Monday, February 29, 2016

Silversea's Diving Expedition Cruises to Visit Some of World's Best Scuba Diving Sites

Diving enthusiasts can delve underwater and explore some of the world's most remote destinations at top diving sites in the western Pacific and Indian oceans on Silversea Expeditions' collection of Scuba Diving Expedition Voyages for 2016 and 2017. The 120-guest, all-suite Silver Discoverer, the latest addition to the line's expedition fleet, will feature 20 voyages offering exciting scuba diving opportunities for experienced divers in such regions as the Maldives, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Palau archipelago, and the Andaman Islands, which have been celebrated as some of the world's most spectacular diving hot spots, featuring hidden caves, tunnels, and an astonishing spectrum of coral fish and rare sea creatures. The diving program is fully complimentary.

"We're delighted to offer our guests the opportunity to explore remote destinations both on land and underwater with this unique series of expedition voyages," said Mark Conroy, Silversea's managing director for the Americas. "The Scuba Diving Expedition Voyages are designed to provide the most awe-inspiring deep sea adventures, but also include incredible destinations for snorkeling and onshore hiking explorations."

In addition to an onboard dive master, these unique itineraries will feature a team of experts, including marine biologists, environmentalists, ecologists, and geologists, who will enlighten guests with their extensive knowledge of these amazing regions. Following is a sampling of upcoming Scuba Diving Expedition Voyages aboard Silver Discoverer:

• Australia (Great Barrier Reef) & Indonesia; Cairns to Balikpapan, 14 Days,
Oct. 4-18
• Myanmar & Andaman Islands; Phuket to Maldives, 15 Days, Dec. 2-17
• Maldives, Seychelles (Aldabra) & Africa; Maldives to Dar es Salaam, 17 Days, Dec. 17-Jan. 3 (Itinerary is highlighted by a rare visit to the remote coral atoll of Aldabra. Virtually untouched by humans and teeming with marine life, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world's largest atolls, and a pristine home to thousands of giant tortoises.)
• Indonesia & Palau Archipelago; Darwin to Koror, 14 Days, May 26-Jun. 9
• Australia (Great Barrier Reef) & Indonesia; Cairns to Bali, 14 Days, Nov. 9-23
The program is complimentary, but space is limited. Guests will need an Advanced Open Water Diver license or equivalent to participate. Guests must bring their own BCD vests and regulators. Silversea will provide the weight belts, tanks, masks, and fins free of charge on board Silver Discoverer. For further details and a complete list of the Scuba Diving Expedition Voyages, visit

Image Courtesy Silversea Expeditions

Friday, February 26, 2016

From Dancer to Director: Rising Star Leads Entertainment on Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean Productions brings unmatched entertainment on board the Royal Caribbean International ships. Meet Christi Coachman-Orengo who began as a dancer on board Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas when she was just out of high school and now leads the production team to bring the line's award-winning entertainment to life.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Abbacadabra, More Magic at Sea

In preparation for its Space Coast debut this spring, the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic will undergo an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that will update it to Carnival 2.0 status by adding a variety of dining and bar features. Currently sailing from Galveston, Texas, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral, Florida in April 2016 to begin year-round Caribbean departures from that port.

Carnival Magic is already a groundbreaking ship—it was the first to feature our popular Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant, the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub and SportSquare outdoor recreation facility—and with these new features we’re making this spectacular floating resort even better,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Already under way, the two-week dry dock will take place until March 6, 2016, and will add:
• Guy’s Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries in an atmosphere that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture
• RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside bar offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red
• BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor watering hole offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool
• Pizzeria del Capitano: an expansion of the line’s Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian eatery offering five varieties of hand-tossed artisanal-style pizza, all available free of charge 24 hours a day
• Alchemy Bar: a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” that’s the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests’ own custom-created cocktails
All of these new spaces complement the Carnival Magic’s array of on-board features, including the SportSquare outdoor recreation area with a suspended ropes course offering views to the sea 150 feet below; a 22,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa with a thalassotherapy pool, thermal suite, and 17 private treatment rooms; the RedFrog Pub where guests can enjoy a frosty brew while soaking up the bar’s Key West meets British West Indies vibe; a WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by a 312-foot-long Twister slide; the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez offering both family-friendly and adult performances; and a Serenity adults-only retreat.

The ship also offers a variety of family-friendly options, including expansive modern spaces for kids in three age groups: Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), along with Seuss at Sea, part of the line’s exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Carnival Magic will continue its 7-day schedule from Galveston through April 10, 2016, then reposition to Port Canaveral to launch year-round 7-day Caribbean cruises beginning April 23, 2016. Prior to launching its new 7-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special 3-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast—a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove. For additional information, visit

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Maritime Coin Ceremony Celebrated for Seabourn Encore

Executives from Seabourn, Holland America Group,
Carnival Corp, Fincantieri, and Marnie Tihany,
the madrina of Seabourn Encore,
celebrate a construction milestone
This week luxury small ship cruise line Seabourn marked a major construction milestone for its newest vessel, Seabourn Encore, with the traditional, coin ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, where two commemorative gold coins were welded to the ship's mast. Seabourn Encore is set to begin sailing in December 2016. The longstanding tradition also calls for a "madrina" to preside over the coin ceremony. Serving in this important role was Marnie Tihany, the director of business development for Tihany Design and the wife of Adam D. Tihany, the prominent hospitality designer who is carrying out the line's design vision to create stunning spaces throughout Seabourn Encore.

