Friday, December 14, 2012

Royal Caribbean Launches New All-Inclusive Beverage Packages

Royal Caribbean International has introduced two new beverage packages, joining other lines that offer similar inclusive deals. The Classic Beverage Package costs $45 per guest, per day, for beer, house wines by the glass, non-alcoholic cocktails, fountain soda and juices. The Premium Beverage Package costs $55 per guest, per day, and includes the afore-mentioned, as well as frozen drinks and all cocktails including premium brands. Both package prices include service charges. Beverage packages are available for purchase on all seven-night or longer sailings and must be purchased on the first day. Guests choosing either package also must purchase the package for guests 21 years old or older sailing in the same stateroom. Packages are currently available on 13 ships and will be available on the remaining ships with seven-night or longer itineraries by early 2013.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884 or

Friday, December 7, 2012

Some driver's licenses might not pass TSA requirements

Some travelers might discover that the driver's licenses they've been using to get through airport security won't be an acceptable form of identification after Jan. 15, 2013. The final implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005, passed as part of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 15. Many states have not yet met the standards the act requires of state driver's licenses when used as identification when flying. Previously the Department of Homeland Security has delayed implementation of this final rule, but it is not commenting what it will do about this latest deadline. The act set new standards for state driver's licenses, but more than a dozen states have passed laws against the standards. One group of states has passed legislation calling the mandate a cost-prohibitive and unfunded mandate, according to Andrew Meehan, a policy analyst for the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License. A second group has passed legislation saying that they recognize that it is a federal law but they don't like it. And a third group of states have passed legislation saying that they will not comply with the law. That means that when the final standards go into effect -- and implementation has already been delayed at least three times -- people carrying cards from noncompliant states will have to go through additional screening. The Department of Homeland Security does not prohibit travelers from boarding flights without ID, but they do require such travelers to go through secondary screening. To be compliant, driver's licenses must have overt, covert and forensic security features. Overt would be something visible to the naked eye, such as a watermark. Covert would be something readable only by machine or with a magnifying glass. And forensic would be something embedded in a card that would show whether the card had been tampered with.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Princess ends unlimited Internet for suite passengers

With limited bandwidth at sea in an era in which people are increasingly online with more devices --- handhelds, tablets and laptops -- Princess has ended its policy of offering unlimited Internet for its suite passengers. The policy ended last month, although passengers with suites booked before July 15 will still be entitled to the unlimited bandwidth. Princess will continue to provide its suite passengers with other amenities including a special breakfast for suite passengers at Sabatini's, the line's Italian restaurant; a dedicated priority line for suite passengers at the Passenger Services desk; and fee-free dining at a specialty restaurant on the day of embarkation, among others services. In addition, Platinum and Elite Captain's Circle members qualify for a complimentary Internet use package: 150 minutes for cruises seven days and under, 250 minutes for cruises of eight to 20 days and 500 minutes for cruises 21 days or longer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crystal Cruises Relaxes Dress Code to Make Black Tie Optional

Crystal Cruises has relaxed its recommended dress code, making black tie optional on formal nights. "Based on valuable feedback from our guests, we have updated the recommended dress codes to be more in line with the continually evolving, more relaxed dress codes reflected throughout the world today," the company noted on its website. The changes take effect beginning with the Jan. 5 cruise on Crystal Symphony and the March 31 departure on Crystal Serenity. Mimi Weisband, vice president of public relations for the luxury line, said the changes were made for a combination of reasons. "We now have far more cruises of 10 days or less (about 30 percent of our cruises in 2013) and we have more port-intensive itineraries, for which folks want to bring less luggage," she explained in an email. "We have people who are taking our ‘getaway’ shorter cruises and combining the cruises with their own land stays. We still feel that most guests will opt to dress up on the formal night, and many guests indicate that they love that we have that special evening(s). However, if someone really doesn’t want to dress up on that evening, we just don’t want to convey that it is mandatory." Under the new guidelines, casual wear is appropriate in any onboard lounge and dining venue during the day, including resort-style attire, shorts and jeans. After 6 p.m., shorts and baseball caps are not permitted. For all venues on board, the recommended evening attire is one of the following:

Resort Casual -- Slacks and a sweater or shirt for men; casual dress, skirt or slacks with a sweater or blouse for women. Ties and jackets are not required.

Elegant Casual (Informal) -- Suit or slacks with a jacket over a sweater or shirt for men. Ties are optional. Cocktail dress, skirt or slacks with a sweater or blouse for women. Jeans are not appropriate.

Black Tie (Formal) Optional -- While Elegant Casual is always appropriate in the evening, a Black Tie Optional evening includes a dark suit with tie or tuxedo for men. For women, this includes a formal cocktail dress, evening gown or dressy evening separates. On Black Tie Optional evenings, we request that jeans not be worn in any dining venues or lounges, including the casino.

There will be one black-tie optional evening during seven- to 10-day cruises and two during 11- to 13-day voyages. World Cruises, holiday voyages and crossings may be scheduled differently. The recommended dress code for each evening is listed in the daily itinerary section of the Priority Check-in & Planning Center. For more infomation contact at 203-288-1884

Monday, November 26, 2012

Royal Princess' adult relaxation area to have cabanas

Princess Cruises said the adults-only area on the Royal Princess will have private cabanas.
Cabanas in the secluded adult relaxation area, the Sanctuary, will cost $80 per half day, Princess said. There is also a $25 daily reservation charge to use the Sanctuary. There will be four Sanctuary Cabanas with televisions, wireless headphones, robes and slippers, a welcome cocktail and a mini-bar. In addition, there will be two Lotus Spa cabanas that offer massages. The Sanctuary on Royal Princess will be 20% larger than the Sanctuary space on other Princess ships to accommodate the cabanas. At the nearby Retreat Pool, cabanas can be rented for $50 per half day. Guests reserving cabanas in either area can buy a gourmet picnic starting at $40. The Royal Princess enters service in June 2013.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Norwegian, Princess to cruise from Houston port

Houston is finally getting cruise ships, as Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises have made commitments at the Bayport Cruise Terminal. The 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princes is scheduled to begin Houston service in November of 2013, with a total of 26 departures planned for the winter season.
"We're pleased that Houston will be the home port for Caribbean Princess during her 2013-2014 season," said Jan Swartz, Princess' executive vice president. "We expect that the port's state-of-the-art facilities and convenient airport-close location will provide a great experience for our passengers embarking there." The 2,374-passenger Norwegian Jewel will sail Caribbean cruises from Houston, beginning in the fall of 2014. The Bayport Cruise Terminal is in Pasadena, just outside of the Houston city limits. It was completed in 2009, but no cruise line has based a ship there since its opening.
Nearby Galveston, however, has hosted several cruise lines. Next yea, Galveston will serve two Carnival ships, the Crown Princess, the Disney Magic and two Royal Caribbean International vessels.
Norwegian Cruise Line last homeported a ship in Houston in 2007. With the growth of our capacity from the upcoming additions of our two new ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, we can expand our existing fleet into new homeports, said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO. We listened to the feedback from our travel partners and guests who have been requesting our return to Houston. For more information and to book these ships sailing from Houston contact at 203-288-1884

Friday, November 9, 2012

Norwegian to Raise Fares on Pride of America Sailings in Hawaii

Norwegian Cruise Line will raise fares an average of 10 percent on new Pride of America bookings beginning Jan. 1, citing strong demand. The only large U.S.-flagged cruise ship, Pride of America sails year-round from Honolulu on a seven-day inter-island Hawaii cruise. Ports of call include Kahului, Maui; Hilo and Kona, Hawaii; Nwiliwili, Kauai; and an afternoon cruise past the breathtaking Npali Coast.

Because she is U.S.-flagged and crewed, Pride of America is in the unique position of being the only cruise ship that can sail to the four islands of Hawaii from Honolulu without visiting a foreign port, said Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan. As a result of this unique offering, there is strong, ongoing demand for the ship, propelled by record-breaking guest satisfaction scores. This is a spectacular one-of-a-kind itinerary and the cruise delivers an incredible value for the money compared to the high cost of land-based vacations in Hawaii.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring aboard their own wine

Royal Caribbean International has changed a long-standing policy that prevented guests from bringing their own alcoholic beverages on a cruise. The new policy allows for two 750-milliliter bottles of wine per cabin. The wine can be consumed in a guest cabin or on a balcony without charge. If the wine is consumed in a public space, there will be a $25 corkage fee. The policy requires that the wine bottles must retain the original manufacturer’s seals and exhibit no signs of tampering. If a guest brings more than two bottles, the additional bottles will be secured by ship personnel and returned just prior to the end of the cruise, Royal Caribbean said.
Previously, passengers were not allowed to bring any sort of beverage on the cruise, and alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day were not returned to guests. By way of explaining the change, Royal Caribbean said it recognized that "vacationers may have a particular bottle of wine or champagne that they would like bring on board to commemorate a special day or event while on their cruise." For more information on this and Royal Caribbean sailings contact at 203-288-1884

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Silversea customers can rebook when prices lower

Silversea Cruises launched a program that lets passengers request a lower fare when prices drop after they have booked their cruise. The adjustment will be in the form of a shipboard credit, suite upgrade, future cruise credit or fare reduction. The guarantee program took effect on Nov. 1 for voyages departing after June 1, 2013. Silversea also rolled out a simplified fare structure called Silver Privilege, which is intended to reward early bookings. The cruise-only fares can be supplemented with optional air, transfer, hotel and land components.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cruise ships to NY make alternate plans

The New York cruise port is closed, cruise lines said Tuesday as they broadcast alternative plans for New York-bound ships. Norwegian Cruise Line said the Norwegian Gem, which was scheduled to arrive in New York earlier this week, would instead call in Boston to take on supplies and fuel, and then sail toward New York and remain at sea until the port reopens. The line said passengers would be allowed to disembark in Boston, and that it would assist with travel plans for passengers who had booked air through Norwegian. "At this point, we are anticipating that the port will reopen on Thursday or Friday," Norwegian said.

The Crystal Symphony, whose Oct. 29 arrival into New York was also delayed the ship remained in Boston until Oct. 30 will now sail to Charleston, S.C., and will embark passengers there.

Princess Cruises said the pier in Brooklyn, N.Y., was closed until the weekend, which affected the Caribbean Princess, which had been scheduled to embark passengers there Oct. 31. The Caribbean Princess also remained in Boston instead of sailing for the Brooklyn port. Passengers were able to leave the ship in Boston. With regard to embarking passengers, "those passengers who have Princess Air and/or Princess transfers will be contacted regarding their specific travel plans," the line said. "Passengers will receive a per diem for any cruise days missed due to a late embarkation." The ports lineup on the Emerald Princess (sailing south from Quebec) and the Ruby Princess (sailing in the Caribbean) were impacted by the storm.

Royal Caribbean International said Tuesday that it had not yet altered the boarding time or itinerary of any ships departing from Baltimore or Bayonne, N.J., this Thursday, Friday or Sunday.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Disney, Norwegian Ships Change Itineraries to Avoid Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy pounded Jamaica and appeared headed for the Bahamas on Oct. 24, more cruise ships changed itineraries. At midday Oct. 24, the storm was about 65 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. A hurricane watch was issued for central and northwestern Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The tropical storm watch along the east coast of Florida was extended northward to the Volusia/Brevard county line. Disney Cruise Line said the Oct. 25 Disney Dream sailing will depart Port Canaveral as scheduled. However, a stop in Castaway Cay on Oct. 26 will be replaced with a day at sea. In addition, the Disney Fantasy, which is currently sailing a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, will replace a call in Castaway Cay on Oct. 25 with a day at sea. An Oct. 27 call at Nassau is scheduled, but depends on weather conditions. Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Pearl will now call in Cozumel on Oct. 24 and Costa Maya on Oct. 25, returning as scheduled to Miami on Saturday. Norwegian Jewel will now call in Freeport on Oct. 24 and Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 26, returning to New York as scheduled on Sunday. Norwegian Sky will cancel its call to Great Stirrup Cay on Oct. 25 and will spend the day at sea. Carnival Cruise Lines revised the itineraries of the Carnival Pride, Carnival Valor and Carnival Glory, while Royal Caribbean International amended the route for Allure of the Seas. Carnival said no changes have been made at this time for the Oct. 25 and 26 departures of Carnival Destiny, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Imagination. At this time, no changes have been made and our itinerary remains as scheduled. Were keeping our fingers crossed the weather will not impact our plans.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sea Princess leaves Passengers on shore due to bad weather

A cruise ship whose passengers were left stranded ashore by bad weather on Saturday has left Akaroa for Sydney (Australia).
Many of the 700 passengers on the Sea Princess had to stay in local homes after the weather prevented them from being ferried back to the ship on Saturday afternoon.
Better weather on Sunday allowed the passengers to return to the ship which was anchored in Akaroa Harbour. Carnival Cruises spokesperson David Jones says the company will investigate why people went ashore when the forecast was for bad conditions. He says the passengers were grateful for the kindness of residents who took them in when hotels in Akaroa and Christchurch could not accommodate the numbers.

Copyright  2012, Radio New Zealand
Published : 14 October 2012

Caribbean cruises leave wave of bitter merchants in ports

The Associated Press - David McFadden

— Tourists emerge by the hundreds from a towering, 16-deck megaship docked at the Caribbean's newest cruise port. They squint in the glare of the Jamaican sun, peer curiously at a gaggle of locals beyond a wrought-iron fence and then roar out of town on a procession of air-conditioned tour buses.Few stop to buy T-shirts, wooden figurines or beach towels from the dozens of merchants lining the road outside the fence, or visit the colonial-era buildings that dot the town. Not many even venture beyond the terminal's gates, unless it's in one of the buses that whisk them past increasingly disgruntled vendors and taxi drivers. That's not the way townspeople in the old Jamaican sugar port of Falmouth were told it would be. Jamaica's port authority and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. pitched the $220 million port as a place where passengers would dive into the historic city for "a wraparound experience not unlike Colonial Williamsburg, but one that is infused with the signature warmth of the Jamaican people." Locals were told the tourists might spend more than $100 each. But since the industry's biggest ships started arriving early last year that warmth and those dollars have been kept at a distance. "We were promised that we'd be able to show people our Jamaican heritage, sell our crafts. But most of the tourists stay far away from the local people," said Asburga Harwood, an independent tour guide and community historian. "We're on the losing end." Trade groups say the flourishing cruise ship industry injects about $2 billion a year into the economies of the Caribbean, the world's No. 1 cruise destination. But critics complain it produces relatively little local revenue because so many passengers dine, shop and purchase heavily marked-up shore excursions on the boats or splurge at international chain shops on the piers. The World Bank said in a 2011 report on Jamaica that as much as 80 percent of tourism earnings do not stay in the Caribbean region, one of the highest "leakage" rates in the world. "In all-inclusive Caribbean hotels it is common for only 20 percent of revenue to be returned to the local economy. In the case of cruise ships it will be much less, probably no more than 5 percent," said Victor Bulmer-Thomas, a professor emeritus at London University who is an expert on Caribbean and Latin America economies. A new report commissioned by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association trade group says passengers spent $1.48 billion during port calls during the 2011-12 season at 21 regional destinations, including a few Central and South American nations with ports on the Caribbean.

But $583 million of that money went for watches and jewelry bought in cruise destinations where international chains like Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International dominate pier shopping. An additional $270 million went to shore excursions, which are typically sold by the cruise lines. Just $87 million went to local crafts and souvenirs, according to the report.

The criticism isn't confined to Jamaica. Some Caribbean ports are even designed to prevent interaction with the surrounding communities.

In Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, tourists step off Royal Caribbean ships to visit the fenced-in beach attraction Labadee on the country's north coast. The visitors are prohibited from leaving the cruise line's property, which features white-sand beaches and one of the longest zip lines in the world.

"They should allow tourists to venture to the city. This would help the local economy," said Jean Cherenfant, mayor of nearby Cap-Haitien. "The majority of the people (in Cap-Haitien) don't feel the presence of Royal Caribbean and the tourists."

But each passenger to Labadee pays a $10 tax to the Haitian government, producing more than $6 million a year for the impoverished nation.

In the Bahamas, Disney Cruise Line ships stop at the company's own private island, dubbed Castaway Cay, where locals work as massage therapists, bartenders and drivers and supplies are brought in by the ships.

John Issa, former head of Jamaica's hotel association, said the cruise lines enjoy an unfair advantage over land-based businesses because regional governments fear the ships may pull out for a competing destination, while "once you put down a hotel, you are captive."

In one famous case, Carnival Cruise Lines withdrew from Grenada in 1999 amid a dispute over a $1.50-a-head tax to pay for a new landfill.

"The governments are terrified of making more demands," Bulmer-Thomas said.

The cruise industry says the ships steadily bring in huge amounts of tourists who otherwise might never come at all, so any money they do spend is a gain.

While locals want more interaction with moneyed tourists, the visitors often have little interest in exploring the sometimes gritty reality of life in a Caribbean port.

"Folks on a Royal Caribbean cruise are not looking for culture or history for the most part. They want to shop. Go to the beach. And drink. Not necessarily in that order," said Heidi Barry Rodriguez, a librarian from Cary, North Carolina, who recently cruised on a vessel to Falmouth and didn't meet a single passenger who explored the town.

On a recent morning at Falmouth's port, tourists disembarked from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, a 5,400-passenger liner with a 3D movie theater, ice rink, casino and multiple restaurants and bars. Most passengers were escorted onto buses destined for package tours in Jamaican resort meccas about an hour's drive away.

One dejected vendor selling hair-braiding services shut her eyes and raised her hands skyward, praying aloud that she could make a little money.

But even passengers who skipped the packaged excursions mostly shopped at stores on the fenced-in pier or strolled along the town's waterfront trying to avoid locals hawking cha-cha rattles and tropical clothing. "We don't discourage guests from going into the town of Falmouth, but many of our guests choose a Royal Caribbean excursion to see some of the country's beaches and famous attractions," said H.J. Harrison Liu, brand communications manager with Royal Caribbean. Falmouth Mayor Garth Wilkinson said his town "is just not seeing the benefit to the cruise ship port." According to William Tatham, vice president of Jamaica's port authority, that's because the city is still adapting to its new role as a resort town. He noted that nearly all businesses in the town are aimed at locals, such as hardware suppliers, meat markets and general stores. "The problem in Falmouth is that the residents are not tourist savvy," Tatham said during a phone interview. Paul Davy, a father of two who sells wooden statues of roosters, fish and other creatures outside the port, says locals are growing angry at the lack of opportunity. "The pot is starting to boil and, trust me, it will boil over if things don't change around here," said Davy, who helped build the pier as a construction worker but turned to crafts vending a year and a half ago. "Why can't we, the people who actually live here, make a living off the cruise ships, too?"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Costa Concordia Captain Sues for Wrongful Dismissal

Captain Francesco Schettino, master of the Costa Concordia when it sank on Jan. 13, has filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal, Reuters is reporting from Italy. "It is the right of every worker to appeal against his dismissal and Captain Schettino has done no more than exercise that right," his attorney told Reuters.

Costa Crociere ordered Schettino’s dismissal after concluding disciplinary proceedings against him. The company said the dismissal is in accordance with applicable laws and contractual regulations.

Schettino was at the helm of the Concordia when it strayed from an approved route, hitting rocks and capsizing near the Italian island of Giglio. Thirty-two people died. Schettino faces multiple charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship. Preliminary hearings are scheduled to begin Oct. 15.Costa also said it has not begun any other disciplinary proceedings against its employees after the sinking, apart from the one which led to the Schettinos dismissal.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Celebrity Reflection godmothers are employees who have dealt with breast cancer

The godmothers of the Celebrity Reflection will be four employees of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) whose lives have been affected by breast cancer, either through their own illness or that of family members. RCCL is the parent company of Celebrity Cruises. The godmothers are Jovanka Goronjic, Megan Mathie, Helen OConnell and Rosey Rodriguez. Goronjic, the AquaSpa manager on the Celebrity Constellation, donated her hair for the creation of wigs for cancer patients in tribute to her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and endured several rounds of treatment. Her mother is now a breast cancer survivor. Mathie is a glassblowing artist in the Hot Glass Show aboard the Celebrity Solstice. Earlier this year, her sister and her mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Mathie and her team now host a Hot Pink Glass Show on every cruise. At each cruises end, she auctions a one-of-a-kind pink glass creation to raise funds for Celebritys charitable partner, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. OConnell manages community relations for RCCL and leads the corporations annual GIVE (Get Involved, Volunteer Everywhere) Day. Before being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, she traveled to New York every weekend for three months to help care for her father, who was battling bone cancer. Rodriguez, a manager of the Special Events team, was diagnosed with stage-3 breast cancer in June but has continued to work while undergoing treatment. Celebrity said she takes her laptop to treatments to enable her to work remotely. The Celebrity Reflection, the fifth ship in Celebritys Solstice class, enters service on Oct. 12 with a nine-day sailing from Amsterdam to Barcelona.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Azamara to offer nighttime excursions on all cruises

Azamara Club Cruises said Monday that it will offer nighttime shore excursions on all of its cruises, starting next spring. The cruise line describes the nighttime excursions as events that are more exclusive than the usual tours offered during port calls. The endeavor is a refinement of the lines focus on destinations, made possible by longer stays in ports and overnight stays, Azamara said.
A total of 52 overnight events have been arranged, beginning with the March 27 sailing of Azamara Quest, which will hold an evening event in Seville, Spain, on the second night of the cruise. The Azamara Journey will begin its slate of evening events on May 15. "These events are unique and bespoke," said Edie Bornstein, Azamara's sales vice president. "They are something that a private tour operator cannot create, no matter how much they are willing to spend." The cost of the events will be folded into the cruise fare. However, Azamara said as part of the change, it will eliminate a program offering 50% discounts on shore excursions. At the same time, Azamara will make its beverage offerings more inclusive by making spirits free, in addition to the unlimited wines that are now served at lunch and dinner. Azamara said the nighttime shore event has been tested four or five times, including a trip to the Verrazano castles in Italy's Tuscany region. The castles are not normally open at night. These exclusive events will be repeated in future years, along with newly created events, said Azamara President Larry Pimentel. Guests who have already booked a cruise on Azamara after the start dates for the evening event will get the nighttime events added to their cruise.
Pimentel said he hopes to see a 10% to 15% fare increase over time. Azamara officials have said the line currently provides value by pricing about 15% below its competitive set. For more information and to book an Azamara Cruise, contact at 203-288-1884

Monday, October 1, 2012

Costa Concordia Lawsuit Dismissed By Florida Judge

A lawsuit against Carnival Corp. stemming from the Costa Concordia tragedy was dismissed Sept. 28 in Florida, with the judge agreeing it should be refiled in Italy, the Associated Press reported. About 1,000 businesses on the island of Giglio, where the Costa ship capsized, moved to sue Carnival in Miami, where it is headquartered, instead of Italy, where Costa is based. It is easier to get compensation for emotional distress in the U.S., while Italian law limits such awards. Several lawsuits filed on behalf of passengers are still pending in the U.S. Carnival also wants the passenger cases shifted to Italy, AP reported. For more information contact at 203-288-1884



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Norwegian Selects Rockettes as Godmothers of New Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line selected New York’s famous Rockettes to serve as godmothers of the Norwegian Breakaway, which will be christened in the Big Apple on May 8. The partnership with Madison Square Garden Entertainment also includes Norwegian being named the "Official Cruise Line" of the Rockettes and Radio City Music Hall, and the "Official Partner" of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

As part of their role as godmothers, two Rockettes will sail aboard the first six sailings of Norwegian Breakaway, beginning May 12, and the first sailing of each month thereafter, taking part in special events.

Norwegian Breakaway is being designed as New Yorks ship, and we want everyone to know that this is the ‘must-sail’ cruise ship from New York in 2013 and beyond," said Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan. "I strongly believe that the Rockettes, one of the most beloved and recognizable New York icons, are the perfect choice to serve as the ship’s godmothers." The larger partnership across the Madison Square Garden Entertainment properties will create brand exposure for Norwegian at Radio City Music Hall, including onsite presence during the 2012 production of the Christmas Spectacular. Guests attending this year’s Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of two cruises for a family of four on Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian Cruise Line will have a year-round display in Radio City Music Hall’s Grand Lounge with an 11-foot replica of Norwegian Breakaway, along with information on the ship’s attributes, entertainment, dining, destinations and more.

Onboard Norwegian Breakaway, the Rockettes will be showcased by a historical retrospective in the ship’s library, a fitness class designed by the Rockettes, featured beverages and more. On select sailings, guests will have the opportunity to meet two of the Rockettes who will offer fitness classes, photo opportunities, meet-and-greet speaker series and more. For additional information on this and other specials with Norwegian Breakaway contact at or 203-288-1884.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Carnival to Discontinue Future Cruise Certificate Program

Carnival Cruise Lines is eliminating its future cruise certificate program, which gave guests shipboard credit on their next cruise if they made a $100 deposit while onboard. The purchasers could finalize the ship and departure date up to two years later. The program will end on departures on or after Sept. 27, but guests will still be able to get shipboard credit if they finalize the ship and sail date while onboard. Outstanding certificates will be honored up to the expiration date printed on the face of the certificate. "After careful consideration, we’ve decided to eliminate the Future Carnival Vacations Program due to its low economic performance," said a statement on Carnivals website. Many Carnival customers appear unhappy with the decision, based on comments on the popular blog penned by Senior Cruise Director John Heald. His report that the program was ending garnered more than 460 comments within five hours. "We always take advantage of this program and it was fantastic. Most of the time when we cruise we don’t know when or what ship our next cruise will be on, but we know we’ll be taking another," wrote Shelley Johnston Ziegler. "Think about it from a typical working person’s point of view … a lot of us need to get approval for time off and make other travel arrangements and can’t do so so far in advance (assuming we cruise once a year or so). Please consider reinstating this program." Agreeing was JP Kraus: "The problem lies in making the confirmed reservation. When booking a cruise (or any vacation for that matter) most of us have to get permission from work, arranging a pet sitter, you name it. This is simply not possible if you have to book a cruise while we’re on a ship. With the [future cruise certificate] we’d be able to make a reservation from the comfort of our own home." Others said they didn’t want to spend time researching future cruises with the onboard sales counselor during their vacation, especially if there was a wait.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884 or


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cruise ports, private lots battle over parking revenue

Cruise passengers can pay $15 to $20 a day to park their car at a port, adding upwards of $100 to the cost of a seven-night vacation, a situation that in some cases has set up a tug-of-war between ports, off-site parking operators and the cruise lines. Ports complain that when passengers use private lots, it diverts revenue that they need to finance cruise infrastructure improvements. Ports have fought back by imposing fees on off-site drop-off vans and by making arrangements with cruise lines to steer passengers to port-owned facilities — for a piece of the action. That’s the case at the Port of Galveston, where Carnival Cruise Lines gets 25% of the parking revenue after the port’s initial $2.5 million in collections.

At least five private lot operators vie for revenue with a variety of incentives. Galveston Port Director Mike Mierzwa said he has been working to get a more direct link to his parking garage from Carnival’s website and to see if Carnival reservations agents could refer callers to his spaces first when they’re asked about parking. "We’re still in discussions about it," he said. Carnival said it provides a Web link to the Galveston port and has agreements with ports that give it an incentive to assist them with marketing, but a spokesman said it didn’t have any further specifics about Galveston. Competition for port-developed parking comes from airport-based chains such as Park ’N Fly and Park ’N Go, independents and nearby hotels that offer guests bargain rates. At Port Everglades, there is competition from owners of small lots on recently cleared industrial land, port spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy said. "At one point we welcomed it, because our parking lots were overflowing," she said. But in the last 10 years, the port has expanded both its garage and lot capacity and can now accommodate about 7,600 vehicles. Parking revenue fell $60,000 last year, to $8.17 million, but Kennedy said the cause is unclear. In addition to more competition, Port Everglades is seeing more international passengers who don’t drive to the port. Port Everglades charges $15 a night for parking.
Perhaps the biggest parking controversy erupted at Port Canaveral, where private lot operators have been charging between $6 and $8 a night. That compares to a port schedule of $60 for three days, $75 for four days, $90 for five days and $100 for seven days, according to its website. In June, the Canaveral Port Authority voted to stop issuing new permits to off-site parking providers and to assess a $50 fee on shuttle buses coming from hotels and off-site lots.
The vote followed airing of a study by consultant Lumin Advisors that said private operators threatened the port’s financial health. An uproar ensued, and in July the authority rescinded the $50 fee and appointed a panel to advise it on parking issues. Although parking fell from 20.4% of port revenue in 2010 to 17.8% last year, it has since rebounded, said authority Vice Chairman Tom Weinberg. "We’re not in any trouble with revenues on our parking," he said. Private lot operators say their selling point isn’t always price. "We’re a little cheaper — not much," said Tom Gamelin, manager of Discount Cruise Parking, about three miles from the Port of Galveston. Seven nights of prepaid parking costs $50, compared with $70 at the port. Gamelin said first-time cruisers often bypass him. "I’m like Mom & Pop’s hamburger, not like McDonald’s," he said. "When people are traveling, they want something familiar."
His market is the more experienced cruiser who knows that he has a gas station and that his location near the interstate saves time getting on and off Galveston Island. "They appreciate what I’ve got to offer," he said. For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Costa Says Concordia Captain Strayed from Approved Route

Costa Crociere has issued a strong denial that it knew in advance that Capt. Francesco Schettino, master of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, would veer from a company-approved routing to sail closer to the Italian island of Giglio. The statement was issued in response to Italian newspaper articles reporting on supposed findings of the ship’s black box. The Concordia keeled over Jan. 13 after rocks sliced through its hull; thirty-two people died.
"In response to what has been reported by La Stampa and reprinted by other media outlets, Costa Crociere has stated that it is clear from the surveys carried out from the black box [that] it is a completely inaccurate hypothesis that the company was aware of the route followed by Captain Schettino. What has been reported in the media is not only wrong, but also harmful to the image of the company with the potential to cause economic damage."
Costa said the black box shows that the route approved the afternoon of Jan. 13 in Civitavecchia was "a routine and secure route approved by the company (five miles away from the island). Later Captain Schettino took it upon himself to modify the route but neglected to inform the company." Furthermore, Costa said, a few minutes before the accident Schettino personally took over the operation and took authority by giving orders to the helmsman, which resulted in a further change of direction (of which the company was unaware) that led the vessel to an unsafe route closer to Giglio Island, which then led to the accident."  For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disney Cruise Line Offers New 2013 Sailings Departing from Galveston

Starting in 2013, Disney Cruise Line will offer a number of new itineraries on Disney Magic departing from Galveston, Texas, that it says will provide even more cruise options for guests. In addition to six-night Western Caribbean sailings, new choices include four-night Caribbean getaway cruises and eight-night itineraries that take guests to Walt Disney World Resort and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

In the early part of 2013, the Disney Magic will sail from the Port of Galveston to the Western Caribbean and Bahamas with four-, six- and eight-night itineraries. New for 2013 will be four-night Caribbean sailings offering guests a quick getaway and including two days at sea and porting at Cozumel, giving guest a chance to sample the DCL experience. Departure dates are Feb. 1, 5, March 15, 19, April 12, 16.

Also new are six-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Galveston with ports of call including Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Departure dates are Jan. 12, 26, Feb. 9, 23, March 9, 23, April 6, 20, May 4.

An eight-night Bahamas sailing out of Galveston includes a day at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, and a stop at Port Canaveral, Fla., giving guests an opportunity to visit Walt Disney World Resort. As part of this itinerary, each guest will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and roundtrip transportation between their Disney ship and the resort. Ports include Castaway Cay, Port Canaveral and Key West. Departure dates are Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 1, 29, April 26, May 10.

Another eight-night Western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston include stops in Mexico and Key West Fla. Ports include Galveston, Key West, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel. Departure date is Jan. 4.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Princess Offers Evidence That Star Princess Did Not Ignore Adrift Boat

Princess Cruises has taken the unusual step of releasing video and photographic evidence that it says clears it of allegations that one of its ships, Star Princess, ignored an adrift fishing boat in distress. The story, which broke last April, received extensive press coverage, primarily with anti-cruise bloggers who criticized Princess and the ship’s captain for not coming to the rescue of the men onboard, two of whom subsequently died. On Aug. 30, Princess released recently discovered video footage of a rescue at sea of a small boat adrift for nearly a month in the Pacific Ocean. Princess says the video "conclusively confirms the adrift boat, the Fifty Cent, was not the small boat spotted and photographed by three Princess passengers several weeks earlier." Princess has been sued six times by the survivor and relatives of fishermen on the adrift boat. The lawsuits claim the cruise ship Star Princess passed within several miles of the Fifty Cent, but failed to rescue them despite three cruise ship passengers spotting them and reporting they saw a boat that might be in distress. The ship’s bridge staff did not see signs of distress and therefore did not stop or notify the ship’s captain, Princess said. The Princess passengers, a group of bird watchers with sophisticated telescopic camera equipment, photographed the small boat they had spotted. Their photos depict a small white boat similar to Panga boats used by local fishermen in Central America, Princess said, but the video footage of the Fifty Cent’s rescue shows "a markedly different boat." Princess had the newly discovered video and the original bird watchers’ photos analyzed by Michael Snyder, a retired photo analyst and photogrammetry expert from NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Snyder concluded that "the small boat photographed by the passengers onboard Star Princess is clearly not the small boat called Fifty Cent that Adrian Vasquez was found adrift on."Princess said it began searching for photographs or video of the Fifty Cent after hearing recorded statements by Vasquez that were "inconsistent with his allegation that Star Princess had passed him by, and which were also inconsistent with the bird watchers’ reported sighting. The captain of the fishing boat that rescued Vasquez has provided a sworn statement confirming that Vasquez gave a detailed account of his ordeal at the time he was rescued, but never mentioned any cruise ship passing him by." Princess also said a drift analysis "further support[s] the fact that Star Princess did not cross paths with the Fifty Cent" based on ocean current, wind and wave data. Conducted by Weather Routing Inc., a private meteorological consulting firm, the analysis concluded "that it is not likely the boat sighted by the guest passengers was the same boat rescued on March 23rd and identified as the Fifty Cent." Princess demanded the lawsuits be immediately dismissed and has offered to waive its right to seek recovery of legal costs, citing sympathy for the victims of the Fifty Cent’s ordeal. "While this remains a tragic story, we are gratified to have scientific confirmation that Star Princess was never in the vicinity of the adrift boat and that the boat photographed by our passengers was not the adrift Fifty Cent," said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises. "Nevertheless, we have used this as a valuable learning opportunity and have strengthened our bridge reporting procedures to ensure that all messages of concern from passengers or crew are carefully evaluated by our senior bridge officers." Princess reports that the ship’s captain, Edward Perrin, had been devastated by allegations his ship might have ignored a vessel in distress. Ironically, Perrin was praised last month by Canadian authorities after his ship diverted to act as a wind block assisting Canadian authorities in a helicopter rescue of two sailors from a boat that was floundering in stormy conditions off the coast of British Columbia. Princess ships have come to the aid of persons or ships in distress more than 30 times in the past decade. It is fairly common for Princess ships to divert to render aid when they receive distress calls.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Royal Caribbean Adds Cabanas, Water Slide at Labadee
Royal Caribbean is offering more cabanas for rent at Labadee, its private beach destination on Haiti, company President and CEO Adam Goldstein shared on his blog. In all, there are 40 private cabanas for rent on Labadee now. The company started with 20 at Barefoot Beach Club, the private area for guests in Grand Suites and higher categories, and for those renting the cabanas. Now, 16 cabanas have been added to Nellie’s Beach. "The Labadee cabanas have been a huge hit and so we have increased the number," Goldstein wrote. "Our initial offering at Barefoot Beach Club was 20 cabanas, and we are in the process of completing four more over-the-water cabanas there. In addition to regular and over-the-water cabanas, we now offer three cabanas that are wheelchair accessible, using our beach wheelchairs. In addition, there are 16 new cabanas at Nellie’s Beach. So there are now 40 cabanas available for rental at Labadee." Each cabana can accommodate four to five guests. While each cabana is the same in size, amenities and services offered, there are four types with prices depending on location. The daily rental fee includes a dedicated cabana attendant, complimentary bottled water, complimentary floating mats and snorkeling equipment, a beverage menu (prices charged accordingly), and an upgraded lunch menu at the private BBQ facility. The cabanas are available for reservation onboard through the concierge or guest services manager on a first-come, first-serve basis. The daily rental fee for cabanas on Nellie’s Beach is $175-200, depending on location. On Barefoot Beach, the daily fee is $150-200.

Labadee’s newest attraction is Dragon’s Splash Waterslide, a 300-foot, stainless-steel saltwater slide at Columbus beach close to the Arawak Aqua Park. The slide, which costs $20 to ride all day, officially opened on July 9 when Oasis of the Seas called at Labadee. For an update on Labadee enhancements, contact at 203-288-1884




Carnival Elation Heads to Mobile Since New Orleans Remains Closed

Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Elation is heading for Mobile, Ala., since the
Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River remain closed to ship traffic due to Tropical Storm Isaac. Weather permitting, the Elation’s passengers will debark Friday morning and be bused back to New Orleans. The ship was scheduled to arrive back at the Port of Orleans on Aug. 30. For those booked on the Aug. 30 departure, the scheduled four-day cruise will be shortened to three days departing on Aug. 31. Carnival advised guests to plan to arrive at the Port of New Orleans between 1 and 4 p.m. on Friday. The parking garage at the port will be open, and buses will take guests and their luggage to Mobile. Guests who choose to sail on the shortened cruise will receive a 50 percent refund of the cruise fare within the next two weeks, a 25 percent discount on a future three- to five-day cruise and refund of government fees and taxes. Refunds will not be provided for flight changes, hotel accommodations, meals, transfers, or other incidental costs. Those who want to cancel or reschedule, should call 800-CARNIVAL to request a future cruise credit. The Port of New Orleans, which shut down Aug. 27 as Hurricane Isaac headed for Louisiana, said it is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to determine when the Mississippi River could reopen. Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm on Wednesday but dumped heavy rains that caused flooding in Louisiana and parts of Mississippi. The port said the Coast Guard plans to assess the Lower Mississippi River at first light Thursday and continue to work with river pilot organizations and port officials to reopen the channel as soon as safely possible. Once an assessment of the river is made, soundings of the channel are conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine if there are any changes to the channel’s draft or storm debris that could hinder navigation. There is no official word on when the Mississippi River could reopen, but port officials hope to resume operations by the weekend. LaGrange added that port facilities seem to have fared well, except for some minor wind damage






Champagne Wishes and Bordeaux Dreams

All you wine enthusiasts - have you heard about Immersive Wine cruises? These cruises specialize in providing passengers with the opportunity to explore and experience the wine countries of Europe - both on-board and on-shore.

You don't have to be rich or famous to enjoy this special opportunity!

Let's sail off and sip champagne in the City of Light!

UA Network Outage Underscores Travel Agent Value

UA Network Outage Underscores Travel Agent Value

by Maria Lenhart and Andrew Sheivachman - August 30, 2012

United’s major network outage that shut down its reservations system and website on Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012 pointed up the advantage for consumers to work with travel agents. Most agents contacted by Travel Market Report said they experienced little or no business disruptions during the outage, many were called on to assist clients caught up in the mess – and were able to help navigate them through it.
580 delays, paper boarding passes
United’s computer glitch grounded airplanes for more than two hours, caused 580 delays, nine cancellations and rendered the carrier’s website inaccessible. In addition, GDS companies said that they did not have access to real-time inventory during the outage. United said its operations were running normally on the following day. The carrier said the outage was caused when a piece of communications equipment in one of its data centers failed and disabled communications with its airport stations and website. "We have fully redundant systems, and we are working with the manufacturers to determine why the backup equipment did not work as it was supposed to," a United spokesman said in an e-mail. Although the outage affected reservations and departure control issues – the carrier had to issue manual boarding passes and baggage tags.
Need for the travel agent
Situations such as what occurred on Tuesday demonstrate the relevance of travel agents, according to Garria.
"Truthfully, we have clients who say if it wasn’t for you guys, we’d be lost," she said. "They tell their buddies who book online, ‘try to get someone on the phone to help you or back you.’ I had a client with three transfers yesterday, and I had her backed up- if you go online, this is not going to happen. Travel agencies are still needed."

Fort more information on using a Professional Agent contact at 203-288-1884

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clients praise RCCL for handling delay of Allure of the Seas due to Tropical Storm Isaac

Clients praise RCCL for handling delay of Allure of the Seas due to Tropical Storm Isaac

We have been getting some very accurate information from our passengers who were scheduled to sail this past week end and as more information comes in, we will continue to post it. Presently, Royal Caribbean continues to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac to ensure guests enjoy safe and comfortable cruises, and to make certain their ships steer clear of the storm. clients have reported that due to the progress of Tropical Storm Isaac and the delay in sailing, Royal Caribbean has done a great job in communicating and providing for all passengers of the The Allure of the Seas and the Majesty of the Seas. Due to the delay in sailing of the Allure of the Seas, RCCL has provided a very good compensation for the missed days of crusiing and the costs being forced to stay in hotels in the Fort Lauderdale area until Tuesday.

From RCCL:
Tropical Weather Update August 26, 2012 - 5:00 pm EST
Given Tropical Storm Isaac's current location and projected path, and the forecasted weather for South Florida, Allure of the Seas' next sailing will now begin on Tuesday, August 28. We ask that guests who are scheduled to sail on Allure of the Seas on Sunday, August 26, not arrive at the port until 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 28. We kindly ask that guests come to the terminal between 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28, for check-in and boarding. Regrettably, the delayed departure will have an impact on the scheduled itinerary. Allure of the Seas will now spend Wednesday, August 29, at sea, call to Cozumel, Mexico, on Thursday, August 30, spend Friday, August 31, at sea, and Nassau, Bahamas, on Saturday, September 1.
Majesty of the Seas
The Port of Miami closed at 11:00 p.m. (Saturday, Aug 25) and plans to reopen on Monday, August 27. Because of this, Majesty of the Seas' boarding on Monday will be delayed. Boarding will now start on Monday at 5:00 p.m. Guests can begin arriving at 5:00 p.m. and should arrive no later than 8:00 p.m. Majesty of the Seas will call on Nassau, Bahamas, on Tuesday, August 27, as scheduled. However, the arrival time in Nassau may be impacted by the later departure. More information will be provided to guests once they board the ship.

Boarding for Monarch of the Seas will begin at 1:00 p.m., as scheduled. Monarch of the Seas will spend Wednesday, August 29, at sea, and call to CocoCay, Bahamas, on Thursday, August 30. However, we suggest that guests sailing on Monarch of the Seas on Monday, August 27, continue to monitor this website for any additional updates."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Low river depth disrupts American Queen cruise

The 436-passenger American Queen was not able to make its scheduled 220-mile journey from Memphis to Vicksburg, Miss., due to low water levels on the Mississippi River in Memphis. "We can’t control the river," said Tim Rubacky, senior vice president of sales, marketing and product development for the American Queen Steamboat Co., which owns the American Queen. Record-high temperatures in July and a drought has affected the water level on the Mississippi. The American Queen was scheduled to finish one cruise and start another in Vicksburg on Friday. But with the Mississippi River in Memphis about 40 feet below where it was at this time last year (a few feet higher than the all-time low), the American Queen Steamboat Co. decided to keep the vessel moored rather than risk getting stuck. Guests were given the option to stay and spend additional time in Memphis, or be bused down to Vicksburg, where they were offered a complimentary hotel night. Passengers scheduled to depart from Vicksburg were bused to Memphis. Impacted passengers received a $1,000 credit per stateroom for a future cruise. The American Queen is currently scheduled to leave Memphis on Saturday evening and head north. Rubacky said the company does not anticipate any further changes given that water levels on the Ohio and Tennessee rivers are controlled by a series of locks and dams. Rubacky said the company would assess any further complications on a day-to-day basis and accommodate guests accordingly. For more information on cruising on the American Queen contact at 800-775-1884 or

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cruise and Booze: Carnival the Latest to Test All-You-Can-Drink Package

August 20, 2012

Will Carnival become the latest cruise line to jump on the all-you-can-drink, alcohol-included beverage package bandwagon -- joining lines like Celebrity, Oceania and MSC? Perhaps so. If the trial run of the My Awesome Bar Program," which is currently underway aboard Carnival Victory, is a success, the beverage package could be rolled out to the entire fleet. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen confirmed that the trial has been ongoing since Victory's August 5 departure. The per-cruise cost for the My Awesome Bar Program is $42.95 per person per day, plus a 15 percent gratuity. Purchasers can partake of a wide variety of wine, beer and spirits, as well as sodas and non-alcoholic frozen cocktails throughout their cruise. However, all included beverages, including wines by the glass, beers and individual cocktails, must be individually priced at $10 or lower to qualify for inclusion. Program participants who want to purchase bottles of wine and Champagne, as well as more expensive wines by the glass and cocktails will receive a 25 percent discount. Passengers can sign up for My Awesome Bar Program at Carnival Victory's atrium and casino bars, as well as at the main pool bar. There is a catch: if one passenger wants to purchase the beverage package, then all passengers ages 21 years and up in the same cabin must also purchase the package. Though Carnival would not comment on the reasons behind this requirement, it does make the possible issue of two people in one cabin sharing a plan moot.
Gulliksen touted convenience and value as reasons the line is exploring all-inclusive beverage options. At press time, the length of the test period had not yet been determined. Other cruise lines that offer similar types of unlimited beverage packages are Celebrity, MSC and Oceania. Of thesethree, only MSC also requires all passengers in the same cabin to purchase the package, making the Carnival and MSC options the most expensive per cabin of all the programs (even if some individual packages are higher priced). Royal Caribbean also offers an unlimited beverage package, though only on three of its most international ships. Royal Caribbean and Holland America both offer discounts on pre-purchased wine bundles. For more information contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Port Canaveral Opens New $65 Million Cruise Terminal

The grand opening is set for Sept. 13, but Port Canaveral has started using its new $65 million, 90,000-square-foot cruise terminal The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy was the first to depart, on Aug. 13, from the state-of-the-art Cruise Terminal 6, nicknamed CT6. Spanning two levels, the facilitys electronic ticketing lobby can process 2,400 passengers at one time. The atrium has a 1,100-seat waiting area including 300 seats on the mezzanine level. Passengers are guided through the terminal via electronic signage. The terminal also has a 30,000-square-foot baggage handling area.
CT6 has a new three-level, 750-car parking garage adjacent. The garage has a ground-floor retail area, which will serve passengers, crew and port employees.
Carnival, Port Canaverals largest cruise operator, homeports three ships at the port and brings in two vessels for port calls on a regular basis. Carnival is expected to bring more than 600,000 passengers through Port Canaveral this year. In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line will utilize CT6 for port calls by Norwegian Breakaway, which will begin service in fall 2013, sailing from New York to Florida and the Bahamas. It was built with passengers in mind, said Port CEO Stan Payne, noting that the spacious terminal is nothing less than stunning when you see the use of audio visual aids. The terminals official grand opening celebration on Sept. 13 will benefit the local United Way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

American Queen Scrambles Due to Low Water in Mississippi River

American Queen Steamboat Company has been revising riverboat itineraries due to extremely low water levels on the Mississippi River. The American Queen paddlewheeler has remained in Memphis since Aug. 8 instead of heading for Vicksburg, Miss., where passengers were scheduled to embark on Aug. 10. The companys motorcoaches picked up passengers spending a pre-cruise hotel night in New Orleans or Jackson, Miss., and took them to the boat in Memphis after a battlefields tour or, in the case of New Orleans passengers, the tour and a hotel night and hosted dinner in Vicksburg. The changes are due to the record low water levels on the Mississippi, the lowest in more than two decades, the company wrote in a letter to passengers and travel agents. We have been in constant communication with the Army Corps of Engineers and the most prudent course of action, and safest one for our guests, is to not proceed south of Helena, Arkansas. This is due to the fact that there have been a growing number of river closures, on a daily basis, caused by barge traffic running aground. If we were to proceed to Vicksburg, there is a substantial risk that the voyage itinerary would be interrupted if the American Queen were unable to proceed north on the river due to one of these closures." In Memphis, the American Queen was forced to dock at Greenbelt Park on Mud Island instead of its usual place at Beale Street Landing because the water is too shallow.  The vessel is now scheduled to operate a dinner cruise of sorts on Saturday, departing about 4 p.m. and returning to Memphis about 11 p.m., said Senior Vice President Tim Rubacky. The company booked two acts to perform — B.B. King Blues Band and the Memphis Suns.
The boat was scheduled to be in Helena on Sunday, but will remain in Memphis while passengers take the motorcoaches to Helena for the Civil War tours. Sightseeing in Memphis is an alternate option. Then American Queen will sail the rest of the scheduled itinerary on the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, where the water levels are fine for the cruise. Passengers on the Aug. 10 voyage and the previous one they got a tour in Memphis and a hotel overnight in Vicksburg are getting a $1,000 per stateroom credit for a future cruise. You cant control the river and cant fight the river, but what you can do is control the guest experience, Rubacky said. We are focused on keeping guests happy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Norwegian eliminates fare discount for babies

Norwegian Cruise Line has informed travel agents that from now on, it is going to charge children under the age of 2 the same cruise fare it charges for all kids. The cruise line previously charged kids under the age of 2 a portion of the cruise fare plus taxes and fees, a price that varied by the cruise. A Norwegian spokesperson said that all children, regardless of age, now pay the same rate. The move brings Norwegian in line with what Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines do, which is charge the same fare for all children. That price is typically the reduced fare charged to the third or fourth passengers in a cabin when they are traveling with two adults. For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Royal Caribbean Set to Install Self-Serve Fountain Soda Machines

Royal Caribbean International is installing some fancy self-serve soda machines on its ships, which allow guests who buy a fountain soda package to refill their own drinks rather than ordering from a bartender. The Coca-Cola Freestyle machine (no relation to Norwegian Cruise Lines tagline) allows guests to select from more than 100 drink choices, such as Coca-Cola Cherry Vanilla, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke Lime, The new Coke machine is already onboard Majesty of the Seas and will be installed on Explorer of the Seas in August, Freedom of the Seas in September, Oasis of the Seas in October, Allure of the Seas in November, and Enchantment of the Seas in December. Installation will continue into 2013. Midyette wrote that guests who buy the fountain soda package will get a souvenir cup with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip embedded in it. The chip communicates to the machine that the holder can fill the cup, but glasses without the RFID will not be able to draw soda. Apparently, the chip also only allows one refill every five minutes or so, according to one poster, although Goldstein said the timing may be adjusted. The cost of the fountain soda package is $6.50 per adult age 18 and older per day, plus a 15 percent gratuity, and $4.50 per day for those age 3 to 17 years, plus the gratuity. The package allows unlimited refills throughout the cruise of fountain beverages, but does not include sodas from the mini bar. For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Carnival Tests New For-Fee Early Embarkation Program

Carnival Cruise Lines is testing a new program on two ships that lets guests onto the ship and into their staterooms earlier. The program, called Faster to the Fun, includes other benefits, such as express luggage delivery and early or late disembarkation. The cost is $49.95 per stateroom, regardless of number of occupants.
The pilot program will roll out on Carnival Imagination Aug. 20 and Carnival Liberty Aug. 25. Faster to the Fun includes early embarkation, early stateroom availability, express luggage delivery to staterooms, priority dinner seating and tender availability, and choice of early or late debarkation. The program also includes express access to the ships guest services desk for any assistance.
The express boarding lets guests bypass lines and use exclusive security screening lanes. Once general boarding is underway, they can bypass the general boarding line and board through a Faster to the Fun lane. The Faster to the Fun designation shows up on boarding documents printed by the guest using online registration.
Carnival said the program was developed because guest surveys indicated "a strong interest" in a fee-based package providing priority access and benefits. For Diamond and Platinum level members of Carnival’s VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club guest recognition program, all Faster to the Fun benefits are available free of charge. For more information contact at

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Carnival Tries Out New System to Stop Deck Chair Hogs

Carnival Cruise Lines is trying out a new system to stop people from saving seats on pool decks and then not using them. This practice infuriates many cruise passengers, who often can’t find sun loungers for themselves because they are occupied by towels, books and other paraphernalia—but not people. John Heald, senior cruise director now on Carnival Breeze, posted on Facebook that the ship is testing a new system to prevent seat saving. "The Carnival Breeze is the test ship for a new commitment to stopping this and we started today," he wrote. The new rules were posted on cabin TVs and in announcements Heald will make three times a day and during the morning show on television. "It was also placed on the Seaside Theatre big screen. So the message is loud and clear," he said. "The big difference here is that we are now staffed and able to police this. Our crew will walk the decks and if they see a chair unused but saved with towels, books, shoes, baby Yaks or underpants they will place a sticker on the chair with the current time. Then, they will check 40 minutes later, and if the chair is still reserved and unoccupied, then they will remove the articles and take them to the towel station by the main pool making sure a note is left for the guests that they have done so." Heald said it was felt that 40 minutes was enough time for guests eat, get a drink, swim, use the bathroom and so on without losing their seat. "This is step number one in a new drive to make this work, and once we finish the test here this cruise and next, we will make adjustments and then add to the rest of the fleet,"The message posted on cabin TVs says: "In consideration of all guests onboard, please do not reserve sun loungers. Towels will be removed after 40 minutes and kept in the Towel Station close to the deck 10 main pool. Enjoy your FUN day at sea!"

Monday, July 30, 2012

Celebrity Unveils Details About New All-Glass Suite Shower

Celebrity Cruises ’ Celebrity Reflection, showing how much amenities have become crucial to delivering unique cruise experiences, said it will feature an all-glass shower extending out over the edge of the ship in the new 1,636-square-foot Reflection Suite. The suite, which will have a 194-square-foot veranda, will be Celebrity’s first two-bedroom suite. We made a big investment in ensuring our guests can enjoy the shower entirely free of any concerns of being seen," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity’s senior vice president of hotel operations. "They can enjoy breathtaking sea views while discreetly showering, courtesy of the shower’s special reflective glass. But, if they seek even further privacy, the shower also features ‘smart glass.’ At the flick of a switch, guests can activate an electrochromatic technology which instantly transforms the glass from transparent to translucent." Nestled in a corner location of the 14th deck, and designed by New York-based BG Studio International Inc., the Reflection Suite is adjacent to the brand’s five new Signature Suites, each offering a 441-square-foot stateroom area and 118-square foot veranda. The Signature Suites each can accommodate up to four guests, and also will offer the butler service that comes with Celebrity suites. The entire area housing the Reflection Suite and Signature Suites can be accessed only by card-key. A family or group of up to 26 guests can book the private, six-suite area.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Princess ends unlimited Internet for suite passengers

With limited bandwidth at sea in an era in which people are increasingly online with more devices --- handhelds, tablets and laptops -- Princess has ended its policy of offering unlimited Internet for its suite passengers. The policy ended last month, although passengers with suites booked before July 15 will still be entitled to the unlimited bandwidth. Princess will continue to provide its suite passengers with other amenities including a special breakfast for suite passengers at Sabatini's, the line's Italian restaurant; a dedicated priority line for suite passengers at the Passenger Services desk; and fee-free dining at a specialty restaurant on the day of embarkation, among others services. In addition, Platinum and Elite Captain's Circle members qualify for a complimentary Internet use package: 150 minutes for cruises seven days and under, 250 minutes for cruises of eight to 20 days and 500 minutes for cruises 21 days or longer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Silversea bans stateroom smoking

Silversea Cruises will ban smoking in its suites and staterooms starting in 2013. Other cruise lines that have recently banned smoking in cabins and staterooms include Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Holland America Line. Silversea had already banned smoking on guest verandas and balconies. The new policy also bans smoking in the main bar and the pool bar, except at certain designated tables. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking is allowed in the Connoisseur’s Corner and in specifically designated outside areas. These areas include designated tables outside of the Panorama Lounge, La Terrazza and the Pool Bar, as well as on open Decks 9 and 10 aboard Silver Spirit, Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow, open Deck 9 aboard Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, and open Deck 6 aboard Silver Explorer.

Oasis of the Seas aims to provide full-speed WiFi

Starting next June, passengers aboard Royal Caribbean Internationals Oasis of the Seas will be offered WiFi service throughout the ship at the sort of wireless speeds they are accustomed to getting at home or in the office. Currently, ships at sea, when they offer WiFi, deliver it at painfully slow speeds, a growing source of frustration for a generation of cruisers accustomed to full-time, high-speed connectivity. The Oasis will be the first cruise ship to be linked to a new satellite network that is expected to deliver fiber-optic bandwidth to the ship, which in turn will be able to deliver maximum-speed WiFi to passengers. A major motivator for Royal Caribbean to install the new system is the pervasiveness of social media. Increasingly, cruise lines are attracting passengers of a generation that has never known life without smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices. They dont like being unconnected, according to Bill Martin, Royal Caribbeans vice president and chief information officer. Moreover, some of the things they want to do with their devices most notably using Facebook, Twitter and other social media services could prove to be a marketing windfall for the cruise line. For example, Martin said, many passengers want to post a photo on their Facebook page of a show theyre watching at that moment in the AquaTheater. Thus, Royal Caribbean sees high-speed WiFi as a way to encourage organic viral marketing. A major qualifier in Royal Caribbeans plan, however, is that the necessary technology in fact, the entire satellite network is not yet in place. The constellation of satellites O3b plans to launch employs a technology quite different from that used by current satellites. Today, when passengers go online at sea, they are sending packets of information from the ship to a stationary satellite 23,000 miles above the Earth. Those packets then travel from the satellite to a ground station and back to the satellite, a journey that totals about 100,000 miles. When youre sending even the tens of thousands of packets of data needed for an email, that journey takes time. It adds up pretty fast, and thats why the experience on ships is so slow, Martin said. O3bs technology is radically different. It will employ a constellation of eight satellites launched into much lower orbits under 5,000 miles. Ships using O3bs network have two antennae that hand off signals to each other. One antenna picks up a signal from one satellite, lets go of the signal and the second picks it up. Then the first antenna picks up the signal from the third satellite and so on. That reduces the transit time, or latency, from more than 500 milliseconds to 130 milliseconds, a time reduction that makes a huge difference in data transmission, eliminating delays that plague voice and data communications at sea today. That kind of bandwidth means Oasis passengers could stream video or use Skype, although Royal Caribbean has yet to decide what kinds of content it will and will not allow. Whats more important to Royal Caribbean, Martin said, is that the technology will enable passengers to participate in social networking, which continue to grow in popularity. Royal Caribbean also has yet to determine pricing for the enhanced WiFi service. Currently, passengers typically pay 65 cents per minute to use the Internet, which means they tend to go online in short bursts of time. With O3b, Royal Caribbeans passengers could be constantly connected, much as they would be at a resort. Martin said Royal Caribbean could offer passengers a selection of Internet usage plans, including an unlimited data plan.
The new high-speed WiFi aboard the Oasis will serve as a research platform. The cruise line figures that 8,000 passengers and crew (enabling crew to stay in touch with friends and family is also an important part of this service) comprises a sizable test market for Royal Caribbean to both measure usage and determine pricing.

A last frontier for connectivity
The first Internet service on ships showed up at a time when cruise lines and Internet service providers werent sure if passengers even wanted to be online. So, when it began showing up on ships as early as 2000, it was available only at certain spots onboard. By 2004, it began to be available shipwide. Today, cruise ships are one of the last frontiers for a persistently connected society. Royal Caribbean has been deploying its new ships with pervasive wireless networks, meaning that they can be accessed from anywhere, be it poolside or on the balcony of a cabin, and it is retrofitting its older ships in the same way. O3bs ambitions are global and, to a point, so is its service. Its satellites orbit directly over the equator, which means that they can provide service from latitudes of about 45 degrees north (Halifax, Nova Scotia) to 45 degrees south (Santa Cruz, Argentina). In Europe, its service will cover the Mediterranean Sea. It also covers most of South America and all of Africa and southern Asia. Existing data communications satellites use a geostationary orbit, meaning they are always above the same spot on Earth. This requires much higher altitudes, which means they can service a much larger portion of the globe, although at lower speeds, and the satellites themselves are much bigger.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Blount Small Ship Adventures to Include Beer, Wine with Meals

 Blount Small Ship Adventures will start including select beers and house wines with lunch and dinner on cruises in 2013. This is in addition to the lines existing BYOB policy, which lets passengers carry on adult beverages. Im excited to announce the inclusion of wine and beer during lunch and dinner service for all 2013 sailings, said Nancy Blount, president of Blount Small Ship Adventures. Weve done this to enhance our customers experience and to ensure we are providing the best value in small-ship cruising."

As part of its BYOB policy, Blount provides mixers, ice, snacks, and cold and dry storage in the lounge, where passengers can serve themselves anytime.

Formerly known as American Canadian Caribbean Line, Blount Small Ship Adventures specializes in coastal and river itineraries to the Central America, U.S. and Canada. President Nancy Blount is a second-generation owner of the family business founded in 1966. The Warren, R.I.-based company operates two U.S.-registry and U.S.-crewed ships. Each ship holds 96 passengers and features patented designs such as retractable pilothouses and shallow-draft bow landing ramps. For more information, visit, email

Friday, June 29, 2012

Norwegian Adds "Rock of Ages" Show to New Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that the five-time Tony Award-nominated musical Rock of Ages" will be featured on Norwegian Breakaway, along with two additional Broadway shows: the dance sensation Burn the Floor and Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy. Rock of Ages, one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, features songs such as Every Rose Has Its Thorn, "I Wanna Know What Love Is, "Here I Go Again, "Dont Stop Believin, and more. A film version of the musical by New Line Cinema was released on June 15. Burn the Floor dancers perform all the ballroom and Latin styles, including the waltz, cha cha, samba, salsa, rumba, foxtrot, quickstep, mambo, tango, swing, jive, lindy hop, Viennese waltz, and paso doble. Producer/director Neil Goldberg will present an adaptation of the Broadway show Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy that will be entitled Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy and be performed in the ships Spiegel Tent.

Following his performance as the house band in the Jazz & Blues Club on Norwegian Epic, New Yorks Slam Allen will take the stage in Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club on Norwegian Breakaway. Fat Cats will feature nightly live blues and jazz performances by Allen and other talent. Fat Cats will also feature outdoor seating on The Waterfront. Headliners Comedy Club will debut on Norwegian Breakaway with the improvisational comedy of The Second City, as Norwegian continues its exclusive partnership with the famed troupe. The rock roll dueling piano show, Howl at the Moon, will also be featured in Headliners on Norwegian Breakaway.

The 4,000 passenger Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in its year-round homeport of New York City in early May. The ship will begin weekly summer seven-day cruises to Bermuda on May 12. From October 2013 through April 2014, the ship will offer voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas and Florida and the Southern Caribbean. For more information and to make a reservation call 800-775-1884