Main menu:


Site search

Categories

January 2015
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Tags

Quantum Of The Seas – A Ship In Transition

Written by: Cruise News

January 14, 2015.

By Dave Beers, Editor Of CruiseReviews.com

I just returned from an 8-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s sparkling new Quantum Of The Seas, which the cruise line calls the world’s first “smart ship”.  I had been aboard for a complimentary 2-night travel agent/travel media sailing when the ship arrived at Bayonne in November, but earlier in 2014 I booked the 8-night cruise in anticipation of better experiencing the ship since two nights aboard any ship simply doesn’t provide enough time to assess it.

My January 3-11 cruise had but two ports-of-call with most of the cruise spent at sea on the long transit from Bayonne to San Juan, to nearby Labadee on the north coast of Haiti, and then back to New Jersey.  Generally it was a good cruise and I personally like the Royal Caribbean brand (full disclosure – I am a Diamond Plus member of the Crown & Anchor Society), but there are some challenges still to be ironed out on Quantum as the ship moves forward in its operational life.  Here are my thoughts about various things I experienced on the cruise.

Embarkation At Cape Liberty Cruise Port

Part of the “smart ship” mantra is the “smart check-in” process used for Quantum.  This allows guests to do most of what is normally done at the pier – including entering credit card information for the onboard account and providing a photo image for security – at home when completing the online check-in process.  The idea being that when you arrive at Cape Liberty the agents in the terminal would just scan your SetSail barcode with their tablet computer, verify the information is in the system, and you are on your way to the ship almost instantly.  That’s how it is supposed to work.

I was traveling with another cruise journalist – Paul Motter, the editor of Cruisemates – and when we arrived at the terminal it was fairly chaotic.  We gave our luggage to the porters and they put RFID tags on the bags and gave us a tag stub for each one.  This is so guests can track their luggage from pier to cabin door using the “Royal iQ” smartphone app.  We then waded through the crowd outside the terminal and entered.

Passengers gathered around the roving agents who are stationed immediately inside the terminal door.   A worker directed us to go through security after she issued a boarding number tag to us, but said no more.  Once past security we wandered around for a few moments before noticing check-in desks along the far wall and got in a line, so we were pretty much checking in the ‘old way’ and not the ‘smart way’, at least entirely.  By the way, our SetSail passes had boarding group assignments on them so I never understood the reason for another one to be issued to us at the door.  We also had an appointment time to check-in listed on the SetSail passes, which appeared to be entirely meaningless.

We finally got checked in after the security photos were redone (the agent didn’t like the ones we had each uploaded), and then the security photos were checked yet again when we ‘boarded’ the ship while still in the terminal, this done by scanning our SetSail passes at the security checkpoint at the base of the escalator to the ship.

We did manage to go from luggage drop-off to walking aboard the ship in about 25 minutes, but it was not as “smart” as it was when I checked in for my two-night cruise.  I’m still not sure what is wrong with the “old” method of checking in.  It works, is familiar to people, and is more organized.  My advice is to arrive after 1pm if you can.  You’ll be glad you did.

Aboard the Quantum

When you board Quantum Of The Seas you enter by the Royal Esplanade.  This is an open area with shops, bars, and snack venues located on either side.  There were crew standing around but not saying anything unless asked, and nobody said anything about when cabins would be available, but since we knew our way around the ship we immediately went to the cabin anyway, just to see if it was prepared and ready, and indeed it was.  With Quantum, your Seapasses (cruise card) are not issued in the terminal but instead the card for the lead name on the booking is in a sealed envelope at the cabin door.  You use this card to enter the cabin and the other cruise cards, and nifty RFID wristbands for everyone, are in the cabin in a special cradle on the beds.

We had a category D8 balcony cabin near the bow – cabin 6128.  It was comfortable and had the most storage area I’ve ever had in a standard balcony cabin.  The balcony was also larger than is typical on recent new ships from other cruise lines.  A 50” flat screen TV faces the beds and is also hinged so it can swing towards the sofa for viewing.  The bathroom is the usual size (small) and has very little shelf space for placing personal items.  However, in the big picture the balcony cabins on Quantum are excellent and since they are the most plentiful category of cabin, you’ll likely find yourself in one should you cruise on this class of ship.

The consensus among the cruise media and experienced cruisers is that Quantum has a lot in common with the Solstice class ships of Celebrity Cruises.  Royal Caribbean’s executives eschew this comparison, but with my apologies to them I also get the strong sense of being aboard Celebrity Solstice when roaming the interior of the Quantum Of The Seas.  The décor, colors, elegant feel, it’s unlike any other Royal Caribbean ship.

There are a lot of spacious high-end stores on Quantum, selling watches, cosmetics, handbags, and jewelry from such famous brands as Cartier, Kiehl’s Cosmetics, Tag Heuer, Michael Kor’s, Hublot, and Bvlgari.  By comparison, the logo shop shares space with the liquor store and is cramped, with limited choices.   However there was a seemingly never-ending sales bazaar going on in the middle of the Esplanade, with periodic buying frenzies with guests standing three deep vying for position at the “Everything Is $10” sale and other similar events.   It blocked off easy passage through the area, so if you see this happening head to deck 5 if you are heading forward or aft.

