Monday, November 30, 2015

Escape to Margaritaville for a Cheeseburger in Paradise

Sometimes you want to just kick back, chill, and grab a bite to eat without the hassle of dressing up. Actually, on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship Norwegian Escape it's always casual, but you know what I mean. Flip-flops, tee-shirts, shorts.

You haven’t lost your shaker of salt, it’s right on board in the first-ever Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea. Take a bite out of paradise with signature items like the Cheeseburger in Paradise and Key West Fish Sandwich, either indoors or al fresco. Sip on a Who’s to Blame Margarita in one of Norwegian Escape’s most popular specialty dining venues while you sit back and groove along to island-inspired music. Inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett, this isn’t just a restaurant—or a bar. It’s a state of mind. Menu pricing is á la carte—the signature Cheeseburger in Paradise is $6.99, as is a chicken quesadilla, and the Key West Fish Sandwich is $8.99—so you only pay for what you want. It’s just exactly what every Parrothead needs.

Images Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Friday, November 27, 2015

P&O Cruises Australia Debuts Two More Ships

You might wonder where two beloved Holland America Line ships have gone—and with this announcement, you'll know. Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises Australia brand has introduced its two latest ships, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden (formerly Holland America's Ryndam and Statendam), expanding Australia's largest year-round fleet to five cruise ships—sailing from eight homeports in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. During the celebration to welcome its two latest ships, Australia's leading cruise line made history by staging two first-ever events: a five-ship spectacular in the world-renowned Sydney Harbor and a social media naming ceremony.

P&O Cruises marked the debut of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden with a social media naming ceremony, which saw popular Australian singer Jessica Mauboy and actress Kate Ritchie simultaneously christening the ships via Twitter as the two vessels sailed by Fort Denison, in the middle of Sydney Harbor. Notable cruise industry officials and two special guests attended the ceremony—young Sydney sisters Aria and Eden Mulligan, invited by P&O to perform the role of "junior godmothers" for the sister ships, which coincidentally share their names.

In a nod to maritime tradition, a bottle of Champagne was smashed on the bow of each ship as they sailed by Fort Denison, with all five ships sounding their whistles to mark Australia's first dual cruise ship christening. Thousands of Sydneysiders watched the cruise ship spectacular from the shore, while more than 12,000 guests and crew onboard the five ships joined in the celebrations.

The five ships remained on Sydney Harbor all day, with guests onboard enjoying a series of live concerts from more than 25 music acts, including performances by leading local performers Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade, and Stan Walker. The celebration concluded with a special fireworks display above the harbor.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises Australia, said the event marked a new era for P&O, Australia's only homegrown cruise line, which has grown its fleet in response to increasing demand for cruise vacations. "P&O Cruises has been sailing from Australia for more than 80 years, so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the expansion of our fleet with so many Sydneysiders today," said Sherry. "The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden represents a 50 percent expansion in our guest capacity and heralds a new look and feel for our cruise line that is inspired by modern Australia."

With Australian cruise passenger numbers having grown by an average of 20 percent a year over the past decade to break through the one million mark in 2014, P&O Cruises Australia is well positioned to continue meeting Australians' surging demand for cruise vacations. The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden has paved the way for exciting new cruise options including deployments from every mainland state in Australia, an extended deployment from Auckland and a season of cruising from Singapore.

Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden offer a relaxed vibe in a contemporary and stylish setting featuring a range of dining options, including the revolutionary new Pantry, which replaces the traditional ship's buffet with an international food market showcasing eight delicious outlets. Other onboard offerings include stylish new lounges and bars, a stunning poolside area, new Pandora jewelry boutiques and a range of entertainment options including Bianco, the new P&O White party.

Continuing the cruise line's modern Australian evolution, P&O Cruises has another ship on the horizon to be named Pacific Explorer. The ship will build on the fresh and contemporary design of newcomers Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. The 77,000-ton ship, currently sailing as Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess, is scheduled to enter the P&O Australia fleet in May 2017 and will sail from Sydney during its inaugural season. Details of its sailings will be released in the near future.

Carnival Corporation, which owns 10 cruise line brands, including P&O Cruises Australia, is the largest cruise operator in Australia and the only cruise company to have ships based full-time in Australian waters. Over the past 10 years, Carnival Corporation's presence in Australia has grown rapidly with its local fleet increasing from two full-time ships, both with P&O Cruises, to nine full-time ships from three of the company's brands—five P&O Cruises ships, three Princess Cruises ships, and one Carnival Cruise Line ship.

Image Courtesy P&O Cruises

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving To All

This year we're home for Thanksgiving with family and friends, but there's nothing quite like a holiday feast at sea when someone else does the cooking and cleaning up. Pictured here is Cruise Diva's traditional turkey being carved aboard Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow on a previous Thanksgiving cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires. It tasted as good as it looked.

Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit!

Photo ©

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Princess Cruises Announces 2017 Inaugural European Sailings of Majestic Princess

If you are anxious to sail on Princess Cruises' newest ship and experience the way it was customized for Asian tastes, the line has announced its 2017 cruise vacations to Europe, including the inaugural sailings of the China-bound Majestic Princess. The season features six ships sailing to 119 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe. Guests can choose from 64 unique itineraries on 153 cruise departures, visiting 27 countries. Debuting in April 2017, Majestic Princess first sets sail on maiden European sailings with 5- to 28-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona, Athens, and Rome.

"Princess is known for offering the best cruise itineraries around the globe and our 2017 Europe season is sure to inspire our guests with our newest and largest ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We're especially excited to debut Majestic Princess in the Mediterranean before she officially sails to Asia for her maiden China cruise season."

Princess now offers the More Ashore program, crafting the line's newest itineraries to give guests more opportunities to experience the color, culture and flavors of the region in 2017. With port calls offering more time ashore with either late night departures (9pm or later), an overnight, or a 2-day experience, travelers can see the sights during the day and then experience the nightlife of select destinations in the evening. Highlights of the More Ashore program in Europe include overnights in Dublin and St. Petersburg on select sailings, as well as late evening stays in more than 15 countries.

Highlights of the Princess Cruises 2017 Europe program include:

Majestic Princess
The newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet debuts in Rome (Civitavecchia) on April 4, 2017 for a 5-day Maiden Adriatic Sea roundtrip voyage visiting Kotor and Corfu. The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess then sails on a series of 7-, 14-, 21- and 28-day Mediterranean voyages departing Barcelona, Athens and Rome from April 9-May 14, 2017.

Cruises to the Mediterranean
In addition to Majestic Princess, Royal Princess features new 11-day Grand Mediterranean and 10-day Western Mediterranean combinable for a 21-day Grand Mediterranean Collection, as well as seven, 14-, 21- and 28-day sailings throughout the Mediterranean

Scandinavia & Russia Cruises
Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, along with Crown Princess and Pacific Princess for popular cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia, offering an overnight in St. Petersburg with departures from London (Southampton or Dover) or Copenhagen. A new Pacific Princess Baltic Heritage itinerary includes overnights in Stockholm and St. Petersburg, sailing from London (Dover).

British Isles Cruises
The 2017 Europe season marks the line's largest British Isles season ever with 12 departures on Caribbean Princess and two on Pacific Princess, including last night stays in Edinburgh offering the opportunity to visit the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo on select sailings. All 12-day British Isles cruises include a new late evening stay in Belfast and an option of an overnight in Dublin on select departures from London (Southampton).

New Ports of Call
Summer 2017 features maiden port calls to Haugesund (Norway), Oban (Scotland), Siracusa (Sicily, Italy), Ulvik (Norway), and St. Tropez (France).

Iceland & Norway Cruises
Both Crown Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Crown Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway. Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic passage featuring Iceland.

European Land & Sea Vacations
Guests can enhance their European travel with five unique Land & Sea Vacation options, which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour. Choices include Paris and the French Countryside; Ireland's Ring of Kerry; Classic Italy, visiting popular sites in Venice, Florence and Rome; Imperial Treasures of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin; and Swiss Splendors featuring the mountain beauty of Interlaken and Lucrene, as well as a scenic boat trip on Lake Como.

All 2017 Europe sailings open for bookings on Thursday, Dec 3, 2015.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's 'Grinchmas Time' Aboard Carnival's "Fun Ships"

What would Christmas be without that seriously mean Mr. Grinch trying to steal its spirit? For the upcoming holidays, Carnival Cruise Line will be giving guests a chance to grow their hearts three sizes and will make the season extra special with shipboard appearances by none other than—you guessed it!—The Grinch himself. These experiences and more are part of the line's exclusive Seuss at Sea program.

Decked out in his signature "Santy Claus" costume, the legendary green character—who's as "cuddly as a cactus" and "charming as an eel"—will surprise guests of all ages as he makes appearances on all Carnival holiday cruises taking place throughout the month of December. The young and the young at heart can catch a glimpse of the cantankerous curmudgeon as he slinks and slithers throughout the ships with both scheduled appearances and spontaneous pop-up visits. Never a fan of the holidays, The Grinch will be up to his usual tricks in an attempt to "stop Christmas from coming!" He will playfully disrupt the on-board festivities and steal various items from crew members throughout the ship. He will also participate in the end-of-cruise holiday show which promises lots of surprises.

Arts and crafts sessions where kids can create their own Grinch Christmas ornaments and masks, as well as Grinch-themed face-painting sessions, will also be available, while special screenings of both the live action and animated classic "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas" will be shown on Christmas Day. Kids can even complete their own Grinch Good Deed Tracker and, once the card is filled, receive a certificate affirming that they, just like The Grinch famously says, grew their heart "three times its size." The Grinch will also be incorporated into the Seuss at Sea's Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends.

"The Grinch is an iconic and beloved Dr. Seuss character and we're looking forward to incorporating his mischievous personality into our fleetwide holiday activities next month," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

"Grinchmas" complements Carnival's annual holiday celebrations during which ships are ornately decorated with Christmas trees, wreaths, and mistletoe with caroling and other activities held on board. Santa Claus—the real one—also makes an appearance toting a bag of gifts that are distributed to youngsters and a special menu is offered on Christmas Day with traditional foods.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Friday, November 20, 2015

Holland America Line Debuts ‘Countdown to Koningsdam’ Video Series

It won’t be long now until the launch of Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam in April 2016, and as the ship nears completion the line is debuting a series of short videos called “Countdown to Koningsdam” that will provide construction updates. Hosted by Jonathan Rogers, Koningsdam’s inaugural cruise director, each video features one of the ship’s officers or a Holland America Line executive who will share ongoing developments on board the line’s newest vessel, currently being built at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy.