"The coin ceremony represents not only another momentous milestone in the construction of our beautiful new ship, but also an important step in the evolution of our fleet and our leadership in the ultra-luxury cruise category," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows. "With less than a year until the launch of Seabourn Encore, we look forward to more exciting milestones in the coming months."

Seabourn Encore is being fashioned by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, with contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The ship will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Image Courtesy Seabourn

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Costa Cruises to Debut 'Mozarella Gourmet Bar' Featuring Authentic Buffalo Mozarella Made Onboard

You could call this news cheesy, but I call it deliziosa. In 2016, Costa Cruises will become the first cruise line in the world to produce authentic Mozarella di Bufala onboard. The Italian speciality will be featured in the new Mozarella Gourmet Bar on ships across its fleet where guests will be able to watch as the cheese is made—beginning with buffalo milk curd from Paestum Greek temples of Salerno, Italy—and then sample it while it is still warm.

The cheese will be paired with an assortment of cold cuts and other high-quality Italian specialities. Burrata, Stracciatella and the traditional Fior Di Latte will also be served. The Buffalo Mozzarella produced onboard will also be used in the fleet's Pummid’oro pizzerias for a truly special, handmade pizza. They will be the first and only pizzas offered on a cruise ship prepared with Mozzarella made on the spot and dough based on natural yeast, which is already being used in Costa's pizzerias thanks to a collaboration with the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo.

This new offering is part of Costa's ongoing effort to bring the best in Italian cuisine on board. In addition to regional Italian menus and special gala night menus, crafted by two Italian, Michelin-star chefs, the line has partnered with popular brands like Barilla, Illy Caffé, Ferrari Spumante and Campari. Guests can enjoy burgers made with high-quality and 100-percent Italian Fasson meat and at Costa Diadema's Amarillo ice cream parlor, Agrimontana handmade ice cream makes the perfect midday treat. Costa has also collaborated with maître chocolatier Guido Gobino and maître pâtissier chocolatier Luigi Biasetto to bring Italian-style sweets onboard.

Costa Diadema will be the first ship to debut the new gourmet bar in 2016 and the rest of the ships in the fleet will begin to produce Buffalo Mozzarella onboard in 2017.

Image Courtesy Costa Cruises

Monday, February 22, 2016

Video Series Showcases Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam Design Concept

Not every ship has a “theme” behind its design, but every design starts with an idea. For its newest vessel, ms Koningsdam, Holland America Line tapped acclaimed hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany to create unique and striking spaces throughout the ship. In a new video series—“Conversations with Adam D. Tihany”—the cruise line gives viewers a glimpse into the vision of the designer and his inspiration behind the ship’s interiors. In the first video, Tihany reveals how the “Architecture of Music” and the curves of particular instruments influenced public spaces on the ship. Viewers will learn how Tihany’s vision creates a story that is told through the design and décor of the ship’s venues.

“The concept behind “Architecture of Music” is not loud, so to speak, but presents opportunity for discovery throughout the ship,” said Tihany. “The design on ms Koningsdam tells an unique story—one that I love to tell and that I hope will keep guests coming back to experience again and again.”

“Koningsdam interiors are stunning, thanks to Adam’s incredible talents, and this video series is an exclusive opportunity to learn how this world-renowned hospitality designer created a vision for our newest ship and brought it to life,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We’re introducing several new venues on Koningsdam, and Adam’s signature style of sophistication and innovation is going to create an impressive onboard ambiance for our guests—classic with a modern twist.”

The second video in the series will touch on the design behind Koningsdam’s culinary venues that include hallmark spaces such as the Dining Room, Lido Marketplace, and Pinnacle Grill, as well as the new Sel de Mer and Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center. In the final video Tihany will share how the art of design can influence a guest’s exploration of new places and emphasizes his design goal of creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience that entices a guest to return. Watch here for the rest of the series!

Video Courtesy Holland America Line

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 to Debut Transatlantic Fashion Week in 2016

Leaders in the field of haute couture, currently preparing for London Fashion Week on February 19-23, will join Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 7-night Transatlantic crossing in September to New York, the style capital of the world. The inaugural ‘Transatlantic Fashion Week’ voyage will arrive in the Big Apple the very same day New York Fashion Week 2016 begins.

Award winning British fashion designer, Dame Zandra Rhodes, who has dressed some the world’s most famous musicians, will treat guests to ‘an audience with’ as she discusses her impressive career.

Preparing to show her latest collection at London Fashion Week, the award designer spoke about her excitement at joining this special voyage. “Guests are going to be able to look forward to a fantastic fashion experience,” said Rhodes. “I’m going to be doing a dress show, as well as doing a talk with the fabulous Colin McDowell. Guests will have the chance to dine with all these specialists in the industry, ask questions from us all. I’m there to enhance everyone’s experience.”

