Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Millennium Completes Refit

Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Millennium Completes Refit
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Millennium Completes Refit
One of the most ambitious revitalization initiatives in the history of the cruise industry has just been completed. Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Millennium set sail Saturday (5/19) from the Port of Miami, fresh from becoming the fourth and final Millennium Class ship to complete the line’s $140-million “Solsticizing” process, incorporating a host of the venues and experiences guests love most on the Solstice Class ships. The initiative was completed within less than two years, with each ship completing the massive transformation over the course of an only three-week drydock period.                                                    

“Solsticizing has been such an exciting initiative for us – and more importantly, for our guests, as indicated by their response to each of our Solsticized ships,” said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. “Our Millennium Class ships already had a large and loyal following, having repeatedly ranked at the top of many of the world’s most prestigious consumer polls, and their original style, design and ambience served as significant inspiration for the design of the Solstice Class. So now, we’re bringing it full circle, incorporating on the entire Millennium Class what our guests enjoy most on the Solstice Class. It ties our whole fleet together in a very powerful way.”

One of the many Solstice Class features added to the Millennium Class ships* is Celebrity’s trendsetting AquaClass category of staterooms, with spacious, private verandas; exclusive access to the stylish specialty restaurant, Blu; complimentary access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room in the AquaSpa; a personal Spa Concierge to book exotic AquaSpa treatments; use of plush Frette bathrobes and slippers; enhanced personal care products, and plentiful in-room amenities, including Hansgrohe shower heads, fog-free bathroom mirrors, aromatherapy selections, and daily deliveries of complimentary bottled water and teas. [*Note: AquaClass and its host of amenities will be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013.]

Another Celebrity exclusive – “Qsine,” the novel restaurant introduced on Celebrity Eclipse in 2010 and Celebrity Silhouette this year – is also dazzling guests on Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Millennium as a result of each ship’s revitalization. The first restaurant at sea to present a menu and wine list on an iPadTM, Qsine serves a blend of classic and contemporary dishes in custom-made serveware, such as spring rolls served in vertical springs, and popcorn shrimp in theater-style popcorn boxes. Described in press reviews as “the latest and most innovative restaurant,” “cutting-edge,” and “appealingly quirky,” the restaurant and menu were designed to take what guests expect of a specialty restaurant and “turn it upside down” in a captivating, entertaining and flavorful way.

Joining AquaClass, Blu and Qsine* in the “Solsticizing” initiative are:
  • the hip Celebrity iLounge, which debuted on Celebrity Eclipse and made Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first Authorized Apple Reseller (to be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013).
  • Celebrity’s “eXhale” bedding program, in partnership with Reverie®, a leader in the field of luxury bedding. Hand-made in the U.S. with natural raw materials such as bamboo and sustainable natural rubber, the mattresses are almost entirely recyclable and biodegradable, feature removable, hypo-allergenic, antibacterial and dust mite-resistant covers, and a breathable, plush pillow top with a patented air flow design. Rounding out Celebrity’s eXhale bedding program are custom-embroidered, 100% Egyptian cotton linens (to be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013).
  • A new twist within Celebrity’s casually elegant bar, Michael’s Club, where its selection of fine whiskies, cognac, bourbons and scotches is now complemented with craft beers, including 50 international selections (the new Michael’s Club concept will be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013)
  • the “cool,” ice-topped Martini Bar and Crush
  • Celebrity’s vibrant creperie, Bistro on Five
  • the inviting Café al Bacio and Gelateria
  • Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the “Enomatic” state-of-the-art wine serving system – an industry-first when it debuted on Celebrity Solstice – allowing guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button
  • entirely new verandas added to the ship’s spacious, luxurious Celebrity Suites
  • additional new oceanview and inside staterooms
  • an expanded collection of original, contemporary art
* During the Solsticizing of Celebrity Constellation in 2010, the Solstice Class-inspired specialty restaurant “Tuscan Grille” – an Italian-themed steakhouse – was added to the ship, within the space occupied by Qsine on her sister ships.

Celebrity Millennium is currently on a Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. Following a 5-night wine-themed cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 27, the ship will offer 7-night Northbound and Southbound Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.                                                                  
About Celebrity Cruises:
Celebrity Cruises’ iconic “X” is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crystal Cruises Visits 7 New Port in Europe

Louis XIV’s marital stomping grounds, puffins’ Icelandic party pad, a former Prussian capital, Napoleon’s birthplace, and the gateway to Norway’s most scenic vistas are among seven European ports-of-call Crystal Cruises will be visiting for the first time this year.  From Crystal Serenity’s current trans-Atlantic voyage to Crystal Symphony’s reverse pond crossing in September, guests will be among the first Crystal travelers to stop in quaint communities, centuries-old fishing villages, and trendy cosmopolitan centers in Lithuania, Norway, France, Iceland, and Spain.  
Maiden calls include:

Klaipėda: The third-largest city in “hot” Lithuania, this historic east-west-south crossroads offers metropolitan architecture, as well as the natural beauty of the Curonian Spit right outside.  Crystal Adventures: Birdwatch at the Ventė Cape ornithological station, learn about local fairytales at the Hill of Witches Sculpture Park, bike through Old Town, or step inside a former Soviet nuclear missile base.

Heimaey: Virtually destroyed in a 1973 volcanic eruption, this rebuilt island of 4,500 people serves as home to 8 million puffins per year.  Crystal Adventures: Explore caves by RIB boat, motorboat past orcas and puffin colonies, or watch locals rope-swing over cliffs to collect bird eggs.

Saint-Jean-de-Luz: This Basque coastal gem, with narrow cobblestoned lanes leading past the Church of St. Jean Baptist, is where Louis XIV married Spain’s Marie Thérèse in 1660.  Crystal Adventures: Glimpse Balenciaga’s haute couture, make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, sample Basque delicacies, or daytrip to San Sebastian, Biarritz, or Hemingway’s Pamplona.

Leknes: The Lofoten archipelago’s colorful Arctic trading/shopping center is ground zero for Norway’s most stunning mountains and cliffs.  Crystal Adventures: Safari for sea eagles, appreciate frozen art at an ice bar/gallery, or learn Scandinavian history at Borg’s Viking Museum.

Bonifacio: French chicness and Napoleonic history are all crammed into this one medieval Corsican town, perched precariously on the edges of stunningly steep, limestone cliffs.  Crystal Adventures: Canoe along the coast, ride a wheel train through the port, or trek cliffside hiking paths past wildlife and gorgeous views.

Palamós: This 800-year-old Costa Brava fishing village is famous for giant-sized prawns, water sports, and some of the best people-watching in Europe.  Crystal Adventures: Segway around gothic Girona, taste Salvador Dalí via a visit to his home or a meal inspired by his favorite dishes, or daytrip to Barcelona for a behind-the-scenes tour of Barça Team’s Football Club Stadium.

Akureyri: Iceland’s second-largest city offers a robust cultural scene surrounded by snowcapped peaks and gardens. Crystal Adventures: Visit the “Waterfall of the Gods,” flightsee over Eyjafjordur fjord to Grimsey Island, take a whale-watching expedition, soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths, or sample homemade ice cream, jam, and smoked lamb at local farms.
Until June 30, all-inclusive Book Now fares for the luxury European cruises featuring maiden calls start at $3,165/person, with optional air add-ons and savings for groups of six or more, combining cruises, and Crystal Society member-sponsored, new-to-Crystal guests.

Crystal Cruises’ passion for creating unique luxury experiences both on land and at sea have helped earn the company top ratings from international travelers for two decades.  

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Construction Starts on New Cruise Facility in the Dominican Republic

On May 15, 2012 Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Caribbean’s newest destination, the $65 million Amber Cove Cruise Center, were held yesterday in the Dominican Republic at the project site on the Bay of Maimon located near Puerto Plata in the country’s North Coast.  
        The new facility – which represents one of the largest cruise industry investments ever made in the Dominican Republic – is scheduled to open in 2014.  The project is designed to re-establish the Dominican Republic’s North Coast as a popular cruise destination.  The last cruise ship to call at Puerto Plata was nearly 30 years ago.
        The ceremony attracted a number of dignitaries from the Dominican Republic, including President Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia, Minister of Public Works & Communications Victor Diaz Rua, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Ernesto Reyna, Director of the Dominican Republic’s Center for Export and Investment (DR-CEI) Eddie Martinez, Customs Director Rafael Camilo and Dominican Port Authority (APORDOM) Director Ing. Ramon Rivas.
        A joint project between Carnival Corporation & plc and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, the new two-berth Amber Cove Cruise Center will be able to accommodate up to 8,000 cruise passengers and 2,000 crew members daily.  The facility is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. 
        Amber Cove will encompass 30 acres of waterfront property and will feature a welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for locally sourced Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of themed restaurants and bars and an exciting water attraction. A transportation hub allowing visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions will be included, as well.
        “This is a glorious day for the Dominican Republic. It is already being inscribed in the annals of our recent economic history as one of the most significant steps we have taken to assure the transformation and development of Puerto Plata, the northern region, and the entire country.  With this cruise terminal, tourism and economic activity in Puerto Plata and the north region will rise to occupy a preeminent regional position in the entire Caribbean, showing that a combination of natural beauty, a supportive government policy, investment by a world-class company determined to put its trust in our country, and above all the quality of our people, are key factors that can secure present and future generations ample growth opportunities in the tourism sector,” said President Leonel Fernández Reyna.   
 Added Jeffrey Rannik from the Rannik family/Grupo B&R, “We’re very pleased to team up with cruise industry leader Carnival Corporation & plc on the exciting Amber Cove project which will serve to re-establish the North Coast as a major destination for cruise ship visitors.  This magnificent facility will not only provide cruise ship guests with a positive shoreside experience but also serve as an economic catalyst for the North Coast and the surrounding region.”
        “Amber Cove promises to be a spectacular facility that will serve as a gateway for cruise guests to experience the natural beauty and wonder that makes the Dominican Republic such an attractive tourist destination,” said Giora Israel, Carnival Corporation & plc’s senior vice president of global port and destination development. 

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

SeaDream Yacht Club's Amazon Voyages Enhanced by Adventures to the Inca city of Machu Picchu

SeaDream Cruises 2013 Amazon River Cruises
SeaDream Cruises 2013 Amazon River Cruises
SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I & II, rated as the top “Boutique Ships” in 2012 by Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, has introduced its 2013 Amazon pre and post- voyage Land Adventures to Machu Picchu.

SeaDream II will sail the Amazon River beginning February 10, 2013 departing from Barbados. Offered as a 20-day voyage; Barbados to Iquitos, Peru, or two 10-day voyages; Barbados to Manaus, Brazil or Manaus to Iquitos. New in 2013 are two 7-day Upper Amazon voyages sailing from Iquitos, Peru roundtrip. SeaDream is nimble enough to go upriver, deep into the Peruvian rainforest.

In total, SeaDream has eight Amazon voyage options in 2013. James Cabello, Manager of SeaDream’s Land Adventures said “our land packages have been tailor-made to include comfort and authenticity. I’ve scouted out the best experiences with highly qualified guides.” Voyages 21308, 21310 & 21311 offer a 6-night or a 4-night pre-voyage program. Voyages 21307, 21308 & 21310 offer a 5-night or a 3-night post-voyage program.

Highlights of Pre and Post Voyage Adventures to Machu Picchu:
  • Visit Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
  • Get up close with llamas, fall in love with alpaca, and see ancient weaving techniques still in use.
  • Enjoy a gastronomic feast at Wayra Ranch, hosted by Chef, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.
  • Watch stunning equestrian demonstrations of the Peruvian Paso horses set to Marinera music.
  • Tour the fortress of Ollantaytambo.
  • Take a spectacular 3 ½ hr. ride aboard the Orient Express luxury train, the Hiram Bingham      (brunch served while the spectacular Andean scenery passes by).
  • Relish the views while having afternoon tea at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge Hotel.
  • Watch the sunset with only a handful of others at Machu Picchu, where you’ll stay overnight.
  • Wake up in Machu Picchu and experience sunrise from your elegant, peaceful hotel.
  • Tour Cusco (“Archaeological Capital of the Americas”) and its Inca walls.
  • Visit Cusco’s Pre-Columbian Art Museum by night, dining at the Museum's restaurant featuring Novoandina cuisine.
  • In Lima, savor an authentic Peruvian lunch followed by a panoramic tour of the "City of the Kings".
Chic and stylish, SeaDream’s 56-stateroom yachts are favored for their elegant informality, state-of-the-art facilities, personal service provided by a crew of 95, inclusive open bar and gratuities, ocean view accommodations, luxury spa and world class cuisine.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

MSC Cruise and UNICEF Reps Take Part in MSC Divina Christening

MSC Cruises MSC Divina, Christening in Marseille, France, on May 26, 2012
MSC Divina, Christening in Marseille, France, on May 26, 2012
As a symbol of collaboration between MSC Cruises' and UNICEF, major UNICEF representatives and guests will be involved in the christening ceremony of MSC Divina, which will take place in Marseille, France, on May 26, 2012.

