddings at sea program and this new offering is a wonderful extension to give couples ease and flexibility in creating their own gift registries.”

When Princess launched its seagoing weddings program in 1998, the cruise line made maritime and marriage history, and turned cruising lore into reality, by having the captain join couples in marriage. Until that point, there had been a common misconception that any ship captain was empowered to join couples in matrimony, but in truth, no such ceremony was ever conducted aboard a major cruise ship.

Today, Princess’ “Tie the Knot” wedding program has grown to not only offer these special at-sea wedding ceremonies on its cruise ships, but also include fleet-wide harborside ceremonies in embarkation ports or weddings ashore in select ports of call. Together these options have created one of the cruise industry’s most diverse and unique wedding programs, offering the convenience of a wedding and honeymoon in one customizable package that makes this milestone celebration easy and hassle-free.
Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Monday, October 20, 2014

Regal Princess to Host a “Love Boat” Reunion

The original Love Boat cast will serve as 
godparents for Regal Princess
Princess Cruises recently announced that the Godparents for their newest ship Regal Princess will be the original cast ensemble from the iconic television show, The Love Boat. Performing the naming honors will be Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (Julie, cruise director) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the Captain’s daughter).

Adding to the excitement of the naming ceremony is a celebrity guest list and Love Boat cast reunion taking place in Ft. Lauderdale next month.

“We’re incredibly excited to host what will be one of the largest Love Boat reunions ever aboard our newest ship Regal Princess,” said Jan Swartz, president, Princess Cruises. “What better way to kick-off our 50th anniversary celebration than reuniting the show’s cast with some of the wonderful guests from its ten year run.”

As well as serving as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Regal Princesss naming ceremony on Nov. 5th, Tori Spelling, daughter of Love Boat producer Aaron Spelling who made two appearances on the show at age 10, will conduct “gold carpet” interviews with a host of celebrities who all made guest appearances on the show, including: Loni Anderson, Joyce DeWitt, Jamie Farr, Pam Grier, Florence Henderson, Jack Jones, Christopher Knight, Diane Ladd, Lorenzo Lamas, Carol Lawrence, Rich Little, Kristy McNichol, Lee Meriwether, Don Most, Tracy Nelson, Mackenzie Phillips, Doris Roberts, Marion Ross, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Charlene Tilton, Joan Van Ark, Dick Van Patten and Adrian Zmed. In addition to these well-known celebrities, the guest star with the most number of appearances on the show—Charo—will give a classical guitar performance that evening. “Cuchi-cuchi!”

The Love Boat first aired on Sept. 24, 1977 and sailed into television history for ten seasons. Viewers began their decade-long love affair with the show and its memorable guests and eventually it became one of the highest rated and longest-running shows on television. The Pacific Princess and Island Princess were the primary floating stars of the show, while later episodes and specials were filmed aboard other Princess ships in cruise destinations around the globe.

The show was based on the non-fiction book, The Love Boats, by real-life Princess cruise director Jeraldine Saunders and was preceded by three made-for-TV movies. Famed television producers Aaron Spelling and Doug Cramer steered the show throughout its 10-year run, creating a beloved series that brought comedy, drama, and romance to millions of viewers each week, all set aboard Princess ships. Today the show is in syndication worldwide.

The 3,560-guest Regal Princess, which entered service in May of this year, is arriving in Ft. Lauderdale to begin her maiden season of Caribbean cruise vacations. The ship’s naming ceremony is just the beginning of the celebrations that will mark the company’s golden anniversary. Guests sailing on any of the line’s 18 cruise ships during 2015 will enjoy a wide range of 50th anniversary experiences.

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cruise Ship Passenger in Quarantine:UPDATE

Carnival Cruise Lines issued the following statement after a female passenger on board Carnival Magic was discovered to have possibly been exposed to Ebola during her routine duties at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where a patient died of the deadly disease.

Carnival Statement
"Late afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 15., we were made aware by the U.S. CDC of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She is deemed by CDC to be very low risk. At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution. We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board."
Carnival Magic departed from Galveston Texas on Sunday, October 12, called at Mahogany Bay, Honduras on Wednesday October 15 and arrived off the coast of Belize on Thursday October 16 where, in an abundance of caution, the island's government refused to allow the passenger and her traveling companion to go ashore. The Belizean government issued this statement in a press release:
"The government of Belize reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize and while we remain in close contact with U.S. officials we have maintained the position that when even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people."

In addition, the Government of Belize decided "not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport."
UPDATE from Carnival Cruise Lines:
The Carnival Magic, which was waiting off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico this morning to dock there for a scheduled port visit, had not received clearance from Mexican authorities to do so by 12 noon eastern time today and therefore the decision was made to proceed to Galveston to ensure the ship arrives there on time on Sunday morning.

We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests. The Texas healthcare worker on board continues to show no symptoms of illness and poses no risk to the guests or crew on board. The individual remains in voluntary isolation.

Guests on the ship are being provided a $200 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 50 percent discount on a future cruise based on the missed visit to Cozumel.

Quantum of the Seas: Go Higher With North Star

When Quantum of the Seas makes her debut, the North Star will literally take passengers to new heights. The video below explains how this engineering marvel came together and how it was installed as a finishing touch on board Royal Caribbean's "Smartship."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carnival Corp Looks to China for Growth

Capacity Growth
Carnival Corporation* continues to expand its leading market presence in China in 2015 and recently announced its plans for immediate capacity growth there to meet increasing demand. When Costa Cruises adds Costa Serena to its fleet in China in April of next year, Carnival Corporation will be the first global cruise company with four ships homeported in China, growing the company's leading market presence by 140 percent from 2013-2015. Costa Serena joins Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria, and Sapphire Princess already homeported in China.

With its Costa and Princess brands homeporting ships in China, Carnival Corporation offers Chinese travelers a diversified cruising product with two brands targeting two different segments of travelers. Utilizing multiple brands enables Carnival to meet and exceed guest expectations on the cruises it operates by closely matching passenger tastes with the right brand experience. In total, Carnival will have 220 port calls from five brands in China in 2014, which is 15 percent of the company's total port calls in all of Asia, a region where Carnival doubled its market share over the past two years.

Reflecting the company's belief and commitment in the growth potential of the Chinese cruise market, Carnival Corporation recently announced its Global Chief Operations Officer Alan Buckelew is relocating to China to oversee Carnival's growing operations in the country while retaining his overall global responsibilities for the corporation. This is the first move of its kind by a major publicly traded Global 500 corporation not headquartered in China.

Shipbuilding Growth
In addition, Carnival Corporation has just announced its signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) to explore the possibility of a joint venture aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the Chinese cruise industry, expected to be one of the largest cruise markets in the world with 4.5 million passengers by 2020, according to the Chinese Ministry of Transport (MOT).

The MOU outlines the framework for exploration of a partnership between Carnival Corporation and the CSSC that includes the possibility of forming a shipbuilding joint venture that could become a three-way arrangement involving Fincantieri of Italy, the world's largest cruise ship building company, in support of the Chinese government's plans to grow the cruising industry in China and meet escalating demand for cruises from Chinese travelers. As part of the possible shipbuilding joint venture, Carnival Corporation would work closely with CSSC and Fincantieri to help define the first-ever, world-class cruise ship built in China. Carnival Corporation, the world's leading cruise operator, has been involved in building modern cruise ships that exceed guest expectations more than any entity in the world. Under the joint venture concept, Carnival Corporation would provide its ship design and shipbuilding expertise to create the vision, definition and overall specifications for the China-built cruise ship.

"This is really a breakthrough day for all of us at Carnival, as well as our friends at the CSSC and all Chinese travelers who are increasingly turning to cruises for their vacation experiences," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "This landmark agreement enables us to work closely with our partners at the CSSC to fully explore the possibility of forming a joint venture to further develop China into a leading cruise market, supporting local economic development, and bringing vacation enjoyment to millions. We look forward to getting to work and lending the expertise of many talented people across Carnival Corporation."

In the past year, the Chinese Ministry of Transport has expressed its strong desire to transform China into a leading global cruise market, including investments in infrastructure and developing a strong domestic cruise presence to help spur growth in cruising as a key component of the expanding tourism industry in China.

The MOT projects China to be the second largest global cruise market after the U.S. in the next several years based on economic growth, increased spending power of Chinese consumers and growing demand for cruise vacations in China. Partnerships like the relationship being fully explored between CSSC and Carnival support the MOT's pro-growth cruise policies designed to spur new economic development from tourism in China. The MOU also includes the exploration of other possible joint venture opportunities with CSSC including the potential to form a domestic cruise company, port development, talent development, and training as well as supply chain and logistics.
*Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world, with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, 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). Together, the brands operate 101 ships totaling 212,000 lower berths with eight new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2014 and 2017. Carnival Corporation also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon.
Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Royal Caribbean Enhances Oasis-Class Ships

Sailing aboard the world’s largest cruise ships will soon offer an enhanced experience. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas has emerged from a 14-day drydock with a new look including reimagined dining, high-speed internet, new retail offerings, a new popular Broadway show, and new suites with exclusive suite dining and lounge.

Sistership Allure of the Seas will follow suit in May 2015 with nearly identical enhancements. During their respective drydock, each ship’s seven neighborhoods will be enhanced as part of the cruises line’s Royal Advantage commitment to deliver the best vacation offerings and to introduce guests to even more new features and personalized experiences.

