Friday, July 31, 2015

Guy Harvey Brings Norwegian Escape’s Signature Hull Art to Life

One of my favorite tee-shirts features a painting by famed marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey and I can hardly wait to see his largest canvas to date when Norwegian Escape debuts this November in Miami. Currently under construction in Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Escape is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the largest in the company’s history. Norwegian Escape represents an evolution of the line’s innovative history of providing guests with the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their ideal cruise vacation. The famed artist made a ship yard visit as his artwork is now beginning to take shape, bringing to life his perspective of the spectacular Caribbean marine life on the expansive canvas of Norwegian Escape’s hull.

Spanning more than 1,000 feet in length from bow to stern, the custom-designed artwork features a scene of marine wildlife which blends two underwater seas seamlessly together. Featuring Harvey’s signature sailfish, the design also showcases key Caribbean sea life including sting rays, sea turtles, whale sharks, and a variety of tropical fish.

“I’m so proud to showcase the incredible marine life of the Caribbean on the largest canvas a human could possibly paint,” said Dr. Guy Harvey. “After weeks of work, the artisans at Meyer Werft have done an incredible job of recreating my art on such a vast format. I’m overjoyed at the level of detail that has been achieved and I can't wait to see Norwegian Escape in her element out on the ocean.”

The process of creating the artwork is a lengthy one, beginning with a laser that projects the design onto the hull. A team then outlines the art onto the curved hull, penciling in the lines and then taping the edges in preparation for applying the paint by hand.

“We had great expectations for this artwork, which reflects the marine life of the spectacular waters on which this ship will sail,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “Guy’s vision for Norwegian Escape’s signature artwork is the perfect complement to everything this ship stands for.

Guy Harvey, widely recognized as one of the world’s finest marine wildlife artists and champion of ocean conservation, combines his unique artistic talents with his background as a marine biologist, diver, photographer, and angler to create visually appealing and truly authentic art. Alongside his artistic talent, Harvey is focused on ocean conservation. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation funds inspired scientific research and innovative educational programs to encourage conservation and best practices for sustainable marine environments. Hand in hand with Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to the environment, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation-produced documentaries will be shown on board Norwegian Escape in staterooms to educate guests on how they too can help with marine conservation.

Images Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kathie Lee Gifford Debuts Her New 'GIFFT' Pinot Noir Rose Aboard Carnival Splendor

Wine and cruises go together just like Kathie Lee Gifford and Carnival Cruise Line, so it was only natural that Gifford—"Today" show host, original Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson, and current brand partner with her GIFFT wine collection—boarded Carnival Splendor in Manhattan earlier this week to officially launch her GIFFT wine Pinot Noir Rosé. The new blend joins the GIFFT Red Blend and Chardonnay that were introduced fleetwide aboard Carnival's ships earlier this year. Created in consultation with California-based Scheid Family Wines—one of the largest vineyard owners in Monterey County and known for having the longest growing season in California—the limited-edition Pinot Noir Rosé is 100 percent estate-grown and features ripe strawberry, raspberry and red apple aromas to exhibit bright fruit flavors framed by a crisp, juicy acidity.

"I love that I'm launching our Pinot Noir Rosé aboard Carnival, with whom I've had such a fantastic partnership for so many years now," Gifford said. "The fact that we can expand on that relationship through a love of wine is just all the better! I can't imagine a better spot for folks to enjoy a glass of GIFFT wine than while relaxing out on the ocean aboard a Carnival ship!"

Gifford originally became associated with the "Fun Ship" brand in the 1980s when Carnival launched the cruise industry's first national television campaign, and she appeared in the "If You Could See Me Now" and "Ain't We Got Fun?" ads. Today, Carnival is the only cruise line featuring GIFFT wines, with all three varietals available in the main dining rooms and at a wide array of bars on all Carnival ships. In its tasting ratings, Wine Enthusiast magazine has rated the GIFFT red with 91 of a possible 100 points, while giving the Chardonnay 88 points.

"Our guests have really embraced GIFFT wines to make them among the most popular offerings on our wine list," said Carnival's Vice President of Beverage Operations Eddie Allen, who joined Gifford onboard to conduct a mixology demonstration of summer-inspired wine cocktails incorporating GIFFT Pinot Noir Rosé. "The aromas and flavors of this Rosé are very 'food friendly,' and complement so much of Carnival's vast shipboard culinary offerings."

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windstar Cruises Welcomes Solo Travelers

One of the disadvantages for solo cruisers is the dreaded Single Supplement, which often doubles their fare unless they can find a travel companion. Now, for the first time, Windstar Cruises offers them some budget relief and the chance to experience the trip of a lifetime with waived or reduced rates on select voyages booked by Sept 18, 2015.

Windstar extends this more affordable style of single cruising on more than 130 voyages including itineraries in Panama, Costa Rica, Tahiti, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. The Single Supplement is completely waived on 43 itineraries, with a 10-25% discount on 94 voyages. For example,
• Waived Single Supplement – Dreams of Tahiti, Glitter and Glam of the Rivieras, Caribbean Delights and Panama Passages, Morocco and the Canary Islands, and more.
• 10% Single Supplement – Black Sea Tapestry, Classic Italy and the Dalmatian Coast, Naturally Costa Rica, and more
• 15% Single Supplement – Classic Caribbean, Jewels of the Windward Isles, Spanish Serenade, transatlantic crossings, and more
• 20% Single Supplement – Best of the ABC Isles, Culinary and Wine Delights of Spain and France, Tahiti and the Tuamotu Islands 10 day, and more
• 25% Single Supplement – San Juan and the Virgin Islands, Secrets of the Southern Caribbean, Treasures of Southern Spain and Morocco, and more
All fares include an ocean view stateroom or suite, fine dining, and a complimentary Private Event—an exclusive onshore cultural experience offered only on Windstar. The waived or reduced single supplement is combinable with Windstar’s Three Free Shore Excursions and All Inclusive offers.