When MSC Divina takes to the seas, her guests will have the opportunity to support MSC Cruises' long-term partnership with UNICEF and their joint “Get on Board for Children” initiative, which funds the UNICEF-supported “Platform of Urban Centers” in Brazil. The platform focuses on combating poverty and inequality by ensuring better quality and more equal education opportunities for the vulnerable children of the favelas using a bottom-up integrated approach in which the community is seen as a vital part of the solution.

Since 2009, guests on board each ship in the MSC Cruises’ fleet have been invited to “get on board for children” and make a difference by offering a small donation in addition to their cruise fare. Thanks to the generous donations of guests, MSC Cruises has raised over $1.3 million to date for the initiative.

On the day of the christening, critically acclaimed classical performer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Maxim Vengerov will join MSC Cruises’ CEO Pierfrancesco Vago and MSC fleet godmother Sophia Loren for a question-and-answer session with international media directly following a press conference.

Joining an impressive line-up of international stars on stage for the evening’s main events, Vengerov will deliver a speech expected to touch on the importance of his ambassadorial role and the “Get on Board for Children” initiative before releasing hundreds of UNICEF balloons with the help of local children in order to mark the occasion.

Vengerov, one of the world’s most sought-after performers in classical music, will then delight guests with a special performance.

The high-profile christening ceremony is the perfect occasion to highlight the meaningful partnership between UNICEF and MSC Cruises and the tangible results it has already produced for disadvantaged children in Brazil. MSC Cruises looks forward to putting contributions from MSC Divina guests toward the same great cause.

A selection of global results from the UNICEF-supported ‘Platform of Urban Centres’ to date includes:

  •     198 youth ambassadors are using communication tools to mobilize their communities
  •     6,000 children and adolescents are participating in supporting activities
  •     470 educators have been trained in sports and citizenship
  •     3 municipalities have committed to the rights of children, with 20 clear goals
  •     94 communities are preparing and/or implementing action and communication plans,    representing about 400,000 children and adolescents
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Friday, May 25, 2012

UK's Fred Olsen Lines Offers 2 World Cruises in 2014

Fred Olsen's Balmoral 2014  -104 Night World Cruise
Fred Olsen's Balmoral 2014  -104 Night World Cruise
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has announced two new ‘World Cruises’ for 2014 aboard its cruise ships Balmoral and Black Watch with amazing prices from only £83 per person per night! Both of these exciting ‘Voyages of a Lifetime’ will visit some brand new ports of call, such as exotic Yangon in Myanmar – formerly Burma – and a first foray into Japan, with visits to the historic island of Hiroshima, then the ports of Osaka and Yokahama. Balmoral's cruise includes five maiden calls, and Black Watch’s has four; but the ships also re-visit some of Fred. Olsen’s guests’ favourite ports around the world, often with an extended stay to allow extra time for shore excursions.

There are special ‘Pre-Launch’ offers available on these exclusive cruises, valid until the launch of the ‘Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Worldwide Cruises Brochure 2013/14’ in late June 2012. Early bookers will also benefit from up to £550 free onboard spending credit per cabin.

Balmoral's 104-night ‘Myanmar, Japan & Hawaii World Cruise’ L1401, ex Southampton on 5th January 2014

This cruise travels in an easterly direction, via Spain and on to Egypt, with an overnight stay in the historic city of Alexandria, and a daylight transit of the Suez Canal. Balmoral continues to Sharm el Sheikh and Safaga, then Salalah in Oman and glittering Dubai in the UAE. Next, Balmoral calls into enigmatic and magical India, where ports include Mumbai, for an overnight stay, and Cochin, an important trading centre since ancient times. After visiting Colombo in Sri Lanka, Balmoral makes a first-ever visit to Yangon in Myanmar, a highlight of the cruise, allowing guests to visit this beautiful and little-known part of the world. There is a two-night stay here, before Balmoral cruises on to the great world ports of Singapore and Hong Kong.

Balmoral’s next calls are in Japan, to the historic island of Hiroshima, then to Osaka and Yokahama. The dream destinations of Hawaii follow; Nawiliwili, Honolulu and Hilo. After a call into sunny San Diego, in the United States, Balmoral visits Mexico, including Acapulco, famous for its legendary cliff divers.

This offers a panorama of different cultures and climates; the next ports Central America – Guatemala and Costa Rica – and, finally, Balmoral visits the balmy Caribbean islands of Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua. Her return voyage makes a final call into the Azores, before she docks back in Southampton on 19th April 2014.

Prices for this amazing-value cruise start from £8,599 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside twin cabin, Grade ‘I’.

Black Watch’s 114-night ‘Australia & South America World Cruise’ W1401, ex Southampton on 14th January 2014

This epic cruise has a very different itinerary, and is the longest ever undertaken by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. The itinerary offers a real feast for the senses, with its diversity of destinations. It takes in South America, with overnight stays in both Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Buenos Aires (Argentina), to allow guests time to explore these vibrant ports at leisure, then rounds Cape Horn, and cruises the Chilean Fjords, with ports of call including the romantically-named Robinson Crusoe Island in Chile. Another highlight must be Easter Island, famous for its enigmatic giant stone carvings.

Black Watch also visits Pitcairn Island, Papeete (Tahiti), and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.  One of the great joys of a long cruise is being able to call into so many diverse islands en route to the world’s major ports. The Australasian sector of the cruise visits Auckland, New Zealand, and the Australian ports of Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns. There is a completely different atmosphere as she heads east, travelling to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and on to magical India. Here Black Watch calls into Port Blair, Chennai (Madras) and, of course, Mumbai for an overnight stay. The cruise concludes with calls into ports in Jordan, Egypt and finally Malta and Gibraltar, before returning to Southampton.