Joining the line-up of fashion royalty is the highly respected fashion historian and commentator Colin McDowell and Fern Mallis, the ‘Godmother of Fashion’ and founder of New York Fashion Week.

As Dame Zandra Rhodes reveals designs from her collections, emerging faces from Storm modeling agency will take to the catwalk during the voyage. Alongside these fashion authorities, guests will also have the opportunity to meet the designers of the future, as students from the world’s number one postgraduate fashion program, based in the world’s number one university of art and design, The Royal College of Art, showcase their latest collections on board.

“Cunard has long been associated with style, a sense of occasion and the enriching experiences we deliver to our guests,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “We are pleased to welcome on board such venerable fashion industry experts, so that our guests have the opportunity to gain insight into the glamorous world of fashion while immersing themselves in stylish designs and world-renowned White Star Service of the newly remastered Queen Mary 2.”

Video Courtesy of Cunard Line

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Carnival Celebrates 20 Years of Wheel of Fortune Slots with the “Wheel of Fortune Spin & Sail Sweepstakes”

Admit it. If you love Wheel of Fortune and are an at-home winner as often as the contestants on TV, you probably enjoy playing the Wheel of Fortune® slots on your cruises. To make it even more fun, Carnival Cruise Line and International Game Technology have partnered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the IGT Wheel of Fortune® slot machines, featured aboard all Carnival ships. The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line® and the world’s leading end-to-end gaming company will reward players with free cruises and a variety of exciting giveaways throughout 2016. The brands are also partnering with the most successful syndicated game show in television history, Wheel of Fortune, on a first-ever Carnival Cruise Line-themed week featuring an exciting viewer sweepstakes.

During 2016, Carnival and IGT’s partner casinos will give away hundreds of free cruises on the Carnival Magic. The winners will participate in the onboard Spin N Sail slot tournament featuring the IGT Wheel of Fortune slot machines exclusively during an eight-day Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Magic from Port Canaveral, FL, in November 2016. The $200,000 prize pool, provided by IGT, includes a $100,000 grand prize to be taken home by one lucky winner. IGT customers across the U.S. and Canada will host qualifying events where winning players are awarded a free cruise for two and an entry into the grand finale $200,000 tournament.

“We’re delighted to team up with IGT to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the wildly popular Wheel of Fortune slot machines and provide consumers with a number of fantastic prizes, including the opportunity to win $100,000 in the Spin N Sail tournament,” said Mike Hunssinger Turek, vice president of casino commercial operations for Carnival Cruise Line. “We’re also excited to offer a variety of special Wheel of Fortune-themed activities on board and be a part of Spin & Sail Week on this iconic show,” he added.

Introduced in 1996, the Wheel of Fortune slot machines have become a player favorite in shipboard casinos, including all 24 Carnival Cruise Line vessels, as well as in casinos on land. IGT has placed more than 200 versions of Wheel of Fortune slots in casinos around the world, and the game has awarded more than $3 billion in jackpots and minted more than 1,000 millionaires. Players enjoy how Wheel of Fortune slots capture the spirit and creativity of the popular television game show produced by Sony Pictures.

Throughout 2016, Carnival will also host a number of Wheel of Fortune-themed events across the fleet that will include special branded items and on-board activities and games every sailing, including the popular Wheel of Fortune scratch-off game where guests can win up to $30,000. Additionally, each sailing will feature a Wheel of Fortune prize wheel offering a wide range of prizes, everything from Carnival logo items and Casino Cash to entry into the $200,000 Spin N Sail slot tournament.

The 20th anniversary Wheel of Fortune slot festivities will also include a “Spin & Sail Week” with five Carnival Cruise Line-themed shows airing this spring on the iconic game show that inspired the slot machine. “Spin & Sail Week” airing March 21-25, 2016, will feature a custom, tropical-themed set with high-definition Carnival ship images and footage. Contestants will be able to win Carnival cruises to a variety of exotic destinations including the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska. In preparation for the broadcast, Pat Sajak, Vanna White, and the Wheel of Fortune crew went on location to shoot customized segments aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship.

The “Wheel of Fortune Spin & Sail Sweepstakes,” will encourage viewers to watch “Spin & Sail Week” on Wheel of Fortune and enter each night’s bonus puzzle solution at Twenty winning entries will be selected, and the grand prize will be an eight-day Caribbean cruise aboard Carnival Magic to be taken in November 2016 with a guaranteed spot in the Spin N Sail $200,000 slot tournament.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Inside Royal Caribbean’s Two70 Entertainment Venue

Have you ever wondered, "How did they do that?" Here's an insider's peek at how the scenes are prepped for a theatrical performance in the world's most unique state-of-the-art entertainment venue with the sea as it's backdrop. Watch as Royal Caribbean takes you behind-the-scenes above and below the performers in the vertical pre-show areas of Two70.

Video Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Carnival Cruise Line Opens Reservations for More than 3,500 Sailings Through April 2018

Planning ahead for your next cruise just got a little easier with Carnival Cruise Line opening reservations for its entire fleet through April 2018, with more than 3,500 two- to 19-day voyages offered across its 24 ships, as well as the new Carnival Vista set to debut in Europe May 1, 2016.

Voyages will visit more than 70 destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and other popular cruising regions. Cruises depart from nearly 20 different North American homeports, providing consumers with convenient and cost-effective means for getting to and from their cruise.

Included among the wide variety of offerings are more than 2,500 two- to 5-day cruises, providing consumers with an array of options in the short cruise market. These include new 3- and 4-day deployments for the Carnival Victory from Miami and Carnival Valor from Port Canaveral, providing an unprecedented number of balcony staterooms on these two popular cruising routes.

There are also 22 longer length Carnival Journeys cruises visiting exotic ports of call and 13 voyages to Bermuda departing from seven East Coast homeports. Carnival will also offer two unique Panama Canal experiences—partial transits aboard the Carnival Pride from Baltimore in January 2017 and from Tampa in February 2017—offering consumers an unforgettable vacation experience.

Also open for reservations through 2018 are several new homeport deployments, including 7-day Carnival Breeze departures from Galveston, week-long Carnival Magic sailings from Port Canaveral, Florida, and 4- and 5-day Carnival Triumph cruises from New Orleans.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Holland America Line Shares the Exceptional Dining Experiences on ms Koningsdam

While there are exceptional dining experiences on every Holland America Line voyage, the line’s newest ship ms Koningsdam offers even more culinary options than ever. Take a look at what’s cooking in the latest “Countdown to Koningsdam” video:

The Dining Room is where Koningsdam’s guests will dine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a more formal setting. The ambiance of the two-story restaurant is sophisticated and airy, with several impressive new features for a Holland America Line ship. The bright, modern design creates a unique dining venue while reflecting the ship’s overall design theme that was inspired by the architecture of music. The sunny, yellow room features expansive windows that allow for maximum daylight and views of the sea. In the evening the color turns to a darker shade of amber, setting the tone for a more elegant evening dining ambience. Structural ribs inspired by the strings of a classical harp connect the first floor to the second floor ceiling and create the sense of a more rounded, curvilinear space. A grand, curved staircase connects the two dining levels.

The centerpiece of The Dining Room is a sculptural champagne gold wine tower designed to appear folded and fluid. Flowing over the dining experience are stunning chandeliers made from strings of tri-color, hand-blown glass bulbs.

On the menu will be Holland America Line’s signature dishes, classic selections, regionally inspired cuisine, and Culinary Council recipes from the world-famous chefs who compose the group, including Holland America Line’s Master Chef and Council Chairman Rudi Sodamin and renowned international chefs Mark Best, Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner and Jacques Torres.

Then explore all the dining options on board:

Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. In addition to The Dining Room, guests will enjoy fine dining in several alternative restaurants including Sel de Mer, a new French seafood brasserie; a new immersive farm-to-table concept dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine; a redesigned Lido Market with themed serving stations; and favorites such as Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian restaurant, and pan-Asian Tamarind.

Videos Courtesy Holland America Line

Friday, February 12, 2016

Chic Sandals For Your Cruise Vacation

With the groundhog predicting an early end to winter, it's time to think of warm weather and sandals to go with spring and summer fashions. Like many women, I'm always looking for the perfect go-to pair—they have to be stylish, but most importantly they must be comfortable. I think I've found perfection with NAOT Footwear's "Kayla" style.

You can see how chic they are in the photo at left, but it's how they feel that has my feet ready to happy dance. Mimicking the footprint you leave in wet sand at the beach, the footbed is designed for comfort. Starting at the front, Hallux support enables natural hold of the big toe to prevent the foot from slipping forward, the elevated center releases pressure in the joints of the center of the foot, arch support distributes body weight to reduce pressure, and a deep heel indentation helps the body to maintain balance and protects the heel bone. Beneath it all, the footbed is constructed of a blend of cork and latex for flexibility, durability, and shock absorption with a layer of latex sponge padding for softness. There are dozens of styles in an array of colors to choose from for women and men.

The story behind NAOT Footwear is as interesting as the shoes are comfortable. Founded by members of Kibbutz Naot Mordechi in 1942 to make simple work shoes and sandals, the one room workshop has grown to become Israel's leading manufacturer and exporter of shoes. Handmade in Northern Israel, every NAOT sandal is a shoe of peace—they are a joint effort of Israeli and Palestinian workers. Each year 15,000 pairs of NAOT shoes and sandals are donated to charities with the hope that their addition to the lives of less fortunate people will bring them joy and happiness one step at a time.

To learn more about this exceptionally comfortable footwear, visit NAOT online. To find an authorized retailer in the United States, call 1-800-NAOT-USA (1-800-626-8872).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Seabourn Encore Grand Wintergarden Suites Unveiled

Luxury cruise line Seabourn has revealed details—as well as the rendering at left—of the Grand Wintergarden Suites, the most luxurious and largest suites aboard its newest, luxury vessel, Seabourn Encore, launching late 2016. Unfolding as a lap of luxury for guests who desire exquisite comfort and room to entertain, the two Grand Wintergarden Suites will offer a variety of in-suite amenities and features that encourage guests to make themselves at home.