“The process of building a ship is fascinating and fast-paced, and we’re excited to share the latest updates through the ‘Countdown to Koningsdam’ video series,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Anticipation for the ship’s launch is gaining momentum, and through the series we will bring our fans along for the journey as this beautiful ship comes together for launch in April, 2016.”

Among those who will share their insights in the “Countdown to Koningsdam” series are Hotel Director Stan Kuppens, who will show off the progress of ship’s atrium, talk about his move to the yard and what’s coming next for his team (see him in the video below); Vice President, Deployment and Tour Marketing Linda Springmann, who will talk about the ship’s inaugural year itineraries; Senior Vice President of Guest Experience Product Development Michael Smith, who will reveal more details about The Dining Room; Director, Mariner Society Gerald Bernhoft, speaking about the perks of Holland America Line’s loyalty program; and Director of Entertainment Bill Prince, who will take guests on an entertainment extravaganza at World Stage, the ship’s theater that surrounds the audience with a 270-degree LED projection.

Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. The vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public spaces and venues, while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line. Guests will enjoy fine dining in several alternative restaurants and the ship also will feature Holland America Line’s first purpose-built staterooms for families and single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations.

Onboard entertainment will be taken to a new level with the energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage, offering chamber music nightly; Billboard Onboard, where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club in the Queen’s Lounge, bringing the best of Memphis music to sea. With the 270-degree LED projection at World Stage, new concepts for show-time performances will immerse the audience in panoramic visual and sound effects.

Image Courtesy Holland America Line

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Seabourn To Return To Alaska For The First Time In 15 Years

Luxury, small-ship cruise line Seabourn has announced its plan to return to "The Great Land" of Alaska beginning in 2017. Responding to high guest demand and having not deployed a ship there for 15 years, Seabourn Sojourn will offer a series of 11-, 12-, and 14-day itineraries sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage (Seward), Alaska.

Seabourn will offer unique voyages combining Alaska's most popular ports with rarely visited hidden gems of the Inside Passage. Taking advantage of Seabourn Sojourn's intimate size and nimble maneuverability, guests will enjoy a view of The Last Frontier that larger ships cannot access. Itineraries include visits to iconic sites, such as the towering forests along the Inside Passage; the calving of glaciers and humpback whales breaching in the Kenai Fjords; Juneau, the state capital, inaccessible by road; Ketchikan, the southernmost and arguably most-colorful town in the state; and Sitka, whose Tlingit history traces back 10,000 years.

Interspersed on Seabourn Sojourn voyages will be visits to unspoiled hideaways such as Alert Bay, British Columbia, a tiny Namgis First Nations community offering rare insights into the region's aboriginal cultures; and Klemtu, a small island outpost in the Inside Passage. In spots such as Misty Fjords and the hauntingly beautiful Tracy Arm, guests will be able explore wildlife-rich waterways, forested mountain vistas, and lacy waterfalls up close via Ventures by Seabourn, an innovative optional program of Zodiac and kayak excursions led by Seabourn Sojourn's expedition team of naturalists, science, wildlife, and historical experts. The same expedition team will be on hand on deck, pointing out, interpreting, and enhancing desirable locations.

In addition, each of the new 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises will include complimentary Seabourn all-weather jackets; inspiring Seabourn Conversations with special onboard guest speakers; opportunities for frequent wildlife sightings from the ship and shore; and a "Caviar on the Ice" deck party and other special deck events.

Seabourn is consistently ranked among the world's top travel choices by professional critics. Its stylish, distinctive cruising vacations are renowned for:
-- Intimate ships with no more than 300 suites
-- Unique itineraries visiting must-see cities and hidden gems where larger ships cannot follow
-- Intuitive, gracious service provided by a staff passionate about pleasing their guests
-- Spacious all-suite accommodations with sweeping ocean views, many with verandas
-- Gourmet dining experiences as fine as the best restaurants anywhere
-- Open bars throughout the ship and fine wines poured with lunch and dinner
"Seabourn's return to Alaska has been a long time coming and highly anticipated," said John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president, global marketing and sales. "We're looking forward to sharing with our guests the highlights of Alaska, from the mountains and glaciers to the picturesque frontier towns and amazing wildlife. But they'll also see an uncommon Alaska, a side that few visitors ever get to see. No other line can show them in such ultra-luxury Seabourn style," added Delaney.

Seabourn's return to Alaska begins with the "11-Day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn," departing Vancouver, British Columbia on June 1, 2017, bound for Anchorage, Alaska, with the Queen Charlotte Sound, Ketchikan, Misty Fjords, Behm Narrows, Wrangell, Decision Passage, Sitka, Tracy Arm, Endicott Arm, Haines, Juneau, and Icy Strait Point in between.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Carnival Cruise Line Adds Baltimore's Heavy Seas Beer to Microbrews Offered Fleetwide

The beer drinker in our family is always on the lookout for new specialty beers to sample so this news might entice him to try a cruise from a homeport near where he lives. Baltimore-based Heavy Seas Beer is the latest locally brewed beer to be featured on a Carnival Cruise Line ship and is now served on Carnival Pride, which sails 7-day cruises year-round from the Port of Baltimore. With the addition of Heavy Seas’ pirate-themed Loose Cannon and Crossbones beers, Carnival ships now offer an expansive selection of craft beers and microbrews with more than a dozen locally brewed beers from cities and states where its ships are homeported.

“Craft beer continues to grow in popularity and we’re very pleased to expand our beverage menus to include an array of refreshing and satisfying beers from some of the top breweries in the country,” said Eddie Allen, Carnival’s vice president of beverage operations. Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet.

Heavy Seas Beer was founded in 1995, and its award-winning portfolio features beers for all tastes and occasions. From crisp, light-bodied session beers, traditional European styles and dynamic American craft specialties to strong barrel-aged beers, the company brews a full spectrum of beers.

Craft beers and microbrews are also available on ships operating from the following homeports and cruising regions:
• Galveston: Shiner Bock and Shiner Premium
• New Orleans: Abita Amber and Abita Purple Haze
• Florida: Tampa-brewed Cigar City Florida Cracker and Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale
• Alaska: Alaskan Amber and Alaskan White
• Hawaii: Bikini Blonde Lager and Mana Wheat beers from Maui Brewing Co.
Additional specialty beers from breweries in New York, California, and Florida are scheduled to be added in the near future.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Princess Cruises SHAREs New Video Series Featuring Aussie Chef Curtis Stone

SHARE by Curtis Stone
Mark your calendar for this Friday, Nov. 20th, when the next installment in a new video series created by Princess Cruises in partnership with award-winning chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone will appear on the Princess Cruises website. A sneak peek video about sharing food is already available and in the first new video Chef Stone shares his favorite ingredient. Throughout the series he also shares his vision behind SHARE, the all-new specialty restaurant that encourages connecting with others over a deliciously prepared meal. Leading up to the restaurant debut in December aboard Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess, the SHARE Video Series reveals his inspiration behind this one-of-a-kind culinary experience, available exclusively aboard Princess Cruises, plus a few fun surprises.

The eight-part SHARE Video Series—with new installments being introduced about every other week over the next two months—also highlights one of Chef Stone's special recipes in addition to his personal culinary journey and his love of travel. The series can be found at

"Our guests are so excited about our new partnership with Chef Stone and there is great anticipation leading up to the debut of SHARE next month," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "The new SHARE Video Series offers a close look at Chef Stone's inspiration and will help viewers get to know the accomplished chef behind our newest specialty restaurant."

The cruise line's partnership with Chef Stone is the perfect pairing because of the mutual belief that when good food brings people closer together, much like travel, guests experience the world in a whole new way, creating happiness around the table and lifelong memories. The SHARE cruise dining experience aboard Princess Cruises encourages joining with family, friends, and other cruisers by offering dishes served family style. Designed by Chef Stone, the menu features items such as a Charcuterie starter course, composed salads, handmade pastas, premium quality meats, an array of decadent desserts, and more.

Following the debut of SHARE aboard Ruby Princess sailing from Los Angeles on cruises to Hawaii and Mexico and Emerald Princess sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean this December, it will debut aboard Sun Princess, which will bring Chef Stone's restaurant to his home country, Australia. This partnership with Chef Stone adds to the line's "come back new" brand promise, designed to elevate the onboard guest experience by introducing new culinary offerings dedicated to fresh, flavorful cuisine aboard all ships. In addition to SHARE, "Crafted by Curtis" menu items offered in the main dining rooms debuted aboard Golden Princess in the fall and will be introduced fleet-wide through early 2016. The Chef's Table experience by Curtis Stone will debut in early 2016.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Monday, November 16, 2015

Celebrity Cruises Sweetens Suite Class

Celebrity Cruises’ Suite Class has just gotten even better with more services and amenities. At the center of these is a “trifecta of suiteness” found on no other premium cruise line: personal butler service that ensures guests never have to lift a finger; Luminae, a restaurant that serves meals exclusively for suite guests; and a private lounge featuring a dedicated concierge.

Other new Suite Class perks include luxurious new Bulgari bath amenities and a new, selection of Delectable Delights—created by Celebrity’s Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher—to be delivered daily. Plus, select suites will also receive a bottle of Perrier-Jouët champagne on embarkation day. These benefits will begin in January 2016.

And, Sky Suite guests will soon “join the club”—Michael’s Club, that is. Beginning on Dec. 16, 2015 onboard Celebrity Solstice, Sky Suites will join the rest of Suite Class with access to Michael’s Club, the exclusive lounge that offers complimentary cocktails, appetizers, and a dedicated Michael’s Club Concierge. The Suite Class experience in Michael’s Club is enhanced by service from a dedicated Michael’s Club Concierge. Recently, the first of Celebrity's dedicated Michael's Club Concierges has earned the Golden Key award from the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or Austria—the distinguished, international network of service professionals. Every Michael’s Club Concierge in Celebrity’s fleet will work toward earning their Golden Key awards throughout 2016.

