Friday, August 12, 2016

Cuba cruises on hold at Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International is all prepared to go to Cuba, having spent $50 million refurbishing the 1,840-passenger Empress of the Seas for the itinerary. But lacking permission from the Cuban government, Royal Caribbean has put the ship into a holding pattern. It will be at least November before Cuba cruises can start.
This is the right sized vessel for Cuba, and our intention is someday we will be going there. Were just still waiting for the nod, said Vicki Freed, senior vice president .Freed led a tour of the Empress recently  showing off the improvements, including the addition of photos of Cuba in the Boleros nightclub. A Cuban combo in Boleros provided entertainment.
Empress of the Seas, a 27-year-old ship, had been sailing for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.s Spanish brand Pullmantur until earlier this year. A big part of Royal Caribbeans upgrade to the ship came in the galleys, which were completely gutted and redone. All the rooms got new carpets, drapes, linens and other soft goods. The six suites got new furniture and upgrades such as bedside USB ports.

For more information and to be placed on the waiting list or to make  reservations on other Royal Caribbean ships,  contact The Cruise Professionals at theCRUISEOUTLET.com at 203-288-1884 or email: info@thecruiseoutlet.com .

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Disney successfully adds to THE river cruise market

Adventures by Disneys first river cruising season is nearly halfway over, and so far, it has proved a successful move into a market generally overlooked by family travelers.  On this seven-day Danube sailing on the 170-passenger AmaViola from Vilshofen to Budapest, Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Adventures by Disney (ABD), said the company was already looking forward to its expansion to a second river, the Rhine, next summer, and that Disney was broadening river cruisings demographic.  [Were] bringing new people into the river cruise category, Potrock said. Theyre kind of locked into a segment of the population, and we can expand that segment by bringing families into the equation.
Adventures By Disney made its foray into river cruising in partnership with AmaWaterways, which purpose-built the AmaViola with family-friendly design details, including connecting staterooms and suites suitable for three- and four-member families, a rare feature on river cruise ships.  As you would expect with Disney, cruisers will find a family-friendly experience onboard, with movie nights and dance parties for kids. Disney Cruise Line fans will recognize the pirate party with face painting.  Kid-friendly excursions include a walking tour of Bratislava, Slovakia, where kids can complete a puzzle of landmarks; a salt mine tour in Salzburg, Austria, with train rides and wooden slides going into the mine; an Austrian park where kids can walk above the treetops on wooden ledges; and a marionette show offering children a chance to go backstage and try manipulating the dolls themselves.
Parents will appreciate touches such as the tour of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, where Adventure Guides take the kids through garden mazes and to an onsite childrens museum, enabling adults to explore on their own.  Launching the first of this kind of product has been a learning process, and Disney said it would continue to tweak the programming and dining to make it better for both adults and children.   The biggest change so far is the minimum age for its cruises: next year, Disney raised it from 4 to 6, but it still recommends 8, based on feedback and seeing how the different aged kids were dealing with the river cruise experience, said Terry Brinkoetter, public relations director for Disney Destinations.   The line also adjusted its dining options. Previously, everyone ate dinner together in the dining room. Now, kids can choose to eat in the lounge, supervised by Adventure Guides who hang out and play games, giving parents a chance to dine alone. Teens may eat together in the wine cellar, and many on my cruise chose to do so. The main dining room has a kids menu for when families wish to dine together. 
Disney also learned on the go with its bicycling excursions, increasing the minimum age from 12 to 14 years after seeing how challenging the tour was, with rough roads (think cobblestone streets) and non-English street signs. An example of the high level of onboard service is that with no bikes suitable for younger kids such as my 9-year-old for the ride on your own option, the cruise director had local bikes delivered to use. 
Future plans
Potrock, who was also onboard with his family, said over dinner at the ships Chefs Table Restaurant that next years expansion to the Rhine on the upcoming 170-passenger AmaKristina made a lot of sense.  Theres a lot of culture and character in that region of the world, he said. And we think theres a lot of connection to classic Disney lore and stories there.  We think its going to play really wonderfully.  With ABD expanding to two rivers for summer 2017, the next area of growth might be cruise timing, Potrock said, possibly expanding into May or September. Disney currently only offers the cruises from June through August, which works well for ABD and AmaWaterways, he said, because summer is not the strongest market for older couples, the mainstay clients for river cruises, due to the heat and crowds in Europe, but is perfect for Disneys family-oriented approach.   Beyond that, he said he sees an opportunity to focus on the adult-only market and get creative in terms of thematics. With the popularity of wine cruises, he said, Disney could possibly find a tie-in with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival to create a new river cruise product.
ABDs Danube river cruise fares include daily shore excursions; WiFi; gratuities; all onboard and some off-ship meals; unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks with every lunch and dinner; and onboard entertainment, including classes for the kids.   Ports include Vilshofen and Passau in Germany and Linz, Melk, Krems and Vienna in Austria, as well as Bratislava and Budapest. 
For more information, receive exclusive amendities and rates and to make reservations on AMA RiverCruises or the Disney program, contact The Cruise Professionals at theCRUISEOUTLET.com at 203-288-1884 or email: info@thecruiseoutlet.com  For  exclusive rates and amenities.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Review of the new Viking Cruises' Viking Star

July 31, 2016 - Excerpts from an article written by Marilyn Green 

It was clear  after only one week onboard Viking Ocean Cruises luxurious Viking Star that it is, first and foremost, a home to its passengers. The designers have found a way to combine elegance and comfort, making the vessel not only a ship, but also a residence.  When the 930-passenger Viking Star launched last year, most of the spotlight was on the ships hardware, as the line had promised to bring many features over from its river cruise operation.
Now, what stands out the most is the ships culture. Guests dont just cruise  they move in.
Its hard to explain the ships combination of beauty and comfort.
And, as in many homes, food is a key feature that brings people together. Although the dining room fare is beautifully planned and delicious, it was the more informal food offerings that were the topic of conversation among guests. The word got out quickly about Mamsens, the onboard deli that uses recipes from the owners mother (oh, the waffles!), but it was the World Cafe buffet with its open kitchen that truly impressed cruise veterans.
One passenger confessed to me that she had requested made-to-order eggs Benedict from the buffet three times. There were similar responses to the evenings Peking duck, the cooked-to-order steaks and the nightly spread of fresh and gorgeous seafood  crab, shrimp, prawns and sushi. A spread of tapas was also popular, and vegetarians devoured dishes such as mashed sweet potatoes, pastas, curries and soups. Dispensers in the buffet served beverages such as coffee, juice, lemonade, cappuccinos and a choice of still or sparkling water.
The room service menu, too, received high honors from guests, and featured dishes such as Angus New York strip steak, grilled chicken breast, Norwegian salmon and artisan cheeses, gravlax (salmon cured with salt, pepper and dill) and Reuben sandwiches. Cheesecake, apple pie, chocolate mousse and dishes with no sugar added are also available.
Although the destinations Viking visits are incredible, I found it difficult to tear myself away from my stateroom. All accommodations have private verandas, superb king-size beds and bathrooms with glassed-in showers, heated tile floors and towel racks and  Freya toiletries. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen televisions, and guests receive complimentary Wi-Fi access.  Complimentary self-service laundry is available on every deck, and pre-measured laundry detergent is offered at no extra charge.
And its not only the guests who are enthusiastic about what is offered onboard Viking Star. Service is excellent as well, and employees seemed genuinely happy. At the bar, a couple asked the server how the crews quarters were. “ We know how lucky we are, the server told them. They are much bigger and better than on the other lines where I’ve worked”..
Inviting as it is, Viking Star is not for everyone. The minimum age to come onboard is 16, and there is no dazzling entertainment or a casino. But for those who find their match here, its a difficult place to leave

For more information, to make reservations and receive  exclusive rates and amenities on any Viking Ocean ship contact The Cruise Professionals at  TheCruiseOutlet.com at 203-288-1884 or email: info@thecruiseoutlet.com

Monday, August 8, 2016

Holland America Line Raises Prices in Specialty Restaurants Across Cruise Fleet

Holland America Line has upped prices in three alternative restaurants across its fleet. Dining package pricing has also subsequently increased. According to the line it has been several years since it made a price adjustment at its restaurants. "The three award-winning restaurants remain among the best values at sea for specialty dining with pricing that falls below that of other cruise line alternative restaurants," the line said in a statement. The price increases came into effect August 1 in its signature restaurant Pinnacle Grill, as well as at Asian-themed restaurant Tamarind and Italian-themed Canaletto.
The price increases are:
Pinnacle Grill: up from $29 to $35 per person for dinner. Lunch remains the same. 
Tamarind (only available on Nieuw Amsterdam, Eurodam and Koningsdam): up from $20 to $25 per person. Canaletto: up from $10 to $15 per person. Dining Packages purchased online or onboard have also increased: Evening in the Pinnacle Grill (two dinners in Pinnacle Grill): up from $52 to $62 
Signature Dining Package (one reservation each in Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto): up from $35 to $44 
Distinctive Dining Package (one reservation each in Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind and Canaletto): up from $50 to $65. Ultimate Dining Package (available on Koningsdam only with one reservation each for Pinnacle Grill, the Culinary Arts Center, Sel de Mer, Tamarind and Canaletto): up from $104 to $119
The pricing for An Evening at Le Cirque and Taste of De Librije remains unchanged at $49 and $69 per person respectively.

For more information and to make reservations on a Holland America Cruise , contact The Cruise Professionals at theCRUISEOUTLET.com at 203-288-1884 or email: info@thecruiseoutlet.com .


Friday, August 5, 2016

Caribbean Princess Skips Dublin Port of Call After Losing Propulsion

Caribbean Princess was forced to skip a scheduled port call in Dublin, Ireland after losing propulsion at approximately 7 a.m. local time. The ship was about 25 nautical miles southeast of Dublin, at the time, in the Irish Sea. Though propulsion was lost, at no time was the ship without electrical power and has been operating with full ship/hotel services, including air conditioning, galleys, lighting and toilets. The ships Chief Engineer, in collaboration with Princess Fleet Technical team restored propulsion, which the line said was due to "a glitch in the electrical system in the engine room." However, due to the amount of time the ship was without propulsion it had to forgo its visit to Dublin. Passengers who booked shore excursions through Princess are being refunded. Caribbean Princess, which was on day three of a 12-day cruise, is enroute to Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is the next scheduled port of call on the itinerary. Princess has sent technical and electrical engineering experts to meet the ship. (August 4, 2016)

For more information or to make reservations on a Princess ship, contact The Cruise Professionals at theCRUISEOUTLET.com at 203-288-1884 or email: info@thecruiseoutlet.com .

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Disney Cruise Line Debuts Frozen, A Musical Spectacular

The new stage show based on the hit animated film Frozen will run exclusively aboard Disney Wonder on cruises starting November 10 from Galveston, Texas. Frozen, A Musical Spectacular will run exclusively aboard the Disney Wonder on cruises starting November 10.
The show will follow the adventures of royal sisters Anna and Elsa as they embark on a journey to discover the meaning of sisterhood, inner strength and true love, using a new combination of traditional theatrical techniques and modern technology. It will have dynamic costumes and sets, special effects, and spectacular production numbers with hit songs from the movie. 
The production is led by Tony Award-nominated director Sheryl Kaller (Next Fall “Mothers and Sons). Joining the creative team are Tony Award-winning costume designer Paloma YoungPeter and the Starcatcher), choreographer Josh Prince (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), scenic designer Jason SherwoodPaint Your Wagon), and writer Sara Wordsworth (In Transit).Frozen, a Musical Spectacular will have music direction by Marco Paguia, projection design by Aaron Rhyne and lighting design by Rui Rita.Puppetry by Michael Curry, whose designs are in Disneys Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Lion King will bring physicality to characters like Sven and Olaf.
The production has the popular music and lyrics by the creators of the Frozen film score, Kristen Anderson-Lopez (n Transit “Up Here) and Robert LopezAvenue Q “The Book of Mormon “Up Here), and is adapted from the screenplay by four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (Gotta Dance “laddin “The Wedding Singer, “Elf). The show will run in the 977-seat Walt Disney Theatre. Songs like For the First Time in Forever and Love is an Open Door will be expanded into ensemble pieces, and the films wintry setting will be realized in production numbers of In Summer and Fixer Upper
Frozen, A Musical Spectacular is based on the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Frozen, which is the number one animated feature of all time. The film earned two Academy Awards (2014) for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.

 For  exclusive rates and amenities and more information & to even  make reservations, contact The Cruise Professionals at theCRUISEOUTLET.com at 203-288-1884 or email: info@thecruiseoutlet.com 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Celebrity Cruises to Sail Caribbean Year-Round, Will Debut New Family and Culinary Programs

Celebrity Cruises to Sail Caribbean Year-Round, Will Debut New Family and Culinary Programs

Celebrity Equinox will sail year-round Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami in 2017. Beginning next April, the 2,850-passenger ship  will offer a total of 24 cruises from its new homeport, including seven-night itineraries between June and August, and 10- and 11-night itineraries throughout the rest of the year.
To kick off its first summer season in the Caribbean, the ship will host an 11-night cruise with two overnight stays in New Orleans, during the city's famous Jazz and Heritage Festival, starting April 24. Celebrity will wrap up its 2017 summer season with a "President's Cruise" on August 27. On the eight-night Eastern Caribbean sailing, the line's president Lisa Lutoff-Perlo will treat passengers to special events and excursions.
Conversations with Celebrity passengers had inspired her decision: I can't tell you how many people I bump into  and they say: 'We're going on a summer vacation this year, but we can't go on Celebrity because you don't have a ship in the Caribbean'. Every time I hear that, my heart breaks. Now they can't say that to me anymore."
In addition to a year-round presence in the Caribbean, Celebrity will debut a new family program with an array of new enrichment options for kids. "Summer Camp at Sea" will include activities such as video creation, cooking classes and marine biology lessons. 
Celebrity also will continue to raise the bar on its food and wine offerings. The new "Taste of the Caribbean" program will feature complimentary activities like cooking and mixology demos, rum and reggae parties on the Lawn Club, and brunch and bubbles. Foodies can even splurge on more exclusive experiences such as a fresh pasta and mozzarella making class with lunch in Tuscan Grille, and a five-course tasting dinner with Celebrity chefs.
The previously announced Chef's Market Discoveries' shore excursion and Blendtique wine-blending classes also will be available on Celebrity Equinox sailings.
Celebrity is offering four free perks ($150 onboard credit, unlimited internet, a premium beverage package and prepaid gratuities) per passenger, on select 2017 cruises booked between July 19 and August 31, 2016, to celebrate the move.