Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chef's Table Culinary Experience

Carnival Cruise Line

Chef's Table

Culinary Experience

One of the popular activities while onboard a cruise ship is participating in the galley tour.  Even if you aren't much of a cook at home, and don't really get excited seeing stoves and other cooking gadgets, it is still amazing to see the quantity of equipment and staff required to keep the passengers and crew fed during the voyage.

Carnival Cruise Line has taken the galley tour to a new level, introducing the "Chef's Table", as a pilot program last year, onboard Carnival Dream and Carnival Ecstasy.  The program is a one-of-a-kind culinary experience which includes an exquisite multi-course dinner hosted by one of the line’s master chefs along with a private cocktail reception and a personalized tour of the galley.  This year the program is being rolled out to six more ships.

The Chef's Table experience, which is limited to a select group of 12 guests, begins with cocktails and hors d’ouevres hosted by the ship’s chef de cuisine. The chef then takes the group on a personalized tour to see the galley in operation, providing participants with a unique perspective on Carnival’s extensive food and beverage operations. A traditional galley tour typically occurs when there isn't much activity in the galley and with much larger groups of passengers.

The evening concludes with a sumptuous full-service dinner with delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts created by the line’s master chefs.  Depending on the vessel, the meal takes place in non-traditional dining venues throughout the ship – the galley, library, conference center, etc.

The Chef’s Table program is being rolled out to the following six ships over the next several weeks:  Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Pride and Carnival Fascination.

The program can be booked on board through the ships’ guest information desk. The cost is $75 per person.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carnival Cares for St. Jude

Carnival Cruise Line
Launches Fleetwide
Fundraising Initiative

Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®

Care to Play: Carnival For St. Jude Kids

Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest cruise operator, has partnered with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to launch a comprehensive fund-raising initiative with a goal of raising $3 million for the organization over the next three years. St. Jude is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

The program, called Care to Play: Carnival For St. Jude Kids, kicks off the week of March 28 aboard all 22 Carnival ships and provides guests an opportunity to participate in fun, interactive activities designed to raise funds and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer.

Care to Play activities include the “Groove for St. Jude,” a fun dance activity held once each cruise that allows guests to make a $10 donation and “groove to the music” in one of the ship’s high-energy dance clubs with sounds provided by the ship’s DJ. Guests receive a Care to Play T-shirt and wristband and 100 percent of their donation goes directly to St. Jude.

Another component is Carnival’s Teddy Bear Workshop in which children from the line’s Camp Carnival program can build their own cuddly St. Jude keepsake bear. To show their support, kids can also customize their bear with doctor’s apparel, including scrubs, surgical mask, and a lab coat. One hundred percent of profits, after all related expenses, benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Additionally, copies of the “The Dream Plucker of Perrysport,” a highly imaginative children’s book based on creative stories and illustrations submitted by Camp Carnival participants, will be sold in the shipboard Camp Carnival facilities for $5.95. One hundred percent of the purchase price of this item will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Several hundred copies of the book have also been donated to the hospital.

A number of other fun and exciting activities are planned for the future and will be announced at a later date.

Alex Rodriguez Autographed Baseball Bat - Bid for the Kids
Just in time for Opening Day, Carnival will be auctioning off the baseball bat signed by All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the World Champion New York Yankees that was used in the Carnival Dream’s naming ceremony in New York. Those interested in bidding on this one-of-a-kind commemorative item can visit www.carnival.com/stjude, a special Web site that highlights the Carnival-St. Jude partnership. One hundred percent of the auction proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The site also includes a two-minute video on Carnival-St. Jude initiatives, a listing of the line’s yearly progress toward its fundraising goal, and a link to St. Jude’s Web site where visitors can donate directly to the organization.

“Carnival Cruise Lines is pleased to launch the Care to Play initiative which provides our guests with a number of wonderful and memorable ways to help some very special children,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “With a goal of $3 million, these fundraising opportunities will enable our guests to assist St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in their groundbreaking efforts in the fight against childhood cancer,” he added.

“We truly appreciate the commitment of Carnival Cruise Lines to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. “Each dollar raised through the Care to Play campaign will help in our fight to find cures for cancer and other deadly childhood diseases so that children in communities everywhere will have a second chance at life.”

We applaud Carnival for partnering with such a worthy cause. Carnival makes it fun to help in the fight against cancer in children. Please support the St. Jude Kids the next time you cruise on Carnival.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cunard Queen Mary 2 Maiden Call to Cape Town

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Queen Mary 2 - courtesy Cunard Line

Cunard Queen Mary 2

Maiden Call Cape Town

Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 made her maiden call to Cape Town, South Africa, March 25th arriving with some special dignitaries onboard.  Among the guests sailing on this segment of the 2010 World Voyage was  the Most Reverend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Upon arrival in Cape Town, a ceremony was held unveiling a plaque that read: “This plaque was unveiled by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to commemorate his voyage onboard Queen Mary 2 between Port Louis and Cape Town from 20 March to 25 March 2010.”   Also on-hand for the unveiling was Captain Nick Bates and Cunard Line President Peter Shanks.

During the voyage, guests enjoyed a standing room only Cunard Insights Q&A session and lecture with Archbishop Tutu.  Additionally, guests had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction and bid on advanced copies of Archbishop Tutu’s new book, “Made for Goodness,” co-written by his daughter Mpho Andrea Tutu. Proceeds from the silent auction benefited his charity, the Zithulele Hospital based in Eastern Cape province.

“It was an honor to have Archbishop Tutu onboard Queen Mary 2 during this World Voyage, especially as the ship sailed into Cape Town for the first time,” said Peter Shanks. “Our guests were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet this living luminary, and I am delighted to say that he now holds a very special place in Cunard's 170-year history."

Archbishop Tutu joins Cunard's illustrious legacy of welcoming world-famous guests and politicians, including Winston Churchill, President Nelson Mandela, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart and Buzz Aldrin.

Cunard Insights is the company’s award-winning onboard enrichment programme that introduces guests to stimulating experts and accomplished visionaries who reflect the Line's heritage of adventure and prestige. Through a series of lectures, Q&A's, social gatherings and workshops, guests connect with personalities who have achieved notable distinction in areas including history, world affairs, science, arts and literature.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Princess Cruises Alaska Land Excursion Options

Star Princess in Juneau Alaska

Princess Cruises Announces
New Land Excursion Options
for Alaska Cruisetour Passengers

What do you want to do on your Alaska Cruise & Land Vacation?

How about taking a ride on a dog cart?  Compare the picture to the left with the picture of Star Princess above.   Do you notice any similarities?  I did.   The design of both are tapered at one end and wider at the opposite end.  The major difference is one travels on water while the other is designed to travel over snow.   Well, snow is just frozen water, so they really are a lot alike after all.  So, if taking a ride on a dog cart is something you want to do, then let me tell you how you might do that on a Princess Cruisetour.

Princess Cruises has announced nine additional Optional Land Excursions that passengers can add to their Princess Alaska Cruisetour vacation.   Options include discovering how local hunters and trappers live, exploring by ATV, riding a dog cart, visiting a true Eskimo village or learning to cook Alaska cuisine.  In all, there are 96 tour choices that cruisetour travelers can add to the land portion of their trip. These activities are currently open for purchase and offer a range of experiences from easygoing to exhilarating -- including cultural tours, nature hikes, kayak adventures and flightseeing tours.

Cruisetour passengers can get additional information about the land excursions from a new section on Princess' web site, offering full details on the program and tour listings. Your cruise specialist can also offer assistance in planning these optional excursions.

Land excursions operate from each of Princess' own wilderness lodges -- Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge and Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge -- as well as from additional locations featured on some cruisetours, such as Anchorage and Coldfoot (for Arctic Explorer cruisetours).

For many people an Alaska vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  My advice to travelers is to include both land and sea exploration into your plans.   With these new optional land excursions, Princess Cruises allows a new level of personalization not offered by other cruise providers.  

New Land Excursions

Wilderness Living Adventure & Dog Cart Ride (Denali) -- How did the hunters, trappers and woodsmen of old travel and live in the wilderness of Alaska? This tour provides a look at many Alaskans who make their living in the wilderness near Denali. The hosts share stories about their lives, particularly what winters are like in Denali. A dog cart ride takes travelers down a rustic trail for a taste of sledding and possible views of Mt. McKinley.

Anaktuvuk Pass Adventure (Coldfoot) -- Guests can visit a true Eskimo village with this tour to the Nunamiut village of Anaktuvuk Pass. Travelers fly northwest from Coldfoot to Anaktuvuk Pass, nestled in the heart of the majestic Brooks Mountain Range and the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Once in the village, guests will get a first-hand look at life in Anaktuvuk Pass as it exists today.

A Taste of Fairbanks -- An evening at Chez World Cooking School will show travelers how to prepare food the Alaskan way. Whether they fully experience the class with hands-on participation or simply watch the overhead monitors, students will learn the secrets behind Alaskan delicacies such as salmon, reindeer sausage, halibut, crab, moose, and caribou, as well sourdough bread and pancakes. Students will get to taste the entrees of the day plus take home recipes and a chef's apron.

Susitna River Airboat Adventure (Mt. McKinley) -- Travelers can experience parts of the lovely Susitna River that others can't with this airboat excursion. Piloted by a captain who knows the waters well, the airboat can navigate through narrow channels, moving through inches of water and in some cases no water at all. Participants will enjoy the beauty of the Susitna while looking for wildlife and their tracks, and can even bring home a souvenir animal track casting. On clear days, they can also marvel at spectacular views of Mt. McKinley.

Sea Kayaking at Columbia Glacier (Copper River) -- This opportunity to paddle into the massive Columbia Glacier icefield offers an experience that travelers will never forget. From Valdez participants take a scenic ride to Columbia Glacier for a kayaking expedition up close to the glacier, plus lunch on the beach. The excursion could also result in sightings of wildlife such as seals, sea otters, bald eagles, sea lions, whales and bears.

Chatanika Gold Camp & ATV Ride with Dinner (Fairbanks) -- The early miners never traveled like this! Following a hearty dinner at Chatanika Gold Camp, travelers take a 2.5 hour ATV ride along a mining trail used by early miners to access the surrounding gold fields. The approximately 15-mile route follows a ridge line and offers beautiful views of the distant mountains and valleys.

Explore Historic Seward (Kenai) -- From Kenai, travelers can enjoy a drive down one of the nation's most scenic highways and past parts of the Iditarod National Historic Trail. At the end of the road at Resurrection Bay is the historic city of Seward, gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Travelers will have plenty of time to see the town, visit local attractions or browse the quaint shops and art galleries.

South Denali 65-Mile ATV Adventure (Mt. McKinley) -- An ATV adventure along dirt roads carved out of the wilderness by the area's first prospectors, this tour takes travelers far into the back-country of south Denali with its cascading waterfalls and scenic wonders. Participants can also try their hand at panning for gold in Peters Creek.

Scenic Koyukuk River Float (Coldfoot) -- It's not too often that travelers can enjoy a scenic float trip 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle! This tour takes passengers down the Middle Fork Koyukuk River through the Brooks Mountain Range, where they can relax as their raft floats through the vast wilderness of Alaska and a guide shares the rich history of the region.

Welcome to the Last Frontier of Alaska - you are in for an adventure of a lifetime.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tsunami Awareness Week

When Seconds Count, TsunamiReady  Communities are Prepared

Tsunami Awareness Week, March 21-27

Just about a month ago, we were reporting in our article, Powerful Quake Hits Chile Tsunami Alert, that following the devastating earthquake in Chile, there was eminent danger, across the globe, of a Tsunami that formed in the wake of that quake.  Less than six months ago another tsunami hit American Samoa.  Unfortunately both events resulted in loss of life and property.

The National Weather Service and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program have created a TsunamiReady™ website and launched an awareness program.  To kick off this new initiative, the NWS announced the first ever Tsunami Awareness Week which is currently in progress.

As part of tsunami awareness week, NOAA’s National Weather Service will host open houses at its tsunami warning centers in Alaska and Hawaii, and many coastal states will host community tsunami awareness activities.

The National Weather Service operates a tsunami warning system for the United States, U.S. territories and western Canada through two tsunami warning centers, in Palmer, Alaska, and Ewa Beach, Hawaii. The centers, staffed 24/7, issue tsunami warning, advisory, watch and information messages as early as five to fifteen minutes after an earthquake. Upon receipt of tsunami messages, state and local emergency management agencies determine the appropriate response including whether or not to evacuate people from the warned area.   (Read complete Press Release)   Tsunami Awareness Week Information

Click on the Weather   tab above for more information about the following topics:   Hurricanes, Typhoons, Tsunamis, Tides & Currents.  When breaking weather news occurs, the links provided there can be used to obtain up to the minute information.  

Warning Signs of a Tsunami
  • A strong earthquake, or one that persists for 20 seconds or longer
  • The ocean withdraws, exposing the sea floor
  • A loud, roaring sound (like an airplane or a train) coming from the ocean
  • Tsunami warnings broadcast over television and radio, by beach lifeguards, community sirens, text message alerts, National Weather Service tsunami warning center Web sites and on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards

What You Should Do if You See These Signs

  • Remain calm
  • Move inland to higher ground
  • Continue to monitor media sources for information
  • Stay away from the beach until officials issue an “all clear" — Remember that a tsunami may be a series of waves over a period of several hours
We encourage you to learn more about Tsunamis and their dangers, especially if you live or visit coastal areas where the danger could exist.   See if your community is TsunamiReady™.

Celebrity Cruises 2011 Bermuda & Canada

Bermuda, Canada & Celebrity Summit - courtesy Celebrity Cruises

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Celebrity Summit®

8-Night Bermuda & Caribbean
San Juan, Puerto Rico • Philipsburg, St. Maarten • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas • Tortola, B.V.I • Kings Wharf, Bermuda (overnight) • Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey

7-Night Bermuda
Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey • Kings Wharf, Bermuda (overnight 2 nights) • Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey

14-Night Canada & New England
Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey • Boston, Massachusetts • Portland, Maine • Bar Harbor, Maine • Halifax, Nova Scotia • Quebec City, Quebec • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island • Sydney, Nova Scotia • Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey

14-Night Canada & New England
Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey • Boston, Massachusetts • Portland, Maine • Bar Harbor, Maine • Halifax, Nova Scotia • Quebec City, Quebec • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island • Newport, Rhode Island • Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey

6-Night Bermuda & Caribbean
Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey • Kings Wharf, Bermuda • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas • San Juan, Puerto Rico

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Norwegian Epic Mandara Spa

Norwegian EPIC Spa (artist rendering) - Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Largest Spa At Sea 

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that the brand new Norwegian Epic, which starts sailing this summer, will have the largest spa facility and fitness center at sea, totaling more than 31,000 square feet. Mandara Spa will feature 24 treatment rooms, two private couple's villas, two exotic steam Rasul rooms, a DIY Scrub Experience, Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite, full-service salon, fitness center and barber shop.

Epic Spa Suite
Norwegian Epic also features 39 spa suites, 8 with in-room whirlpools, which are accessed via private key-card and offer complimentary access to the enclave surrounding Norwegian Epic's luxurious Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite and state-of-the-art fitness center. These deluxe balcony and balcony staterooms offer the ultimate spa experience for those guests that wish to take relaxation to a higher level at sea. 

The spa features more than 50 treatments for both men and women including Elemis facials, massages, body therapies, bliss® face and body treatments, and acupuncture along with cosmetic medical treatments performed by a licensed doctor. The salon features hair, nail and waxing services. In addition, kids and teens can choose from a selection of kid-friendly spa services.

Among the two dozen treatment rooms are two new couple's villas for the ultimate in togetherness massages with the opportunity to soak in a private, outdoor whirlpool. Two solo villas also have outdoor whirlpools, and six treatment rooms have balconies with chaise lounges where guests can relax privately outdoors before or after their treatment.

Adults-only Retreat at Sea

Norwegian Epic's adults-only Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite features separate men's and women's areas equipped with sauna, aromatherapy steam, experience showers and heated ceramic loungers. In addition, the Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite features a tropical garden communal setting, chaise lounge seating, a pool with massaging jets and waterfalls, a whirlpool and an outdoor relaxation deck.

Looking for a unique spa experience? 

Try one or more of the new spa treatments and services that will be introduced on board Norwegian Epic, such as the signature Epic 24 Karat Gold Facial. This luxurious facial includes a blend of medicinal plants, rose quartz and a pure 24 karat gold leaf mask that brings about miraculous results speeding up cell renewal while evoking a brighter and more clarified skin texture and complexion. 

Norwegian Epic will also feature two bliss® services: the bliss® triple oxygen treatment and the bliss® fatgirlslim. The bliss® triple oxygen treatment is an all-around complexion reviver that includes a cleansing and exfoliating fruit acid wash, an oxygen wrap, a calming oxygen and milk mask, a hydrating enzyme pack and a vitaminized oxygen spray. The bliss® fatgirlslim is a detoxifying, circulation-stimulating, body-toning treatment that includes dry brushing, a firming grapefruit essential oil, a trouble-spot-targeting seaweed mask, a heated wrap and a rubdown. Norwegian Epic will also offer three new massages: the Thai Herbal Poultice Massage, the Bamboo Massage and the Freestyle" Massage.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Grandeur of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Grandeur of the Seas®

14-Night Transatlantic
Colon, Panama • Philipsburg, St. Maarten • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Barcelona, Spain • Palma De Mallorca, Spain

7-Night Western Mediterranean
Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Barcelona, Spain • Ibiza, Spain • Malaga, Spain • Gibraltar, United Kingdom • Palma De Mallorca, Spain

7-Night Italian Mediterranean
Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Cannes/Monte Carlo, France • La Spezia, Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Sicily (Palermo), Italy • Palma De Mallorca, Spain

7-Night Italian Mediterranean
Palma De Mallorca • Cannes/Monte Carlo, France • Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Sicily (Palermo), Italy • Palma De Mallorca, Spain

14-Night Westbound Transatlantic
Palma De Mallorca • Barcelona, Spain • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Phillipsburg, St. Maarten • Colon, Panama

Jewel of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean


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Jewel of the Seas®

12-Night Eastbound Transatlantic

Fort Lauderdale, Florida • Ponta Delgada, Azores • Brest, France • Cherbourg, France • Harwich, England

12-Night Scandinavia & Russia
Harwich, England • Copenhagen, Denmark • Stockholm, Sweden • Helsinki, Finland • St. Petersburg, Russia • Tallinn, Estonia • Gothenburg, Sweden • Harwich, England

14-Night Westbound Transatlantic
Harwich, England • Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France • Cherbourg, France • Cork (Cobh), Ireland • Dublin, Ireland • Reykjavik, Iceland • St. John’s, Newfoundland • Boston, Massachusetts

Vision of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Vision of the Seas®

14-Night Eastbound Transatlantic
Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil • Rio De Janeiro, Brazil • Salvador De Bahia, Brazil • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Lanzarote, Canary Islands • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Lisbon, Portugal

11-Night Lisbon to England
Lisbon, Portugal • La Coruña, Spain • Gijón, Spain • Bilbao, Spain • La Rochelle, France • Brest, France • St. Peter Port, Channel Isl • Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France • Southampton, England

4-Night Amsterdam
Southampton, England • Amsterdam, Netherlands • Copenhagen, Denmark

5-Night Norwegian Fjords
Copenhagen, Denmark • Bergen, Norway • Geiranger, Norway • Copenhagen, Denmark

7-Night St. Petersburg & Baltics
Copenhagen, Denmark • Tallinn, Estonia • St. Petersburg, Russia • Helsinki, Finland • Stockholm, Sweden • Copenhagen, Denmark

3-Night Berlin
Copenhagen, Denmark • Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany • Oslo, Norway

5-Night Amsterdam & Brugges

Oslo, Norway • Brugges (Zeebrugge), Belgium • Amsterdam, Netherlands • Oslo, Norway

9-Night British Isles & Normandy
Oslo, Norway • Paris/ Normandy (Le Havre), France • Cherbourg, France • Dublin, Ireland • Liverpool, England • Edinburgh (S.Queensferry), Scotland • Oslo, Norway

7-Night St. Petersburg & Tallinn
Oslo, Norway • St. Petersburg, Russia • Helsinki, Finland • Copenhagen, Denmark • Oslo, Norway

7-Night St. Petersburg & Tallinn

Oslo, Norway • St. Petersburg, Russia • Tallinn, Estonia • Copenhagen, Denmark • Oslo, Norway

7-Night Oslo to Stockholm 

Oslo, Norway • Copenhagen, Denmark • Riga, Latvia • St. Petersburg, Russia • Helsinki, Finland • Stockholm, Sweden

Liberty of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Liberty of the Seas®

14-Night Transatlantic
Miami, Florida • Nassau, Bahamas • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Malaga, Spain • Valencia, Spain • Barcelona, Spain

5-Night Short Western Mediterranean
Barcelona, Spain • Nice (Villefranche), France • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy • Barcelona, Spain

4-Night Short Western Mediterranean
Barcelona, Spain • Nice (Villefranche), France • Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Barcelona, Spain

5-Night Short Western Mediterranean

Barcelona, Spain • Cannes/Monte Carlo, France • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Barcelona, Spain

7-Night Western Mediterranean

Barcelona, Spain • Provence (Toulon), France • Nice (Villefranche), France • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Naples/Capri, Italy • Barcelona, Spain

14-Night Transatlantic
Barcelona, Spain • Cartagena, Spain • Malaga, Spain • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Tenerife, Canary Islands •
La Palma, Canary Islands • Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Navigator of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Navigator of the Seas®

13-Night Transatlantic
Fort Lauderdale, Florida • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Ajaccio, Corsica • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

7-Night Eastern Mediterranean
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Sicily (Messina), Italy • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey • Chania, Crete • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy [Sicily (Messina), Italy is replaced with Sicily (Palermo), Italy on some sailings]

Independence of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Independence of the Seas®

3-Night Paris
Southampton, England • Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France • Southampton, England

4-Night Cork
Southampton, England • Cork (Cobh), Ireland • Southampton, England

10-Night Canary Islands
Southampton, England • Madeira (Funchal), Portugal • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Gran Canaria, Canary Islands • Lanzarote, Canary Islands • Vigo, Spain • Southampton, England

14-Night Italian Mediterranean
Southampton, England • Gibraltar, United Kingdom • Provence (Toulon), France • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Ajaccio, Corsica • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Lisbon, Portugal • Vigo, Spain • Southampton, England

14-Night Italian Mediterranean
Southampton, England • Gibraltar, United Kingdom • Provence (Toulon), France • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Lisbon, Portugal • Vigo, Spain • Southampton, England

14-Night Mediterranean Treasures
Southampton, England • Gibraltar, United Kingdom • Cannes/Monte Carlo, France • Barcelona, Spain •  Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Alicante, Spain • Lisbon, Portugal • Vigo, Spain • Southampton, England

11-Night Spain & Canary Islands
Southampton, England • Vigo, Spain • Lisbon, Portugal • Gran Canaria, Canary Islands • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Madeira (Funchal), Portugal • La Coruña, Spain • Southampton, England

18-Night Ultimate Mediterranean
Southampton, England • Lisbon, Portugal • Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Barcelona, Spain • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Naples/Capri, Italy • Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy • Gibraltar, United Kingdom • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Southampton, England

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Splendour of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Splendour of the Seas®

7-Night Western Europe
Lisbon, Portugal • Gibraltar, United Kingdom • Cartagena, Spain • Barcelona, Spain • Nice (Villefranche), France • Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

8-Night Greek Isles & Turkey 
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Santorini, Greece • Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey • Mykonos, Greece • Naples / Capri, Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

12-Night Mediterranean Holy Land
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Naples / Capri, Italy • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Haifa, Israel • Jerusalem (Ashdod), Israel • Rhodes, Greece • Santorini, Greece • Katakolon, Greece • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

12-Night Mediterranean Egypt
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Naples / Capri, Italy • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Rhodes, Greece • Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey • Alexandria, Egypt • Sicily (Messina), Italy • Rome, Italy

7-Night Western Mediterranean
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Genoa, Italy • Provence (Toulon), France • Palma De Mallorca, Spain • Valencia, Spain • Barcelona, Spain

15-Night Westbound Transatlantic 
Barcelona, Spain • Seville (Cadiz), Spain • Lisbon, Portugal • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Salvador De Bahia, Brazil • Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil

Adventure of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

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Adventure of the Seas®

13-Night Transatlantic
San Juan, Puerto Rico • Philipsburg, St. Maarten • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Gran Canaria, Canary Islands •  Lanzarote, Canary Islands • Madeira (Funchal), Portugal • Malaga, Spain

7-Night Western Mediterranean
Malaga, Spain • Valencia, Spain • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Ajaccio, Corsica • Malaga, Spain  [Florence is replaced with La Spezia, Italy on some sailings]

5-Night Western Mediterranean

Malaga, Spain • Ajaccio, Corsica • Provence (Toulon), France • Malaga, Spain

5-Night Canary Islands 

Malaga, Spain • Tenerife, Canary Islands • Lanzarote, Canary Islands • Malaga, Spain

13-Night Transatlantic
Malaga, Spain • Madeira (Funchal), Portugal • Lanzarote, Canary Islands • Gran Canaria, Canary Islands •  Tenerife, Canary Islands • Philipsburg, St. Maarten • San Juan, Puerto Rico

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why Not Mediterranean 2011

Royal Caribbean International
European Deployment Program

Royal Caribbean International has announced their 2011-2012 Summer Europe and Transatlantic deployment schedule.    In keeping with the trend that we are seeing, there are several options for cruising to Europe.   The demand for European cruises is strong and the cruise lines have all responded.

Royal Caribbean has announced that the following 9 ships will be deployed in Europe in 2011-12 Season.  We will take a detailed look at each ship in future posts.  This post will be updated with links to the related blog posts.

Brilliance of the Seas® 
(12-Night Mediterranean/Greek Isles, 12-Night Mediterranean Venice, 12-Night Egypt & Eastern Mediterranean)   Brilliance of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean
Adventure of the Seas®
(5-Night Western Mediterranean, 7-Night Western Mediterranean, 5-Night Canary Islands, 13-Night Transatlantic)   Adventure of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Splendour of the Seas®
(7-Night Western Europe, 8-Night Greek Isles & Turkey, 12-Night Mediterranean Holy Land, 12-Night Mediterranean Egypt, 7-Night Western Mediterranean, 15-Night Westbound Transatlantic)   Splendour of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Independence of the Seas®
(3-Night Paris, 4-Night Cork, 10-Night Canary Islands, 14-Night Italian Mediterranean, 14-Night Mediterranean Treasures, 11-Night Spain & Canary Islands, 18-Night Ultimate Mediterranean)   Independence of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Navigator of the Seas® 
(7-Night Eastern Mediterranean, 13-Night Transatlantic)   Navigator of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Liberty of the Seas®
(14-Night Transatlantic, 4 & 5-Night Short Western Mediterranean, 7-Night Western Mediterranean, 14-Night Transatlantic)   Liberty of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Vision of the Seas®
(14-Night Eastbound Transatlantic, 11-Night Lisbon to England, 4-Night Amsterdam, 5-Night Norwegian Fjords, 7-Night St. Petersburg & Baltics, 3-Night Berlin, 5-Night Amsterdam & Brugges, 9-Night British Isles & Normandy, 7-Night St. Petersburg & Tallinn, 7-Night Oslo to Stockholm)   Vision of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Jewel of the Seas®
(12-Night Eastbound Transatlantic, 12-Night Scandinavia & Russia, 14-Night Westbound Transatlantic)    Jewel of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Grandeur of the Seas®
(14-Night Transatlantic, 7-Night Western Mediterranean,   7-Night Italian Mediterranean, 14-Night Westbound Transatlantic)   Grandeur of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

As you can see from the schedule, cruises range from 3-nights to 15-nights which should make it possible for more people to include Europe in their vacation plans for 2011-12.

Brilliance of the Seas 2011 Mediterranean

Ship Profile | Itineraries & Pricing | Deck Plans
 Dining Menus | Wine Lists | Kids Programs | Ship Reviews | 360 Tours | Photos

Brilliance of the Seas®

12-Night Mediterranean/Greek Isles
Barcelona, Spain • Nice (Villefranche), France • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey • Santorini, Greece • Naples (Salerno), Italy Barcelona, Spain [Santorini is replaced with Mykonos on some sailings]

12-Night Mediterranean Venice
Barcelona, Spain • Nice (Villefranche), France • Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Naples (Salerno), Italy • Venice, Italy * Ravenna, Italy • Dubrovnik, Croatia • Barcelona, Spain [Ravenna, Italy is replaced with Split, Croatia on some sailings]

12-Night Egypt & Eastern Mediterranean
Barcelona, Spain • Sicily (Messina), Italy • Corfu, Greece • Alexandria, Egypt • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Sicily (Palermo), Italy • Barcelona, Spain

Friday, March 19, 2010

Carnival Ship Makeovers

Carnival Ecstasy - A Ship Out of Water

October, 2009 we were in Freeport Bahamas, on our annual conference cruise, the same time Carnival Ecstasy was getting a major makeover.  The multi-million-dollar refurbishment included the addition of an expansive new water park, an exclusive adults-only retreat, a Circle “C” facility for 12- to 14-year olds, and a redesigned resort-style main pool area. Additionally, 98 balconies were added to existing ocean view staterooms.   All of the ship’s 1,026 staterooms were upgraded with new plasma screen TVs as well as updated wall coverings, tile work, carpeting and light fixtures. Many additional cosmetic improvements were made in the public areas.

Carnival Ecstasy was the second ship to have additional balconies added following the success of a similar implementation on the Carnival Sensation earlier in 2009.  This continues a series of major upgrades to the line’s eight Fantasy-class vessels sparking new life into those ships.

A Peaceful Retreat

My favorite improvement is Serenity SM, an adults-only retreat, located aft on Promenade Deck. With design elements that include teak decking, large umbrellas and thatched roofing, Serenity provides an ocean-going oasis for relaxation and comfort. Guests can enjoy icy cocktails and frozen drinks while relaxing in plush chaise lounges and chairs. Food service is available in the casual Panorama Bar & Grill located nearby.

Water, Water, Everywhere

A signature element of the Fantasy-class upgrades is Carnival WaterWorks SM, a fun-filled aqua park located on Verandah Deck. Designed with an all-ages appeal, WaterWorks encompasses a 300-foot-long twisting, turning water slide – the longest and most elaborate at sea – along with dual-lane 82-foot-long racing slides, and a wide variety of water spray toys.

In addition, Carnival Ecstasy’s main pool on Lido Deck – which includes a swimming pool and two large whirlpools – was totally transformed to feature a distinct resort-style ambiance. Vibrant oversized umbrellas, thatched roofing and colorful tile work creates a decidedly tropical feel.

Oh, to be a Teen Again

The addition of a new Circle “C” SM center, located on Atlantic Deck 8, is aimed at the 12- to 14-year-old set.  The facility  includes plasma screen televisions displaying movies and music videos, a high-tech sound and lighting system, gaming consoles and a touch-screen jukebox.  This is a great place to hang out with newly found friends during the cruise.

Recent Carnival Ship Enhancements

The Carnival Glory received the following enhancements upon completion of dry dock in mid February; Serenity SM adult only retreat, Carnival's Seaside Theater®, Circle “C”SM youth program for ages 12 to 14, 18 more balcony staterooms, “Your Time Dining” on the upper level of the forward dining room, a new Mongolian Wok in the Lido area and Wi-Fi from bow to stern.

After extensive refurbishments were completed February 1, 2010, the Carnival Fascination now offers these new enhancements; Carnival WaterWorks SM, Serenity SM, a resort-style pool, 98 more balcony staterooms, upgraded main dining rooms, “Your Time Dining” in the forward dining room, a Mongolian Wok and Rotisserie in the Lido area and Circle “C”SM youth program for ages 12 to 14.   Watch Video of Carnival Fascination in Dry Dock

The Carnival Freedom emerged from dry dock in December 2009 with the following updates; Serenity (a first for Carnival Conquest class,) Circle “C”SM youth program, 18 new Balcony staterooms and “Your Time Dining” in the forward dining room.

Carnival Cruise Line continues to invest in improving the product it offers to the general public.  I'm sure you'll agree that these changes greatly enhance the cruise experience.   While these ships aren't new, the changes make one feel like they are on a new ship.   Learn more about the Carnival "Fun Ships".

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Norwegian Epic Freestyle Choices

Norwegian EPIC 
Freestyle Dining

 21 Dining Options - 11 Complimentary 

Norwegian Freestyle Cruising is all about choice.  When Norwegian EPIC debuts this summer, Norwegian Cruise Line will take Freestyle Dining to a new level.   It was announced that the ship will feature an extensive number of complimentary Freestyle dining options - 11 out of 21 total - that are included in the cruise fare. The additional 10 dining options will have a nominal cover charge.

Our first introduction to Freestyle Dining was on Norwegian Sun's inaugural voyage in September, 2001.   That was the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship that was actually designed for the emerging Freestyle Dining program.     In the decade since, the line continued to evolve the program, adding choices and making the program easier for guests to decide when and what to eat.

What is Freestyle Dining?   Simply put, it's no set dining times, no assigned tables, a relaxed dress code and more restaurants than days in the week on every ship, so you can enjoy whatever you're hungry for, whenever you're hungry.

Norwegian Cruise Line expanded the restaurant choices on all ships to include everything from tapas to teppanyaki. Your selection ranged from as many as nine (now 11) fantastic dining options included in your cruise fare to a savory array of specialty restaurants created for those extra-special nights out. What are you hungry for? 

Manhattan Room
Those that will be free of charge are:
· Taste, the atrium restaurant serving traditional and contemporary cuisine;
· Manhattan Room, reminiscent of an elegant supper club complete with music, dancing and entertainment;
· O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, serving American favorites and comfort food, 24 hours;
· Garden Café, Norwegian's signature action station casual restaurant;
· Great Outdoors, the pool-side grill;
· Spice H20, serving Latin and Asian-influenced cuisine in the adults-only complex;
· Atrium Cafe and Wine Bar;
· Studio Lounge, serving snacks and light fare;
· Epic Club, the elegant, exclusive eatery available to Norwegian Epic's Suite and Villa guests;
· Courtyard Grill, the more casual, outdoor area of the Epic Grill, open for breakfast and lunch; and
· 24-hour room service.

“It’s important for our guests to know that Freestyle Cruising on Norwegian Epic will offer the ultimate in freedom and flexibility, especially when it comes to dining,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “With that flexibility comes a wide-range of complimentary dining venues and options.”

In addition, Norwegian also announced the cover charges for Norwegian Epic’s specialty dining and entertainment venues (the choice is up to you - the most expensive is $25 per person unless you get really hungry at one of the al a carte choices).

Cover charges for Norwegian Epic's specialty dining/entertainment venues:

· La Cucina, Tuscan-style eatery serving regional Italian specialties, $10 per person;
· Cirque Dreams & Dinner, two shows nightly including a three-course meal, $15 for general seating/$20 per person for preferred seating;
· Shanghai’s, Norwegian Epic’s new Chinese restaurant serving a delicious mix of Chinese dishes and noodle bar specialties, $15 per person;
· Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, a la carte pricing;
· Wasabi, expansive sushi and sake bar, a la carte pricing;
· Le Bistro, Norwegian’s elegant bistro serving classic French cuisine with an American flair, $20 per person;
· Moderno Churrascaria, expansive salad bar and choice of a variety of meats served by tableside passadors, $18 per person;
· Cagney’s Steakhouse, the line’s signature American steakhouse, $25 per person;
· Teppanyaki, the largest signature Japanese experiential restaurant at sea, $25 per person; and
· Pizza delivery, $5, available 24 hours around the ship.

We are happy to see some of our favorites, like Cagney's Steakhouse and Teppanyaki, and are excited with the new choices such as Cirque Dreams & Dinner.

"With our specialty restaurants, some guests may choose to dine in one of these venues just once or twice during their cruise to celebrate a special occasion," added Sheehan. "At the same time, others may want to sample a different specialty restaurant each evening to experience a new type of cuisine. That’s the great thing about Freestyle Cruising–the choice is up to our guests to decide how they want to customize their trip.”

Related Posts:

Norwegian Epic Sneak Peak

Norwegian Epic Open for Booking

Nickelodeon At Sea 

Norwegian EPIC Itineraries Unveiled 

More EPIC Itineraries Unveiled

Studios for Solo Travelers on Norwegian EPIC

NCL Dawn Bermuda - Cagney's Steakhouse



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrity Cruises Delays Mercury March 19 Sailing

Celebrity Mercury Itinerary Change
March 19th Departure Delayed

Due to an outbreak of a a gastrointestinal illness, thought to be a Norovirus, during the last sailing of Celebrity Mercury, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised Celebrity Cruises to perform extensive and thorough sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal at the Port of Charleston.  These measures are being taken to help prevent any illness from affecting the next sailing.

More information about Norovirus and its prevention is contained in the International Travel tab above which discusses travel documents, health and safety.  The CDC operates a Vessel Sanitation Program  for the prevention and control of the spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.   While Noroviruses are most often reported in a cruise ship setting, they can occur in nursing homes, restaurants, catered events, hotels, as well as any small area where a number of people are gathered - not just on cruise ships.

The sad thing is, this illness CAN BE PREVENTED.  Cruise ships have taken extensive measures, especially since the start of the H1N1 outbreak last year, to increase the number of sanitizer containers throughout the ship.   I'm always amazed at how many people walk past the sanitizers without using them, or how many people don't WASH THEIR HANDS after going to the restroom.    This is how the disease is spread.
So, because of some careless people, the passengers on the next sailing of Celebrity Mercury are now impacted.    Regrettably, due to the extensive sanitation,  the itinerary for the March 19th sailing has been delayed two days.   The new itinerary is as follows:

Sunday, March 21 - Embarkation between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m
Monday; March 22 - sea day
Tuesday, March 23 -  Key West, Florida
Wednesday, March 24 - Cozumel, Mexico
Thursday, March 25 - Costa Maya, Mexico
Friday, March 26 - sea day
Saturday, March 27 - Nassau, Bahamas
Sunday, March 28 - sea day

Seating in the cruise terminal at the Port of Charleston is very limited. Therefore, Celebrity Cruises is asking that guests scheduled to depart on this sailing not arrive at the pier on Sunday before 4:00 p.m..   Celebrity apologizes for the inconvenience.

St. Patrick's Day Greetings from County Cork

Blarney Castle                 Charles Fort

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls in the middle of the Christian Lenten season, Irish families would go to church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. The Irish would dance, drink and feast on the traditional Irish Bacon and Cabbage. Lenten regulations about not eating meat were waived if necessary so that the traditional meal could be eaten.

Pictured above are two well-known attractions that can be visited in a day trip while docked in Cobh (Cork), Ireland.   Blarney Castle, which was constructed over 600 years ago, is most widely known for the Blarney Stone.  Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you'll never be lost for words.  Each year visitors climb to the top to reach the stone and hang by their feet to kiss it.  The picture on the right is of Charles Fort in Kinsale, Ireland.  This 17th Century fort, which protected Kinsale, is one of the last remaining examples of a star-shaped fortress.   

More pictures and information ...  British Isles - Cork, Ireland

The Irish countryside is beautiful, the towns are quaint, and the people are very friendly. It is a great place to visit. Cruises to the British Isles stop at one or more Irish ports. June is a great time to visit Ireland. The weather is usually mild and you'll be comfortable in a light jacket on the cooler days.   Plan your Summer British Isles cruise and be sure it stops in Ireland.

A special offer just crossed my desk ...   here's some Saving O' the Green...

3 days of special savings on 2010  

Canada & New England - Summer Caribbean vacations 
 Special St. Patrick's Day savings event starts March 17th.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cunard Announces 2011-2012 Program

Photos courtesy Cunard Line
Cunard Line Announces 2011-2012 
Voyage Programme

 On Sale 26 April for Cunard 
World Club Members

Three Queens Offer More 
Itinerary Options 
on World's Youngest Luxury Fleet

Combining 170 years of experience with the youngest, luxury fleet at sea - flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and the soon-to-be-launched Queen Elizabeth - Cunard is pleased to announce its most extensive range of voyages to date, with a greater choice of itineraries, departure dates and overnight stays. Guests will have more opportunities to experience the new golden age of ocean travel with the classic traditions and legendary White Star Service for which Cunard is renowned.

The line's flagship, Queen Mary 2, will continue to offer extended Transatlantic Crossings between New York and Southampton, as well as to Hamburg; Queen Victoria will journey across the Atlantic for a second Americas season in early 2012; and new to the voyage schedule will be visits to the Holy Land aboard both Queen Victoria and the new Queen Elizabeth.

Legendary QUEEN MARY 2 Sailings
•  21 Transatlantic Crossings, plus extended voyages to and from Hamburg and five Grand Voyages roundtrip from New York.
•  Seven explorations of Northern Europe and an Around the British Isles voyage - all sailing roundtrip from Southampton. 
•  Two voyages to the Atlantic Isles and Iberia.
•  Enhanced 10-day Canada and New England sailing in the fall now featuring an overnight in Quebec, and a Fourth of July Getaway.
•  Caribbean Celebration holiday voyage.


•  Five spectacular voyages based in the Mediterranean and visiting the best of the region including the Black Sea, Greek Isles, Egypt, and - new for 2011 - the Holy Land.  
• Enhanced Northern Europe itineraries including overnight stays in St. Petersburg and a new Gallic Overture voyage. 
• The celebrated QUEEN returns for her second Americas season in winter 2011/2012 including Panama Canal and Hawaii itineraries.   
• Med, Canary Islands and Atlantic Isles roundtrip from Southampton are also available.

Adventures aboard the New QUEEN ELIZABETH

• New for 2011, a Voyage to the Holy Land, plus four Mediterranean voyages roundtrip from Southampton.
• Northern Europe itineraries include the Norwegian Fjords, the North Cape and two enhanced Baltic sailings that feature a full day and an overnight call in St Petersburg.
• Maiden Around the British Isles voyage.
• Two Iberian journeys and a Canary Islands voyage sailing roundtrip from Southampton.

 Full Text of Press Release - 15 March, 2010      Cunard Itineraries