Even More New Culinary Concepts
A key element of any vacation, dining provides cruisers with the opportunity to experience new flavors and indulge in old favorites. Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining, affords more choice and flexibility than ever before by offering 20 restaurants, as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Royal Caribbean has recreated the original Oasis-class three-story main dining room into three distinct complimentary venues introducing bold new concepts each with their own cuisine and ambiance:
American Icon Grill offers guests a take on the classic American road trip pulling together best-loved regional favorites into one comfort-style menu;
Silk is a vibrant and exotic destination where the spices of the Far East bring new flavor to adventurous palates through a Pan-Asian menu;
The Grande, where every night is formal night, offers an elegant ambiance and refined cuisine.
Guests will enjoy menus of the new concepts beginning March 14, 2015, onboard Oasis of the Seas. Guests sailing Oasis of the Seas prior to March 14, will enjoy the traditional dining room experience in the newly designed spaces. As part of Dynamic Dining guests will have full control of their own epicurean journey with a selection of specialty restaurants including four new unique concepts:
Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a reimagined Izumi Japanese Cuisine offering a full teppanyaki menu as well as fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi;
Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, first introduced aboard Navigator of the Seas, will feature a menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes including guacamole made tableside. These dishes can be complemented by a beverage menu of tequilas, mezcal, and Mexican beers, as well as sangrias and tableside-mixed margaritas;
Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, a unique culinary adventure for the senses where Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare;
Coastal Kitchen is an exclusive restaurant for suite guests and Pinnacle members, that fuses Mediterranean influences with the riches of California’s bountiful farmlands. The experience is complemented by a robust wine list, curated specifically for the venue.
Finally, guests will continue to enjoy Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park and Vintage Wine Bar, the specialty dining concepts introduced on the Oasis-class in 2009.

Royal Caribbean’s commitment to provide the best vacation experience is at the heart of its Royal Advantage program which takes its latest innovations and most popular features and expands them to even its newest ships, such as:
Boatloads of Bandwidth, will offer guests onboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas connectivity that matches broadband connections onshore and is greater than all other cruise ships combined. These new capabilities, allow the cruise line to offer affordable Internet packages so that guests may watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media, and have video conversations, even in the middle of the ocean.
Royal iQ is a new app that puts guests in charge of their vacation choices. With the improved connectivity, Royal iQ is able to continue dining reservations, shore excursions, and spa appointments onboard, through both a downloadable app and at freestanding iQ stations around the ship. Royal iQ can be used as a convenient calendar that provides guests with at-a-glance views of their programs and to keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.
New Exclusive Suite Experience
Royal Caribbean is introducing 10 new suites on Oasis-class ships, offering expansive views of the ocean or the ships’ signature AquaTheater and Boardwalk neighborhood. Included are two Royal Suites, six Grand Suites, and two Royal Family Suites, which can accommodate up to six guests. These suites are paired with new exclusive suite amenities that include:
The Suite Lounge, an exclusive lounge area for suite guests to relax offering views of the ship and sea;
The Sun Deck, a new sun deck area that gives suites guests the chance to relax in the Caribbean sun with lounge furniture, shaded and seating areas, and private service;
Coastal Kitchen is a suites only full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean flair.
New Broadway Show
Oasis of the Seas will bring one of the longest running productions on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony award winning CATS to sea. Beginning June 2015, sister ship Allure of the Seas will feature MAMMA MIA!, the hit musical based on the group ABBA's timeless songs.

Superior Shopping at Sea
Royal Caribbean is introducing the playfully sophisticated designs of kate spade new york to Oasis-class on its Royal Promenade. Rounding out the diverse onboard shopping are Michael Kors and the Britto Art Gallery, as well as a whole new line-up of merchandise and fashion jewelry such as, Alexis Bittar, Uno de 50, Lauren G Adams, and Nina Nguyen.

These enhancements take many of the best features the cruise line has created in recent years and introduces them to its newest ships, by building on Royal Caribbean’s best-in-class global vacation offering and delivering to guests the Royal Advantage—the industry’s most innovative cruise ships, combined with exciting itineraries and destinations, and engaging Gold Anchor Service. More information on specific roll out dates for Oasis-class ships is available at

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas sail alternating 7-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries every Saturday and Sunday, respectively from Fort Laurderdale, Florida, visiting warm-weather getaways in the Caribbean. During the 2015 Europe season, Allure of the Seas will be homeported at Barcelona, Spain, for the first full Oasis-class Europe season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Carnival Cruise Lines Announces 'Carnival Live Concert Series' Artists for Spring 2015

We've always felt that there's good entertainment to be found on cruises and have often marveled that we didn't have to pay extra to enjoy it. Sure, there are music-themed sailings for which you pay a slightly higher fare, but Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival LIVE Concert Series has changed even the face of that with a program created to offer guests the opportunity to experience exclusive live entertainment from major music artists, all at a good value and with great convenience. Shows are presented in the ship’s main theaters, which range in seating capacity from 900 to 1,300, for an intimate onboard performance where there is never a bad seat in the house.

After a successful introductory season, Carnival has revealed its Carnival LIVE Concert Series roster for spring 2015, bringing more of the best live music to sea from some of most popular and highly requested music acts. Coming on board in the first part of next year will be Journey, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Smokey Robinson, and Styx, back by popular demand. The 2015 Carnival LIVE concert lineup continues this one-of-a-kind entertainment option, while building on the success of an inaugural year of high-energy, sold-out on-board performances. In addition to this mix of GRAMMY® Award- and CMA Award-winning artists and nominees, next year the company will announce even more acts scheduled for the latter half of 2015.

The 2015 Carnival LIVE Concert Series kicks off next March and features one or more major artist each month, performing multiple shows on Carnival vessels docked in one of three ports of call: Cozumel, Nassau and a new port for the program, St. Thomas. Artists board the ship in port, perform in the main show lounge, and then debark following the concert.
• Journey kicks off the 2015 roster with two rock anthem-filled performances on March 18 and 19 in St. Thomas.
• The award-winning Little Big Town brings their unmistakable sound to “Fun Ships” in Nassau for three appearances on (March 30 and 31 and April 1).
• Guests “Cruisin’” to see Smokey Robinson sing timeless classics from his 50-year music career can catch the icon April 21, 22, and 23 in Cozumel.
• In May, country trio Rascal Flatts, one of the top-selling live artists in any genre, will perform a series of three shows for guests in Cozumel (May 5, 6, and 7).
• Rock fans are invited to “Come Sail Away” to see one of four Styx concerts to be performed in Nassau (June 16, 17, 18, and 20).
“We are thrilled to continue our Carnival LIVE Concert Series in 2015 and welcome aboard more fantastic rock, country and R&B artists for our guests to enjoy,” said Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations for Carnival Cruise Lines. “This program has struck a chord with consistently sold-out shows and a tremendous response from past guests as well as those who sailed with us for the first time to catch their favorite performers.”

There will be even more Carnival vessels, homeports, and itineraries to choose from with a total of 10 “Fun Ships” departing from six convenient U.S. homeports hosting concerts in spring 2015. Carnival LIVE voyages will originate in Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Jacksonville, Florida; Charleston, S.C.; and, for the first time, Galveston, Texas, the line’s second largest homeport.

Carnival LIVE tickets for 2015 range from $35 to $60 for general admission, significantly less than land-based concerts. VIP tickets are available for $125 to $250, offering fans seating in the first four rows, an artist meet and greet, a souvenir photo with the artist, and a commemorative concert pass. For a calendar of spring 2015 Carnival LIVE concerts and to learn more about the Carnival LIVE sailings this fall featuring Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Jewel, Daughtry, and more, visit

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Monday, October 13, 2014

Princess Cruises to Celebrate 50th Anniversary in 2015

1965, Princess Patricia
Fifty years? Has it really been that long since the “Love Boat” first sailed across our television screens? No—the television show didn't debut until 1977—but next year marks The 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises, the line that launched with a single ship, the Princess Patricia in 1965, and a little over a decade later starred in the television series with Pacific Princess.

To mark their 50th anniversary milestone, Princess plans to make voyages particularly memorable for guests in 2015 as they treat them to these festive onboard anniversary offerings that will be introduced across the fleet early in the year:
Love Boat Disco Deck Party: To honor the iconic role The Love Boat played in the line’s history, a Love Boat Disco Party will celebrate the program during a 70’s theme night. Movies Under the Stars will showcase video messages from the original Love Boat cast, montages from the show, a Love Boat sing-a-long and show trivia, 70’s music videos, and even a live kiss cam. The party will also feature a production number, a celebration of weddings and anniversaries of guests onboard, a photo opportunity with a Love Boat life ring, and dancing with a party band.
Festive Food: One night on every cruise, the main dining rooms will present a special souvenir menu featuring commemorative dishes from the past five decades. Known for offering great pizza at sea, Princess chefs will also introduce a variety of anniversary pizzas such as Spicy Tomato & Shrimp, Potato, Bacon & Brie and Thai.
Chocolate Journeys: As part of the new “Chocolate Journeys” experience, master pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love has created two special 50th anniversary desserts that will be served to guests during their cruise vacations—Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with Vanilla Crème Brulee and Crunchy Shortbread or Moist Chocolate Dome with Raspberry Crème Brulée and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse. The two desserts will alternate from one voyage to another.
Cheers to 50 Years: Guests can sip inventive cocktails from renowned mixologist Spike Marchant along with drinks popular through the decades—from a classic martini to a pina colada. A special half-bottle anniversary-labeled Prosecco will be offered and the new Seawitch West Coast IPA craft beer brewed especially for the 50th anniversary will be available.
Let Us Entertain You: A 50th celebration in the signature Piazza will feature a golden balloon drop and some balloons will feature surprise giveaway items hidden inside. A special anniversary song, “Here’s to Princess,” celebrating the line’s history will be performed. Guests can compete in exciting game shows and test their knowledge with the Princess Trivia Challenge—50th Anniversary edition. Plus, on select sailings, guests can dance to the music of tribute bands—like the Beatlemaniacs—bringing the greatest hits over the decades to life.
50th Anniversary Décor & Guest Giveaways: Anniversary décor and signage will be displayed from the time guests arrive in the terminal (domestic home ports only) and be visible through various onboard touches, including a spectacular anniversary display cake presented in the atrium. A 50th anniversary tote bag and commemorative time line will be placed in each stateroom upon embarkation. In addition, the 50th anniversary logo will appear on stateroom key cards and on the daily Princess Patter. A series of videos will play on stateroom televisions that share the company’s history and milestone moments. Each cruise ship in the fleet will also fly a 50th anniversary flag on the bow.
Commemorative Keepsakes: The onboard boutiques will offer limited edition merchandise and exclusive offers during the anniversary celebration. In addition, the photographers will have commemorative backdrops and folios to capture the memories of guests’ cruise vacations.
The 50th anniversary officially kicks off with the naming ceremony of Regal Princess on Nov. 5, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale by the original Love Boat cast members before she sets sail for her maiden season of Caribbean cruises. Some of the 50th anniversary onboard offerings will be available aboard Regal Princess beginning in November (when the Cruise Diva crew will be on board and live blogging from the ship) and then roll out to the rest of the fleet in early 2015. More information about various 50th anniversary activities, including a comprehensive historical time line and video, can be found at

Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Friday, October 10, 2014

Malt Shop Memories Cruise: How Do They Do It?

Pre-cruise package, with tee-shirts, 
lanyards, luggage tags & more
It’s no secret that the annual Malt Shop Memories Cruise—the Best Rock ’n Roll Party at Sea—is one of our favorites. The day our pre-cruise package arrives is always special. Mel and I are “alumni” of three previous Malt Shop sailings and each year we look forward to the next one.

While I’ve had a look at the onboard operation during our cruises, like many fellow passengers I’ve wondered how they put it all together and who creates the lineup every year on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise. It takes not only a deep knowledge and understanding of music from that era, but also a person with a strong personality that is passionate about this music genre and who has the ability to book the top stars to come on board and have the time of their lives with their fans. That man is Alan Rubens, who started his career in the music industry by producing records and managing artists and additionally had his own record company for many years. He has graciously answered questions posed to him for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise News about how the cruise lineup comes about and I am pleased to have permission to share his insights here.
Alan Rubens
Question: You have been developing the lineup for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise since its inception six years ago. What goes into your thought process as you create the lineup? How do you decide who to have on each year?
Alan Rubens: I constantly check which Artists from the Malt Shop era are touring—how good their shows are, how enthusiastic they are to perform and mix and mingle with our cruisers. They need to have a great show and the right kind of personality to enjoy what we have on board. I try to mix it up each year and not repeat the previous year or years. I like to find a new Artist that we haven’t had before—like this year, we have The Temptations and Peter Noone.

Q: You have been the executive producer of many popular Time Life box sets—Rock ’n’ Roll Era, Flower Power, Soul of the ’70s, and of course, Malt Shop Memories. What was it about Malt Shop Memories music that gave you the idea to build that box set into a live entertainment event six years ago?
A.R.: The wonderful enthusiasm that our customers had toward this music. The Malt Shop era is a special time—it isn’t just the ’50s or the ’60s—it really is the late ’50s and early ’60s—a time when a great portion of the population was growing up—the real first baby boomers. It was the time between the birth of rock ’n roll and the British Invasion, and it really was a special time in American pop music—filled with great songs and great artists.

Q: Given all your knowledge of music, what do you think makes the music of this era, 1950s-60s rock ’n roll so special?
A.R.: There was a changing tide in the culture of teens back then. They were experiencing a new kind of freedom, desiring to make the things around us feel like it was really their own, not their parents’. And the music was exactly that—written by teenagers for teenagers, and it became a soundtrack for the rest of their lives.

Q: Is selecting a great entertainer for our cruise different than selecting entertainers for other live events, in your opinion? Is it number of hits/size of their catalog? Personality of the Artist? All the above?
A.R.: All of the above. Of course, we need Artists that people remember and whose songs have a special place in everybody’s memory, but they also have to understand what we have here: a community that grew up together and wants to honor those times, feel young again—and they need to be the kind of person who wants to share all those same feelings with the cruisers, be part of that community, and hang out and visit that special time with 2,000 like-minded friends.

Q: Have you ever been star-struck by an Artist you have brought on these cruises?
A.R.: Not really star-struck—I have known many of them for many years. But I am still in awe of so many of them and their tremendous talent and the effort they put into pleasing each and every fan at every show.

Q: Can you share with us now who you are working to get for 2015?
A.R.: I am working on making 2015, our sixth sailing, very special. Here are just a few names: Neil Sedaka, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, The Four Tops, Chubby Checker, Little Anthony, Darlene Love, to name just a few …

Q: If I know a great addition, do you take suggestions?
A.R.: Happy to hear any and all suggestions.
I love that Rubens said rock ’n roll became a soundtrack for the rest of our lives. Our iPods are filled with Malt Shop era tunes here at Cruise Diva headquarters so I may have to steal that line! I’m also happy to share with you that I have received personal assurance that the Malt Shop Memories Cruise will continue to sail for many years and there are exciting plans to expand the cruises as well. As always, I’ll keep you posted as I learn the details.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get Your Ink On At Sea

Back during my childhood it seemed that only sailors (like my Navy veteran father and uncle) had tattoos. Fast forward and today you’ll see creative (and not-so-nicely done) tattoos on everyone from movie stars to the girl next door. Tattoos are going to sea again with the first-ever tattoo-themed North American cruise, Ink or Swim, which will sail April 16–20, 2015 from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

Produced by REBEL INK, the popular magazine highlighting tattoo lifestyle and ink culture, and award-winning photographer Dan Howell, the first annual cruise will offer guests the opportunity to sail the high seas while getting ‘fresh ink’ from some of the most in-demand artists in the country, as well attend exclusive Ink or Swim events.

