Monday, January 31, 2011

"CostaClub" Members Replacing Crew on Four Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises has come up with a real novelty called ViceVersa, a unique experience for all its CostaClub members, meaning the company’s most loyal Guests. On four company cruises, CostaClub members will be able to take the place of the crew and experience all the thrill of being a part of the onboard staff and serving Guests. At the same time, the crew replaced by CostaClub members will become the ships Guests.

To fully participate in their new role, CostaClub members will be supervised and trained by the ships Cruise Director. In this way they will discover all the behind the scene secrets of their new job. They will literally step into the crews shoes, wearing real uniforms with the only difference being a special logo. Once prepared, they will work for one day as crew members in different positions: Guest service, tour escorts, cruise staff, musicians, singers, waiters and cooks.

The ViceVersa experience, presented for the first time in November 2010 on board the CostaClub cruise of the Costa Deliziosa, will be proposed again on four Costa cruises that recorded a large attendance by CostaClub members, with special activities reserved for them. On the first cruise, a 21-day voyage, the Costa Luminosa departed on 10 January 2011 from Dubai to discover all about India and the Maldives.

The second cruise is the inaugural cruises of the Costa Favolosa, the fleets new flagship, currently being fitted out at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera. This cruise will depart from Venice on 7 July 2011 and over the next 10 days will make calls to Greece, Israel, Turkey and Croatia.

On the third cruise, the Costa Deliziosa will depart from Amsterdam on 30 July 2011 on route to Greenland, Iceland, the Norwegian fjords and the Farore Islands.

The last cruise is a round-the-world voyage with the Costa Deliziosa. On this historical 100-day cruise, departing from Savona on 28 December 2011, the ship will circumnavigate the globe, sailing westward following the route of the great navigators: from Savona to Los Angeles through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal; from Los Angeles to Singapore with calls in Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia; and then from Singapore to Savona with visits to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, the Red Sea and Egypt - a truly unique and unforgettable vacation.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Royal Caribbean Changes Crown & Anchor Society

Royal Caribbean International changed its loyalty program for past passengers, effective Jan. 21. The Crown & Anchor Society now will award points per night cruised instead of one credit per cruise regardless of length. The program will now award one point per night on a cruise and two points per night in a suite. The rationale is to reward passengers who book higher-level accommodations and take longer cruises, said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales.
The first level, Gold, previously kicked in with one cruise credit; now it will take three points. The second level, Platinum, is achieved now with 30 points instead of the previous five credits.  For example, Freed said, a guest who takes a 16-day cruise in a suite will earn 32 points—instead of one credit—and attain the Platinum level. Previously, that would have taken five cruises. The change also adds two new levels—an Emerald level that falls between Platinum and Diamond and kicks in at 55 cruise points, and the top-tier Pinnacle.
Pinnacle Club members will be recognized with the benefits of the entire program and complimentary cruises at certain cruise-points milestones. Guests who have a minimum of 100 cruise credits before Jan. 21 will be the first to be invited to join the new top Crown & Anchor Society member tier. Moving forward, Pinnacle Club status can be achieved with 700 cruise points, equivalent to 100 seven-night cruises or fewer cruises if members choose to sail in suites or on longer itineraries.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Disney Dream to Feature Onboard Enchanted Art Program

An Enchanted Art program, a ship-wide detective game, virtual portholes and dinner “undersea” with Crush, the surfer dude turtle from “Finding Nemo,” are some of the new technology-based attractions  aboard the 128,000-ton, 4,000-passenger Disney Dream cruise ship. The goal is the same as that of Disney’s theme parks: “It’s all about storytelling,” said Bob Zalk, senior show producer. However, on a ship, “guests are living with us, so we have to provide more depth in the experience,” he added. To that end, the Enchanted Art program, which features 22 pieces interspersed with regular art throughout the ship, consists of framed pictures that are actually LCD screens with animation. The pictures come to life via an optical trigger, when a guest pauses in front of a piece to look at it. For example, an “oil painting” of the “Minnie Lisa” blinks while birds fly by in the background, and two side-by-side “paintings” of pirate ships engage in a battle with ammunition flying between the two. The program also features black-and-white photos, travel posters, animation cels and other formats. Guests also can control the animation in some pieces, like a picture of a cove with a ship’s wheel in front. Push the start button, turn the wheel and direct Captain Hook’s ship around the cove to trigger things like a rainbow.

The Enchanted Art program also plays role in the new Detective Adventure game, which challenges guests to solve one of two cases -- stolen paintings or kidnapped Dalmatian puppies. After signing in at a kiosk, guests receive a list of six possible villains, a ship map and a “magical” card called a “detective device.” Hold the card up to certain pieces, and the picture slides away to reveal a surprise, like a door with a key. Then, move the card around through the air in front of you to manipulate the scene; for example, to put the key in the lock and turn it to open the door for a clue or one of the missing items. The game, which is designed to promote family bonding and empowerment for kids, is self-paced, so guests can stop, and then pick up where they left off, whenever they want throughout the cruise. And they can go in any order they choose and play as many times as they want, since the game is different every time.

While nearly 90 percent of the Dream’s 1,250 staterooms will be outside (and 90 percent of those will have verandahs), the 150 inside staterooms will have portholes -- virtual portholes. Several cameras will be positioned around the outside of the ship, providing live video feeds to the nearby inside staterooms’ porthole-shaped LCD screens. But the “view” will be more than water; animation will bring the scenes to life. For example, a guest might see the “Up” house float by above the horizon, or “Peach,” the starfish from “Finding Nemo,” might be stuck on the “other side,” smiling. The virtual portholes are so popular that when bookings opened people who booked the inside staterooms declined a free upgrade offer by DCL, according to Jason Lasecki, the line’s director of public relations.

Imagineers also are putting a twist on Animator’s Palate, the main dining venue, with “Undersea Magic,” an interactive dinner show where guests converse with Crush the sea turtle. The show will be based on “Turtle Talk” from Walt Disney World and other Disney Parks, where Crush converses live with guests. Animator’s Palate, which will seat 700 guests (the Magic and Wonder each seat 400) will have 129 hidden LCD monitors imbedded into the walls. Approximately 20 minutes into dinner, lighting and sounds will make it seem like the dining room is underwater, as the LCD screens are unveiled to show an undersea world, as if they were windows. Crush and other “Finding Nemo” characters will swim from screen to screen talking with guests. Crush will even remember kids’ names from the children’s programs, since he will have met them via a large LCD screen in those areas earlier. While Crush and his pals are talking with people in one area of the restaurant, guests in other areas are entertained by sea creatures, like a school of fish that forms different shapes. During the finale, Crush teaches guests how to surf the East Australian Current, complete with surf music.

In addition, The Dream will debut two new restaurants: The Enchanted Garden, a casual dining room, is inspired by the gardens of Versailles with conservatory look and a “sky” that transforms from day to night. The seasonal menu features breakfast and lunch buffet and dinner service. The more formal Royal Palace is designed with pieces from classic fairytales, like a hand-blown chandelier made of glass slippers, portraits of princesses, and portholes with tiara-topped valances.

Among the Dream’s other dining options will be the new Cabanas food court with food and beverage stations inspired by California beaches and indoor and outdoor dining; Flo’s Café, also new, which will serve “Cars”-inspired food like Luigi’s pizza, as well as burgers and other casual fare; the Cove Café with Wi-Fi and Palo Northern Italian restaurant for adults; and Eye Scream and Frozone Treats, quick-service venues based on “Monsters Inc.” and “The Incredibles,” respectively.

New to Disney Cruise Line -- in fact, new to any cruise line -- will be AquaDuck, the first “water coaster” on a ship. The 765-foot, clear plastic tube will span four decks and take guests on a wild ride on two-person, inflatable rafts via high-powered water jets that accelerate them to 20 feet per second. The apparatus starts on Deck 16 and swings out 13 feet over the side of the ship, 150 feet over the ocean, before it takes guests through dips, hills, funnels and rapids and finally splashes down on Deck 12.

In the children’s areas, the upgraded Oceaneers Club and Oceaneers Lab (for children ages 3 to 10) will feature new, 15-foot-square Magic Play Floors with “light pad controllers” on the perimeters that detect movement. Kids stand on the pads and use their feet to play any of 12 to 14 games, each with different levels of difficulty, like unscrambling a scene; jumping over moving laser lights; and guiding Rhino, the hamster from “Bolt,” through a maze to get to food. For physically challenged kids, there are detachable pads that they can hold, using their hands. Nearby, Crush and Stitch will “visit” kids via a 103-inch LCD monitor.

Meanwhile, Vibe (ages 14 to 17) will be four times larger than the teen areas on the Magic and the Wonder. Kids will have special swipe cards to enter the 9,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor space, which will feature a dance area, a fountain bar and a media room, among other perks. The Dream also will offer Edge (ages 11 to 13), a loft-style area with high-tech entertainment, a dance floor, a video wall and other ‘tween activities, as well as the “It’s a Small World” nursery (ages 12 weeks to 3 years) and Nemo’s Reef, an interactive play area.

For the whole family, the Walt Disney Theater will offer more capacity than its counterparts on the Magic and the Wonder, as well as balcony seating, for live shows; the Buena Vista Theater will offer first-run films with 3D capability; and Goofy’s Sports Deck will offer DCL’s first miniature golf courts

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Singer Jennifer Hudson to Christen Disney Dream

According to news reports, Disney Cruise Line selected singer and actress Jennifer Hudson as godmother of the Disney Dream, which will be christened at 10:30 a.m. EST Jan. 19 in Port Canaveral, Fla.
Hudson performed on the Disney Wonder in 2003 and appeared on “American Idol” in 2004. Although she wasn’t among the top finishers on the TV show, she carved out a major career for herself, winning the Oscar for her role as Effie in “Dreamgirls.”


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The New Year

As we closed 2010, much has happened during the year personally and within the world we live.  When some things have occurred I often wondered about them.  Now as I look back, they were  new opportunities which have turned out to be a blessing.       

I think about what good things I can do for 2011 and hope that I will be wise enough to see these new opportunities and react to them.

So I wish to you for the wisdom and ability as well to do  good things in 2011 which will help us individually and collectively for many years to come.

Warmest regards,

Neil Gorfain