Thursday, May 31, 2012

Disney cruise ship picks up four adrift off Florida coast

Source: MSN - Overhead Bin - May 28, 2012

A Disney cruise ship picked up four men found adrift on a small raft near Key West, Florida. Disney Fantasy boarded the men -who are believed to be Cuban refugees -- while sailing from Florida to Grand Cayman on Sunday, May 27. The men, who were spotted signalling for help, were brought aboard the ship and provided with medical attention, food and water, according to a statement from Disney.

What will happen to the men once they arrive on Grand Cayman remains unclear, a spokesperson from Disney said, "We have notified the U.S. Coast Guard of this rescue and we are working with the proper authorities to coordinate the debarkation of the group ... It would be up to those authorities to determine next steps."

The incident follows a rescue by Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas which picked up 23 Cuban refugees off Cozumel, Mexico, in April.

In March, Star Princess allegedly failed to rescue three stranded fisherman adrift in the Pacific - despite passengers voicing their concerns. Two of the three men on the stricken fishing boat died of dehydration; the third, Adrian Vasquez, has since filed suit in a Florida court alleging negligence on the part of Princess Cruises.

For more information on this and other cruise news contact at 203-288-1884

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Crystal Cruises Expands Voluntourism Program in Europe

Crystal Cruises is expanding its complimentary "You Care, We Care" voluntourism program to more places in Europe. This year, participants can spend four to seven hours, on average, of their vacation helping those less fortunate in Ukraine, Italy and Spain. The program already offers volunteer opportunities in Greece, Estonia, Norway, Croatia, Germany and Ireland in 2012. New philanthropic offerings include providing assistance to the homeless at a social services center in Odessa, the 400-year-old charity brotherhood of Pio Monte della Misericordia from Sorrento and Naples, and the gardens and greenhouses of a charity that supports disabled persons by growing medicinal and aromatic plants and providing job training in the gardening field from Valencia. Guests can also help protect endangered marine life at the CRAM Foundation in Barcelona. Those sailing Europe this summer and fall can also help rescued sea turtles in Athens, hungry families in Tallinn, homeless cats in Bergen, underprivileged youth in Dublin, disabled persons in Livorno, the elderly in Dubrovnik, and troubled children in Navplion. Crystal Cruises has committed to arranging the logistics and offering at least one volunteer excursion free of charge on every Crystal ship.  For more information on this program and any Crystal ship and sailing contact at 203-288-1884.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Royal Caribbean deploys Mariner to China Market

Royal Caribbean International will boost its China capacity in June 2013, when it deploys the 3,114-passenger Mariner of the Seas to replace the 1,800-passenger Legend of the Seas. The Legend, which has operated from Singapore and Shanghai for the past three years, will reposition to Europe. The Mariner will join the 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas, which is launching service in China this month. Royal Caribbean said the move is designed to tap into the fast-growing Chinese cruise market as well attract non-Chinese passengers who wish to visit the country and sail in Asia. "We’ve made it clear we see Asia in general, and China in particular, as a strategic objective," said Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We have been so pleased by the market’s response to bringing Voyager of the Seas to Asia that it made strategic sense to send a second ship of equal size." Royal Caribbean International CEO Adam Goldstein said, "The opportunities to attract guests from China to cruise are abundant. Mariner of the Seas recently received a host of Royal Advantage enhancements, and I’m confident cruisers here will be amazed by the Oasis-class innovations available for everyone of all ages on this ship." The Mariner will offer cruises ranging from three nights to 12 nights through December 2013. Itineraries have not been revealed. The Mariner will adopt the same product customizations made for the Voyager, such as Chinese menus, entertainment offerings and language services. For more information on this new deployment and other great offers on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, contact at 800-775-1884

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crystal Cruises to Present Onboard Memorial Events for Veterans

Crystal Cruises is hosting onboard get-togethers for veterans on every luxury cruise. Activities planned for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend include a Crystal Adventure to the WWII landing beaches of Normandy. In addition, each ship will remember those who have died in service of their nation.

On Crystal Symphony, four-star Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, will host an open forum at sea on May 26. On Memorial Day itself, Crystal President Gregg Michel will escort guests to the French site of D-Day. The shore excursion includes visiting the former German fortification at Pointe du Hoc, historian-guided military truck transport to Omaha Beach, and a memorial ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, final resting place of more than 9,000 American soldiers. All attendees will receive a commemorative medallion for the day.

On Crystal Serenity, Memorial Day will begin with a morning veterans’ get-together in Palm Court, led by foreign policy author Dr. Robert Freedman, and featuring refreshments and a poetry dedication. The event will be open to anyone wishing to attend, with participant introductions, personal observances, and sharing of stories.

Regular veterans’ get-togethers, led variously by cruise directors and guest presenters, are a new staple onboard the fleet, providing opportunities to recognize soldiers’ sacrifices and share past experiences, no matter what role or country they served. "The relationship between vets, male and female, is a ‘brotherhood’ that spans generations and wars," said Paul McFarland, Crystal Symphony’s cruise director and a veteran himself. "Regardless of when or where someone was stationed, soldiers have something in common, sharing life-altering experiences and a unique bond, unlike any other family or friend relationship."

Both ships will be sailing the western coast of France over the holiday weekend, with Crystal Symphony spending the rest of the summer in the Baltic region, and Crystal Serenity cruising the Mediterranean area until December. For more information on booking a Crystal cruise contact at 203-288-1884

Holland America Line Culinary Program to Feature Five Experts

Holland America Lines Culinary Arts Center program will host five celebrated chefs who will showcase their expertise and share tips with guests. Sailing in July and August are Chef Kevin Sbraga, food stylist Denise Vivaldo, entrepreneur Sonia Hunt, Chef Angelo Sosa and Chef Jonathon Sawyer. During their cruises, the experts will perform complimentary cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center, the show kitchens aboard each ship. The interactive sessions include recipe handouts, food tastings and the opportunity for questions and answers and photos with the culinary celebrities.

Sbraga is scheduled to sail aboard Noordam’s 10-day "Roman Empire" cruise departing July 17. He opened his first restaurant, Sbraga, in 2011 in Philadelphia. In September 2010, Sbraga became the first African-American "Top Chef" after winning season seven of the Bravo hit series. Vivaldo is scheduled to sail aboard Westerdam’s July 21 seven-day "Alaskan Explorer" cruise. Vivaldo has catered more than 10,000 parties and styled food for various television shows including "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Inside Dish with Rachel Ray."

Hunt is scheduled to sail aboard Oosterdam’s seven-day "Alaskan Explorer" cruise departing July 22. She is the president of Noie Media, a multimedia production company, and creator and host of lifestyle entertainment show "Stirring It Up!" Sosa is scheduled to sail aboard Prinsendam’s 14-day Norway and British Isles voyage departing Aug. 8. His most recent project is Social Eatz where he works as executive chef and owner, designing a menu that blends New York City staples with flavors from across Asia. In 2010, he was a contestant on season seven of Bravo’s hit reality show, "Top Chef." He was then invited to compete on "Top Chef All Stars."

Sawyer is scheduled to sail aboard Zaandam’s seven-day Alaska Inside Passage cruise departing Aug. 19. He is executive chef at The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. The eatery was Ohio’s first "green" restaurant and was named one of the top 10 best new restaurants in the U.S by Bon Appetit magazine and best new restaurant by Cleveland Magazine. Sawyer has appeared on the Food Network’s "Dinner: Impossible" and "Iron Chef America," and was recently honored by Food & Wine magazine as one of America’s best new chefs.

To book this exclusive program, contact at 203-288-1884

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Crystal Expands Local Entertainment on Europe Cruises

Crystal Cruises is bringing aboard more regional entertainment now that it is spending more time and scheduling more overnight stays in ports. On every Europe cruise this year, the line is bringing aboard dancers, singers and musicians whose art reflects their homeland’s culture and traditions, such as flamenco in Barcelona and Irish step dancing in Dublin. Complimentary shows are scheduled at ports in Italy, France, Spain, Monaco, Ireland, Turkey, Sweden and Ukraine on 26 Crystal cruises. Top talent includes Interpreti Veneziani, a string ensemble in Venice; the chamber orchestra from the Music School of Stolyarsky in Odessa; a boys choir in Monaco; and the Hodjapasha Culture Center’s whirling dervish show in Istanbul. Until June 30, all-inclusive "Book Now" fares for seven- to 15-day European voyages sailing until December start at $2,865 per person. Call for Exclusive rates on this and all Crystal Cruises at 203-288-1884

Friday, May 18, 2012

Royal Caribbean Reduces Europe Fleet to Nine for 2013

Royal Caribbean International, which is operating 12 ships in Europe this year, will reduce that number to nine for the 2013 season. The line announced today that Legend of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will complete the Europe 2013 deployment, joining U.K.-based Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, Barcelona-based Liberty of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas, and Italy-based Navigator of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas. Overall, the line offers 276 sailings to 88 ports on 58 Europe itineraries. This year, Royal Caribbean operated 11 core ships in Europe, while the Voyager of the Seas offered sailings on the continent while it repositioned to China.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Holland America Develops Vegetarian-Only Alternative Menu

Holland America Line has introduced an alternative, vegetarian-only menu, as well as 30 new vegetarian dishes to its main dining room menu. The line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin has designed a 22-dish vegetarian and vegan menu that highlights vegetables and other naturally healthy ingredients. The alternative menu includes a full range of appetizers, salads, soups and main entrees, and is available upon request at no extra cost for lunch and dinner in the main dining room aboard all 15 ships in the fleet. "Many more people are choosing a vegetarian culinary experience, yet the options can be limited," "The collection of dishes on the new vegetarian-only menu include Portobello Mushroom and Chipotle Quesadillas, Vietnamese Vegetable Spring Rolls, Curried Vegetable Empanadas, Spicy Lentil and Garbanzo Salad, Sweet and Sour Vegetable Tempura, Vegetable Jambalaya, Grilled Vegetable and Tofu Kebobs, and Baked Cheese Polenta with Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts. In addition to the new vegetarian-only menu, 30 new vegetarian dishes will be added to the main dining room menu. These offerings also will be featured as a second vegetarian option in the casual Lido buffet during lunch. Every dinner menu also will now offer guests the option of one appetizer, one soup or salad, and at least one vegetarian entrée each evening, increasing the total number of vegetarian options on board.

For more information and to book any HAL ship contact at 203-288-1884

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Silversea Cruises’ 2013 World Cruise to Feature Guest Lecturers

Best-selling novelists Mary Higgins Clark and Lynne Truss will join an array of prominent guest speakers sailing aboard 
Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper, which will depart for a 115-day world cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 5, 2013. The itinerary will cross the equator four times, visiting 52 destinations in 28 countries with overnight stays in several ports. The ship will call at ports in New Zealand and Australia; French Polynesia; Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore; and Africa's western coast. In addition to Clark and Truss, guest lecturers will include military historian Nigel West, Beirut hostage and hostage negotiator Terry Waite, British journalist Michael Buerk, historian Philip Hurst and opera impresario Thomson Smillie.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Princess Cruises to Base Ship Year Round in San Francisco

Grand Princess Will Offer Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and California Coast Sailings

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (May 3, 2012) -- Princess Cruises announced today that for the first time it will base a ship in San Francisco year round, beginning in May 2013. The extensively renovated Grand Princess will first offer a series of Alaska cruises during the summer months from the "City by the Bay," followed by a schedule of Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and the California Coast sailings during the fall 2013 to spring 2014 season. Last year the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess underwent the largest drydock in Princess Cruises history, adding a host of new features so that passengers will enjoy the same onboard experience as offered by the line's other newer ships. "Princess has been cruising from San Francisco nearly as long as our company has been in operation, so we have a rich history with the city, and we are the leading cruise line homeporting there," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "Our Bay Area passengers have long been asking for more cruise options from San Francisco and our new year-round schedule with Grand Princess will now give them a great selection of itinerary choices, plus the benefit of sailing on a ship that offers our signature features and amenities." "Princess ships have been cruising from San Francisco for more than 40 years, and we greatly appreciate the company's longstanding partnership with our city," said Monique Moyer, executive director of the Port of San Francisco. "We are delighted to now have our first year-round ship based here, and it is a natural fit that the vessel is the caliber of Grand Princess. Having this ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and berth at the foot of Coit Tower will be spectacular, both for the passengers on board and the people of San Francisco." During the 2013-14 season Grand Princess will sail roundtrip from San Francisco to: Alaska -- Grand Princess' first Alaska season features 10-day Inside Passage sailings. The ship will offer 13 voyages featuring the stunning scenery of Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm, with calls at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria. Cruises depart between May 10 and September 7, 2013. Mexico -- Grand Princess will offer two sailings on a new 10-day itinerary to Mexico, featuring two new ports for Princess -- Loreto and La Paz, both in Baja California. Passengers will also enjoy calls at Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Sailings depart on September 17, 2013 and March 5, 2014. California Coastal -- An increasingly popular Princess itinerary, Grand Princess will take passengers to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Diego, and Ensenada. Four sailings are offered on September 27 and October 19, 2013; plus March 15 and April 6, 2014. Hawaiian Islands -- Passengers can explore each of the main Hawaiian islands on this 15-day voyage to the Big Island (Hilo), Oahu (Honolulu), Kauai (Nawiliwili), Maui (Lahaina), and Ensenada. Grand Princess will offer 12 departures between October 4, 2013 and April 28, 2014. During last year's drydock Grand Princess added a variety of passenger amenities, including a completely new Piazza atrium, several new eateries -- including Alfredo's Pizzeria and the Crown Grill -- and the line's first specialty tea lounge called Leaves. Also included in the renovation were a remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner's Martini Lounge and a new nightclub, The One5.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through, 203-288-1884

Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur Begins $48 Million Revitalization

Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas begins a five-week, $48 million dry-dock renovation at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain. The ship is the third of six Vision-class vessels to undergo extensive revitalization, which adds features introduced on the Oasis-class ships. The work will be completed May 31, when the ship will sail an 11-night Mediterranean roundtrip from Barcelona, Spain. From there, it will spend the summer offering Mediterranean itineraries. The two previous Vision-class ships to get the upgrades were Rhapsody of the Seas, now sailing in Alaska, and Splendour of the Seas, now operating in Brazil. The bow-to-stern revitalization will add several new dining venues, technological upgrades and new entertainment offerings, as well as a refresh of all furniture, carpet, upholstery and staterooms. New dining venues include Giovannis Table, an Italian trattoria with a cover charge for lunch for dinner; the pan-Asian Izumi, which features sushi and hot-rock cooking, Plus a la carte menu pricing; Park Café, a complimentary market with salads, sandwiches and soups; the steakhouse Chops Grille, and the exclusive Chef’s Table, an event co-hosted by the executive chef and sommelier for a five-course, wine-pairing fine dining experience. In addition, the ship will receive a new Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty guests, a Concierge Lounge for suite and top-tier loyalty guests, as well as a transformed Viking Crown Lounge with a new menu of bite-size appetizers. A new Royal Babies and Tots Nursery will care for children ages 6 to 36 months old. The nursery offers parents childcare drop-off options in the daytime and evening.

The Grandeur of the Seas also will get ship-wide Wi-Fi service, an outdoor video screen on the pool deck, and the digital way-finding system introduced on Oasis of the Seas.

The Centrum will be turned into a lively space that will feature daytime activities and nighttime entertainment, including new high-flying experience with aerialists. The original Champagne Bar will become R Bar, a retro bar. For more information on booking the Grandeur of the Seas sailing for the summer of 2012, call 203-288-1884.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Carnival Cruises Offers Discounted Rates to Military Personnel

In honor of Memorial Day, Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a promotion throughout May that allows active and former military personnel to book up to three staterooms at discounted rates for themselves and their friends and family members. Reservations must be made between May 1 and 31 to qualify for the special offer, which is available in conjunction with three- to eight-day departures through April 30, 2014, including voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. 
The promotion is valid for individual bookings only. Military personnel must provide proof of service. Eligible military personnel must sail to take advantage of this offer. This offer available from at 203-288-1884

MSC Cruises’ New Divina to Feature Restaurant in Disco

MSC Cruises’ newest ship, the MSC Divina, will have a new panoramic restaurant in the disco, based on the style of famous 1950s Italian nightclubs such as La Capannina and Forte dei Marmi. The restaurant, Galaxy, will feature specially designed lamps and a stylish black, grey and Bordeaux color scheme. Galaxy will provide a brunch menu for late risers, including eggs Benedict, croissants, Parma ham, fresh juices, and a "bubbles" menu including spumante, champagne and rosé. In the evening, diners can indulge in Mediterranean fusion cuisine such as roasted scallops on a cream of courgette and basil soup with porcini mushrooms and fried leeks, or sea bass tartare with goat cheese, sesame seed wafers and licorice. The ship will have six other restaurants, including the MSC Yacht Club restaurant Le Muse, the Sacramento Tex Mex and the Sacramento Hamburger House. For more information and to book, call, at 203-288-1884