“We’re the only premium cruise line that ensures that all suite guests—regardless of category—not only have a personal butler, but also a private restaurant, and an exclusive lounge with a dedicated concierge. It’s the sweet life, for sure; we like to call it a ‘trifecta of suiteness,’” said Brian Abel, Vice President, Hotel Operations, Celebrity Cruises.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The "Fun Ships" Are Coming to China in More Ways Than One

Carnival Splendor
Last month it was announced that Carnival Cruise Line is China-Bound and now the ships being deployed there have been revealed—Carnival Miracle will arrive in spring 2017, followed by Carnival Splendor in spring 2018. Both ships will be based in China year round.

"Carnival is the world's most popular cruise line and our style of cruising appeals to guests of all ages and particularly families," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "We attract more than 4.5 million guests a year and, as the family cruise leader, we also carry more than 700,000 children each year. Multi-generational families also choose to vacation with Carnival more than any other cruise brand. We look forward to bringing our one-of-a-kind, exceptionally popular cruise experience to the Chinese market."

The Spirit-class Carnival Miracle is a spacious ship given its size and more limited guest capacity (2,124 guests) and has a guest to crew ratio of nearly two to one. This allows the ship to uniquely offer outstanding guest service in a very comfortable environment. The ship offers a variety of popular features including more than 60 percent of accommodations featuring a private balcony. There are also four swimming pools with a magrodome over the main pool area which provides excellent views and an expansive outdoor area to enjoy a wide variety of activities and entertainment in all weather conditions. Carnival Miracle's two promenade decks offer multiple types of locations for gathering with friends and family, playing games or enjoying a host of other exciting activities and entertainment options. Extensive enhancements were added earlier this year with the addition of the RedFrog Pub which features a uniquely Caribbean atmosphere with music and entertainment options from this popular tropical region. The Alchemy Bar was added, as well, and skilled bartenders create custom drinks with unique fresh ingredients based on guests' individual tastes and preferences.

Carnival Miracle also offers multiple dedicated facilities for children, including an expansive water park. The staff ensure that the younger cruisers are well cared for and entertained with fun activities throughout the cruise. For the adults, Serenity is a private and comfortable outdoor area restricted to guests age 18 and older. The ship also features an outstanding steakhouse, offering exceptional cuts of dry aged beef and top quality seafood, along with spectacular views. Several areas of the ship, including the casino, shopping, and dining offerings will be enhanced prior to the start of China service to cater to Asian tastes.

In a class all her own, Carnival Splendor, which enters the China market in 2018, is a larger vessel that carries just over 3,000 passengers and boasts a wide variety of features including an array of dining, entertainment and other options. That ship also has four swimming pools, one of which can be covered by a glass magrodome, seven whirlpools, a Serenity area, and a variety of dedicated facilities for children in different age groups.

But that's not the end of the story. Perhaps you've wondered why a Chinese entrepreneur hasn't entered the cruise industry. Carnival Corporation has an answer to that. The world's largest travel and leisure company has formed a joint venture in China that intends to launch the first world-class, multi-ship domestic cruise brand in the Chinese market. Carnival Corporation is partnering with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Investment Corporation (CIC) on the new venture aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in China, which is expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nobu-Hosted Dinners In Alaska On Deck For Crystal Foodies In 2016

In good news for foodies, Crystal Serenity will welcome master chef Nobu Matsuhisa back aboard for a 10-day Alaskan cruise round-trip from Vancouver during one of seven voyages that will explore the spectacular region in summer 2016. While on board, Crystal favorite Nobu will mingle with guests and host multi-course omakase (or chef's choice) dinners in Silk Road, as well as other feasts and special menus.

Nobu's Japanese-Peruvian fusion has been served in Silk Road and The Sushi Bar on board every Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity sailing since 2003 and 2008, respectively. Nobu personally trains all chefs, designs all menus, and frequently visits the ships for ongoing refinement.

In addition to the inherent adventure that guests can enjoy in Alaska, there are several opportunities to taste the local fare, including a crab feast in Ketchikan, a salmon bake in Juneau, and a traditional English tea in Victoria, British Columbia. From Vancouver, the "Grandeur of Alaska" sailing visits Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka, Alaska, as well as cruising Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage and calls to Victoria and Prince Rupert (maiden visit), British Columbia, Canada.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Princess Cruises Introduces The Salty Dog Gastropub

If you love the pub lunches they offer, you're sure to enjoy Princess Cruises' new evening pub offering on select ships. The line is pairing gourmet small dishes inspired by pub favorites with craft beers, cocktails, and wines with the debut of The Salty Dog Gastropub aboard Crown Princess. The menu offerings, including a signature burger, were developed in collaboration with former executive chef of Umami Burger and current chef of Plan Check Kitchen + Bar in Los Angeles Ernesto Uchimura, who was recently awarded “Chef of the Year: The Comfort Master,” from Los Angeles Magazine.

Presented within the Wheelhouse Bar nightly, in refreshed surroundings and live entertainment, guests will choose three small plates from The Salty Dog Gastropub menu featuring new twists on classic pub dishes. Plates include Pale Ale Pork Cheeks, Spicy Stout Short Ribs, Wild Mushroom Sauté, and Lobster Mac & Cheese, among other delicious options. The pièce de résistance is “The Ernesto” burger from Chef Uchimura–rib eye and short rib beef patty, grilled pork belly, caramelized kimchi, beer battered jalapeño, charred onion aioli, topped with cave aged gruyere cheese.

"The Salty Dog Gastropub is an enticing addition to our onboard culinary offerings and brings yet another unique dining option to our guests,” said Rai Caluori, executive vice president of guest experience for Princess Cruises. “Chef Uchimura’s signature burger is sure to be savored, along with pub favorites reinvented for a more upscale dining experience.”

Adjacent to The Salty Dog Gastropub, also in the Wheelhouse Bar, is an expansive new, international whiskey bar menu, featuring some of the best Scotch whiskeys, American Bourbons and international whiskeys from areas including Japan, Ireland and Australia. Offerings include Johnny Walker Blue, Bakery Hill Classic (Australia), Connemara Whiskey Irish Cask (Ireland) and Hakushu 12 year (Japan) The menu offers daily specialized whiskey flights, allowing guests the opportunity to taste and compare selections around the world.

The Salty Dog Gastropub and new international whiskey menu, both available in the Wheelhouse Bar, have just launched aboard Crown Princess, and will be onboard Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess in mid-December. A food charge of $19 per guest applies. The whisky menu will also be available in the Wheelhouse Bar aboard Dawn Princess, Sea Princess, Sun Princess, Diamond Princess, and Golden Princess by the end of 2015, and aboard all ships with the exception of Pacific Princess by the summer of 2016.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Norwegian Escape Christened by Pitbull

Our boarding passes were printed, the bags were packed, and (boo!) we are still at home. A family emergency kept our car in the garage instead of making its way south to Miami to attend the naming ceremony and sail away for two nights on Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Escape.

Despite our absence, Norwegian’s largest ship—and the first in its Breakaway Plus Class—was christened yesterday on schedule in a ceremony worthy of her size and status as Miami’s newest and most glamorous cruise ship. Native Miamian and rap music sensation Pitbull, AKA Armando Christian Pérez, performed his Godfather duties by naming Norwegian Escape before ramping up the action in a pier side concert for guests at PortMiami. The ship’s stunning hull artwork served as the backdrop for the event. Its creator, Guy Harvey, also made a special guest appearance,

The festivities began with acrobatic Parkour performers defying gravity—with the help of hidden trampolines built into the stage—after which national radio personality Froggy from the “Elvis Duran Morning Show” took the reins as emcee, engaging the audience and introducing performers.

Guests were also treated to a sneak peak at the entertainment in store on board Norwegian Escape as the casts of Tony Award-winning Broadway shows “After Midnight” and “Million Dollar Quartet” performed a selection of songs from each respective show, before Pitbull brought the audience to their feet with his hottest hits, including “Don’t Stop the Party,” “Fireball” and “Give Me Everything”.

Pitbull in concert
DJ-led sing-alongs and a slideshow of themed guest photos snapped by roving photographers created an interactive event, where audience members quite literally became part of the show as photos of individual attendees holding signs customized with the place they’d choose to “Escape” were projected onto the jumbo screen on the main stage.

Norwegian Escape represents a major moment for us—this is a true evolution of our brand,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief operating officer. “Not only does she offer high caliber entertainment, quality dining and luxurious accommodations that significantly raise the bar for our fleet and puts her in a class of her own, but she exemplifies our renewed commitment to offering unparalleled freedom and flexibility to our guests.”

Norwegian Cruise Line really knows how to throw a party and we are sorry we had to miss it. One of these days we’ll make it on board for our very own “Escape” from everyday life and family emergencies.

Images Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Monday, November 9, 2015

Seabourn Introduces Kayak Excursions in Antarctica

Seabourn has a cool new way to bring guests even closer to the natural wonders of Antarctica with its new "Ventures by Seabourn" kayaking excursions. Participants will be able to explore Antarctica's exceptional scenery and wildlife close up and at sea level after launching directly from the ship's fold-out watersports marina. Led by qualified guides, kayakers can paddle amidst white-blue icebergs, penguins, seals, and other wildlife in specially designed cold climate dry suits. In addition to Antarctica, Ventures by Seabourn optional kayak excursions will also be offered at South Georgia Island and Port Stanley (Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas).

"The wildlife and wonders of Antarctica never fail to amaze, and Ventures by Seabourn allows our guests yet another up close and personal opportunity to experience its natural beauty," noted John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president of marketing and sales. "With our knowledgeable world-class expedition team leading the kayak adventures, it's an off-ship excursion that guests won't want to miss and will never forget."

Introduced aboard Seabourn Quest in the summer of 2015, Ventures by Seabourn is an informative and educational—not to mention exhilarating—way to enhance the cruise experience for adventurous guests. The optional excursions are guided by knowledgeable and experienced expedition teams of scientists, scholars, and naturalists who are part of the vessel's Seabourn Conversations program. In Antarctica, Seabourn Quest's kayak guide will be Matt J. Dolan, who has 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 few have accomplished.

Beginning Nov. 29, 2015, Seabourn Quest returns to Antarctica for its third season beginning on a series of four 21- to 24-day voyages between Valparaíso, (Santiago) Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each includes days exploring the Chilean coast and fjords, Beagle Channel, Glacier Alley, the breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park, the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, Montevideo, and six days of cruising and landings on the Antarctic Continent in Seabourn luxury. A 24-day Holiday version, departing Dec. 20, 2015, will include two days exploring the sub-Antarctic wildlife Eden of South Georgia, renowned for its beauty and its vast, teeming rookeries of king penguins and other seabirds, as well as breeding elephant and fur seals. Guests may book Ventures by Seabourn shore excursions online.

Image Courtesy Seabourn

Friday, November 6, 2015

Crystal River Cruises Orders Five River Yachts

In true Crystal Cruises fashion, the cruise line is delivering more of what its guests want and will launch Crystal River Cruises with five luxury river yachts—three more than previously announced—with the first luxurious river vessel sailing in 2016—a full year earlier than planned.

President and CEO Edie Rodriguez announced this week that four newly built Crystal river yachts have been ordered for delivery in 2017 from the German shipyard Lloyd Werft. Additionally, due to strong demand for an earlier Crystal river experience, Crystal has also completed the purchase of the German built MS Mozart, the largest river cruise vessel in Europe. Following an extensive dry dock to create the elegant Crystal experience on board, the newly designed vessel will be renamed Crystal Mozart and embark on the Danube River on July 13, 2016.

"In response to travelers and travel agents' enthusiasm for Crystal River Cruises, and through Crystal's innovation, we are upping the ante once again, bringing "true luxury" to the river cruise sector with the largest guest suites and public spaces, the highest crew-to-guest-ratio and Crystal's award-winning service," said Rodriguez. "Once the transformation of Crystal Mozart is completed, it will truly be the crown jewel of the European rivers."

Crystal Mozart is designed to fit into the wider locks of the Danube River from Passau in Germany to Budapest in Hungary, and holds the record of being the largest river cruise vessel on European rivers, measuring 75.1 feet wide (22.9 meters), which is double the width of an average industry river boat. The 160-guest capacity Crystal Mozart has window suites of 203 square feet, deluxe suites of 215 square feet, a penthouse suite of 322 square feet and two, two-bedroom Crystal Suites of 860 square feet, the largest suite on any river vessels. Due to its width and size, the vessel's unique features will remain, such as the public area that spans a single level and exclusive yacht-like amenities including multiple dining rooms, a wraparound promenade, a luxurious spa and fitness center, an indoor pool, beauty salon, and library.

The four new all-suite luxury river yachts will debut in June and August 2017, boasting suites of 220 square feet, deluxe suites of 250 square feet, a penthouse suite of 500 square feet and a two-bedroom Crystal Suite of 750 square feet, and all boasting plush amenities. The suites will all feature king size beds, walk-in wardrobes, and bathrooms with double vanities. Similar to Crystal Mozart's concept, the luxury river yacht's public areas and dining venues are all on one level for convenient access. The new vessels will feature a Palm Court with dance floor and glass domed roof, a library, fitness center, spa, and sporting equipment such as electric assisted bicycles, kayaks, and jet skis. Designed with the maximum size to fit into the locks of rivers and under bridges, two of the Crystal River Yachts will cruise the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers with 110 guests. As for the other two, each with an 84-guest capacity, one will be cruising the Seine River and the other the Garonne and Dordogne rivers as well as navigating through the Gironde Estuary.

Crystal Mozart is named after the famous Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and cruises on the Danube River, which passes Austria along with Germany, Slovakia, Hungry and Serbia. Following the same principle, the two new builds cruising on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers will be named Crystal Bach after the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and Crystal Mahler after the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. The two new builds cruising on the Seine River and Garonne River will be named Crystal Ravel after the French composer Joseph Maurice Ravel and Crystal Debussy after the French composer Claude Debussy.

Crystal will dedicate a portion of each cruise to sailing along some of the most picturesque rivers in central Europe—including destinations such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and France—during daytime hours, allowing travelers to enjoy the extraordinary scenery. This timing also affords guests the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife in select destinations with port overnights, which will often present inclusive culinary experiences ashore at Michelin-starred restaurants and renowned local eateries, and exclusive evening events and cultural entertainment. During days spent in port, Crystal River Cruises will offer guests immersive Crystal Adventures as well as launch its newest shore-side program called Active Exploration Adventures. Tailored for guests wanting a high-intensity shore-side activity, Crystal is offering a complimentary active excursion for guests to explore the European landscapes while staying fit on their vacation. In addition, the Crystal Adventures experience will be enhanced by the introduction of a fleet of luxury motor coaches, offering business-class style seating, complimentary Wi-Fi and with highly knowledgeable local guides.

Itineraries, fares and bookings for all five river yachts will be available on Nov 30, 2015 (Cyber Monday) online at

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Royal Caribbean Orders a Fifth Quantum-Class Ship

With the debut of their latest Quantum-class vessel Anthem of the Seas just underway, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has entered into an agreement with shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Germany to order yet a fifth Quantum-class ship for delivery in the Fall of 2020.

"At Royal Caribbean we are focused on continuously improving efficiency and sustainability, and the fifth Quantum class vessel will be clear evidence of this," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Of equal importance is our ability to consistently surpass guest expectations, and we are harnessing the power of the latest technology to do so on this ship."

Based upon current ship orders, Royal Caribbean's projected capital expenditures for full year 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are $1.6 billion, $2.4 billion, $0.5 billion, $2.5 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively. Capacity increases for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are expected to be 5.4%, 6.4%, 3.4%, 3.7% and 6.6%, respectively. These figures do not include potential ship sales or additions that they may elect to make in the future.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Suites Are Getting Sweeter on Holland America Line

Koningsdam Signature Suite
When Holland America Line designed the soon-to-be-launched Koningsdam, they determined that her suites should set the standard of suite life for the entire fleet. As a result, the premium line is investing $40-million in enhancements to its top accommodations with new furnishings, décor, amenities, and upgrades for all suites on the line’s Signature-, Vista- and R-Class ships.

The first ships to undergo the suite transformation will be Eurodam and Oosterdam, followed by Nieuw Amsterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, and Noordam. In addition, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Volendam, and Zaandam will receive the suite enhancements as they head into their scheduled dry docks over the next few years. First up, Eurodam is scheduled to go into refit Dec. 7-20, 2015, at Freeport, Bahamas, and Oosterdam will head into dry dock April 3-18, 2016, at Fincantieri’s yard at Palermo, Sicily.

Koningsdam Neptune Suite
The main living area in each suite will be refreshed with a new sofa, lounge chairs and desk chair. A stylish new headboard, new carpet, and wall coverings will bring a contemporary feel to the suites, while new soft goods—including a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt—add a touch of elegance. New quartz stone tops on the desk, dresser, nightstands, and makeup vanity, along with new vanity lighting, enhance the transformation.

Electronic upgrades include a new USB outlet added to the bed’s headboard, bedside LED lights for late-night reading, upgraded electrical outlets, and my personal favorite—a lighted closet rod that makes it easy to select the day’s attire. A fully new interactive television system also is set for installation, with complimentary movies on demand, as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing.

Koningsdam Vista Suite
Suite bathrooms also will receive a makeover. A wall of designer glass tile serves as a backdrop to the new vanity area that includes new stone tops, modern faucets and under-mount sinks. Other enhancements include new contemporary mirrors with integrated side-by-side LED lighting, stylish floor tiles, as well as a nightlight which enables guests to easily find their way in the dark.

“Our suites are the epitome of luxury and pampering, and the new amenities and upgrades will ensure that our suite guests will continue to enjoy the finest in cruise accommodations,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “We have an ongoing program in place to keep our ships looking fresh, but dry-docking gives us an opportunity to take enhancements to the next level to ensure we deliver the elements that make up the Holland America Line cruise experience.“

More Suite Amenities for the Entire Fleet
Starting in January 2016, all suites across the fleet will receive new amenities to complement the strong offering of amenities that already includes priority embarkation, disembarkation, and tender service; exclusive use of the Neptune Lounge for Pinnacle and Neptune Suite guests; private breakfast service in the Pinnacle Grill; and complimentary laundry and dry cleaning services. New additions feature a premium duvet, superior bathrobes and slippers, Bose docking station, binoculars for use during the voyage, complimentary mimosas with in-suite breakfast, and an in-suite coffee and espresso machine.

Images Courtesy Holland America Line

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

From A Galaxy Far, Far Away To The Disney Dream

After a recent dry-dock, Georgina Cruz found that everything from “fairy-godmothers-in-training” to the Force was with them on their Disney Dream cruise. Sail along and experience the new features, from the “Force-”filled Star Wars interactive play area and Disney Infinity interactive adventures in youth spaces to a whimsical sweet shop serving handmade gelato, candy, and other goodies, as well as the popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and an expanded adults-only retreat.

Image Courtesy Disney Cruise Line

Monday, November 2, 2015

Book Now For Silver Muse's Inaugural Season

Silversea Cruises' new flagship, Silver Muse, begins sailing in April 2017 and bookings for her inaugural season have opened today.

Silver Muse will redefine ocean travel, enhancing the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience, alongside tailor-made service. During 2017, Silver Muse will sail throughout Europe, Canada, North and South America as well as the Caribbean, taking in over 130 destinations in 34 countries.

The new ultra-luxury boutique ship, with just 286 suites, will sail a unique Easter voyage, departing Monte Carlo on April 10 for an 8-day debut sailing, taking in destinations including Porto Mahon, Livorno, and Portofino, arriving in Monte Carlo on April 18. From there Silver Muse will make its official maiden voyage, journeying from Monte Carlo on April 20, 2017 and arriving in Nice on May 3, 2017. The 13-day sailing will stop at numerous beautiful ports, including Barcelona, Valletta, Amalfi, and Sorrento.

Silver Muse can accommodate up to 596 guests who will experience the best dining at sea, with eight restaurants among which Atlantide, La Terrazza, Hot Rocks, Kabuki, and Regina Margherita. The addition of Silver Muse will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships and will once again significantly 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 are creating the ultimate boutique ship at sea. Silver Muse isn't trying to be the biggest—far from it—but we are aiming to deliver the finest tailor-made service on every continent," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Chairman of Silversea. "I can assure guests that they will be missing out if they don't book a voyage on Silver Muse for 2017."

More details about all the 2017 voyages can be found at, a new dedicated website with additional information about the new ship.

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises