Monday, October 28, 2013

Cruise industry is seeking big jump in telecom speeds

Faced with accelerating demands by passengers for digital connections for their mobile devices, cruise lines are pushing vendors for faster, cheaper, more reliable telecommunications at sea. In response, the satellite providers are getting creative in their efforts to provide the bandwidth that enables Internet access, social media use and other telecom services. Solutions include creating a hybrid of satellite and land-based carrier networks, installing additional antennae on ships for more flexible, reliable signal tracking and using satellites in lower orbits to reduce signal transmission times.
In some cases, passengers can expect a dramatic rise in the speed of Internet access from the ships, one analyst said. The innovations from companies such as MTN Satellite Communications and Harris CapRock are being implemented now, although they won’t start being ready for use until next year or 2015. "There are a whole series of new technologies and satellites that are going to be available in the coming couple of years that will greatly improve the performance and the available bandwidth on those ships," said Rick Simonian, president of maritime solutions at Harris CapRock.
Simonian said a key piece of the puzzle is installation of more than one satellite antenna on each ship. Most ships, he said, have a single antenna, housed in a spherical dome fixed to the ship’s mast. "The problem with that is that if the ship is turning and the line of sight to the satellite gets blocked by the smokestack, or if they’re in some other obstruction, then the service goes down," he said. Two antennae mitigate that problem and will also be capable of switching back and forth between different radio frequencies, C-band and Ku-band, using the resiliency of one and the greater bandwidth of the other as conditions change. Earlier this year, Harris CapRock completed installing gear on 33 ships belonging to Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. It will also integrate an ambitious new satellite system from O3b Networks, starting with the Oasis and Allure of the Seas.
O3b is launching satellites that orbit about 8,000 miles above the Earth, rather than the 23,000-mile distance of existing, geostationary satellites. That cuts the back-and-forth signal speed to the satellites from 720 milliseconds to 130 milliseconds. "It will dramatically increase the amount of bandwidth available, to kind of unheard-of rates," Simonian said. "The only ships that get rates like this would be Navy aircraft carriers, just for comparison." O3b has launched four of its eight-satellites constellation and should be ready to serve the Oasis and Allure next spring, Simonian said. But the O3b concept has some limitations and is unproven, said Chris Quilty, who covers satellite companies for the Raymond, James & Associates brokerage. "Royal Caribbean has made a huge, very expensive bet on a category-killer solution for the cruise industry," Quilty said. One limit is that coverage doesn’t extended beyond latitudes up to 45 degrees north and south of the equator, which excludes cruise areas such as the Baltic Sea and Alaska. Also, O3b’s satellites aren’t fixed in geosynchronous position like higher-orbiting satellites, so they have to be tracked. "One is coming up over the horizon as the other is going down," Quilty said. The tracking system that’s required, he said, "is much more complex. I would say it’s a high-risk, high reward proposition." MTN Communications is offering a different solution, one that seamlessly switches satellite signals from satellites to land-based networks when ships approach or are in ports.
When that happens, existing satellite bandwidth is freed up for use by cruise ships farther out at sea. "Adding more satellite bandwidth will no longer solve the ‘constantly connected’ demand, said Errol Olivier, president and CEO of MTN. "And, way too often, adding more bandwidth just raises the costs for cruise operators."
As cruise lines roll out MTN’s hybrid system and other solutions, such as the one offered by Harris CapRock, the retail cost of Internet service, which is currently 50 cents to 75 cents per minute, should come down, even as performance improves. How much prices will drop and speeds will increase is up to the cruise lines, Simonian said, adding, "That information is proprietary. They [the cruise lines]

want to protect that." MTN once held upward of 90% of the cruise industry communications market, and it still serves Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Pullmantur, Windstar Cruises and others. For more information on this and to make a reservation for a cruise, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Friday, October 18, 2013

Miami Dolphins cheerleaders to christen Norwegian Getaway

South Florida's version of the Rockettes? That would be the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad. Norwegian Cruise Line announced that the cheerleaders for the NFL franchise will be godmothers of the Norwegian Getaway when the ship debuts in February. Getaway is designed to sail year-round from Miami and be iconic of all things from South Florida. It has Latin restaurants, and a Miami artist designed the hull art. As part of the package, Norwegian becomes the official cruise line of the Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium, where the football team plays home games. Previously, Norwegian picked Radio City Music Hall troupe The Rockettes to be godmothers of the New York-themed Norwegian Breakaway, which debuted earlier this year.
For more information and to make cruise reservation on any Norwegian Cruise ship, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Disney Magic cruise canceled to complete renovations

Disney Cruise Line has canceled a sailing of the Disney Magic in order to complete extensive renovations to the 15-year old ship. The five-day cruise was scheduled to depart Miami Oct. 20, but bad weather during a transatlantic crossing from Spain made it impossible for workers onboard to finish needed refurbishment work on time. The ship had been undergoing renovations in drydock in Spain following its Mediterranean season. Passengers booked on the cruise will get a full refund and a complimentary Disney Magic sailing between now and May 16. Airline change fees will also be covered. Alternately, they can opt for a 35% discount on a Bahamas or Caribbean cruise anytime in the next two years, excluding holiday dates. The Disney Magic is getting new restaurants, children's play areas, water slides and other features, along with a complete overhaul of furnishings, fixtures and color schemes. For more information and to make cruise reservation on any Disney ship or land program, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Power Outage Hits Royal Princess; Ship Heads Slowly to Naples, Cruise Cancelled

Another cruise ship has had power issues and this time its a sparkling new one. The 141,000-ton Royal Princess, which was christened and launched in June by the Duchess of Cambridge, had a power failure on Sunday en route from Mykonos, Greece to Naples, Italy. Princess Cruises said neither the ship nor its 3,594 passengers and 1,336 crew members onboard were in any danger. After assessing the unexpected mechanical issue, though, Princess has canceled the rest of the ships 12-day cruise. "The ships technical team continued to evaluate the problem overnight and, upon further assessment, it became apparent that repairs need to be made to fully resolve the situation," the line said in its latest statement. We sincerely regret this means the remainder of the current cruise will be canceled, Princess said, also noting it was making flight arrangements to help guests return home after the ship arrives in Naples on Tuesday, a day later than expected due to the vessel's slower-than-normal speed. Guests are expected to spend Tuesday night onboard and depart the ship on Wednesday. Passengers were enjoying the seventh day of a 12-day cruise from Venice to Barcelona. As a result, they'll miss going ashore to explore Rome and Florence (Livorno), two bucket-list destinations for most first-time Mediterranean cruisers. Theyll also miss a port call at Toulon, France. Princess Care Team has been sent to Naples to assist passengers and make flight arrangements. In addition, the line said it will provide a full refund as well as a 25 percent future cruise credit to guests on the shortened voyage. The power problem surfaced at 1:30 p.m. local time on Sunday. The captain notified guests of the situation, the ship slowed to conserve existing power and the ships emergency generator kicked in to maintain such important services as lighting and toilets.

Some passengers indicated that they experienced power outages of 3.5 to six hours. Guests also reported issues with air conditioning, electrical and plumbing, but Princess told the online consumer cruise site that those issues were unrelated to the outage. Whats the status of the ships next cruise? The line said: "The impact of the repairs on the next Royal Princess cruise, scheduled to depart from Barcelona on September 27, is not yet known and we will keep passengers fully advised as details become known."  Power issues have plagued several ships this year, most notably Carnival Triumph after an onboard fire earlier this year. Princess Cruise Line is owned by Carnival Corp. The vessel is sailing throughout the Mediterranean this summer, and will reposition later this fall to Port Everglades, FL, for the winter season.

For more information, contact at 203-288-1884 or

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Norwegian to Expand Touch-Screen Signage Fleetwide

Norwegian Cruise Line will expand the interactive touch-screen signage first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway to the entire fleet by summer 2015. The digital signs let guests get directions and make reservations for dining, shore excursions and entertainment with a scan of their stateroom key. The screens will also be included on the Norwegian Getaway upon delivery in February. When the project is complete, each Norwegian ship will have 30 to 50 touch and static screens in prominent locations. Guests also can use the touch screens to order beverages, flowers, dining packages and more. The signs provide directions and maps to other locations on board. The signs also can communicate safety information in case of an emergency

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Celebrity Millennium's remaining 2013 Alaska cruises canceled

Celebrity Cruises called a premature end to the Alaska season for the Celebrity Millennium, canceling the ship's remaining four cruises on its schedule. Celebrity acted after mechanical problems with the ship's propulsion units kept it in port for at least part of the last two cruises between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska. The canceled cruises, in addition to the current one, were scheduled to depart Aug. 23, Aug. 30, Sept. 6 and Sept. 13. Celebrity is in the process of contacting passengers on those cruises and rebooking or refunding them. Affected passengers are being offered a full refund and a 25% future cruise credit. The next scheduled sailing of Millennium will be a Panama Canal transit cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 22.
For more information about the Millennium and making reservations on other Celebrity shis, contact at or call 203-288-1884

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sun Princess cruise canceled at last minute

The first cruise of the Sun Princess after a two-week, $30 million renovation was canceled abruptly because the ship's electrical switchboard malfunctioned. According to several U.K. media reports, about 2,000 passengers were booked on the ship, which was scheduled to leave Singapore on Aug. 20 on a 14-day voyage to Australia. Most of those taking the cruise are from Australia, the reports said. In a statement, Princess said, "Regretfully, we've made the decision to cancel the cruise scheduled to depart today in order to carry out the necessary repairs." The 18-year-old Sun Princess had been fitted with new restaurants, decor and elements that reflect its predominantly Asian itineraries. Guests on the canceled cruise will get a full refund and a 100% future cruise credit.

Celebrity cruise canceled due to propulsion problem

Celebrity Cruises canceled the rest of a cruise between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska, after the Celebrity Millennium developed a propulsion problem. The Millennium had left Vancouver on Aug. 16, but has been moored in Ketchikan since Sunday because one of its two propulsion units failed. Guests are being flown home and will get a 100% refund and a 100% future cruise credit. "Our engineers, along with expert consultants from the motor’s manufacturer, and our marine operations team in Miami, have continued working around the clock to resolve the mechanical issue onboard Celebrity Millennium," a statement said. "Regrettably, as of this time, they have been unable to find a satisfactory solution." The Millennium spent three days of its previous cruise stuck in Seward while another propulsion problem was repaired. Celebrity has not said if the two problems are related. Thirty Celebrity employees are flying to the ship to assist disembarking guests.

Disney Cruise Line allows shorts in dining rooms

Disney Cruise Line will drop language prohibiting shorts in the communications to guests about suitable dining room attire. The change applies to the three "rotational" restaurants on Disney ships, such as Animator's Palate, but not the extra-charge restaurants such as Palo or Remy. Disney spokesman Mark Sadowski said the change was driven by feedback from guests. "We started hearing more and more that's what they wanted," he said. "Especially in warmer climates, its just a natural attire." Other cruise lines that carry large family contingents, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises, all discourage shorts in the formal dining areas for dinner, although Norwegian says it really doesn't have a dress code. Sadowski said swimwear will continue to be prohibited in the dining rooms. For more information on a Disney Cruise, contact at 203-288-1884. Special programs and promotions available.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sex or a Good Book? Men and Women Differ on How to Relax on Vacation

How do you relax when you’re on vacation? According to a new survey, one in four women would rather read, while 34 percent of men would rather have sex. Perhaps that not so surprising, but that tidbit and other male-female disparities are detailed in the fourth annual "Relaxation Report" issued in conjunction of National Relaxation Day on Aug. 15. The survey also found that 45 percent of men feel relaxed when they get home from vacation while 43 percent of women feel tired and need a vacation from their vacation. It’s definitely interesting, although not all too surprising, to see a distinction between how men and women like to relax while on vacation," Most Americans age 35 and older said it typically takes them two or more days to settle into their vacation. Nearly two out of three prefer to take at least a full week’s vacation rather than taking days off here and there.Men and women also choose different dream celebrity traveling companions. Forty percent of women would like to travel with comedian Ellen DeGeneres, while 42 percent of men lean toward singer Taylor Swift and actress Scarlett Johansson. When asked which male celebrity Americans would want to vacation with, men and women both agreed with 22 percent on actor Hugh Jackman. When it comes to a musical companion, 18 percent of men and women chose Justin Timberlake while Rihanna got votes from 13 percent. Meanwhile, one in four Millennials (age 18-31 years old) choose sleep as the activity they want to do more while on vacation, but only 14 percent of Americans 65 and older want to sleep more on vacation. Nearly one in four parents prefer sleeping more on vacation than non-parents. In fact, for parents, getting more sleep is more of a priority than having sex (23 percent and 20 percent respectively).

The survey was conducted by ORC International among 1,008 American adults, ages 18 and older, between Aug. 1 and Aug. 4, using the CARAVAN landline-cell phone combined sample methodology.

No Smoking on Disney Cruise Balconies, Offenders Will Be Fined

Disney Cruise Line will prohibit smoking on stateroom balconies effective Nov. 15. However, portions of open-air decks on each ship will continue to be designated as smoking areas. Guests found smoking in their staterooms or on their verandahs will be charged $250 for air filter replacement, carpet extraction, verandah cleaning and cleaning and replacement of drapes, comforters, blankets and pillows. Guests and travel agents with verandah stateroom booked will be contacted by email about the change, and guests will be reminded of the policy when onboard. For more information and to make reservations for a Disney Crusie, contact at 203-288-1884 for exclusive rates and promotions.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Norwegian Buys 75 Acres in Belize for $50 Million Cruise Destination

Norwegian Cruise Line is planning to build a $50 million cruise destination on two adjoining islands in southern Belize. The master plan is still under development, but the company said the project will likely include a floating pier, an island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, a marina, a transportation hub for tours, a lagoon for water sports and a beach area. The development will be designed to be environmentally friendly and promote the nature, art, adventure and music of Belizean, Mayan and Garifuna history and culture, the company said. The 75-acre parcel, called Harvest Caye, was previously was earmarked for a resort development with an air strip. Norwegian first considered building on Crawl Caye, a small island also near Belizes Placencia peninsula, but that plan was rejected by the government, which then worked with the cruise line to find the new location. Norwegian confirmed the Harvest Caye land purchase and plans on Aug. 14. As our fleet continues to grow to 15 ships by 2017, we expect that we will double the number of guests sailing on our Western Caribbean itineraries and, once this new destination is complete, bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today, said Norwegian President and CEO Kevin Sheehan. Norwegian retained IDEA Inc. of Orlando to design the destination and oversee the project. IDEA is a designer of branded ports of call and destinations and has worked with private developers, government ministries, and independent agencies to create branded destinations in Alaska, Florida, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Mexico, St. Kitts, Honduras, Bahamas and Jamaica. Norwegian has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Belize that calls for adherence to environmental standards and job creation for Belizeans. The new destination is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs. Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said that Belize needs to decentralize cruise tourism in an effort to reduce overcrowding, so the new destination will help relieve tourism pressures in Belize City. However, the project is facing some local opposition. The Belize Tourism Industry Association is against establishing a major cruise port in southern Belize because it could damage the environment in an area that should remain an eco-friendly low-impact destination, For additional information and to make a reservation for any Norwegian Cruise, contact for exclusive rates and offers. Call 203-288-1884 or email at




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Crystal Serenity to Get Allergy-Friendly Staterooms

Crystal Cruises has announced plans for industry-first hypoallergenic accommodations, dubbed Deluxe PURE Staterooms. The cruise lines is partnering with PURE Marine Solutions, sister company of allergy-friendly hospitality firm PURE Global, for a comprehensive transformation using a patented hypoallergenic process. During Crystal Serenity's "Extreme Makeover" drydock in November, each of the ship's current 70 "AA" verandah rooms will undergo PURE's seven-step air and surface purification process to remove allergens and reduce the risk of common irritants. Afterward, a medical grade air purifier will continue to filter out 99.9% of all impurities and dust. These Deluxe PURE Staterooms will be available to guests at no additional cost, and will debut November 27 and be designated as "P1" and "P2" in April. Imagine returning to your room after a full day ashore in a bustling city like Rome or Bangkok, and then slipping into your purified sanctuary of ultra-clean air and hypoallergenic bedding, says Jack Anderson, Crystals senior vice president, marketing & sales. For guests who suffer from allergies, have mild respiratory issues such as asthma, or who simply desire a respite from the air quality in many cities, these staterooms will become a haven of fresh air for no additional cost." Crystals housekeeping staff will be trained in any daily maintenance routines required. Every six months, PURE specialists will also re-service the rooms, ensuring spaces are kept to the highest of hygiene levels indefinitely.

For exclusive information on this program and rates and to make reservations for a Crystal Cruise, call, at 203-288-1884 or email:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Royal Caribbean Plans $70 Million Cruise Terminal at Bayonne, N.J.

Royal Caribbean International plans to spend $70 million to build a new cruise terminal at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., to open in October 2014. The plans were approved this week by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The new cruise terminal includes a 36,000-square-foot check-in terminal, a 60,000-square-foot luggage area, a parking deck, additional parking and berth improvements. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer. Cape Liberty is home to Royal Caribbeans Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises Summit. It also will become the homeport for Royal Caribbeans new 158,000-ton, 4,100-passenger Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to enter service in November 2014. The cruise industry is one of this regions most rapidly growing markets, and this private sector investment will enhance our ability to generate significant revenues from the waterfront property we own, said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. With the regions largest vessel scheduled to dock at this port facility, we will be able to grow the jobs and economic activity that the cruise business has generated for this region for many decades. Passenger volumes at the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal have grown steadily in the past three years, from 393,000 passengers in 2010 to 476,000 in 2012. Passenger volume is expected to grow to about 600,000 after the new terminal opens.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Celebrity Shakes Up New Craft Cocktail Menu Fleetwide

Celebrity Cruises is shaking up its onboard bar scene by adding 30 new craft cocktails. The new drinks program was designed in collaboration with Hawthorn Beverage Group, founded by noted cocktail creator Josh Durr. The new craft cocktails will be available fleetwide by the end of 2013. The new cocktails blend vintage-style liqueurs with fresh ingredients, organic juices and artisanal spirits. A new line-up of "zero-proof" (non-alcoholic) cocktails also will be introduced with selections such as Sparkling Mint Lemonade and Raspberry Fizz. Celebrity also will offer more fine wines by the glass and international and craft beers. Durr has been given a "Rising Star Award" from Cheers magazine and editorial recognition in numerous publications. His client list includes Apiary, Diageo, Pernod, Remy Cointreau and Ruth’s Chris.

For more information on this new program and booking a Celebrity Cruise, contact at 203-288-1884 for exclusive rates and promotions

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blount Small Ship Adventures Sets Bahamas, Heartland Cruises

Blount Small Ship Adventures is offering new itineraries in 2014. In March and April, the Grande Caribe will sail to the Bahamas, while in May and June the Grande Mariner will navigate the Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois rivers to New Orleans by way of Chicago. The 11-night "Bahamian Out Islands" cruise, departing March 28 and April 11, visits 12 ports, including Nassau, Spanish Wells and Governor’s Harbour. Blount President Nancy Blount will sail on the March 28 departure. Rates begin at $3,999. The 15-night "Chicago to the Big Easy" cruise departs May 15 and June 2. Rates begin at $4,999. Guests who book a 2014 cruise by Aug. 30, 2013 will receive a 10 percent discount on all Caribbean itineraries. For more information and to make reservations. Contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Silversea Introduces Free Streamed Movies for Guests

Silversea Cruises has launched a complimentary service that lets guests stream movies and live television news on their mobile devices when sailing on the Silver Cloud. The service can be accessed on any Wi-Fi-enabled laptop, smartphone, tablet, or e-book reader. It includes access to classic and recent Academy Award-winning films, with more than 80 percent of the movies offered in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. A limited supply of iPad minis is also available on a first-come, first-served basis to Silver Cloud guests wishing to borrow a tablet during the voyage. By the end of 2013, the service will be rolled out to four additional ships — Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Wind and Silver Galapagos. In the coming months, the company is also planning to add international newspapers to its menu of streamed media offerings. For more information and to make reservations. Contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where’s the (Angus) Beef? On Norwegian Cruise Line

Where’s the beef? When Norwegian Cruise Line answers that old advertising question, it wants you to think of its shipboard restaurants. That’s because two specialty restaurants are now serving Certified Angus Beef brand steaks. The premium beef is available in Cagneys Steakhouse and Le Bistro French restaurants on 10 ships, including the new Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Spirit will begin serving the steaks by August.  "There is no better steak available and, as a New Yorker who knows a good steak, it was an obvious choice to bring these high-quality selections to Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro," said Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan.  The cuts feature 10 quality specifications, including marbling, maturity and consistency, and are aged 28 days. Selections include a 14-ounce, dry-aged center-cut strip loin, an 18-ounce, bone-in rib-eye, and an eight-ounce center-cut filet.  For additional information and to make reservations, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Friday, June 7, 2013

Celebrity Xpedition Loses Galapagos Permit After Lobster Violation

Celebrity Cruises cancelled the June 2 departure of the Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos due to a dispute over the transport of frozen lobster. The line said it hopes to resolve the situation in time to operate the June 9 cruise. The Galapagos National Park cited Celebrity Xpedition for the transportation and storage of 12 kilograms of frozen lobster tails while out of season. The adventure ship’s license to enter Galapagos National Park has been temporarily suspended. "While we anticipate that our license to sail in the Galapagos will be restored shortly, the situation is still fluid," Celebrity said in a statement. We will be contacting guests booked on the June 9 cruise to provide them with the most updated information. Celebrity said guests on the June 2 sailing will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit for 50 percent off another Celebrity Xpedition cruise within the next two years. Future cruise certificates will be mailed to guests home address or travel agent within two to three weeks. Additionally, Celebrity will refund air transportation costs if the air was purchased through Celebrity. The line will reimburse airline change fees to those who did not purchase air through Celebrity. Booked guests or their agents can call 888-829-4050 for more information; "Celebrity Cruises is truly sorry for this unexpected impact on our guests vacation, the company statement said. "Celebrity Cruises is committed to complying with the rules and regulations of the Galapagos, which are put in place to protect and safeguard this unique and pristine environment."  

For more information on crusing the Galapagos Islands, contact at 203-288-1884 or email

More river cruises canceled as floods devastate Central Europe

River cruise lines are canceling more departures as heavy rains have caused some of the worst flooding in decades in Central Europe. Torrential rains over the past week have risen rivers to dangerously high levels. Parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic have been inundated with floodwater, and tens of thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate. According to reports, between 10 and 15 people have died due to the flood surge. River cruise operators said that segments of the Main and Danube rivers have been the most affected by flooding, and consequently they have canceled sailings in the region. Viking River Cruises has canceled three departures on June 9 — the Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremburg) cruise aboard the Viking Prestige; the Danube Waltz (Passau to Budapest) cruise aboard the Viking Legend; and the Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremburg) cruise aboard the MS Vienna. The company has also altered 15 departures between now and June 16, ranging from passengers having to sail on different ships than originally scheduled (due to ships being unable to get to their destinations until the floodwaters subside) to adding land arrangements. Most of Viking’s itineraries are bypassing a visit to the German city of Passau, which was hit particularly hard by flooding. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has also canceled departures due to the flooding: the June 7 Grand Danube & Prague on the River Ambassador; the June 9 Enchanting Danube Passau to Budapest; and the June 16 European Jewels on the River Empress. Several of Uniworlds cruises in progress have been impacted, either by itinerary alterations or cancellation of the remainder of cruises. In the case of acruise cancellation, guests are being given a full refund and a future cruise credit. "The rise and fall of water levels can change rapidly, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely," Avalon Waterways over the weekend canceled three departures over the next 10 days. Impacted passengers were offered full cruise refunds along with a discount voucher for a future cruise. On current sailings in Central Europe, Avalon has made adjustments such as having passengers transfer from one ship to another to be able to continue sailing, or combining a sailing with hotel stays. Avalon said it is offering passengers compensation depending on the number of cruise days affected. AmaWaterways had not yet canceled any departures but had been transferring passengers from one ship to another, as vessels have not been able to pass through the Main-Danube Canal in southern Germany.
Devastation from the flooding threatens to surpass that of the 2002 floods, which cost Germany an estimated $15.3 billion and Austria an estimated $4 billion in damages, the Wall Street Journal reported. German Chancellor Angela Merkel toured the Bavarian city of Passau on Tuesday and pledged an initial $130 million in federal emergency aid to the flood-ravaged region, according to the Journal.
For more information on River Crusies in Europe, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Flooding disrupts river cruises in Central Europe

Heavy rains have led to severe flooding across Central Europe, forcing river cruise lines to amend or cancel itineraries until the floodwaters subside. Emergency operations are under way in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic to deal with record levels of flooding, the BBC reported. Segments of the Main and Danube rivers have been the most affected by the heavy rains, according to river cruise operators. Avalon Waterways over the weekend made the decision to cancel three departures in the region over the next 10 days. Impacted passengers were offered full cruise refunds along with a discount voucher for a future cruise. On current sailings in Central Europe, Avalon has made adjustments such as having passengers transfer from one ship to another to be able to continue sailing, or combining a sailing with hotel stays. Avalon said it is offering passengers compensation depending on the number of cruise days affected. "We continue to monitor the water levels and will make revisions to itineraries as necessary," Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon, wrote in an email. "If the rain decreases in intensity, then we are hopeful operations can return to normal." As of the weekend, AmaWaterways had not canceled any departures but transferred passengers from one ship to another, as vessels have not been able to pass through the Main-Danube Canal in southern Germany. "In some other areas, we are experiencing delays and we have implemented itinerary changes," noted Ama President Rudi Schreiner. Torrential rains have risen rivers to dangerously high levels. Several cities in the region have been impacted. The Czech capital of Prague is on high alert amid fears that its historic center could flood, the BBC reported.  
For more information on booking river cruises in Europe or in the US, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

CLIA adopts cruise passenger bill of rights

CLIA said its members have adopted a Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights with many of the provisions outlined in a Congressional proposal for the same thing.

The rights include:

The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master's concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.
The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.
The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.
The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.
The right to transportation to the ship's scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger's home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
The right to have included on each cruise line's website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line's website. CLIA said the provisions would take effect immediately for U.S. passengers buying tickets in North America on CLIA's North American member lines, regardless of itinerary. It will also recommend to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that they be given "formal global recognition and applicability" under the IMO's authority over the maritime industry. In March, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed a bill of rights be adopted by CLIA and the IMO as a way to "bring the cruise ship industry out of the wild west." "It's time to rein them in before anyone else gets hurt," Schumer said at the time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

American Queen Steamboat Company Buys Second Paddlewheeler

The American Queen Steamboat Company, which operates the U.S-flagged, 436-passenger American Queen paddlewheeler on the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, has purchased the Empress of the North paddlewheeler for an undisclosed sum from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), which has maintained the vessel since Majestic America Line shut down in 2008. The vessel will be rechristened as American Empress. The American Queen has ushered in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising, welcoming thousands to discover the heartland of the United States and its iconic port cities, said Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. Now the American Empress will continue that tradition as an ambassador to the Pacific Northwest, a region equally rich in American and natural history. A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories and will have 97 crewmembers. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore. and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash. American Empress is set to enter service in April 2014 and will offer cruises through November. It will sail seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore., and Clarkston, Wash., on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Ports of call include Astoria, Richland and Stevenson, Wash.; and The Dalles and Umatilla, Ore. The eight-day program will include a pre-cruise hotel night. Sailings have already been entered into the American Queen Steamboat system and are available for booking effective May 22. A new brochure is being published for all American Queen Steamboat itineraries and will be sent to travel agents and past customers in early June. Over the next several months, American Queen Steamboat will completely refurbish the ship and bring it up to the standards of its existing American Queen boat and work to staff the ship with existing crew members from American Queen and other staff hired from the Pacific Northwest. Cabin configurations will be changed and the total number of cabins will be reduced to 112 outside accommodations. Like American Queen, American Empress will offer a fully inclusive product, including hop-on, hop-off motorcoach tours of the ports visited using the company’s dedicated fleet, wine and beer with dinner, free Wi-Fi (with an upgraded satellite system as was just installed on American Queen). Also like American Queen, American Empress will offer premium shore excursions for a surcharge, which is commissionable at 10 percent to travel agents if pre-booked before the sailing. Dining will feature specialty cuisine from the Pacific Northwest with a menu designed by Regina Charboneau, who also is the culinary consultant on American Queen. A large show lounge will feature nightly entertainment with two shows a night geared to the region. Theme cruises will focus on such topics as Lewis & Clark and wine-focused sailings. Other attractions will include venues developed in concert with American Queen Steamboat’s new partner, the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Typical pricing for a nine-day, eight night sailing will be roughly $3,795, according to Sykes. A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 feet with five decks. It was originally built in 2002 for American West Steamboat Company and was later acquired by Majestic America Line, which operated it until 2008 on Alaska’s Inside Passage and the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

For more information and to make reservations on the American Empress or American Queen contact at 203-288-1884 or


Explorer of the Seas to sail from Florida

Royal Caribbean said its Explorer of the Seas will move to Port Canaveral, Fla., from November 2014 to mid-January 2015 to do holiday cruises. The move will give Royal Caribbean three ships at Port Canaveral in that time frame. Explorer will do four- and five-day Caribbean and Bahamas cruises. Enchantment of the Seas will offer three- and four-day Bahamas getaways, and Freedom of the Seas will do seven-day itineraries. Explorer has spent the past several years cruising from Bayonne, N.J.. The ship will be replaced by Royal's new Quantum of the Seas in that role next year. For more information and to make a reservation contact at 203-288-1884 or

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Royal's Navigator to sail from Galveston

Royal Caribbean International has announced that it is basing the 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas year-round from Galveston when the ship emerges from drydock in February 2014. The Voyager-class ship, which introduced ice skating at sea, will sail seven-night western Caribbean itineraries with a variety of new features, including the FlowRider surf simulator and dining venues like Giovanni’s Table, Park Cafe and Izumi Asian Cuisine. In terms of accommodations, Navigator will have virtual balconies for select interior staterooms and new panoramic oceanview staterooms will feature full-length, floor-to-ceiling windows. New dining and entertainment concepts also will be introduced. For additional information and to make reservations, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway "Rocks" New York During Christening Event

Norwegian Cruise Line, on a rainy May 8 in New York City, officially introduced its new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway, built by Germany's Meyer Werft shipyard. The New York-themed ship, which was christened by Radio City’s Rockettes, will begin Bermuda sailings on May 12, and then will offer cruises to the Bahamas and Florida starting in the fall. It is the largest vessel to homeport year-round in New York City. The christening ceremony, held in various venues throughout the ship and connected by large video monitors, showcased the ship’s New York-themed dining and entertainment venues, as well as the sports areas available onboard. Special guests and speakers included New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who blessed the ship. Other guests included the premier of Bermuda and the prime minister of the Bahamas, the two main destinations offered by Norwegian Breakaway for the coming year. The event culminated with a performance and christening by the Rockettes, as well as a segment of "Rock of Ages," the Broadway musical now being performed onboard the ship. Norwegian Breakaway features iconic hull art by artist Peter Max, reflecting New York's skyline. Dining venues include seafood restaurant Ocean Blue by New York Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian; a bakery by Buddy Valastro, star of the TLC series "Cake Boss"; and fitness classes and a retrospective display from the ship’s godmothers, the Rockettes. One of the most distinctive features of the vessel is Ocean 678, the atrium-like area that connects all the main dining venues of the ship on Decks 6, 7 and 8. In addition, the Waterfront, on Deck 7, offers both indoor and outdoor dining at several of the ship’s showcase restaurants. The ship’s entertainment lineup includes three Broadway shows: "Rock of Ages," "Burn the Floor" and "Cirque Dreams & Dinner: Jungle Fantasy." It also features Headliners Comedy Club, the Bliss Ultra Lounge night club, and FatCats Jazz & Blues Club, among other venues. The three-story sports complex in the ship's stern features the largest "ropes" course at sea, including a walk-the-plank experience, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball and rock climbing. The Haven features 42 suites at the top of the ship and an addition 22 suites onboard. New Studio staterooms, first introduced on Norwegian Epic, are designed for solo travelers. There are also unique multi-room family suites designed for multi-generational groups.

For more information on this ship and making reservations for the Bermuda or Bahamas sailing season, contact at 800-775-1884. They have exclusive rates and special promotions for every sailing in 2013 and 2014.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Royal Caribbean’s to Base Navigator of the Seas in Galveston

Royal Caribbean International will base the 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas year-round in Galveston, Texas, starting in November. The ship will operate seven-night Western Caribbean cruises on two itineraries—one to Jamaica’s Falmouth, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, the other to Roatan in Honduras, Belize City and Cozumel. In February, the ship will undergo an extensive renovation that will add new features, including virtual balconies for inside staterooms video walls that will project the ships exterior sea views live. The ship also will get the FlowRider surf simulator, dining venues such as Giovanni’s Table, Park Café and Izumi Asian Cuisine, new panoramic ocean-view staterooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor movie screen overlooking the main pool, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for guests six to 36 months old, and new Diamond Lounges for suite and Crown & Anchor Society guests. Technological improvements include Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship, flat-panel televisions in all staterooms and interactive signage. For more information and to make reservations for any of these sailings from Galveston, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Monday, April 29, 2013

Disney Magic to Undergo Massive Renovation

Disney Cruise Lines first ship, the Disney Magic, will undergo its largest renovation this fall since entering service in 1998. The project will update the 2,700-passenger ship with a cleaner, more timeless design while keeping the original Art Deco style. Most of the iconic public spaces will remain—including the Animator’s Palate restaurant, the popular Oceaneer Club and Lab, and the bronze statue of Captain Mickey in the lobby—but a few will disappear, including the Mickey swimming pool. The entire ship will be updated with new technology as well as new features that were found to be popular on the newest ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, which entered service in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Disney Magic will enter Navanthia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, from Sept. 7 to Oct. 10. The popular children’s facilities will get updated. Oceaneer Club, for ages 3-12, will get Andy’s Room, a replica of the boy’s bedroom in the movie "Toy Story." It will feature a large functional Mr. Potato Head and a slide built into a replica of Slinky Dog. New is the Marvel’s Avengers Academy, which will include the uniforms worn by Capt. America and Iron Man. The Oceaneer Lab next door will shed its now-dated outer-space decor in favor of a décor more inspired by pirates and Jules Verne, Lanzisero said. The nursery, for children age 3 months to 3 years old, is getting a new "It’s A Small World" theme and brighter colors. Animator’s Palate, the restaurant that gradually transforms from a black-and-white cartoon outline into full-color animation, will stay. "Some things so define what we do here that we would never get rid of them," The restaurant will, however, get the Animation Magic technology on Disney Fantasy, where cartoons hand-drawn by diners magically dance on the walls. Parrot Cay, the Caribbean-themed buffet restaurant, will get a sleek, sophisticated new look at Carioca’s, a classic eatery with a South American vibe inspired by José Carioca, a character from the 1944 Disney movie "The Three Caballeros." Topsider Buffet will change to Cabanas, as the casual eateries are known on Dream and Fantasy. The old-school buffet line will be replaced with serving stations, and the new Aussie-inspired décor will feature "Finding Nemo" characters. The adult-only area, now called Beat Street, will be renamed After Hours when it gets an update with an evening ambience more on par with the nightlife in cities like Miami Beach or Las Vegas, Lanzisero said. Rockin’ Bar D will be turned into a cool nightclub called Fathoms. Sessions, the piano bar, will become Keys and get a more sophisticated black-and-white color scheme. Diversions, the sports bar, will change into O’Gills, the popular Irish pub introduced on Disney Fantasy. The pool area on Deck 9 will become one large family play area. The Mickey-shaped pool will disappear and be replaced by water sprays and a bucket dump, as well as a water play area for kids in diapers. The new AquaDunk thrill ride starts with a countdown until the floor drops from under the rider, who then shoots down a translucent tube that winds over the side of the ship. Disney Magic will leave Galveston June 1 to operate four-, seven- and 12-night Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona through Sept. 7. After the renovation is complete Oct. 10, the ship will head for Miami to operate three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean from Port Miami. In January, the Disney Magic moves to Port Canaveral to offer three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas. The ship returns to the Mediterranean from May through August 2014.

For more information and to make a reservation on the Disney Magic, or any Disney ship or park, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Crystal Cruises Adopts A Non-Smoking Environment

Crystal Cruises will eliminate smoking in all indoor areas, except for the Connoisseur Club smoking lounge, effective with the first cruises in 2014. Outside smoking will be allowed in a limited number of designated spaces. The move eliminates smoking in all staterooms and suites, the Crystal Cove lobby lounge and Pulse and Luxe nightclubs. Most areas have been non-smoking for several years, including restaurants, main entertainment lounges, and stateroom and suite verandahs. Crystal eliminated smoking in the Avenue Saloon and Casino in 2013. The revised policy begins with the Jan. 5 and Jan. 8 voyages of Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, respectively. We have received considerable feedback and we listened. Our policies have evolved as lifestyles have changed, said Crystal President Gregg Michel. "The majority of our guests worldwide are non-smoking, and travelers are used to more non-smoking environments today. Crystal will continue to offer the Connoisseur Club, the only remaining interior smoking area, and designated spaces on exterior open decks for cigar, pipe and cigarette smoking. For additional information on Crystal Cruises and to make reservations with Exclusive rates, contact at 203-288-1884 or

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Crystal Adds Religious Shore Excursions in Europe

Crystal Cruises is offering new religious shore excursions in Europe this year. With the expansion, the luxury line now offers more than 20 Crystal Adventures featuring private, after-hours access to centuries-old houses of worship, Jewish heritage tours, and pilgrimage destinations in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Malta, France and locales. Most of the new adventures visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Exclusive options include touring St. Marks Basilica in Venice at night, exploring the Vatican Museum after closing, attending private Mass at Barcelonas La Sagrada Familia, and attending an organ recital at Utstein Monastery near Stavanger, Norway. Other excursions include after-hours access to Istanbuls Hagia Sophia church-turned-mosque, a half-day trip to Gauds Church at Colonia Guell outside Barcelona and visiting Valettas first church and many chapels of the Maltese countryside. Jewish heritage excursions explore how Copenhagens underground resistance movement helped 99 percent of Danish Jews survive the Holocaust; a visit to Amsterdams Jewish Historical Museum, Jewish quarter and Anne Frank's house; touring synagogues in Stockholm; strolling through the Jewish Ghetto of Rome; and hearing a local cantor perform, followed by tea with members of St. Petersburgs Jewish community at their home. Another tour explores Jewish Berlin, from a concentration camp deportation area to the largest Jewish museum in Europe.

Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony sail throughout Europe from April to December. All-inclusive fares start at $1,895 per person, with additional savings if booked by April 30. Fares for the spiritual excursions start at $73 per person. For more information on this and other Exclusive programs, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Viking Plans Longships to cruise the Mississippi

In 2015, Viking River Cruises plans to bring a version of the Longships the company is currently launching en masse in Europe to the Mississippi River, challenging the traditional paddlewheel model that has come to define the overnight passenger vessel experience on the largest U.S. waterway. The Longship design has shown to be a great way to see Europe, Richard Marnell, senior vice president of marketing for Viking, wrote in an email. The Viking vessel on the Mississippi will provide a great way to see [and] explore in comfort." Traditionally, most leisure cruises on the Mississippi River System have been offered on paddlewheelers modeled on classic 19th century steamboats. One notable exception was RiverBarge Excursion Lines, which operated the 196-passenger River Explorer, a combination of two barges and a tugboat, for 10 years up and down the Mississippi before ceasing operations in 2009. Viking, however, sees room for a smaller, sleeker, European-style vessel on U.S. waterways. The Mississippi project has come about following the research we do on past passengers travel preferences. There is clearly a market there. Also, it will help showcase a Viking Longship-type vessel closer to our main (U.S.) source market, Viking Chairman Tor Hagen recently said in a statement. The Viking Longships are Vikings newest class of European river vessels, accommodating 190 passengers. They measure 443 feet long (the maximum length in Europe due to lock constraints) and have four decks.
By contrast, one of the ships currently plying the Mississippi is the 436-passenger American Queen, a 419-foot-long paddlewheeler with six decks. Due to its larger size and height, it also has more and larger public spaces than most European river ships, which allows for a larger variety of onboard entertainmentand activities, which can be important during the longer sailings the Mississippi River System often requires. While Viking has not yet chosen a shipyard to execute the project, Hagen noted that Viking has a design in mind and that the ship (or ships) expected to be operative in 2015 will not have a paddlewheel. Viking noted that while it is focused on the Mississippi, it will also be looking into other U.S. river systems, such as in the Pacific Northwest, if the demand justifies it. Beyond the hardware, there is a question of whether the audience for the European river cruise market and the domestic market is one and the same. For Viking, it appears to be less about transitioning Mississippi River cruisers to Europe, and more about introducing passengers who have experienced river cruising in Europe to a similar encounter closer to home. We agree there are domestic travelers who will never take a European cruise but may take a Mississippi cruise, Marnell wrote. But, he added, almost all international travelers also travel domestically. There is certainly the capability to cross-market."
For more information on Viking River Cruises in Europe or Mississippi Cruises, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crystal Offers Lower Single Supplement to More Departures

Crystal Offers Lower Single Supplement to More Departures

Crystal Cruises has added more than a dozen itineraries to its sole occupancy savings promotion for 2013. Now 26 seven- to 18-day voyages offer single supplements of just 10 percent for a deluxe stateroom. To cater to solo travelers, Crystal also offers "Ambassador Host" companions for dinner and dancing on every sailing, assigned dinner seating in the Crystal Dining Room, and "Table for 8," which brings individuals together for shared evening dining in the specialty restaurants. All-inclusive sole occupancy promotional fares begin at $2,865 per person if booked by April 30. For more information and to make a reservation on these and other Crystal Exclusive offers, contact at 203-288-1884 or e mail at

MSC Cruises Sets Year-Round Deployment from North America

MSC Cruises will launch year-round deployment in North America for the first time when the MSC Divina begins sailing from PortMiami in November. The Divina had been scheduled to operate out of Miami for the 2013-14 winter season, but now will remain there year-round. The announcement came as the Italian line christened its newest ship, MSC Preziosa, in Genoa, Italy. The year-round North America deployment was made possible by the company’s fast growth. MSC Divina, sister ship of MSC Preziosa, was christened last spring. MSC Cruises began an investment program in 2003 committing 6 billion euros to its expansion. Since then the line has acquired two vessels and built 10 new ships with one new vessel entering the fleet nearly every year. For the past eight years, the line has offered seasonal late fall and winter sailings from North America. "The popularity of our introduction of MSC Divina to this market among agents and consumers alike has been nothing short of tremendous," said Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO MSC Cruises USA. "We listened to their requests and are pleased that the vast expansion of our line allows us the ability to fulfill their wishes." The itineraries for the MSC Divina from Miami will be announced shortly. The ship has 1,715 staterooms, seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools (including an infinity pool), a bowling alley, theater, gym, spa, Internet café, conference center, kids and teen areas, and the line’s luxury ship-within-a-ship, MSC Yacht Club. An exclusive VIP section of the ship located in the upper foredecks, the Yacht Club includes 69 suites; butler and concierge service; complimentary select wines, spirits, soft drinks, juices and mineral waters; private access to the spa; and a private dining room. For additional information and to make reservations, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mazatlan anticipates resumption of cruise calls

Cruise calls will resume on a limited basis in Mazatlan this fall, according to Frank Cordoba, secretary of tourism for the state of Sinaloa. Several cruise lines pulled out of Mazatlan in early 2011, citing safety and security issues for passengers following several incidents of crime near the port. Holland America Line, Princess, Disney and Carnival dropped their Mazatlan calls, swapping out extra port days in Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos. Holland America's Veendam, the Norwegian Star and the Azamara Quest will offer several Mexico cruises out of Los Angeles and San Diego, starting in October and running through the winter cruise season, Cordoba said.
Princess is expected to return in 2014. "The police instituted a number of safety measures, including enhanced lighting and numerous cameras. In addition, total crime in Mazatlan has decreased drastically in the past two years. We welcome the arrival of our passengers again," Cordoba said. For more information and exclusive rates, contact at 203-775-1884 or e mail:

Cunard relaxes evening dress code

Cunard Line said it would adopt a more informal dress policy on some nights, but keep the requirement for formal evening dress at least three times a week on transatlantic crossings and twice a week on other cruises. Cunard said on other nights of the week, informal dress will include jackets for men, but ties will become optional. Previously, Cunard had three evening dress categories: formal, semi-formal and casual elegant. The changes will take effect before the Cunard ships set out on their main sailing seasons in April and May, Cunard said. For more information and exclusive rates, contact at 203-775-1884 or e mail:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Carnival ship Problems continue to widen. 3 Ships in one week

The Carnival Legend is returning to its homeport at reduced speed following a technical issue with one of the ship’s Azipod propulsion units. The news comes after a malfunctioning generator stranded the Carnival Dream in St. Maarten on Thursday and all the passenges had to be flown home.  The Carnival Elation also suffered an Azipod malfunction earlier in the week, but ship operations have been unaffected.
Back to Tampa
Currently on the last leg of a seven-day cruise that departed Tampa, Fla., on March 10, the Carnival Legend is now sailing back to Tampa and is expected to arrive as originally scheduled on Sunday. A Friday visit to Grand Cayman was cancelled due to motor issues, but the ship’s hotel operations and safety systems are fully functional, according to Carnival. The vessel, with a capacity of 2,124 passengers and 930 crew members, also experienced propulsion issues in February 2010.
Passengers will receive a credit of $100 per person and 50% off a future Carnival Cruise. They will also receive a refund of any pre-purchased shore excursions planned for Grand Cayman.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cruise Outlet announces Funds available to help Non Profits Groups & Organizations of Hamden, CT has available funds to be donated to benefit nonprofit organizations throughout the country.

This unique program saves people who are cruising hundreds of dollars while they help the organization raise thousands of dollars towards their mission and goal.

There are no additional charges and actually those supporting the organization receive significant other amenities on their cruise.

This program, in its 15th year by, does not require investment money from the sponsoring organization.  Flyers, brochures, speakers & information booths are provided by staff. One of the most effective fundraisers available, this program has helped numerous organizations throughout Connecticut and New England raise needed funds without straining the membership with hours of extra work. established in 1990, is certified by the International Cruise Association and all the National cruise lines as a major provider of cruises. They have been recognized by all the cruise lines for their experience and professional knowledge and have received numerous awards. For additional information call 203-288-1884. Visit them at their website

Cruise destinations include Bermuda, Bahamas, Disney World, the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska.  Many of the Cruise Lines that work with have fantastic children’s programs, as well as, educational programs for adults. Meeting and conference space is available as well.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway to Feature New Environmental Systems

Norwegian Cruise Line said the Norwegian Breakaway, currently under construction at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, will incorporate a number of emission reducing, energy saving and enhanced safety systems. The ship is scheduled for delivery on April 25. Norwegian Breakaway is equipped with a new generation of ABB XO Azipods that are smaller and more streamlined, which, together with a new Azipod Dynamic Optimizing system, will enhance steering and turning angles, leading to a saving in fuel and reduction in emissions, the company said. The Azipods are also equipped with a featured called an x-tail, which reduces fuel consumption even further. The company said the underwater hull has been optimized to provide the least resistance for the average speed of the ships planned itineraries, enhancing the ships speed/power ratio by 20 percent. The ship also will increase its energy efficiency and reduce emissions through the use of silicon-based anti-fouling paint on the hull. A new system called Pure Dry recovers fuel oil from waste oil, reducing the amount of waste oil that will be disposed of ashore. A new advanced remote control system for staterooms system allows for power, air conditioning and lighting to be switched off remotely when guests are not in their staterooms. Plus, most of the lighting in the public spaces is LED in order to increase the ships energy efficiency. The ship also will feature a new mustering tracking system for both guest and crew via Personal Digital Assistants.

For more information and to make reservations, contact at 203-288-1884

Friday, February 22, 2013

Alaska cracks down on behavior of 'port lecturers' on cruise ships

Shopping in Alaskan ports might be more transparent this summer, following a recent legal settlement. Negotiated orders with the Alaska attorney general will require more disclosure from three companies that provide most of the onboard shopping talks for the major cruise lines. In a uniform, formal speech, port lecturers henceforth must inform passengers that the companies they work for get a fee from the retailers they recommend and that in many cases the companies get a percentage of a client store's sales. The consent agreements also bar lecturers from disparaging stores that do not participate in their programs, and they regulate "guarantees" that are made about items bought by passengers. In a statement, Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty praised the companies "for working with the state to ensure that ethical and fair business practices are followed." Fines to cover the costs of investigation and enforcement include $75,000 from Onboard Media, $45,000 from Royal Media Partners and $90,000 from Panoff Publishing. No actual or potential violations of the law were admitted by the defendants in the settlement. Onboard Media and Panoff Publishing issued statements. "We are pleased that the standards that Onboard Media have always followed have now been formalized," Onboard Vice President Noelle Sipos said. Panoff Group CEO Bill Panoff said, "We intend to move any ambiguity out of the equation, ensuring that all Alaska retailers, whether participating or not, feel confident about the upcoming season." Efforts to reach Royal Media were unsuccessful. Port shopping programs are offered on most cruise ships. In part, they involve employees who sail on the ships and give talks either before a port call or at the pier, hoping to guide passengers' onshore shopping decisions. The three firms, all based in South Florida, are contractors of the cruise lines. Onboard Media is on Carnival and Princess ships. Panoff Publishing has an array of clients, including Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. Royal serves Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara. In addition to lectures, the companies create books, in-cabin videos, maps and other media as marketing vehicles for onshore retailers and brands. "It's become a big business, this port lecture thing," said Lew Williams, mayor of Ketchikan, a regular port of call in Alaska. Williams said he was one of several mayors who wrote letters to the Alaska attorney general highlighting complaints about the way port shopping companies were operating. "They would say [disparaging] things about other stores," Williams said. "They would take people by the hand to the store. They would pull people out of stores, saying they're in the wrong store." But retailers that benefited from the talks didn't want to see them banned. "There's a few merchants that really enjoyed the port lecture program, so I'm glad it was preserved," he said. Alaska began fielding complaints from passengers several years ago, said Ed Sniffen, a senior assistant attorney general. "Over time, we got a substantial number of complaints," he said. The response from the companies "wasn't that adequate," Sniffen said. So the state started investigating whether the firms were violating Alaska's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. He said the state had prepared to sue the companies had they not settled. Under the settlement, promoters and cruise lines are barred from saying they selected, recommended or vetted stores in the program. Before they start their first talk, lecturers must say: "Hello my name is _________ and I am your port lecturer. The retailers you hear about in today's presentation have paid a fee to be included in the shopping program, and many of the retailers also pay commissions that are based on their sales to passengers." Promoters cannot say or imply that they can arrange special deals or bargains without a factual basis for such claims. Nor can they say purchases from participating stores are duty-free or tax-free in Alaska. They are barred from disparaging stores that don't participate in the program or merchandise sold by nonparticipating stores. And they are prohibited from saying it is risky to shop at nonparticipating stores. Promoters are prohibited from deterring or hindering passengers from shopping at nonparticipating stores. Merchants participating in the program must offer buyers 60-day guarantees that include repair, replacement or a full refund. They cannot charge restocking fees. They must ship repaired items to consumers at the store's expense. Promoters must say that retailers who don't participate in the program might also offer their own guarantees. Sniffen said the settlement did not shut down free speech. "There's a certain amount of recommendation or puffing that's not illegal," he said. "If you have an opinion or a recommendation about a store, that's fine. But making sure you don't disparage other stores is another thing." The settlement includes robust enforcement. The promotion companies must make video and audio recordings of the main lectures and keep records for inspection for three years. Alaska may also send undercover investigators to make surreptitious recordings. If further violations are found, civil penalties of up to $50,000 for each infraction can be assessed. Sniffen said the cruise lines themselves were not parties to the settlement. "We reached out to the cruise lines to make them aware we suspected their contractors were violating Alaska laws," he said. "The cruise lines were very cooperative." Sniffen said that because the port promotion firms are contractors, the cruise lines weren't viewed as responsible for their conduct. "I don't think the management folks at the cruise lines get into the details of what these promoters were doing on their ships," he said. "They had no way of really policing it that well. So it was really [a matter of] working with the promoters on how to get things done."

For further information, contacte of Hamden, CT at 203-288-1884 or email:



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Celebrity Offers Free Gratuities, Upgrades

Celebrity Cruises’ is offering free gratuities, upgrades and discounts on 2013 cruises in Alaska, Bermuda and Europe. Those who book a 2013 Europe cruise will receive free gratuities, free upgrades from ocean-view to veranda staterooms or a $99 upgrade from ConciergeClass to AquaClass staterooms,Deposits are also reduced by 50 percent. Captains Club members will receive a $500 onboard credit when booking a suite.

Those who book an Alaska or Bermuda cruise will receive free gratuities, rates starting at $299 for third and fourth guests in a stateroom, and a 50 percent reduced deposits. Captains Club members will receive a $400 onboard credit when booking a suite. For more information and to make a reservation with these Exclusive offers, contact at 1-800-775-1884 or

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Norwegian Set to Keep Two Ships in Europe Year-Round

Norwegian Cruise Line will keep two ships in Europe year-round for the 2014-15 winter season. Norwegian Jade will operate a variety of itineraries, including seven-day Greek Isles, seven-day Adriatic, Greece and Turkey, 10-day Eastern Mediterranean and 11-day Western Mediterranean. Norwegian Spirit will offer 12-day "Grand Mediterranean" voyages and 10-day Canary Islands and Morocco itineraries. These cruises are now open for sale. Norwegian Jade will depart from Rome (Civitavecchia) during the winter and sail alternating 10-Day Eastern Mediterranean itineraries from Nov. 12, 2014, through Dec. 13, 2014, and Jan. 14 through April 8, 2015. This itinerary stops in Olympia (Katakolon), Greece; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Izmir) and Istanbul, Turkey; and Naples, Italy. The 11-day Western Mediterranean itinerary will operate from Nov. 1, 2014, through Dec. 23, 2014 and from Jan. 3 through April 18, 2015. From Civitavecchia, this itinerary includes visits to Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Provence (Toulon), France; Barcelona and Valencia, Spain; Cagliari, Sardinia; Carthage, Tunisia; Palermo, Sicily; and Naples. From Nov. 26, 2014, through April 15, 2015, Norwegian Spirit will sail 10-day itineraries to the Canary Islands and Morocco from Barcelona or Malaga, Spain. This new itinerary visits Casablanca, Morocco; Funchal, Madeira; Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Lanzarote, Canary Islands; and Granada (Málaga), Spain. For more information and to make a reservation contact at 203-288-1884


Friday, January 25, 2013

Holland America Line Adds to Dancing With the Stars Pro Lineup

Holland America Line has added celebrity and professional dancers to its 2013 Dancing with the Stars: At Sea theme cruises. Professionals scheduled to appear are two-time champion Mark Ballas, champion Kym Johnson, Chelsie Hightower, Tristan MacManus and Lacey Schwimmer. Celebrities scheduled to sail are singer Joey Fatone, actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley. The six theme cruises in 2013 and early 2014 will give guests a chance to meet the dancers, ask questions and take photos. Theyll also feature dance lessons and a production starring the celebrities and dance pros, complete with glamorous costumes and routines from the TV show. Performers are subject to change. Professional dancers Schwimmer and Ballas are scheduled to appear on Eurodams Feb. 16 Eastern Caribbean cruise. Joining the pros on the seven-day voyage are Fatone and Bryan. Hightower and Ballas are scheduled to sail June 22 on the Veendams seven-day Canada and New England voyage. The celebrities are to be announced. Johnson and MacManus are scheduled to sail on Oosterdams June 30 and July 7 seven-day Alaska cruises along with celebrity Carson Kressley. Additional celebrities are to be announced. Dancing with the Stars: At Sea theme cruises for 2014 are on the Nieuw Amsterdams Jan. 5 seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailing and Jan. 12 seven-day Western Caribbean cruise. For more information and to make reservations contact at 203-288-1884

Royal Caribbean Offers Free Drink Package on Select April Sailings

Royal Caribbean International is offering a complimentary Premium Beverage Package for two to those who book a balcony or higher-category stateroom aboard four select trans-Atlantic cruises in April by Feb. 15. Eligible sailings are Navigator of the Seas 15-night crossing from New Orleans to Rome departing April 6; Independence of the Seas 13-night cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, U.K., on April 7; Brilliance of the Seas 11-night sailing from San Juan to Lisbon on April 13; and Adventure of the Seas 14-night voyage from San Juan to Southampton on April 21. The complimentary Premium Beverage Package is only available for the first two guests in a booking. The Premium Beverage Package includes house wines, beers under $6.25 each, fountain sodas, and well, call and premium brands of liquors and frozen drinks at restaurants, bars and lounges when open. The offer does not apply to group bookings. For more information and to make reservations contact at 203-288-1884

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Carnival puts 15-drink daily cap on alcohol package

Carnival Cruise Lines has incorporated a daily limit of 15 drinks into its single-price drinks package. The package, which is now being offered on 13 Carnival ships, lets passengers pay for all beverages on a cruise in a single payment. A Carnival spokesman said the cruise line recently "formalized" the limit on how many alcoholic drinks guests will be served within a 24-hour period running from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the following day. It started on one ship last summer and has since been expanded to about half of Carnival's fleet. Sodas and most other non-alcoholic beverages remain unlimited and are not counted toward the 15 drink ceiling. For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway to Feature Fireworks Show on Every Cruise

Norwegian Cruise Lines new Norwegian Breakaway, scheduled to enter service in May in New York City, will have a fireworks show on every cruise. The environmentally-friendly display will take place on the second-to-last night at sea each week, after the ship departs Bermuda during its summer inaugural season. The produced show will be set to a playlist of classic 1980s hits including Come on Feel the Noise by Quiet Riot, Whip It by Devo, Cherish by Madonna, Final Countdown by Europe and Purple Rain by Prince.  The 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in its year-round homeport of New York City on May 7. The ship will begin seven-day cruises to Bermuda on May 12. From October through April 2014, the ship will offer cruises to the Bahamas & Florida and the Southern Caribbean.  For more information and to book this ship or other NCL ships contact TheCruiseOutlet,com, exclusive rates and programs for NCL at 203-288-1884 or email:

Carnival cancels Belize calls, says port is overcrowded

Carnival Cruise Lines is forgoing port calls in Belize through the end of 2013 because the port has become too congested, Carnival said. Although we have a confirmed berth in Belize, local officials accepted calls for additional ships. Consequently, their tender capacity is not able to effectively handle the increased volume of guests without creating long delays and limiting your time ashore," Carnival said in a letter to customers. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to come to an acceptable agreement with Belize Port Authority regarding this situation. The Carnival Glory and the Carnival Legend, the two ships that had scheduled calls in Belize this year, instead will call in Costa Maya, Mexico. For more information contact at 203-288-1884