Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great American Steamboat Company Prepares for April 2012 Debut

Great American Steamboat Company is preparing for the introduction of their first steamboat - the American Queen.

The ship, which previously sailed as the American Queen for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, will sail her maiden voyage for the Great American Steamboat Company on April 13, 2012. During the 2012 season, the ship will visit 35 towns and city along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

The 436 passenger, American Queen, is currently undergoing a $6 Million dollar refit which will include an overhaul of her engines and waste systems. Even though other select enhancements will be made, the ship is said to be in remarkably good shape and was well maintained during her 3.5 years of layup. Prior to sailing for GASC, the American Queen sailed for Majestic America Line before their demise in 2008.

The ship still has her steam engines and a steam powered Calliope.

The American Queen offers balcony, outside and inside accommodations. The American Queen also has 9 single cabins available at a premium.

Entertainment onboard will be destination oriented, including Live Jazz music, Dixieland music, historians and showboat style entertainment.

The ship will also have a wellness director and yoga classes, in addition to 20 mountain bikes for guests to use in port.

The GASC will have a fleet of motorcoaches (made to look like steamboats) that will follow the ship from port too port.

The J.M White Dining Room will serve three meals a day and beer and wine are complimentary with dinner. Soft drinks and bottled water are free at all times.

The cruise will feature a Jazz brunch, afternoon tea and midnight snack.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scotia Prince Emerges in India and SriLanka

Did folks ever wonder what happened to the Scotia Prince Ferry?

While surfing the net today I found this article on

Indian’s can now experience world class cruising as “Flemingo Liners” is all set to sail from the Indian shores to Colombo on 13th June 2011. India’s first international passenger ferry service will sail from Tuticorin to Colombo twice in a week initially and will take 14 hours to reach the destination. Flemingo Liners chartered Scotia Prince ship to run this ferry service between both the countries. This ship has already sailed between Portland and Yarmouth in 2004.

A consortium of Flemingo Duty Free Shop Pvt Ltd and Tradex Shipping Co Pvt Ltd, obtained the license for operating the ferry service between India and Colombo for seven + three years. The 9 deck spacious ship houses 317 well designed cabins that can accommodate 1044 passengers and has world class facilities on board equaling cruise liners. Some of the features on board include: Broadway Lounge, Concorde restaurant and Manhattan café, Bar’s, A Disco and a very well equipped infirmary. The soon to be launched features include casino, drive in drive out facility for cars and cargo vehicles and a duty free shop inside the ship.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Holland America Decides to Discontinue 2013 Weekly Bermuda Cruises

Holland America Cruises had informed the Bermuda Government that it intents to discontinue their weekly cruises to Bermuda in 2013.

To learn more click here ->


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kristina Cruises Kristina Katarina to Offer Caribbean Sailings in Early 2012

The globe-trotting Finnish operator Kristina Cruises is charting the Eastern Caribbean in early 2012.

Kristina Cruises will arrange direct charter flights between Helsinki and Barbados for two-week cruises in the Caribbean. Kristina Cruises is stating that they are already seeing strong bookings for thier Caribbean sailings.

The line is working with Finnair to transport passengers to and from the Caribbean and between Helsinki and Cape Verde's Praia, the starting point for Kristina Katarina's crossing to the Caribbean and the ending point for the repositioning cruise back in late March.

Kristina Katarina is scheduled to sail from Praia on Dec. 29 and will stop at Cape Verde's Mindelo before traversing the Atlantic to make its first Caribbean call, in Antigua, on Jan. 7. The voyage will continue to Martinique, Grenada and Tobago, ending with an overnight in Barbados where passengers will fly home to Helsinki.

Kristina Katarina will stay two months in the Caribbean and operate four two-week cruises. Ports are Scarborough (Tobago), Port of Spain (Trinidad), Willemstad (Curaçao), Oranjestad (Aruba), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), St. John's (Antigua) and Fort-de-France (Martinique).

Special programs and excursions are planned for Kristina Cruises passengers in Santo Domingo, according to Sharon Mei, commercial director for Sansouci, operator of the Don Diego and Sansouci cruise terminals.

On March 8, Kristina Katarina will depart Bridgetown for the return to Cape Verde, arriving in Praia March 22.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Norwegian Gem Adds Nickelodeon Program onboard the Norwegian Gem in Feb 2012

When you're looking for a family vacation, you want to have the option to participate in activities and events that everyone can enjoy together. With Nickelodeon, exclusively on Norwegian Cruise Line, there are activities for the whole family to enjoy together. And now, we're thrilled to announce that beginning February 2012 we are expanding Nickelodeon's presence to Norwegian Gem. So whether it's the Caribbean during Spring Break or the Holidays, or Alaska or Europe in the summer, your family will be able to enjoy Nickelodeon aboard Norwegian. It's the ideal vacation where parents relax, kids play and families connect.

Year-round, Norwegian ships that feature Nickelodeon events and activities will offer families the opportunity to:

  • Play interactive games by the pool with Team Nick
  • Dance and sing during Dora's Music Party.
  • Enjoy signature Nickelodeon main stage entertainment shows.
  • Hang out and eat with SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and more during the Breakfast with Nickelodeon*.
  • Or choose from the additional activities specifically designed to encourage your family to explore, play and imagine together.

* Breakfast with Nickelodeon available for a nominal fee.

** All events and activities are subject to change


Friday, November 25, 2011

Swan Hellenic Releases Information on Minervia Refit.

