Thursday, September 10, 2009

Carnival Offers Vacation Protection Plan

(July 15, 2009) – Carnival Cruise Lines has enhanced its Cruise Vacation Protection Plan (VPP) to include severe weather watch/warning protection, as well as job loss protection. The enhanced features apply to plan purchases made July 15, 2009 and after.

The severe weather watch/warning protection provides reimbursement in the event the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and/or National Weather Service issues or maintains a severe weather watch or warning within 48 hours of a cruise departure. Should the watch or warning affect either the cruise departure city or the guest’s route to that city, the plan will allow for cancellation and reimbursement up to the full amount of the cruise cost.

Another new weather protection feature provides that if a guest is traveling to the cruise departure port via a common carrier (airplane, bus, train, etc.) and inclement weather ultimately causes the guest to miss 50 percent or more of the cruise vacation, the guest may receive reimbursement up to the total cost of the cruise.

The new job loss protection will provide reimbursement up to the total cruise cost if individuals who have booked a cruise and purchased the plan are subsequently terminated by their employer and have worked for that employer for at least one continuous year.

The above enhancements will further strengthen the current plan which offers a variety of other benefits, including trip cancellation/interruption, trip delay, emergency medical evacuation, medical, baggage loss and baggage delay. The program also provides a 24-hour emergency assistance hotline.

“These enhancements to the Cruise Vacation Protection Plan are designed to provide consumers with an assurance that their vacation investment will be protected in the unlikely event severe weather or job loss occurs – important factors given both the unpredictability of Mother Nature and the current economy,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive vice president of marketing and guest experience.

Carnival’s Cruise Vacation Protection Plan is administered by BerkelyCare, a recognized leader in travel insurance. The plan must be purchased at least 14 days prior to the cruise departure date. Prices begin at $49 per person and vary by cruise length.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Luxury Operator, Crystal Cruises, Voted World's Best Large Ship Cruise Line

July 13, 2009 – For a record 14th year, Crystal Cruises has been voted “World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. The ultra-luxury line is the only cruise line, resort or hotel to have won the prestigious award each year since the awards’ inception. Crystal Cruises’ 2009 World’s Best Score of 88.94 is the highest of any cruise line – large or small. A Crystal cruise is the only vacation experience to have been voted #1 by Travel + Leisure readers for 14 years.

The World’s Best Awards are featured in the magazine’s August 2009 issue based on a first quarter 2009 survey of thousands of discerning world travelers. Subscribers were only permitted one vote each, and were asked to rate cruise lines on cabins, food, service, itineraries/destinations, activities and value, plus an optional vote for families.

“We are so honored and gratified that Crystal’s winning formula of superior service, choices, space, quality and value was treasured by so many discerning Travel + Leisure readers,” says Crystal Cruises’ President Gregg Michel. “This award continues to be a tremendous validation of the authentic warmth and professionalism of Crystal’s extraordinary staff and our unparalleled attention to detail.”

Crystal’s luxurious, award-winning fleet comprises the 922-guest, 50,000-ton Crystal Symphony and the 1,070-guest, 68,870-ton Crystal Serenity, which sail worldwide itineraries of seven to 100+ days. In September, Crystal Symphony will undergo a major multimillion dollar redesign. By the fall of 2009, Crystal Cruises will have invested more than $65 million in its two ships within a three-year period.

Inspired innovative features like restaurants with cuisine by Nobu Matsuhisa, ultimate wine experiences, tech concierges, over-the-top Crystal Adventures ashore, and relentless attention to detail continues to distinguish the Crystal experience.

“We continue to invest in our ships, with sophisticated design, product features and services that obviously reap high marks from astute travelers,” adds Michel. “In this challenging, competitive travel environment, we know this rating means a lot to travelers. When they part with their hard-earned vacation dollars, they want the assurance that they are getting the best at a great value.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SilverSea Outlines 2009 Holiday Cruises

July 15, 2009) This holiday season the intimate ships of Silversea are offering vacationers the opportunity to celebrate aboard voyages that span the globe, from the warm waters of the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and South Pacific, to the ultimate winter wonderland … the Antarctic.

With cruises ranging from eight to 17 days, the six ships of the Silversea fleet -- Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, new Silver Spirit (set to launch in December), and the expedition ship Prince Albert II -- offer an elegant way to spend the holiday season.

Highlighting the onboard ambiance will be special decorations, parties, menus, entertainment and engaging guest lecturers. With the exception of expedition cruises, clergy are also on board to conduct religious services, including a rabbi for Hanukkah.

"Our holiday voyages are designed to offer an escape from the pressure of deadlines and having to plan parties and prepare meals," said Steve Tucker, Silversea's vice president of field sales for North America. "Instead we offer a stress-free retreat where the focus is on authentic pleasures -- discovering new places, making new friends, and spending quality time with loved ones."

Following voyages offer the perfect setting for celebrating both Christmas and the New Year:

-- AFRICA & SEYCHELLES: Silver Wind departs December 20 on a 14-day voyage (#2939) from Mahe to Mauritius with calls in Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette Island, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Madagascar and Reunion Island. Guest Lecturer: Malcolm Ainscough, private guide and Africa expert who grew up in Zimbabwe. He has hosted European royalty and American notables throughout Africa. Silver Sailing fares start at $7,416.

-- ANTARCTICA: Prince Albert II departs Ushuaia December 21 on a 17-day expedition cruise (#7930) exploring the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Elephant Island and Antarctic Peninsula before returning to Ushuaia. Expedition Team: Dr. David Elliot, geologist; Chris Collins, ornithologist; Claudia Holgate, environmental lecturer; and Victoria Salem, historian, to name a few. Silver Sailing fares start at $8,757. ($750 per person roundtrip charter air transportation between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia is additional.)

-- CARIBBEAN: Silver Shadow departs December 20 on a 15-day roundtrip voyage (#3933) from Fort Lauderdale with calls in Virgin Gorda, Antigua, Bequia, Barbados, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, St. Bart's, Grand Turk and Key West. Guest Lecturer: Dr. Roderick A. McDonald, professor of history at Rider University and editor of the Journal of the Early Republic. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Caribbean history. Silver Sailing fares start at $7,556.

-- MEDITERRANEAN & NORTH AFRICA: Silver Spirit departs December 23 on an 11-day maiden voyage (#5901) from Barcelona to Lisbon with calls in Malaga, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Casablanca and Tangier. Guest Lecturer: Andrew Roberts, historian and biographer who appears regularly on British television. He has reported on royalty for NBC and CNN in the U.S. His many articles have appeared in leading newspapers. Early Booking Incentive fares start at $5,860.

-- SOUTH AMERICA: Silver Cloud departs December 20 on a 16-day voyage (#1931) from Santiago to Buenos Aires with calls in Puerto Montt, Laguna San Rafael, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. Guest Lecturer: Michael Buerk, one of Britain's leading broadcast journalists. He has worked as a BBC news correspondent in more than sixty countries, covering political, diplomatic and economic developments. Silver Sailing fares start at $7,047.

-- SOUTH PACIFIC: Silver Whisper departs December 19 on a 15-day voyage (#4938) from Sydney to Auckland with calls in Melbourne, Hobart, Stewart Island, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Picton and Bay of Islands. Guest Lecturer: Li Cunxin (pronounced "Lee Schwin Sing"), Chinese ballet dancer who defected to the West. His bestselling autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer, has been made into a movie scheduled for release later this year. Silver Sailing fares start at $6,097.

A sampling of itineraries coinciding with Hanukkah this year include:

-- CARIBBEAN: Silver Shadow departs December 11 on a 9-day voyage (#3932) from Barbados to Fort Lauderdale with calls in Bequia, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Martin and Grand Turk. Guest Lecturer: Dr. Roderick A. McDonald, professor of history at Rider University and editor of the Journal of the Early Republic. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Caribbean history. Silver Sailing fares start at $3,047.

-- SOUTH AMERICA: Silver Cloud departs December 4 on a 16-day voyage (#1930) from Buenos Aires to Santiago with calls in Montevideo, Punta del Este, Puerto Madryn, Falkland Islands, Punta Arenas, Laguna San Rafael, Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt. Guest Lecturer: Richard Cowley, former director-general of the Anglo-Uruguayan Cultural Institute. In 1982, he was decorated by Queen Elizabeth II as a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Silver Sailing fares start at $6,697.

-- SOUTH PACIFIC: Silver Whisper departs December 3 on a 16-day voyage (#4937) from Singapore to Sydney with calls in Semarang, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Whitsunday Islands and Brisbane. Guest Lecturer: To be advised. Silver Sailing fares start at $6,347.

And guests can enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving feast on November 26 aboard all Silversea voyages, including:

-- CARIBBEAN: Silver Shadow departs November 22 on a 10-day roundtrip voyage (#3930) from Fort Lauderdale with calls in Nassau, Samana, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Bart's and Road Town. Guest Lecturer: To be advised. Silver Sailing fares start at $3,397.

-- SOUTH AMERICA: Silver Cloud departs November 26 on an 8-day voyage (#1929) from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires with calls in Parati, Sao Paulo, Itaji and Montevideo. Guest Lecturer: Richard Cowley, former director-general of the Anglo-Uruguayan Cultural Institute. In 1982, he was decorated by Queen Elizabeth II as a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Silver Sailing fares start at $3,447.

All fares listed above are per person based on double occupancy for a Vista Suite (Adventurer Class on Prince Albert II) and do not include port charges and handling fees that can range from $150 to $500 per person on these sailings, depending on the itinerary.

Silversea Cruises is recognized as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper -- and launching in December, Silver Spirit -- all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents.

In the U.S., Silversea has been voted "World's Best" by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler (nine times) and Travel + Leisure (seven times), and rated Number-One luxury cruise line by high-net-worth consumers in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI). International awards include "Best Innovation in Products and Services" from the Italian Innovazione Marketing Oggi Awards (2009), "World's Leading Luxury Cruise Line" from World Travel Awards (2007); "Five Star Diamond Award" from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (2009); "Number One" small-ship line in the Readers' Choice" survey conducted by Britain's Condé Nast Traveller magazine (2007); "Best Luxury Cruise Line" by Spain's Cruceros & Destinos magazine (2008); "Best Luxury Cruise Line" by Australia's Luxury Travel & Style Magazine (2009); and "Best Luxury Cruise Operator" according to Asia's Travel Weekly (2008).

Monday, September 7, 2009

MSC Cruise 2010 Caribbean Theme Cruises.

(July 15, 2009) – MSC Cruises has added five new theme cruise sailings to the Baseball Greats, Polka and Big Band themes already planned for MSC Poesia’s 2009-10 Caribbean season.

“Guests have always raved about our theme cruises and the wonderful experiences they offer,” said Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc. “These new additions to the upcoming Caribbean cruise season provide even more variety to the existing 7- and 10-night roundtrip itineraries from Fort Lauderdale.”

President’s Cruise: Nov. 10, 2009-- 5-night “Caribbean Escape” itinerary. Rick Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc., will be the featured guest onboard MSC Poesia’s first sailing in the Caribbean.

Latin Music: Jan. 23, 2010-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment” itinerary. Rumba, samba and mambo aboard MSC Poesia to Carlos Oliva and Los Sobrinos del Juez as they perform traditional salsa dance hits and unique arrangements of pop and disco favorites with a Latin beat. Salsa dance lessons and live performances by a hot lineup of Latin music stars are sure to add plenty of flavor and rhythm to this Latin music cruise festival at sea.

Comedy: Jan. 30, 2010 7-night-- “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment” cruise itinerary. “Laughter is the Best Medicine” featuring the songs and remarkable impressions of Scott Record. The laughter continues well into the evening nightly in the ship’s comedy club with onboard performances by our featured comedians. Participate in the game show “Bonk!” (an interactive game show that is part general knowledge, part physical mayhem and all comedy).

Country Music: Feb. 20, 2010-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment” cruise itinerary. Boot, scoot and boogie to music by various country artists. Line dancing lessons also will be offered onboard.

Oldies Music: March 20, 2010-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Dream” itinerary, featuring a performance by The Lettermen – Tony Butala, Donovan Tea and Mark Preston – one of the most popular vocal groups in history. Their 45-year career of unique sound spans the big band vocal and the early rhythm and blues rock groups. The Lettermen will perfom one grand show onboard during this old time rock-and-roll festival at sea.

Plus, The Fabulous Stingrays, a party band performing songs spanning the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, will keep onboard guests rocking and rolling to the sounds of the oldies all night long. Other activities will include an Elvis look-alike contest, dance competitions, trivia games and a lecture on the rock-and-roll era.

Festa Italiana: April 10, 2010-- 7-night “Island Treasures & Ancient Temples” itinerary. This celebration of all things Italian features entertainment by opera singers and contemporary

Italian vocal artists. Dance the night away or simply sit back and enjoy performances by bands that play Italian and Italian-American favorites. Activities include Venetian mask making, a pizza throwing contest, tarantella dancing and more.

Guests have the opportunity to learn the secrets of making delicious European dishes during cooking demonstrations by top Italian chefs. They can also take a lecture on Italian Art and Architecture, Italian Automobiles or Italian Fashion and Design.

The new themes are in addition to several previously announced theme cruises:

Baseball Greats: Nov. 20, 2009-- 10-night “Dazzling Dutch Caribbean & The Panama Canal”
Big Band: Dec. 10, 2009-- 10-night “Remarkable Rainforests & The Panama Canal”
Polka: Jan. 9-- 7-night “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment”
Baseball Greats: 7-night sailings: Jan. 16, 2010 and Feb. 6, 2010 “Island Treasures & Ancient Temples”; March 6, 2010 “Eastern Caribbean Enchantment”; April 3, 2010 “Eastern Caribbean Dream”
Big Band: Feb. 27, 2010-- 7-night “Island Treasures & Ancient Temples”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

MSC Poesia Offers Comedy Cruise

(July 21, 2009) – Laughter can be the best medicine to cure the winter blues. Experience humor that will tickle your funny bone during a fun-filled celebration at sea onboard MSC Poesia’s January 30, 2010 seven-night Comedy Cruise.

Scott Record’s melodious voice and cavalcade of character impressions will have guests rolling in the aisles. Variety calls Record, “the true definition of ‘multi-talented’…a must see!”
The laughter continues later each evening in the MSC Poesia onboard comedy club with performances by the ship’s featured comedians. Guests can also participate in Bonk! an interactive, live game show showcasing general knowledge and physical mayhem while being full of comedy.

The “Eastern Island Treasures and Ancient Temples” Caribbean itinerary for this Comedy theme cruise sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and calls at ports in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Cruise-only rates including the comedic performances begin at $549 per person, double occupancy; government fees and taxes are additional. As on all MSC Cruises’ sailings, kids ages 17 and younger sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Carnival Dream Offers Various Dining Options.


Carnival’s Largest Ship Set to Debut from Europe Sept. 21

(July 22, 2009) – From a two-level casual eatery featuring a new Italian pasta station, Indian tandoori and burrito bar, to an elegant steakhouse, and Ocean Plaza -- a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live music venue -- the new Carnival Dream will offer a tantalizing array of culinary choices.

All of the Carnival Dream’s dining options, except for the reservations-recommended steakhouse, specialty coffees and select patisserie items, are available free of charge.

The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream – the line’s largest ship – is set to debut Sept. 21 and the vessel’s size has provided the line additional opportunities to offer guests a host of palate-pleasing dining choices from around the world.

“‘Fun Ship’ cruising is already the best value at sea and we’ve conducted extensive research that shows that in today’s economy consumers are seeking a vacation that offers a multitude of delicious dining choices without a lot of added costs,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations. “The dining options aboard the Carnival Dream represent the culmination of our wide-ranging consumer research efforts, while showcasing the incredible talents of our master chefs.”

Expanded Casual Offerings, Including New Italian Pasta Bar
Carnival is known for offering the widest variety of casual dining options at sea, and Carnival Dream continues that tradition with the two-level casual eatery called The Gathering, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner alternatives. From Italian and Tex-Mex to tandoori and Asian specialties – and just about everything in between – The Gathering offers a diversity of culinary choices to suit any mood or taste.

New on Carnival Dream is a pasta bar where guests have their choice of pasta, sauce and ingredients to create a custom-made dish and enjoy traditional Italian favorites such as Portobello ravioli and pasta carbonara. The Gathering will also house Carnival’s popular 24-hour pizzeria with seven kinds of pies and calzone, Caesar salad and garlic bread.

Carnival Dream’s burrito bar is also sure to be a popular spot where guests can create an overstuffed wrap featuring their choice of chicken, beef, shrimp, salsa and other accompaniments.

Also available within The Gathering will be a Mongolian wok offering custom-made stir-fries with guests’ choice of meat and vegetables and finished with one of Carnival’s signature sauces; Taste of the Nations, featuring a different international cuisine each day; a New York–style deli; a tandoori oven offering Indian-style chicken, fish and meatballs, along with traditional bread, chutneys and relishes; and a grille serving hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches.

The Gathering will also offer an extensive 35-item salad bar, 24-hour frozen yogurt, low-calorie dressings and sugar-free desserts for guests seeking healthier alternatives.

An expanded 24-hour room service menu that includes new choices such as Medium Rare Roast Beef and Brie on French Baguette and Grilled Fresh Mozzarella and Portobello Mushroom on Focaccia, will also be offered. Room service orders are delivered to guests’ staterooms any time of the day or night at no charge.

Located along Promenade Deck will be Wasabi, a sushi bar serving complimentary sushi, as well as sake.

Specialty Coffees and Sweets at Ocean Plaza
Exclusive to Carnival Dream is the new Ocean Plaza, a spectacular indoor/outdoor café and entertainment venue designed as the ideal spot for guests to relax and people watch.

In addition to a dance floor and a stage featuring live entertainment, Ocean Plaza will offer full Wi-Fi access, along with 12 stand-alone kiosks where guests can access an exciting new concept in shipboard technology – the FunHub, Carnival Dream’s comprehensive portal and exclusive on-board social network.

The centerpiece of Ocean Plaza will be Plaza Café, a patisserie serving lattes, cappuccinos, espresso and other specialty coffees, along with sweets such as baked-on-board cakes, pies, cookies – even freshly made milkshakes. Full bar service, specializing in martinis, mojitos and other popular cocktails, will be offered, as well.

The Ultimate Dining Experience at The Chef’s Art Steakhouse
For those seeking a more intimate dining experience, The Chef’s Art, Carnival Dream’s steakhouse-style restaurant, will offer delectable cuisine in memorable surroundings.

Located on Spa Deck 12, this 139-seat venue offers a sumptuous menu of prime dry-aged U.S.D.A. beef – selections include a nine-ounce filet, 14-ounce strip loin, 18-ounce grilled prime rib chop and 24-ounce porterhouse – along with lobster tail, lamb chops, Chilean sea bass, Maine Lobster ravioli and more. Creamed spinach, Wasabi mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and traditional sauces complete the steakhouse experience.

The delicious choices, combined with attentive service and an extensive wine list, make a meal at The Chef’s Art truly unforgettable. Reservations are recommended and there is a charge of $30 per person.

Wide Range of Formal Choices
Guests dining in Carnival Dream’s two-level Scarlet and Crimson main dining rooms will have their choice of six different appetizers and soups, two salads and six entrees each night.

Also, Carnival Classics selections, including char-broiled steak made with the line’s signature rub, grilled chicken and pasta dishes, along with a decadent dessert menu offering six different selections, including the cruise industry’s most popular dessert — the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake — will be offered nightly.

For those seeking more health-conscious cuisine, dining room menus feature Spa Carnival Fare selections, delicious, guilt-free items that are lower in calories, cholesterol, sodium and fat content. Vegetarian choices and children’s menus are available, as well.

Exciting Inaugural Schedule
Carnival Dream is slated to debut Sept. 21, 2009, with the first of three 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises operating round-trip from Rome, followed by a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to New York Oct. 27 - Nov. 12, 2009.
From New York, Carnival Dream will operate two eight-day Bahamas/Florida cruises departing Nov. 15 and 23, then reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., for a special nine-day Caribbean cruise Dec. 3. Carnival Dream will then launch year-round seven-day service from Port Canaveral, Dec. 12, offering weeklong voyages to the eastern and western Caribbean.

Renown Chef Named for Oceania Cruises Marina

July 22 2009 – World-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pépin will open Jacques – his first ever restaurant at sea – onboard Oceania Cruises’ new 1,258-guest Marina , scheduled to launch in late 2010.

Pépin’s namesake restaurant will draw inspiration from bistros in his home town of Lyon and the fabled bistros of Paris . “The cornerstone of any great dining experience is freshly prepared, simple dishes that are as visually pleasing on the plate as they are on the palate,” according to Pépin.

Guests entering the restaurant will be greeted by the aroma of freshly roasted chicken, duck and lamb wafting from the grand rotisserie. Custom Jacques Pépin signature china, antique flatware and Lalique glassware adorn the tables while chandeliers fashioned from crystal decanters add a whimsical shimmer to the room. An art collection comprised of some of Pépin’s favorite personal pieces and original works Pépin created especially for Marina , grace the room and adds a warm, personal touch.

“As we designed the culinary experience aboard Marina , a restaurant by Jacques Pépin was at the top of our guests’ wish lists,” stated Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises’ president. “Jacques will present a traditional French dining experience in a casually elegant fashion.”

Jacques Pépin is the host of award-winning cooking shows, author of more than 20 cookbooks and has served as personal chef to numerous heads of state. As the Executive Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises, Pepin has brought his legendary cuisine and unique artistry to the gourmet restaurants onboard Marina’s sister ships Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.

“Jacques Pépin has been a member of our team since the line’s inception and we are honored that he is debuting his signature restaurant aboard our magnificent new Marina ,” added Binder

A Dining Experience to Be Savored

Dining in Jacques will be reminiscent of dining in a favorite bistro that is run by a long-time friend. The service, while professional and polished, is friendly and endearing and in the tradition of fine French dining, a leisurely pace is de rigueur, thus ensuring a relaxing dining experience.

Upon arrival at the table, guests are greeted with a bread basket of “Les Trois Baguettes” with three different freshly baked French baguettes along with Country Petit Pâté with gherkins and traditional Rillettes of salmon and foie de volaille.

Highlights of the menu include an appetizer of homemade Pumpkin Soup á l’Anglaise served in a pumpkin shell, fresh Mussels Marinière, freshly roasted free range chicken, duck, lamb and other specialty cuts of fine meat.

In addition, the chef’s “specialités de la maison” are presented each day, having been hand-selected from local markets in the ports that Marina visits.

To cap off the evening, a choice of nine classic French desserts and a cheese tray with 12 AOC French cheeses that locally procured in the regions they are produced serve as a fitting finale to an unforgettable dining experience.

A Ship for Food Lovers

Oceania Cruises’ new Marina has been purposefully designed for epicureans with 10 dining venues, including six open-seating, gourmet restaurants. Public spaces awash in rich woods, marble and granite, fine wool carpets and lustrous leather retain the intimacy and signature design elements of the line’s three sister ships while affording an increased level of space, comfort, convenience and luxury amenities. Featuring a total of 10 dining venues, Marina guests may choose to dine in any of six distinctly different gourmet restaurants, including Jacques and Red Ginger, all at no additional charge. Guest accommodations are comprised of 629 staterooms and suites, 96 percent of which have private verandas. Facilities include an array of elegant bars and lounges, a CanyonRanch SpaClub®, state-of-the-art fitness center, outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs.

Additional information about Jacques – including sample menus – will be uploaded to Oceania Cruises’ Web site in the coming months. Reservations for Marina are scheduled to open in late 2009. For more information or to order a brochure, contact a travel agent, visit or call Oceania Cruises at 800-531-5658.

About Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises® is the world’s only upper-premium cruise line and offers an unrivaled combination of the finest cuisine at sea, elegant accommodations, exceptional personalized service and extraordinary value. Award-winning itineraries visit more than 200 ports in Europe, Australia , New Zealand , Asia, and the Americas aboard three luxurious, 684-guest ships: Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Carnival Cruises Offers Behind the Scenes Look at Ship Operations

(July 23, 2009) – For those who want to get an insider’s look at the inner-workings of a Carnival “Fun Ship,” the line has created Behind the Fun, a guided tour that provides guests with a unique insight into the company’s shipboard operations.

Currently available on the Carnival Valor and Carnival Conquest, the program will be rolled out to all 12 of the line’s ships operating voyages of seven days or longer by the end of September.

The informative three-and-a-half-hour tour offers participants a behind-the-scenes look at a wide range of shipboard venues that are normally off limits to guests. During the tour, key shipboard personnel, including the captain, chief engineer, chef de cuisine and other department heads, share their vast knowledge in their particular area of expertise.

Behind the Fun begins with a stop backstage in the main show lounge where participants can see exactly what goes into creating Carnival’s award-winning revues. The tour then moves on to normally restricted areas such as the laundry room, crew galley and dining room, crew gym, and crew training center.

Next it’s on to the expansive main galley where talented culinary artists prepare upwards of 12,000 meals and snacks a day for Carnival’s guests. The tour also includes a visit to the ship’s bridge and engine control room and informative Q&A sessions with the captain and chief engineer, respectively.

“Cruising is a fascinating industry and our new Behind the Fun tour offers guests an opportunity to not only explore areas that others rarely get to see but also meet some of the people that make the ‘Fun Ship’ vacation experience so memorable,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations.

In addition to a comprehensive overview of Carnival’s shipboard operations, Behind the Fun participants receive a number of commemorative gifts, including a custom-made Behind the Fun baseball cap and lanyard, a Team Carnival Picture Perfect book with stunning photographs of Carnival ships and
destinations taken by the line’s employees, and complimentary photos with the captain on the bridge.

Behind the Fun tours can be booked through the ships’ shore excursion desk. The cost is $95 per person and capacity is limited to 16 guests per tour. Guests must be 13 or older to participate.

A version of the Behind the Fun tour is planned for Carnival ships that operate itineraries of less than seven days in length.

Carnival is the largest and most popular cruise line with 22 “Fun Ships” operating three- to 16-day voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, New England, Bermuda, and Europe. The line currently has two new 130,000-ton ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Celebrity Cruises Introduces "Celebrity Life" Onboard Program

July 23, 2009 – Life has always been good on a Celebrity Cruises vacation, and today, the brand announced a new program that will make it even better.
Celebrity Cruises today announced “Celebrity Life,” a new series of palate-pleasing, intellectually-enriching and life-enhancing programs designed to deliver the most unique and sophisticated onboard experience in premium cruising.
Built on long-established pillars of the Celebrity brand – dining, enrichment, and wellness – Celebrity Life encompasses three distinct program categories: “Savor,” “Discover,” and “Renew.”

“Celebrity Cruises has always been committed to offering the best vacation experience for discerning travelers,” said Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. “Celebrity Life will provide our guests with an array of experiences they will remember long after they sail with us, thanks to the delivery and dedication of our spectacular crew across the fleet.”
“Savor” takes an already stellar culinary experience to new heights, with eight new wine enrichment events, six spirits and mixology tastings, and more than seven different interactive programs for guests, hosted by the ship’s Executive Chef and team.

“Discover” presents an opportunity for guests to do or learn what they have always wanted to try, but never had time to accomplish. Whether it’s ordering a bottle of Chianti in Italian, or exploring the universe in 40 minutes, guests can delve into a wide variety of interests.

“Renew” offers an improved, more goal-oriented approach to classes, seminars, and treatments designed to help guests on their journey to looking younger, feeling better and living longer.

Shaped by the line’s award-winning chef, restaurateur and Vice President of Culinary Operations Jacques Van Staden, the Savor series will encompass three programs centered around Celebrity Cruises’ industry-leading food and beverage programming: “Celebrity Vineyards,” “Signature Spirits” and “Food as Art.”
The “Celebrity Vineyards” wine enrichment program, developed in partnership with the United States Sommelier Association, will feature a host of immersive wine events providing guests the opportunity to expand their understanding and appreciation of the fascinating world of wine. Among the varied activities are the comparative wine workshops Celebrity introduced in 2007, sanctioned by the renowned Riedel Crystal.

Celebrity’s “Signature Spirits” events will help unleash guests’ “inner mixologist” as they explore the modern world of spirits and cocktails during exclusive “Mixology 101” workshops developed in partnership with Bacardi. The Signature Spirits events also will offer the opportunity to experience the industry’s first “Molecular Mixology” workshop developed by “The Liquid Chef,” world-renowned Master Mixologist Junior Merino.

Celebrity’s immersive “Food as Art” culinary arts program also includes highly interactive and participatory cooking shows. Led by a variety of Celebrity’s shipboard chefs, the program allows guests to serve as sous chefs in “Star Chef Cooking Competitions,” and to participate in exclusive behind-the-scenes tours to watch the teams in Celebrity’s galleys actively preparing delectable desserts, fresh-baked breads and a seemingly endless array of entrees. The Food as Art program also will surprise and delight vacationers with a special lineup of guest chefs who will set sail with Celebrity over the course of the year.

A highlight of Celebrity Life’s “Discover” series is the opportunity to learn a new language through Celebrity’s industry-first alliance with Rosetta Stone®. Through this new partnership, over the course of just one sailing, either self-taught or hosted, guests can gain a working knowledge of their choice from among 13 languages.
Celebrity’s “Beyond the Podium” enrichment series, as its name implies, will offer guests far more than the typical enrichment lecture. The series will be highlighted by the brand’s new association with Smithsonian Journeys, the educational travel program of the renowned Smithsonian Institution, which is the world’s largest museum complex and research organization. Guests on select sailings will have the opportunity to gain deep, new insight from Smithsonian Journeys’ globally recognized experts as they speak with Celebrity guests about a vast array of topics, including history, culture, art and architecture, and the natural environment.

Meanwhile, iPod addicts can learn new iTunes tips and tricks while onboard, and novice and experienced computer users alike can boost their technological prowess through Celebrity’s “digITal” series, with courses ranging from Photoshop and Windows XP primers, to BlackBerry tips and blog creation.

Stargazers will be inspired to stare skyward as they learn about astronomy, telescope tips, and even celestial navigation through Celebrity’s new alliance with Stargeezer, a program devoted to educating consumers about astronomy in user-friendly fashion. Celebrity guests also will be invited to gaze at the night skies out on deck during special stargazers’ parties and “star hunts” designed to identify the evening’s brightest constellations and planets.

Dance enthusiasts can share the stage with Celebrity’s own professional dancers during itinerary-influenced, interactive productions whose themes include “Sizzle,” “Groove,” “Decco,” and “Flava.” Additionally, in partnership with Skyy Vodka, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox will present “Live @ Sky” in the two ships’ Sky Observation Lounge.

In addition to participating in cultural, world and ballroom dance classes, guests also will have the opportunity to compete in the “Everybody Dance” competition, culminating in a vote for “star” dance champions on every sailing.

To learn how to creatively preserve photos of their impressive new dance moves, or the picturesque places they visited during their cruise, guests can participate in Celebrity’s new courses offered through the line’s unique partnership with the StoryTellersClub, designed to guide guests through the process of creating valuable keepsakes of their cruise vacation memories.

Celebrity Life’s new health and wellness program called “Renew” offers an expansion of spa and wellness services designed to help guests feel better, live longer, and look younger. Redefining the spa experience with an innovative range of beauty and wellness options for Celebrity guests, Renew offers three areas of enrichment within the program: “Ageless,” “Energy,” and “Longevity,” each with its own slate of treatment selections, seminars and workshops.

Guests can participate in motivating classes, a variety of seminars, and also experience results-driven spa or fitness treatments created for each series within the program.

Within the Ageless series are informative seminars focused on skin renewal and youth-enhancing lifestyle tips, in addition to medi-spa cosmetic services such as BOTOX® Cosmetic, Restylane® and Perlane®, and a selection of anti-aging facials, including a 24-karat gold facial available on the fleet’s latest ship, Celebrity Equinox, to target fine lines and wrinkles.

To help promote self-awareness and healthier living long-term, the Energy series entails nutritional information, wellness assessments and realistic “Life” prescriptions that guests can incorporate into their lifestyle, plus body sculpting and strengthening options, including a “boot camp” course, indoor cycling, personal training, and gravity training classes.

Among the highlights of the Longevity series are seminars focused on stress management, lifestyle enhancements, and alternative healing systems such as Chinese medicine. The Longevity series also features complimentary consultations with the onboard acupuncturist, an array of acupuncture treatments to rebalance the mind and body, in addition to yoga, tai-chi and “fab abs” courses.

Following its rollout on the new Celebrity Equinox when the ship enters service July 31, the Celebrity Life program will be introduced across the balance of the fleet by the end of November.

“All of us at Celebrity are eager to introduce this new program to our guests,” said Lutoff-Perlo. “From pleasing palates to enriching intellects to enhancing day-to-day life, there’s something to suit every interest within our new Celebrity Life. And this is only the beginning. We look forward to introducing more surprises over the course of the year.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SilverSea Publishes 2010 Cruise Atlas

July 23, 2009) Silversea Cruises has published its new 2010 Voyage Atlas. The 188-page brochure details over 190 itineraries visiting 7 continents, over 80 countries, and more than 400 destinations.

In addition to a voyage-by-voyage summary of cruise itineraries (including many that can be combined back-to-back into one extended sailing without repeating a port), the new Voyage Atlas features comprehensive information on Silversea's signature amenities, special programs, deck plans and new simplified Silver Savings pricing structure. Voyages currently offering free roundtrip airfare from 22 gateway cities are also highlighted. The balance of the brochure is dedicated to optional Silver Shore land programs and services.

"We're very pleased to launch our new Voyage Atlas for 2010," said Steve Tucker, Silversea's vice president of field sales for North America. "It has been carefully designed to reveal the luxurious, all-inclusive Silversea lifestyle. Within its pages, readers will discover award-winning ships that offer an exclusive passport to exotic destinations, countless indulgences and uncompromising service."


The 2010 Voyage Atlas also includes the new Silver Spirit, and highlights her inaugural season. Departing Fort Lauderdale on January 21, Silversea's newest ultra-luxury ship is set to explore over 20 countries and 45 ports on her 91-day Grand Inaugural Voyage, visiting South America, the Mexican Riviera and crossing the Panama Canal before reaching her ultimate destination, New York City.

To celebrate such a momentous journey, Silversea is lining up an array of celebrity guest speakers (to host onboard presentations), complimentary excursions and other exclusive onshore events designed to showcase local cultures as well as entertain guests. The centerpiece of this aptly themed "Spirit of South America" voyage is the ship's arrival in Rio de Janeiro on February 14, at the height of Carnaval. Following an early dinner, guests will have the chance to experience the magic of the Rio Carnaval parade from prime seats reserved for them at the Sambadrome.


Silversea is raising the bar in personalized service with plans to feature butlers for all guest accommodations. The enhanced service is being phased in gradually over the coming months and will be in place for all voyages in 2010. As the complimentary butler service rolls out, it will join an already expansive array of all-inclusive amenities available to Silversea guests. Highlights include complimentary beverages served throughout the ship -- including fine wines, spirits and champagnes, in-suite bar and refrigerator stocked with each guest's preferred beverage selections, open-seating dining, 24-hour complimentary room service, and fares that include all onboard gratuities.


Catering to a clientele that seeks travel experiences that go beyond the ordinary, Silversea offers a unique collection of Silver Shore land adventures, hotel packages and services, enabling guests to delve deeper into local cultures, learn more about historic sites and have closer encounters with remarkable wildlife. Guests can even choose to have the Silver Shore Concierge design a special activity, private excursion or exclusive event tailored to their personal interests.


Expedition voyages continue to grow in popularity with luxury travelers and a special 26-page section of the Atlas is devoted entirely to the Prince Albert II. Next year 25 expedition itineraries will explore the Arctic, Antarctica, Central and South America. On every journey, guests will be escorted in unsurpassed luxury. With the largest average accommodations size of any expedition ship, guests enjoy spacious, ocean-view suites and staterooms (select suites have French balconies or large private verandas), sumptuous gourmet cuisine, warm hospitality and personalized service.

In keeping with the company's commitment to promote the use of environmentally responsible products, the Atlas is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The brochure displays the FSC's "Mixed Sources" label, certifying the paper comes from well-managed forests, controlled sources and/or recycled material.

Silversea Cruises is recognized as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper -- and launching in December, Silver Spirit -- all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crystal Cruises Adds Africa Safari to Africa Cruises

August 18, 2009 – From lions to leopards, white rhinos to wildebeest, a record number of safaris will highlight African wildlife with Crystal Cruises’ 2010 World Cruise. Eighteen Crystal Overland Adventures allow adventurous guests to closely encounter Africa’s “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – throughout Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya. The two- to five-night adventures take guests from port to some of the most celebrated game reserves in Africa, and then return them to the ship in another port. The 21-day cruise aboard Crystal Serenity departs Cape Town for Mumbai February 9, 2010, the third segment of the epic 108-day World Cruise.

Safaris include:
* Okavango Delta, Botswana – A haven for rare species, this is the only place in Botswana where endangered white rhinos can be seen in their natural habitat;

* Boulders Lodge at Singita Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa – The Singita Sabi Sand Reserve offers intimate views of leopard, zebra, elephant and giraffe living in the African bush, as well as indulgences like reflexology and hot stone therapy.

* Mala Mala Game Reserve, Rattrays – Sharing an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, Mala Mala’s spotlight safaris showcase the nocturnal animals on their nightly hunts;

* Ngorongoro Crater & Lake Manyara, Nairobi – Along with the vast 102-square-mile crater, guests will visit elephant and rhino orphanages established in Nairobi National Park, and Lake Manyara for a close look at hippos and giraffes;

“Each distinctly unique, the safari excursions are carefully planned at dusk and dawn to allow guests to explore the region’s wildlife in profoundly authentic ways,” says John Stoll, director, land programs. “Whether it’s watching the animals migrate from Tanzania to Kenya or lions’ nightly hunts, guests can immerse themselves in the African wild.”

The voyage visits Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Mombasa, Kenya; Malé, Republic of Maldives; Mahé/Victoria, Seychelles; Cochin, Marmagao and Mumbai, India. Cruise fares start at $13,190 per person, double occupancy, and include a $500 per person All Inclusive – As You Wish shipboard spending credit. The Crystal Overland Adventure safaris are available from $3,055 per person, double occupancy, while partial day safaris start at $155 per person.