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: