Friday, May 29, 2015

Windstar Debuts Third All Suite Power Yacht

Windstar Cruises completed their fleet transformation On Monday at a christening ceremony in Rome, Italy,when the lines debuted Star Legend, the third and final of the fleet’s three new all suite power yachts. The christening ceremony and pier-side champagne celebration mark the luxury yacht’s introduction to the Windstar fleet, and the start of its inaugural voyage through Italy, France, and Spain.

Gloria Bohan, president and CEO of Omega World Travel and, was honored as godmother of Windstar’s Star Legend, successfully breaking a traditional bottle of champagne over the bow in front of a crowd of 250 guests, media, and trade partners. The debut of Star Legend came on the heels of the launch of sister yacht, Star Breeze, which was christened May 6, 2015, in Nice, France.

Both yachts hold 212 passengers at double occupancy. The inclusion of Star Breeze and Star Legend to the fleet makes the company a market leader in small ship cruising with 300 or fewer passengers, with a total of 1,242 berths and six ships.

The 212-passenger yacht joins the fleet after an $8.5 million, three-week renovation in Genoa, Italy. Star Legend received a full stem to stern transformation, including overhauls of every public space, dining venues, and suites. Highlights include:
• The outdoor Star Deck has expanded by 4 feet on each side to provide more space for lounging
• The Star Deck now offers a new counter-current pool and whirlpool.
• The observation lounge on the top deck is transformed to Windstar’s popular Yacht Club, a chic coffee bar and lounge
• The entertainment lounge is completely renovated with new flooring, lighting, and furniture
• The club space has turned into the Compass Rose, redesigned with new contemporary furnishings, rich new flooring finishes, and plantation shutters
• The ship’s card room is now the Star Screening Room, where guests can view current movies
• AmphorA Restaurant is completely redesigned with updated lighting, wall coverings, art work, and seating layouts
• Veranda, located at the aft of the yacht, now offers expanded outdoor seating complete with a courtyard and garden wall
New Itineraries
After its inaugural voyage, Star Legend will continue to cruise in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe for the summer season. Following an ocean crossing in the fall, Star Breeze will embark on one of Windstar’s newest Caribbean itineraries, San Juan and the Virgin Islands, and will continue to sail in the Caribbean for the winter season.

Continued Improvements
Windstar is planning a $3 million additional renovation of Star Pride, which joined Windstar’s fleet in May of 2014 following a moderate facelift that included updated furnishings and some remodeling. The continuation of the transformation includes the completion of the AmphorA Restaurant remodel and a total renovation of the Lounge, Veranda, Screening Room, and more.

Image Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Norwegian Reverses "No-Carry-Out" Policy

In addition to recently adding a $7.95 charge (per order) for room service, Norwegian instituted a very unpopular policy of restricting carry out plates of food to be consumed in staterooms. The feedback was loud and Norwegian has listened. Following is the email statement from Andy Stuart, President & COO, explaining the thinking behind the no-carry-out policy and rescinding it:
Many of our most loyal guests and travel partners have expressed concerns about our recent policy change regarding taking away meals from restaurants onboard. In keeping with the spirit of Partners First and ensuring that we are listening and taking action, today we announced that Norwegian is reverting to our original policy that will allow guests to take meals from the ship's many restaurants back to their staterooms.

The policy resulted from a leadership team ship inspection and was originally an endeavor to create a higher quality guest experience by eliminating dirty trays, plates and glasses that were observed in the ship's hallways. We saw this as an opportunity to enhance the guest experience onboard, which is always our number one priority. In truth, we simply didn't understand how important it was for so many of our guests to have the option to enjoy meals at their convenience in their stateroom. Based on the feedback we received, it's clear that this is an area many of our guests and travel partners see as important and therefore, we're pleased to share that guests are welcome to enjoy their meals either in the restaurant or in their stateroom, as they always have.

We believe that these are exciting times at Norwegian, with many positive changes in the onboard experience for guests to be excited about. In recent months we made several other announcements relating to enhancing the high-quality offerings onboard, including making Asian restaurants complimentary, fleet-wide. There was a charge for Asian restaurants aboard Norwegian for many years and now more than 250 guests per night are enjoying this memorable experience at no cost. To differentiate the 3- and 4-day cruise product from competitors, we also announced that all premium beverages would be included in the cost of the cruise for Norwegian Sky, elevating this short cruise product to give guests an all-inclusive brand from which to choose... and giving travel partners higher commission potential when selling a short-cruise product. We have also offered a very rich promotional opportunity for guests to enjoy a strong value-added experience since January, with a majority of guests having the option to choose from an Ultimate Dining Package or an Ultimate Beverage Package included in their fare that made their experience much more inclusive once onboard, as well as helping to protect pricing and, ultimately, commissions.

Thank for your continued support and let's look forward to a fantastic 2015.

Sincere regards,
Andy Stuart
President & COO
We agree that no one likes to see dirty plates piled up in the hallways, but many parents bring snacks from the buffet to their staterooms for their children and others simply want to enjoy eating in privacy. We're glad that Norwegian has given them the green light to continue doing so without having to resort to paying the room service fee.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carnival Vista Promises Fun For All, All For Fun

Carnival Cruise Line has revealed more details and images that promise the new Carnival Vista will offer family members of all ages the ultimate vacation experience. Debuting a variety of one-of-a-kind on-board features when it enters service next spring—from a unique suspended cycling experience called SkyRide and the innovative Family Harbor staterooms and suites featuring a “family concierge” to cruising’s first IMAX Theater—Carnival Vista will deliver fun for the whole family.

“Carnival is the number one cruise line for families carrying more than 700,000 children annually and Carnival Vista will build upon our leadership position in this area with incredible outdoor attractions and engaging indoor spaces specifically designed with families in mind,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

Spectacular Outdoor Spaces
Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights—literally—with SkyRide, a first-of-its-kind aerial attraction. Here, adventure seekers pedal hanging recumbent-like cycles at speeds of up to 18 miles an hour across an elevated 800-foot-long track, while enjoying panoramic views to the sea 150 feet below. There will be no charge for Sky Ride. Adjacent to SkyRide is SportSquare, a fun-tastic all-ages open-air recreation area with a 270-foot-long suspended ropes course, a two-level miniature golf course, a 700-foot-long jogging track, a variety of outdoor fitness equipment, and the new Clubhouse, a modern indoor sports hangout with mini-bowling, ping-pong, sports-themed video games, arcade-style sports games and more.

When it’s time to cool off, the young, and the young at heart, can check out WaterWorks, the largest aqua park in the fleet highlighted by Kaleid-o-Slide, Carnival’s first inner-tube slide. Riders can zip down 455 feet of exhilarating corkscrew turns enhanced by music and stunning kaleidoscopic effects. And no Carnival water park is complete without the Twister slide, offering 300 feet of high-speed fun, as well as the PowerDrencher, a 300-gallon tipping bucket that’s sure to elicit shrieks from kids with each drenching. A kiddie area with 30 different water spray toys and mini-racing slides will be available for younger cruisers.

On-Board Entertainment Options
There are indoor thrills, too, with the cruise industry’s first IMAX Theater with a three-deck-high screen that brings an immersive cinema experience to sea with the latest Hollywood blockbusters and family favorites, IMAX classics and IMAX documentary content. The 182-seat IMAX Theater is part of the Carnival Multiplex, which includes Thrill Theater, a multi-dimensional experience where seats move back and forth and side to side and viewers are sprayed with water and bubbles to make them feel like they’re part of the movie. The Warehouse, featuring video and arcade games, is located next door. And no trip to the multiplex is complete without popcorn and other movie favorites, available at a nearby concession stand.

Families can also enjoy all-ages comedy shows at the 385-seat Punchliner Comedy Club as well as the audience participation favorite Hasbro, The Game Show. New for Carnival Vista will be a premium ice cream parlor within the Cherry on Top confection store where patrons can select their favorite ice cream and mix-ins and watch as their frozen creation is made.

Family Harbor Suite
Family-Friendly Accommodations
Exclusive to Carnival Vista is Family Harbor, located within a dedicated family zone aft on Deck 2 with 96 specially designed “family ergonomic” accommodations, including extra-large family suites accommodating five guests and featuring two bathrooms.

Family Harbor Lounge
The Family Harbor Lounge is a secluded space designed as the ultimate family hangout with large screen TVs, board games and complimentary breakfast, cookies and other snacks. An exclusive family concierge maximizes the fun on board, assisting with dining, spa and shore excursion reservations, registering kids for the youth programs and making recommendations on and off the ship for families with kids of all ages.

Family Harbor staterooms include kid-friendly toiletries, bathrobes and slippers while suites feature separate sleeping quarters for parents and children and a walk-in closet. Guests in Family Harbor staterooms also receive a number of exclusive benefits and privileges, including 24/7 card key access to the Family Harbor Lounge, free meals for kids under age 12 in specialty restaurants, and one free evening in Night Owls, a late-night activities program held in Camp Ocean.

Dr. Seuss Bookville & Other Expansive Play Areas
Carnival Vista will also feature Dr. Seuss Bookville, a family reading and play venue featuring iconic décor and funky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss where, kids and their families can read Dr. Seuss books, enjoy arts and crafts, toys and play Dr. Seuss-inspired games. Dr. Seuss Bookville is part of Seuss at Sea, a fleetwide program that also includes the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, and Seuss-a-Palooza Parade and Story Time.

Camp Ocean
Carnival Vista will also include a 4,000-square-foot Camp Ocean play area where kids ages 2-11 are immersed in the wonders of the sea through a variety of age-appropriate, fun-filled and engaging experiences and activities. Camp Ocean includes Party Reef, a common area for all ages, as well as a breakout room for arts and crafts called Creative Cove. Just outside Camp Ocean are two outdoor playgrounds: Camp Ocean Playground featuring climbing, tactile and exploratory activities for the little ones, while the interactive NEOS® Play Zone offers fast paced high-tech physical fun for older kids. For early teens, there’s Circle “C,” designed as the ultimate chill space for 12- to 14-year-olds, as well as Club O2, a cool hangout just for 15 to 17 year olds.

Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service from Europe May 1, 2016, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016 followed by the launch of year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Images Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Windstar Cruises Offers Free Shore Excursions for Greece & Turkey Sailings

Small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises has announced a special summer savings program with the addition of Three Free Excursions and 50 Percent Savings on sailings in Greece and Turkey. The promotion is available this summer on four different itineraries, including Greek Isles & Turkish Delights; Gems of the Aegean; Black Sea Tapestry; and Venetian Passageways.

Complimentary shore excursions include adventures like Wine Tasting in Varna, Bulgaria, with a four hour experience beginning in the Old Quarter of Varna. A scenic drive through the modern capital of Bulgaria takes guests to the Aladja Monastery, declared a national monument of culture. Guests spend the day tasting Bulgarian wines, guided by a professional sommelier. In Katakalon, Greece, guests can Tour the Ancient Olympia Site and Museum for a half day experience, enjoying the impressive ruins of the Temple of Zeus, once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

All voyages also feature Windstar’s new Private Events, a spectacular onshore experience created exclusively for Windstar guests. These complimentary events are designed to give guests an in-depth local experience on each cruise. For example, the Gems of the Aegean itinerary Private Event is an after-hours tour of the Celsus Library of Ephesus paired with an elegant, five course meal under the stars in the library courtyard while being serenaded by a trio from the Aegean Chamber Orchestra. Visit for additional information, including rates and itineraries.

Image Courtesy Windstar Cruises

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cunard Line to Live Stream 175th Anniversary Events in Liverpool on Monday, May 25

While those of us in America are celebrating Memorial Day on Monday, May 25th, mark your calendar for what should be a very big show across the pond that same day in the United Kingdom. It's when Cunard's three Queens, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth, will gather in the company's 'spiritual home' of Liverpool to commemorate the line's 175th anniversary and we're invited to celebrate with them (virtually, of course).

At midday on Monday, Cunard's current fleet will become the largest ships ever to sail in formation on the Mersey when all three Queens perform a meticulously planned series of maneuvers to mark the company's 175th anniversary and to salute Liverpool, its spiritual home, where the company began in 1840. The ships will perform a 'river dance' against the backdrop of Liverpool's Three Graces, a world heritage site which includes the Cunard Building, the company's headquarters from 1916-1967. Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to gather on both sides of the river to watch.

Those who cannot attend but are interested in viewing this historic moment can view a live satellite feed, from 12:30-2:00pm (GMT)*, of a 90 minute program of live helicopter footage of the Three Queens sailing in formation, live and pre-recorded interviews from the previous day's build-up, and live crowd reaction. The program will be streamed live via

Will it be better than a reunion of those other stars from Liverpool, The Beatles? Tune in, it could be even better.
If you missed it, here's the video footage:

Image Courtesy Cunard Line

Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrity Cruises Launches the "World Class™ Bar"

In a partnership with Diageo Global Travel Americas, Celebrity Cruises has launched the world’s first permanent "World Class™ Bar." Pictured here, the striking bar space onboard Celebrity Eclipse provides interactive and luxurious drinks experiences created by World Class-certified mixologists.

Celebrity is noted for its highly skilled and engaging bartenders, and partnering with the world’s leading premium drinks company provides Celebrity’s expert mixologists with exclusive menus that feature cutting-edge cocktails, delivering the ultimate high-end drinks experience for vacationers. World Class Bar debuted on Celebrity Eclipse and will soon be followed by bars onboard Celebrity’s four remaining Solstice Class ships.

The curated and exclusive menu features new craft cocktails and a series of "rituals," available only onboard Celebrity, including:
• MYSTIC KETEL ONE® – a unique ritual serve, this tropical cocktail is made with Ketel One® Vodka. A specially designed kettle cools the mixture of strawberries, pineapple, aloe vera, lime juice, ginger liqueur and Ketel One and releases a vapor.
• ZACAPA® OLD FASHIONED – rich Zacapa® 23 Rum is mixed with angostura bitters and a dash of chocolate mole for a twist on one of the classics, as Zacapa elevates the “Old Fashioned” to the next level.
• CELEBRITY No. TEN™ – a refreshing cocktail made with unique Tanqueray® no. Ten™ gin, fresh raspberries, a dash of bitters, lemon juice and crème de violette and topped off with ginger ale.
"Our award-winning culinary program gives guests the opportunity to indulge in new tastes and experiences during their vacation, and the World Class Bar will do this by offering the very best of mixology, custom-created craft cocktails and expert bartenders," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "World Class is at the forefront of contemporary cocktail culture, which is a perfect fit for Celebrity as we continue to bring modern luxury to affluent vacationers."

Since 2009, more than 15,000 bartenders have been inspired by and educated in the craft of mixology by World Class, and each year the globally renowned Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year competition showcases some of the best talent in the industry.

Image Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Disney Cruise Line is Coming to a Port Near You

In the fall of 2016, Disney Cruise Line will once again call New York home for a limited time with sailings to the Bahamas that include a visit to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In addition, new 7-night Caribbean cruises from Miami and a return to Galveston, Texas round out the season.

Return to New York
On Oct. 7, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on an 8-night Bahamian cruise that includes stops at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay; Nassau, Bahamas; and Port Canaveral, Florida, which is located just one hour from the Walt Disney World Resort.

On Oct. 15, 22 and 29, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on 7-night cruises that stop at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral.

Adding to the magic on each of these Bahamian cruises will be the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney World Resort when the ship stops at nearby Port Canaveral. Each guest on these sailings will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation for the short trip between the ship and the resort.

On Oct. 2, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on a 5-night cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. In these charming Canadian ports, guests can soak in splendid natural vistas, explore historic sites, visit quaint cafes and shops, and browse Canada's oldest farmer's market.

New Seven-night Cruises from Miami
For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests will be able to enjoy a season of 7-night voyages from Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. On Nov. 20 and Dec. 4, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from Miami to the Western Caribbean including Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.

On Nov. 27 and Dec. 11, the Disney Magic will sail to the Eastern Caribbean including Tortola, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay. On Dec. 23, the Disney Magic will sail to Tortola, San Juan and Castaway Cay.

Additional Miami sailings include a 4-night Bahamas cruise departing on Nov. 16, a 5-night Bahamas cruise departing on Dec. 18, and a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise departing on Dec. 30, 2016. Each sailing will include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Return to Galveston
In late 2016, Disney Cruise Line returns to Texas with a line up of 7-night itineraries, including Bahamian sailings that stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. On Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 9, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, 2016, the Disney Wonder will sail on a 7-night Bahamian itinerary from Galveston to Key West, Castaway Cay and Nassau.

On Dec. 2, the Disney Wonder will sail on a seven-night Caribbean itinerary from Galveston to Falmouth, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. On Dec. 16, the Disney Wonder will sail from Galveston on a seven-night cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Grand Cayman. Two four-night sailings to Cozumel on Nov. 10 and Nov. 14, round up the sailings from Galveston.

Most of the late 2016 cruises include either Halloween or winter-holiday events that bring special entertainment, activities and decor to the Disney Cruise Line ships.

Bookings for the new itineraries open to the public on May 20, 2015. More details can be found on the Itineraries and Ports for 2016 page of

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Season’s First Copper River Salmon Arrives at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge

The kitchen of King Salmon Restaurant at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge was all abuzz last Friday when a helicopter carrying the season’s first catch of wild Copper River king salmon touched down right outside the lodge. This special event helped kick off the 2015 Alaska season and guests from around the world were delighted to enjoy this local favorite, served fresh just hours after being caught. The 2015 Copper River king salmon fishing season opened May 14 at 7 a.m. in Cordova, Alaska, and after a long day on the water fishermen could still be seen bringing in their catch late into the night. Local processor Copper River Seafoods prepared its first shipment of fish to be flown on an Alaska Airlines jet to Anchorage, where it was loaded onboard an Era Aviation helicopter. The chopper flew to a helipad near the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, to deliver the fish to the restaurant for preparation by Chef Jeff Elliott. A camera crew followed the fish from the moment nets pulled them up in Cordova and captured the full journey to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, along with the salmon’s preparation at King Salmon Restaurant. Take a look.

The first-catch shipment of Copper River salmon is a prestigious and highly anticipated annual ritual in which Alaska Airlines flies more than 20,000 pounds of the season’s “first fish” to Seattle and Anchorage. For the last three years, the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge has received part of the catch and served fresh king salmon to lodge guests on arrival. Copper River king salmon, identified by the meat’s deep red hue and a melt-in-your mouth texture, is a highly coveted fish by chefs and salmon lovers alike thanks to its exceptional flavor and high nutritious value. Also known as Chinook, the king salmon travel 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean along the waters of the Copper River to reach their spawning grounds near Cordova.

“Fresh, wild seafood remains one of the top draws for Princess guests visiting Alaska and salmon is an important part of the Alaska lifestyle, both culturally and as a dietary staple,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “The opening day of the Copper River salmon season is a very exciting time for our guests staying at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge who have the opportunity to participate in a true Alaska tradition.”

Princess Cruises Alaska season features seven ships offering 7-day itineraries cruising from the ports of Vancouver, Whittier, and Seattle; and 10-day sailings from San Francisco. Princess offers a variety of Land and Sea Vacations that combine land travel with an Alaska cruise for a complete land and sea experience. All Land and Sea Vacations include a 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing with a visit to Glacier Bay National Park plus up to four nights in the Denali National Park area at Princess’ own wilderness lodges.

Princess Cruises is now making the vacation experience in Alaska even better with the debut of North to Alaska! Introduced for the 2015 cruise season and created in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational, and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local. Additional information about all of the Princess Alaska cruise options and North to Alaska! can be found at

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Silversea Land Program: Hiking The Dolomites

Silversea has added something special for hikers who have the stunning Dolomites on their bucket list. Set at the foot of the rugged Dolomite Mountains, Cortina d'Ampezzo, the picturesque Italian town that once hosted the Winter Olympics—and renowned today as much for its designer boutiques and chic restaurants as its world-class ski competitions—can now be explored by the cruise guests of Silversea on a "Hiking in Cortina" land extension. The optional 3-night, pre- or post-cruise program is offered this summer on Mediterranean cruises departing or concluding in Venice.

But if strolling Cortina's ancient cobbled streets is not challenging enough, the new "Hiking in Cortina" tour also features a guided alpine trek along a via ferrata, or "iron road," for more-adventurous travelers. The narrow route is equipped with steel cables, ladders and other fixed anchors, such as wooden walkways and suspended bridges, making it possible for hikers of all skill levels—even those not versed in climbing technique—to hike on ledges, climb vertical walls, and reach mountain peaks. Hikers set their own pace, and may hike for as little or as much time as they prefer. Accommodations are provided for three nights at the Rosapetra Spa Resort, where participants meet with their alpine guide to determine the itinerary best suited to their skill levels. The guide also provides proper safety equipment, including a helmet, harness, gloves, and other cable gear. During their stay at Rosapetra, guests will also enjoy complimentary access to the resort's heated swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, and Mediterranean and Turkish baths.

"Our new 'Hiking in Cortina' program is a great option for soft-adventure travelers seeking a more-immersive land experience in conjunction with their Mediterranean cruise," said Darius Mehta, Silversea's vice president of air and land programs. "It's a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and rejuvenation—all set in one of the world's most beautiful mountain ranges."

The program is available from Venice on 17 Mediterranean voyages, which also feature a choice of included Silver Shore Select excursions offered in every port of call, as well as two hours of complimentary WiFi per guest, per day, and unlimited WiFi for the line's larger suites (Medallion and higher categories)—for bookings made on or after January 15. Sample itineraries include:
• Voyage 2519, Silver Wind, July 9-19, Rome to Venice, with calls in Sorrento, Amalfi, Lipari, Siracusa, Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Koper.
• Voyage 5523, Silver Spirit, Aug 10-19, Venice to Istanbul, with calls in Ravenna, Trogir, Kotor, Corfu, Katakolon, Santorini, and Kusadasi.
• Voyage 5527, Silver Spirit, Sept 11-18, Venice to Venice, with calls in Ravenna, Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar, and Koper.
The "Hiking in Cortina" program includes up to eight hours with a certified alpine guide, use of safety equipment, accommodations, transfers between airport, hotel and pier, and some meals. Participants should bring proper clothing, boots, and a backpack. See for additional details.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Holland America Line Offers Condolences

From Holland America Line:
We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of blues legend B.B. King. His incredible talent and passionate musical interpretations defined the blues for a worldwide audience. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

Through our partnership with B.B. King’s Blues Clubs, we have brought his music to our guests on board and will continue sharing his unique sounds and celebrating his life with this highly popular program. He was truly the ‘King of the Blues’ and an extraordinary man.

Direct from Beale Street, the B.B. King All-Star Band—an eight-piece group featuring two vocalists backed by rhythm and horn sections—brings the best of Memphis music to sea. From funky and fast to soulful and smooth, the band performs six nights a week in the Queen’s Lounge or Crow’s Nest. Holland America Line currently offers the experience on ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Westerdam, ms Zuiderdam, ms Oosterdam, and ms Rotterdam. It also will launch with ms Koningsdam in spring 2016.

Image Courtesy of Holland America Line

Friday, May 15, 2015

Join College Football Heroes At Sea On The Inaugural Legendary Coaches Cruise

Danny Ford, the Cruise Diva crew's
favorite Legendary Coach
If you follow your favorite college football team as we do here at Cruise Diva headquarters, you'd probably enjoy reliving the iconic games of the past, learn the secrets behind the scenes, and experience college football like never before. Now you can. Sixthman and the Legendary Coaches have announced the inaugural Legendary Coaches Cruise, sailing January 11-15, 2016, from Miami to Cozumel on Norwegian Pearl. Sail with legendary college football coaches such as Gene Stallings, Phillip Fulmer, Vince Dooley, Danny Ford (Go Clemson!), Pat Dye, Houston Nutt, RC Slocum, Jerry Stovall, John Cooper, and many more. In addition to iconic coaches, guests will meet top players such as George Rogers, David Greene, Heath Shuler, and others. on the Legendary Coaches Cruise.

Legendary Coaches is a group of coaching legends that built the foundation of the modern game of college football by leading with integrity, implementing unique strategies and battling every Saturday in the Fall. They won the hearts of millions while experiencing thrilling victories and painful defeats. Their legacy lives on, not just in their players, but with every fan that cheered with them and against them. We Clemson fans will never forget whipping Ohio State in the 1978 Gator Bowl under brand-new head coach Danny Ford, not to mention the Tigers' undefeated 1981 season under Ford that culminated in winning the National Championship. Ford is certainly a legend in our home.

Guests on this full ship charter can look forward to engaging activities including a dinner event hosted by your favorite coach, autograph sessions, live panels, Q&A with coaches and players, performances by comedians and bands in the Stardust Theater, special programming on board hosted by Athlon Sports, theme nights, trivia, and numerous other activities to be announced.

Norwegian Pearl will cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, which offers a plethora of activities for travelers. Guests can stroll along tropical beaches, explore local cuisine, shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, or choose from a host of exciting excursions. A destination of her own, Norwegian Pearl offers guests access to 13 bars and lounges, 19 dining experiences, two outdoor pools, hot tubs, a full menu of spa treatments, and so much more. Guests aren't limited to just live programming, as more activities can be found throughout the ship. Play a game of soccer or basketball on the sports court, bowl a few frames at the onboard lanes, or try your luck with a few hands at The Pearl Club Casino.

Event updates are scheduled to follow with additional featured guests, activity details, and more to round out this legendary event! For more information, visit

Image Courtesy of Legendary Coaches Cruise

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Denali, Alaska's Must-See

Denali National Park & Preserve
There are numerous ways to see Alaska, but by far the most common is a cruise. While cruises are amazing, and a great way to experience the natural wonders of the state, they tend to focus on exploring the southeastern ports and bypass the Interior, such as the wildly popular Denali National Park. Even so, there is an easy solution to making the most of your time in Alaska by extending your trip either before or after a cruise. According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) about 22 percent of all cross-gulf passengers extend their visits to include excursions into the Interior, home to historical gold mining districts, expansive wilderness, and Mount McKinley—also known locally by its indigenous name, Denali.

Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses six million acres of preserved wilderness that includes massive expanses of forest, glacial lakes, frozen tundra, and towering mountains—including North America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley. An alternative to the lodges and tours offered by cruise lines and located only miles from the entrance to Denali National Park, Denali Park Village is set among 20 acres of a spruce forest along the Nenana River. The new lodging destination, which embodies Alaska’s rich mining and natural history, underwent a complete transformation in 2014. It now offers visitors an authentic Alaskan experience including The Lodge at Denali Park Village, The Cabins at Denali Park Village, and Miner’s Plaza designed to resemble a historic mining town. The plaza includes individually themed shops, general store, museum, gift shop, gem mining, games such as horseshoe and bean bags, open fire pits and lounge chairs, and an outdoor stage offering free talks by the Denali Education Center.

The abundant wildlife and tours offer reason enough to make a stop at Denali Park Village in Denali. For example, The Tundra Wilderness Tour travels 53 miles into the park. Visitors enjoy incredible scenery, a narrated history of the park, and some of the best opportunities to view the park’s wildlife such as Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves, and grizzly bears. Other not to miss activities include Cabin Nite Dinner Theater, rafting, and interpretive hikes.

Denali National Park is located in the interior of Alaska and is reachable by train or road. Located at approximately Milepost 238 of the George Park Highway (Alaska 3), the Park is roughly 240 miles north of Anchorage and 125 miles south of Fairbanks. Cars and RV's may be rented in Anchorage or Fairbanks and driven to Denali. For additional information. visit

Image Courtesy Denali Park Village

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Seabourn Launches "Ventures by Seabourn" Excursions

Get ready to unleash your inner-explorer as luxury, small-ship cruise line Seabourn unveils Ventures by Seabourn, a new series of Zodiac and kayak shore excursions offering exceptional opportunities to enhance and extend how guests experience destinations.

The program will begin this summer on three Northern Europe voyages aboard Seabourn Quest, and will feature excursions launching directly from the ship's innovative fold-out watersports marina. Ventures by Seabourn is an informative and educational way for guests to enhance their cruise with optional shore excursions guided by knowledgeable and experienced expedition teams of scientists, scholars and naturalists. Already adept at engaging guests via the Seabourn Conversations onboard enrichment program, the accomplished experts will now provide in-depth insights into the history, ecology, wildlife and culture as guests explore spectacular destinations close up—and at sea level.

"We are always looking for ways to enhance the cruise experience by getting guests up close to the natural and cultural wonders at Seabourn destinations around the globe," shares John Delaney, senior vice president of marketing and sales. "Combined with our onboard enrichment program that is filled with local, cultural content, Ventures by Seabourn will deliver extensive, authentic destination experiences that our guests are seeking."

Tour leaders include: Dr. Colleen Batey, a senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, who has traveled extensively through Scandinavia and its surrounding areas; Kara Weller, whose research ranges from whales in the Bering Sea to mouflan sheep in Eastern Europe, and has traveled over 130 times to Antarctica; Luciano Bernacchi, whose travels to many destinations and wilderness areas around the world have led to a wealth of experience in adventure travel and ecotourism; Matt J. Dolan, who kayaked the entire Inside Passage from Seattle to Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska—a journey that encompassed more than 1,300 miles and a feat that few have accomplished; Robin West, Seabourn's Manager of Expedition Operations & Planning, who led the line's first two Antarctica programs and has tremendous experience in the operations of the expedition business.

Available in select ports, Ventures by Seabourn will lead guests through picturesque waterways and fjords, secluded inlets and to scenic islands via sturdy, stable Zodiac inflatable boats or paddling in double sea kayaks launched from the unique fold-out water sports marina onboard all Seabourn vessels. Seabourn plans to expand Ventures by Seabourn fleetwide over time, including adding kayaking tours to the Antarctica sailings.

The first wave of Ventures by Seabourn will be offered on three Seabourn Quest voyages through the summer of 2015, including:
• 14-Day Majestic Fjords and North Cape: Two voyages departing June 13 and July 11 from Copenhagen, Denmark. Ventures by Seabourn will offer sea-level exploration and shore excursions at several destinations including the magnificent fjord landscapes of the Lyse area around Stavanger by Zodiac; the Lofoten Islands by Zodiac; Nordfjord of Olden, Norway, by kayak; a zodiac tour of the Storstappen Islands and Nordkapp and a hike to Nordkapp, and more.
• 24-Day Route of the Vikings: Departing August 8 from Copenhagen, Denmark, and traveling to Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and Quebec, Canada, en route to Montreal. Ventures by Seabourn will offer excursions at several destinations along the way, including a Zodiac exploration of the natural beauty surrounding Ísafjörður, Iceland; a kayak experience to glimpse icebergs and shore birds in and around Qaqortoq, Greenland; a naturalist-led Zodiac exploration of icebergs, plants and wrecks amid the islands surrounding Paamiut, Greenland; and more.
Guests may book Ventures by Seabourn shore excursions online.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Actress Jill Whelan is Princess Cruises' "Celebrations Ambassador"

When it comes to celebrating special occasions at sea, no cruise line does a better job than Princess Cruises. Having celebrated our silver wedding anniversary on Crown Princess with one of the romance packages the line offers, Mel and I can attest to that fact.

Further demonstrating the line's commitment to their guests, actress Jill Whelan (pictured here), best known as one of the stars of The Love Boat television show, has been named "Celebrations Ambassador" for Princess Cruises, a role that has been created to help spread the message that special occasions become extraordinary when celebrated on one of the company's cruise ships or in a spectacular destination.

In a national survey conducted for Princess Cruises by Wakefield Research about Mother's Day, which most of us celebrated last weekend, the line discovered a disappointing finding—that more than one in three Americans (34%) didn't do anything for their mom last year on Mother's Day, not even sent a card. This year, the survey found that 79% of Americans procrastinated to purchase their mom a gift for Mother's Day.

"As a mom myself I know that what many moms appreciate is a thoughtful recognition of the day. There shouldn't be pressure to find the perfect gift; the greatest gift is to tell your mom how much you appreciate her and all she's done for you," said Whelan. The actress should know as she has two sons, ages 10 and 20.

Whelan shared other survey insights including if money were not an object, the number one gift for Mother's Day would be a luxury cruise (35%), followed by a premium spa experience (22%) and a new wardrobe (21%). And in a nod to her work in television, the survey revealed that the TV mom most Americans would want as their mom is Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch (33%), followed by Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show (28%) and Claire Dunphy from Modern Family (17%).

Well-qualified to represent Princess Cruises' celebrations experiences, not only has Whelan been godmother to three of the company's cruise ships—Dawn Princess, Caribbean Princess, and, most recently, Regal Princess—she got married onboard Caribbean Princess and, along with the rest of the Love Boat cast, rode aboard the line's float in the iconic Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on New Year's Day.

As Celebrations Ambassador her role will include representing Princess at various trade and consumer travel and lifestyle shows, authoring a series of celebration guides for an array of special occasions, staring in a celebrations video series, and she will occasionally cruise aboard Princess ships to surprise guests who are celebrating a special occasion.

"During my many years of cruising around the world with Princess, I've witnessed countless guest celebrations of all kinds, and I've seen first-hand the special nature of celebrating at sea. That's why I'm so excited to be in this new role for the company," said Whelan.

"Our survey found that over two-thirds of Americans (67%) have traveled out of town to celebrate a special occasion, and this year half of Americans (and 68% of Millennials) are likely to take a trip to celebrate a special occasion," said Gordon Ho, the line's senior vice president of global marketing. "We're committed to making our guests' celebrations unforgettable when they cruise with us, and so bringing Jill aboard as our Celebrations Ambassador underscores our commitment to be known as the cruise line you need to sail on when you're celebrating something special."

Ho added that the survey also revealed that when choosing a location for a special celebration, nearly half of Americans (49%) chose a beach resort as their idea getaway, followed by a cruise vacation (24%) and an exotic land tour (16%). As part of its Celebrations program, Princess has also created a number of packages that commemorate events like birthdays, weddings, engagements, renewal of vows and honeymoons. "But our guests also mark other milestones such as retirements, graduations, reunions and others—the sky's the limit for celebratory occasions," Ho added.

Further information about Princess Cruises' Celebrations Packages is available by visiting

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Monday, May 11, 2015

Royal Caribbean Orders a Fourth Quantum-Class Ship

Maybe this Quantum-class ship will serve the North American cruise market for longer than a brief introduction. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that it has entered into an agreement with Meyer Werft in Germany to order a fourth Quantum-class ship for delivery in 2019.

"The fourth Quantum class vessel will be a trailblazer in smart-ship design and vacation innovation," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Royal Caribbean International is synonymous with adventure, and the icons and amenities on this ship will continue to challenge and expand guests' expectations of the cruise experience."

Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are $1.6 billion, $2.3 billion, $0.4 billion, $2.4 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. Capacity increases for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are expected to be 5.5%, 6.3%, 3.1%, 3.9% and 6.5%, respectively. These figures do not include potential ship sales or additions that the company may elect to make in the future.

The order is contingent upon the completion of customary conditions, including financing. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture. Together, these six brands operate a combined total of 43 ships with an additional six under construction contracts, and three under conditional agreement. They operate diverse itineraries around the world that call on approximately 480 destinations on all seven continents.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Silversea Spreads Savings Worldwide

Take heed—this might be an offer that is just too good to pass up. Luxurious Silversea Cruises is reintroducing their popular Silver Select promotion with enhanced savings options available for a limited time on 52 worldwide voyages in 2015, including select expedition cruises. Silver Select is available on new bookings made May 7 through June 30, 2015 for select voyages sailing in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, South America, Asia, Alaska, Galápagos, Africa, and Arctic.

With the new Silver Select promotion, the world's must-see destinations and most exotic locales are teaming up with superior value and exceptional savings. Virtually every nook and corner of the world is available to guests who may personalize their voyage with a choice of special offers:

• Two-category suite upgrade, or
• $1,000 per suite Onboard Spending Credit that can be used for shore excursions, spa treatments, specialty restaurants, and more, or
• 50% off a second suite

• Two-category suite upgrade, or
• 50% off a second suite

"Our new Silver Select promotion offers an array of generous savings opportunities, each providing outstanding value. You might choose to treat yourself to a larger suite, or indulge in extensive personal pampering at the onboard spa. Plus, the option of a second suite at 50% off provides incomparable savings. This is the perfect time to invite family and friends to vacation with you, almost anywhere in the world, sharing in the extraordinary benefit of a separate suite at half price," said Kristian Anderson, Silversea's senior vice president and general manager for the Americas.

Following is a sampling of itineraries offering the Silver Select promotion:

--Silver Cloud:
Oceangoing Voyage 1535: Mombasa to Cape Town, 16 Days, Dec 20-Jan 5

--Silver Discoverer:
Expedition Cruise 9516: Vancouver to Seward, 12 Days, July 20-Aug 1
--Silver Shadow:
Oceangoing Voyage 3524: Vancouver to Seward, 7 Days, Aug 27-Sept 3
--Silver Explorer:
Expedition Cruise 7518: Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq, 12 Days, Aug 15-27

--Silver Discoverer:
Expedition Cruise 9519B: Kobe to Keelung, 11 Days, Sept 11-22
--Silver Shadow:
Oceangoing Voyage 3531: Singapore to Hong Kong, 12 Days, Nov 10-22

--Silver Spirit:
Oceangoing Voyage 5535: Fort Lauderdale (roundtrip), 10 Days, Nov 24-Dec 4
--Silver Wind:
Oceangoing Voyage 2535: San Juan to Fort Lauderdale, 11 Days, Dec 11-22

--Silver Galapagos:
Expedition Cruise 8528: Baltra (roundtrip), 7 Days, July 11 - 18
Expedition Cruise 8532: Baltra (roundtrip), 7 Days, August 8 - 15
Expedition Cruise 8538: Baltra (roundtrip), 7 Days, October 10 - 17

--Silver Spirit:
Oceangoing Voyage 5520: Istanbul (roundtrip), 7 Days, July 20-27
Oceangoing Voyage 5530: Istanbul to Athens, 9 Days, Oct 7-16
Oceangoing Voyage 5532: Athens to Rome, 7 Days, Oct 26-Nov 2
--Silver Wind:
Oceangoing Voyage 2529: Rome to Istanbul, 10 Days, Oct 2-12

--Silver Explorer:
Expedition Cruise 7523: Guayaquil to Valparaiso, 14 Days, Oct 19-Nov 2

--Silver Discoverer:
Expedition Cruise 9522: Papeete (roundtrip), 10 Days, Oct 25-Nov 4
Expedition Cruise 9525: Honiara to Auckland, 12 Days, Dec 7-19

Silver Select is a capacity-controlled program and subject to availability. The $1,000 per suite Onboard Spending Credit applies regardless of the number of travelers in the suite. The offer of 50% off a second suite allows both single and double occupancy of the second suite, which must be of equal or lessor value and booked on the same voyage as the first suite in conjunction with the booking of the first suite at full fare. Deposit must be made by the same party for both suites.

For complete details and fares, visit

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Friday, May 8, 2015

Juneau Welcomed Ruby Princess Alaska-Style

Things got pretty “mushy” when Ruby Princess arrived in Juneau, Alaska this week. The ship received a special welcome as a team of Alaska sled dogs “pulled” the ship into the port of Juneau, marking the vessel’s maiden voyage in Southeast Alaska. The four-dog sled team, driven by Maliko Ubl of TEMSCO Helicopters Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding Tours and Alaska Icefield Expedition, mushed their way alongside the cruise ship giving guests an official Alaska welcome before they disembarked and enjoyed the day exploring Juneau. Ruby Princess guests even had the opportunity to meet and take photos with the dogs.

Princess Cruises is now making the top vacation experience in Alaska even better with the debut of North to Alaska! Introduced for the 2015 cruise season and created in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Anthem of the Seas Debuts "We Will Rock You!"

Royal Caribbean is rocking the boat—in a good way—by bringing another smash hit musical to sea aboard Anthem of the Seas.

"We Will Rock You!" is the award-winning and record-breaking phenomenon written by British-comedian Ben Elton, which is built around two dozen of the British rock legend Queen's greatest hits. Take a look at how they put it together for their passengers' enjoyment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MSC Divina Celebrated Her Maiden Call in NYC

It isn’t every day that a cruise ship arrives in a new-to-the-vessel port of call and when they do, it’s a big deal, such as when New York City welcomed the elegant MSC Divina as it visited the Big Apple for the first time last week. To mark the occasion, a plaques and keys ceremony was held on board MSC Divina on April 29. Captain Pier Paola Scala, Elizabeth Shearin, vice president of cruise operations for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and Kenneth Winkler, general manager for Ports America, exchanged plaques while a few hundred invited guests witnessed the unique traditional exchange.

While in New York, the company hosted more than 900 travel agents on board—allowing them to tour and experience the ship first hand. Travel agents also attended a presentation by Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA, and Ken Muskat, executive vice president of sales, PR, & guest services for MSC Cruises, in which they learned about the future growth of the company and particularly the line’s aggressive plans for expansion in North America.

MSC Divina overnighted in New York City as part of her transatlantic crossing. She is now headed to the Mediterranean where she will stay for the summer season. Highlights of MSC Divina’s itinerary in the Mediterranean include the ability for guests to embark in two marquee ports: Civitavecchia (Rome) on Saturdays and Barcelona on Wednesdays; late night stays in La Spezia, enabling guests to visit nearby cities of Pisa, Florence, Portofino and Cinque Terre; late night stays in Palma de Mallorca, allowing guests to enjoy the lively nightlife of the island; and a call in Naples, allowing time to visit Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast.

Upon her return from the Mediterranean in November 2015, MSC Divina will start year-round Caribbean sailings from Miami.

Image ©

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Pre- & Post-Cruise Options by Disney

French Polynesia and the Caribbean are a world apart, but now there is a way to combine them when you are embarking on a cruise from Florida.

As Georgina Cruz explains, “With the opening of the first phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, along the Seven Seas Lagoon and on the Magic Kingdom monorail line at Disney World in Orlando, guests can have their (pineapple-upside-down) cake and eat it too! Before or after their Caribbean cruise from nearby Port Canaveral they can opt to be immersed in the ambiance of the South Seas for as long as they wish.”

Take a look at the new Disney Polynesian-style accommodations, ideal for Pre- or Post-Cruise stays in Orlando.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Westerdam Kicks Off Alaska Cruise Season From Seattle

Holland America Line's ms Westerdam arrived at the Port of Seattle on Saturday, May 2, 2015, marking the start of the city's summertime Alaska homeport cruise season. The line added capacity to its roundtrip Seattle routes with an additional ship in 2015: ms Statendam arrives Monday, May 18 and ms Amsterdam arrives Sunday, May 31 to begin their Alaska sailings from Seattle.

In addition to the 47 roundtrip Seattle cruises to Alaska this season, four cruises sailing the Panama Canal or Hawaii/South Pacific will either begin or end at Seattle, including a departure aboard ms Volendam. A three-day Pacific Northwest cruise aboard ms Noordam makes a visit to Seattle in September. All of the options combined make a total of 52 calls by five ships that welcome 82,996 guests to Seattle.

"As a Seattle-based company, we always get excited to welcome our ships back to Seattle to begin the Alaska cruise season," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "We live and work in the Puget Sound area, so we're extremely proud of the significant contribution we make to the region and to the local and state economies."

Holland America Line expects to contribute $422 million to the Seattle economy and $577 million across Washington State in the coming year. The cruise line employs 1,263 people at its Elliott Avenue headquarters in Seattle. Provisioning costs each time a ship calls in Seattle average about $275,000 per visit. Holland America Line works with 600 Washington vendors, from food and beverage suppliers to piano tuners, office supply stores and marine suppliers, among many more.

On "turnaround" dates Holland America Line provisions each ship by bringing aboard all of the supplies and food products needed during a cruise. For example, Westerdam requires over 23,000 eggs and 1,375 gallons of milk each week—all coming from local farmers. In addition, local growers supply 147,550 pounds a week of fresh produce. Also contributing to Holland America Line's economic impact is spending by passengers and crew in local shops, restaurants, hotels, museums, attractions and taxis. Other expenditures include maintaining its ships, plus port fees, charges and taxes.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Carnival Vista Invites You Onboard For a Tour

Ships are traditionally referred to as “she” so it comes as no surprise that Carnival Vista’s newly released video tour is narrated by the ship herself in a sassy feminine voice. The video ranges from bird’s-eye overhead views of the vessel to a peek at staterooms, interior and exterior public spaces, and her expansive outdoor decks. The video also highlights the spaciousness and indoor-outdoor integration of Carnival’s newest ship, set to debut in Europe in May 2016.

Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service from Europe May 1, 2016, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016 followed by the launch of year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Video Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines