Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrity Cruises Offers Interactive, Behind-The-Scenes Tours

Celebrity Cruises is the latest line to offer a behind-the-scenes tour of areas not usually visited by cruise ship passengers. Celebrity Inside Access includes two activities, the "See How It’s Done Tour" and the "Bridge Sail Away Experience." The "See How It’s Done Tour" visits the bridge, mooring deck, crew gym, theater, engine control room, prep rooms and the main dining room galley. At each area of the tour, guests can interact with Celebrity crew members. Each tour is followed by a wine-paired lunch hosted by an officer in the main dining room. The "Bridge Sail Away Experience" lets guests join the navigational team on the bridge as the ship sails from port. Beginning 30 minutes before and concluding 30 minutes after departing, guests are given a tour and an overview of the bridge by a senior Celebrity bridge officer. Guests also can meet and take photos with the captain. The Celebrity Inside Access program is offered on all ships and available for purchase onboard

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Several Cruise Lines Suspend Parasailing Excursions in Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line have suspended all parasailing excursions throughout the Caribbean after a Celebrity passenger died in an accident on Nov. 15 in St. Thomas. Carnival Cruise Lines suspended parasailing excursions in St. Thomas until further notice. The 60-year-old woman from the U.S., who was sailing on Celebrity Eclipse, died after participating in a company-sponsored parasailing shore excursion. The guests 34-year-old daughter was also injured in the accident. The excursion crew provided initial care until both guests were transported by ambulance to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, where the woman was pronounced dead. The daughter is still being treated at the hospital, Celebrity said in a statement. A member of the lines Care Team is providing support and assistance to the hospitalized guest and her family. An investigation is under way, and Royal Caribbean and Celebrity said the parasailing excursions will remain cancelled indefinitely, pending the outcome of the investigation

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

American Cruise Lines to Feature Lewis & Clark Theme Cruises

American Cruise Lines is offering Lewis & Clark theme cruises next year on the 120-passenger Queen of the West paddlewheeler on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The cruises, which begin in April, operate between Portland, Ore., and Clarkston, Wash., following the footsteps of the legendary explorers. Guided tours explore Lewis & Clark National and State Historic Park, including Fort Clatsop, Salt Works and Netul Landing. Onboard lecturers and entertainers will share stories of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery. The featured guest speaker, Todd Weber, brings tales of the patriots, fur traders, Indians and explorers of America alive through his period clothing and colorful presentation. On one evening, Lewis & Clark impersonators will appear during an evening of dining, entertainment, trivia and more. Also scheduled is a screening of Ken Burns’ documentary "Lewis and Clark -- The Journey of the Corps of Discovery."
Queen of the West, an authentic paddlewheeler, was built in 1996 with a Victorian theme and recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. For more information, call 800-775-1884 or visit

Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Set to Debut Muppets Interactive Adventure

Newly popular again after a hit movie ("The Muppets"), the Muppets will make their debut at sea on Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Fantasy, due out in March. The Muppets will be featured in an "interactive adventure quest" around the ship in search of Kermit’s missing banjo and other items. "The Case of the Stolen Show" is a self-paced adventure game designed for guests age nine and older. Other new features on the Disney Fantasy include be more than 20 pieces of "Enchanted Art," which seem to come alive. The Animator’s Palate restaurant will have a new show called "Animation Magic," in which guests can draw a character using a template on their placemat. Then, just before dinner, house lights dim, black-and-white drawings appear and then turn into color. In Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab youth areas, Disney characters making appearances on a 103-inch plasma screen include Crush, the animated sea turtle from the "Finding Nemo," and Stitch, from "Lilo & Stitch." The Disney Fantasy also features real-time video views in monitors in the 150 inside staterooms. Sometimes an animated Disney character will fly by. High-definition cameras on the exterior of the ship feed the video to the monitors. Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab will feature a Magic PlayFloor, which has 16 light pads on the perimeter that detect motion and location and trigger actions. There are 28 monitors integrated with one another to create a grid display 15-by-15-feet. The games are thematically tied to Disney stories and characters. The adults-only area on Disney Fantasy, Europa, features bars and lounges inspired by European travel. Skyline provides birds’-eye views of city skylines. The venue’s nine windows are actually 65-inch LCD screens that will show views of cities such as Paris, London, Barcelona, Florence, Athens, Budapest and St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Royal Caribbean International to get a new class of ship

Royal Caribbean International's parent company has signed a letter of intent with German shipyard Meyer Werft to build at least one 4,100-passenger, 158,000-ton ship for the line, with scheduled delivery in fall 2014. The order would also include an option for a second ship, with a spring 2015 delivery. "This next generation will not disappoint," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean's parent company Royal Caribbean' Cruises, Ltd., in a statement. Fain would not divulge any of the features that "Project Sunshine," as the class of ship is now code-named, might have, but he did say to expect "new activities and entertainment concepts." "It will offer features for everyone," Fain said. "From grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families." Fain also said the ships would take the leading-edge energy efficiencies and environmental technologies "one further step." The 158,000-ton ships are almost exactly the same size as Royal Caribbean's 160,000-ton, 3,600-passenger Freedom-class vessels, and significantly smaller than the line's last two new builds, the 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships. Fain told Wall Street analysts in late January that "the time may be right" to order a new ship, and that the line had been working on a new design.

Passenger sentenced to 21 months for dealing drugs

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas arrives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Nov. 11, 2010.
Patrick Farrell, APA judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands yesterday sentenced a California man to 21 months in prison for dealing drugs to fellow passengers on the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas. Steven Barry Krumholz pleaded guilty to the charges in July. The West Hollywood man had been arrested in February when the ship docked in St. Thomas. The Allure of the Seas was at the time chartered by Atlantis Events, the sailing on the world's largest ship billed as the world's largest gay cruise. U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez said Krumholz used his cabin on the cruise ship "as if it was an apothecary for controlled substances," the Associated Press reports. Police at the time of his arrest said they found more than 142 ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, a small amount of ketamine, and about $51,000 in cash in Krumholz's cabin.
He had faced up to 20 years in prison. Royal Caribbean fully cooperated with authorities during the investigation.

isers left behind in St. Kitts after drug bust

Two Americans vacationing this week on a Celebrity Cruises ship were left behind in St. Kitts after they allegedly were caught with marijuana in their cabin, a local news outlet on the island reports. The St. Kitts Observer says William Donovan and Shari Hoffman of Los Angeles were not allowed back on board the Celebrity Eclipse on Wednesday after Donovan admitted to the drug possession in a local St. Kitts court and paid a fine. Local police had taken the couple into custody earlier in the day after being called to the Eclipse by the ship's security department, which had found what it believed to be cannabis in the couple's cabin, the news outlet says.
The Observer says Donovan paid a fine of 5,000 East Caribbean dollars (about $1,850 U.S. dollars), and the couple spent Wednesday night in St. Kitts before flying out on Thursday.

Royal Caribbean to Install iPads in Splendour of the Seas Stateroom

Royal Caribbean International will install iPad mobile digital devices in every stateroom onboard the newly revitalized Splendour of the Seas. The touch-screen tablet will let guests access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities as well as personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions. They can also monitor their onboard account, order room service, view restaurant menus, access the Internet and watch movies. The iPads will be available beginning in mid-February on Splendour of the Seas before being extended to all Vision-class ships when each undergoes revitalization in the following two years. The iPads, which will feature English and Portuguese on Splendour of the Seas, can be used in staterooms but also through the pervasive Wi-Fi also being installed throughout the ship. When logging on for the first time, passengers will need to accept an agreement to pay for the unit in the event it goes missing or is damaged. In addition to the iPads, Splendour of the Seas, which emerges from dry dock on Nov. 25, also will have new stateroom amenities such as flat-screen televisions, refreshed bathrooms and completely remodeled interiors, including luxurious new linens and furniture, as well as an additional 124 balconies. The ship also will be outfitted with the digital way-finding technology found on the lines Oasis-class ships. The Splendour also will debut new dining options including the Asian Izumi restaurant, the steakhouse Chops Grille, the Boardwalk Dog House, the Park Café deli-style restaurant and the Chefs Table dining experience. Royal Caribbean also will introduce a new à la carte menu in the Viking Crown Lounge that will offer bite-sized portions of their favorite classics. Additional Royal Caribbean signature innovations debuting on the ship will be the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge, a Concierge Lounge, a Britto Gallery featuring works from Brazilian pop-artist Romero Britto, the new R-Bar as well as a reinvented Centrum experience. Upon completion of the refurbishments, Splendour of the Seas will sail a trans-Atlantic voyage on Nov. 25 from Lisbon, Portugal, to its seasonal homeport of Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. For more information, contact at 203-288-1884

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Repairs Force Carnival Magic to Alter Cruise Itinerary

It's not even a year old, and Carnival Magic is already experiencing technical problems that are forcing the ship to alter its itinerary. One of the ship's stern thrusters is in need of repair, says a Carnival company statement, and to complete the work, the ship must stay overnight in Progreso, Mexico, this Wednesday into Thursday, skipping a call on Costa Maya. The ship will visit Cozumel as scheduled on Friday. Passengers will receive a $25 per person onboard credit. Carnival apologizes for the itinerary change and states that "the technical problem does not compromise the ship's safety and all other systems and hotel services are functioning normally." The ship is currently sailing a six-night Mexico cruise out of Galveston, the first cruise from its new Texas homeport after an inaugural season in Europe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas Opens Starbucks Coffee Store

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas has opened a Starbucks coffee store, the second Starbucks at sea since sister ship Allure of the Seas launched with a Starbucks kiosk in December 2010. The stores offers Starbucks coffee drinks and seasonal beverages made by trained baristas, as well as food and a selection of Starbucks Via Ready Brew products. The Starbucks stores aboard both ships are open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are located at the forward end of the Royal Promenade. Pricing is a la carte. For more information, contact The Cruise Outlet at 800-775-1884

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holland America’s Oosterdam Delayed by Medical Evacuation

The current cruise of Holland America Line’s Oosterdam will arrive in San Diego a day late due to a medical evacuation of three guests near Hilo, Hawaii. The company said the ship was cruising to San Diego but had to turn around and sail back toward Hilo to rendezvous with U.S. Coast Guard helicopters for the evacuation. As a result, Oosterdam will now arrive in San Diego on Nov. 6 instead of Nov. 5. Guests on the current sailing have been informed of the change. "We are working closely with them to alter travel plans as needed due to the late disembarkation," the company said. The Oosterdam departed San Diego on Oct. 22 on a 14-day Hawaii sailing. Oosterdam’s next sailing to Mexico is now scheduled to depart one day late on Nov. 6. The revised itinerary is day at sea on Monday, scenic cruising on Tuesday, Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, Cabo San Lucas on Thursday, day at sea on Friday and return to San Diego on Nov. 12. Guests and travel agents impacted by this change are being notified. Embarkation on Nov. 6 will begin at 11:30 a.m. For local guests not flying into San Diego for the Nov. 6 cruise, Holland America is offering $150 onboard credit for the first and second guests in each stateroom, as well as a $75 credit for the third and fourth stateroom guests. For guests who are flying into San Diego and can change their flights to arrive on Sunday, Holland America will reimburse air change fees up to $100 per person and also will provide a $150-per-person onboard credit. For guests who cannot change their flights and are arriving on Saturday, Holland America has arranged for a limited number of complimentary hotel rooms in San Diego as well as complimentary shuttle service to the pier on Sunday morning from the hotel. They will also receive a $75-per-person onboard credit to help offset shoreside meal expenses on Saturday and Sunday morning. Each guest on the Nov. 6 sailing also will receive a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the base cruise fare paid for the sailing

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Norwegian Gem Rescues Five from Sailboat in North Atlantic

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem rescued five people from a sinking sailboat in the North Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 29. The cruise ship responded to a call from the U.S. Coast Guard, which had received a distress notification from Sanctuary, a 39-foot sailboat, stating that it had large breaking waves over the bow, had lost power and its life raft, and was taking on water. Sanctuary was located approximately 350 nautical miles from New York in the North Atlantic, two hours away from Norwegian Gem, the closest vessel in the area. Norwegian Gem Capt. Hakan Svedung immediately diverted course to rescue the four men and one woman aboard. Upon reaching the Sanctuary, Norwegian Gem encountered extreme weather conditions with wind force up to 40 knots and large swells, making it challenging to launch the ship’s rescue boat. Once in the water, the rescue boat made contact with the sailboat and quickly transferred the five occupants, who are Canadians. At approximately 2 p.m., the sailboat passengers and rescue team were all safely aboard Norwegian Gem. The ship, which was returning from Bermuda, continued on its route back to New York. "This rescue operation was conducted under extremely difficult circumstances," Svedung said. "I am proud of our crew who braved their lives to rescue the five people in distress." For more information contact

Friday, October 28, 2011

Norwegian Expands Nickelodeon Program to Third Ship

Norwegian Cruise Line is extending the Nickelodeon family entertainment to a third ship, Norwegian Gem, beginning in February. Nickelodeon-themed shows and activities were first introduced in April 2010 on Norwegian Jewel and in July 2010 on Norwegian Epic.
Each Norwegian Gem cruise will feature a live Nickelodeon-themed show in the main theater, Nick Live Poolside! with games and activities by the pool, character breakfast with characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants, and Doras Dance Party. Other family activities include Nick Jr. Story Time, family trivia and arts and crafts sessions.
Norwegian Gem will begin offering Nickelodeon programming year-round beginning on the Feb. 19 cruise. The ship is sailing seven-day Bahamas and Florida voyages from New York City through Sept. 1. Ports of call include Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau. For more information, call The Cruise Outlet at 203-288-1884

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Silversea Cruises Expands Number of Bridge Sailings for 2012

In 2012, Silversea Cruises will offer 56 voyages with a special focus on bridge for card players. The bridge sailings will feature a formal program of contract and duplicate bridge, supervised by instructors who are certified Life Masters by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). All bridge sailing activities are complimentary, and guests can take part in daily bridge sessions (twice daily on sea days), bridge lectures for beginning and intermediate-level players, and opportunities to earn ACBL Master Points. Silversea supplies all bridge materials and hosts the program in a dedicated card room on board. Following is a selection of bridge sailings offered in 2012: Voyage 2203, Silver Wind, Jan. 24, 10 days roundtrip from Cape Town, starting at $5,558; Voyage 4208, Silver Whisper, departing Bangkok on March 26 on an 18-day sailing to Dubai, from $9,598; Voyage 4210, Silver Whisper, May 1, 12 days, Monte Carlo to Southampton, from $6,088; and Voyage 5204, Silver Spirit, Feb. 12, seven days, Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. For more information, call 800-775-1884 or visit

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Celebrity Free Two-Night Cruise

Celebrity Cruises is offering a free two-night cruise on the Constellation on Sept. 5, 2012 from Amsterdam to Southampton. In order to participate, travelers must book either Celebrity's 12-night Scandinavia and Russia Cruise departing Aug. 24, 2012 or the 12-night Immersive Europe Wine Cruise departing Sept. 7, 2012. Travelers have the choice of sailing before or after the English Channel cruise. To take advantage of this offer, bookings must be made by Dec. 16, 2011. Call at 800-775-1884

FBI Investigating Dead Newborn Found on Carnival Cruise Ship

Update, October 17, 3:30 p.m. EDT: According to an update provided by FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier, Dutch authorities took custody of the infant's body on Wednesday and interviewed the 20-year-old mother. The mother, who was invited on the cruise to celebrate the birthday of a close girlfriend, has since returned to the United States. This is an ongoing investigation and the FBI is coordinating with Dutch authorities in St. Maarten.
(October 16, 9:45 a.m. EDT) -- The FBI is investigating the death of a newborn found Wednesday on Carnival Dream, which returned to its Port Canaveral homeport Saturday.
"Law enforcement authorities were advised and subsequently a 20-year-old female guest who was traveling onboard the ship was detained [in St. Maarten, where Dream called on Wednesday] pending further investigation," said the line in a statement. At this time, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is handling the matter. Carnival says an employee discovered the deceased newborn in a guest cabin. In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Special Agent Dave Couvertier wrote, "No one has been charged as we are still working on obtaining facts and gathering any available evidence. As a result, no information is being released regarding suspect(s) at this time." Couvertier added that the detained passenger is from the United States. Carnival's official policy states, "Pregnant women are not allowed to cruise if their estimated gestational age on the day of disembarkation is 25 weeks or more." Women with an estimated gestational age of 25 weeks or less, on the day of disembarkation, must submit, prior to departure, a letter from her attending physician certifying that her gestational status is in accordance with this policy, and that the expecting mother is fit to sail. According to an unnamed source, the child was born onboard. Carnival and the FBI have yet to respond to requests for more information.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Disney Fantasy to Feature Water Park, Adult Pool

Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Fantasy, will introduce a new water park and an adults-only pool area when it debuts in March. AquaLab is the new water play area on Deck 12, near the entrance to the AquaDuck water coaster. The area will feature pop jets, geysers and bubblers in an 1,800-square-foot space. The area tells the story that AquaLab was created by Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, and features a water experiments designed to drench the whole family. Children entering AquaLab will see that the nephews are away, leaving the young cruise guests in charge. Through hand-painted notes left by the nephews, kids are put in charge of the AquaDuck water coaster. By turning wheels and moving levers at three wacky aqua stations, kids "control" the speed and temperature of AquaDuck. The Disney Fantasy also will have a wading pool with a water fountain and lounge chairs under a canopy on deck 12 forward. In addition to Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar on the Disney Fantasy, a new area for guests 18 and older will be on Deck 13 forward. A new water feature called Satellite Falls is a circular splash pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain. The area will have loungers under a canopy. Like its sister ship the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy offers many other pool and sunning options. Donald’s Pool is for families and has a giant screen that will show Disney films, television shows and live broadcast events. Mickey’s Pool for children features an oversized version of Mickey’s hand supporting a yellow winding slide. Nemo’s Reef, a water-play area, features colorful, interactive figures that move and spray water, including Nemo, Dory, Marlin and a pint-sized water slide shaped like Mr. Ray. Two digital sports simulators offer virtual game experiences in sports such as golf, hockey, soccer, basketball, rugby, baseball and football. For more information, call The Cruise Outlet at 800-775-1884

Friday, October 7, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway to Homeport in New York City

Norwegian Cruise Line’s new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway will make New York City its year-round home port starting in May 2013. The Breakaway -- which will be the largest ship ever to homeport in the city -- will replace Norwegian Star and embark on a minimum of 88 cruises from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal through March 31, 2015. The ship will offer cruises to Bermuda. Norwegian also announced that pop icon and artist Peter Max has been commissioned to paint the signature hull artwork for Breakaway. This is the first time Norwegian has asked a well-known artist to paint the hull artwork on one of its ships. Norwegian Cruise Line was the first cruise line to homeport year-round in New York City beginning in 2003. Since then, the company has brought its newest and largest ships to the Big Apple, with two ships calling in New York City since 2005. In 2013 alone, Norwegian Breakaway is expected to make 34 calls at Manhattan Cruise Terminal (MCT). In addition, Norwegian Gem will continue to call year-round at MCT, with an expected 47 calls, and Norwegian Star will make 15 calls in 2013 before being replaced. Currently under construction at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Breakaway will be 144,017 gross tons and is scheduled for delivery in April 2013. Following inaugural events, the ship will sail 22 seven-day cruises from New York to Bermuda beginning May 12 through Oct. 6, 2013. Departing on Sundays, the ship will spend three days in Bermuda, along with three days at sea. Consumers who wish to be amount to the first to make reservations and receive the significant savings being offered should call 1-800-775-1884.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great American Steamboat Company to Begin Mississippi River Cruises

The Great American Steamboat Company is returning the 436-passenger American Queen steamboat to the Mississippi River. Resumption of the cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers begins April 13, 2012. The ship will depart from cities including Memphis, New Orleans, Vicksburg, St. Louis, Louisville, St. Paul, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Inspired by the steamboats of the 19th century, the American Queen offers a two-level Grand Saloon and a two-deck Grand Dining Room. Many staterooms have private verandas. Personal touches include freshly baked cinnamon rolls each morning, complimentary wine and beer with dinner, and evening turn-down service with a praline on the pillow. Voyages range from three to 14 nights, and fares start at $995 per person, double. The Steamboating Plus program offers a complimentary luxury hotel stay before or after the sailing, along with transfers, a welcome brunch and other perks. The line also offers the Total Financial Security Program, where 100 percent of fares paid are held in escrow accounts until the voyage is completed. For more information, call 800-775-1884.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Crystal Cruises Expands Big Band, Ballroom Dance Cruises

Crystal Cruises has expanded its live Big Band and Ballroom Dance theme cruises for 2012. The Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform on the Crystal Symphony’s March 19 Miami-Madeira-Lisbon voyage, and the Artie Shaw Orchestra will perform on the Crystal Serenity’s Barcelona-Canary Islands-St. Maarten-Miami cruise on Dec. 9. The cruises will feature professional group dance lessons for all levels of experience, advanced dance workshops for more proficient dancers, twice the usual number of professional dance instructors, extra Ambassador Hosts to lead women without dance partners, and dancing in the afternoon and late into the evening. The line’s Book Now and Two-for-One promotions amount to more than $5,000 per person in savings on each voyage. If booked by Oct. 31, March’s 10-day, all-inclusive (Crystal’s first-ever) voyage starts at $1,360 per person, double, including complimentary fine wines and premium spirits throughout the ship, open bar service in all lounges, and pre-paid gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff. The December 12-day sailing is also all-inclusive, with starting fares of $2,620 per person, double, if booked by Oct. 31. For more information, contact The Cruise Outlet at 800-775-1884

Monday, September 19, 2011

Norwegian Offers New a La Carte Sushi Menu Fleetwide

September 18, 2011
Norwegian Cruise Line is rolling out its a la carte sushi menu fleetwide. Previously only available on Norwegian Epic, the menu is now or will soon be offered on all ships except for Norwegian Sky. The extensive menu, which features sushi, sashimi, light appetizers and desserts, will also be offered as a lunch option on embarkation and sea days. The pricing is per item with dishes averaging $4.
Sushi was previously served as a menu option in the Asian restaurants onboard the ships. Now, the sushi bar will be considered a separate restaurant and serve the new a la carte menu. Appetizers include edamame, miso soup and sesame seaweed salad. Sushi selections include the Godzilla Roll, a roll with sweet shrimp, mango, avocado, caramelized cashews and coconut, and the Dynamite Roll with yellowtail, salmon, green onion, and maki tempura style. Also offered are sushi and sashimi of yellow fin tuna, octopus and salmon.
The sushi a la carte menu is available on Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Star, Pride of America, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Spirit. It will be available on Norwegian Sun on Oct. 5. For more information, call the Cruise Outlet at 203-288-1884

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Royal Caribbean Apologizes for Stranding Passengers in San Juan September 07, 2011

By Theresa Norton Masek
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Adam Goldstein, in his blog, apologized to passengers who missed their ship in San Juan after it was forced to depart early due to Hurricane Irene. As the storm approached, the Port Authority in San Juan ordered Serenade of the Seas to depart early and 150 people missed the ship. Royal Caribbean assisted those passengers that had booked the lines Choice Air, but others were on their own to find hotel accommodations and flights to the next port of call. A similar situation befell Carnival, which found hotels and flights for its 300 passengers, leaving Royal Caribbean open to widespread criticism. In his blog, Goldstein wrote: Although our standard position for weather-related disruptions is to encourage guests to work directly with their air carriers in reaching the ship, in the case of Serenade of the Seas in San Juan, we should have recognized immediately that the forced departure of the ship, albeit out of our control, created an out-of-the-norm situation. Although more than half of the 150 guests who missed the ship in San Juan were able to join Serenade in Aruba, earlier recognition would have resulted in us providing the best and fastest alternative travel arrangements to reach the ship and also providing more support in San Juan and/or over the phone for hotel and other arrangements. Goldstein said all guests who missed Serenade of the Seas in San Juan received compensation equivalent to the number of days they missed of that voyage. Although we have heard from very few of the affected guests, I apologize on behalf of Royal Caribbean that our situation awareness was not at its customary high level, he wrote. We have learned some valuable lessons for the future

Friday, September 2, 2011

Royal Caribbean Changes Course, Compensates Stranded Passengers

Royal Caribbean International has changed course and now will compensate passengers who missed their ship in San Juan due to an early departure forced by Hurricane Irene. The company now says it will give each guest who missed the Serenade of the Seas, but boarded later, with a future cruise certificate for 30 percent of the cruise fare paid for their sailing "as a gesture of goodwill."
The company also said it was contacting guests who completely missed their cruise to offer an undisclosed compensation, saying it "would prefer that the impacted guests learn of the amount directly from the line before it is disclosed publicly. We are compensating these passengers because we understand that this was an unusual situation, and we want to provide our guests with another opportunity to sail with Royal Caribbean International in the near future."
The incident occurred Aug. 21 when Serenade of the Seas, which was scheduled to depart at 8:30 p.m. was ordered by the Port of San Juan to leave at 5:30 p.m. in advance of Hurricane Irene. Therefore, 145 guests who had not re-embarked were left behind. Royal Caribbean provided 15 of the passengers, who had booked their air travel via the line, with hotel accommodations in San Juan for Monday evening, as well as a flight to Aruba on Tuesday, where they re-joined the ship. The cruise line also notified the 130 passengers who paid cruise-only fares and booked their air separately of hotel availability in San Juan, but said the expense was their responsibility, since it was a weather-related event. They also were responsible for their own air to re-join the ship.
"Since this decision was made by the Port of San Juan on Sunday while the ship was docked alongside, there was no way to notify our guests of this change in departure time," Royal Caribbean said at the time in a statement.
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Victory was forced to depart San Juan about four hours ahead of schedule, stranding about 300 passengers at the port. However, about half were able to meet up with the ship at its next port call in Barbados. For those who were unable to board ship, Carnival provided a complimentary, two-night hotel stay in San Juan and complimentary air transportation to Barbados. Guests who did not have passports in their possession could not proceed to Barbados and missed the full voyage.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene Sends Cruise Ships Scattering in the Caribbean

(Updated 7:30 a.m. EDT) -- Irene, the ninth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season, strengthened to hurricane force overnight, prompting a number of Eastern Caribbean islands to issue storm watches and warnings and sparking itinerary changes by Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 7 a.m. EDT advisory, Irene is some 40 miles west-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds from the storm have reached 75 mph, and the storm is expected to intensify.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Royal Caribbean has reversed the itinerary for Oasis of the Seas, which left Fort Lauderdale on Saturday for a week-long Western Caribbean cruise. The ship will now spend Sunday at sea; visit Cozumel on Monday; spend Tuesday at sea; call on Falmouth, Jamaica on Wednesday; and visit Labadee, the line's private peninsula, on Thursday. Oasis will spend Friday at sea before returning to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday as scheduled.

Freedom of the Seas, which left Sunday from Port Canaveral on a week-long Western Caribbean cruise, will also sail a reversed itinerary. The ship will now call on Cozumel (Tuesday), Grand Cayman (Wednesday), Falmouth, Jamaica (Thursday) and Labadee (Friday).

Oasis' sister ship, Allure of the Seas will visit all the ports originally scheduled on its week-long Caribbean cruise, but in a slightly different order. The ship will now call on Nassau, Bahamas on Saturday instead of Monday. Visits to St. Thomas (Wednesday) and St. Maarten (Thursday) will take place as planned.

Royal Caribbean has scrambled the order for Serenade of the Seas' seven-night Southern Caribbean cruise, which left from San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday. The ship will now visit Aruba (Tuesday), Curacao (Wednesday), St. Kitts (Friday) and St. Thomas (Saturday).

Carnival Miracle, which embarked from New York on an eight-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Thursday, will be sailing an altered itinerary. Instead of visiting San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk, the ship will call on Grand Turk (Monday) and Half Moon Cay (Tuesday).

Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships and Ports

The latest NHC projections show the storm passing through Puerto Rico early early Monday before reaching the east coast of the Dominican Republic midday Monday. A hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and tropical storm warnings are in place for the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Haiti.

Legislation aims to lure cruise industry to Brownsville and the coast

by Steve Clark of the The Brownsville Herald
BROWNSVILLE -- It’s possible to board a cruise ship at any one of 11 ports in the United States and sail anywhere — except to another U.S. port, unless you stop in a foreign country first. That is, unless the cruise ship was built in the United States, is registered in the United States, is U.S.-owned, and is captained and crewed by U.S. citizens. In that case, a cruise ship can sail back and forth between U.S. ports until its propellers fall off. Trouble is, there aren’t any — U.S.-built cruise ships, that is. The last American-built cruise ship, SS The Emerald, built in the late 1950s, was pulled out of service in the past couple of years and is "laid up" in Greece. Who cares? Congressman Blake Farenthold, for one. He says a law enacted 90 years ago to support the U.S. maritime industry now impedes tourism-related economic development in U.S. port cities — including Brownsville and Corpus Christi, both within Farenthold’s congressional district — by making it illegal for foreign-flagged, built and crewed cargo and passenger ships to travel between U.S. ports without making a foreign stop along the way. The culprit is Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Section 27 is known in nautical circles as the Jones Act. The Jones Act, whose passenger provision actually dates back to the Passenger Vessel Service Act of 1886, wasn’t specifically intended to keep cruise ships from calling at consecutive U.S. ports. But since the United States doesn’t build cruise ships anymore, that might as well have been the intention. So Farenthold introduced House Resolution 2460, the Creating and Restoring U.S. Investment and Stimulating Employment (CRUISE) Act, which would amend U.S. maritime law to allow foreign cruise ships to call at multiple U.S. ports consecutively. Farenthold noted that in 2009 alone, the cruise industry generated more than 15,000 jobs and $788 million in Texas, or rather Galveston. The Port of Galveston is a cruise line "home port" and the only Texas port currently servicing cruise ships. However, he believes Brownsville and Corpus Christi could benefit substantially, even as just ports-of-call. Farenthold said a 2,500-passenger cruise ship can potentially generate as much as $36,000 in onshore spending per U.S. port call. The Texas Legislature last session passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, or the Cruise Ship Industry Study Bill, which calls for the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the Texas House "to provide for a joint interim legislative study regarding the development of the cruise industry on the Texas coast between Calhoun and Cameron counties and its potential economic impact." The bill notes that Florida and California, in that order, benefit most from the North American cruise industry, with each state operating five ports for cruise ships. Besides Galveston, SCR 5 argues that three Texas major deepwater ports between Cameron and Calhoun counties are capable of serving as cruise line headquarters or ports of embarkation. One is Brownsville. The others are Port Lavaca, about 80 miles north of Corpus Christi, and Corpus Christi itself. Ralph Cowen, Port of Brownsville commissioner and vice chairman, said changing the law to allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to dock at consecutive U.S. ports would be a positive thing for the Gulf’s deepwater ports, including Brownsville, which has the added draw of South Padre Island. "There are a lot of interesting cruises that could happen if we could do that," he said. "It would be very helpful." However, any attempt to completely gut the Jones Act would likely be met with stiff opposition from U.S.-owned ferry companies and the union that represents crews, since the Jones Act shields them from foreign competition, Cowen said. He said that any changes would have to take ferries and the union into account "to have a chance of passage." The Port of Brownsville already has been studying the possibility of attracting cruise ships as a port-of-call. Officials from the port, Cameron County, Brownsville, Harlingen, Port Isabel and South Padre Island in 2009 formed the Cruise Line Committee, which commissioned a $25,000 feasibility study. The study, completed about a year ago, determined that attracting cruise ships to Brownsville is feasible. Since then, the committee has met with and corresponded with representatives from the cruise industry in order to "plant a seed" — also suggesting Brownsville as an alternate port in the event of hurricanes. It took the Port of Galveston 12 years to land its first cruise ship, beating out the Port of Houston, which built a $100 million cruise ship facility that sits unused. Now Galveston is hosting 12 cruise ships a week, which translates into enormous revenues. Disney Cruise Line announced last spring it would begin sailing its vessel the Disney Magic out of Galveston in 2012 for seven-night cruises to the Western Caribbean. "If we could get one ship a week that’s all we need," Cowen said. "That’s 16,000 people a month. That’s like having a major convention or two every week. Every time one of those ships come in, the amount of money it brings to a community is just a huge shot in the arm." 

Oceania Replaces Med with Canada/New England for Fall 2012

Oceania Cruises will offer Canada and New England cruises for fall 2012 in place of previously scheduled Mediterranean voyages. In total, nine itineraries have been changed. Our 2011 Fall Foliage cruises have been so well received by our travel agent partners and their clients that we decided to redeploy Regatta from Europe to Canada and New England in fall 2012, stated Bruce J. Himelstein, Oceania Cruises president. These new voyages offer exceptional value with two-for-one fares and free roundtrip air."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Norwegian Updates Tobacco Policy, Bans Smoking in Staterooms

Norwegian Cruise Line adjusted its smoking fleetwide, banning smoking in staterooms starting in January. Guests will still be able to smoke on outside stateroom balconies, but cigar and pipe smoking is prohibited in staterooms and on balconies. Ashtrays will be available for use upon request through housekeeping staff. In an effort to diminish the presence of smoke indoors, cigarette smoking will only be permitted in the casino, where ashtrays and appropriate signage will be displayed. Smoking will be prohibited in all other public interior venues including all bars, restaurants, conference rooms, corridors, restrooms, staircases and landings. Guests can smoke cigarettes, cigars and pipes in the enclosed cigar bars onboard Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Spirit. In addition, the policy allows guests to smoke cigarettes, cigars and pipes in outdoor public guest spaces and open decks, where designated by the appropriate signage. Smoking is not permitted near outdoor venues which serve food, in open spaces such as the jogging track, sport complex, children’s pool and in The Haven outdoor areas. For more information contact The Cruise Outlet - 203-288-1884

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tropical Storm Emily Forces Ships to Change Caribbean Itineraries

Several cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean changed itineraries to avoid the path of Tropical Storm Emily, which gained strength on Aug. 2 when it was about 215 miles south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Vieques and Culebra in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, while a watch was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The National Hurricane Center forecast that the center of Emily will be near the coast of Hispaniola on Aug. 3. A “slight strengthening” of the storm is expected in the next day or two. Maximum sustained winds have increased and are now near 45 mph with higher gusts. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles.

Royal Caribbean International has altered the itineraries of the Oasis of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Oasis was unable to make its scheduled port calls to St. Thomas on Aug. 2 and St. Maarten on Aug. 3. Instead, the ship spent Aug. 1 and 2 at sea, and will call on Costa Maya on Aug. 3 and Cozumel on Aug. 4. The ship will spend Aug. 5 at sea as it returns to Port Everglades on Aug. 6, as scheduled. Freedom of the Seas is also unable to make its scheduled port calls to St. Thomas on Aug. 3 and St. Maarten on Aug. 4. Instead, the ship will call on Grand Cayman on Aug. 3 and Cozumel on Aug. 4. The ship will spend Aug. 5 to 6 at sea as it returns to Port Canaveral on Aug. 7, as scheduled.

Carnival Cruise Lines changed the itineraries of the Carnival Dream and Carnival Liberty. The Dream cancelled a call at St. Thomas on Aug. 2 and instead went to Grand Turk. The Aug. 4 sea day will be replaced with a call at Freeport. The Liberty also went to Grand Turk instead of St. Thomas on Aug. 2, and will replace its scheduled Aug. 4 call on Grand Turk with a visit to Key West. The Aug. 5 sea day will be replaced with a call to Freeport.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Norwegian Offers Upgrades, Lower Deposits, $100 Onboard Credit

Norwegian Cruise Line, in a major new offer across the fleet, is giving early-booking rewards to those who book 2012 or 2013 cruises between July 11 and Aug. 14. The offer is good on voyages at least three days long to Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii. The offer includes same-category upgrades, up to $100 per stateroom in onboard credit and reduced cruise deposits fleet-wide. Norwegian’s deployment for 2012 and 2013 includes several firsts for the line. Norwegian Pearl will sail from New York beginning in October 2012, offering 21 seven-day Bahamas and Florida cruises, along with three 12-day Southern Caribbean voyages. In April, Norwegian Star will start weeklong cruises to Bermuda from New York. In the company’s largest European deployment ever, Norwegian Spirit will join Norwegian Jade sailing year-round in Europe beginning in April. Norwegian Spirit will operate 12-day “Grand Mediterranean” voyages in the summer and fall, along with nine-day Canary Islands cruises in the winter and spring. In Alaska, Norwegian Jewel will replace Norwegian Star in May and cruise from Seattle on a seven-day Sawyer Glacier itinerary. In another limited-time offer, those who book a Europe cruise on Norwegian Epic by July 31 receive up to $300 spending credit. The Western Mediterranean sailings depart Barcelona and visit Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), Florence (Livorno), Nice (Villefranche) and Provence (Marseille).
For more information, call The Cruise Outlet at 203-288-1884.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bill Cosby to Perform on Norwegian Pearl in Seattle

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Pearl will host Bill Cosby for one night when he performs in the ships Stardust Theater on July 24. Cosby will perform two 70-minute comedy shows, complimentary to guests, while the ship is docked in Seattle.

Norwegian Pearl will overnight in Seattle on July 24 in order to undergo technical repairs to the ships propeller. The ship will depart at noon on July 25 on its seven-day Alaska Glacier Bay cruise. Because of the delayed departure, the ship will bypass its call in Juneau. Guests will be compensated with a $150 onboard credit per stateroom, as well as a future cruise credit of 10 percent of the cruise fare paid per guest. In addition to Cosby’s performance on Sunday night, guests will also enjoy complimentary house wine with dinner and 50 percent off on specialty restaurant cover charges.

We understand that missing Juneau will cause disappointment for some of our guests, so we wanted to do something very special to make the cruise memorable, said Norwegians CEO Kevin Sheehan. Bill Cosby is a huge name in entertainment and we felt that he would deliver an incredible show. We are very pleased to have Mr. Cosby performing on board Norwegian Pearl.

For more information, contact the Cruise Outlet at 203-288-1884!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line Rewards Those Who Plan Ahead

Norwegian Cruise Line is rewarding those guests who plan their vacations in advance beginning on Monday, July 11, 2011. Vacationers who book their 2012 or 2013 cruise between July 11 and August 14, 2011, can take advantage of special offers on Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising voyages* to Alaska; Bahamas & Florida; Bermuda; the Caribbean; Europe; and Hawai’i. Guests who book early will cruise happy with same-category upgrades, up to $100 per stateroom to spend on board (based on cruise length and category) and reduced cruise deposits fleet-wide.

Norwegian’s deployment for 2012 and 2013 includes many exciting firsts for the line. From the northeast, Norwegian Pearl will set sail from New York beginning in October 2012, offering a series of 21 seven-day Bahamas and Florida cruises, along with three 12-day Southern Caribbean voyages; and, in April 2012, Norwegian Star will embark on weeklong cruises to Bermuda from New York. In the company’s largest European deployment ever, Norwegian Spirit will join Norwegian Jade sailing year-round in Europe beginning in April 2012. This is also the first time Norwegian Spirit will sail in Europe offering 12-day Grand Mediterranean voyages in the summer and fall, along with nine-day Canary Islands in the winter and spring. In Alaska, Norwegian Jewel will replace Norwegian Star in May 2012 and cruise from Seattle on a seven-day Sawyer Glacier itinerary. Guests sailing on Norwegian’s fleet of 11 Freestyle Cruising ships can experience award-winning entertainment, accommodations to suit an array of needs from solo travelers to families; and enjoy dinner around the world with options ranging from Italian, French, Chinese and classic American to sushi, Teppanyaki and Brazilian churrasco.

For a limited-time, guests who are looking to set sail on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise vacation through Europe can receive up to $300 to spend on board (based on stateroom category) on new reservations made on Norwegian Epic by July 31, 2011.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line Adds Surcharge for Late-Night Room Service

Thinking of ordering room service at 1 a.m. to quell those late-night hunger pangs?

Norwegian Cruise Line passengers will soon have to pay for the privilege. In coming months, the line will begin charging $3.95 per room service order delivered between midnight and 5 a.m. The new policy will be rolled out fleet-wide in July for the line's eight ships sailing from U.S. ports and in August for its two Europe-based vessels, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Jade. NCL spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews tells that the charge is being instituted in order to cut down on food waste, which she said was more of an issue during the early a.m. hours.

Passengers with late-night cravings will still be able to get their fix without any added fees provided they're alert enough to leave the cabin. The line's signature 24-hour diner-style restaurant (O'Sheehan's on Norwegian Epic, Blue Lagoon on NCL's other ships) will remain surcharge-free. If NCL's new late-night surcharge seems familiar, that's because Royal Caribbean instituted a nearly identical fee 2.5 years ago. At the time, RCI's fee sparked vigorous debate.

In other food-related news, NCL also announced that it would be rolling out 24-hour pizza delivery fleet-wide. The for-fee dining option -- $5 for a 16-inch pie (cheese, pepperoni, veggie) delivered anywhere on the ship -- debuted on NCL's Norwegian Epic. One note: Passengers who order pizza (or beverages) between midnight and 5 a.m. will not be charged the late-night service fee in addition to the $5.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Fails Sanitation Inspection - June 26, 2011

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 failed a vessel sanitation inspection on June 10 with a score of 84, two points below the level of 86 that is considered satisfactory by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report cited improper storage of food, pests and dirty pool areas, among other infractions.  The company acknowledged the failing grade and said the issues have been addressed. “Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 received an uncharacteristically low score of 84 following her voluntary Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) inspection in New York on June 10,” Cunard said in a statement. “On most previous inspections she has scored over 95, on three occasions achieving the maximum of 100. The poor assessment on June 10 resulted largely from one small area of the ship’s overall operation. All the issues raised in the report were immediately addressed and have now been corrected.  “Ship and shore management have now redefined certain roles and responsibilities to clarify accountability, and the company’s already-rigorous training schedule has been stepped up. The company is confident that failings of this nature will not occur again, and that the ship’s VSP scores in future will return to the customary consistently high level.”  According to the CDC’s VSP site, the Queen Mary 2 scored a 98 on July 19, 2010; a 97 on Jan. 4, 2010; a 98 on Aug. 23, 2009; and three perfect 100 scores on April 14, 2009; Aug. 7, 2008; and Jan. 20, 2008. For more information, contact The

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Princess Cruises Cancels Three Calls to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan

Princess Cruises canceled calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan on three Sapphire Princess sailings departing Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Dec. 31. “Our security department continues to monitor the actions taking place in specific areas of Mexico,” the company said. “As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority and based on the continued violence in these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.” The itinerary now includes a two-day call in Cabo San Lucas, one day in Ensenada and three days at sea. For more information, call The Cruise Outlet 203-288-1884.

Friday, June 17, 2011

British Immigration Officers

IMMIGRATION officers are taking week-long cruises on the Queen Mary 2 so pampered passengers can avoid queues when they arrive in Southampton. Staff from the United Kingdom Border Agency, criticised last week by MPs for “losing” 74,500 asylum seekers in Britain, are working in the plush surroundings of the exclusive liner, flagship of the renowned Cunard fleet. The American authorities do not let their staff board the liner for voyages to New York from Britain but the UKBA is happy to man the ships so passengers can have their passports and documentation checked before they dock.  Conservative MP Douglas Carswell said yesterday: “It is extraordinary that an agency that declares itself short-staffed and under-resourced can find the manpower to put people on a luxury cruise and not just process the paperwork when passengers arrive back in the UK.  “They would be better off putting their efforts into deporting illegal immigrants rather than spending their time on luxury liners.”

Published, June 5, 2011, by Roddy Ashworth

Monday, June 13, 2011

Disney - Kids Sail Free!

The Disney Wonder offers seven-day cruises round-trip from Los Angeles!

Disney Cruise LineDisney Cruise Line this week unveiled a "Kids Sail Free" deal on most of its Mexican Riviera sailings from October 30 to December 18, 2011.

Children age 17 and under will sail free on the 1,754-passenger Disney Wonder when traveling with two full-fare passengers in the same balcony cabin (categories 4A 6A). Disney said there is no expiration date on the deal, but that the number of cabins allocated for the offer is limited. 

For more information call 203-288-1884!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Royal Caribbean to Base Voyager of the Seas in China in June 2012

Royal Caribbean International, in a bid to capture more of the potentially lucrative Chinese cruise market, said it would base Voyager of the Seas in China during the month of June in 2012. The announcement was made at a press conference at the Shanghai International Conference Center in China before an audience of 300 travel agents and media partners. Michael Bayley, executive vice president-international for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Dr. Zinan Liu, group managing director for China and Asia, unveiled plans for Royal Caribbean to have the 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas sail a series of cruises from Shanghai next year. The ship will feature a wide variety of itineraries, ranging from four nights to 10 nights. Royal Caribbean said the move is designed to offer exciting new cruise experiences to Chinese vacationers, as well as attract cruise guests from around the world to visit China and sail around Asia. “Customer demand for our brand has been very strong in China,” said Bayley, “We are excited to be able to bring such an innovative ship to the China market in 2012.”
“This is a major step forward for the cruise industry in China. We will continue working with the Chinese ports and our travel partners to further develop the country’s overall cruise economy,” said Zinan. “Along with Michael Bayley, we’ve been meeting with various agencies and officials on playing an active role in the development of home ports for international cruise ships. There’s also the need to build necessary support facilities, including bonded warehouses and distribution centers. Our aim is to support cities like Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen, to grow into world class cruise tourist destinations.”  Royal Caribbean said Voyager of the Seas will be double the size of any cruise ship operating in China or the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. The ship displaces 150,000 gross registered tons, spans 11 guest decks and has 1,556 staterooms. After Shanghai, Voyager of the Seas will offer a variety of sailings to ports in Japan and Korea until August, including Fukuoka and Kobe in Japan, and Busan and Jeju in Korea. The ship will depart for Sydney, Australia in October.
Royal Caribbean said because of the significance of the growing Chinese cruise market and desire to sail with Royal Caribbean International, Legend of the Seas also will return to Shanghai in March 2012 for its fourth season. For the two ships, work is underway to offer a wider variety of tailored onboard products to Chinese guests, including more Chinese language services, authentic Chinese food and culturally appropriate recreational activities and duty-free items. When Voyager of the Seas sails into Shanghai in June 2012, it will introduce several unique concepts never before seen at sea in Asia, including the Royal Promenade, an indoor “main street” stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship; “Studio B” Ice Rink, an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a 700-seat venue for ice show productions; 11 dining venues, including specialty restaurant “Portofino” for classic Italian fine dining, ’50s inspired American diner “Johnny Rockets,” and the three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room. The ship also features an Inline skating track, Royal Caribbean’s signature rock-climbing wall, a nine-hole mini golf course, a golf simulator, a full size sports court with basketball court, three swimming pools and six whirlpools.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Royal Caribbean Special Military Rates!

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line offers SAVINGS  UP TO 20%
ON OVER 100 EUROPE AND CARIBBEAN SAILINGS offering special Military rates on select sailings. We value the valor of our brave service
men and women, and appreciate everything you do to keep us secure. You work hard, you deserve a break. Sailings between May 15 and Dec 31, 2011.

To qualify for a Military rate, at least one guest in the stateroom must be classified as one of the following, 1. Active personnel currently serving in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserves or Canadian National Defense. 2. Retired from any of the divisions listed directly above. 3. Veterans with an Honorable Discharge serving a minimum of 2 years, or 6-months in an active war zone, in any of the United States service divisions listed above. At least one guest per stateroom must be eligible to be considered in compliance with these rates. A guest’s inability to provide proof upon check-in at the pier will result in the reservation being re-priced to the lowest available fare for that particular day and the guest will be responsible to pay for any differences immediately or risking denial of boarding. Offer is subject to availability. Prices are per person, cruise only, based on double occupancy. All itineraries and prices are subject to change without notice. Certain restrictions apply. Government taxes and fees are additional.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Disney Fantasy - 2012

The Disney Fantasy, the new Disney Cruise Line ship set to debut next spring, will bring to life many of the innovative features guests love on the recently launched Disney Dream including AquaDuck -- the world’s first shipboard water coaster. But new design elements and guest experiences will give the Fantasy an identity all its own.  The Disney Fantasy is the second of two newly designed Disney Cruise Line ships that take the family cruise experience to new heights. Sister ship to the Disney Dream, which entered service in January 2011, the 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy will sail week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., with its maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.

Animator’s Palate on the Disney Fantasy brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room with a new show called “Animation Magic.” The dinner show celebrates the magic of Disney animation and allows families to create and participate in a whole new way. Like Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream, the venue is wall-to-wall whimsy inspired by a classic animation studio. Throughout the restaurant, pillars are fashioned like huge pencils and brushes. Character sketches, maquettes (three-dimensional character models), film strips and other tools of the animation trade adorn the room. As a special nod to Mickey Mouse, the dining room chairs feature red and yellow colors and a trademark design – Mickey Mouse pants with two bright yellow buttons. Upon entering Animator’s Palate, guests are surrounded by artwork featuring their favorite Disney characters. Guests get a sneak peek into the origins of these beloved characters through concept art, storyboards and character studies.  As guests are seated at their tables, they are invited to draw a character of their own using a simple template on their placemat. Then, just before dinner, house lights dim and a sprinkling of pixie dust illuminates the room.

Imagery is revealed on several large monitors showing animated, black and white drawings of Mickey Mouse. Mickey then places the Sorcerer’s hat upon his head which transforms him, as well as all of the other pencil drawings shown throughout the room, from black and white to color. Mickey then invites guests to sit back, relax and enjoy a taste of animation as a montage of memorable food-themed moments from Disney and Pixar films set to “Be Our Guest” begins to delight guests. After the “Be Our Guest” number is complete, animated curtains are drawn on the monitors for a brief intermission. During this time, guests are encouraged to complete their own drawings, if they have not already done so, so they may be whisked off to Mickey Mouse who is conjuring a magical final act. While guests enjoy dinner, the restaurant’s walls fill with classic Disney and Pixar characters gathering food, eating and drinking together, and celebrating over meals. After dinner, the animated curtains are opened on the screens and Sorcerer Mickey returns for the exciting finale. With a flourish and musical crescendo, Mickey works magic as only Disney can do. Mickey conjures the guests’ drawings – now fully animated and brought to life – into the onscreen action. A parade starts as Mickey leads the guests’ drawings in a march across the screens around the dining room. The animation of the drawings becomes increasingly more elaborate, and then the drawings step into scenes from beloved Disney movies and skip, skate and dance side-by-side with characters such as Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, Cinderella and Snow White. At the conclusion of the show, Mickey returns to say “so long” to the guests and, as he does, credits roll on screen showing each guest’s name listed as a guest animator. To commemorate the experience, each guest will have their character drawing returned to them, with an added touch… a golden seal proclaiming them an Official Disney Animator.

Europa Nighttime Entertainment District

On the Disney Fantasy, adult guests step into a world that’s all their own at Europa – a nighttime entertainment district exclusively for guests 18 and older that features sophisticated bars and trendy lounges inspired by the very best in European travel.

La Piazza is a lounge that draws inspiration from Italian cities and their decorative outdoor plazas. The bar is modeled after a colorful vintage carousel. Venetian masks, romantic couples’ booths and a classic Vespa with a sidecar add Italian flair. Skyline is a chic bar that provides ever-changing birds-eye views of stunning European city skylines that transform from day to night. Skyline’s “windows to the world” give guests a glimpse of spectacular locales in panorama such as Paris, London, Barcelona, Athens and St. Petersburg. O’Gill’s Pub is a rollicking Irish bar with modern-day twists. Dark woods, brass accents and a selection of Irish beers create the perfect pub atmosphere where guests can sip a pint while watching live sporting events on one of several high-definition televisions. Ooh La La is inspired by an elegant French boudoir adorned with velvet tufted walls, Victorian furniture and Louis XIV-style chaise lounges. A sensuous color palette is accented with ornate framed mirrors, gold details and a “jewel box” feature bar backed with sparkling diamond-like facets. The Tube transports guests to a vibrant metropolitan club via the London Underground. Guests “mind the gap” as they walk across a Tube route map, lounge among mod furniture, pose by a red English phone booth, dance atop an illuminated Union Jack dance floor and enjoy cocktails at a bar inspired by Big Ben and London’s many train stations.

A new ship means new main stage entertainment at the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. New to Disney Cruise Line, “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” takes the stage on the Disney Fantasy. During this Broadway-style production, guests laugh along with the wise-cracking Genie and the cast from the classic animated Disney film, “Aladdin.”In this fast-paced musical comedy, Aladdin is back as the “street rat” of Agrabah meeting up with a Genie who grants him three wishes, battling the evil Jafar, and falling in love with Princess Jasmine. Many of the classic scenes and songs from the movie are re-created on stage and some of the action even spills out into the aisles, like Prince Ali's jubilant arrival in Agrabah on the back of a stallion. Magic lamps, wise-cracking genies, princesses and evil wizards are all part of this musical production. And of course, an Aladdin production would not be complete without a magic flying carpet scene, which combines mechanical wizardry with state-of-the-art projections, allowing Jasmine and Aladdin to soar as they perform a heartfelt duet of “Whole New World.” Many of the songs from the movie are featured in the 45-minute musical production, including “Friend Like Me,” which is performed as a lively, Las Vegas-style production number featuring special effects, illusions and more than a dozen dancing genies. Composer Alan Menken, who created the original soundtrack with songwriters Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, composed an original song for the stage production entitled "To Be Free."

At Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the Disney Fantasy, aspiring young princesses and pirates receive the full fairy tale treatment with pixie-dusted and piratical makeovers at this very special salon. When young princesses-to-be make their royal entrance at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, they are greeted by their very own Fairy Godmother-in-training who transform them with magical makeovers such as the Disney Diva, the Pop Princess or the Fairy Tale Princess. A variety of royal treatment packages include combinations of hairstyle, shimmering makeup and nails. Princess costumes, complete with crown, wand and shoes also are available.

Exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, Captain Mickey Mouse, Princess Minnie Mouse and First Mate Minnie Mouse makeovers plus special Under the Sea packages will be offered. On pirate party nights aboard the Disney Fantasy, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transforms into the Pirate’s League, where swashbuckling boys, girls and grownups can get ready for the pirate life.

Each guest checking in at the plunder-filled pirate’s lair gets an official pirate name. Then it’s off to Muster Station for applications of beards and bandanas, swords and scars, earrings and eye patches – all done with the savvy skill of a pirate master who shares his own tales of sea-sailing adventures. After the new buccaneers recite a sacred pirate oath, they are officially part of Captain Jack’s motley crew, leaving their old identities behind. The shipmates and scoundrels are then turned loose on their pirate vessel. Guests can choose from two pirate packages – First Mate (includes bandana, facial scars tattoos, fake teeth, earring, eye patch, sword and sheath) or Empress (includes bandana, shimmering makeup, face gem, tattoos, nail polish, earring, eye patch, sword and sheath).

The magnificent three-deck atrium lobby on the Disney Fantasy is reminiscent of grand ocean liners of the Golden Age. Art Nouveau-inspired details and patterns in hues of vibrant blue, green, pink and gold lend to the sophistication. Glamorous and graceful design elements include a sweeping grand staircase, towering fluted columns, grand piano and an exquisite marble and stone inlay floor. A focal point is a cascading chandelier of stained glass and crystal beads. The pièce de résistance of the magnificent space is the atrium lobby statue – Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse. Inspired by travel of the 1920s and 1930s, Minnie, cast in bronze and dressed in vintage fashion with a parasol and steamer luggage at her side, serves to welcome all guests who board the ship.

Royal Court Restaurant
At Royal Court restaurant, guests are immersed in the lavish surroundings of an elegant dining room fit for a grand palace. Royal Court takes design inspiration from the classic Disney films “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sleeping Beauty.” Décor features ornate details and custom furnishings and fixtures that incorporate iconic symbols from the films – glass slippers, apples, roses and tiaras.  An Austrian glass chandelier is a focal point, while eight custom brass and glass lighting fixtures modeled after Cinderella’s coach adorn the room. Hand-crafted mosaic tile murals of the princesses – Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Ariel and Sleeping Beauty (Aurora) – and their princes grace the walls. Inspired by the mosaic tile murals in Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, the Disney Fantasy mosaics are being meticulously created by skilled Italian craftspeople using more than 200,000 individual tiles, with 23 mosaic panels depicting six different vignettes. With careful attention to detail, many of the restaurant’s features are modeled precisely from the inspirational films. The Royal Court’s chandeliers, chair backs and columns with marble bases and fluted tops are fashioned after those seen in “Beauty and the Beast.” Wall sconces, decorative patterns, throne-style chairs and the circular floor plan are recreated from “Cinderella.”

The Disney Fantasy will depart on her maiden voyage March 31, 2012, and will sail out of Port Canaveral on seven-night Caribbean itineraries – alternating eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings in November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All Disney Fantasy itineraries include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bar Harbor MCI Drill Successfully Completed - 18 May 2011 - Written by Monty Mathisen

The United States Coast Guard, along with Royal Caribbean Cruises, and local, state and federal agencies, including the American Red Cross, successfully completed a Mass Casualty Incident Drill (MCI) in Bar Harbor, Maine, on May 18. Some 300 people participated, including a large number of local volunteers who willingly played victims. The cruise industry in Maine is a growing industry and we all have a responsibility to make sure we have plans in place, and that we know our partners and our partners know us,” commented Captain Jim McPherson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New England. The drill (without a cruise ship presence) simulated two cruise-ship tenders making contact on a foggy morning in Bar Harbor. The port will have seven days this season with three ships in town, and undoubtedly a high amount of tender traffic. We get everyone together in a realistic scenario to practice what could happen and see how all these agencies work together, said Rear Admiral Daniel A. Neptun, commander, United States Coast Guard.  It’s about good communication and making it safer for groups to come here on ships, making sure the community is ready if something ever happened.”

With limited emergency response infrastructure in a rather rural area, the drill was designed to deal with triage, communication issues, agency cooperation, and patient care and transportation. Added Rob McAleer, director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency: “We are building up relationships between agencies. The bonding after two years of planning is taking place, and agencies know how to work together.”

Following a call for help at 10:00 am, local emergency responders rolled, along with the response of good Samaritans in local fishing boats, pleasure crafts and sightseeing vessels. Eight minutes later emergency responders learned that there were 29 injuries, and at that point made a decision to ask for additional help from the greater area. Ambulances staged on the town’s pier while the fire department set up its incident command post. As various boats brought patients to shore, EMTs has to assess the level of care needed (triage), separating them into various groups and transporting as necessary.

Neptun told Cruise Industry News that hospital staff came in on their day off to help with the drill. The local hospital was able to handle the surge of drill patients, even while running its own emergency room with seven patients. Additionally, despite radio traffic on Maine’s emergency frequencies saying it was a drill, a whale watching vessel actually responded to the incident location, that shows the maritime community’s Samaritan spirit, added Neptun. They will help out anyone in distress.”

Incident commanders had to determine care levels and put multiple patients in each ambulance, as well as deal with more patients being brought to the pier, sometimes in need of urgent attention. Over a few hours, patients were brought in on a simulated schedule, at times trying to overwhelm the shore-side response team. That team, which included the local fire department and various ambulance companies, also had to work on their feet, and at times were left with limited equipment with all the ambulances available on hospital transports and on their way back to the incident. Officials also noted that in some cases the hospital actually re-classified some patients as more injured than their original assessments by first responders on the pier.  EMS personnel worked on a patient, stabilizing them, and then moved onto the next patient that needed the most urgent attention. Assets were brought in from surrounding areas, such as more ambulances, additional personnel and lifting assistance, with realistic response times.

Accountability is the big thing here, commented Richard Pruitt, Associate VP of Environmental Programs at Royal Caribbean Cruises. “We always want to cooperate with the Coast Guard. Obviously we want to see how our guests would be accounted for.” Pruitt added that the drill had been under design for more than a year, and that the cruise line went as far as making sure some of the victims did not have SeaPass cards on them to see how the response team would cope.

During the drill, Royal Caribbean’s situation room in Miami was stood up, helping the on-site team, which consisted of about 15 people, including Steve Williams, director of medical operations. During a real emergency, Pruitt pointed out, the cruise line would be responsible for arranging flights, hotels for family and more. He also noted an issue figuring out which passengers were on tenders headed back to the ship, since they don’t swipe in until they get onboard. We know who isn’t on the ship, but we don’t know (yet) who is on the tender going back to the ship, he commented.