“This new promotion is an excellent way to offer a great value to our solo guests, so if you’re debating a little ‘alone time’ for your next trip, now is the time to book,” says Hans Birkholz, CEO of Windstar Cruises.

Image Courtesy Windstar Cruises

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Silversea Cruises Cuts Steel on New Silver Muse

Ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea Cruises celebrated the start of construction of their newest ship Silver Muse on July 24 with the cutting of first steel at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

Pictured here, Silversea's chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio co-hosted the event with Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. Set to debut in the spring of 2017, Silversea's new flagship will maintain the line's commitment to operating the highest quality ships in the ultra-luxury segment. The steel cutting for Silver Muse follows extensive planning and development of new concepts to enhance the onboard experience.

"We're very pleased to once again partner with Silversea," commented Bono. "Silversea has shown remarkable dynamism and ability to achieve important results in this market. This project offers us the opportunity to develop creative solutions and set new standards for shipbuilding in the ultra-luxury segment."

"The start of construction of Silver Muse is a very proud occasion for us and I am delighted to be back at Fincantieri to celebrate this milestone," said Lefebvre d'Ovidio. "The concept of this ship descends from our vision of luxury, that is a very personal element for a guest, and that's why Silversea has always offered a tailored cruise experience, shaped around the preferences of each different person. Silver Muse will make a further step ahead in this direction, offering our guests a simply-divine experience."

He added, "Silver Muse will be an intimate ship, with just the right proportions: the only one with 40,700 grt and less than 300 suites to be launched in the ultra-luxury segment in the coming years. It will provide our guests with an outstanding dining experience, offering the highest number of restaurants than any other vessel in the category, while ensuring the same, unparalleled level of service we are famous for. And, of course, Silver Muse will bring the world to our guests, featuring new, carefully curated itineraries that will allow them to visit the most exceptional destinations in the utmost elegance at sea."

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Monday, July 27, 2015

Carnival Vista Below the Water Line

What lies beneath the water line of a cruise ship? Host Peter Gonzalez dives in to learn more. The team is going under the hull of the Carnival Vista to see something that viewers may never get to see until now.

The new “Behind the Scenes: Carnival Vista” video series continues with the second episode venturing below deck to showcase the line’s largest and most innovative ship, which is set to debut from Europe May 1, 2016.

In the video that follows, entitled “Below the Waterline,” host Peter Gonzalez heads to the Fincantieri shipyard to interview Carnival Vista’s Chief Engineer Cesare Boldrini who talks about the groundbreaking technology incorporated into the 133,500-ton vessel—85 percent of which has never been employed before on a Carnival ship. Gonzalez also explores the ship’s Azipod propulsion system that includes twin 170-ton propellers that can rotate a full 360 degrees. He also examines the hundreds of massive 2,000-pound support blocks that must be expertly positioned to ensure maximum stability during the construction process.

Video Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Friday, July 24, 2015

Staying Connected At Sea: Cruise Lines Enhance Wi-Fi Capabilities on Cruise Ships

Remember when the only way to connect with friends and family at home was by using your very expensive cabin phone while on a cruise? Some of us remember not even having a phone (or television!) in our cabins. That was ancient history in today's high tech vernacular. It's not uncommon these days to see many, if not the majority, of passengers using electronic devices—including laptops, cell phones, and tablets—to connect over the Internet on modern cruise ships today. However, using those devices on ships could be frustrating, not to mention expensive. That is, until recently.

From emails and texts to tweets and Instagram posts, travelers increasingly want to digitally share and stay connected while on vacation. While the perception may be that a cruise vacation does not offer a chance to be accessible, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reveals that cruise lines have introduced a host of Wi-Fi capabilities and offerings on cruise ships making it easier than ever before to stay connected at sea.

“In our increasingly connected world, it has become incredibly important for travelers to stay connected,” said Thomas P. Ostebo, President and CEO, CLIA. “Cruise lines globally have made major technological strides to offer our travelers the chance to stay connected while enjoying a cruise vacation.”

These are some of the latest examples of Internet accessibility on cruise ships:
Minutes vs. Data: Wi-Fi is more available on cruise lines than ever and the costs to travelers are steadily declining. More cruise lines are offering Internet services at reasonable prices. Disney Cruise Line, for example, offers guests Connect@Sea a service that charges based on data use instead of by the minute.
Social Media Packages: Travelers looking to text and tweet while at sea have never had so many options for connectivity. In addition to Internet packages, many cruise ships are offering social media specialty packages. Half the Carnival Cruise Line fleet now offers a social media package that allows guests to access popular sites like Facebook and Twitter for a flat fee of five dollars per day.
Internet Café: Almost all cruise lines offer an Internet Café complete with pay-as-you-use options for guests to stay connected. These Wi-Fi hubs are available on major lines, including Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, that offer a variety of other packages as well.
Loyalty Member Services: Some cruise lines also offer Internet access for loyalty program members. Members of Royal Caribbean International’s Crown and Anchor Society loyalty program get discounts on internet packages while cruising. Silversea guests sailing in select suites enjoy unlimited free Wi-Fi and every guest receives at least one free hour of Wi-Fi per day.
“There are common misconceptions that Wi-Fi capabilities on cruise ships are expensive, unreliable, or nonexistent,” Ostebo continued. “We are happy to dispel this myth and prove that connectivity and cruising are not mutually exclusive.”

That connectivity has allowed the Cruise Diva crew to receive emails, conduct business, and share daily blogs from sea—which was unheard of not that long ago.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Holland America Line Launches ‘Incentive Choice’ Program for Groups

For our first cruise on a Holland America Line ship, our group of friends chose Veendam, then the premium line’s brand-new vessel. Our group enjoyed the gracious atmosphere and personal service so much that we’ve returned to Holland America ships numerous times in the following two decades.

Cruising with a group of friends or family is a great way to travel and it’s also a wonderful way to reward employees. To that end, Holland America Line is launching an new program exclusively for incentive groups called “Incentive Choice.” Featuring a comprehensive package of valuable amenities and preferential pricing, Incentive Choice makes corporate group travel the ultimate reward for organizations seeking to motivate their teams. In addition to special group pricing with attractive savings in suites, verandahs and staterooms, Incentive Choice offers a selection of rich amenities that will enhance the cruise experience for the entire group.