Cruise fares include all Ink or Swim activities, amenities, and exclusive events, including onboard Burlesque shows, tattoo contests, complimentary photo shoots, and a private beach party in Cozumel. When booked before December 1st fares also include a $150 credit toward a tattoo by any of the artists on board for the 1st and 2nd guests in each room. This is your chance to get inked by Ink Master celebrity tattooists Tatu Baby, Clint Cummings, or Sarah Miller.

While on board, participants will be invited to put on their Sunday best and then roll up those sleeves or hike up that skirt to show off their ink and have a portrait shot for an upcoming issue of Rebel Ink magazine.

Image Courtesy of Ink or Swim Cruise

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WoJo Wallet, A Cruise-Worthy Accessory

Many men place their wallets in the front pocket of their pants when going ashore in places where pickpockets are a common threat. A friend once suggested to my husband that putting a wide rubber band around his wallet would help to secure it in his pocket. Now, there’s something better—the WoJo Wallet, a slender, sporty wallet ideal for carrying a cruise keycard and more.

Even women will enjoy the convenience of a WoJo Wallet when a small evening bag is called for. Its slim design eliminates bulk in any pocket or purse and it can even be tucked discretely into a sports bra when working out in the ship’s gym.

The silicone and neoprene-lined sleeve can hold your cards, driver’s license, some cash, and even a key thanks to the trusty outer band. And that outer band will also hold it securely in your purse or pocket—no more hunting for a wide rubber band or fumbling with a heavy wallet. It stays snugly in place and is hard to steal or lose. Take it to the beach and Wojo Wallet is even safe in the water. Not only is it water-resistant, but it also floats—I tested it and it dries off quickly as well.

Wojo Wallet comes in several stylish colors and is soon to be released in collegiate colors with team logos. For additional information, visit

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Banana Coast Set to Welcome First Cruise Ship Next Week

It's been just over three years since we reported that a new cruise port Banana Coast was being constructed on the coast of Honduras. Banana Coast, now the newest cruise port in the western Caribbean, is preparing to host its first cruise ship call at the deep-water Bay of Trujillo, Honduras when Norwegian Cruise Line's 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel is scheduled to arrive Oct. 15, 2014. Norwegian Jewel's port call next week launches the port's inaugural cruise season with the first of 29 calls.

The port is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony that is slated to include government and community leaders from around the region. Invitees include Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández; Vice President Ricardo Alvarez; ministers of tourism, environmental and natural resources, economic development, national security and national ports; and local mayors and government officials. A traditional plaque exchange between representatives of the port and Captain Sven Kenneth Harstrom, master of Norwegian Jewel, is planned. Also representing Norwegian Cruise Line will be Bjorn-Ove Hansen, director of nautical operations.

"Obviously, the community is very excited, and we're prepared to show visitors why Trujillo is a special place," said Randy Jorgensen, general manager of Grande Trujillo Autoridad, which developed the port. "We have been preparing for this day for years, and we look forward to showing the guests and crew of Norwegian Jewel that Banana Coast is like no place else in the Caribbean."

As guests disembark tenders they will be greeted by local Garifuna musicians, along with dancers and performers in colorful attire. Establishments at the visitor center include a Jade Museum and jewelry shop, CocoLoco's organic frozen coconuts, a duty-free liquor and gift shop, and a variety of kiosks offering refreshments and souvenirs. To welcome cruise guests the community has erected bilingual signs, and personal Spanish-English translators will be on hand at the port to facilitate communication.

Banana Coast Tours offers 15 tours that include snorkeling, kayaking, waterfall explorations, horseback riding, beach breaks, nature expeditions, mangrove boat rides, jungle ATV adventures, and a variety of other cultural, historical and gastronomic excursions.

Six cruise lines have scheduled a total of 29 calls on eight ships at Banana Coast during the 2014-2015 winter Caribbean cruise season. Holland America Line was the first major cruise company to commit to a series of calls from November 2014 through March 2015. In addition to Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America, Silversea Cruises has slated calls in December 2014 and March 2015, and P&O Cruises and Oceania Cruises plan to call in the first quarter of 2015. For more information, visit the Banana Coast online.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Norwegian Breakaway: New Cruise & Ship Reviews

Keith Henderson shares his 15th cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship in a comprehensive two-part review of Norwegian Breakaway.

In the Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review, Keith shares numerous sites in port and outlines the onboard experience on the cruise from New York City to Bermuda.

Keith then takes an indepth look at the ship in part two, his Norwegian Breakaway Ship Review.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Princess Cruises Ship Delivered Relief Supplies On Return Call To Cabo San Lucas Following Hurricane Odile

Star Princess called on Cabo San Lucas today, Oct. 4, for the first time following Hurricane Odile and brought needed relief supplies to area residents impacted by the storm. The Princess cruise ship delivered pallets of bottled water, milk, and paper products, among other supplies.

"The residents of Cabo San Lucas form one big hospitality community that regularly welcomes our ships’ guests. We want to return that hospitality by giving back to them as they work to recover and prepare to receive visitors once again,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “The entire destination has been working tirelessly to reopen restaurants, shops, and tours, and all of us at Princess appreciate and applaud their commitment to tourism and their tremendous effort to rebuild and restore so quickly,” she added.

Star Princess was the first Princess ship, and among the first of all cruise line ships, to visit Cabo San Lucas since Hurricane Odile hit the area in mid-September. The popular Princess Cruises west coast fall 2014 and spring 2015 sailings program includes a variety of 7, 9- and 10-day Mexico cruises on Grand Princess, Crown Princess, and Star Princess. Panama Canal cruises on Island Princess also call on Mexico destinations including Cabo San Lucas.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Carnival Miracle Will Arrive In Cabo San Lucas With More Than Passengers

When Carnival Miracle departs tomorrow from Long Beach, California—on the first voyage of a new year-round cruise program to the Mexican Riviera—it will be carrying more than passengers.

The Carnival ship will be one of the first to call at Cabo San Lucas following Hurricane Odile and will be loaded with relief supplies provided by the cruise line. During the ship’s visit to Cabo San Lucas on October 6th, the crew will off-load pallets of bottled water, canned food, cereal, diapers, paper products, personal items, and other supplies needed by local residents.

“We have been in close contact with officials in Cabo San Lucas and have sent our own teams there to evaluate the recovery process,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. “The residents, along with local, state and federal authorities, have worked extremely hard to ready the destination to receive visitors and revitalize the economic contribution that tourism brings to the area. At the same time, local residents are still in need of relief supplies and it is extremely gratifying to be resuming our Mexican Riviera cruise program while doing some good for the local community,” Cahill added.

Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, federal under minister of tourism for Mexico, stated, “Our tourism destinations are ready to receive visitors. Tourism is an important part of the local economy and we are grateful for everyone’s contribution to the recovery of Los Cabos. The destination is ready for cruise passengers and the majority of restaurants, shops, and tours are ready to be enjoyed.”

Carnival Miracle’s new year-round Mexican Riviera program will encompass three different week-long itineraries, including a new three-port, 7-day cruise featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. Carnival Miracle’s schedule from Long Beach also includes two other itinerary options. The first is a 7-day, two-port itinerary that features a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta. The second alternate itinerary includes a visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Norwegian Escape Will Feature Popular 678 Ocean Place & The Waterfront

Norwegian Cruise Line has offered us a peek into their newest ship by revealing that Norwegian Escape, currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in October 2015, will incorporate The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, the popular features first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway and also found on Norwegian Getaway. This concept includes an oceanfront boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars, and shops, combined with three expansive decks of dining, bars, entertainment, gaming, and more. The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place offer a unique connection to the ocean.

Located on deck 8, The Waterfront (pictured here) is an outdoor experience that adds a new dimension to Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising by offering a number of seaside venues that will feature expansive views and a sense of connection with the ocean. The hub of the ship will be 678 Ocean Place, a space that uniquely flows, intertwines, and connects three decks of daytime and nighttime amusements.

“The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place have revolutionized the industry, receiving rave reviews from our guests and travel partners,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “We knew from the start that Norwegian Escape should also feature this game-changing design. With this new, larger ship, we’ve taken the concept up another notch and we’ve added some additional interesting venues and features.”

On deck 8, 678 Ocean Place will connect The Waterfront outdoor spaces with interior dining venues for Moderno, Cagney’s, and La Cucina.
-- La Cucina will continue to serve Norwegian’s authentic Tuscan-style Italian dishes to guests who choose to dine either al fresco on the outdoor patio on The Waterfront, in the main restaurant, or the terrace option, which is along the interior walkway beneath exposed wooden beams and greenery.
-- Moderno Churrascaria, Norwegian’s signature Brazilian-style steakhouse, will offer both indoor and outdoor dining on The Waterfront. Guests will feast from an extensive salad bar, followed by a variety of grilled and slow-roasted meats that are carved tableside by passadors.
-- Cagney’s Steakhouse will serve Certified Angus Beef® grilled steaks, double cut lamb chops, and other steakhouse favorites. Guests will dine amidst rich wood tones and modern details as chefs prepare their meals in the open kitchen or they can enjoy the sunset with Waterfront dining.
Located between Cagney’s and Moderno, Prime Meridian will offer guests the opportunity to order a signature cocktail while they take in the action around them. Also on The Waterfront, Dolce Gelato will serve a selection of flavors of the frozen treat. Inside on deck 8 will be multiple shopping opportunities, the photo gallery, and the Humidor Cigar Lounge. A three-story open atrium with an exquisite LED chandelier with light changing effects will serve as the centerpiece of 678 Ocean Place, with openings to all three decks and floating glass staircases connecting the levels.

Spanning more than 19,000 square feet on Deck 7, the Escape Casino will be the largest in Norwegian’s fleet. The new Skyline Bar, located within the casino, is a sophisticated lounge that will feature entertainment, a bar with video poker, and multiple walls lined with ultra, high definition LED screens that can create an array of scenes to transform the mood of the space.

Another favorite, O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, will return on Norwegian Escape. This 24-hour a day sports bar and restaurant will serve classic American favorites, along with exclusive specialty dish nights, such as prime rib, all-you-can-eat baby back ribs, and chicken and waffles. These specialty dish nights give guests an alternative dinner venue in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. The venue will overlook a giant two-story screen, perfect for watching sports and movies, along with miniature bowling, pool, basketball, air hockey tables, and interactive games.

Also on deck 7, the Manhattan Room returns as the complimentary aft dining room with cool, sophisticated tones of blue and silver. As guests dine on cuisine that reflects the elegant nature of the room, they will enjoy live music and dancing. The two-story high restaurant showcases floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows looking aft, lined with mirrored accents and glamorous lighting.

On deck 6 aft, guests will encounter the Mixx Bar, the spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or an after dinner cordial. Savor, one of the three complimentary main dining options on Norwegian Escape, will feature cuisine that is traditional with a contemporary flair. Across from Savor, is where guests will find Taste, another complimentary main dining venue. Taste will serve a variety of culinary delights to please every palate. Both restaurants feature clean lines and upscale, contemporary décor.

And now for something new, a private group dining venue for up to 100 guests will be among the new features on Norwegian Escape. As part of Taste, one of the complimentary dining options on board, the Private Room at Taste will accommodate up to 100 guests, offering the opportunity for groups to dine together in a private setting. Located just below the main Taste restaurant on deck 5, the Private Room at Taste features its own entrance, lounge and private dining area. No word yet on whether there will be a charge for groups to dine there.

In Norwegian’s Teppanyaki restaurant, masterful chefs will showcase their knife-wielding skills on 12 flat-top grills, cooking exhibition-style Japanese cuisine to entertain diners while they enjoy their meal.

Le Bistro, Norwegian’s French restaurant, will feature an elegant indoor setting, accented by décor reminiscent of a Parisian café, along with a European sidewalk-style dining area overlooking 678 Ocean Place.

Within the Atrium, located on deck 6, guests will find Norwegian’s signature two-story video wall along with the Bar at The Atrium, which will feature mixed drinks, along with a self-service wine bar. The Shore Excursion Desk, Internet Café, and Art Gallery will be located in close proximity to the Atrium, along with three meeting rooms, and a multi-purpose room that functions as card room and library. New to Norwegian Escape is a portrait studio, where guests will have the opportunity to take professional photographs.

Other dining and entertainment venues to be located within 678 Ocean Place and in other locations on the vessel will be revealed at a later date. Norwegian Escape will begin weekly 7-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on Nov 14, 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship’s signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation, Guy Harvey, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife. Norwegian’s newest ship is Harvey’s largest canvas to date, at 1065 feet in length.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise line

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Princess Cruises Introduces New Mobile App Feature on Regal Princess

It seems that everyone wants to remain “connected” at all times these days, even while on a cruise vacation. Princess Cruises is high on the list of cruise lines that have introduced smartphone/tablet apps for that purpose and theirs is now even more useful.

Princess Cruises initially introduced the Princess@Sea mobile app aboard Royal Princess in 2013 giving guests the ability to check the day’s events and activities, review the ship’s itinerary and port guides, browse restaurant menus, and even access their stateroom account. Moving forward, Regal Princess guests will also have the opportunity to connect with their fellow cruisers with the debut of Princess@Sea Messenger, a free mobile messenger feature offering guests an easy way to share updates and make plans during their cruise vacation.

The Princess@Sea Messenger is integrated in the complimentary Princess@Sea mobile app, accessed with Apple- or Android-enabled smartphone or tablet browsers. After it debuts on Regal Princess in November it will be rolled out to all ships in the fleet by the end of 2015. Guests will be able to download Princess@Sea Messenger for free before sailing at the Apple or Android App Store or on board with the purchase of an internet package.

The best news is that once the app is downloaded, there is no charge to use the Princess@Sea Messenger service while on board because you access it via the ship’s free WiFi zone! Limited messaging functionality will also be available in Princess@Sea without downloading the app.

“We know it’s important for our guests to be able to stay in touch with their fellow cruisers,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “With the new Princess@Sea Messenger we’re making it even easier for them to share their experiences, stay in touch and even make new friends.”

While I’m a long-time BlackBerry smartphone user myself (and, sadly, there is no Princess app for those of us stuck in the world of BlackBerry), my husband Mel has recently upgraded to an iPhone and my next upgrade will be to one as well. I appreciate Apple’s devices and that’s my iPod Touch pictured here. Since I’ve found that it does nearly everything Mel’s iPhone and my iPad Mini does, it should work for on board messaging as well until my phone upgrade happens. We can now leave those annoying two-way radios where they belong—in a drawer at home.

Regal Princess begins her Caribbean cruise season on November 6th with a short preview sailing, followed by a schedule of 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruises to ports including St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.

Photo © Linda Coffman,