Educational cruise operator - Swan Hellenic Cruises has announced a major refit to their cruise vessel Minerva. The improvements are taking place from November to March 2012. Just recently I have received a brochure covering the proposed changes.

Please click on the images below to see what cruise passengers on the Minerva have available in the Spring.

The Two images below are courtesy of Swan Hellenic - Click to see an enlarged version.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Princess Cruises Offers After Thanksgiving Sale

Travelers dreaming of visiting the splendor of Alaska’s wilderness have an opportunity for savings on cruises and cruisetours to the 49th state with Princess Cruises’ first-ever After Thanksgiving Alaska Sale.

Running from November 25-29, the sale offers passengers up to $1,000 in savings and up to a $50 onboard credit on one of the cruise line’s popular cruisetour vacations, which combine a Gulf of Alaska cruise with rail travel to Denali and stays at Princess’ exclusive wilderness lodges. For those who opt to see Alaska by sea only, the sale provides a free balcony upgrade and up to $100 onboard credit.

“The breathtaking glaciers, pristine wilderness and amazing wildlife of Alaska have made it one of our passengers’ favorite destinations,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Cruisetour travelers will enjoy our own wilderness lodges and private rail cars during their land tours, which mesh perfectly with our popular Alaska cruises. And what better time to get the family together to plan next year’s travel than at Thanksgiving.”

Examples of sale fares available include:

10-day Denali Explorer cruisetour starting at $1,213 in May; $1,740 for August departures
13-day Off the Beaten Path cruisetour starting at $1,618 in May; $2,373 for August departures
7-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise starting at $699 in May; $999 for August departures
7-day Inside Passage cruise starting at $749 in May; $899 for August departures

The After Thanksgiving Alaska Sale begins on “Black Friday” November 25 at 12:00 am PST and runs through 11:59 pm PST on Tuesday, November 29. The sale is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Reservations made during the sale require a non-refundable deposit.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line Offers Black Friday and Cyber Monday Discounts.

Norwegian Cruise Line launches its Black Friday/Cyber Monday limited time offer to celebrate the biggest shopping days of the year with special savings on Freestyle Cruises to exciting destinations. Beginning on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, guests can take advantage of exclusive savings on Norwegian’s sailings of three days or longer to Alaska; Bahamas & Florida; Bermuda; the Caribbean; Europe; and Hawai’i.

For More information and details ->


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Compagnie du Ponant Offers 7-Night Caribbean Cruises from Fort de France

Award-winning upscale yacht cruise company, Compagnie du Ponant, invites travelers to explore the Caribbean on the seven-night “Fort-de-France – Fort-de-France” cruise – one of 17 itineraries available in its newly added Caribbean roster – with limited time savings of up to 20%. Offering an experience that can only be had on the smaller, more intimate ships, the 90-passenger Le Levant takes in several off-the-main-stream stops on its four round-trip sailings from the west coast of Martinique. Ports are spread throughout Grenada, also known as the “Island of Spice”; Venezuela, a melting pot of indigenous, African and Spanish culture; and Trinidad and Tobago, an archipelago with diverse landscape ranging from coral reefs to forest and savanna. The nature of the deluxe yacht and the focus of the company on experiential travel means the advantage of smaller ports and more time for in-depth exploration ashore. Fares are currently being offered at a 20% savings under Ponant’s Bonus program – the more in advance the booking, the greater the savings. Reduced prices range from $2,571 to $3,505 per person, double, for the Nov. 5 & 26, 2011 departures (regularly $3,213-$4,381) and $2,420 to $3,299 for departures on March 20 & 27, 2012 (regularly $3,024 to $4,123).

After embarking from Fort-de-France, the 330-foot Le Levant sails to St. George, the capital of Grenada, where red-roofed, pastel dwellings are nestled within tropical rainforests, white sand beaches and impressive waterfalls. Ports in Venezuela include the Orinoco Delta, a labyrinth-like river in the heart of Warao Indian Territory that wends its way through primal forest and mangrove swamps; Puerto Ordaz, the site of the Llovizna Falls; El Arroyo and Arature, deltas housing a wealth of wildlife that is described and pointed out by a nature guide; and El Toro, where guests can see life in an Indian village. Greeting guests in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, Port of Spain, are exotic birds such as snowy egrets, white-necked herons and the scarlet ibis, seen nesting by the Caroni Swamp, and a vibrant nightlife. Continuing on to Grenadine, Le Levant pulls into Tobago Cays, where turquoise waters are home to colorful coral and tropical fish, before circling back to Fort-de-France.

Ponant’s philosophy is front and center on its cruises: designed for the traveler who prefers to explore off-the-beaten­-path, unspoiled destinations, especially those out of sight of the large ship masses. Just as important to the guests’ experience as they trek around the world, is the on-board environment. The company prides itself on its discrete personalized service, assured with a staff to guest ratio of greater than 1:2, delicious cuisine – both haute and country French, stylish accommodations, elegant design, expansive sun decks and open-air restaurants.

Le Levant offers an intimate setting in a spacious environment for its 90 guests: two restaurants, a spacious lounge, several bars, a library, a swimming pool, a beauty and fitness area with sauna, and salon. A 4,300-square-foot Sun Deck provides plenty of space for relaxing in the sun and open air. Its 45 outside staterooms have an abundance of space and amenities – king size or twin beds, a desk, minibar, dressing table, marble baths with showers and L’Occitane amenities. The staterooms have all the latest technology including: flat screen satellite TVs, DVD/CD players, satellite direct-dial telephone, Wi-Fi and 110/220 outlets.

Included in all sailings are all meals, accompanied by wine, beer and soda; Captain’s welcome, cocktail parties and gala dinner; 24-hour room service; and all entertainment, events and shows as indicated within the itinerary. Port charges/taxes, gratuities, optional excursions and transfers are additional.

Established in 1988, Compagnie du Ponant is a member of both La Charte Bleue d’Armateurs de France and IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). All of Compagnie du Ponant’s cruise itineraries are designed to protect marine wildlife, coastal environments and local flora and fauna.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Princess Cruises Offere Extensive Australia / New Zealand Cruises in 2012/13

Featuring the largest Australia deployment of any North American line in the region, Princess Cruises’ 2012-13 season of “Down Under” cruising offers intriguing new routes, a special solar eclipse cruise, a new cruisetour to the Outback, and more sailings to New Zealand than any other line.

In total, four ships – Diamond Princess, Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess – will sail on 40 voyages of eight different itineraries in the region. Among them are a longer 14-day Australia & New Zealand itinerary that adds two ports, Wellington and Picton, compared to previous seasons; as well as an extensive 33-day Round Australia & New Zealand route, featuring the best of the lands of kangaroos and kiwis.

Additionally, a special sailing will offer the unique opportunity to view the November 14 solar eclipse in its area of totality around northern Australia. This 11-day Queensland cruise aboard Dawn Princess includes a day at sea especially for the opportunity to view the solar eclipse.

Passengers who want to see more of Australia can opt for one of four complete land and sea cruisetours, that seamlessly combine a land itinerary with an Australia/New Zealand cruise. A new seven-night tour option debuts this season, featuring a train ride into the Outback from Adelaide aboard the historic Ghan Railway.

The Princess program includes three ships based locally for Aussie-style cruising. Featuring dining and entertainment options geared to Australian tastes, plus using Australian dollars as the onboard currency, these sailings offer a true local experience to passengers from all over.

“Australia and New Zealand are home to some of the world’s great cruise destinations,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Whether someone wants to explore the Great Barrier Reef, sail to scenic spots in New Zealand such as the dramatic Fiordland National Park, or even circumnavigate the entire Australian continent, we offer unforgettable vacation experiences.”

Princess’ 2012-13 Australia/New Zealand cruise season includes:

Australia & New Zealand – Expanded Itinerary – This 14-day journey between Sydney and Auckland adds two ports – Picton and Wellington – to a favorite Princess route – and all departures feature Fiordland National Park. Diamond Princess will offer six sailings between December 14, 2012 and February 22, 2013 on an itinerary to Melbourne, Hobart (Tasmania), Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin (Port Chalmers), Christchurch (Lyttelton), Picton (or Marlborough Sounds scenic cruising on select departures), Wellington, and Tauranga.

Aussie Experience Sailings
Locally based ships Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess offer “Aussie-style” cruising to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Queensland (Solar Eclipse Cruise) – A special cruise itinerary especially for viewing the total solar eclipse on November 14, 2012. This roundtrip voyage from Sydney sails north to Brisbane, Willis Island (scenic cruising), Port Douglas, Airlie Beach and then heads off the coast for a day at sea for the opportunity to view the eclipse. Dawn Princess departs on November 6, 2012.

Round Australia & New Zealand – A 33-day grand tour sailing roundtrip from Sydney features both Australia and the North & South Islands of New Zealand. Sea Princess will call at Brisbane, Port Douglas (for the Great Barrier Reef & Cairns), Darwin, Lombok, Geraldton, Perth (Fremantle), Adelaide, Melbourne, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, and Auckland. The sailing departs on October 18, 2012.

Round Australia – A chance to circle the continent in 28 days aboard Dawn Princess. The roundtrip voyages from Sydney sailing visits Brisbane, Airlie Beach (for the Whitsundays), Port Douglas (for the Great Barrier Reef & Cairns), Darwin, Lombok, Perth (Fremantle), Bunbury, Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne, Burnie (Tasmania), and Hobart (Tasmania overnight). The sailing departs on March 31, 2013.

Northern Australia Explorer – Sailing between Sydney and Perth (Fremantle), passengers can explore Airlie Beach (for the Whitsundays), Port Douglas (for the Great Barrier Reef & Cairns), Darwin, Kimberly Coast (scenic cruising), Broome, Lombok, and Geraldton. The 17-day sailings depart aboard Sun Princess and Dawn Princess on April 12, 29 and June 10, 2012; plus April 26 and May 13, 2013.

New Zealand – Three different itineraries sail from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane aboard Dawn Princess, Sea Princess and Sun Princess. These 13- or 14-day sailings include opportunities to explore ports such as Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, as well as scenic cruising through Fiordland National Park. Sailings depart between October 24, 2012 and March 16, 2013.

Four guided land tours of Australia can be added to a cruise to create a full land and sea vacation, covering some of the continent’s undisputed wonders. All cruisetours include the 14-day Australia and New Zealand cruise seamlessly combined with a four- to seven-night land adventure.

Classic Australia and Ghan Rail **NEW** – This overnight rail adventure between Adelaide and Alice Springs offers a great way to explore the country’s extensive Outback and visit the inland landmark, Uluru, or Ayers Rock. The seven-night tour features two nights in Adelaide, one night aboard the historic Ghan Railway, one night in Alice Springs, a night at Ayers Rock and two nights in Sydney. This unique tour offers an opportunity to explore the South Australia capital of Adelaide as well as the chance to enjoy one of the great train journeys of the world, named after the Afghan cameleers who once traversed this route.

Australian Outback Adventure – This six-night tour visits the country’s renowned Great Barrier Reef and ventures into the vast Australian Outback with two nights in Sydney, one night at Ayers Rock, one night in Alice Springs and two nights in Cairns. In the Outback, travelers will visit the famed Uluru (Ayers Rock), and will experience Aboriginal cultural.

Ultimate Australia – This seven-night tour features the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock plus visits to Darwin and the majestic Kakadu National Park. This land itinerary offers two nights in Sydney, one night at Ayers Rock, one night at Kakadu, one night in Darwin and two nights at Port Douglas for the Great Barrier Reef.

Tropical Highlights – Those who want to explore the extensive Great Barrier Reef will enjoy this four-night tour, featuring two nights in Sydney and two nights in Cairns. Travelers will spend a day at the Great Barrier Reef, plus nearby nature parks and cultural attractions.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Luxury Mega Yacht Serene Call at New York City

The Mega Yacht Serene has been making a big splash in New York for the past week. The ship is the first mega yacht to be built by Fincantieri Yachts, Muggiano (La Spezia), Italy.

To learn more about this luxury yacht and its amenities click here ->


Friday, November 18, 2011

Princess Cruises Lays the Keel for New Royal Princess

A significant construction milestone occurred on 10-20-2011 when the keel for the new Royal Princess was laid in the building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. As the keel – the bottommost part of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position, Princess Cruises and shipyard officials marked the occasion with a celebration and countdown to the ship’s debut in spring 2013.

Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship’s keel – which weighs approximately 500 tons – was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than two million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel. The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out next summer.

“It’s always very exciting to mark this step in a ship’s construction, when several of the pre-built sections come together to form a new addition to our fleet, especially with a prototype design,” said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises who traveled to Italy for the ceremony. He explained that Royal Princess’ evolutionary design will include some exciting new elements and expanded spaces, while maintaining the classic profile and popular features passengers have come to associate with Princess.

"The keel laying in the building dock marks a fundamental step in the construction of Royal Princess, an innovative prototype ship for one of the most prestigious brands of Carnival Corporation, the world cruise leader, for which Fincantieri has built many vessels in the past,” said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri CEO. “We are particularly proud and strongly believe that Fincantieri will build the most beautiful ship in the world."

One of the most dramatic new design elements of Royal Princess is an over-water SeaWalk – a glass-bottomed enclosed walkway extending more than 20 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here passengers will enjoy dramatic views off the side of the ship and to the sea below. On the ship’s opposite side, an over-water SeaView bar will also extend over the waves to provide cocktails and unbeatable vistas.

On her top decks, Royal Princess will feature a new adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two additional pools will flank a tropical island that will offer pool seating by day, and by night will become an outdoor dance club, complete with a dazzling water and light show. Princess’ signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary, will be expanded both in size and amenities. The popular poolside theater, Movies Under the Stars, will play a starring role mid-ship with an expanded size and high-definition viewing.

Royal Princess will feature an expanded version of the company’s signature Piazza – the ship’s central atrium incorporating a myriad of dining, entertainment and retail experiences. And each of the vessel’s outside cabins will include a balcony, meaning 80 percent of all staterooms will offer this popular feature.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cunard Line Reflags Ships To Bermuda and Malta Registry

After 171 years of registering its ships in the United Kingdom, Cunard Line announced that it is re-flagging its entire fleet -- Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth -- in Bermuda. Starting at the end of this October, Hamilton' (instead of ‘Southampton') will be emblazoned across the stern of each ship.

While there are various reasons for changing the fleet's registry, today's press statement highlighted only the positive -- the fact that Cunard will now be able to offer weddings at sea, fulfilling pent-up demand for couples to tie the knot at a captain-officiated ceremony in the middle of the Atlantic.

Ships flagged in the U.K. are not allowed to offer this service: Under U.K. law, couples can be married on a ship but only when it's in port and only by a minister or other notary. Cunard is at a competitive disadvantage in the lucrative romance market; its sister lines, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises, as well as the ships of rival Celebrity Cruises are flagged in Bermuda or Malta, allowing them to offer wedding ceremonies at sea.

However, economic reasons most likely also played a part in Cunard's move. Britain's new Equality Act 2010 means that workers from EU countries employed on British-registered ships must be paid wages equal to those of British citizens. While many lines favour Filipino and Indian crew, Cunard employs a lot of dining room waiters and bartenders from Eastern Europe and its increased wage bill no doubt played a part in this decision.

Cunard's three Queens will still use Southampton as their home base, and because they're being registered in Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, they'll still fly the Red Ensign. The ‘Weddings at Sea' program will kick in after the ships have completed their world cruises early in 2012 and will go on sale this December.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas 2012/2013 Deployment Reaveled.

Independence of the Seas is returning to America! Royal Caribbean International is bringing the Freedom-class ship back to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. for the winter 2012-13 season. Vacationers will have a choice of three Freedom-class ships offering a variety of exciting Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, conveniently sailing from Port Canaveral (on Florida’s Space Coast) aboard Freedom of the Seas and Port Everglades aboard Independence of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas. Independence of the Seas’ winter 2012-13 Caribbean season is now open for booking.

“We are looking forward to having all three Freedom-class ships sailing the Caribbean in winter 2012-13,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “Independence of the Seas has helped solidify Royal Caribbean’s position as the most innovative cruise line in Europe, where she will continue to sail in the summer, and is now offering new Caribbean adventures for the ship’s devotees. The most innovative cruise ships along with exciting itineraries in one of the world’s most idyllic destinations, plus friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service from every staff and crew, are all part of the Royal Advantage that we are delivering to guests from around world.”

Independence of the Seas will depart on its trans-Atlantic voyage from Southampton, U.K. on November 22, 2012, and homeport at Port Everglades from December 2012 through March 2013. The ship will sail a three-night Bahamas cruise, before alternating eight-night Eastern Caribbean and six-night Western Caribbean itineraries. In the Eastern Caribbean, guests will enjoy calls at San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination on the northern coast of Haiti. In the Western Caribbean, Independence of the Seas will call at Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Labadee. Additionally, a special six-night Western Caribbean itinerary, calling at Grand Cayman, and Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, will sail on January 13, 2013. Independence of the Seas will then return to the U.K. in April 2013 to offer Mediterranean and Europe cruises throughout the summer.

At 154,407 gross register tons and a capacity of 3,634 guests, double-occupancy, Independence of the Seas features all of the industry-first amenities which are trademarks of the Freedom-class ships, such as a FlowRider surf simulator; the H20 Zone kids’ aqua park with sprinklers, water cannons and a pool for toddlers; cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 ft. above the ocean in the adults-only Solarium pool zone; a full-size boxing ring and the 4-bedroom, 4-bath, and 14-guest Presidential Family Suite. Independence of the Seas also features exclusive Royal Caribbean amenities such as an ice-skating rink; a rock-climbing wall; the award-winning Adventure Ocean kids’ program; 10 fine to casual dining options; Broadway-style entertainment; and the Royal Promenade – a boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship flanked by boutiques, restaurants, and bars and lounges.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hurtigruten Offers Discount on Antartic Cruises

Guests can enjoy early booking savings of up to 20% on five exciting Antarctic exploration voyages offered by award-winning cruise company, Hurtigruten, if booked by Dec. 31, 2011.

These once-in-a-lifetime voyages, aboard the purpose-built expedition ship MS Fram, explore the vast and mysterious wilderness of the White Continent, the coldest, driest and windiest destination on earth. The size of the ship allows guest a more intimate experience – leaning on its rails as gleaming icebergs pass by, taking in blue whales and orcas feeding nearby, and standing near penguin populations whose individual rookeries number in the tens of thousands. Reduced pricing for the 10- to 19-day, Nov. 2012 through Feb. 2013 sailings range from $5,567 to $13,719 per person, double, and includes accommodation in cabin or suite of choice; flights between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires; Ushuaia transfers; all meals onboard; expert guides and lecturers; wind and water-resistant coat; and numerous PolarCirkel boat landings.

· The 17-day “Christmas Expedition” celebrates the season with traditional carols, festive meals, Santa Claus visits and a New Year's gala as guests travel round-trip from Buenos Aires on a route that navigates the western-most outposts of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and several ports in Antarctica. Prices for the Dec. 17 departure range from $8,257 to $13,719 with savings.

· The 13-day “Polar Circle Expedition” and the shorter 10-day “Classic Expedition” focus solely on Antarctica, sailing through the Drake Passage to landings that immerse guests in the remote landscape and exotic wildlife of The White Continent. The “Polar Circle Expedition” spends its extra days traveling as far south as the Antarctic Circle, departing Feb. 1, 2013 with discounted prices of $7,366 to $12,743. Reduced rates for the “Classic Expedition” range from $5,567 to $9,814 for five departures between Nov. 29 and Jan. 11.

· The 13-day “Weddell Sea Expedition” follows the path forged by British Captain James Weddell, who reached 74º latitude in 1823 - a first for explorations, and resulted in scientific discoveries that covered extensive ground in biology, zoology, geology, meteorology and magnetism. Priced with savings, the Jan. 20 sailing is $7,366 to $12,743.

· Guests on the 19-day “In the Realm of the Great Explorers” explore the same areas visited by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, a prominent figure during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. In addition to Antarctica, the voyage takes in the sub-Arctic eco-system of the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia, home to the largest king penguin colony in the world. The Feb. 22 departure date offers reduced prices from $5,940 to $11,618.

Hurtigruten’s MS Fram accommodates 318 guests (allowing no more than 200 for the Antarctica sailings) in suites and staterooms and features a restaurant, two bars, panoramic lounges library, an Internet café and conference rooms. The early-booking savings can be combined with discounts available in the 1893 Ambassador Program, Hurtigruten’s customer loyalty program, which includes 5% off Explorer Voyages to Antarctica in addition to exclusive discounts and recognition benefits for members.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic’s Spitsbergen as well as year round along Norway's coast and Europe in the spring and fall. The company’s fleet of 13 intimate ships, carrying 100 to 646 passengers, allows passengers to enjoy unique destinations in a relaxed atmosphere.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cunard Reveals Details of Queen Mary 2 Refit

Cunard Line has released details of the planned refit of the company’s flagship Queen Mary 2, in preparation for her eighth birthday in January 2012. With major refurbishments and redesigns of carpets, curtains, bedcovers and linens, and other enhancements, a luxury cruise vacation will be even more appealing aboard the grandest ocean liner at sea.

Taking place at Blohm + Voss Shipyards in Hamburg, Germany, from 24 November through 7 December, the major soft goods refurbishments will comprise all staterooms, Canyon Ranch SpaClub®, the Queens Grill and Princess Grill Restaurants, the Commodore Club, the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, Sir Samuel’s, the Play Zone/Kids’ Zone, and a complete redesign of the Golden Lion Pub. To ensure that the latest changes will complement the ship’s signature elegance and glamour throughout, Cunard has again partnered with the noted Tillberg Design AB in Höganäs, Sweden, the company involved in Queen Mary 2’s original design.

“Queen Mary 2 is an iconic leader in the world of luxury ocean travel and continues to receive high ratings by guests and the cruise industry,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “A ship that still turns heads everywhere she goes, she is unquestionably the pride of our fleet. We are committed to maintaining that impeccable reputation, and this significant refurbishment is an important investment on behalf of our guests.”

The 14-day refit will require a team of thousands of workers replacing the equivalent of almost ten football pitches of carpet and manufacturing about 18 square miles of fabric into over 6,000 individual items. Specific plans include:

Staterooms – All 1,310 staterooms aboard Queen Mary 2 will receive a fresh look with new carpeting, curtains and beddings, and some will receive new furniture. The revised design will be in keeping with current designs but with an enhanced sense of luxurious comfort, as can be experienced in luxury hotels around the world.

Golden Lion Pub – With its increasingly popular traditional British pub lunch menus, busy bar, exciting sports events and nightly music offerings, the pub will benefit from a complete refurbishment and redesign to enhance its endearing appeal. The new design retains the British pub atmosphere and also evokes an American country club feel similar to the warm colours and plush seating in the same venues aboard sister ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Upgraded television screens will also be installed.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub – An extensive refurbishment of the first Canyon Ranch SpaClub at sea will include the teak surrounds of the hydrotherapy pool and adjacent wet areas, and a general upgrade of all the facilities. In addition, new exercise machines in the fitness centre and new and improved features in the Beauty Salon will be installed.

Queens Grill and Princess Grill Restaurants – A new, lighter carpet design for both of Queen Mary 2’s exclusive Grill restaurants will enhance the existing ambience, maintaining the reputation of these fine dining venues as among the best at sea or on land.

Commodore Club – One of the most visited public rooms aboard Queen Mary 2, this breathtaking lounge overlooking her bow will be refreshed with a new carpet design and additions to the white leather furnishings of chairs, sofas and bar stools.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar – A popular space especially on Transatlantic Crossings, this venue featuring the exquisite Veuve Clicquot brand of champagne will see a new carpet and soft furnishings design.

Sir Samuel’s – This busy venue which features specialty coffees during the day and an impressive menu of wines at night, will receive a new compliment of carpeting and furniture coverings.

The Play Zone/Kids’ Zone – Cunard’s first-rate facilities for younger guests will undergo a complete refurbishment, including new soft play areas, plus upgrades to the very latest in electronic gaming technology and entertainment.

Carpeting of public areas, central walkways and landings on Decks 2 and 3 will also be completed, which began with the ship’s last refit in 2008. In addition to the current major refit, when Queen Mary 2 returns to service on 8 December, she will introduce several new on board features, details of which will be disclosed soon.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oceania Cruise New Riviera to Be Christened in Monaco

Oceania Cruises’ new 1,250-guest Riviera will be christened in Monte Carlo on April 19, 2012. The lavish, invitation-only gala ceremony will take place pier-side at Monaco ’s Port Hercules overlooking the Mediterranean Sea .

Design plans call for trellises of fresh local flowers, plants and columns to transform the pier into a garden taking its inspiration from the famous Princess Grace Rose Garden. Following the ceremony, guests will enjoy a gala reception and dinner onboard Riviera .

“It is truly an honor and very fitting that we christen Riviera – the newest jewel in the Oceania Cruises’ fleet – in Monte Carlo , certainly the crowning jewel of the Riviera ,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, the line’s president. “The success of Marina , launched earlier in 2011, has heightened the anticipation for Riviera in the marketplace and we look forward to officially welcoming her next spring.”

“We are delighted that Oceania Cruises has chosen Port Hercules as the spot to launch its new Riviera ,” said Maguy Maccario, Consul General of Monaco and director, North America , Monaco Government Tourist Office. “We look forward to welcoming Riviera and her invited guests to the Principality of Monaco for what will surely be an exciting event, set against the backdrop of one of the most glamorous destinations in the world.”

Following the christening cruise, Riviera will embark on her maiden voyage, the 12-day Ancient Grandeur itinerary. Departing Piraeus April 24, Riviera will visit Alexandria and Port Said , Egypt ; Haifa and Ashdod ( Jerusalem ), Israel ; Rhodes and Patmos , Greece ; and Alanya, Kusadasi ( Ephesus ) and Istanbul , where the ship will overnight before guests disembark. Riviera will spend the summer and fall cruising the Mediterranean and then cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean where she will operate a series of winter cruises.

Oceania Cruises’ new Riviera will feature 625 elegantly appointed and custom-crafted accommodations that are among the largest at sea, ranging from 174 to 2,000+ square feet. Her top suites will exude residential elegance and feature furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home and designs by Dakota Jackson of New York and S.B. Long Interiors of Greenwich, CT. The ship will also feature a Lalique-designed grand lobby, 10 dining venues and numerous bars and lounges. Facilities will include a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub, innovative Bon Appétit Culinary Center , swimming pool and hot tubs.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Princess Cruises Completes the Rollout of the Sanctuary Fleetwide

With the snip of a ribbon aboard Sapphire Princess, Princess Cruises marked the completion of a three-year project to add the line’s signature “pocket of tranquility” – The Sanctuary – across the line’s fleet. The popular adults-only retreat is now available to passengers on 14 of the line’s ships (small ships Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess do not offer this feature).

The Sanctuary, which debuted in 2006 aboard Crown Princess, was an instant success as it gave passengers the perfect place to take a relaxing break and indulge in a private getaway with plush seating, massage cabanas, signature beverages, light meals, attentive service by “serenity stewards” and soothing personal entertainment.

To make room for the newest Sanctuary, the sports court on Sapphire Princess was relocated to a new space on top of Skywalkers nightclub. This new area high atop the ship also offers extra lounge chairs and dramatic ocean views.

The installation of The Sanctuary on Sapphire Princess marked the beginning of a transformation for the ship, which will receive many more Princess hallmark features when it goes into drydock from January 7 to February 4, 2012. During this extensive revitalization, the ship will receive the signature Piazza atrium with its International Café and Vines wine bar; the line’s second “Alfredo’s” pizzeria which was introduced earlier this year aboard Grand Princess; and the distinctive Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

P&O Cruises Announce 2012/2013 Winter Cruise Program From Southampton

P&O Cruises has doubled its ex-UK capacity next year from one ship to two as both Oceana and Oriana sail from Southampton throughout winter 2012/13 on cruises of two to 35 nights duration.

Oceana’s second year of winter cruising from Southampton includes, for the first time, two short cruises for Christmas and New Year. These cruises offer the chance to spend Boxing Day in Copenhagen or New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam, for some authentic festive celebrations whilst only being away for four or seven days.

Oriana will offer seven ex-UK cruises including a 10 night Baltic cruise in December calling in popular Christmas market destinations such as Copenhagen and Hamburg; and a 12 night Canary Islands cruise in late January to ports including Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Casablanca.

P&O Cruises managing director, Carol Marlow, said: “P&O Cruises already offers the greatest choice of ex-UK cruises and next winter will have 39 roundtrip cruises from Southampton from October to April. A growing number of people are keen to holiday in the winter, but don’t necessarily want to fly, so this additional range of cruises from Southampton will increase their options sill further. Convenience is a key booking factor for our passengers, with travelling to Southampton so easy – and then their holiday starts right away.”

This is in addition to the four winter world cruises from January to April 2012, from and to Southampton, including Azura’s maiden world cruise.

Ship/itinerary winter ex-UK highlights, October 2012April 2013:

    · Sailing one ex-UK cruise from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Prices from £2129 per person for the 16 night Atlantic Island cruise departing December 2012

    · Sailing five ex-UK cruises from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Itineraries range from a 10 night Atlantic coast cruise to a 23 night Caribbean transatlantic
    · Cruising to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Atlantic coast and Atlantic islands
    · Prices from £879 per person for a 10 night Atlantic coast cruise departing in October 2012
    · Highlight cruises include a 20 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise departing November 2012 with prices starting from £1,779 per person
    · Sailing five ex-UK cruises from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Itineraries range from a two night cruise break to a 23 night Mediterranean cruise
    · Cruising to the Mediterranean, Europe and the Caribbean
    · Prices from £239 per person for a two night cruise break in October 2012
    · Highlight cruises include a 17 night Central Mediterranean cruise with prices starting from £1,499 per person

    · Sailing seven ex-UK cruises from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Itineraries range from a two night cruise break to a 24 night Caribbean cruise
    · Cruising to the Mediterranean, Europe, Caribbean, Atlantic Islands and Atlantic coast
    · Prices from £239 per person for a two night cruise break departing December 2012
    · Highlight cruises include an 11 night Atlantic Coast cruise departing in December 2012 with prices starting from £869 per person

    · Sailing 11 ex-UK cruises from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Itineraries range from a two night cruise break to a 35 night Caribbean cruise. Also including a seven night Christmas cruise to Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, and a four night New Year cruise to Belgium and The Netherlands
    · Cruising to the Mediterranean, Europe, Atlantic Islands and the Caribbean
    · Prices from £239 per person for a two night cruise departing in December 2012
    · Highlight cruises include a 35 night Caribbean round trip departing January 2013 with prices from £2,899 per person

    · Sailing seven ex-UK cruises from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Itineraries range from a 10 night Baltic cruise to a 35 night Caribbean cruise
    · Cruising to the Mediterranean, Atlantic Islands, Baltic and the Caribbean
    · Prices from £779 per person for a 10 night Baltic cruise in December 2012
    · Highlight cruises include a 12 night Atlantic Islands cruise departing in January 2013 with prices from £999 per person

    · Sailing three ex-UK cruises from October 2012 to April 2013
    · Itineraries range from a two night cruise beak to a 14 night Mediterranean cruise
    · Cruising to Mediterranean, Europe and Atlantic Islands
    · Prices from £239 for a two night party cruise departing October 2012
      · Highlight cruises include a 14 night Western Mediterranean cruise departing in October 2012 with prices starting from £1,299 per person


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Costa Romantica Begins Conversion into Cost neoRomantica

Work has commenced at T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa on a major refurbishment of Costa Romantica.

Costa Cruises signed a contract with the San Giorgio shipyard in Genoa worth around €90m for the restyling work which it will carry out with the assistance of affiliate T. Mariotti.

The work on Costa Romantica – involving drydock, quay and fitting out – is due for completion in mid-February when the vessel will re-emerge as Costa neoRomantica.

This extensive make-over will include the construction of new areas and the introduction of services that represent a major evolution in the Costa product. The objective is to offer a renewed cruise experience.

The restyling works include two new half-deck extensions, 111 new cabins plus 120 cabins and suites with balconies. The ship’s total capacity will increase from 1,697 to 1,800 and the number of cabins from 678 to 789. The new gross tonnage will be around 56,000, up from 53,000gt.

Architects for the interior makeover are Swedish company Tillberg Design and London planners Syntax. Among the new areas on the ship are a wine and cheese bar, a coffee & chocolate bar, a new pizzeria, a cabaret lounge and a nightclub. Another addition is Costa's signature Samsara Spa.

The new-look ship will spend February and March sailing from Savona on 11-day cruises to Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands and Madeira. Summer will be spent in North European waters.

In September 2012 the ship embarks on a 107-night voyage from Italy to Australia and New Zealand.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas Under-goes Refit in Spain Part II

10-26-2011 -Royal Caribbean International’s Splendour of the Seas enters into the Navantia ship yard in Cadiz, Spain to begin a five-week long, $35 million dry dock where she will receive an array of new amenities. The revitalizations are part of the Royal Advantage – the line’s commitment to offer vacationers the world’s most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service.

Included in the new amenities on Splendour of the Seas will be new dining venues: Chops Grille, Izumi, the Boardwalk Dog House, Chef’s Table and the Park Café; the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge for Crown and Anchor loyalty guests, a Concierge Lounge for suite guests and upgraded technology throughout. In addition the ship will receive 124 new balconies and a host of new stateroom amenities including flat panel televisions. Other features being added to Splendour include ship-wide WIFI, a digital way finding system, electronic mustering and an outdoor movie screen. Other enhancements to Splendour will be announced in the coming weeks.

Upon completion of the refurbishments on November 25, Splendour of the Seas will sail a transatlantic voyage from Lisbon, Portugal to her seasonal homeport of Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. From there she will offer a variety of South American itineraries that take advantage of the summer season in Brazil.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas Under-goes Refit in Spain

Global cruise line Royal Caribbean International signed an agreement today (10/28/2011) in Cadiz, Spain with Reparaciones Navantia for the extensive revitalization of their Vision-class ship Splendour of the Seas. The agreement was signed by Luis Cacho, Consejero Delegado de Navantia and Kevin Douglas, Vice President, Newbuild, Royal Caribbean International.

Splendour of the Seas arrived at the Navantia ship yard this week and the shipyard expects 550 workers, including engineers, architects, interior designers, builders and technology specialists to work on the ship – generating a total of more than one hundred thousand man hours throughout the five week dry dock.

While in dry dock, the ship will receive a new “duck tail,” an extension to the bridge wings as well as undergo regularly scheduled maintenance work on the propellers, rudders and tail shafts. Upon completion, Splendour will feature a variety of new dining venues and guest amenities, 124 new balconies, a host of new stateroom amenities including flat panel televisions and upgraded technology throughout the ship. The revitalization is part of an extensive $300 million program to bring the latest innovations to the cruise lines ships across the fleet building on Royal Caribbean’s best-in-class global vacation offerings.

Headquartered in Madrid, Navantia, the Spanish shipbuilder, is a world reference in the design, construction and integration of war ships, including new generation submarines. It is also engaged in the design and manufacture of Integrated Platform Management Systems, Fire Control Systems, Command and Control systems, Propulsion Plants and through life support for naval vessels. Navantia has a ship repair line of activity that goes from regular repairs to refurbishment programmes, including conversions. The company has the facilities and know how for complex repairs comprising LNG’S and Cruisers. Navantia has Fleet Maintenance Agreements with the most important ship-owners in the world.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

NCL's Norwegian Gem Rescues Crew From Stricken Sailboat

At 10 am on 10/29/2011, Norwegian Gem responded to a call from the US Coast Guard who had received a distress notification from Sanctuary, a 39-foot sailboat, stating that they had large breaking waves over the bow, had lost power and its life raft, and were taking on water. Sanctuary was located approximately 350 nautical miles from New York in the North Atlantic Ocean, two hours away from Norwegian Gem, the closest vessel in the area. Norwegian Gem’s Captain Hakan Svedung immediately diverted course to rescue the four men and one woman aboard.

Upon reaching the Sanctuary, Norwegian Gem encountered extreme weather conditions with wind force up to 40 knots and large swells, making it challenging to launch the ship’s rescue boat. Once in the water, the rescue boat made contact with the sailboat and quickly transferred the five occupants who were Canadians.

At approximately 2 pm, the sailboat passengers and rescue team were all safely aboard Norwegian Gem. The ship which was returning from Bermuda continued on its route back to New York and will arrive Sunday morning, October 30 at approximately 8:30 am, 30 minutes later than the scheduled arrival. The five Sanctuary passengers will be disembarked in New York.

“This rescue operation was conducted under extremely difficult circumstances,” said Captain Svedung. “I am proud of our crew who braved their lives to rescue the five people in distress.”