“In developing Incentive Choice, we responded to our trade partners who asked us for flexible policies and generous amenities for their incentive-focused groups,” said Eva Jenner, vice president of North America sales for Holland America Line. “We also employ a dedicated charter and incentive team that provides detailed attention to every group, resulting in a program packed with value that delivers a memorable experience.”

Incentive Choice amenities feature a beverage package that includes unlimited fountain drinks, Explorations Café nonalcoholic coffees, and a complimentary bottle of house wine with dinner each night. In addition, incentive groups can choose two of the following options: bon voyage sparkling wine, bon voyage canapés, bon voyage chocolate-dipped strawberries, or a complimentary photo. Also included in the incentive package is a choice of one of the following options: one dinner in the Pinnacle Grill per guest, a 100-minute Internet package, or a one-hour group cocktail party with hot hors d’oeuvres.

“Incentive Choice provides a high level of personalization, so we have the ability to customize special meetings, amenities, and shore excursions for each group,” said Jenner. "For example, we can arrange a private cooking demonstration in our unique Culinary Arts Center with our executive chef. It’s a fun way for the group to bond while learning about Holland America Line’s five-star cuisine.”

Whether rewarding a sales division for achieving its target or top clients for their loyalty, Holland America Line provides a unique setting and elegant ambiance to enable organizations to thank those who deserve the ultimate recognition. If you are a business owner, get more information by visiting

Image: Courtesy of Holland America Line

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

MSC Cruises Launches New Guest Loyalty Program

MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and, according to the just-published 2015-2016 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, the number one cruise line in Europe, has announced the launch of MSC Voyagers Club, the company’s new loyalty program, that provides increased benefits to members. MSC Voyagers Club replaces MSC’s former loyalty program, MSC Club, and is designed to reward MSC’s repeat customers and reinforce the company’s consistent commitment to offer guests an exceptional all-around experience before, during and after their cruise.

Joining the MSC Voyagers Club is free of charge, and guests are now able to join a “Welcome Level” before taking their first cruise—all that is needed is a confirmed booking. Other levels of the five-tiered membership program include Classic, Silver, Gold and Black. Personalized cruise cards will be provided to MSC Voyagers Club members directly on board at the beginning of each sailing with their membership level.

As part of the new program, MSC has revamped its points structure so that guests now earn points according to the inclusive experience booked (Bella, Fantastica, Aurea, or MSC Yacht Club) as well as length of stay. In addition, points are rewarded for onboard spend as well as pre-paid services, such as shore excursions, spa treatments and beverage packages.

Another major benefit of the new program is that all MSC Voyagers Club members will have exclusive access to significant discounts on future cruises. Starting July 20, 2015, members will receive a 5 percent discount on all cruise departures (with the exception of the Welcome level). In addition, MSC will make available a broad array of select cruises, called Voyages Selection, that offer an extra 15 percent off, meaning that all members could receive up to a total of 20 percent off future cruises. And to sweeten the deal for higher-tier members, when booking a cruise from the Voyages Selection, Silver, Gold and Black level members will receive $50 of onboard credit per person. A complete list of Voyages Selection cruises can be found here.

The range of other privileges extended to MSC Voyagers Club members includes, among others, an invite to a welcome back cocktail party, complimentary basket of fresh fruit in the stateroom, and exclusive onboard offers with discounts on items such as internet packages, spa treatments, logo shop items, in-stateroom movies, photos, and the minibar.

Top tier members also enjoy added benefits such as priority boarding, priority disembarkation in ports where a tender boat is required, late stateroom check out when the ship returns to port, an invite to a private Black Card member party, complimentary spumante with chocolate-dipped fruit in the stateroom, increased onboard discounts, free one-hour thermal area session in MSC Aurea Spa, and complimentary dining in a specialty restaurant. A full list of onboard privileges by level can be found at msccruisesusa.

Loyalty Match
Recognizing that many travelers have built up loyalty with other travel reward programs, MSC Cruises is also launching a unique loyalty match program in which frequent travelers who have a rewards card from another travel land or sea program can now receive instant status and perks with MSC. After signing up for MSC Cruises’ Voyages Club, guests who participate in other leisure travel programs will automatically acquire similar or higher status with MSC and be enrolled in the Classic, Silver, Gold, or Black level. In addition, these travelers will automatically receive the 5 percent discount on any booking given to MSC Voyagers Club members and can also take advantage of the discounts associated with Voyages Selection. Now, THAT is a real bonus!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Crystal Cruises To Cover All The Bases in Luxury Travel

Crystal Esprit
A quarter of a century after Crystal Cruises set its course at sea with the launch of its first ship, the luxury cruise line is charting a new, much more vast, route. Crystal's president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez and Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay have announced Crystal's plans for the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality. Over the next three years, Crystal Cruises will introduce new ships—effectively establishing three brand new classes of Crystal-style cruising—as well as its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In their announcement, Rodriguez and Tan Sri Lim made it clear that the line's new parent company, Genting Hong Kong, is investing in maintaining Crystal's reputation and writing a new chapter in the continuing story of Crystal Cruises. The Chairman stated, "Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world's premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come."

In her announcement, Rodriguez shared her enthusiasm about the expansion of Crystal Cruises, saying, "We continue to think bigger, aiming to create unparalleled luxury experiences and adventures for our loyal and new guests, who—like Crystal—continue to seek broader horizons and new perspectives on the world." She added, "We are ecstatic to continue pioneering new areas of luxury travel. Crystal's newly expanded fleet will truly be travelers' passport to virtually the entire world." The stunningly ambitious timeline of new Crystal products begins at the end of 2015.

Crystal Yacht Cruises—December 23, 2015
Late this year, Crystal Esprit, Star Cruises' former MegaStar Taurus, will embark on its maiden voyage as the first expansion of the Crystal Cruises fleet. The vessel is an extravagantly appointed yacht, delivered to Crystal Cruises by Genting Hong Kong (GHK), and extensively redesigned to reflect the stylish elegance for which Crystal is renowned. The 62-guest, 3,300-tonnage yacht will offer intimate, exclusive, and immersive experiences with a boutique ambiance. The all-suite yacht will feature high-end finishes and modern technology, and is outfitted with some decidedly extreme features, like a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions, and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender for special boating adventures. Additional water toys include water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, scuba, and snorkel equipment

Set for delivery in November 2015, Crystal Esprit marks the debut of the new all-inclusive Crystal Yacht Cruises program, which will sail regional, warm-water itineraries of seven days and offer thrilling experiences on water and ashore. The first voyage sails Dec 23, 2015, exploring the Seychelles Islands, followed by an inclusive, post-cruise New Year's Eve celebration at the Taj Dubai Hotel. For 2016 and 2017, and early 2018, Crystal Esprit routes will explore the Seychelles Islands, the Dubai region, and the Adriatic Coast.

Crystal River Cruises—2017
The spring of 2017 brings more growth with Crystal River Cruises. Featuring expertly curated itineraries, Crystal River Cruises will offer the hallmarks of the all-inclusive Crystal experience—six-star service, world-class dining, and enriching shore-side adventures. Spacious suites with exquisitely designed interiors and elegant public rooms will punctuate Crystal's entry into worldwide river cruising.

Crystal Luxury Air—2017
Also in 2017, Crystal's brand of Six-Star luxury will soar to new heights with the launch of Crystal Luxury Air, becoming the first in the luxury travel industry to offer extravagant around-the-world trips on the world's most advanced twin-aisle Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The plush aircraft, which typically seats 300, will fly 60 guests in fully reclining business class seats to coveted destinations to which major airlines do not offer nonstop service. Each approximately 28-day itinerary will visit 10-12 remote and/or sought-after locales, with accommodations at some of the world's finest hotels and resorts; cuisine prepared by celebrity chefs inspired by the destination; and world-class cultural entertainment.

Ocean Vessels: "Crystal Exclusive Class"—Late 2018
Crystal Exclusive Class Cruise Vessel
Crystal Cruises also returns its focus to the seas, with three new "Crystal Exclusive Class," cruise ships, with the first expected for delivery in late 2018. Genting Hong Kong has signed a letter of intent with Lloyd Werft in Germany to build the polar ice class vessels.

With the introduction of these new vessels, Crystal will be the first-ever cruise line to deliver expedition-capable ships with all the signature features and amenities of a large luxury ship. The all-suite, all balcony ship will accommodate 1,000 guests, similar to the capacity on Crystal Symphony (922) and Crystal Serenity (1,070), and weigh more than 100,000 gross tons with an extremely high passenger-to-space ratio.

Additionally, for the first time ever, guests will have the opportunity to call a Crystal ship "home," with innovative Crystal Residences. Situated on the top deck of the new ships will be 48 unique homes, boasting their own private restaurant, reception and facilities, and much higher ceilings (9 feet) than residences on any other cruise ships or yachts; and equal to most land apartments. Residences will start at 600 square feet and go to more than 4,000 square feet of interior living area, which will be the largest on the high seas.

Other revolutionary features being introduced on Crystal's new vessels are: a whopping 400 square feet minimum for the guestroom suites—nearly doubling the size on other luxury vessels; increased ceiling heights by one f00t to 8 feet in all suites and decks; raising the bar on personal attention and service with 1,000 crew members on the ships to provide an unheard of one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio; an abundance of mouthwatering options centered on the art and expertise of Michelin-starred and celebrity chefs; and intrepid yacht-like amenities including submarines, helicopters and zodiacs.

Sounds like a very ambitious plan to capture the attention of the luxury market. We wish them well and look forward to seeing if they succeed on the seas, rivers, and land, as well as in the air.

Images Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Monday, July 20, 2015

Norwegian Increases Daily Service Charges

Prior to February of this year Norwegian Cruise Line hadn't increased its daily service charges since 2009. However, for the second time this year—and effective for all sailings that begin as of August 1, 2015, the new rates are:
• $13.50 per person per day for any category up to a mini-suite stateroom (up from $12.95)
• $15.50 per person per day for any suite category (up from $14.95)
Any guest that has made a booking by July 31, 2015 will have the option of prepaying their service charges at the current rate if done prior to the final payment due date. Guests with existing cruise reservations who have already pre-paid their service charges at the current rate will not be affected.

Norwegian's discretionary daily service charges provide gratuities to key onboard staff who provide guest service during the cruise, including their room steward, restaurant servers, and behind-the-scenes support staff. Guests who are sailing in Suite categories also receive the services of a concierge, butler, and dedicated wait staff.

While the service charge for standard accommodations and mini-suites are on the high end for a mainstream cruise line, the suite service charge is in line with other cruise lines in the mainstream and premium categories, considering that Norwegian's suites have a high level of service with the concierge and butler.

Photo (c)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cunard Line Concludes 175th Anniversary Celebrations in the United States

Cunard Line has been celebrating 175 years of history, tradition, and industrial achievement to mark the company’s original Transatlantic Crossing as well as the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic. In July 1840, the company’s first flagship, Britannia, left from Liverpool, England, setting sail across the Atlantic towards Canada and the United States with Samuel Cunard and his daughter on board. The Britannia’s crossing of the Atlantic in a fortnight marked a revolution in communication in an era when mail and newspapers could take six weeks to reach their destination. The company’s current flagship, Queen Mary 2, has recreated that voyage, with a few twists.

After visiting Halifax, Queen Mary 2 arrived in Boston and on Sunday afternoon, Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees game at Fenway Park.

Next stop, Queen Mary 2 made a festive arrival into New York Harbor Tuesday to continue the celebrations. As a testament to the economic and industrial achievements of Cunard, Queen Mary 2’s Captain Kevin Oprey rang the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

All good things must come to an end and in a grand finale, the celebrations concluded on a high note as Queen Mary 2 departed her berth from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and then held position in front of the Statue of Liberty for a spectacular light and music show, dazzling viewers on board as well as spectators in Battery Park, and onlookers throughout the city. The light show was cast over the ship, illuminating New York harbor and the sky above. Moments before Queen Mary 2 embarked on her return journey back across the Atlantic, the celebratory display took viewers on a fantastic journey through Cunard’s 175 years of history, as well as the future that lies ahead.

Images Courtesy Cunard Line

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line to Introduce À La Carte Specialty Dining

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the introduction of à la carte pricing for specialty dining at the line’s signature specialty restaurants. The à la carte options roll out beginning in October with Norwegian Escape’s specialty restaurants when the ship launched, and on Oct 3, 2015 with Ocean Blue on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. The new à la carte dining will be available fleetwide beginning Jan 1, 2016.

Guests will experience the ultimate in Freestyle Cruising beginning this October on the all-new Norwegian Escape, where they can choose to dine at any of 11 complimentary dining options or experience new flavors at Norwegian’s signature specialty restaurants La Cucina, Le Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse and the new Bayamo by James Beard Award winning chef Jose Garces, on an à la carte basis. Norwegian’s signature specialty restaurants on Norwegian Escape will feature enhanced menus that include favorite dishes and new tastes alike, offering guests the freedom to select how many courses they’d like to enjoy during their dinner, with per-item pricing. Whether guests wish to have a light meal of a favorite appetizer and soup or salad, or indulge in a multi-course dinner featuring Maine lobster, with Norwegian’s new à la carte options, guests will now have the opportunity to create their desired dining experience, just as they would at any land-based restaurant.

At Cagney’s Steakhouse, starters on the new à la carte menu range from $4.99 to $7.95 and main courses from $17.99 to $29.99, featuring Certified Angus Beef® brand steaks, the world’s leading Angus brand and consumers’ top choice for premium beef. At Le Bistro, guests will find delicious new main courses in addition to traditional French favorites, including Bouillabaisse, Pan-Seared Jumbo Bay Scallops and Veal Medallions with Sauce Morrel, starting at $15.99. And guests looking to find a taste of “la dolce vita” will be transported to the Mediterranean when they choose from an expanded menu at La Cucina, featuring antipasti, pasta, risotto and traditional secondi courses starting at $12.99 including Osso Buco alla Milanese, Free-Range Chicken with Prosciutto or Pan-Seared Sea Bass Filet.

Moderno Churrascaria and Teppanyaki will remain at a cover charge of $19.95 and $29.95 respectively, as will entertainment dining including Wine Lovers The Musical and For The Record™: The Brat Pack.

Guests who purchase a Norwegian Specialty Dining Package have the freedom to indulge as they wish, as Specialty Dining Packages will allow guests to enjoy La Cucina, Le Bistro and Cagney’s Steakhouse at no additional charge. Guests with a Specialty Dining Package can dine in Bayamo by Jose Garces for an additional fee of $15.

Other entertainment dining across the fleet, including Cirque Dreams & Dinner and The Illusionarium, will remain at a cover charge. For those guests who wish to reserve their dining times ahead of time, they can continue to do so via MyNCL; there is no charge to make a reservation and guests will have any à la carte selections added to their onboard account at the time of dining.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Celebrity Appoints American Female Captain

Other cruise lines have female captains, but for the first time in the cruise industry—and in Celebrity Cruises’ history—an American female will take the helm of a mega-ton cruise ship. At 37 years of age, San Francisco native Kate McCue will command Celebrity Summit—a 91,000-ton, 965-foot ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, sailing between the eastern United States and Bermuda. As Master (or is that "Mistress"?) of the vessel, she will be responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and the onboard experience of its 2,158 guests and 952 crew members.

The premium brand, which operates a fleet of 10 ships, has elevated McCue to the position of Captain based on her 15 years of successful experience and leadership in the maritime industry. During her tenure, McCue has managed ship logistics while sailing worldwide itineraries, including Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and along the Panama Canal. Captain McCue has also served as a maritime leader while sailing several transatlantic and repositioning cruises, and played a notable role in the revitalization of ships in Singapore.

Continuing Celebrity Cruises’ dedication to advancing the role of women in leadership, Kate McCue’s appointment follows that of Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who was named President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in December 2014.

"From the first time I met Kate, I looked forward to this moment, when I could extend my congratulations to her for being such a dynamic and highly respected leader who will continue to pave the way for women in the maritime industry,” said Lutoff-Perlo. “Of all the great moments throughout my career, this is at the top of my list. I am both honored that Kate accepted this position, and proud of the way our team continues to transform the way people think about Celebrity, and about cruising in general.”

A graduate of California State University’s California Maritime Academy, Captain McCue has held a variety of roles in the maritime industry, beginning as a cadet and deck officer, then working through a series of successively more responsible positions to her most recent role as Master Mariner with Royal Caribbean International. McCue has earned numerous certifications in a variety of areas pertaining to leadership navigation, ship management and security. McCue will begin her new role on board Celebrity Summit in August 2015.

"Becoming the first female American captain of a cruise ship has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember,” says McCue. “The honor is amplified by being the first at a company like Celebrity Cruises. The cruise industry is ever-evolving, from the ships and the itineraries, to our guests’ expectations for vacation experiences. Celebrity has a history of delivering on each of these, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. I look forward to working with an amazing team and the exceptional leadership who bring the Celebrity Cruises vision to life every day."

Image Courtesy Celebrity Cruises

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Veendam Spends Three Nights at Hamilton on 2016 Bermuda Cruises

The Cruise Diva crew has sailed to Bermuda a number of times on ships that have docked in Hamilton, which can accommodate only small-to-mid-sized vessels, or the Royal Navy Yard, where the mega-ships dock. In our opinion, berthing in Hamilton is a top choice.

Next year, cruisers looking to spend a few days immersing themselves in the laid-back lifestyle of Bermuda centered in Hamilton can embark Holland America Line's ms Veendam for 7-day cruises to the island in May and June. Sailing roundtrip from Boston, the four 2016 departures each feature two half-days, two full days and three nights at Hamilton, the country's capital, known for its pink-sand beaches, pastel architecture and exceptional golf courses.

Carrying just 1,350 guests, Veendam offers an ideal mid-sized, premium cruise experience in Bermuda that enables the vessel to dock at Hamilton, in the center of town. The 7-day voyages spend a day at sea after departing Boston and arrive at Hamilton mid-day, with enough time for guests to go ashore and enjoy the town. The ship then spends three nights, including two full days and another half day, serving as a base from which guests can experience local nightlife and dine ashore, if desired. While in Hamilton, the ship's facilities including lounges, entertainment venues, the casino and gift shops will be open so guests may relax and enjoy the shipboard life as well. Veendam departs Bermuda mid-day on day four at the island, with two nights and a full day at sea before arriving back at Boston.

"Our Bermuda cruises in 2015 have been a huge success, and we're excited to take more guests to the beautiful island in 2016," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "It's rare for cruisers to get to spend three nights in a port, and this itinerary is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of all that Bermuda has to offer—both during the day and evening."

With two full days and two half-days, guests will find multiple ways to experience Hamilton's British-tinged charm, cultural heritage sites and world-renowned beaches on a variety of shore excursions. From the ship, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive, 19th-century neo-Gothic cathedral and the Georgian-style Sessions House that was built in 1815. Shore tours offered by the ship include island tours, snorkeling or diving among famous shipwrecks along the coastline, cycling to scenic vistas, ocean kayaking, and a 360-degree coastal tour of the island with a stop in St. George's. Passengers can also take advantage of the island's bus and fast-ferry services to tour independently.

The 7-day Bermuda itinerary can be combined with a 7-day Canada/New England cruise to create a 14-day Bermuda & Canada/New England Collectors' Voyage. The four Collectors' Voyages in May and June start or end at Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and call at Quebec City, Quebec; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston; and Hamilton, with cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Princess Cruises’ New Ship Begins Countdown to 2017 Debut for China Cruising

The construction of Princess Cruises’ third new generation of ships was marked with the official keel laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy last Friday. As the keel, the bottommost part of the ship, was ceremoniously lowered into position, and shipyard officials celebrated the occasion with a traditional Chinese lion dance. Shown here, Anthony Kaufman, Senior Vice President, Asia Operations, Princess Cruises (left) and Cherry Wang, Country Director, Carnival China (right) painted the eyes of the lion before the start of the lion dance in order to awaken its spirit and bless the lion.

“The lion dance has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years and is performed on various auspicious occasions and celebrations. According to traditional Chinese belief, the lion signifies courage, wisdom, and good fortune and brings happiness, longevity, and good luck. We believe this special ceremony will bring prosperity and good fortune to Princess Cruises and our guests in China,” said Cherry Wang, country director of Carnival China, who traveled to Italy for the ceremony.

The yet-to-be-named ship will be customized to appeal to the China market when it debuts in summer 2017. Following the lion dance and a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship’s keel, which weighs approximately 500 tons, was moved into position by crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than two million man-hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel. The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until float out next summer.

“We’re incredibly excited to mark this step in the ship’s construction,” said Anthony Kaufman, Princess Cruises senior vice president of Asia operations. “We’re very pleased to be working with our long-term partner, Fincantieri, on our newest ship and we appreciate their partnership and collaboration to customize and tailor the ship for the Chinese market.”

The new Royal Class ship will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess, including a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light. Guests will enjoy the international flavor of cruising with Princess, including experiencing cuisines from China, Japan, South-East Asia, Italy, France, and North America among other regions; as well as an array of international festivals re-created to celebrate cultures around the world; Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a fountain and music show; Movies Under the Stars featuring the largest outdoor screen at sea; and balconies on all outside staterooms. Accommodations will be configured to appeal to families and multi-generational travelers.

In addition, the new ship will showcase the exclusive Princess Class experience designed specifically for the Chinese market. Delivered by the ship’s dedicated and caring crew, Princess Class enriches the travel experience of each cruise guest, enabling them to participate in unique cultural, culinary, entertaining and inspiring programs including the World Leaders Dinner, traditional English afternoon tea, a Lobster Grill, Ultimate Balcony Dining, an ocean-view hot pot dinner option, ballroom dancing, and an unparalleled duty-free shopping experience. Additional details about the new ship’s features and deployment schedule will be announced over the coming months.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Friday, July 10, 2015

Norwegian to Sail Without Sponge Bob

In a recent letter to travel agents Norwegian Cruise Line noted that after several successful years, their agreement with Nickelodeon to provide Nick-themed entertainment aboard select ships concludes at the end of 2015, and so these experiences will not appear on Norwegian Escape, on Norwegian Epic as of October 2015, and on the remaining four ships beginning in January 2016.

However, Norwegian continues to offer unforgettable onboard experiences for guests, including age-appropriate activities for children, teens, and families. Since Norwegian redesigned their complimentary youth programs in 2012, they have seen a +20% improvement in overall guest satisfaction with Splash Academy for kids and Entourage for teens, with parents calling the program "outstanding" and saying "my kids loved it so much they didn't want to leave!" Norwegian is thrilled to hear this, as that means their guests are happy, and their children are even happier. Norwegian is proud to say there's something for everyone around every corner of their ships, from circus school and scavenger hunts to themed events and parties. With such positive feedback on their signature programs, the line apparently didn't feel the need to continue their partnership with Nickelodeon.

As they continue making significant investments to further elevate onboard family programming and entertainment, such as the new Guppies Nursery and expanded sports deck on Norwegian Escape, family offerings will continue getting even better.

We'll still miss Sponge Bob and his pals.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

fathom™ to Open Cuba For Carnival Corporation

That didn't take long. Only a month after launching a new brand called fathom™ (that’s not a typo, it’s spelled with a small f). Carnival Corporation announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba. Carnival Corporation intends to take travelers to Cuba beginning in May 2016 via its newly launched fathom brand, a new social impact travel brand providing purpose-oriented, social impact experiences, initially in the Dominican Republic. Carnival Corporation intends to operate fathom travel itineraries directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing cultural, artistic, faith-based, and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens.

Authorized under current U.S.-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the new Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people. Carnival Corporation is in active discussions and plans to work with the appropriate authorities in Cuba so that Cuban approval is granted.

Launched June 4th as Carnival Corporation's 10th global brand, fathom is designed as a purpose-driven brand to enrich the lives of its travelers and in the case of the Dominican Republic, drive sustainable social impact on a significant scale. The brand expects to attract 37,000 annual travelers who collectively could spend a total of more than 100,000 days a year either volunteering or immersing in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities.

Beginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on weekly 7-day voyages from Port Miami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises (UK) brand. fathom's first impact destination will be the northern region of the Dominican Republic, where Carnival Corporation's new port of call, Amber Cove, will serve as home base. Following the inaugural April month of voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom intends to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a systematic and regular basis, giving travelers the opportunity to choose from two destinations and a range of activities from social impact in the Dominican Republic and educational and cultural exchanges in both countries designed to have a positive, transformative effect on the lives of the travelers.

"We are excited about receiving U.S. approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to Cuba under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel. We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between U.S. citizens and the people of Cuba a reality," said Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society. It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016."

Travelers may reserve travel on future fathom voyages. Prices for the 7-day trip to the Dominican Republic start at $1,540 per person, which includes an exterior cabin with a view, all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences, three on-shore social impact activities, and related supplies, taxes, fees, and port expenses. Prices will vary by season. Fares for 7-day itineraries to Cuba start at $2,990 per person, excluding taxes, port and other government and related fees, and including all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences, and certain on-the-ground cultural immersion activities.

Once again, we applaud Carnival Corporation for their philanthropy. We wondered last month if this new concept brand would be the first step to position the ship for people-to-people style journeys to Cuba, as well as the Domincan Republic, and it looks like we were spot on.

Image Courtesy Carnival Corporation for fathom

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Refurbished Majesty of the Seas to Remain in the Royal Caribbean Fleet

Majesty of the Seas, the last of the Sovereign-class vessels in the Royal Caribbean International fleet, was due to transfer to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd's Pullmantur brand in 2016. The plan was that the ship's last 3-night sailing for Royal Caribbean International was to depart on April 29, 2016 and then she would then enter dry dock before joining the Pullmantur fleet, allowing her to be tailored to fit Pullmantur's brand standards and offerings.

However, all of that's changed and, due to popular demand, Majesty of the Seas will continue to offer short cruises sailing with Royal Caribbean International. The cruise line announced that the ship will homeport in Port Canaveral, along Florida's Space Coast, starting in summer 2016. Before her season in Port Canaveral where she will sail to the Bahamas, Majesty of the Seas will go into drydock for upgrades and receive some of the line's signature features as well as new onboard amenities.

Voom, the fastest Internet at sea, will be available free and unlimited exclusively for guests on Majesty of the Seas to stay connected. New features to be introduced on board include waterslides for guests of all ages; family-friendly Jacuzzis; a poolside movie screen; and entertainment including the Dreamworks Experience featuring activities and entertainment with favorite characters from the powerhouse animation studio's popular movies. An enhanced casino will offer gamers a variety of the latest popular slot machines and table games and suite guests will enjoy exclusive amenities and services as part of a newly enhanced suite program. Some of the new culinary options include Izumi Japanese cuisine with fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi; the Sabor Taqueria featuring a mouthwatering menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes, including hand-made table-side guacamole—all which can be enjoyed alfresco; and the Chef's Table, an exclusive experience hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier for an intimate wine pairing dinner.

"Our short itineraries have been very popular offering vacationers the perfect opportunity to sample the unmatched experience of a Royal Caribbean cruise, as well as providing a quick adventurous getaway," said Michael Bayley, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "With these exciting new features as well as unprecedented fast and free unlimited Internet for guests on Majesty of the Seas, we are stepping up our game and offering a phenomenal short cruise adventure for our guests."

Majesty of the Seas will sail 3- and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas with visits to the cruise line's private island destination CocoCay, the tropical paradise that offers white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters set in 140 acres of lush vegetation. The secluded Bahamian island—reserved exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests—features an aquatic park and water slide, beach volleyball and soccer, snorkeling and other water-based recreation.

With Majesty of the Seas' move to the Space Coast, Royal Caribbean is now able to deploy Rhapsody of the Seas to Tampa to sail 7-night Western Caribbean cruises in winter 2016 instead of the previously announced short Bahamas itineraries it was set to sail from Port Canaveral. The new itineraries will further expand the choices for guests in Central Florida and increase the total number of conveniently accessible U.S. homeports from where vacationers can embark on the line's Caribbean cruises. Reservations for the Majesty of the Seas' inaugural Port Canaveral season are now available for sailings beginning May 27, 2016. Rhapsody of the Seas' Tampa sailings are also open for sale for sailings beginning Dec. 3, 2016.

Image: Royal Caribbean International

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Staying "Connected" With Carnival Cruise Line

For those of us who must have Internet access while on vacation, or who simply want to share their cruise experience with friends and family, Carnival Cruise Line is making that access more affordable.

The "Fun Ship" line is rolling out new pricing packages that are budget-friendly and tailored to their passengers' needs. The new packages, which will be available fleet-wide by October, can be purchased on a daily basis or for the entire cruise. Ships that already offer the new packages are Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Victory, Carnival Elation, Carnival Pride, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration. The next ships to get the Internet packages are Carnival Glory, Carnival Conquest, and Carnival Dream. Until the new packages are in place, ships remain on the old plans with Internet charges ranging from 75 cents a minute to $159 for a 480-minute package.

Here's what you get:
-- The $5 a day option allows access to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but not the entire Internet.
-- For $16 a day, you have access to everything on the Internet with the exception of heavy bandwidth applications such as Skype or music streaming.
-- A $25 a day package offers access to the entire Internet, including those heavy bandwidth features.
Image: Carnival Freedom in Key West ©

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cooling Off In Alaska Aboard Silver Shadow

As year-round Floridians, Georgina and Humberto Cruz enjoy warm weather but every so often they do enjoy a break from the heat. This year they cooled off in Alaska during a seven-day voyage on Silversea Cruises’ Silver Shadow from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska, with a pre-cruise night in Vancouver and a post-cruise night in Anchorage.

It was very cool—in more ways than one.

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Friday, July 3, 2015

Silversea Cruises' New Ship, Silver Muse to Launch in 2017

Silversea Cruises has announced their new flagship, the Silver Muse, is on order and will be delivered in the spring of 2017. The new ultra-luxury ship is being built by Fincantieri and at 40,000 tons accommodates 596 guests, representing an evolution of the Silver Spirit that will redefine ultra-luxury ocean travel, enhancing the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience.

The addition of Silver Muse will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships and will raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market with a wealth of enhancements to the onboard experience, while satisfying the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world's most discerning travelers.

"We have always had a special relationship with Fincantieri, since my father ordered from them the first cruise vessels for Sitmar Cruises in 1987," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, chairman of Silversea. "Both companies have a clear understanding of what today's affluent traveler seeks, and each approaches the market with originality, creativity, and quality."

According to Enzo Visone, Silversea's CEO, "With enhanced design specifications and enriched content, the Silver Muse will continue to build on the sophistication, innovative style and ground-breaking concepts for which Silversea ships are renowned. This ship contributes to our ambitious growth plans that will ensure our continued leadership in ultra-luxury cruising."

Additional details and specifications on the new ship will be announced in the near future.

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cunard to Celebrate 175th Anniversary in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 10th

Cunard Line has a milestone anniversary this year and its celebration of 175 years of history, tradition, and industrial achievement continues in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on July 10th when Queen Mary 2 calls on the ancestral home of its founder Sir Samuel Cunard. This commemorative Transatlantic Crossing will pay tribute to the original voyage made by the company’s first flagship, Britannia, in 1840. The flagship vessel is scheduled to arrive in port at 6:00 a.m. A.D.T.

Cunard will mark the anniversary with a series of commemorative events, beginning with a special outdoor ceremony on the Halifax waterfront. Local dignitaries, port officials, and key members of the Halifax community will be in attendance as a part of the new public space of the future waterfront development will be named in honor of Cunard. The ceremony will take place on the site of an upcoming mixed use development led by Southwest Properties and in collaboration with Waterfront Development. Nova Scotia’s popular Rhapsody Quintet will perform during the event.

“We look forward to honoring Sir Samuel Cunard in his birthplace of Halifax, and to celebrating the company’s first North American port of call,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. “Cunard is honored to be one of the few companies who can claim a 175-year history and Halifax plays an instrumental role in that story,” he continued.

As part of the celebration, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will re-open the Cunard portion of their Age of Steam exhibition and launch a new Samuel Cunard retrospective exhibit that will showcase the founder’s impact on global business, transportation, and world events. The exhibit, Cunard 175: Engine for Change is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic’s celebration of Sir Samuel Cunard’s vision and achievement in revolutionizing maritime travel and global communications. His drive to create an “ocean railway”—with comfortable, technologically advanced ships making established oceanic passages—is continued by Cunard today. The museum will be opening the exhibit on July 10 when the guests of Queen Mary 2 arrive, and at 5:00 p.m. A.D.T, the museum will be open for free for the exhibit opening reception.

Upon departure, the Royal Canadian Navy will salute Queen Mary 2 from the Frigate HMCS Montreal as Royal Canadian Sea Cadets fire salute from the shore. The cadets are ages 12-18 and are part of a youth organization co-sponsored by the Canadian Armed Forces and the civilian Navy League of Canada.

Queen Mary 2 will depart the berth at 8:00 p.m. A.D.T. and then conduct a counter clockwise tour of the harbor. Upon leaving the berth Queen Mary 2 will proceed in a north easterly direction leaving Georges Island to starboard as she continues on a course that will take her approximately mid harbor and directly opposite HMC Dockyard (this is also the site of the original Cunard Wharves where RMS Britannia berthed). Here she will turn to port and fall into line with the escort vessels. The convoy order will be:
1. Theodore Tugboat
2. Tugboat Atlantic Oak (with water canons)
3. Queen Mary 2
4. HMCS Montreal
The procession will then proceed in a southerly direction close to the Halifax Boardwalk/Waterfront, providing ample opportunity for the public to view this ceremonial conclusion to Halifax’s celebration of Cunard Line’s 175th Anniversary. A naval artillery salute will take place shoreside from the wharf of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic where music will be provided by the Stadacona Band. Queen Mary 2 and escort vessels will continue moving slowly southward along the Halifax sea wall and leaving Georges Island to port.

Upon passing Pier 21 the flotilla will be joined by yachts and other pleasure craft from the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and other yacht clubs. Queen Mary 2 will then continue on her commemorative Crossing sailing down to Boston and New York, with special events scheduled for each port of call.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Harmony of the Seas Reaches Construction Milestone

Exterior construction on Harmony of the Seas was completed last week at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Soon to be one of the world's largest cruise ships, the newest member of Royal Caribbean International's Oasis class of ships is now one step closer to full completion as her April 2016 debut approaches. With the exterior complete, Harmony of the Seas was floated out of her dry dock to begin the next phase of interior construction.

Harmony of the Seas will sail the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain during her inaugural season before arriving at her homeport of Fort Lauderdale in November 2016 where she will sail the Caribbean. Harmony of the Seas will feature seven distinct neighborhoods, 20 restaurants and 2,394 crew to serve her guests.

Guests will experience new amenities on board including three multi-story water slides, the Bionic Bar with robot bartenders, first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and Voom, the fastest Internet connection at sea which gives guests the ability to instantly share their vacation through their social media channels.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class features Royal Caribbean's exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place, and Youth Zone.

Image Courtesy Royal Caribbean International