"Seabourn Encore's Grand Wintergarden Suites will be two of the most beautiful and striking suites in ultra-luxury travel," said Christopher Prelog, Seabourn Vice President of Hotel Operations. "Like a spacious vacation home, guests will enjoy the superb amenities, especially the private glassed-in Solarium with a soaking tub and lounging bed."

Located on deck 8, each of the Grand Wintergarden suites will provide nearly 1,550 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The suites will feature large windows for picture-perfect ocean and shore views, two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, two private verandas, dining for six, convertible sofa-bed, pantry with wet bar and espresso machine, and three flat-screen televisions. One of the most unique features of the suites will be a glass-enclosed solarium with soaking tub and daybed, an ideal spot for guests to relax and enjoy the sunset. Two generous verandahs outfitted with all-weather table and chairs will provide nearly 250 square feet of private space, making it an ideal setting for al fresco dining. The suite bathrooms radiate elegance, with a separate whirlpool tub and shower, polished stone, gleaming hardware and mirrors, as well as exclusive bath products from Molton Brown.

Guests residing in the Grand Wintergarden suites, as well as other premium suites, will receive an array of added amenities, including personalized service by the Guest Service Manager, private car transfers on embarkation and disembarkation, complimentary Internet service, daily newspaper delivered to the suite, plush bathrobes, large tropical fruit basket, beautiful fresh flowers, an extended in-suite reference library, and more.

All of the suites on board Seabourn Encore will offer a number thoughtful details to pamper guests, from a welcoming bottle of chilled Champagne with canapés to the personalized services of a Personal Suite Stewardess. Delivering unobtrusive care, the Stewardess can provide guest preference of designer soaps, draw Pure Pampering baths, replenish ice and bar set-up, manage laundry service needs, and assist with any special requests. Additional in-suite amenities and features will include ample storage and walk-in closets complete with plush bathrobes and slippers; an in-suite bar stocked daily with preferred beverages; and a choice of pillows to suit guests' preferences. Entertainment options will feature flat-screen televisions with an extensive array of movies, music, broadcast television and radio channels.

Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Image Courtesy of Seabourn

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Princess Cruises Reveals New Livery Design

Unless a cruise ship has a distinctive shape (Carnival Cruise Line’s winged funnel) or hull art (Norwegian Cruise Line & Aida Cruises), it’s difficult to distinguish one white-hulled vessel from another. Pretty soon that won’t be a problem when looking for Princess Cruises’ ships. Majestic Princess, the first cruise ship built and designed specifically for the China market will be the first ship in the fleet to debut the distinctive new livery design pictured here.

Featuring the company’s conic seawitch logo, the new livery design will roll out fleetwide over the next few years. One of the most recognized brand logos in cruising; the design symbolizes the smooth and flowing gracefulness of ocean waves and represents the excitement and adventure of discovering the best the world has to offer on a Princess cruise. The modern, sophisticated-look is designed to reinforce the premium experience of Princess Cruises, recognized around the world as a destination leader.

“For nearly half a century our Princess logo has represented the adventure of cruise travel around the globe,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Now our ships sail to more than 360 ports of call worldwide and will be instantly recognized from afar. As the very first cruise ship built for China, we take great pride that Majestic Princess is our first ship to proudly display our new livery design.”

Also reaching a significant construction milestone this week, Majestic Princess “floated out” in its building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The occasion was marked by a traditional ceremony as the ship met ocean water for the first time. Following the Italian shipyard’s custom, the float out of a ship begins when a “madrina,” or godmother, cuts the cord that signals the flow of sea water into the ship’s building dock. Executive Vice President of Fleet Operations Keith Taylor and recently appointed Majestic Princess Captain Dino Sagani represented Princess Cruises at the ceremony. Captain Sagani’s mother, Graziella Sagani, served as the ship’s “madrina.”

Majestic Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which have been so well-received. These include 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; and a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.

As the first cruise ship built and designed specifically for the China market, Majestic Princess will also feature a number of new venues and experiences created for that market, the details of which will be revealed in the coming months. Majestic Princess will home-port in Shanghai and carry 3,560 guests.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Norwegian Cruise Line Raises Zika Virus Awareness

Warnings about the Zika virus have been all over the news and travelers to regions where it is commonly found have reason to be concerned. Unfortunately, that includes many destinations on cruise itineraries. Norwegian Cruise Line wants their guests to be informed and has sent the following advisory to their travel agent partners:
"We want you to be aware that we have been actively monitoring the Zika virus and remain in close contact with public health authorities. As always, the safety and security of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance. We regularly advise guests to protect themselves from mosquito and other insects bites while ashore and are advising of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) travel advisories and recommended precautions in daily communications.

At this time, the only passengers who are advised not to travel to affected areas are expectant mothers and we have made accommodations for those very few affected guests to reschedule their cruise for a future date in the next two years or change their itinerary to non-affected destinations. For those guests who have opted to purchase a Travel Protection policy, cancellations are covered under the "Cancel for Any Reason" portion of the policy.

For anyone else traveling, the recommended method for avoiding risk is to take steps to protect from mosquito and other insect bites and follow the CDC guidelines, which include covering exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats and use an appropriate insect repellent containing DEET.

We are continually monitoring the situation as well as the recommended methods for avoiding risk."
For more information, please visit the Center For Disease Control.

Photo © Linda Coffman,

Monday, February 8, 2016

SS United States to Join Crystal Cruises Fleet

Over the years various organizations have attempted to save the SS United States—Norwegian Cruise Line even owned it at one time. While those efforts saved the iconic ship from the wrecking ball, it now looks like Crystal Cruises—the ultimate white knight—will shake off her mothballs and get her sailing again.

Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal has announced it will save "America's Flagship," the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

"The prospect of revitalizing the SS United States and reestablishing her as 'America's Flagship' once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship's hallmark," says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. "We are honored to work with the SS United States Conservancy and government agencies in exploring the technical feasibility study so we can ultimately embark on the journey of transforming her into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era."

In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxury suites measuring about 350 square feet, with dining, entertainment, spa and other guest amenities that are true to the ship's storied history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.

Crystal will be examining exciting new itineraries for the 60,000-gross-ton United States by Crystal Cruises including not only the traditional transatlantic voyages from New York City, but cruises from key U.S. ports as well as international voyages around the globe which are a signature offering of Crystal and part of the line's "World Cruise."

The epitome of American post-war innovation and design, the SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage—a record to this day that still stands. She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous ship in the world, having transported four U.S. presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood's "golden era" celebrities, as well as a million passengers. While the ship captivated travelers with its features, the ship's origin was equally intriguing. She was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon program during the Cold War, which stipulated it could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troopship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles—almost half way around the globe—without refueling.

In October 2015, the SS United States Conservancy's Board of Directors announced that the persistent challenge of covering the vessel's monthly expenses had compelled them to engage a ship broker to explore the potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled. This news resulted in an outpouring of public support worldwide and led to the Conservancy raising additional funds which enabled the organization to continue its preservation efforts and pursue negotiations with potential investors and partners.

To facilitate the complex technical feasibility study and to ensure a smooth execution of the project, Crystal has appointed retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team with a wide range of cruise line technical, legal and regulatory expertise. With 36 years of active service, Admiral Sullivan has extensive experience in ship operations as a Commanding Officer of numerous Coast Guard cutters, and over the years has engaged in high level of interaction with a myriad of U.S. government agencies and international regulatory entities.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Every Day is Valentine's Day For Chocolate Lovers At Sea

I love chocolate and I'm not alone. As a rule, cruise passengers love chocolate too. The proof is in the pudding—and the chocolate cake, and the chocolate soufflés, and the chocolate truffles. While you're shopping for that perfect box of chocolate for your Valentine, consider that Carnival Cruise Line alone buys more than 1.3 million pounds of chocolate each year. A half million of those pounds go into making the passenger-favorite Warm Chocolate Melting Cake—some 4 million of the cakes consumed annually in the main dining rooms of the line's two dozen ships. For Valentine's Day, Carnival Cruise Line chefs will make some 60,000 chocolate-covered strawberries, along with love-themed desserts.

While no exact statistic is available, it is fair to say that millions of pounds of chocolate are consumed at sea each year on cruise ships. So why do cruising and chocolate go together?

"Chocolate and a lot of things go together," said French-trained Master Chocolatier Norman Love, who consults on all things chocolate with Princess Cruises. "On a cruise, people are on vacation and enjoying themselves. There's also a romantic side to cruising and a romantic side to chocolate as well. Cruising and chocolate are made for each other."

The chocolate on Princess' 18 ships, whose passengers consume more than a million pounds annually, comes from cacao-bean growing countries around the world. As with wine, great fruit produces great product, with sunlight, soil and elevation factors in creating distinct chocolate flavors, Love said.

The chocolate goes into creations including those highlighted in Princess Cruises' 24-hour "Chocolate Journeys" program with Love. You can sample his 15 extravagant desserts at dinner, bites with afternoon tea, chocolate pastries at breakfast, and chocolate cookies while watching Movies Under the Stars. Or get more adventurous and have anti-oxidant chocolate smeared on your body as part of a hydrating treatment at the Lotus Spa. You can even sip loaded chocolate creations in ship bars.

"Chocolate makes people happy," Love said. "It's a wonderful, universal thing that Mother Nature creates." Americans are consuming more chocolate than ever before, Love added, whether for health benefits, with an aphrodisiac purpose in mind or just because it's so good. "It's chocolate's time right now. Chocolate is really hot," Love said.

A recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for Princess Cruises showed more than half of U.S. adults admit to being a chocolate addict. The survey also showed 70 percent of women would choose chocolate over sex.

Holland America Line showcases high-end Belgian chocolate in cakes, muffins, custards, sauces, and cookies—and more extravagant creations by world-renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres, such as his Chocolate Coconut Napoleon and Baked Chocolate Soup. A passenger favorite is the Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake at the Pinnacle Grill. You'll also find Dutch hot chocolate served on Holland America Line ships on cool days, for instance when you're warming up after seeing the stunning sight of a glacier thunderously calving into the sea in Alaska.

Images Courtesy of Carnival Corporation

Thursday, February 4, 2016

‘Countdown to Koningsdam’ Video Showcases Stateroom & Suite Accommodations

Holland America Line has debuted the fourth “Countdown to Koningsdam” video in the series that details the ship’s staterooms and suites. The short videos were created to provide updates and share the excitement as ms Koningsdam nears delivery in April 2016.

Hosted by Johnathan Rogers, Koningsdam’s inaugural cruise director, the video, “Countdown to Koningsdam Episode 4,” features Holland America Line’s Deputy Director of Interior Design My Nguyen, who takes guests inside the ship’s accommodations, including the new family and single staterooms debuting on board.

“We spent years developing and fine-tuning the design of the ship’s accommodations to ensure that our guests feel like they’re walking into a pampering and relaxing environment while they’re cruising on Koningsdam,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “We gathered feedback from guests and travel partners about upgrades and changes they’d like to see in our staterooms, and My and her team did a fantastic job implementing many of those ideas. From the color schemes to the functionality of the layout, Koningsdam’s accommodations are the perfect home away from home.”

Koningsdam will boast more than 1,300 guest accommodations that received upgrades in both aesthetics and function. Four distinct color schemes that evoke feelings of rejuvenation identify the suite, spa, verandah, ocean-view and inside categories. Guests will enjoy redesigned headboards with USB and electrical outlets on both sides of the bed, stone tops on desks and nightstands, more storage, and improved lighting.

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. See for yourself how beautiful and functional they will be:

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 & Video Courtesy Holland America Line

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Azamara Journey Gets An Upgrade

Grand  Staircase
Azamara Journey is the first of Azamara Club Cruises' two ships to undergo a "major upgrade." During a recent dry dock, the vessel was outfitted with new venues, public spaces and technologies to bring fresh services and amenities to guests.

"There is no area on the ship that has been untouched," says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. "Cruise ships are like fine hotels, after wear and tear, upgrades need to be made. We can't wait to have our new and loyal guests onboard to see what we have done. It's gorgeous and provides all the modern services and amenities that today's traveler needs and demands. I think we have exceeded expectations."

As Azamara Journey emerged from dry dock, all stateroom and suites have had an overall creating an ambiance that is comfortable as well as timeless and elegant. Authentic materials were used, with beautiful stone and porcelain throughout and custom design. Two new Spa Suites have been built adjacent to the Sanctum Spa featuring an elegant look with organic and muted colors providing exclusive access to unique spa amenities that will be included in the price of these staterooms. And, the Club World Ocean and Owner's Suites have also been fully redesigned. Additionally, Azamara Journey's new dining and entertainment enhancements throughout the entire ship are revealed including makeovers to The Patio, Windows Café, Discoveries Restaurant and Discoveries Bar, the Living Room and Cabaret Lounge:

The Patio
Formerly known as the Pool Grill, The Patio is completely transformed into a sit-down al fresco dining experience. The area features tablecloths and candles in the evening creating a fresh ambiance. New lighting, ceilings and fans add modern elements to the renovated look. The décor won't be the only refresh as The Patio will also serve up a new evening menu to be enjoyed amidst oceanside backdrops in locales around the world. In the evening, interested dinner guests can occasionally enjoy a movie on the projection screen or live music alongside their meal. After dinner and a movie, travelers looking to satisfy their sweet tooth can stop by the new Swirl & Top self-serve frozen yogurt station to indulge in a variety of flavors and choice of toppings.

Windows Café
Dining offerings indoors are not overlooked as Windows Café is be reinvigorated with contemporary furniture and place settings. Tables for two will be added, allowing more options for couples or the ability to combine tables to accommodate larger parties, or to join a group of friends for a meal. For those looking to dine while watching the sunset, Windows' outdoor dining area and Sunset Bar are right out the back door, with a rejuvenated look and the same stunning views.

Discoveries Restaurant & Discoveries Bar
Discoveries Restaurant is continuing the reimagination trend. The refreshed restaurant features a warm and inviting atmosphere with new décor, lamps, seating, and sheers. A variety of different sized tables will be offered to accommodate groups of all sizes with ease.

Discoveries Bar will be receiving a modern makeover as well with new bar stools, sofas, chairs and tables, sheers, painting and wood trim. The bar will provide a tranquil and friendly atmosphere with a rich blend of tailored and refined elements for guests.

Living Room
Guests will feel right at home in the new and improved Living Room, formerly the Looking Glass Lounge. The relaxing area offers the comfort of a well-furnished space, featuring cozy chairs and sofas and a handcrafted wooden wine table. Passengers can sample tastes and entertainment from morning until night with the following options:
• Daytime Fare: From 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. enjoy a selection of fine teas and coffees along with delicious breakfast pastries, finger sandwiches, and sweets.
• Afternoon Delight: From 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. each day guests may choose from a variety of tasty hot and cold tapas with a mix of Spain's eclectic and sophisticated flavors. The onboard sommelier will be happy to suggest the perfect red, white, or rosé wine or champagne to pair accordingly.
A new card area with modern-inspired furniture and décor will be open for entertainment. In the evenings the Living Room will liven up into a space for dancing, karaoke or live music from one of the ship's onboard musicians followed by a house DJ, playing music to keep the party going well into the night. On occasion, specialty performances will entertain guests while other nights the Chef may surprise Living Room dwellers with delectable featured desserts. Whether stopping by for a light bite or staying for the entire evening, The Living Room serves up entertainment and culinary offerings for guests day and night.