Prices for this cruise represent exceptional value, and start from £9,399 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside twin cabin, Grade ‘I’.

All cruise prices are inclusive of all accommodation, meals and entertainment on board, plus port taxes.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Norway's Hurtigruten Prepares to Celebrate 120th Anniversary

Hurtigruten's Nordnorge is a typical Norewgian Coastal cruiser
Hurtigruten's Nordnorge is a typical Norewgian Coastal cruiser
Hurtigruten is commemorating the 120th anniversary of its six to 12-day Norwegian Coastal Voyages – long known by the epithet bestowed by Lonely Planet -- “The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage” -- with enhanced offerings focusing on music, culture and culinary and detailed in a new 2013 Norway Brochure.  A staple of Norwegian culture since 1893, Hurtigruten’s fleet of modern ships offers a unique glimpse into Norwegian culture as they transport guests and locals alike along Norway’s spectacular west coast, stopping at 34 ports of call between the cultural center of Bergen and Kirkenes, high above the Arctic Circle.

    The new brochure details the extraordinary voyage and land opportunities available in 2013 – local culinary specialties, Viking history and myth, the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights, stunning fjords and rare glimpses of wildlife, to name a few – as well as an exciting array of more than 45 optional excursions to help personalize the voyage for each guest.  Travelers booking by Sept. 30, 2012 are rewarded with an early booking discount of up to 25%; some limitations may apply.  Members of the 1893 Ambassador Club, a free loyalty club for guests who have sailed a minimum of three nights on any Hurtigruten ship in the past, receive a 5% discount on the voyage fare as well as a range of other exclusive benefits.

    Hurtigruten presents guests with an ever-changing landscape of small fishing villages in the rugged Lofoten Islands; Art Nouveau Ålesund, the medieval Viking capital of Trondheim; and Norway's "Paris of the North," Tromsø.  A diverse array of optional excursions provides opportunities for customization of the experience, offering an ever deeper understanding of Norwegian culture.  Options for 2013 include a trip to the breathtaking Geiranger Fjord – a UNESCO World Heritage Site praised by National Geographic – featuring cascading waterfalls, emerald waters and panoramic views of Ålesund; a journey across the 71st parallel to the North Cape, the northernmost point in Europe and home to grazing reindeer and the indigenous Sami people; and the Lofotr Viking Feast, which immerses guests in Viking culture with a visit to the Viking museum and a real Viking feast, complete with home-brewed mead.  Guests are encouraged to book optional excursions prior to departure as space can be limited.

    For those seeking to combine other travel plans with a Hurtigruten sailing, the recently added port-to-port pricing allows visitors of Norway to create a truly customized vacation experience, choosing the number of days they wish to sail and between what ports.

    Sailing aboard Hurtigruten ships means large, comfortable lounges with panoramic windows and wonderful views from large outdoor decks; open seating for most meals; authentic Norwegian cuisine designed with fresh seasonal ingredients and incredible seafood, complemented by a comprehensive wine list; multilingual tour directors; a range of comfortable cabin choices that includes large suites, some with private balconies; and a friendly and well-informed crew, ready to offer assistance and learned suggestions.

    Fares subject to availability and include accommodation in cabin grade of choice; full board; a selection of complimentary items onboard for suites; International flights, optional excursions, fuel surcharges are additional.

Membership in the 1893 Ambassador Club loyalty is free of charge and its included discounts are for the cruise component only.  Guest who have already cruised can join by visiting or calling 877-301-3059; new travelers can join the program while onboard their voyage or after returning home.

    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 14 intimate ships, carrying 100 to 646 guests, allows travelers to enjoy unique destinations in a relaxed atmosphere.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Royal Caribbean Nine Ships in Europe in 2013 (Down From 12)

Legend of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Legend of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean International today announced that Legend of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will complete the cruise line’s Europe 2013 deployments, totaling nine Royal Caribbean ships in the region. Legend of the Seas and Vision of the Seas augment already announced U.K.-based Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, Barcelona-based Liberty of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas, and Italy-based Navigator of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas to offer vacationers a sum of 276 sailings to 88 culture-rich ports on 58 exciting Europe itineraries. Legend of the Seas and Vision of the Seas’ Europe 2013 season is open for sale.

            “Royal Caribbean offers families and couples the best cruise ships to create or renew a Europe adventure of a lifetime,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “Nearly every ship will have undergone revitalizations and enhancements to offer vacationers the most innovative and modern fleet in Europe. Couple that with exciting itineraries to the must-see destinations and our friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service, you have a foolproof formula for an unforgettable Europe vacation.”

            In May and August, Vision of the Seas will alternate seven-night Norwegian Fjords and Scandinavia & Russia itineraries from Copenhagen, Denmark. The ship also will offer seven-night Scandinavia & Russia sailings from Stockholm in July. Two Ultimate Scandinavia & Russia itineraries each feature two overnights in St. Petersburg, one sailing on June 19 from Copenhagen on an 11-night itinerary that concludes with an overnight at Stockholm, and the second on July 28 from Stockholm on a 10-night itinerary that concludes with an overnight at Copenhagen. Additionally from Copenhagen, vacationers can select a 10-night British Isles cruise departing on Aug. 7, or an 11-night sailing on June 8 that ventures up the Norwegian Coast and beyond Latitude 66 North into the Arctic Circle.

             Vision of the Seas complements Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas’ Europe 2013 sailings in the North Sea. Brilliance of the Seas also will sail the North and Baltic seas, but on longer 10- to 11-night itineraries from Harwich, England. Independence of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas will homeport at Southampton, to offer a wide range of itineraries to the Baltics, British Isles, Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

            Legend of the Seas divides its Europe summer between the homeports of Rome (Civitavecchia) and Venice. From May through August, the ship sails a seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary, calling at Genoa, Italy; Provence (Marseilles), France; and Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Valencia, Spain. A nine-night circumnavigation of the Italian peninsula, departing Aug. 31, brings Legend of the Seas to Venice, where the ship will offer vacationers a pair of 10-night Greek Isles and 11-night Greece & Turkey itineraries in Sept. and Oct.

            Legend of the Seas bolsters Navigator of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas sailings from Rome (Civitavecchia) and Venice, respectively. Navigator of the Seas offers seven-night Eastern Mediterranean and Greek Isles cruises, while Splendour of the Seas offers seven-night Adriatic and Greek Isles sailings.

            And from Barcelona, Liberty of the Seas offers vacationers five- and seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises and Serenade of the Seas offer a selection of 12-night Mediterranean Greek Isles and Mediterranean Venice itineraries. Liberty of the Seas exclusively offers the DreamWorks Experience, featuring lovable characters such as Shrek and Fiona, Kung Fu Panda, and the stars of upcoming Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien XIII, and Pengiuns Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico. Additionally, Liberty of the Seas will be the only cruise ship in the Mediterranean to feature Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted in 3D in the ship’s main theater when the movie opens on June 8, 2012, as well as the only fully-licensed production of West End-hit Saturday Night Fever.

              Most every Royal Caribbean ship in Europe will have undergone revitalization and enhancements to offer guests of all ages the elevated standards of the cruise line, such as renewed staterooms with new flat-panel televisions, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for the youngest guests age six to 36 months old, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service, an oversized LCD entertainment screen overlooking the main pool deck, a Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members, and a Concierge Lounge for top-tier Crown & Anchor Society members and suite guests. Dining options also will be expanding and include popular experiences introduced aboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, such as Park Café deli, Izumi Asian Cuisine, Giovanni’s Table Italian trattoria, Chops Grille steakhouse, and an exclusive Chef’s Table dinner and wine pairing.

            Vacationers also have greater flexibility as to when they would like their Royal Caribbean Europe vacation to begin. For Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Legend of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas, vacationers have the opportunity to embark at a subsequent port on the itinerary. Guests enjoy the full itinerary, but in a different order of ports, round-trip from their port of embarkation. Vacationers can choose to embark Liberty of the Seas at Toulon, France, or Naples, Italy; Navigator of the Seas at Messina, Italy; Legend of the Seas at Marseilles, France, or Genoa, Italy; and Splendour of the Seas at Bari, Italy.

            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.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Compagnie du Ponant Offers Jazz at Sea Featuring Christian Morin

Compagnie du Ponant L'Austral - Jazz Cruise
Luxury yacht company Compagnie du Ponant is creating its own live soundtrack for a fall Mediterranean cruise, coupling distinctive ports of call with special performances by guest jazz musician Christian Morin.  The eight-day “Jazz at Sea” itinerary departs Nice, France on Oct. 27 and ends in Las Palmas, Spain on Nov. 3.  Along the way, the luxury mega-yacht L’Austral visits ports in Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands, as Morin performs private concerts for passengers.  Fares range from $2,621 to $6,547 per person, double.  These fares represent a 20% savings from brochure rates via the Ponant Bonus program, which rewards guests the further in advance they book their cruise.

Onboard, Morin will entertain passengers at two separate concerts.  An accomplished designer, actor and television personality in addition to being a musician, Morin hosts a weekday show on Radio Classique in France and has appeared in films, television and theater.  He’s a clarinetist who has performed in notable Paris jazz clubs, including Le Petit Journal, the Jazz-Club at the Méridien and Le Caveau de la Huchette.  Audiences love his unique style, which he’s now sharing with American jazz enthusiasts through this partnership with Compagnie du Ponant.

Compagnie du Ponant’s ships give their passengers opportunities to explore areas that larger ships simply can’t access.  On this sailing, guests will stop in Barcelona and Malaga, Spain; Casablanca and Essaouira, Morroco; and the Canary Islands.  Malaga, one of the oldest cities in the world, was the birthplace of Pablo Piccaso.  Casablanca is the economic capital of Morroco, while Essaouira is noted for its wood crafts.  Arrecife Lanzarote was named for its black volcanic reefs, and Las Palmas is a cultural center that’s home to museums and theaters.  Optional excursions on this cruise provide opportunities to see mosques, participate in tea ceremonies, hike volcanoes, and take camel excursions.

The 264-passenger mega-yacht L’Austral  is now in its second year of sailing.  It boasts two restaurants specializing in both haute and country French cuisine, an open-air bar, spacious lounges, a library, a theater, a fully equipped spa in partnership with Sothys, a fitness area, a swimming pool, a games area, and a crew of 139.  Its 132 cabins – most with private balconies – have king-size or twin beds, a desk, minibar, dressing table, marble baths with showers, and L’Occitane bath products.  Guests will also find all the latest technology in these cabins, including flat-screen satellite televisions, iPod docking stations and Wi-Fi.

Included in the pricing are all meals, accompanied by wine, beer and soda (at lunch and dinner); a welcome-aboard cocktail party; 24-hour room service; all entertainment, events and shows as indicated within the itinerary; and porterage from quayside to the ship and vice versa.  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 ships and cruise itineraries are designed to protect marine wildlife, coastal environments, and local flora and fauna.


Nick's Cruise Corner Blog

Monday, May 21, 2012

SilverSea Cruises Announces 2013 - 115 Day World Cruise

SilverSea Cruises Silver Whisper - 2013 World Cruise
SilverSea Cruises Silver Whisper - 2013 World Cruise
Bestselling novelists Mary Higgins Clark and Lynne Truss are set to join an eclectic array of prominent guest speakers sailing aboard Silver Whisper's World Cruise in 2013, an epic 115-day journey from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, departing January 5.

Crossing the equator four times, the World Cruise itinerary will follow the tropical belt to 52 destinations in 28 countries with overnight stays in several key ports. The warm-weather journey will explore a realm of far-flung cultures and scenic wonders including New Zealand and Australia's remote west coast; the idyllic isles of French Polynesia; fascinating Asian cities of Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore; and Africa's rarely seen western coast.

"We're delighted to offer our World Cruise guests an onboard enrichment program that is as extraordinary as the exotic destinations and ancient cultures they will visit," said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea's president of the Americas. "We're lining up professors and celebrated personalities from around the globe to share insights on a diverse range of topics that will both entertain and enlighten our guests."

To complement what is arguably the ultimate globetrotting experience, Silversea has already tapped the following guest lecturers:

Mary Higgins Clark: Known as America's Queen of Suspense, this worldwide bestselling author -- whose books have sold over one hundred million copies in the U.S. alone -- will sail Voyage 4304, February 25 - March 8, Hong Kong - Singapore.

Lynne Truss: This humorist and author, whose bestselling book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation has sold over three million copies, is slated to sail Voyage 4303, February 4 - 25, Sydney - Hong Kong.

Nigel West: Renowned military historian specializing in intelligence, counterintelligence and security issues, whose many books include At Her Majesty's Secret Service, will sail Voyage 4307, April 5 - May 1, Cape Town - Fort Lauderdale.

Terry Waite: In 1987, negotiating the release of hostages in Beirut as special envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Waite was himself taken hostage and held in captivity for 1,763 days. He is slated to sail Voyages 4301 - 4302, January 5 - February 4, Los Angeles to Sydney.

Michael Buerk: One of Britain's leading broadcast journalists, BBC news correspondent and anchor for more than thirty years. His coverage of the Ethiopian famine alerted the world to the tragedy. He will sail Voyages 4301 - 4302, January 5 - February 4, Los Angeles to Sydney.

Tony Leon: A former member and leader of the opposition in South Africa's parliament, in 2009 he was appointed the country’s ambassador to Argentina. He will sail Voyage 4306, March 24 - April 5, Mauritius - Cape Town.

Philip Hurst: Historian and world affairs expert, this former deputy director of The Australian Institute of International Affairs will sail Voyage 4307, April 5 - May 1, Cape Town - Fort Lauderdale.

Thomson Smillie: This opera impresario, who has produced over one hundred operas and stage directed over thirty productions with companies in Europe and North America, will sail Voyages 4301 - 4302, January 5 - February 4, Los Angeles to Sydney.

Dr. Mark H. Elovitz: The internationally acclaimed world affairs commentator and lecturer, who served as a professor of law, a litigator, government advisor, historian and U.S. Air Force officer, will sail Voyage 4306, March 24 - April 5, Mauritius - Cape Town.

Click here for more information on World Cruise 2013 or visit


Nick's Cruise Corner Blog

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crystal Cruises Unveils 2013/2014 Itineraries

Crystal Cruises 2013/2014 Cruise Atlas
Crystal Cruises 2013/2014 Cruise Atlas
Crystal Cruises has released its latest Worldwide Cruise Atlas for all of 2013 and winter/spring 2014, becoming the first luxury cruise line to offer a published guide for those years.  The ultra-stylish, 170-page book showcases the line’s innovative new brand campaign, “Begin a New Story,” which shares personal travel stories, images, and mementos in journal-like form.  Profiling 84 itineraries in more than 75 countries and 250+ ports, the engaging pages all share story elements of sailing aboard artfully elegant Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

“This Atlas showcases the Crystal experience in a very different, emotional, and sensory way, so that, through the personal stories of our own guests, other discerning travelers can embrace the idea that a voyage with Crystal goes way beyond just our ships,” says Nitsa Lewis, vice president of marketing.  “Our new campaign invites those who are seeking luxurious adventure to write a new story of their own –an experience ashore, a moment on board -- adding yet another great chapter to the story of their lives.”

Guide highlights include:
  • An innovative and picturesque showcasing of Crystal’s award-winning service, space, quality, and choices, as well as recent innovations, such as travel easement via Fast-Track Check-In and VIP Airport Service, culinary enhancements like All Inclusive, Chinese “Comfort Food,” and a late-night Bistro, plus redesigns, new entertainment and local dignitary visits.
  • Itineraries grouped by region: World & Grand Cruises (South America and Australasia in 2013, and LA to London in 2014), the Exotics, Tropical Escapes, New England and Canada, South America and Antarctica, and Europe and the Mediterranean.
  • New routes, including cruises beginning and ending in Reyjkavik, Dublin, Bali, Brisbane, and Kobe in 2013, as well as explorations of Polynesia, Indonesia, and the Andaman Sea in 2014.
  • 19 maiden calls, plus returns to less-visited ports-of-call and lands like the Shetland Islands; Savannah, Georgia; Pusan, Korea; Izmir, Turkey; Tokyo; Burma; Namibia; and the Cook Islands.
  • 2013 theme cruises, including new Photography, Garden Design, and Esprit du Grand Prix Experiences of Discovery.
  • A more than 250% increase in shorter European voyages, with 75% of 2013’s summer sailings lasting 7 to 12 days, more than half of those departing on weekends.
  • More than 85% of 2013’s voyages in port for two or more days, marking a continued increase in days and nights spent locally.
  • Crystal’s all-inclusive value, including special offers such as Crystal Family Memories and Explorer Combinations, as well as always-complimentary offering like specialty restaurant cuisine from Nobu.
  • Pre- and post-cruise guidance and options, including Crystal Adventure Hotel Programs and optional air add-ons.

With “Book Now” fares expiring every 60 days, a pull-out compendium outlining all pricing, including cruise port, security, and handling charges, will be issued every two months.  Crystal will also soon be issuing an iPhone App and Aurasma videos that embrace the unique watercolor and photography elements displayed throughout the Atlas.

The Atlases can be requested from any Crystal travel agent.

Crystal’s passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more “World’s Best” awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history. 


Nick's Cruise Corner Blog

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dining Options Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Breeze

Dining Options Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Breeze
Dining Options Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Breeze
Dining is a highlight of the Carnival vacation experience and the 130,000-ton Carnival Breeze will feature a huge array of culinary choices when it enters service June 3. Two new offerings will include Bonsai Sushi, the line’s first full-service sushi restaurant, and an open-air barbecue venue called Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ.

        Here’s a look at the Carnival Breeze’s many different tantalizing dining choices:

    Bonsai Sushi – Carnival’s first full-service sushi restaurant, Bonsai Sushi offers a wide variety of Asian-inspired delicacies with a contemporary decor featuring artwork by world-renowned graffiti artist Erni Vales, colorful koi kites flown during impromptu celebrations, and, of course, several Bonsai trees. Located along Promenade Deck, Bonsai Sushi includes a number of varieties of sushi, sashimi, and rolls along with bento boxes and the venue’s own interpretation of a sushi boat – in this case, a sushi “ship” – with prices ranging from $1 for appetizer-sized portions to $15 for a sushi ship for two.

    Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ – Reminiscent of a backyard barbecue, this complimentary open-air dining venue located on Promenade Deck offers a mouth-watering array of grilled favorites, including barbecued chicken breast, kielbasa, Italian sausage, and Fat Jimmy’s signature item, pulled pork sandwiches, along with traditional sides like baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mini-corn muffins.

    Guy’s Burger Joint – fresh-made burgers, hand-cut fries and innovative toppings created in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri.

    BlueIguana Cantina – offering authentic tacos and burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar.

    The Punchliner Comedy Brunch presented by George Lopez – featuring hilarious comedic performances and an extensive menu of brunch-time favorites.

    Fahrenheit 555 – a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and other gourmet fare with impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet).

    Cucina del Capitano – a family-style restaurant reminiscent of a cozy Italian home with dishes such as Piatto della Nonna, inspired by the grandma of Carnival Breeze Captain Vincenzo Alcaras with penne pasta, crispy shrimp and prosciutto in a vodka cream sauce  (venue will serve as a free lunch-time pasta bar during the day with a nominal charge for dinner).

    Lido Marketplace – a casual poolside eatery offering an array of international favorites, from paninis and 24-hour pizza to Indian Tandoori and a Mongolian Wok station and just about everything in between.

    “The Comfort Kitchen” – new venue located within Lido Marketplace offering American-style “comfort food.”

     Ocean Plaza – an indoor/outdoor café serving cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos as well as pastries and other confections.

    RedFrog Pub – an island-themed pub where guests can nosh on Caribbean-inspired fare while soaking up the distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West ambiance.

    Serenity – salads, sandwiches, wraps and other light fare available at the ship’s exclusive adults-only retreat.

     The Taste Bar – complimentary bite-size offerings inspired by popular Carnival dining venues, along with a signature cocktail tied to that eatery’s particular theme available for purchase.

    Sea Dogs – a hot dog-shaped cart within the SportSquare outdoor recreation area offering all-beef franks and traditional toppings (debuts on Carnival Breeze in November).

The Carnival Breeze will be delivered to Carnival Cruises on June 2nd, 2012.

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Nick's Cruise Corner Blog

Friday, May 18, 2012

MSC Cruises MSC Divina Dining Options

MSC Cruises MSC Divina Dining Options
MSC Cruises MSC Divina Dining Options
The divine dining experience awaiting guests of MSC Cruises’ newest ship will be celebrated in appropriate style at MSC Divina’s christening ceremony in Marseilles, France, on May 26, when renowned French Chef Christian Constant will delight guests with two signature menus created especially for the event.

Chef Constant, who is also a favorite on the European version of the popular Top Chef program, runs three stylish Parisian restaurants, each known for its individual style, ambiance and menu.

A sneak preview of Chef Constant’s christening menus reveals culinary gems such as Medallion of Spiny Lobster accompanied by diced Niçoise vegetables flavored with horseradish, and Crispy Supreme of Mediterranean Sea-Bass with almonds accompanied by caper Ravigote sauce and a salad of spinach sprouts.

An impressive selection of France’s best wines has been carefully chosen to accompany the menu, and for dessert guests will savor the delicious Christian Constant mille-feuille Divina with half-salted butter caramel.

MSC Cruises wholeheartedly believes that delicious, authentic cuisine lies at the heart of a wonderful vacation and that a cruise should always be a gastronomic tour of discovery. MSC Cruises also knows that for guests to make the most of MSC Divina’s fabulous design, innovative new features and breathtakingly beautiful ports of call, they must be nourished with the finest dishes made from the freshest, best quality, ethically sourced, and locally inspired ingredients.

That’s why, when the christening ends and guests board the ship, they will be dazzled by the multiple dining options available and by MSC Divina’s ability to provide something delectable to meet all tastes and moods.

New and unique to MSC Divina and a highlight for many guests will be Galaxy, a fashionable new panoramic restaurant in the disco. Based on the style of famous 1950s Italian nightclubs such as La Capannina and Forte dei Marmi, Galaxy takes La Dolce Vita and the theme of light as its inspiration and appeals to all of the five senses.

Galaxy’s theme of light also means that the overall space has been created around specially designed lamps. Refined, elegant and reflecting modern minimalism, the stylish black, grey and Bordeaux color scheme means that the fabulous cuisine will look, as well as taste, wonderful whatever time of day.

Providing a fabulous brunch menu for late risers, including the delectable eggs Benedict, savory croissants and tasty Parma ham, a selection of fresh juices, and the “bubbles” menu including spumante, champagne and rosé, Galaxy will be the perfect kick-start to a day on board or on shore.

In the evening, diners will indulge in fabulous Mediterranean fusion cuisine such as roasted scallops on a cream of courgette and basil soup with porcini mushrooms and fried leeks, or succulent sea bass tartare with fresh goat cheese, crispy sesame seed wafers and liquorice sensation.

The emphasis is on sampling the food, enjoying the music in red, grey and black surroundings, while watching the stars and sipping a Galaxy cocktail or a high quality wine from the sommelier selection, which can be purchased by the glass.

It could be difficult to come back to earth after tasting one of Galaxy’s delightful meals, but luckily MSC Divina’s six other restaurants, including the exclusive MSC Yacht Club restaurant
Le Muse, the Sacramento Tex Mex and the Sacramento Hamburger House, offer a whole range of exciting and sumptuous dining options to keep guests’ taste buds entertained for the whole length of their cruise.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

InnerSea Discoveries/American Safari Cruises Safari Endeavour and Wilderness Explorer May 18th Christening in Seatlle

American Safari Cruises' Safari Endeavour - Refitted and Naming in Seattle
American Safari Cruises' Safari Endeavour - Refitted and Naming in Seattle
Sporting new hull colors, interior spaces, furnishings and amenities, the 86-guest Safari Endeavour and 76-guest Wilderness Explorer emerge from major renovation projects on May 18, 2012 for a dual-boat christening event in Seattle and a summer season of un-cruise adventures in Alaska. InnerSea Discoveries/American Safari Cruises operates three expedition vessels and three yachts in scenic destinations including Alaska, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Pacific Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands.

“We’ve invested in these two boats to ensure maximum comfort, adventure and unsurpassed value for our guests,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Whether you choose the inclusive yacht or the expedition vessel, the value and quality of our un-cruise adventure package will be remarkable.”

In true maritime tradition, both boats will be welcomed into the fleet with a crack of champagne across the bow at a gathering of company executives, employees, friends and family on Friday, May 18, 2012. The 5:30 pm christening event is open to the public and will be held outside office headquarters at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal.

The 86-guest Safari Endeavour joins American Safari Cruises’ upscale fleet of yachts—all with navy blue hulls and exceptional comfort and refined atmosphere on board. The guest capacity has been reduced from 102 to 86 guests with a mix of twin (some convertible) and king beds. During renovation, four Commodore Suites were created by merging eight former staterooms and adding new step-out balconies and Jacuzzi tubs. Four more stateroom categories include three Masters, 21 Commanders, 12 Captains and three Admirals, all with one or two outside view windows.  All rooms have flatscreen TVs/DVDs and iPod docks.

During an 11-month renovation, interior spaces were updated with higher-end furnishings and fixtures and new spaces and amenities added. In the main dining room, a wine bar and a resource library have been created to provide two new gathering places to relax and read or enjoy a glass of wine. Other additions include six microbrews and eight Proletariat wines on tap in the lounge bar, new outside decks and a keyboard and flatscreen TV for presentations in the lounge. The dining room and lounge also received updated décor and an improved public announcement system.

Wellness facilities added to the Safari Endeavour include two massage rooms, two hot tubs, sauna, yoga mats for yoga classes on deck and fitness equipment. Two wellness directors provide a complimentary massage to each guest and lead morning yoga classes. Carrying 20 double-kayaks, a high-tech kayak launching platform was added to the stern to quickly launch four kayaks at a time.

The 76-guest Wilderness Explorer, now painted with InnerSea Discoveries’ signature forest green hull, joins the active adventure fleet in Alaska this summer. During a seven-month renovation, refinements were made throughout the vessel. Staterooms were refreshed with new décor, linens, flatscreen TVs/DVDs and iPod docks. Three cabin categories consist of 21 Trailblazer, 13 Pathfinder and 4 Explorer cabins. Bed configurations include twin or queen with many more made convertible during renovation. In the lounge bar, guests will find eight microbrews and two Proletariat wines on tap. A new buffet in the dining room will streamline meal service usually held buffet-style to ensure maximum flexibility with adventure activities. Other shipboard amenities include complimentary on-deck yoga classes, a large resource library, well-stocked DVD library and board games.  A professional masseuse is part of the crew and massages are available for a fee.

Wellness facilities added include a hot tub on the bow, sauna and fitness equipment on the sun deck, and a massage room. A new swim step has been added to the ship’s main deck aft and serves as a launch pad for excursions. The boat carries 28 kayaks and hosts a state-of-the-art kayak launch platform able to quickly and safely launch four kayaks at once.

An innovative human-powered watercraft, built especially for the company, will be on board the Wilderness Explorer for guest use. Powered by two peddlers and up to six paddlers, it can be taken out for low-impact, up-close exploration of remote areas closed to motorized vessels in Glacier Bay.

The Safari Endeavour will sail weeklong, inclusive luxury adventure cruises in Alaska roundtrip Juneau from June to August. Guests enjoy the luxury of two days exploring inside Glacier Bay National Park with opportunities to hike and kayak with park rangers. Seven theme cruises feature guest presenters or performers and a $518 per couple travel credit commemorating the christening of the vessel May 18. From November through April, the Safari Endeavour sails weeklong Baja’s Bounty adventures in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés.

The Wilderness Explorer sails weeklong active adventure cruises in Alaska between Juneau and Sitka (and reverse) from June through August. The itinerary includes three full days exploring inside Glacier Bay National Park including the lesser visited but equally spectacular East Arm with McBride Glacier and Muir Glacier.

Un-cruise fares in Alaska start at US$4,795 aboard the Safari Endeavour and US$3,095 aboard the Wilderness Explorer, per person based on double occupancy.  Adventure activities are included on both boats: hiking, kayaking, skiff excursions, whale watching, paddle boarding. Yachts and expedition vessels can be booked as a private charter or by individual stateroom.

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Nick's Cruise Corner Blog

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Princess Cruises Bases Ship in San Francisco Year-Round

Princess Cruises announced today that for the first time it will base a ship in San Francisco year round, beginning in May 2013. The extensively renovated Grand Princess will first offer a series of Alaska cruises during the summer months from the “City by the Bay,” followed by a schedule of Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and the California Coast sailings during the fall 2013 to spring 2014 season.

Last year the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess underwent the largest drydock in Princess Cruises history, adding a host of new features so that passengers will enjoy the same onboard experience as offered by the line’s other newer ships.

“Princess has been cruising from San Francisco nearly as long as our company has been in operation, so we have a rich history with the city, and we are the leading cruise line homeporting there,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Our Bay Area passengers and travel agents have long been asking for more cruise options from San Francisco and our new year-round schedule with Grand Princess will now give them a great selection of itinerary choices, plus the benefit of sailing on a ship that offers our signature features and amenities.”

"Princess ships have been cruising from San Francisco for more than 40 years, and we greatly appreciate the company's longstanding partnership with our city," said Monique Moyer, executive director of the Port of San Francisco. “We are delighted to now have our first year-round ship based here, and it is a natural fit that the vessel is the caliber of Grand Princess. Having this ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and berth at the foot of Coit Tower will be spectacular, both for the passengers on board and the people of San Francisco."

During the 2013-14 season Grand Princess will sail roundtrip from San Francisco to:

Alaska – Grand Princess’ first Alaska season features 10-day Inside Passage sailings. The ship will offer 13 voyages featuring the stunning scenery of Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm, with calls at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria. Cruises depart between May 10 and September 7, 2013.

Mexico – Grand Princess will offer two sailings on a new 10-day itinerary to Mexico, featuring two new ports for Princess – Loreto and La Paz, both in Baja California. Passengers will also enjoy calls at Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Sailings depart on September 17, 2013 and March 5, 2014.

California Coastal – An increasingly popular Princess itinerary, Grand Princess will take passengers to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Diego, and Ensenada. Four sailings are offered on September 27 and October 19, 2013; plus March 15 and April 6, 2014.

Hawaiian Islands – Passengers can explore each of the main Hawaiian islands on this 15-day voyage to the Big Island (Hilo), Oahu (Honolulu), Kauai (Nawiliwili), Maui (Lahaina), and Ensenada. Grand Princess will offer 12 departures between October 4, 2013 and April 28, 2014.

During last year’s drydock Grand Princess added a variety of passenger amenities, including a completely new Piazza atrium, several new eateries – including Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the Crown Grill – and the line’s first specialty tea lounge called Leaves. Also included in the renovation were a remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner’s Martini Lounge and a new nightclub, The One5.
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Nick's Cruise Corner Blog