Saturday, February 28, 2009

Celebrity Cruise Returns to Bermuda in 2010

Celebrity Cruises has revealed plans to resume cruises to Bermuda in 2010. “Celebrity has a long and positive history with the beautiful island of Bermuda, and we’re thrilled to respond to demand that we return, from our longtime guests and travel agent partners alike,” said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

On April 17, 2010, Celebrity Summit will reposition from San Juan to Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey, to present a series of 7-night roundtrip Bermuda itineraries. The ship will dock at King’s Wharf, also known as the Royal Naval Dockyard. “Travelers and travel agents have spoken, and they say they want Bermuda and Celebrity reunited," said Bermuda Premier Dr. Ewart F. Brown, also Minister of Tourism and Transport. "I am pleased to say that we have delivered. Guests on the Bermuda-bound Celebrity Summit are in for a spectacular vacation experience both on land and at sea come April 2010.”

In July 2010, Celebrity Summit’s new Bermuda sailings will alternate with 7-night Canada/New England cruises. Full deployment details for both destinations will be announced when bookings open later in 2009.
Celebrity Cruises’ most recent season in Bermuda ended in October 2006, with the line’s former Celebrity Zenith

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NCL Offers Travel Insurance For Job Loss

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced its BookSafe Travel Protection Plan, designed to provide a full cash reimbursement to guests should they need to cancel because of job loss prior to their cruise. NCL’s BookSafe Travel Protection takes the worry out of vacation planning, helping guests book a stress-free future cruise despite uncertain economic times.

“In this challenging economic environment, we are offering a safety net for guests who want to book a cruise, but are uncertain about what the future holds in terms of their employment,” said Andy Stuart, NCL’s executive vice president of global sales and passenger services. “Our BookSafe plan enables guests to book with confidence knowing that they will receive a full refund if they need to cancel their cruise because of job loss.”

In addition to the new job loss protection feature, NCL’s overall travel protection plan, administered by BerkelyCare and underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Penn., includes a variety of benefits and services so guests can plan and enjoy their vacations with peace of mind. Benefits of the program include: trip cancellation/trip interruption protection; medical protection including emergency evacuation coverage; baggage protection for lost or delayed luggage; and worldwide emergency assistance, such as emergency cash transfers, medical consultation and assistance with lost travel documents.

Effective February 26, 2009, guests who purchase NCL’s BookSafe Travel Protection Plan for any NCL cruise departing on or after May 1, 2009, are eligible for reimbursement of any cancellation fees if an insured guest loses their job as long as the person has been an active employee at the same company for at least one year.

NCL’s enhanced travel protection plan is available starting at $29 per person, depending on the cruise fare paid. More information about how the plan works can be found at or by contacting a travel professional who specializes in NCL’s Freestyle Cruising.

Clelia II To Sail the Great Lakes in 2009.

Today I was very surprised when I went to my mailbox and received a flyer for Great Lakes Cruises on board the ultra luxury Clelia II. Travel Dynamics International of New York is sponsoring 22 7-day cruise starting on June 27th and running through September 12, 2009.

The voyages are one-way trips departing either Toronto, Canada or Duluth, Minnesota visiting Port Weller (Welland Canal / Niagara Falls/ Lake Erie), sailing through Lake Huron to Little Current (Manitoulin Island) Ontario, Mackinac Island, Michigan, Soo Locks, Sailing Lake Superior, Houghton (Keweenaw Peninsula) Michigan, and Thunder Bay (Old Fort William), Ontario Canada. The cruise can be extended for extra nights in Duluth or Toronto either pre or post cruise.

The Clelia II has traditionally spent the summers sailing the Mediterranean, probably due to the slow down in the economy and soft European bookings, Travel Dynamics International have found a unique and specialized itinerary for it's ship. The size of the Corithian II makes her ideal for passing though the narrow locks of the Great Lakes and visiting ports where other cruise lines cannot go.

Prior years, Hapag-Lloyd's Columbus, Clipper Cruise Line and the Great Lakes Cruise Company have placed larger sized ships on the lakes. But recently only American Canadian Caribbean Line (ACCL) has been operating.

This year the Clelia II will sail the lakes with the ACCL ships.

The Clelia will under go an extensive refurbishment, redecoration and other improvements before starting the Great Lakes cruising season. The all-suite Clelia II will offer the finest in small-ship cruise travel. This private yacht-like cruise ship accommodates only 100 guests in 50 suites, each of which affords ocean views, measures 215 square feet or more and is appointed with a sitting area or separate living room, two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, spacious closets, VCR/DVD/CD player, color TV, mini-refrigerator, air conditioning and bathroom with marble vanity and teak floor. Public facilities include a restaurant that accommodates guests at a single, unassigned seating, two lounges, expansive library with Internet access, state-of-the-art gym/spa, beauty salon, boutique, Jacuzzi, hospital, and ample deck areas for relaxing and sunbathing. An elevator serves all decks. Clelia II complies with the latest international and U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations and is outfitted with the most current navigational and communications technology as well as with retractable fin stabilizers for smooth sailing, an ice-strengthened hull and a fleet of Zodiacs. Clelia II is staffed by 60 European officers and crew. Taken together with her limited guest capacity, excellence of design, craftsmanship and material, Clelia II's spaciousness and intimate ambiance combine to make her ideal for distinctive cultural and expedition voyages

The Clelia II, a smaller luxury cruise-ship, is 290 feet long, 50 feet wide and weighs 4,077 Gross Tons. Her draft is 12 feet and she flies the flag of Malta.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maxim Gorki Arrives Off Alang India for Scrapping

It is with a saddened heart, that I report the Maxim Gorki has arrived in Alang, India. Earlier reports which stated the ship was still anchored off Egypt, appear to be false. There were rumours that due to the lack of demand for steel, the ship breakers in Alang, were no longer buying ships and that the Maxim Gorki would probably not be sold to scrappers. This does not appear to be the case.

There have been several attempts by private investors to bring the ship back to Germany as a tourist center, hotel and museum, but it appears that it may be too late.

Reports state that the ship was originally slated to be intentionally beached on February 24th. for the scrapping process to commence, but due to tidal conditions, the beaching has now been delayed until February 26th.
The Maxim Gorki, with her unique funnel design, originally entered service in 1969 as the Hamburg for German Atlantic Line. Deemed the "Space Ship" for her large cabins and vast passenger space, life under German ownership was short. In 1974, she was sold to the Black Sea Shipping Company/Scomflot and sailed from New York on economical cruises to the Caribbean. In her life, she was damaged by a bomb, was star of the film "Juggernaut" and actually struck an iceberg on a North Cape Cruise and began sinking. She was later repaired and was deloyed on worldwide cruises under charter to Germany's Phoenix Seereisen. She sailed for Phoenix until November 2008.
Her Russian owners had found further employment for the ship. A new cruise operator, in Florida was formed, which intended to re-introduce the Orient Lines brand name and market the Maxim Gorki under the name Marco Polo II. The Marco Polo II was to undergo a brief refit which would update furnishings and complete the final touches on making the ship SOLAS 2010 compliant. Due to the slump in the economy, Orient Lines ceased operation, before sailing their first cruise. The refit never took place.
The following message appeared on their website: " November 19, 2008 - Orient Lines has announced that due to the current world economic climate, it shall delay the launch of its cruises currently scheduled to commence in April 2009."
With her fuel hungry steam engines, lack of immediate employment and a reduced interest in cruising, the Maxim Gorki made her way to the breakers on January 28, 2009, after a short lay-up in Piraeus.
The number of classic ship is quickly dwindling and with the slump in the economy, any older ship which is laid-up, will probably go to breakers quickly.
Her futuristic design hides her age -at 40 years old - shes definitely does not look her age. I hope that the Maxim Gorki finds a last minute reprieve from the breaker's torch and will continue to sail but I am not aware of any ship to date, which arrived at Alang and at the 11th hour had her fate changed. Let's hope this is the first.

Amazing Stats About the Queen Mary 2

I always love to read the stats associated with any cruise ship and I found this excellent list of amazing stats for Cunard's Queen Mary 2. The QM2 traditionally sails Transatlantic Cruises, mixed in between you can find, Caribbean, New England, Canada, Northern Europe, Mediterraenan and early in each year, her World Cruise.

Just this year the Queen Mary 2, celebrated her 5th birthday. I have been onboard the ship and have found her to be both beautiful and oppulent.

I hope you find these stats enjoyable. Thanks Cunard Public Relations dept for sharing these!

Fun Facts
Courtesy of Cunard Line

Did you know…
  • At 1,132 feet, QM2 is five times longer than Cunard’s first ship, Britannia (230 feet), and 113 feet longer than the original Queen Mary (1,019 feet).

  • She features 17 decks and towers 200 feet above the waterline, equal to the height of a 23-story building.

  • QM2 is more than twice as long as the Washington Monument is tall (550 feet), 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall (984 feet), more than 3 ½ times as long as Big Ben (Westminster Tower) is high (310 feet), as long as 36 double-decker London buses (31½ feet each), more than three times as long as St. Paul’s Cathedral (366 feet), and only 117 feet shorter than the height of the Empire State Building (1248 feet).

  • QM2 stretches nearly four football fields in length.

  • There are several dining venues, all featuring ocean views, including Cunard’s traditional Grill Rooms for the higher stateroom categories and an elegant restaurant for the deluxe and standard categories. Recalling the classic dining salons of grand liners of the past, the magnificent three-deck-high main dining room will span the full width of the ship with a sweeping central staircase creating a dramatic showcase for those wishing to make the ultimate grand entrance.

  • Another classic feature is the 360-degree Promenade Deck, recreating an environment, which historically served as an important social venue aboard transatlantic liners. The spacious deck, whose total circumference exceeds one-third of a mile, is lined with traditional steamer chairs while leaving expansive room for guests to stroll. Interior promenades circling several decks provide attractive walking venues, as well.

  • The ship has a large indoor swimming pool in the spa as well as four outside pools, one of which has a retractable glass roof.

  • A planetarium on board - the first at sea - offers a variety of constellation shows, as well as other presentations.

  • One of the ship’s whistle is an original from Queen Mary so that her famous predecessor’s voice will once more be heard on the ocean. It is audible for 10 miles.

For the construction of QM2…

…some 300,000 pieces of steel were cut and welded into blocks in specialized workshops. QM2’s hull is made up of 94 steel blocks (made from 580 panels), some of which weigh more than 600 tons, involving some 1,500 kilometres of welding. Her hull weighs 50,000 tons (more than a school of 330 blue whales) – not to be confused with her gross tonnage, which is 151,400.

Food & Beverage…

  • The annual sugar consumption would make eight million scones.

  • The QM2 uses almost 7,000 boxes of strawberries each year.

  • The annual tea consumption would fill an Olympic size swimming pool.

  • The QM2 serves 1.5 million drinks per year, not including wine sales.

  • The annual beef consumption would supply a city the size of Southampton each year.

  • The onboard baking requires the use of nearly 8,000 industrial size flour bags. Stacking them would make a pile five times higher than the Eiffel Tower.

  • The weight of pineapples used per year match the weight of 50 SUVs, almost 90 metric tons.

QM2 has…

  • 2,500 kilometres of electric cable

  • 310 miles (500 kilometres) of ducts, mains and pipes

  • 2,000 bathrooms

  • 80,000 lighting points

  • 280,000 square yards (250,000 square metres) of fitted carpets

  • 144,000 square yards (120,000 square metres) of insulating material

  • 3,800 square yards (3,200 square metres) of galleys

  • 3,000 telephones

  • 8,800 loudspeakers

  • 5,000 stairs

  • 5,000 fire detectors

  • 1,100 fire doors

  • 8,350 automatic extinguishers

---- END ----

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caribbean Princess Emerges From Drydock With Signature Princess Features

Caribbean Princess has just emerged from an extensive three-week drydock to add many of Princess Cruises signature features that have proven so popular on its newest ships. The vessel now offers passengers the engaging street-cafe atmosphere of the piazza-style atrium with its International Cafe and Vines, the wine, seafood and cheese bar; the adults-only Sanctuary, seven new suites, and a more centrally located casino. Work is also nearly complete on a new Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant.

These amenities became passenger favorites when they debuted aboard Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess over the last three years, and are being added to a number of ships, including Golden Princess in May. The company has already introduced many of these features on Star Princess and Grand Princess.

"We want to give passengers who sail aboard any of our large ships the opportunity to enjoy the innovative amenities that have become hallmarks of the Princess cruise experience," said Jan Swartz, executive vice president of Princess Cruises.

Caribbean Princess' new atrium now features the specialty coffees, fresh baked cookies and pastries, paninis and tapas of the International Cafe. Also new is the Vines wine bar offering a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of seafood, artisan meats and cheeses, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.

Adult passengers looking to get away from it all will be able to relax in the tranquility of The Sanctuary, Princess' signature retreat featuring plush padded lounge chairs and the services of dedicated Serenity Stewards. Visitors to this exclusive space can enjoy refreshing beverages and light snacks, or receive a massage in one of two private cabanas.

Caribbean Princess will soon debut a brand new Crown Grill restaurant featuring an open kitchen where passengers can enjoy watching as chefs prepare chops, steaks and seafood, including live lobsters.

As part of the renovation, the 3,080-passenger ship -- which debuted in 2004 -- also received seven new suites with ocean-view picture windows, and a relocated casino on deck 7, bringing it into the ship's central entertainment area. Other changes include a new location for the sports court, a new Limelight boutique, new shore excursions and Captain's Circle desks, new Internet cafe and library, and the addition of flat-screen televisions in all staterooms.

The dramatic makeover took place at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas, where more than 1,500 workers and contractors worked around the clock to complete the impressive project.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

MSC Cruises Offers Discounts on MSC Orchestra Transatlantic Voyage

MSC Cruises USA is offering savings of up to 60% on MSC Lirica and MSC Orchestra’s eastbound Atlantic crossings this spring.

MSC Orchestra departs Fort Lauderdale on May 2 on an 18-night sailing to Copenhagen. The voyage includes the line’s first call in New York City, a May 5 overnight. The offer brings starting prices to $56 per person, double occupancy, for an inside stateroom, $73 for an ocean-view, $84 for a balcony and $144 for a balcony suite.

MSC Lirica departs Fort Lauderdale on April 23 on a 16-night voyage to Dover. With the savings, rates begin at $44 for an inside stateroom, $60 for an ocean-view and $125 for a balcony suite.

The rates expire March 15.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Panama Canal Authority WebCam A Favorite

One of my favorite webcams is the Panama Canal Webcam.

Hosted by the Panama Canal Authority, webcams are available from multiple locations thoughout the canal including the Miraflores Locks, Gatun Locks, Centennial Bridge and overlooking the canal expansion program.

Watch as ships of all types are lifted or lowered through the locks in real time. It is always a treat to see enourmous cruise ships or containeships sailing through the canal.

The webcam is available at the following link: - Follow the links for the webcam.


Mariner of the Seas Largest Ship Sailing From California - Year Round

The largest ship ever to offer cruise vacations from the West Coast arrived into Los Angeles today. At 1,020 feet long and 142,000 gross registered tons, Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas will sail year-round from the Port of Los Angeles offering a seven-night Mexican Riviera itinerary with ports of call at Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, Mexico. Mariner of the Seas is one of the cruise line’s Voyager class of ships, which revolutionized the cruise industry by introducing innovative amenities such the iconic rock-wall, an ice-skating rink, a full size basketball and sports court, an inline skating track and Royal Caribbean’s signature Royal Promenade, a boulevard of shops, restaurants, bars and lounges that runs nearly the length of the ship.

“We are excited to be introducing one of the industry’s most innovative ships to the West Coast giving more vacationers the opportunity to conveniently experience the Royal Caribbean difference,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “From the very beginning, we have been guided by the principles of ‘Why Not’ - why not ice-skate across the equator or why not rock climb 200 miles out at sea? With Mariner's arrival in Los Angeles, we invite West Coast travelers to the Nation of Why Not and ask them ‘why not go out and see, do and be more than they had ever thought possible on a vacation’."

Mariner of the Seas offers guests the chance to relax in the adults-only Solarium, swim in the two swimming pools or six whirlpools, or sunbathe in the main pool area, which served as the canvas for pop art sensation Romero Britto. Brittotransformed the 25,000 square-foot pool deck into an outdoor art exhibit replete with whimsical figures and playful patterns. This one-of-a-kind pool deck also features a side gallery chronicling this project from initial inspiration to final construction. Offering an experience that caters to active travelers or multigenerational family vacations, Mariner of the Seas also features a nine-hole miniature golf course, interactive golf simulator, the full-service Mariner Day Spa and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

In the evening, guests can enjoy one of the16 bars and themed lounges and seven restaurants, including a 1950s-style Johnny Rockets Diner and Royal Caribbean’s signature specialty restaurants; Chops Grille steakhouse and Portofino Italian restaurant. Guests also can enjoy a myriad of entertainment options from top-rated Broadway-style productions in the Savoy Theatre to world class gaming in the Casino Royale.

Throughout, all guests will experience the line’s hallmark Gold Anchor Service, which helps make each guest vacation a unique and unforgettable experience with friendly and engaging service from the staff and crew.

For younger guests, Royal Caribbean’saward-winning Adventure Ocean youth program offers scheduled activities throughout the day that enriches and entertains kids. Teens have their own dedicated onboard areas such as Fuel, the teen disco; The Living Room, a place where they can relax and hang out with their friends; and The Back Deck, an outdoor lounge.

Mariner of the Seas will sail a seven-night Mexican Riviera itinerary, round-trip from Los Angeles with ports of call at Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Celebrity Equinox to Be Delivered Early.

Photo Copyright: MeyerWerft Shipyard. Celebrity Equinox under Construction.

Amidst ongoing rave reviews of its new Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruises today announced that the pace of construction of sister ship Celebrity Equinox is proceeding so well, the cruise line will offer a soft launch prior to the ship's maiden voyage of August 8.

The eagerly anticipated Celebrity Equinox will now present a cruise departing July 31 through the majestic Norwegian Fjords, roundtrip from Southampton, England. Celebrity paired the news with a special offer to guests booked on Celebrity Equinox’s inaugural sailing of August 8, inviting them to combine their 10-night “Best of Europe” cruise with the 8-night soft launch, for a spectacular 18-night voyage on the new ship. Guests capitalizing on the opportunity will receive an onboard credit of $200 per stateroom or $300 per suite. The 8-night cruise through the Norwegian Fjords features visits to Stavanger, Flam, Geiranger, and Oslo, Norway. The 10-night maiden voyage, which will include an inaugural gift and commemorative activities, will visit Paris/Normandy (via Le Havre) and Cherbourg, France; Vigo, Cartagena and Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal, and Gibraltar, UK, ending in Rome (via Civitavecchia), Italy.

Guests on every sailing of Celebrity Equinox will experience the series of brand-defining, industry-first attributes that guests, travel agents and press have praised about Celebrity Solstice, including a half-acre Lawn Club with real grass, a glassblowing show and studio developed with The Corning Museum of Glass, unrivaled dining venues offering trendsetting cuisine and design, and widely varied entertainment, including spectacular new shows in partnership with Poet Theatricals. The 2,850-guest vessel also will have spacious staterooms and bathrooms, and several categories of accommodations, including Celebrity’s new, spa-inspired AquaClass staterooms.

Bookings are now open for the new 8-night cruise on Celebrity Equinox.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Imperial Majesty's Regal Empress - Future Uncertain

Unconfirmed reports state that Regal Empress will sail her last cruise for Imperial Majesty Cruises in Mid March. Imperial Majesty which purchased a replacement vessel last year, the Bahamas Celebration (ex Prinsesse Ragnhild), has been undergoing a refit in Freeport in the Bahamas.

The Regal Empress has an illustrious career, first entering service in 1953 as the Olympia for Greek Line. Built by Alexander Stephens and Sons on the River Clyde, she was primarily used on transatlantic cruises between New York, Boston, Piraeus and Haifa Israel.

By 1970 the transatlantic trade had become unprofitable, the Olympia spend most of her time cruising. In 1974, expecting to sail Greek Island Cruise from Piraeus, she was laid up due to increasing fuel prices.

Purchased in 1981, by Commodore Cruise Line the Olympia underwent a major refit which replaced her traditional funnel, with uptake pipes, flanked with steel swirls. This was not an attractive addition. The other major enhancement. which definitely extended her life, was the replacement of her steam turbines with diesel engines. Returning to service in 1983 as the Caribe 1 she sailed from Florida to the Caribbean.

Later in her career, her smoke stack was replaced with a more traditional funnel.

In 1993, she was sold to Regal Cruises and renamed Regal Empress. During the winter, she sailed out of Port Manatee, Florida and New York in the summers.

Following the events of September 11th, 2001, the Regal Cruises went bankrupt on April 18, 2003, when U.S. Marshals "arrested" the Regal Empress. An engine repair vendor reportedly owed $750,000, obtained a lien against the ship, resulting in the cancellation of cruises.

The Regal Empress was purchased by Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines, at auction, for just $1.75 M. It was estimated that Imperial Majesty, would save over $1 Million dollars in fuel savings, over their current steam driven ship - the Ocean Breeze annually.

Due to the recession, in September 2008, the Regal Empress was removed from service. She was chartered by the government to serve as a hotel and office space for relief workers (in Galveston, Texas), helping those impacted by Hurricane Ike. This charter only lasted for 2-months before the ship was returned to Imperial Majesty. Imperial Majesty immediately deployed the ship on 2 -day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau in the Bahamas.

There were discussions about chartering the ship for a week, as a party cruise to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. The cruise was to sail from Florida to the Bahamas and Baltimore, but lack of interest cancelled the charter.
The ship is an excellent example of the traditional cruise experience and a historical transatlantic liner. Large Cabin and rich wood paneling adorn this great ship.

Although her future is uncertain, there is still hope that the ship may find further use under charter or use as a stationary hotel. There are even rumours about the ship returning to Greece, as a national monument.

Due to lessened demand for steel and raw materials, some believe the scrappers may not be interested in purchasing the ship at this time. More to come.

Carnival Sensation Emerges from Refit with Balconies.

All Photos Copyright: Carnival Cruise Lines
The 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation has emerged from a multi-million-dollar renovation with a host of new facilities and features, including a sprawling water park, an exclusive adults-only retreat, and redesigned tropical themed main pool. Ninety-eight balconies were also incorporated onto existing ocean view staterooms and a new Circle C facility for 12- to 14-year olds was added, as well.

The extensive renovation, which took place during a 35-day dry dock, is part of Carnival’s “Evolutions of Fun” refurbishment program for the line’s eight Fantasy-class vessels. Carnival Sensation is the fourth “Fun Ship” to receive the upgrades, joining the Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, and Carnival Fantasy which have already been renovated. The four remaining Fantasy-class ships will be refurbished over the next few years.

Carnival Sensation resumed its year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral, Fla., last week. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau while four-day voyages depart Sundays and call at Freeport and Nassau.

Exciting Open Deck Upgrades
A highlight of the “Evolutions of Fun” upgrades is Carnival WaterWorks, a sprawling aqua park that is designed to appeal to guests of all ages. Towering over Verandah Deck, the expansive open-air facility includes a 300-foot-long water slide – the longest at sea – along with twin 82-foot-long racing slides and various water spray apparatus. Another signature element of “Evolutions of Fun” is the redesigned main pool area. Located mid-ship on Lido Deck, the area has a distinctive resort-style ambiance, with colorful, oversized umbrellas, thatched roofing, vibrant tile work and other tropical-themed design elements.

Serenity Adults-Only Retreat
Also new on the Carnival Sensation is Serenity, an exclusive adults-only retreat located aft on Promenade Deck. Designed as an ocean-going oasis for comfort and relaxation, Serenity offers plush chaise lounges and chairs, and two large whirlpools. Shade is provided by oversized umbrellas, along with an area covered by thatched roofing. Within Serenity, guests can enjoy a wide range of icy cocktails and frozen drinks or partake in various dining options at the nearby, casual Seaview restaurant.

Ninety-Eight New Balcony Staterooms
Ninety-eight existing ocean view staterooms on the Carnival Sensation have been retrofitted with balconies, creating expansive new cabins measuring approximately 230 square feet. Twenty-four of the new balcony cabins are located mid-ship, 12 are located near the stern, and the other 62 are located aft, with several of these accommodations featuring extended balconies. Additionally, a number of the Carnival Sensation’s suites have been modified to feature larger, extended balconies to create a more spacious environment for guests.

New Circle C Facility, Other Enhancements
Carnival Sensation’s refurbishment also included the creation of a new Circle C facility on Atlantic Deck 8. Catering to the 12- to 14-old age group, Circle C includes a high-tech sound and lighting system, plasma screen televisions displaying movies and music videos, a touch-screen jukebox and gaming pods with the latest games and consoles. All of the Carnival Sensation’s 1,026 staterooms have been completely remodeled with new wall coverings, tile work, carpeting and light fixtures. Additionally, virtually all dining, dancing and entertainment venues, as well as all guest corridors, have been renovated with a host of cosmetic enhancements.

(Photo and Article Credit: Carnival Cruise Lines)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Carnival Offers Multiple Itineraries from New York in 2009

Carnival Cruises will be offering 3 ships sailing from New York in 2009. The Carnival Victory will sail on 4 and 5 day cruises to New England Canada, followed by 7 and 9 day day cruises visiting ports further north and St. Lawrence Seaway.

  • 4 Day Cruises visit St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.
  • 5 Day Cruises visit St. John, New Brunswick, Canada and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • 7 Day Cruises visit Boston. MA, Portland, ME, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • 9 Day Cruises visit Quebec City, Quebec; Baie-Comeau, Quebec; Havre St. Pierre, Quebec.
The slightly smaller, Carnival Miracle will operate 8 day cruises on two different itineraries.
  • Route 1 visiting San Juan, PR; St. Thomas and Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos;
  • Route 2 visiting Grand Turk, Turk and Caicos; Half Moon Cay (Private Island), Bahamas; and Nassau, Bahamas.

Later in the year, the brand new Carnival Dream, a new class of ship for Carnival, will sail an abbreviated season from New York. After a transatlantic sailing from Rome to New York, in late October, the Carnival Dream, will sail on a two night cruise to nowhere, followed by two, 8-day cruises to Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. The Carnival Dream will spend the remainder of 2009/2010 sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida alternating sailing to the Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean.

Carnival offers a decent cruise product, appealing to the masses at a reasonable price.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bermuda Government Welcomes Cruise Ships Again

Over the years, the cruise industry and the Bermuda Government have had a love hate relationship. When the cruise ships sails to Bermuda, the local hotels and restaurants complain because, cruise passengers sleep and eat on board the ships - leaving hotel rooms and restaurants empty. Rightfully so since passengers are using the beaches and attractions but generating very little revenue. The government reacts by limiting the number of ships calling at the island in hopes that hotel bookings will increase. When they restrict the number of ships, a good number of tourists find the hotels and eateries very expensive and opt not to go to Bermuda at all.

After a year or two of lost revenue or reduced tourism, Bermuda welcomes the cruise ships and their passengers back.

Last year Bermuda decided that they no longer wanted ships to call at St. George and Hamilton. All ship calls would be at the Royal Navy Dockyard and passengers would have to ferry to Hamilton or St. George - if wishing to visit those locations. Mid-way through the year, the Bermuda Government, in a turn of events, started a major effort to attract upscale cruise lines back to Hamilton and St. George. This effort did attract some upscale cruise lines to make occasional calls at these locations, but none on a regular basis.

In 2008 and 2009, only 4 ships will regularly call at Bermuda for more than one day. Changing their minds, the Bermuda Government decided that they wanted to welcome the cruise lines back, offering to allow cruise lines to open up their casinos in port after 10:00 PM. Casinos are a major source of on-board revenue for cruise lines. Previously the casinos would need to remain closed until the ship left port.

In 2010, two additional ships will be calling at Bermuda, spending extended time in the port. The Veendam will be the only ship offering calls at both St. George and Hamilton, while Celebrity Cruises will be returning to Bermuda after a 3 year absence calling at the Royal Navy Dockyard. Celebrity Cruises Summit will be sailing from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ and Holland America's Veendam will be sailing from Manhattan.

These 2 ships will be calling at Bermuda, in addition to, the Norwegian Dawn (from NY), Norwegian Spirit (From Boston), Grandeur of the Seas (from Baltimore & Norfolk, Va) and Explorer of the Seas (From Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ) which are expected to continue to sail to the port thru 2010.

With 6 ships having extended stays at Bermuda, it is anticipated that cruise fares may drop in 2010 to this popular cruise destination.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Incredible Cruise Fare - 18 Days - $499 - That's Not a Typo

This week I rceceived mailing from Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) touting an 18 Day cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Los Angeles California, for a remarkable $499 for an inside cabin.

The Norwegian Sun departs Chile on April 12, 2009, visiting Coquimbo, Chile; Iquique, Chile; Arica, Chile; Lima (Callao) Peru; Trujilo (Salaverry), Peru; Puntatenas, Costa Rica; Acapulco, Mexico; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Los Angeles California where the cruise ends.

For $27.75 per day - this cruise is an incredible value.

Friday, February 13, 2009

NCL's Largest Freestyle Ship Norwegian Epic Coming in 2010

I have to say I am glad that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and STX Europe have come to an agreement and construction of the 150,000 ton, Norwegian Epic will continue. The ship, as touted by NCL, will be the largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date.

Capable of carrying 4,200-passenger, she is scheduled to sail year-round to the Caribbean from Miami, beginning in summer 2010. Following a series of inaugural events in Europe and the U.S., the Norwegian Epic will be based in Miami and sail year-round to the Caribbean offering alternating seven-day Western and Eastern Caribbean voyages through April 2011.

The ship's Western Caribbean itinerary includes stops in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. Norwegian Epic's Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Norwegian Epic represents the next generation of Freestyle Cruising which incorporates a wide range of new features and amenities, including curved New Wave staterooms and unique nightlife options.

Nicknamed the New Wave standard, New Wave balcony and New Wave deluxe staterooms, the accommodations on-board the epic, represent a progression in cruise ship accommodations with a completely unique bathroom design, contemporary curved architecture and open living space. The New Wave stateroom's most distinctive design element is its curved walls and lines creating a modern and chic experience. NCL has maximized the bathroom space completely by providing a separate shower stall, separate water closet and a modern vanity top sink. The staterooms feature a sophisticated earth-tone palette accented with a splash of color and rich, dark wood. Concealed contour LED lighting and back-lit domed ceilings set a relaxing vibe.

From a public room perspective, NCL has revealed five unique nightlife venues that rival the experiences of Las Vegas, Ibiza, the Riviera and South Beach. The five venues include the industry's first true Ice Bar; POSH Beach Club, a first of its kind beach club at sea that offers an exclusive, adults-only setting at the top of the ship; Halo, the Über Bar, a private bar and lounge in the ship-within-a-ship villa complex; Bliss Ultra Lounge, NCL's all-day entertainment and nightclub complex with four-lane bowling alley; and Spice H20, an adults-only aft pool deck experience.

Over the upcoming months, NCL will release more information on the Norwegian Epic and I will be sharing updates on Cruise-Guru as they become available.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is the S/S United States For Sale?

This week we were informed, the S/S United States, which has been laid-up in Philadelphia for the past few years, may be up for sale.

The ship, which has been stripped of all of her interior public rooms and cabins, last sailed in 1969 and has spent the last 40 years in the backwaters of Virginia and Philadelphia. Between lay-ups in these two ports, she was towed to Turkey for the removal of asbestos and all internal fittings.

Originally NCL had purchased her with hopes of sailing her again, either in the Hawaiian trade or domestically. There were even rumours that Cunard Line may charter the ship to run along side the QE2 on transatlantic voyages - but all these ventures were not to be. With the latest downturn in the economy, use of the ship in the US domestic trade seems unlikely.
It appears that the only buyers able to obtain suitable funding for the ship may be scrappers. In this bad economy, many ship owners are jumping on scrapyard offers. This is more economical than keeping a ship in lay-up with no immediate opportunity for employment.

There are efforts by the ss United to save the ship. Potential plans include using the ship as a floating hotel, maritime museum, conference center or various other uses. For more information on how you can help save the S/S United States please visit: