Tuesday, October 31, 2017

When the Sea is Your Runway, You Hoist French Couture Sails

Windstar Cruises’ flagship sailing vessel Wind Surf, one of the world’s largest motor sail yachts (MSY) at 14,745 GRT, recently received crisp new sails, nearly half a football field worth of sturdy Dacron sail-cloth measuring 21,570 square feet. Wind Surf’s five new sails were hand-crafted in France by a world-class team of maritime designers and artisans at Incidence Sails, the nation’s largest commercial sailmaker. The crisp couture sails, replaced approximately every five years, are a show stopper, elevating the elegant look of Windstar’s iconic sailing vessel. The impressive ship is 617 feet (187 meters) in length and has a beam of 66 feet (20 m.).

Spread across Wind Surf’s five towering masts, the sails make up more than a half-acre of stunning triangular beauty. The ships sails unfurl daily soaring 221 feet (67.5 m.) to the sky, harnessing the power of the wind to propel the ship through the world’s most famous sailing grounds. Gliding elegantly into hundreds of ports from the timeless seas of the Adriatic and Baltic to the Mediterranean’s chic shores and the Caribbean’s carved coast lines, the mammoth sailing yacht cuts an impressive appearance carrying an exclusive 310 guests on each memorable Wind Surf sailing voyage.

“We’re all excited about Wind Surf’s new sails. Our guests really appreciate the romance of sailing and the evening Sail-Away is a time-honored event for guests and crew alike, a time to celebrate an amazing day of discovery while anticipating new adventures on the horizon,” remarked Windstar President John Delaney. “Out on deck, guests meet and mingle as our crew work their magic, deploying the sails and building the drama of Sail-Away while a crescendo of Vangelis’ musical masterpiece ‘Conquest of Paradise’ sets the mood for adventure. Cruise guests connect over toasts and tears of joy at this amazing experience; it’s that magic of time, place and emotion that truly speaks to you. The moment you hear and feel the sails snap at the power of the wind—this experience is unmatched in travel, it sets Windstar apart in the best way possible.”

Leading French sail maker Incidence Sails, the largest commercial sailmaker in France and premier designers in the off-shore racing and Super Yacht sectors, designed Wind Surf’s sails and completed the manufacturing on the floors of spacious facilities in Brest and La Rochelle, France over several months, delivering the sails in two installments. The project was carried out in close collaboration with the company’s Charentais and Breton design offices by noted designers Stéphane Amiot and Maxime Paul, who sailed for France’s Olympic Sailing Team in the 1992 Olympics.

Each sail is made up of anti-UV Dacron sail cloth and Incidence Sails was commissioned to manufacture five furling jib sails each measuring an area of 3,800 square feet (355 square meters) and one fore jib sail at 2,570 square feet (240 square meters) for a total of 21,570 square feet (2,015 square meters) of crisp white sails towering on masts that stand at a height of 221 feet (67.5 m.).

Commenting on the intricate and unusual operation of installing each of the giant sails, Wind Surf Captain Pedro Pinto stated, “We needed to check the forecast for the perfect conditions to have just a light breeze, the crew already has a good knowledge of the process and with each sail it gets easier with experience. The guests and crew love to see the new sails!”

Each sail installation took approximately four hours and was completed by Wind Surf’s Deck Department of 22 led by Captain Pinto. Three sails were installed in August in Copenhagen, Denmark and the remainder on October 17, in Amalfi, Italy. Guests on board were treated to a rare experience viewing the installation from the open decks below. The computerized sails are self-furling and operate remotely from the Bridge with fore and aft guidance from the ship’s Nautical Officers. Wind Surf’s top speed under sail power alone was recorded at 15.6 knots during a transatlantic ocean crossing.

Ship deployment and itineraries for all of Windstar’s ships are planned around unique and scenic sailing experiences with leisurely days at sea, Sail-Away at sunset, and cruising notable coasts and waterways including the white cliffs of Dover, France’s Les Calanques, the Corinth Canal, and the Strait of Gibraltar. Wind Surf offers winter sailing to the hidden harbors of the Caribbean and an extended summer cruising season in the Mediterranean from April through October. The ship has a long connection to France (ex. Club Med 1) having been designed and built in 1991 in Le Havre by the Chantiers de l’Antique shipyard and joined Windstar’s fleet in June 1998 after being rechristened in Nice, France.

The line will be repurposing the replaced sails by having them made into bags that guests may purchase in the onboard gift shops on board the fleets six ships. For more information on Wind Surf’s new sails project or yacht-style cruising with Windstar, visit WindstarCruises.com.

Image Courtesy Windstar Cruises

Disney Cruise Line Expands San Diego Season & Returns to Popular Tropical Ports from Both Coasts in Early 2019

In early 2019, Disney Cruise Line will return to favorite destinations on a variety of itineraries, including an expanded two-month season from San Diego to the sun-drenched Baja and Mexican Riviera. A host of options to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Florida ports, plus cruises to the Southern Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico, take Disney Cruise Line guests to visit timeless tropical locales and experience endless amounts of Disney magic.

From January to May, all cruises departing from Florida feature a stop at Castaway Cay—pictured above—Disney’s private island paradise reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests. The award-winning island is a pristine Bahamian oasis boasting clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, world-class recreation and signature Disney hospitality.

San Diego to Baja & Mexican Riviera
The Disney Wonder returns to San Diego for an extended season from March to May 2019, with a variety of cruises to Mexico where Disney Cruise Line guests can enjoy vibrant culture, stunning beaches, exciting water activities, cliff diving and ziplining through the jungle. Onboard 2-, 4-, 5- and 7-night voyages, unparalleled fun awaits the entire family.

Most sailings to Mexico’s Baja peninsula call on the charming coastal city of Ensenada, known as the “Cinderella of the Pacific” with its turquoise blue water and rugged mountainous terrain. Two-night cruises to Ensenada boast Friday departures from San Diego, giving guests the ultimate weekend getaway to experience world-class entertainment aboard the Disney Wonder.

Four- and 5-night Baja options include a visit to Cabo San Lucas, a destination favored for its arid climate and sunny weather, dotted with dramatic rock formations and bordered by white-sand beaches.

Seven-night sailings to the Mexican Riviera call on Cabo San Lucas and feature the snorkeling and scuba diving hot spots of Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán. These week-long cruises offer Disney Cruise Line guests the chance to make magical memories together while soaking up the history and Old World charm of Mexico’s Pacific Coast and taking in the beauty of stunning beaches and the nearby Sierra Madre Mountains.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Southern Caribbean
In January, three special Disney Wonder cruises from San Juan sail to the Southern Caribbean, visiting tropical destinations renowned for beautiful sun-kissed beaches and warm azure waters. On the 6- and 7-night sailings, Disney Cruise Line guests can dive into charming island cultures, sunbathe on golden beaches and revel in local marketplaces. The Disney Wonder arrives to San Juan after a 5-night journey departing Jan. 9 from Galveston, Texas, with a stop in Falmouth, Jamaica.

On Feb. 3, a 4-night cruise aboard the Disney Wonder takes guests from San Juan to Port Canaveral, Florida, just an hour away from Walt Disney World Resort—the perfect stop for a fairytale land and sea adventure.

Port Canaveral to Bahamas and Eastern & Western Caribbean
With three Disney ships in port and cruise lengths spanning 3-, 4- and 7-nights, vacationers looking for a getaway in early 2019 have a full menu of options from Port Canaveral, near Orlando, Florida. Every sailing includes a day at Castaway Cay, where only Disney Cruise Line guests can enjoy splashtacular fun at Castaway Family Beach or escape to the secluded, adults-only Serenity Bay.

The Disney Fantasy continues to sail 7-night Caribbean voyages, with Eastern Caribbean itineraries visiting the Virgin Islands of Tortola and St. Thomas, and Western Caribbean cruises calling on Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Falmouth.

The Disney Dream embarks on 3- and 4-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay, and the Disney Wonder will alternate similar 3- and 4-night itineraries throughout February.

Miami to Bahamas & Western Caribbean
To kick off 2019, the Disney Magic continues sailing from Miami with 4- and 5-night voyages to the Bahamas, plus 5-night Western Caribbean cruises. The magical shores of Castaway Cay await guests aboard every one of these Disney Magic sailings. Other ports of call on the Bahamian voyages include Nassau and Key West, Florida, while a stop in Grand Cayman or Cozumel headlines the Western Caribbean itineraries.

Fun for Families & Unforgettable Experiences for Guests of all Ages
While visiting incredible destinations from homeports on both coasts, Disney Cruise Line enchants adults and children alike with an unforgettable cruise experience. Adults find relaxation and indulgence, children engage in magical adventures and families create memories that last a lifetime. Onboard a Disney ship, guests experience a vacation that feels like it was created especially for them.

Bookings open to the public on Nov. 2, 2017. More details on 2019 itineraries can be found on the Ports and Itineraries for 2019 page of DisneyCruise.com.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cuba calls added to select Regent Seven Seas Cruises 2018-19 Caribbean cruise itineraries

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced the addition of Cuba calls to six itineraries in the line’s 2018-19 Caribbean season. Travelers can visit Havana on select itineraries aboard Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Voyager, and Seven Seas Navigator, which depart Miami from October 2018 through March 2019. Guests on these voyages can choose among a variety of free and unlimited shore excursions to learn firsthand about the lives, history and culture of the Cuban people during their visit. As the most inclusive luxury experience and the only North American luxury cruise line approved to visit Cuba, Regent Seven Seas Cruises first called on Havana in April 2017 with Seven Seas Mariner.

“There is so much culture and history in Cuba, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises is delighted to expand our itineraries with calls on Havana to provide our guests a more complete Caribbean experience,” said Jason Montague, president and chief executive officer of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “Three of the six itineraries feature midnight departures from Havana Harbor, so guests have ample time to personally learn about Cuba’s authentic nightlife. Throughout their voyage, guests also will enjoy highly personalized service from every member of our exceptional staff and crew.”

Travelers can visit Havana on a 22-night voyage, sailing on Oct. 10, 2018 from Miami to Honolulu aboard Seven Seas Mariner. On this itinerary, guests also will transit the Panama Canal and call at some of the most beautiful, ecological destinations of Central America and the Mexican Riviera along the way. The Nov. 11, 2018 sailing of Seven Seas Navigator, the line’s most intimate and beloved ship, also will immerse guests in Cuban culture on the 14-night Eastern and Southern Caribbean itinerary.

For its part, Seven Seas Voyager will sail four round-trip, Caribbean voyages that include calls on Havana from December 2018 through March 2019. The Dec. 6, 2018 voyage takes guests on a 10-night Western Caribbean itinerary, while the Dec. 16, 2018, 12-night voyage throughout the Eastern Caribbean will celebrate Christmas on board. A 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, sailing Feb. 6, 2019, will also take guests to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and Roatán, Honduras, while a similar Mar. 5th itinerary replaces Costa Maya with Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The Dec. 6, 2018, and Feb. 6 and Mar. 5, 2019 sailings feature midnight departures from Havana to offer time to experience the city’s evening culture.

As part of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ most-inclusive luxury experience, guests have a wide selection of expertly crafted shore excursions, offering an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, music, art, history and culture of the city and are in compliance with the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) regulations. To provide guests with even greater insights into Cuba and its people, guest scholars and expert lecturers will deliver compelling presentations about Cuba’s past, present and future.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world's most inclusive luxury experience with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 450 destinations around the world. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is currently undergoing a $125 million fleetwide refurbishment that will elevate the level of elegance found throughout the fleet to the standard set by Seven Seas Explorer, which entered service on July 20, 2016, and has since been recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built. The cruise line’s next industry game-changing ship will launch in 2020. A leader in luxury cruising, the line's fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip domestic air or business-class air on intercontinental flights from U.S. and Canada, highly personalized service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, gratuities, ground transfers and one-night, pre-cruise hotel package for guests staying in Concierge-level suites and higher. For more information, visit RSSC.com.

Image Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Cunard to host the world premiere of “The Greatest Showman” on board Queen Mary 2

Luxury cruise line Cunard and 20th Century Fox have partnered to roll out the red carpet when the world’s greatest ocean liner, Queen Mary 2, hosts the world premiere of 20th Century Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” in December 2017.

“The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, is an original musical that tells the story of visionary P.T. Barnum and how he created the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film, directed by Michael Gracey and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, with original music by Oscar®- and Tony®-winning duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, will debut in cinemas nationwide on January 1 2018.

P.T. Barnum sailed multiple times on various Cunard ships to cross the Atlantic between New York and England. His most notable voyage was in 1850 when he invited legendary opera singer Jenny Lind (the “Swedish Nightingale”) to come to America with him to be part of his show. They sailed into New York on Cunard’s Cambria with almost 40,000 fans greeting them at the docks.

Queen Mary 2 is the perfect stage for our world premiere of ‘The Greatest Showman,’” said Zachary Eller, Executive Vice President, Marketing Partnerships, 20th Century Fox. “Not only is there a real tie to P.T. Barnum’s affinity for sailing Cunard, but Queen Mary 2 also provides that perfect touch of dazzle and wonder that brilliantly complements the essence of the film.”

Scenes from the movie were shot in the original U.S. headquarters of Cunard, a magnificent Italian Renaissance-style landmark building located at 25 Broadway in lower Manhattan. In addition, a number of scenes were shot in Brooklyn, Queen Mary 2’s U.S. homeport.

“The Greatest Showman’s” Emmy Award®-winning costume designer Ellen Mirojnick will also sail in December on the Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton following the premiere, offering talks on her career and showcasing her designs from the movie while mingling with guests.

Cunard has a long history of hosting celebrities and exclusive events on their ships. Luminaries from Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth to Wes Anderson and Tilda Swinton have sailed with the line. Sting performed songs in Queen Mary 2’s Royal Court Theatre, Carly Simon filmed her “Moonlight Serenade” DVD on board, and Francis Ford Coppola sailed recently to work on his craft while at sea.

For additional information, visit Cunard.com.

Image Courtesy Cunard Line

Friday, October 27, 2017

Carnival Horizon Dreamscape LED Atrium Sculpture To Feature Artwork Created By St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® Patients

Carnival Cruise Line announced that the massive LED “Dreamscape” atrium sculpture on the new Carnival Horizon will feature colorful, custom-designed artwork created by patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital when the 133,500-ton ship debuts in Europe in spring 2018. The eye-catching, three-deck high centerpiece in Carnival Horizon’s atrium will feature 33 different artistic creations from patients of St. Jude, one of Carnival’s largest charitable partners.

The announcement was made at Carnival’s Day of Play, an annual event held for children and their families at St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee. The theme of this year’s event was Carnival Playtime and kids and their families enjoyed popular games like Sorry! Guess Who, and Yahtzee inspired by Hasbro, The Game Show, featured on board Carnival ships. Face-painting, arts and crafts, and Carnival-themed giveaways were also offered.

Designed by Techno Media, Dreamscape is a uniquely designed, 24-foot funnel-shaped centerpiece that debuted on Carnival Vista and is comprised of more than 2,000 flexible LED tiles that have been customized for the shipboard environment. Each day, technicians on board program the rotating artwork based on the time of day, port or occasion.

For Carnival Horizon, the young artists from St. Jude were tasked with creating fun pieces with bright bold colors showcasing their personalities. The original creations complement the more than 100 images that continually rotate throughout the day and evening bringing the ship to life and providing guests of all ages with a unique and memorable vacation backdrop.

Carnival’s partnership with St. Jude began in 2010 and was expanded in 2013 with the cruise line being named the hospital’s official celebration partner. Over the past seven years, Carnival has raised more than $13 million for St. Jude through a variety of engaging activities, both on board and ashore.

“As the hospital’s Official Celebration Partner, we couldn’t be happier to showcase these amazing creations designed by the talented St. Jude patients on our newest ship,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We are always looking to bring to life our partnerships in a way that also gives back. We do that on each cruise with Groove for St. Jude and we did it on Carnival Vista with Brownie Buoy, a specially designed flavor with proceeds benefiting the hospital. This is just another way to recognize the work St. Jude’s does for the families and patients they serve.”

Carnival Horizon will offer a variety of onboard innovations, including the first-ever Dr. Seuss-themed water park as well as a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, and an IMAX Theatre. A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropics-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona—the first of four round-trip departures from that port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018. Following its summer schedule of 4-day Bermuda and 8-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of 6- and 8-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special 2-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit Carnival.com.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Azamara Club Cruises Announces New Destinations & New Exclusive Experiences on Azamara Pursuit

Azamara Club Cruises, the cruise line known for its Destination Immersion® programming, has revealed its 2018-19 sailings for the brand's newest addition, Azamara Pursuit. The Azamara Pursuit, announced in September, joins sister ships Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey in providing guests with one-of-a-kind curated experiences and access to some of the most exotic destinations around the globe.

"We're thrilled to announce Azamara Pursuit's voyages," said Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. "By expanding our destination offerings, guests will be able to experience even more regions of the world and revisit regions we haven't been to in some time now." Building on the Azamara brand promise, Pimentel continued, "Like its sisters, Azamara Pursuit will take guests to the most uniquely curated destination experiences."

Azamara Pursuit will increase the brand's destination offerings by 40% and will add 61 more destinations. Guests will also stay longer and experience more with 48 late nights and 26 overnights. Guests will get to experience some of the most unique destinations worldwide, including 15 maiden calls:
- Agadir, Morocco
- Monemvasia, Greece
- Antofagasta, Chile
- Pisco (San Martin), Peru
- Chilean Fjords
- Salaverry (Trujillo), Peru
- Cruising Beagle Channel
- Samos, Greece
- Fowey, United Kingdom
- San Antonio, Chile
- Laguna San Rafael, Chile
- Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
- Lima (Callao), Peru
- Spetses, Greece
- Maceió, Brazil
Azamara Pursuit will feature some of the most attractive and jaw-dropping experiences in key ports of South America and Europe.

South America Featured Experiences
Travelers sailing through South America will dock in marquee destinations such as Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, while also traversing through scenic channels such as the Fjords of Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina, the furthest south deep-water port. Guests can also expect holiday stops in Rio de Janeiro for New Year's Eve 2018 and for Carnaval in 2019. Like all Azamara voyages, the South American voyages will fully immerse guests in the most photo-worthy experiences, including:
Stargazing in Atacama Desert (Antofagasta, Chile): Sit back, look up and enjoy the peace, vastness and beauty of the stars in the Atacama Desert, the world's driest desert. Our three-day/two-night stargazing experience offers unparalleled views of millions of tiny diamonds against a black sky. Considered one of the best locations on earth to appreciate the Milky Way's brilliant collection of stars. Azamara will take you via chartered plane from Antofagasta to San Pedro de Atacama for a two-night stay at the 5-star Tierra Atacama (or similar). You'll visit Moon Valley, Quitor Fortress, Toconao Village & Chaxa Lagoon, then fly from Calama to La Serena via Santiago (on commercial air).

Casa de Aliaga (Lima, Peru): Guests will explore and embrace Peru when they dine in the oldest inhabited house in all of the Americas. This manor was built in 1536 during the Spanish conquest expedition of Peru. Your 17th generation family member and host will share this rich history of her family's manor and the experiences of living there since she was seven.

A Culinary Experience in Bohemian Barranco (Lima, Peru): As one of the world's top culinary destinations, guests will join a local foodie in Bohemian Barranco for a truly local experience. Walk through a typical Peruvian market, experience inspiring flavors and even prepare their own trademark Peruvian dishes like ceviche, while sipping Pisco Sours.

Yoga in the Paracas Desert (Pisco, Peru): While sailing on Azamara's South American itineraries through its Cruise Global, Connect LocalSM experience, travelers are in touch with nature and oneself as they take part in open-air yoga classes at Atenas Beach in the Paracas National Reserve.
Europe Featured Experiences
Azamara continues to enhance their authentic Europe experiences by adding additional ports that bigger ships can not visit, including:
Inside the Volcano (Reykjavik, Iceland): Take an elevator into the magma chamber of dormant volcano, Thrihnukagigur - once filled with hot lava. The Three Peaks Crater erupted 4,000 years ago and is truly a unique natural phenomenon.

Cruise Global Stay Local (Akureyri, Iceland to Seydisfjordur, Iceland): In a 2days/1 night excursion, guests can enjoy spectacular views of the Godafoss waterfall (the "Waterfall of the Gods"). See the natural wonders of Lake Mývatn including Skútustaðir craters, Dimmuborgir lava labyrinth and Námaskarð thermal field before ending the day in total relaxation at Mývatn Nature Baths health spa. Float in the bubbling warm lagoon or relax with a natural sulfur-free steam bath as you experience true calm. On day two, guests will also travel alongside Jökulsárgljúfur Glacial canyon to Seyðisfjörður, to see the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. Passing Húsavík village, they'll visit Hljóðaklettar and their echoing cliffs known for basalt columns. This place is known to be the meeting place of the pagan Gods. The last stop on this one-night excursion will be at Dettifoss waterfall, the biggest waterfall in Iceland and believed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

Greece Day Tour (Nauplion, Greece): Guests will visit the Monastery of St. John (Prodromos), built on the side of a rock face around 1167. They'll enjoy a spectacular Greek lunch at a wealthy Arcadian mansion of the 1840's, where guests will meet with the hotel owners.
Followed by a complimentary AzAmazing Evening in Rhodes, Greece where they'll spend the evening at Tafros Theater seeing an exclusive performance of the ancient Greek drama, Antigone by Sophocles (in English).

Azamara Pursuit is comparable in size to the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, allowing guests access to unique ports that larger ships are unable to reach. Together, the three ships will now offer guests the opportunity to visit 7 continents and 217 ports from August 28, 2018 to April 5, 2019. More information on specific voyages for all Azamara ships can be found by visiting AzamaraClubCruises.com

Norwegian Jewel to Spend Second Season in Australia & New Zealand in Fall 2018/2019

Norwegian Cruise Line has opened for sale the line’s 2018/2019 Australia and New Zealand cruises aboard Norwegian Jewel. Following an expansive refurbishment, Norwegian Jewel will spend a second season down under cruising an action-packed series of itineraries taking in the best of Australia including Melbourne, Cairns, Hobart; and New Zealand including Milford Sound, Wellington and Tauranga, as well as itineraries to the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and a transpacific voyage from Vancouver to Tokyo (Yokohama).

In late October 2018, Norwegian Jewel will undergo a three-week dry-dock enhancement in Singapore as part of the Norwegian Edge multi-million-dollar revitalization program. She’ll emerge a nearly new ship for her Australian season with bow to stern refreshments and a new look across many of the ship’s public spaces.

Norwegian Jewel’s Australia and New Zealand sailings have received a great deal of anticipation and excitement from guests both locally and internationally,” said Andy Stuart president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “The region is a bucket-list destination for many of our guests with a warm culture, lush lands, sandy beaches, action-packed adventure and more. We are thrilled to be returning to this dream destination with the iconic Norwegian Jewel looking as if she were a brand new ship.”

Highlights for the new 2018/2019 season include a spectacular 19-day transpacific journey from Vancouver to Tokyo (Yokohama) via Alaska and Russia; a 19 day journey to Australia from Singapore with stops in Bali and Komodo Island; a new 13-day South Pacific itinerary and—back by popular demand—a series of sailings in and around Australia and New Zealand home-porting from Sydney, including a seven-day round-trip itinerary featuring calls in Tasmania just before the holidays in mid-December.

Norwegian Jewel boasts 15 dining options including the line’s signature specialty restaurants including Cagney’s Steakhouse serving up the finest cuts of Premium Black Angus Beef, Le Bistro, an intimate upscale French bistro and Teppanyaki, the home of sizzle and surprises with authentic Japanese Hibachi. The ship also boasts 15 bars and lounges featuring Norwegian favorites such as Sugarcane Mojito Bar, Maltings Whiskey Bar, a poolside bar for afternoon cocktails at sea and many more.

Renowned for her remarkable repertoire of entertainment at sea, Norwegian Jewel guests can enjoy world-class entertainment including acrobatics and artistry in Le Cirque Bijou, variety entertainment and more. The sports complex will get the heart started with a range of activities including basketball, dodgeball, tennis and volleyball, and kids won’t want to leave the designated kid’s pool or Splash Academy, Norwegian’s award-winning youth program. Health enthusiasts can choose from classes ranging from Zumba to yoga, while those keen to dial down the pace may want to book in to be pampered at the Mandara Spa and Thermal Suite, home to a myriad of treatments designed to relax and rejuvenate weary travelers.

Accommodation options aboard Norwegian Jewel range from inside staterooms to balcony staterooms boasting superb views and private outdoor areas. Interconnecting rooms and multiple-bedroom suites are also available for families. For an unforgettably indulgent experience, Norwegian Jewel’s ultra-exclusive The Haven by Norwegian® is home to the ship’s most luxurious suites and villas, a private courtyard, whirlpools and dedicated private deck exclusively for Haven guests, as well as dedicated concierge services. For additional information, visit NCL.com.

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Sets Return To San Juan & St. Maarten

Royal Caribbean International has announced the cruise line's return to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Philipsburg, St. Maarten marking a major milestone towards the revival of these Caribbean gems which were impacted by recent hurricanes. On Nov. 30, Freedom of the Seas will be the first ship in the fleet to call on San Juan, Puerto Rico, arriving with approximately 3,782 visitors to the island that is renowned for its passionate, welcoming spirit. Grandeur of the Seas will follow suit on Dec. 17 as the first cruise ship to sail into, St. Maarten since Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas arrived to provide humanitarian relief last month. This announcement comes on the heels of Royal Caribbean's recent news that Adventure of the Seas will be the first ship to call on St. Thomas on Nov. 10.

"Royal Caribbean is encouraged by the commendable progress that has been made by the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten towards the recovery of these destinations and it means a lot to us that we are heading back home. We have been part of the Caribbean community for almost 50 years, and for all of us it has been paramount that we focus on supporting our long-standing partners—who feel more like family after so many years," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we—as travelers and businesses—can do for the islands."

Working closely with the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, and local businesses, Royal Caribbean will be able to offer destination experiences that will allow guests to enjoy the natural beauty, historic landmarks and culture of these idyllic islands. With power and transportation on track to be readily available in San Juan by Nov. 30, guests can tour the city by foot, bike, Segway or bus; explore the epic fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal in Old San Juan; spend the day on the beach at VIVO Beach Club; or admire the countryside through Cueva Ventana—the Window Cave—which sits atop an 800-foot limestone cliff.

Similarly, the return of power and water to most of St. Maarten means that a majority of the shops, restaurants and bars, and tour operators around Philipsburg will be fully operational for guests to experience a diverse and extensive array of dining, shopping and activities in the area. The sun and vistas of the region's best beaches, Great Bay Beach and Kimshaw Beach, will be a beacon for guests wanting to dive into the turquoise blue waters and admire the sea life, whether by boat or catamaran, or from the relaxing comfort of a beach lounger.

As of Nov. 30, all scheduled calls to San Juan and St. Thomas across 10 ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet will operate as planned—including calls from the world's largest cruise ships each sailing with nearly 6,000 new visitors each week—Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas. The scheduled visits to St. Maarten will operate as planned starting on Dec. 17 with the exception of Oasis of the Seas, which will make its first call to the island on January 1 during her New Year's Eve cruise. Additionally, the global cruise line will return to St. Croix on January 8 with the arrival of Jewel of the Seas, which will sail from San Juan. All calls to Dominica are cancelled through June 2018 and the cruise line is working closely with the local government on a return date to the destination.

For additional information on Royal Caribbean's newly updated Caribbean itineraries, visit RoyalCaribbean.com.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line Hosts Build-A-Bear Day of Fun For 100 Kids from Boys & Girls Club Aboard Carnival Magic

Carnival Cruise Line hosted a Build-A-Bear Workshop event that provided more than 100 kids from Brevard, Florida-area Boys & Girls Clubs with a day of fun aboard the Carnival Magic in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Coinciding with Build-A-Bear’s 20th Birthday, the event offered kids a chance to make their own cuddly bears that could be customized with a colorful Carnival T-shirt and other accessories. Each bear came with its own “birth certificate” and a special logoed drawstring bag for safe keeping. Kids also enjoyed delicious bear-themed sweets and a pizza party along with tours of the massive 130,000-ton Carnival Magic. The day culminated with a $10,000 donation from Carnival Cruise Line to the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“We’re proud and honored to host this event aboard Carnival Magic which provided kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs with their very own cuddly bear as a permanent reminder of their memorable time on board,” said Caroline Lombardi, director of youth experience at Carnival Cruise Line. “The festivities were also a great way to showcase our wonderful partnership with Build-A-Bear and celebrate a significant milestone in their history.”

Carnival Cruise Line launched the first-ever Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea last year and the popular family-friendly activity is now available on all 25 ships which collectively host more than 800,000 kids annually.

The family-friendly program includes Build-A-Bear stations located within the children’s play area on each ship and Build-A-Bear At Sea parties hosted by the ships’ cruise directors and featuring music, snacks and photo opportunities. A variety of optional outfits and accessories – everything from tutus and high-top sneakers to, appropriately enough, vacation wear like bathing suits and sunglasses – as well as a recordable chip that gives each bear its own voice, are also available.

Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea complements the wide variety of all-ages activities available aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships which also include complimentary children’s programs for kids 2-17, spectacular water parks with corkscrew slides and splash zones, miniature golf courses, video arcades, poolside DiveIn Movies on giant LED screens, outdoor play spaces, volleyball, and basketball courts and more.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit Carnival.com.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Port Everglades Extends Slip for Larger Cruise Ships

Larger cruise ships as long as 1,100 feet can now dock at Broward County's Port Everglades Cruise Terminal 4 without extending into the Intracoastal Waterway.

The $18-million Slip 2 construction project, adjacent to the recently renovated Cruise Terminal 4, lengthened the slip by 225 feet from the original 900 feet. The total 1,125-foot slip length meets the needs of most of today's modern cruise ships such as Holland America's Line's Pinnacle-class ships, which were introduced at Port Everglades during the 2017 cruise season with the U.S. debut of the ms Konningsdam or Princess Cruises' Royal-class ships, which also homeport at Port Everglades. Carnival Cruise Line is currently the primary user of the newly extended berth.

The Port Everglades Department is a self-supporting Enterprise Fund of Broward County, Florida government that does not rely on local tax dollars for operations. No local taxes were used for the Slip 2 extension project. The total value of economic activity related to Port Everglades is nearly $30 billion. Each cruise ship call at Port Everglades generates an estimated $2.2 million in business revenue for the local community.

Port Everglades is consistently ranked as one of the three busiest cruise ports in the world with more than 3.8 million passengers in fiscal year 2016 (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). Ten cruise lines, one ferry service and more than 40 cruise ships sail from the South Florida seaport including: Balearia's Bahamas Express (ferry), Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Pearl Seas Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Silversea Cruises. The Port's wide-ranging fleet of cruise ships provides guests with an array of cruise vacation choices from the Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach area.

View details on the latest cruise offerings at PortEverglades.net

Image Courtesy Port Everglades

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Viking Orders Seven New River Ships For 2019

Viking announced it has placed an order for seven new river ships that will debut in 2019. The newbuild order includes six additional award-winning Viking Longships®, which will sail the company's most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main, and Danube Rivers, and one additional vessel, inspired by the Longships and specifically designed for Portugal's Douro River. With the addition of the new river ships, Viking will operate a fleet of 69 river vessels around the world in 2019. Also by 2019, Viking will welcome its sixth ocean ship and will become the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

"We knew there was an opportunity to do things differently when we started this company 20 years ago," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. "In the last two decades, we have led the industry to define what modern river cruising looks like today. We continue to lead the industry with the largest fleet, the widest selection of itineraries and stateroom categories, and the most awards of any river cruise line. The Viking way of exploration has resonated with our target audience of experienced travelers, and this new ship order is a reflection of strong demand for more destination-focused cruises."

New Viking Longships for 2019
Of the seven vessels on order for 2019, six are Viking Longships, which integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco.

Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites—the largest river cruise suites in Europe—as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Staterooms include comfortable amenities such as hotel-style beds, heated bathroom floors, mini fridge, and both U.S. and EU outlets. Additionally, all Viking Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.

New Ship for the Douro River in 2019
Viking's additional ship on order for 2019 will be designed specifically for the company's Portugal's River of Gold itinerary. As a result of high customer demand, the new sister ship will join Viking's existing fleet of three ships on the Douro. Hosting 106 passengers in 53 staterooms, the Douro ships are smaller than Viking Longships, but feature many of the same popular features—including an Aquavit Terrace, a wide variety of stateroom choices, onboard solar panels and an organic herb garden, as well as Viking's signature Scandinavian design aesthetic.

The Viking Difference
Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. And only The Viking Way of exploration brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

Booking Details
From now through October 31, 2017, Viking is offering U.S. residents special offers, with 2-for-1 cruise fare and up to free international air on select river and ocean itineraries. For details, see VikingCruises.com.

MSC Cruises Launches Second World Cruise Featuring a Three-Month Itinerary to a Variety of Exotic Destinations

MSC Cruises has announced the opening of sales for its second world cruise, setting sail in 2020 on board MSC Magnifica. The 2020 MSC World Cruise boasts a new itinerary that includes more exotic, bucket-list destinations than ever before, with more than 40 ports of call and 23 countries. With four different embarkation ports and dates to kick off the three-month voyage, travelers can select their ideal starting point for a more customized vacation experience. Guests will make their travel dreams come true by crossing the globe without ever needing to leave the comfort of their staterooms. And, on board the stunning MSC Magnifica, they will be able to journey from country to country in the style and comfort that only MSC Cruises delivers.

"Following the highly successful launch of our first MSC World Cruise last year, due to set to sail in January 2019, we are now delighted to open sales for a new world cruise for 2020 developed to offer guests experiences and destinations that they will never forget," said Gianni Onorato, chief executive officer of MSC Cruises. "In addition, the experience onboard MSC Magnifica—one of the jewels of our fleet—has been designed to reflect the cultures and cuisines of the countries that the ship visits, giving guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a true around the world voyage of discovery both on board and on shore."

Guests embarking from Civitavecchia/Rome, Genoa, Marseille, and Barcelona on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th of January 2020 respectively will cross five continents on a three-month voyage of discovery to some of the world's most talked-about destinations. Travelers embarking on January 4, 2020 will actually be able to enjoy the ship one day early before official departure on January 5. To offer even more opportunities to explore, eight destinations will include an overnight stay in port, giving guests up to two days to experience the local attractions, cuisine and unique atmosphere.

The 2020 MSC World Cruise will visit 43 destinations in total, many of which are brand new, exotic destinations including, among many others:
• Ushuaia, Argentina – As the most southern city in the world, this Argentinian fishing village offers stunning water scenery with often snow-topped mountains.
• Rapa Nui / Easter Island – This island is famed globally for its unique collection of carved-stone figurines dating back to the 13th century.
• Darwin, Australia – Located at the northern tip of the country, the region allows guest to experience the true Australia – beaches, lagoons, sports and local wildlife, all within close proximity.
• Valparaiso, Chile – This city is famed for its small colored houses on its coastal hills, and guests can get a spectacular view out into the Pacific or explore the city, searching for its photo-worthy murals.
• Mumbai/Bombay, India – The bustling city of Mumbai (previously called Bombay) offers smells, tastes and sights around every corner.
• Salalah, Oman – With multiple waterfalls, exotic lush flora and unusual animals, this stop will be hard to forget.
MSC Cruises is known for providing authentic experiences through its wide range of shore excursions that allow guests to get closer to the action, discover new cultures and visit unique locations. The 2020 MSC World Cruise is no different, and to help guests make the most of their voyage, 15 shore excursions are included in the cost of the booking with additional excursions available to book in advance or during the cruise.

Highlights of these excursions include:
• In Isle of Pines, New Caledonia, guests can visit 'Turtle Bay' where it will be easy to understand the reason for the name. Participants can swim up-close and personal with two different breeds of turtles as well as possibly other marine life such as stingrays, manta rays, sharks and dolphins.
• In Aqaba, Petra, visitors can explore the ancient city of Petra in the middle of the Jordanian desert and traverse the narrow cut-through ravine revealing the famous rose-red rock carved temple.
• In Port Kelang, Kuala Lumpur, travelers can reach the peak of one of the world's most famous (and tallest) skyscrapers as you reach the top of the Kuala Lumpur Tower. From the top, guests can take in the breathtaking city views from above and capture the perfect vacation photos.
Guests on the World Cruise will also benefit from:
• A complimentary Mealtime Restaurant Drinks Package, which includes unlimited wine, mineral water, draft beer, sodas and fruit juices during lunch and dinner in the main dining room and buffet
• A 30% reduction on all laundry services
• More than 90 shows performed in the ship's Royal Theatre, including 30 Broadway-style shows and a wide range of live music, including acts inspired by the itinerary
• A comprehensive activity schedule with theme evenings, language classes, cultural guest speakers and much more
Guests will travel in style and comfort aboard MSC Magnifica, featuring an award-winning Balinese spa, one of the highest ratios of balcony staterooms at sea and fresh and authentic dining options that are a key feature of a MSC Cruises getaway.

Booking Information:
During the exclusive one-month booking window for MSC Voyagers Club members, loyal MSC Cruises guests will be able to choose their ideal stateroom before they sell out. Beyond that, the Company will also credit triple membership points at the time of booking, allowing MSC Voyagers Club members to enjoy added benefits right away, all on top of 15 complimentary shore excursions and a mealtime drinks package.

Guests who are not already an MSC Voyagers Club member, but do have a loyalty card or status from another leading travel reward program, can join the MSC Voyagers Club at a similar or higher level thanks to MSC Status Match. To learn more about MSC Magnifica and further details of the World Cruise itinerary, please visit MSC Cruises.

A Taste of James Beard at Sea: Windstar Cruises Debuts New Dishes

Windstar Cruises announces Chef Andy Ricker as the new guest chef aboard the January 20, 2018 Icons of Southeast Asia sailing. The James Beard Foundation Culinary Collection cruise is a 14-day journey from Hong Kong to Bangkok, making Ricker—a celebrated Thai cuisine chef—a perfect choice to guide guests on a feast for the senses.

Ricker is the chef/owner of Pok Pok Restaurants, with branches in Portland and New York City. He first visited Thailand as a backpacker in 1987. Since then, he has spent several months each year living, traveling, eating, cooking, and studying the food culture in Thailand and neighboring countries, including Vietnam. Among other achievements and accolades, Chef Ricker is a two-time James Beard Award winner and best-selling cookbook author. He replaces notable Chef Lee Anne Wong as the featured chef, who had to cancel due to family commitments.

Windstar, the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation, is now offering all cruise guests the opportunity to taste tailored recipes from James Beard Foundation-affiliated chefs. The boutique cruise line is rolling out dinner menus containing dozens of signature recipes from James Beard-affiliated chefs such as Top Chef Judge Chef Hugh Acheson and Seattle’s Chef Renee Erickson, who have sailed recently with Windstar as a guest chef. In addition, even more new dishes from a broad spectrum of regionally and nationally celebrated chefs, including Andy Ricker, Keith Rhodes and Mario Pagan, will continue to rotate onto menus throughout the coming year. The ongoing infusion of new destination-inspired locavore fare from chefs passionate about their craft and creations will enhance and elevate the guest dining experience as the culinary partnership grows.

“Throughout the flourishing partnership, Windstar and the James Beard Foundation are immersing guests in epicurean adventures around the globe,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “While some cruise lines boast a celebrity chef or offer a special restaurant experience on board for an additional fee, we have an entire arsenal of chefs who give us the ability to focus on regional cuisine that’s aligned with each chef’s specialty. This equates to more memorable meals at sea, prepared with locally sourced ingredients by some of the most recognized culinary talent in the world—all as part of our regular Windstar guest experience.”

AmphorA, the main dining room on each Windstar ship, is center stage for the rotating selection of featured James Beard recipes each evening. The new menus are rolling out to all Windstar ships by the end of the year and are currently available on Star Pride. Star Legend is next in line for the changes. Each dinner menu has two featured recipes from a James Beard-affiliated chef—either a starter, entrée, or dessert. The items are specially notated on the menu, and no “upcharge” or additional fee is charged for ordering these show-stopping dishes.

For example, guests may order Venison Carpaccio with shaved cabbage and cucumber coleslaw, toasted almonds, and aged local cheese as a starter one evening. The rich but light dish is from Chef Paul Berglund of The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, MN, and a James Beard Foundation award-winner for Best Chef Midwest. Berglund joined Windstar on an August 2017 cruise in Scandinavia, a region where he draws much of his culinary inspiration. On another evening, guests may order Grilled Guajillo Glazed Prawns with charred corn relish and creamy edam polenta as an entrée. The bright and tangy dish is from Chef Annie Pettry of Decca in Louisville, KY, and a recent Top Chef contestant. Pettry joined Windstar aboard a June 2017 Culinary Cruise Collection sailing in Spain and Portugal, where she was inspired to create the dish using local ingredients.

In addition to the new menu items, Windstar has “hit the road” with the James Beard Foundation stateside as part of the Taste America ten-city tour around the United States throughout October and November. While participating in the events in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Austin, and other cities, Windstar is offering a Dreams of Tahiti sweepstakes with the foundation for an opportunity to win a 7-day Dreams of Tahiti cruise, enjoying local cuisine like poisson cru along the journey.

For additional information on Windstar’s relationship with the James Beard Foundation and private yacht-style cruising with Windstar, visit WindstarCruises.com.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cruise Review: The Silver Whisper Revisited

By Georgina Cruz

There are few things in life that are better than setting sail on an intimate, ultra-luxury all-suite vessel, but one I can think of right off the bat is returning to that ship after a few years’ absence, re-living the memories of previous voyages and making new ones. This fall, my husband Humberto and I revisited the 28,258-ton, 382-guest Silver Whisper—this was our third voyage on that ship: we had first sailed on her during her inaugural year in 2001 and again in 2011, both times visiting gems of the Mediterranean—and she had never disappointed us. Now, in 2017, again we found her to be the ideal, beautiful and re fined, base—this time for our 11-day Canada/New England voyage from New York to Montreal in mid-October.

Upon embarkation, we were greeted, as usual on Silversea ships, by stewards bearing chilled flutes of champagne and other beverages in the ship’s lobby area, always a special, festive welcome aboard to the ship that boasts a contemporary décor, understatedly elegant. As Humberto and I always do on embarkation days, we dropped off our carry-on luggage in our suite (the Silver Whisper is an all-suite ship) and went on a self-guided tour of the vessel to re-acquaint ourselves with our favorite spaces: the Panorama Lounge, where we attended the very civilized musical afternoon teas several afternoons; La Terrazza, with its sun canopy in the al fresco area of the restaurant where we love to have lunch with a side of views of the ports and where we always linger over the delectable Italian fare, particularly the creamy, homemade gelatos at dinner in the indoor section; the Observation Lounge, from where we like to watch port arrivals and departures and toast the occasional sunset; and The Restaurant, where particularly apropos dishes to our itinerary like grilled Maine lobster with saffron potatoes and vegetable vermicelli are served impeccably, but in a warm and friendly manner, never stuffy like it can be sometimes in some other ultra-luxury lines’ ships.

The Spa, Card Room, Casino, and Boutiques were as fresh as we remembered them. And so was the Viennese Lounge, the Silver Whisper’s show lounge, that presents enrichment lectures during the day and musical productions and cabaret-style presentations in the evenings. One of our favorite shows was a presentation by cruise director Vicki Van Tassel featuring song, dance, and lots of humor and chronicling her journey to Broadway. The Viennese Lounge, by the way, will be receiving new equipment, including new lights, this fall and in December La Terrazza, Panorama and Observation Lounges will be refurbished as part of a general refit to get the ship ready for her annual World Cruise.

The outdoor spaces on the ship also did not disappoint and we were soon ensconced in our favorite comfy sun beds for two by the pool. We frequented this area often, particularly its Hot Rocks Grill, our favorite Silversea outdoor restaurant, where we can cook our steaks, salmon, prawns, and other goodies on hot lava rocks right at our table.

For special occasions there is La Dame (previously Le Champagne but now re-named in a nod to Silversea’s newest vessel, the Silver Muse, and featuring the same menu as on the Silver Muse). La Dame offers dishes inspired in Relais & Chateaux—lobster tail or filet of Limousin beef, Café de Paris, anyone? This delectable fare, perhaps enjoyed with a luscious soufflé au Grand Marnier for dessert, is served in La Dame with seating for just 24 (fee is $60 per person, the only restaurant that charges a fee onboard). The daily selections of wine served by Silversea in restaurants are complimentary (beverages including wines, beers, cocktails, sodas and bottled water are complimentary throughout the ship). A dinner at La Dame is definitely a highlight of any voyage, and when the Silver Whisper pulls into a port—any port—it is safe to say that La Dame is among the top five restaurants in the area.

Port highlights during our journey in Canada and along the U.S. East Coast included:
• The Cliff Walk trail and a visit to tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s The Breakers Gilded Age mansion were the highlights of our call at Newport, R.I. On one side of the trail is New England’s rocky coast and powerful surf and on the other, Newport’s “cottages,” the mansions of the rich and powerful. A self-guided tour inside the 70-room of The Breakers mansion, set on a 13-acre estate, showed us its Italian Renaissance interior which is opulent and inspired on 16th century Italian palaces.
• The Freedom Trail in Boston opened a window to the past for us. A 2.5-mile trail marked by a red line on the city’s streets, it leads to historic churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship—the USS Constitution—and more. Among many highlights for us was the visit to Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church of “one if by land, two if by sea” fame. The Paul Revere House dating from around 1680 is now a museum and the oldest structure remaining in downtown Boston. Revere lived here when he made his famous ride to Lexington on April 18-19, 1775 that would be immortalized by Longfellow in his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
• A shipboard-bought tour took us to from Rockland, Maine to quaint Rockport and Camden to visit these quintessential New England towns. A delicious stop at the oceanside Samoset Resort introduced us to the flavors of the region during a Lobster Bake, with fresh whole Maine lobsters pulled out of the sea and drizzled with butter and served with mussels, fresh corn, baked potato, cole slaw, and blueberry pie—Yum!
• A walking tour along the cobblestone streets of the Old Town of Quebec City, the only walled city in North America and UNESCO World Heritage site. We took in the Place Royale with its stone buildings in the heart of town and North America’s oldest standing Catholic Church, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. Other points of interest included Le Quartier Petit Champlain, a pedestrian-only area with narrow cobblestone streets filled with outdoor cafes, boutiques, and entertainers including strolling musicians, jugglers and other performers. A funicular ride transported us to the Upper Town for additional exploration and views of the St. Lawrence River.
• In Halifax, Nova Scotia, we had, on previous cruises visited the star-shaped Citadel Fortress, a National Historic Site of Canada. It dates from the mid-1700s, has an impressive 19th century Old Town Clock at its entrance, and it offers panoramic views of the city and its harbor. We had also visited Peggy’s Cove, a picture-postcard-perfect fishing village with one of the most photographed lighthouses in the Canadian Maritimes, but we couldn’t resist and went there again—a glorious sunny afternoon with the lighthouse gleaming: its white paint as white as marshmallows against the gray and black of the rocky promontory on which it stands facing the sea.
• Scenic cruising along the Saguenay River offered a feast of fall colors with birches and willows resplendent in yellows. In the dramatic Saguenay Fjord with its 1,500-ft. high cliffs, another sight awaited: a 33-foot statue of Notre Dame du Saguenay with the Madonna perched on Cape Trinity. The “Ave Maria” was played in the outer decks of the Silver Whisper as the ship passed the statue of the Virgin Mary, in praise of the patroness of the fjord.
Embarkation/disembarkation ports highlights included the view of the Statue of Liberty and the Big Apple’s skyline as the Silver Whisper sailed out of New York Harbor, and the lovely Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal.

After our explorations ashore, our suite #718, was a welcoming, comfortable and attractive home at sea with seating/dining area, marble bath, bedroom with plush bedding—so comfortable we found ourselves falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer—and a nice veranda furnished with comfortable seating and a table and chairs (coming to think of it, this veranda was large enough to throw a party in if we so wished!). It was perfect to watch the New England and Canada coasts go by.

The Silver Whisper, in a word, shines in her accommodations. The ship has 194 ocean-view suites ranging from entry level suites measuring 287 square feet to spacious apartment-style lodgings measuring 1,435 square feet, and more than 80 percent of the accommodations have private verandas. Among the standard suite amenities are butler service (we definitely wished, as we do on all our Silversea Cruises, that we could take ours home with us after the voyage). Our butler Dinesh Loham, from Mumbai, India, provided the SebaMed hypo-allergenic lotions, soaps and other toiletries both Humberto and I love and kept them replenished (there is also a choice of Bvlgari and Ferragamo toiletries), and he provided our complimentary bar set-up and replenishment including my favorite Pinot Grigio wine, as well as fresh fruits and canapes (foie gras terrine, caviar with blinis, and Mediterranean tapas were among the delights available in our suite) and he served us dinner ensuite one evening when we returned from a long tour ashore.

Other suite amenities include convertible twin-to-queen beds, luxurious Pratesi bed linens, walk-in wardrobe, sitting area with writing desk, dressing table with hair dryer, choice of pillows, plush robes and slippers, Italian marble bathroom with telephone, double basin vanity, full bath and separate shower, refrigerator and cocktail bar, flat screen television, direct-dial telephone, Wi-Fi and cellular service, personal safe, and 110/220 electric current. Owner's, Grand, and Royal Suites feature whirlpool bathtub, guest powder room, CD player & espresso machine. Silver Suites (this was our suite category) feature whirlpool bathtub, CD player & espresso machine. Medallion Suites feature whirlpool bathtub.

Bottom line? Sailing on the Silver Whisper three times is definitely not enough—we want to return soon!

Information: Silversea.com.

The Legendary Cunard Experience Returns to Alaska with the Launch of Queen Elizabeth’s 2019 Voyages

In 2019, Cunard will sail to Alaska, once again bringing the beauty of the Pacific Northwest to guests. A series of voyages beginning in May 2019 will combine the magnificence of Alaska with the luxury of Cunard as Queen Elizabeth sails from Japan to Alaska and then remains in the region through June. The ship will then transport passengers down the West Coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal to New York, on to Iceland and the British Isles.

“Cunard is thrilled to make our return to Alaska with our youngest ship Queen Elizabeth,” said Josh Leibowitz, Senior VP, Cunard North America. “Our guests can now explore the region on the best itinerary in Alaska—four 10-night round-trip Vancouver sailings with more time in port and opportunities to visit the natural wonders of Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier.”

To start the Alaska program, Queen Elizabeth will sail from Tokyo (Yokohama) to Vancouver with a 27-night voyage on May 5, 2019. Guests will cross the International Date Line sailing to the Alaskan port of Kodiak, home to the Alutiiq people for more than 7,000 years. The next stop is the capital of Juneau, then passing the pristine Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm, on to the quaint town of Skagway, and Icy Strait Point before visiting Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, B.C., and Vancouver.

Once in Alaska, Queen Elizabeth will offer four 10-night roundtrip Vancouver sailings, departing May 21 and 31 and June 10 and 20, 2019. Itineraries feature scenic cruising through the scenic waterways of the famous Inside Passage as well as full days in several of the region’s highlight ports to discover the history and culture of the area. Guests will experience the gold rush spirit of Skagway and Juneau, the native tribes of Ketchikan and the Russian charm of Sitka. The itinerary also includes the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, and Victoria, B.C.

From Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth heads to the vibrant cities of San Francisco and then Los Angeles, for a rare overnight stay on July Fourth, a perfect way to celebrate the diverse beauty of North America.

For those looking to expand their adventure, guests can remain on board for the full Grand Voyage. After departing from Vancouver and stopping in California, the ship continues through the Panama Canal to Ft. Lauderdale or New York before crossing the Atlantic to reach the dramatic shores of Reykjavik, Dublin, Glasgow on to London. Grand Voyages can be booked from 21- to 49-nights.

Rocky Mountain Rail Land Tours are offered pre- and post- cruise including three or five nights’ accommodation and two full days aboard the train. The journey travels through a spectacular array of scenery with glacier and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies, through winding river canyons, mountain passes and remarkable tunnels. Highlights include the Continental Divide, Kicking Horse Canyon, Spiral Tunnels and the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon.

Early booking is available to World Club members beginning October 30, 2017 with reservations being opened to the general public starting on October 31. For those looking to enjoy the coveted Grills experience, an early booking benefit of complimentary drinks and gratuities is available from October 30, 2017 to February 28, 2018. More information on Cunard’s Alaska voyages can be found at Cunard.com/Alaska-cruises.

Image Courtesy of Cunard Line

SeaDream Yacht Club Announces Extended Hours for Reservations

SeaDream Yacht Club, known for showcasing the most picturesque ports and harbors, announces extended hours in its reservations department.

Due to increased demand, reservations is now available on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST in addition to Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. SeaDream will conclude its 2017 calendar with holiday sailings in the Caribbean before offering a full schedule in 2018 with itineraries set in both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean along with special themed voyages.

“We have seen an increased demand for our 2018 Wine Voyages along with itineraries to Spain and Croatia” shares SeaDream Yacht Club President Bob Lepisto. “Factoring in the success of our 2019 Cuba voyages as well, we have seen the necessity to extend reservation hours to assist all of our potential guests.”

SeaDream still has space available on their 2017 Holiday Sailings, with two 7-day voyages departing on Dec. 21. On board, guests can escape the winter cold and the stress of having to entertain, and instead sail the Caribbean’s most secluded ports on one of SeaDream’s intimate, 112-guest mega-yachts. The holiday season offers an ideal time to experience SeaDream’s service and cuisine as the award-winning 95-person crew has you relaxing while they attend to the holiday chores.

Defined by the statement, “It’s yachting, not cruising,” SeaDream is ideal for the active traveler, as both SeaDream I and SeaDream II are equipped with wave runners, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and many other watersports activities, all of which can be launched directly from the yachts’ Marina. With the highest therapist-to-guest ratio at sea, the SeaDream Spa ensures complete rejuvenation for its guests.

To reach SeaDream Yacht Club’s reservations please call 1-800-707-4911 or visit SeaDream.com.

Image Courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club

Monday, October 23, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line & Brees Dream Foundation Team Up for Sweepstakes Awarding Free Cruise Each Game Saints Throw for 300 Yards This Season

Carnival Cruise Line—the Official Cruise Line of the New Orleans Saints—and the Brees Dream Foundation have teamed up for a fun sweepstakes awarding a different lucky fan a free cruise each time the Saints pass for more than 300 yards in a game during the 2017 season.

A 17-year veteran and the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV, Drew Brees is one of the most prolific passers in NFL history with an NFL record 113 career 300-yard passing games, including the playoffs. Fans who register at Carnival.com/Saints are automatically entered into the promotion which runs for the entire 2017 regular season.

"I'm excited to partner with Carnival and give Saints fans even more reason to be rooting for us on game day," said Brees. "It's also great that Carnival is helping to provide much needed support and assistance to some very special children and their families."

The contest is designed to raise funds and bring awareness to the mission of the Brees Dream Foundation which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for cancer patients and providing care, education and opportunities for children and families in need. Since its inception 12 years ago, the Foundation has contributed over $25 million to charitable causes globally. Carnival will make a cash donation to the Brees Dream Foundation.

The sweepstakes also continues Carnival's ongoing support of the New Orleans community. Carnival is the city's number one cruise operator with two year-round ships carrying more than 400,000 passengers annually from the Erato Street Cruise Terminal—the most of any cruise line.

"Carnival has been operating cruises from New Orleans for nearly 25 years and we are honored to team up with legendary quarterback and community leader Drew Brees to raise funds and awareness for his Foundation which does such wonderful work for children and their families each and every day," said Scott Becher, Vice President of Partnership and Loyalty of Carnival Cruise Line.

For full sweepstakes rules and regulations, visit Carnival.com/Saints. Additional information on the Brees Dream Foundation is available at DrewBrees.com. For additional information about Carnival Cruise Line visit Carnival.com.

Crystal Cruises Announces Expanded Collection Of 2017 & 2018 'Crystal Getaways'

In its continued commitment to offer luxury travelers more choices, Crystal Cruises has unveiled an expanded selection of Crystal Getaways—abbreviated voyages derived from longer existing itineraries—for both 2017 and 2018. New to the roster of Getaways are eight shortened segments of Crystal Serenity's 2018 World Cruise voyages, exploring Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, South America, the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, and the Caribbean. The global voyages range from four to 17 days in length, providing busy travelers options for luxury vacations with reduced investment of time and funds.

"Crystal Getaways are perfectly suited to modern luxury travelers, whose calendars are packed but who relish opportunities to discover new cultures and adventures," says Carmen Roig, Crystal's senior vice president of marketing and sales. "These shortened itineraries help our guests make the most of their travel time, with the same standard of Crystal's award-winning luxury and enriching experiences, at a fraction of the fare of the full voyage."

Combined with existing 2017 Crystal Getaways exploring the Arabian Coast, South Africa and the Caribbean, the newly added 2018 itineraries round out a total of 15 abbreviated worldwide journeys. Guests can discover the glamour of the United Arab Emirates and the wilds of the African savannah; the bustling marketplaces and sacred temples of Vietnam and the famous giant pandas of Chengdu; the crystalline waters of Fiji and waterside jungles of Phuket; and the biological wonders of the Galapagos Islands and colorful culture of Chile. The new collection of Crystal Getaways includes:

• November 22, Dubai to Abu Dhabi, 4 days, Crystal Symphony
• November 26, Abu Dhabi to Mahé/Victoria, 5 days, Crystal Symphony
• December 1, Mahé/Victoria to Port Louis, 8 days, Crystal Symphony
• December 6, Fort Lauderdale to Barbados/Bridgetown, 8 days, Crystal Serenity
• December 9, Port Louis to Maputo, 7 days, Crystal Symphony
• December 14, Barbados/Bridgetown to Charleston, 6 days, Crystal Serenity
• December 16, Maputo to Cape Town, 6 days, Crystal Symphony
• January 30, Honolulu to Sydney, 17 days, Crystal Serenity
• March 15, Hong Kong to Singapore, 14 days, Crystal Serenity
• March 28, Singapore to Colombo, 12 days, Crystal Serenity
• April 6, Valparaíso to Lima, 6 days, Crystal Symphony
• April 9, Colombo to Mumbai, 6 days, Crystal Serenity
• April 12, Lima to Colón, 7 days, Crystal Symphony
• April 23, Aruba to Fort Lauderdale, 7 days, Crystal Symphony
• May 26, Honolulu to Vancouver, 8 days, Crystal Symphony
For more information, visit Crystal Cruises.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Friday, October 20, 2017

Norwegian Jade & Norwegian Sun Retrofitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the successful completion of the retrofitting of a new Exhaust Gas Cleaning system on two of its ships, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Jade. In conjunction with the line's Sail & Sustain environmental program, the new systems are aimed at significantly reducing air emissions and, subsequently, the ships' environmental footprints. Early in 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line was the first cruise line to commit to retrofitting six vessels and has exceeded that commitment with now eight total ships.

With the installation of the new technology into two more ships, Norwegian Cruise Line is continuing to exemplify its commitment of applying safe and conservative environmental practices across the fleet. The ships’ new lightweight in-line scrubbers are a hybrid technology developed by Yara Marine Technologies that are able to operate in open loop, closed loop and closed loop with bleed off mode. In each ship, five scrubbers were installed, one per engine, covering the whole propulsion system. Collectively, they are capable of reducing the emission of sulfur to air up to 99 percent and also reduce 85 percent particulate emission to the air. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun’s new technology will reduce the equivalent of approximately 3,000 tons of Sulfur Oxide, SOx, gas in the years to come.

The new system works by “scrubbing away” the sulfur oxide and particulate matter before the emissions leave the stack to decrease the amount that is released into the air, resulting in a clean white plume of steam.

Norwegian led the industry by being the first cruise line to install scrubbers with a state-of-the-art water membranes filtration unit in 2016. This sophisticated water cleaning system uses Ultrafiltration technology to clean the recirculated water during the closed loop operation down to clear water. The by-product is collected and removed in drums.

As part of Sail & Sustain, Norwegian’s Safety and Environmental Protection Policy establishes several objectives relating to the environment, which include reducing the impact of its operations on the environment, disposing garbage and waste materials in accordance with national and international rules and regulations, recycling and re-using materials and establishing specific objectives and targets for continual improvement of environmental management programs.

Norwegian now has eight ships outfitted with Gas Scrubbers technology, with Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun joining Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy, and Pride of America and the line’s newest ship sailing in June 2018, Norwegian Bliss. Norwegian Cruise Line is on track to meet its MARPOL Annex VI compliance goal of reducing its global sulfur cap from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent by 2020.

For more information about Norwegian Cruise Line, visit NCL.com.

Images Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Miami Beach Welcomes Beach Lovers with Special Travel Offers this Winter Season

Ideal for a pre- or post-cruise getaway this fall and winter, Miami Beach is helping sun seekers find their seasonal beach escape with exclusive travel deals and offers. Now through the end of the year, beach-lovers can get ready to pack their bags thanks to discounts of up to 25 percent off* at several area hotels, including Dream South Beach, Loews Miami Beach, Mondrian South Beach, Gale South Beach, W South Beach and more.

"This beach-wide initiative to offer specialty discounts and deals this upcoming season is a testament to how our local Miami Beach hotel community is rolling out the welcome mat and working to help tourists de-stress with that coveted warm weather vacation to escape the cold," said Peggy Benua, Chair of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA) and General Manager of Dream South Beach. "We are preparing for a very strong season and look forward to welcoming vacationers and making it easier for them to escape to our beautiful city, Miami Beach, that is truly like no other place in the world."

Beach lovers can select from a variety of Miami Beach hotel discounts that will be sure to warm them up this season, including:
• Dream South Beach: Travelers can book the Beach Lovers promotion and receive a 25 percent discount on room rates with a complimentary resort fee that includes luxury lounge chairs, beach towels and in-room Wi-Fi.
• Loews Miami Beach: Experience an enhanced oceanfront escape and book three nights to receive a $75 resort credit per stay and daily buffet breakfast for two.
• AC Hotel Miami Beach: Get away to warm weather and enjoy up to 20 percent off on advance bookings for stays now through December 22.
• Courtyard Miami Beach/South Beach: Go art deco this winter season at a historical landmark, just minutes from the beautiful beaches and premier shopping on South Beach, with up to 20 percent off advance bookings for stays now through December 22.
• Mondrian South Beach: Soak up the sun in the heart of Miami Beach and experience the iconic Ocean Drive, Espanola Way and Lincoln Road with up to 15% off the best available rate.
• Gale South Beach: Luxury service, hospitality perks and complimentary food and beverage offerings await travelers with up to 15 percent off the best available rate.
For more information and updates on additional Miami Beach hotel offers and discounts this winter season, download the Miami Beach Information App at .miamibeachapi.com/app.

*All offers are subject to availability and blackout dates, as noted by each individual property.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Celebrity Cruises Invites Guests to Experience the Best of Europe – With an Edge

From Athens to Barcelona to Reykjavik, Celebrity Cruises has all of Europe covered with the brand’s award-winning fleet that delivers unrivaled modern luxury vacations. In 2019, Celebrity will have five stunning ships, including the newest, Celebrity Edge, sailing in the region.

With stops in 27 different countries, overnight stays in 16 cities, and visits to more than 90 ports of call–including three brand new Celebrity-first ports of call: Nauplion, Greece; Rijeka, Croatia; and Santa Margherita, Italy–there’s no better way to experience Europe than with Celebrity.

“From our expansive new itineraries, including three exciting new ports of call and overnights in 16 cities across the region, to our specially curated shore excursions, there’s a reason we’re continually recognized as the ‘Best Cruise Line In Europe’,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises.

The newest iconic European landmark isn’t on land
As revealed by Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Edge will be transporting guests to the stunning vistas of the Mediterranean with a range of 7- to 11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome in 2019. The itineraries will also feature two of the new ports of call: Nauplion, Greece–a charming coastal town with a Greek island-feel–and Santa Margherita, Italy–a picturesque seaside town near Portofino.

With its revolutionary, outward-facing design–highlighted by signature features such as the Magic Carpet and the Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda–Europe has never seen a ship like Celebrity Edge before, and guests will have never seen Europe like they will on Celebrity Edge.

Beyond the Edge of Europe
In addition to Celebrity Edge, the premium cruise brand will also occupy the region with four more award-winning vessels, including Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Reflection, and Celebrity Silhouette. There really is no better way to experience Europe than with Celebrity.

Celebrity Infinity
In 2019, Celebrity Infinity will return to Europe for the first time since 2014, offering 7- to 12-night itineraries with visits to some of the most popular countries in the region, including Italy, Malta, Greece, and Croatia.

With alternating seven-night sailings from Venice to Rome and Rome to Venice, Celebrity Infinity offers travelers the flexibility to create even more immersive vacations by booking back-to-back itineraries for a 14-night tour of the Mediterranean. These combined sailings have no repeat stops along the way and include an exciting overnight stay in the gorgeous city of Venice.

Celebrity Constellation
Celebrity Constellation will also be returning to Europe in 2019 with exciting new itineraries, including visits to a brand-new port of call, Rijeka, Croatia. Modern luxury explorers will be able to choose from a variety of 9- and 10-night itineraries sailing from Venice, Barcelona, and Rome; Celebrity Constellation will immerse guests along the Dalmatian Coast, the French Riviera, Italy, Spain, and the sun-soaked Greek Isles. The alternating sailings offers guests the opportunity to book 9- and 10-night itineraries back-to-back, creating unbelievable journeys across Europe.

Celebrity Reflection
For the 2019 season, Celebrity Reflection will call Dublin and Amsterdam home and offer a wide range of itineraries for unparalleled European vacations, with 8- to 12-night sailings across northern Europe, from the British Isles to Scandinavia, Russia, and Iceland.

Travelers will visit iconic ports of call across the region, including Reykjavik, Iceland; Lerwick, Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; the Norwegian Fjords; St. Petersburg, Russia; and many more, including overnight stays in Dublin.

Celebrity Silhouette
Celebrity Silhouette returns to Southampton in 2019 to offer a variety of 3- to 14-night sailings to some of the most iconic destinations in Europe, including Scandinavia to Russia, the Norwegian Fjords, Ireland, and Iceland. Guests will enjoy overnight stays in St. Petersburg, Russia, where they can enjoy everything from the Russian Ballet to visits to the Hermitage and the famous palaces of the Russian nobility.

Other exciting cities along Celebrity Silhouette’s Scandinavian season include Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Tallinn. The ship will also venture to Ireland and Iceland for adventurous 12- and 14-night sailings.

Over the coming weeks, Celebrity will continue to reveal more of its robust 2019-2020 cruise vacation lineup. To learn more, visit CelebrityCruises.com.

Image Courtesy Celebrity Cruises