Cabaret Lounge, Casino & Spirits
This entertainment venue is being revitalized with new carpeting, updated lighting, and a refinished dance floor. The Casino will be outfitted with new slot machines, sleek carpets, and reupholstered seating with custom-designed fabrics. Of course the Cabaret Lounge wouldn't be complete without a proper location in close proximity for a cocktail, the transformed Spirits bar will available for guests just a stone's throw away.

The Azamara Quest will enter dry dock in April 2016 in Singapore.

Image Courtesy Azamara Club Cruises

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ESPN is Afloat in the Caribbean

It's football, basketball, or the season for another sport and you don't want to miss your favorite team or player in a big match-up, but you want to go on a Caribbean cruise. What are you going to do, stay home and watch on television or go on a cruise? Happily, you don't have to choose.

Beginning now through August of 2016, ESPN will provide extensive, live coverage on all major Caribbean cruise lines of the most anticipated sports events of the next year, including the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games (August 5 - 21) and the 2016 UEFA European Championship (June 10 - July 10).

While sailing the Caribbean Sea, cruisers will enjoy more than 700 live events from the most popular sports in the world, including the most followed leagues and tournaments. The network’s onboard sports programming is in full swing now.

Other upcoming events and programming highlights available across Caribbean cruise lines include:
NFL: 41 NFL Monday Night Football games and post-season playoffs
NBA: 45 regular season games, All-Star Weekend, the Eastern Conference Finals and the 2016 NBA Finals
Tennis: The Grand Slam of Asia Pacific, the Australian Open 2016 Tennis Championship Tour, Jan. 18-31, from Melbourne Park, and all along the year other major events including Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open
Rio 2016: over 200 hours of live competition plus opening and closing ceremonies, along with original programming, including the weekly Countdown to Rio
Golf: the Masters, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship
• NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball
• The ICC World T20
In addition to the live events, cruisers will also see all their favorite ESPN studio shows, including SportsCenter; Mike & Mike, Around the Horn, ESPN FC and Pardon the Interruption.

Go ahead and make your cruise reservations and start packing!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Carnival Cruise Line, Operation Homefront & Superstar Carrie Underwood Launch Honor.Family.Fun. Initiative To Support Military Families

Every time some politician or his spouse comes out in support of military families, I cringe at how shallow their efforts seem. With the exception of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent 6 million dollar fund raiser for vets, what do they really accomplish other than a feel-good photo op? (I’m looking at you Michelle and Dr. Jill.)

For a long time family oriented cruise lines have helped military families get away from it all with special fares to show appreciation for their sacrifice and now Carnival Cruise Line is going a step further with a new Honor.Family.Fun. initiative designed to support U.S. military families alongside GRAMMY-award winning superstar Carrie Underwood and representatives of Operation Homefront, the national nonprofit that builds strong, stable, and secure military families.

“Military families represent a cornerstone of our country and we are honored by the opportunity to partner with Carrie and Operation Homefront to bring much needed awareness and aid to our troops and their loved ones,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “The partnership will bring to life many of the heartwarming stories our troops have to share while in turn bringing them some fun along the way.”

In 10 cities along the course of Carrie Underwood’s The Storyteller Tour, which kicked off in Jacksonville, Florida on Jan 30th, military families chosen in partnership with Operation Homefront will be treated to a personal meet-and-greet with Underwood before her concerts. A video series highlighting the meet and greets and the families’ individual stories will be featured on The year-long Honor.Family.Fun. program will help raise funds for Operation Homefront and culminate in a special private pierside concert for hundreds of service men and women and their families starring Underwood aboard Carnival’s newest and most family-friendly ship, the Carnival Vista, when the vessel makes its U.S. debut in New York City on Nov 4, 2016.

“I’m honored to be able to join Carnival Cruise Line and Operation Homefront to lift up these soldiers and their families,” said Underwood. “I am really looking forward to meeting them on my tour and for the opportunity to personally thank them for all they do for our freedom.”

Driving the effort to raise funds for the cause, fans of Underwood, and of the program, will have the opportunity to donate by clicking on the “Donate Now” button on Commemorative dog tags will also be available for purchase at merchandise stands at all Storyteller Tour stops as well as on board the fleet of Carnival ships with all proceeds going to Operation Homefront.

“Carnival Cruise Line really knows what it means to support our men and women in uniform and their families,” said retired Brigadier General John I. Pray, Jr., president and CEO of Operation Homefront. “We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the Carnival team and Carrie Underwood to focus on the challenges our military families face as they work tirelessly to protect the freedoms we enjoy daily.”

In the coming weeks, Carnival will launch a new shipboard military appreciation program. Each ship will host a special event on board to recognize active and retired military personnel and their families.

We’re certain the Honor.Family.Fun. initiative will be a success and, with the support of Carnival Cruise Line and Carrie Underwood fans, perhaps they will be able to raise even more money than Donald Trump.

Carrie Underwood Photo Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line