The WOW

North Star, iFly, SeaPlex, Two70.  Those who’ve been aboard Quantum or have just read about it know those names.  They are the venues that provide the famous Royal Caribbean “WOW” factor.

We went up in North Star as the ship approached Labadee.  It was a fun experience and of course everyone was taking ‘selfies’ once the pod achieved maximum height and we were towering over the water by 300 feet, but when the approximately 10 minute long ride was over I felt no compulsion to do it again.  I suspect this is true for most passengers, which is good because North Star was first come, first served, and the line stretched for up to a 90 minute wait (they had signs at various points along the line telling how long the wait would be from that point).  Do it once, take your selfies and video, and move on to the other neat things to do on Quantum.

SeaPlex is the place for bumper cars, roller-skating, or just playing basketball and other games.  Bumper cars are by far the most popular thing, and so rides are limited to just 3 to 5 minutes before they stop you so others can participate.  You can do it over and over though, as long as you wait your turn.

I didn’t try iFly but the ‘free’ ride is only one minute long after you are briefed on the process and weighed (look here for the weight and age limit).  People who did partake looked to be thrilled by it.

Two70 was my favorite place on the ship.  The multi-use space was a daily morning hangout for me, watching the sea go by.  It seemed underutilized though, especially at night.  They presented the Starwater show a few times over the course of the cruise, and there was an excellent cooking demonstration on one morning, and people would watch and applaud as the acrobats practiced every day, but not much else was going on other than living room conversations between guests and families seated on the chairs and sofas.

For a never fully explained reason, Royal Caribbean gave everyone on our cruise free internet, which is a major thing on Quantum because the ship touts the broadband O3b internet service.  For most of the 8 days we had 24-hour access to true high speed internet at sea.  I say most, because there were some periodic down times or sudden disconnects while the person next to you still had a good signal.  However I did a couple speed tests and normally had a download speed comparable to a land-based DSL line, uploads were slower but I was still able to post numerous videos to my Facebook page mere moments after recording them.  That was a lot of fun.  Of course, along with free internet comes the lure of using it often, and thus on this cruise you couldn’t walk three feet without seeing someone with a smartphone stuck in front of their face.

There seemed to be a lot of down time on this cruise, where nothing was going on that interested me or many of the other guests.  It was more pronounced at night but also evident during the day.  So it was that people were often just sitting around surfing the internet, looking at Facebook, reading e-mails, and not much else.  Earlier in the cruise Paul and I interviewed the ship’s IT Manager and he claimed the free internet was just to ‘test the system’ along with a couple of other vague reasons.  Towards the end of the cruise I started to wonder if it was done just to give people something to do.

Entertainment

Mamma Mia is the Broadway show and it lived up to it in every way. Excellent full-scale production of 2.5 hours with a 15 minute intermission. Starwater is sort of surreal and while I liked it, some didn’t seem to ‘get it’.  Please do see Starwater though, because I think it is wonderful.

We had one tribute band aboard – “Wanted” – which did a Bon Jovi tribute to a very high standard. They left the cruise in San Juan and the remaining nights of the cruise were fairly quiet in the Music Hall, although the band Horizon did play again after a two day hiatus for live music. This carries along with the comments about the ship not having a lot going on in the evening.

There were no solo guitarists playing in the pub or other musical acts aboard other than the reggae band that played the pool deck and I think one time in the evening, and the high energy latin music group that played nightly in Bolero’s. But if you didn’t like latin music, you were pretty much left listening to the background songs playing on the ship’s music system.

Food

Of course the big deal on Quantum Of The Seas, first announced with great fanfare last March, is Dynamic Dining.  This has become a lightning rod for many Royal Caribbean loyalists who decry the lack of a traditional main dining room on Quantum and are horrified that the company plans to roll the concept out to other ships in the fleet.

I became an early champion of Dynamic Dining because I like to see new things happen in the cruise industry, which I think in many ways is still clinging to the vestiges of the classic days of ocean voyages.  On my media tour of the ship in November I got the 50 cent tour of all the Dynamic Dining venues, their kitchens (galleys), accompanied by the glowing commentary of Royal Caribbean’s Vice President of Food & Beverage.  However I didn’t get to experience the full Dynamic Dining process on that cruise since we were assigned to specific dining venues for both nights.  Well, I am now a Dynamic Dining veteran and while it worked okay most of the time for us, there were nights when I wished we were going to the old-fashioned main dining room.

Early in the cruise there were lines every night at the four complimentary restaurants – Silk, Grande, American Icon, and Chic.  There were several reasons for this:  guests with no reservations just doing a walk-up for a table, guests already seated were finished and lingering at their tables, and a shortage of staff meant tables were not being served quick enough and used tables not being bussed in a timely manner.

We interviewed the Food & Beverage Manager for Quantum and when I asked if Dynamic Dining had “had a lot of challenges to overcome” he quickly agreed that it had not been as easy as they’d thought it would be to implement.  He told us they had undershot the number of tables needed for peak dining times, and the number of crew needed to turn over the dining room quickly enough.  To that end he said the ship was going to have a “significant” increase in service staff “quickly” and when pressed he finally said that staffing would be boosted by around 30%, which indeed is drastic.  I also want to note that Royal Caribbean has delayed starting Dynamic Dining on the Oasis and Allure Of The Seas, clearly because of the issues they’ve encountered on Quantum.

We were also told that Devinly Decadence would be changed to a complimentary dining venue, which has already happened.  This will add more tables to the dinnertime inventory and hopefully alleviate the lines and other issues.  The jury is obviously still out on whether this will work.

Food quality varied, sometimes greatly.  We had an amazing dinner in the formal Grande restaurant, with delicious food and outstanding service.  Silk was good but nothing extraordinary and the food was quite bland for Asian cuisine.  American Icon and Chic were disappointing, with Chic coming up dead last by serving me an entrée of beef tenderloin that looked like a cut of prime rib but was devoid of taste and had the texture of a slab of bologna.   The menu in American Icon was not very exciting and the Food & Beverage Manager told us they had been tweaking it based on feedback.  I think it needs more tweaking.  Service in American Icon was quick and the waiter was very pleasant.  Our Chic waiter was neither.

For extra-fee dining we ate at Jamie’s Italian, Wonderland, Devinly Decadence (it was still a $25 surcharge on this cruise), and Chops.  Jamie’s was outrageously good.  One of the best meals I’ve ever had on a ship, or really, anywhere.  Wonderland was also excellent, and just really cool in the presentation of the various courses.  Chops is, well, Chops – an upscale steakhouse at sea with a sterling reputation for excellent food and service.  They serve a great steak and side items, and a killer huckleberry cheesecake for dessert. Service in Chops was indeed high end.  Devinly Decadance was excellent at dinner, not so great at lunch.  I had chicken enchiladas for dinner there that were wonderful, but when Paul tried to order them for lunch they were out of them, and the burger they recommended took forever to prepare and was then pretty mundane.  Our dinner server in Devinly was charming and knew the menu inside and out.

The Windjammer buffet is very nicely laid out with lots of seating and of course a wide variety of foods.  I think the food quality was similar to the Windjammer offerings on the other ships.  When you enter the Windjammer you should walk all the way around it first, front to back.  That’s because there is more to it in the back that many people never see, such as empty tables, more serving lines, and a pleasant outdoor seating area.  The big deal though, is the freshly baked cookies they constantly put out.  They are REALLY good, still warm from the oven.  Windjammer has a full service coffee bar and also bar service.

Sorrento’s pizza is on deck 4 and all they serve is pizza.  However you can custom order one from the ingredients they have displayed.  I felt it was very good pizza.

Cafe Two70 has the famous roast beef sandwiches served on kimmelweck rolls.  These are devine and people order hundreds of them daily.  Great salads and breakfast items are also served.

Cafe Promenade is small on the Quantum, but has basic coffee and little pastries and finger sandwiches.  The Patisserie across from it is the large coffee lounge, with high end coffees, teas, candies and pastries – with prices on them.

Beverage

A lack of staff also impacts the bars and lounges on Quantum.  The only venue that was properly staffed was Michael’s Genuine Pub, where service was always quick and excellent.  The other bars were pretty much just covered by the bartenders with bar waiters far and few between.  I think I saw one waiter working the pool bar a few times, never more than that.  Same for the landmark Schooner Bar, which was often exasperating in a quest to be served.

Those working the bars tried very hard to keep up, but generally if you wanted a drink you had to go to the bar and get it, or else sit at the bar.  Thus the bartenders were often overwhelmed.  Given that Quantum is headed for China in a few months, and the Chinese do not spend a lot of time in bars, to me it seems Royal Caribbean has already decided to staff the bars and lounges for the Chinese crowd and that staffing plan is currently in effect aboard Quantum, much to the detriment of the guests sailing from Bayonne.

Despite the above, the cocktails were always excellent, service was with a smile, and I was happy in the end.

Final Thoughts

I don’t understand why, and perhaps the logistics are more problematic than I realize, but there were a lot of things unavailable on the Quantum Of The Seas. American Icon features an “American Classic” sazarac cocktail on the menu, but they were out of the special ‘buttered popcorn infused syrup’ needed to make the drink.  Jamie’s Italian has a Moretti Italian beer as one of two featured beers on their menu, but it was out of stock.  The ship had no souvenir Coke cups to use with the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines until mid-way of the cruise when they received them in San Juan, so the machines were out of service for 4 days.  There were at least six other examples we noted.  Why?  The ship sails from Bayonne, New Jersey, with New York City right there.  Anything in the world can be sourced in New York.  It was baffling.

In the end I liked Quantum Of The Seas but I didn’t love it.  It didn’t leave me wishing my cruise wasn’t over, which is the feeling I get when aboard the other ships of Royal Caribbean.  It’s strange to feel that way, but I was not disappointed to leave the ship on the last morning of the cruise.   Quantum is marketed at the millennial generation, not me and the other baby boomers.   I guess they hit the mark.  But hey, when they get the O3b internet on the other ships in the fleet I’m going to be a very happy Crown & Anchor member!

There were two primary complaints I heard on this cruise – “There’s nothing to do” and “You have to schedule everything”. So on a ship with all the ‘stuff’ that Quantum offers, people were bored. And if you want to eat or see a show, your path to success is to make sure you have a reservation. I can’t say that I disagree with either one of these. The question Royal Caribbean has to answer is, why are people saying this? As they say, perception is reality.  But none of this was to the level of making it a bad cruise, just a cruise where you wondered if you were missing something.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing the lessons learned from Quantum applied to the next ship in the class, Anthem Of The Seas, and then to Ovation Of The Seas.  Royal Caribbean is a well-managed cruise line and they are quick to learn from their errors, and to remedy them effectively and quickly.  I do feel confident that when Anthem Of The Seas arrives this coming spring, it will begin its operational life in much smoother waters. I hope to check out Anthem Of The Seas later this year and see.

Posted: January 14th, 2015 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Princess Cruises Unveils North To Alaska! Cruise Vacation Offerings

Written by: Cruise News

January 13, 2015 – Building on its long-standing recognition as the best Alaska cruise vacation, Princess Cruises today announced the launch of North to Alaska!, a series of new onboard offerings that fully immerse guests in the Great Alaska experience.

Created in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local. North to Alaska! debuts in May 2015 on Princess cruises to Alaska.

“From world-famous Alaska seafood, to learning about life as a lumberjack, to Midnight Sun deck parties and more, we’re bringing the last frontier onboard Princess ships to make the #1 vacation experience in Alaska even better,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “The new program also demonstrates Princess’ ongoing innovation in cruise vacations and our commitment to super-serving our guests with highly engaging and memorable experiences for the vacation of a lifetime.”

North to Alaska! highlights include:

Eat Like A Local
Providing a culinary journey sure to be savored, Princess has partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to feature nightly a variety of authentic Alaska cuisine – including King Crab, King Salmon and fresh Halibut, among others – prepared by Princess chefs specially-trained by Alaska seafood chefs to capture a true taste of the North. Specialty restaurants will also offer a regional Alaska cuisine menu on select evenings.

In addition, Princess has partnered with some of the best Alaska area joints to provide local favorites and signature dishes onboard including crab cakes from Tracy’s King Crab Shack in Juneau; fish tacos from Ketchikan’s Alaska Fish House; and the Mermaid Burger from the Skagway Fish Company. The winning dish from the 2014 Great Alaska Seafood Cook-off, pan-seared Alaska salmon with root vegetable hash and mushroom tea, created by local chef Travis Haugen of Southside Bistro will be featured in the main dining rooms.

Learn From the Locals
With Alaska cruises all about discovery and exploration, Princess is bringing the variety of Alaska cultures onboard to regale guests with stories of life in Alaska and “a day in the life” hands-on interactive activities:

From the popular Discovery Channel program, “The Deadliest Catch,” Captain David Lethin and his shipmates from the Aleutian Ballad will relate their true-life adventures and experiences in the Bering Sea in pursuit of crab.

Guests will live like a “logger head,” learning the history of logging from a local lumberjack and participating in an axe-throwing competition.

New York Times best-selling author and renowned storyteller Nick Jans will tell his compelling, emotional story of Romeo, the wolf, and the effect he had on the people of Juneau, as told in his book, “A Wolf Called Romeo.”

Kids and teens will explore their adventurous side with activities including a Jr. Ranger program, panning for gold, “The Deadliest Catch” crab-sorting game, an interactive green screen game and more.

Celebrate Like a Local

Guests will experience the thrill and excitement of the Klondike, harkening back to the glory days of gold rush fever. Fun for the whole family, the Klondike festival onboard activities will include Alaska icon and sled-racing presentations, penny whistle classes, traditional dance performances, an arts and crafts show, and more. The festival day will culminate with a celebration of the natural phenomenon of a visible sun at night during the Midnight Sun top-deck party, complete with entertainment, games and specialty drinks.

In total, seven Princess ships offer more than 120 Alaska cruise departures during the summer season, May – September, originating from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska.

For passengers interested in experiencing even more of the Great Land, Princess cruisetours offer an unmatched variety of itinerary options for a complete land and sea Alaska experience ranging from 10 to 15 nights. All cruisetours include a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing including a visit to Glacier Bay National Park, plus up to four nights in the Denali National Park area with stays at Princess’ riverside wilderness lodges.

Additional information about all of the Princess Alaska cruise options and North to Alaska! can be found at princess.com/NorthToAlaska.

Posted: January 14th, 2015 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Carnival Freedom To Host ‘Operation Homefront’ Event For Galveston Arrival

Written by: Cruise News

January 13, 2015 – Carnival Cruise Line will welcome Carnival Freedom to its new year-round homeport of Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, February 14, by hosting a celebration to honor U.S. military families. Through a partnership with Operation Homefront, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial and other assistance to military families, Carnival will provide a day of onboard fun and exciting activities for service members and their families. Among the day’s festivities will be a special outdoor Carnival LIVE performance by country superstar Martina McBride.

Carnival will also host more than 250 travel agents who will have an opportunity to experience for themselves first-hand all the exciting features available on Texas’ newest ship.

“The arrival of Carnival Freedom to its new Galveston homeport is historic as it marks the first time a cruise line has based three year-round ships in Texas,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Line. “We’re thrilled to celebrate this occasion by giving back to the great state of Texas and welcoming aboard military families who make our freedom possible.”

As part of the festivities, Martina McBride will perform that afternoon on one of the ship’s top decks. The country singer has previously performed as part of the line’s breakthrough onboard concert series, Carnival LIVE, which offers guests the best live music at sea from some of the most popular and highly requested music acts.

“I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to perform again on a Carnival ship and am thrilled that I was chosen to be part of this wonderful event that honors U.S. service members and their families,” said Martina McBride. “I’ve played for many audiences in my career, but it will truly be a privilege to salute these incredible families and partner with Carnival to bring them an extra special Valentine’s Day.”

Military families who have registered through Operation Homefront will enjoy a full day and evening of fun aboard the 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom while it is in port, including overnight accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities, all compliments of Carnival Cruise Line.

Prior to the concert, Carnival will conduct a special check presentation to Operation Homefront providing $100,000 to the organization.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Carnival to honor military families and celebrate the cruise line’s expansion in Texas,” said Tim Farrell, chief operating officer of Operation Homefront. “While we serve military families across the nation, we’re grateful for a partner like Carnival who wants to give back right here in our home state of Texas where we have the second largest active duty and veteran population in the country.”

Carnival Freedom recently underwent a $70 million makeover which added an array of Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancements. Event attendees will have access to the ship’s new family entertainment programming including Seuss at Sea, as well as the new Camp Ocean kids facilities. The latest updates also incorporated a number of bar, dining and entertainment innovations including complimentary eateries such as BlueIguana Cantina and Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, poolside bars serving up delicious frozen drinks and cocktails including BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, as well as the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the line’s Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Freedom kicks off year-round sailings from Galveston February 15, 2015, with a special six-day voyage to Mexico followed by the launch of four- to seven-day cruises that visit beautiful ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida. Together with Carnival Triumph and Carnival Magic, the line will carry more than 600,000 passengers annually from Texas.

Posted: January 13th, 2015 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Princess Launches 2015 “Come Back New” Advertising Campaign

Written by: Cruise News

January 12, 2015 – To ring in the new year Princess Cruises has launched a fresh advertising campaign to remind travelers of the memorable moments they can experience while aboard a Princess Cruises vacation. The multi-million-dollar program comes on the heels of last year’s successful “come back new” marketing campaign that marked the return of the line’s advertising on television in more than a decade and reminded viewers that cruising can transform and enrich their lives.

The new travel advertising campaign debuts at the beginning of “wave season” when many guests book their cruise vacations for the upcoming year, and promotes Princess Cruises’ 50th anniversary milestone with national broadcast, print and digital advertising.

Created by San Francisco-based, award-winning agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, the broadcast creative evolves the storytelling approach of the “come back new” theme to showcase Princess guests experiencing unforgettable events as they happen on Alaska cruises and cruises to the Caribbean, two of the line’s most popular destinations. Print ads explore a variety of cruise destinations, cultures and culinary experiences that can lead guests to discover new things while on a cruise vacation. The ads and other campaign materials will roll out through the month of January.

“This new campaign is an exciting opportunity for us to continue the successful momentum of our first ‘come back new’ campaign with fresh content for our 50th anniversary year,” said Gordon Ho, senior vice president of marketing, Princess Cruises. “These new spots showcase the juxtaposition between the reality of daily life and the experience our guests have when they cruise with us to amazing destinations.”

Many of the ads also promote the cruise line’s recently announced partnership with the Discovery Channel and the “Discovery at Sea” program, including stargazing, interactive onboard activities and shore excursions based on top-rated Discovery network shows and designed to entertain and delight families aboard Princess ships.

“Princess Cruises passengers are passionate about exploring and experiencing the world around them and the new Discovery partnership takes this to a whole new level,” added Ho.

The new broadcast spots are available at http://www.princess.com/come-back-new/inspiration/

Posted: January 12th, 2015 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

COOL DOWN IN THE HOTTEST NEW SPOTS AT SEA ON NORWEGIAN ESCAPE

Written by: Cruise News

January 6, 2015 – Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will offer a wide array of spaces for guests to relax and unwind while at sea when the ship debuts in October 2015. Guests will be transported into sheer serenity with the line’s most innovative Mandara Spa to date, a tranquil hideaway that at its epicenter will feature the largest Thermal Suite at sea, outfitted with the line’s first Snow Room. In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will have two private lounge spaces to enjoy onboard at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O, which will feature an all-new grotto area for guests to cool off after a day of sunbathing.

Norwegian Escape’s Mandara Spa experience, spanning two decks, will transport guests to a deep state of relaxation, with unobstructed views of the ocean, the opportunity to melt away on one of the 17 heated loungers, or find instant stress relief in the spa’s hydro-therapy pool, whirlpools, steam room, dry sauna, sanarium and salt room.

Once guests have heated up, they can step into the rejuvenating cold Snow Room, a first for the line, and enter into arctic refreshment. The Snow Room, which ranges from a frosty 21 degrees to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, sends out a flurry of powdery snow throughout the day. Norwegian Escape’s Snow Room offers guests a multitude of health benefits, including stimulating blood circulation in the body and strengthening the immune system.

In addition to the spectacular Thermal Suite, Norwegian Escape’s Mandara Spa will be equipped with 24 contemporary furnished treatment rooms offering more than 50 signature services for both men and women including massages such as the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage; Elemis signature facials such as the luxurious Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial; and signature body enhancing treatments like the Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow.

Norwegian Escape’s full service salon will have guests looking their very best with a wide-array of hair, nails, waxing and kid-friendly services, along with acupuncture, teeth whitening and cosmetic medical treatments, performed by a licensed medi-spa doctor, such as Botox® Cosmetic, Dysport™, Restylane® and Perlane®. In addition, guests can go home tightened and toned by opting for a Thermage® CPT treatment, a premier non-invasive skin rejuvenating therapy that uses radiofrequency to improve the appearance of skin on the face and body in just one contour treatment. The salon area will also feature a Barber Shop, offering exclusive men’s signature services such as the Elemis Pro-Collagen Grooming Treatment with Shave and more.

Guests looking to stay fit while sailing, or who wish to try an exciting new exercise experience, can do so in Norwegian Escape’s state-of-the-art fitness center furnished with the latest Technogym® weight training and cardio equipment. All cardio equipment will synch to Apple music devices and feature a large, HD screen from which guests can watch television, follow a set training program or navigate the playlist. Norwegian group fitness favorites will be offered on board including Pilates, body sculpting boot camp, yoga, Zumba and TRX. Boxing buffs can enjoy Norwegian Fight Klub™, a high-intensity cardio boxing class. Personal training sessions will also be available, along with nutritional consultations and metabolic testing.

Norwegian Escape will also feature Spice H2O and Vibe Beach Club, two adult-only outdoor favorites perfect for lounging away the day. Spice H2O, located at the back of the ship on deck 17, is an adult-only enclave offering day-time complimentary leisure. A bevy
of sun loungers surround a huge video screen, while two hot tubs await for those looking to de-stress. An all-new soothing grotto area, complete with waterfalls and perfect for cooling off from the warm Caribbean sun, will enchant guests upon entering the venue, offering an exotic escape. At night, all guests can dance under the stars in this open-air dance club or enjoy a cocktail at the bar with accompanying lounge area, featuring comfortable seating while admiring the ocean views.

Guests ages 18 and over will also have the opportunity to enjoy another private retreat – Vibe Beach Club – by purchasing an access pass. Complete with ocean views, a large hot tub, luxurious chaise loungers and a soothing water feature, Vibe Beach Club will be the ideal spot for adults to escape, offering a serene, comfortable setting while soaking up the sun. A full-service bar, water spritzers and chilled towels complete the exclusive experience.

Posted: January 6th, 2015 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: ,
Comments: none

FUN SHIP 2.0 INNOVATIONS TO BE ADDED TO CARNIVAL MIRACLE DURING EXTENSIVE DRY DOCK IN SPRING 2015

Written by: Cruise News

January 6, 2015 – Carnival Miracle will undergo an extensive refurbishment this spring that will add an array of new and exciting on-board innovations, from unique bar concepts like RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar to fun entertainment choices such as Playlist Productions and Hasbro, The Game Show, and the family-friendly Seuss at Sea program.

The new features – part of the line’s ongoing Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative – will be added during a two-week-long dry dock that will take place March 7-21, 2015.

The enhancements include:

* RedFrog Pub – a Caribbean-inspired watering hole featuring the region’s best rums and beers – including Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red – enjoyed in a distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West atmosphere

* Alchemy Bar – at this vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy,” mixologists “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative names like “Forty is the New Twenty” and “Restorative Basil Drop”

* Playlist Productions – these four spectacular shows – 88 Keys, 80′s Pop To the Max, Getaway Island and Heart Of Soul – combine captivating live performances of recognizable pop and rock songs with dazzling special effects to create unforgettable evenings of entertainment

* Seuss At Sea – part an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Seuss at Sea brings the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss to life with fun activities like the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends, Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time, and more

* Hasbro, The Game Show – this audience-participation favorite features larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic and popular games with titles like Connect4 Basketball, Sorry Sliders, and Yahtzee Bowling

* Cherry On Top – this “candy and more store” celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

* New SPORTS Bar – at this sports lovers’ paradise, guests can catch live sporting events and check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker

* Spin U – developed in partnership with legendary DJ IRIE – Carnival’s official DJ who has entertained crowds from South Beach to Las Vegas – this fun DJ academy provides aspiring spin-masters ages 15-17 all they need to know to “hit the decks” and rock the club!

These innovations complement a wide range of existing onboard features such as the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, a Serenity adults-only retreat with magnificent ocean vistas, a classic American-style steakhouse serving prime cuts of beef and other gourmet cuisine, a nine-hole miniature golf course, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center, and The Taste Bar offering bite-size samples from popular Fun Ship 2.0 dining venues.

Posted: January 6th, 2015 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Norwegian Offering New Years Bonuses For Bookings Made On January 1 & 2

Written by: Cruise News

December 31, 2014 – Book a new cruise vacation with Norwegian Cruise Line on the first two days of the New Year and receive $100 in onboard credit on select sailings and more.

Norwegian Cruise Line is helping guests ring in the New Year with a limited time offer in celebration of the start to 2015. For two days only, guests who book a new cruise vacation on Thursday, January 1 and Friday, January 2, 2015, on select sailings of Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway or Pride of America will receive $100 in onboard credit. Onboard credit can be used towards a wide variety of activities and amenities, from thrilling shore excursions to indulgent spa treatments, gifts on board, specialty dining and handcrafted cocktails, and much more.

Best of all, this spectacular New Year’s offer is also combinable with Norwegian’s Freestyle Choice, which provides guests who book a new five-day or longer cruise vacation in an oceanview stateroom or higher* with the choice to select one, two or three offers—a free Ultimate Dining Package, a free Ultimate Beverage Package and up to $300 to spend on board. During Norwegian’s Freestyle Choice, now through January 31, guests who book any destination in an oceanview Stateroom or higher can select one offer. Guests who book a cruise vacation in Europe or Hawai’i** in an oceanview stateroom or higher can choose any two offers. Norwegian guests who book a suite or The Haven by Norwegian™ will receive all three offers, valued at up to $2,000.
Norwegian Getaway, recently voted best new ship by the readers of Travel Weekly, is Miami’s Ultimate ship, featuring ship-wide influences from the Magic City including stunning hull-artwork designed by Miami’s own David “LEBO” Le Batard. This spectacular ship features 28 dining options, two Broadway Shows, the largest Aqua Park at sea with five thrilling slides, Nickelodeon and Splash Academy for families and much more. She sails seven-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries each Saturday from Miami to tropical ports of call including Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Fares for 2015 cruises on Norwegian Getaway begin at $499***.

The best of New York goes to sea aboard Norwegian Breakaway, where guests can enjoy 29 dining options, three Broadway shows including smash hit Rock of Ages; an ice bar; a weekly fireworks show at sea; and the largest Aqua Park and ropes course at sea. New Yorkers can escape the cold this winter aboard Norwegian Breakaway, as she sails three 12-day Southern Caribbean itineraries to San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Basseterre, St. Kitts; in addition to several seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruise vacations to Port Canaveral, Florida; Norwegian’s private island Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Fares begin at $699***.

Vacationers looking to cruise around the majestic state of Hawai’i can do so aboard the recently-refurbished Pride of America. This port-packed itinerary gives guests the opportunity to explore the islands of Hawai’i on seven-day inter-island cruises, year-round from Honolulu. Offering nearly 100 hours of port time, Pride of America visits Hawai’i’s four main islands, including an overnight in Kahului, Maui; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kauai; stops in Hilo, Hawai’i and Kona, Hawai’i; as well as an afternoon cruise by the spectacular Nãpali Coast. Fares begin at $1,029***.

To book a cruise with Norwegian this New Year, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit www.ncl.com.

*Credit amount based on stateroom category and length of sailing
**Ultimate Beverage Package will be substituted for an Air Credit on Hawai’i sailings.
*** Fare based on double occupancy

Posted: December 31st, 2014 under Hot Cruise Deals.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Holland America Line Crowns Brenton Mitchell ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ Champion and Mirrorball Trophy Winner

Written by: Cruise News

December 29, 2014 — During the Dec. 6 Champions Cruise aboard ms Westerdam, Holland America Line crowned guest Brenton Mitchell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the line’s second “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion. Mitchell, who represented ms Neiuw Amsterdam, triumphed over 14 other guest competitors to claim the title and take home Holland America Line’s coveted “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Mirrorball Trophy.

A self-described amateur ballroom dancing hobbiest, Mitchell danced in the ship’s main show lounge in three elimination performances before making it to the finals where he executed a waltz and tango with shipboard dancing partner Whitney Szabo in front of a judging panel that included “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers Kym Johnson, Artem Chigvintsev and Sharna Burgess and actress Sabrina Bryan.
 Holland America Line Crowns Brenton Mitchell ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ Champion and Mirrorball Trophy Winner
“We’ve been building up to the Champions Cruise all year and it was an exciting and challenging week for all 15 guest competitors, who each deserve to be congratulated,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Special praise goes out to Brenton for winning the title and dazzling a judging panel of professional dancers.”

Before Mitchell was named champion in the final round, three elimination rounds were held to whittle the 15 competitors down to three finalists. Ian Alldritt of Nepean, Ontario, Canada, representing ms Zuiderdam, and Matthew McGloin of New York City, representing ms Eurodam, also advanced from the early rounds to dance in the final evening’s competition.

The 15 Champions Cruise competitors represented each of the ships in the Holland America Line fleet and are from their respective ship’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competitions that were held onboard every cruise throughout the past year.

Joining the Champions Cruise to perform in a special production show were ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers: two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Kym Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev. Celebrities who have previously appeared on the hit television show and performed onboard included actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley.

Additional events on the cruise included a special fashion show featuring the glamorous show costumes, a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, and a question-and-answer session.

The Dec. 6 Champions Cruise visited the eastern Caribbean, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with calls at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

Holland America Line’s partnership with ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” features the shipboard program through the 2015-16 sailing season, culminating with another Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean sailing of ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Winners from cruises throughout the year could be chosen to win a free cruise to represent their ship on the next Champions Cruise. Complete rules on the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competition are posted on www.hollandamerica.com.

The 2015 schedule also will continue to feature “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming on every cruise throughout the year, in addition to six special “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises featuring the show’s professional dancers and celebrities. Celebrities and professional dancers for 2015-16 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Posted: December 29th, 2014 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Carnival Corporation Announces Two New Ship Orders with Fincantieri

Written by: Cruise News

December 19, 2014 – Carnival Corporation & plc today announced new cruise ship orders for two of its brands with Fincantieri S.p.A., the world’s largest cruise ship building company.

The new cruise ships will be constructed by Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, two of Carnival Corporation’s nine brands.

Carnival Cruise Line’s as-yet-unnamed 3,954-passenger vessel, which is the 26th ship in the line’s fleet, will offer many of the newest and most popular features from Carnival’s current ships, along with several innovations that will be exclusive to this vessel. The delivery date for the new cruise ship is scheduled for March 2018. Homeport and itinerary information will be announced at a later date.

The new ship will be a sister ship to Carnival Vista, which is slated for delivery in spring 2016. Carnival plans to announce details on the many unique features and innovations of Carnival Vista during a three-day event for media, travel agents and consumers in New York Jan. 22-24, 2015.

For Holland America Line, the new order adds a second Pinnacle class ship to the fleet, a new class of vessels that will debut with the delivery and launch of the ms Koningsdam in February 2016. The new ship, scheduled for delivery in late November 2018, will accommodate 2,650 guests and 1,025 crew. The new as-yet-unnamed ship will feature new public spaces and venues that will debut on Koningsdam. In addition, many of the familiar spaces that are currently featured across the Holland America Line fleet will be included.

Carnival Corporation has refreshed its global fleet – the largest in the world – with more than 30 new ship additions since 2007, including its two newest ships, Regal Princess and Costa Diadema, with another 10 ships scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018.

In March, P&O Cruises UK plans to introduce Britannia, which is the largest ship ever built for the British cruise market. In the fall of 2015, AIDA Cruises will christen its new flagship, AIDAprima.

In 2016, Carnival Cruise Line is scheduled to debut Carnival Vista, a stunning 133,500-ton ship that will be the largest ever in its fleet, and Holland America Line will launch its newest ship, the 99,500-ton ms Koningsdam, a new Pinnacle Class ship that can carry 2,650 passengers. Also in 2016, AIDA will introduce a new sister ship to the 2015 AIDAprima with capacity for 3,250 passengers, while Seabourn will unveil its newest luxury ship, expected to be the biggest ever built by the brand with the ability to serve 604 passengers.

Looking forward to 2017, Princess Cruises is working with Fincantieri to build a 143,000-ton vessel featuring the highly popular design elements introduced by the brand’s two newest ships, sisters Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

Posted: December 19th, 2014 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none

Carnival Corporation Will Debut It’s First Super Bowl Ad

Written by: Cruise News

December 18, 2014 – Carnival Corporation & plc today announced it will unveil the first TV commercial from its new multi-brand national marketing initiative during Super Bowl XLIX airing on Sunday, February 1, on NBC.

The final Super Bowl TV commercial will be sourced from the company’s recently launched “World’s Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge” that gives consumers across North America the chance to provide Carnival Corporation with input on its new advertising creative. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, this interactive crowd-sourcing contest lets consumers “join the company’s marketing team” and vote for their favorite creative concept with a chance to win a grand prize of a yearly cruise for life.
 Carnival Corporation Will Debut Its First Super Bowl Ad
Carnival Corporation also announced today that it has narrowed the field of original creative concepts in the Marketing Challenge to four “semi-finalists” based in part on consumer voting and input. The final elimination round kicking off today will narrow the field to two finalists, giving consumers a chance to provide input on the final two concepts, one of which will be the featured TV commercial airing live during the Super Bowl.

Consumers can visit Carnival Corporation’s new campaign hub created by BBDO Atlanta – WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com – for details on how to vote in the Marketing Challenge and be entered to win a cruise every year for life. Starting today, rough-cut preview videos of the semi-finalist ad concepts are available for review and voting. The final elimination round will help determine which two finalists emerge from the following spots:

“Getaway”: Cruising gives guests the chance to get away from all the stresses of life
“Cruise Virgin”: These people tell consumers about their first time to cruise – which they will happily remember
“Message in a Bottle”: Special moments of cruising are in a message in a bottle
“Mystery Spot”: This idea contains a surprise that will remind people just how special the sea can be

Carnival Corporation’s first-ever Super Bowl TV commercial is part of the company’s recently launched multi-brand marketing initiative that for the first time incorporates all nine of its global brands with television, digital, social and contest elements in an initiative to drive increased awareness, consideration and demand for cruising.

Among many integrated elements within Carnival Corporation’s new marketing initiative, consumers are able to use WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com as a hub for new tools, functionality and content from the company’s nine brands, including the popular new “CRUISE-A-NALITY” tool that helps vacationers decide what type of cruise vacation and brand experience is right for them based on a series of personality-focused questions.

Also, as part of the campaign Carnival is giving away multiple free cruises and an additional grand prize on Twitter. Users tweeting what they love about cruising to @CarnivalPLC with the hashtag #LoveCruising will be eligible for a series of free cruises as prizes, with one individual selected at random to receive 100 days of cruising on a choice of Carnival Corporation’s U.S.-based brands.

All sweepstakes rules and eligibility information are available at WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com

Posted: December 18th, 2014 under Cruise Ship News.
Tags: , ,
Comments: none