October 6 2011: A NY breakaway: NCL will be homeporting their new Norwegian Breakaway out of New York (year round) when it makes its debut May 2013. Norwegian Breakaway will sail 22 Bermuda cruises from May to October 2013. NCL has not revealed schedules beyond October 2013. NCL's ships are known for their hull art design on its ships and Norwegian Breakaway will be no different. Peter Max has been tapped to create the hull art for the new ship. What artistic icons portray the word "breakaway"?
October 3 2011: Carnival ups the ante to Fun Ship 2.0: A $500 million fleetwide investment taking fun to an all new level with an exhausting list of upgrades including more bars, lounges, entertainment, and brands. George Lopez will help take Punchliner's Comedy Club to a new comedic level. Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) will have an onboard venue called Guy's Burger Joint. There will the first EA Sports Bar at sea. DJ IRIE is the official DJ of Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival will also enhance the musical revues. There will be RedFrog Rum bars, BlueIguana Tequila bars, BlueIguana Cantina, and more bars and lounges. In conjunction with Hasbro, Inc they will create Hasbro, The Game Show featuring family game night with six main games (Sorry Slider, Simon Flash, Yahtzee Bowling, Operation, Connect 4 Basketball) all to enhance family fun. Fourteen ships are scheduled to receive many of the 2.0 enhancements with the Carnival Liberty being the first; even the Carnival Breeze, still under construction, will feature 2.0 enhancements. This is just a short teaser list of all the features. To read the complete list you can read my blog.
September 27 2011: New German ship: TUI Cruises has just placed an order for a 97,000grt 2,500 passenger ship to be delivered in 2014. This will be their first newbuild as they compete directly with the popular German cruise line AIDA. TUI currently has two ships: Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 both former Celebrity Cruises ships.
September 19 2011: Upgrade time: Windstar Cruises' new owners are committed to the Windstar Cruise brand as $18million will be invested into refurbishment of all three ships: Wind Surf will enter phase one this December with phase two following in the Fall 2012. Wind Star and Wind Spirit will have each have just one phase of refurbishment before entering their Mediterranean season in April 2012: According to Windstar: "The vision for the refurbishment is classic, stylish yacht luxury that dramatizes Windstar's brand position of a "boutique yacht vacation" that is "180 Degrees from Ordinary." The yachts will receive new furniture, upholstery, art, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floor coverings. New furnishings will complete the look in keeping with the chic, private yacht scheme. The design palette combines sand and marine colors contrasting elegantly with the warmth of wood finishes, elevating the look and feel to ultimate luxury at sea."
September 14 2011: An Elephant tail & a Mouse tail: What do they have in common? They will be on another tail! A ship's tail that is. The tail/stern of Disney Cruise Line's new Disney Fantasy will be adorned with flying Dumbo carrying a paint pail along with Timothy riding along and weilding a paint soaked brush. More Disney characters on other ships: You can find Goofy on the tail of Disney Magic, Donald and his nephews on the tail of Disney Wonder and Mickey the Sorcerer on the tail of Disney Dream.
September 13 2011: Ugly baby now ugly names: NCL ran a contest for the public to help name their new Project Breakaway ships arriving in 2013 and 2014.. Out of 230,00+ entries NCL winnowed the list to Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Escape, and Norwegian Bliss. The last 3 names all sounded like cruise ship name winners. Just as ugly in its appearance of their ship: Norwegian Epic, NCL chose the two ugliets names for their new ships - yep - Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. Those poor offspring will now have to live with such hideous names AND I thought Oasis and Allure were bad names for Royal Caribbean's giants.
September 2 - September 10 2011 cruising the Western Caribbean on Carnival Dream. Reviews and more coming soon.
August 30 2011: Goodnight Irene: As Hurricane Irene has dominated the news the last week, cruise lines shuffled ports of calls and itineraries on a daily basis to avoid this terrible storm. Most cruise ships are back on schedule, but if your cruise takes you to one of the cruise line's private islands, you may spend an extra day at sea. Cruise lines are still assessing the damages of their private retreats with the goal of being available for passengers by Labor Day weekend. Princess Cays will not be available until the end of September.
August 12 2011: Another new port: On the north coast of the Dominican Republic at Maimon Bay a $65million two ship dock is planned for construction with backing from Carnival Corp. The facility will accomodate two post-Panamax ships with completion scheduled by fall 2013.
August 9 2011: Slippery Banana: A new port for cruisers visiting Honduras in 2012, Banana Coast is under construction. The facility will accomodate two post-Panamax ships and offer many amenities for visitors. Roatan, which is 45 miles to the North, is already a popular port of call and Trujilo, Honduras will soon be pleasing passengers with their new facility. If you build it in the Caribbean, they will come.
August 8 2011: A Romantica becomes neoRomantica: Costa Cruises Costa Romantica will head to the drydocks in October for a complete renovation and will not reappear until January 2012. The odd news is that when the Costa Romantica re-emerges she will have a "new" same name of Costa neoRomantica - very odd and unusual. The investments in older, yet capable ships by the cruise lines allows them to save costs of newbuilds while bringing newer popular venues to the older ships. Costa Romantica will not only be renovated, but will increase passenger capacity from 1697 to 1800 via the addition of two half-decks. Some renovations include a wine bar with 100 different wines and a selection of cheeses, a coffe bar, show lounge bar and dance floor, cabaret, night club, Samsara Spa, Turkish bath with 50 cabins and 6 suites with their own restaurant, a restaurant club, 111 new cabins, and balconies created on 120 cabins and suites. The Costa Romantica will feel like a new ship, not sure about the necessity to alter the name.
August 8 2011: Baltimore is in: Carnival Cruise Lines has signed a 5yr extension to offer year round cruises out of the Port of Baltimore. The first two years are set and there are three - one year options. Baltimore continues to be a popular drive to port with 40 million people within a six hour drive. This new agreement solidifies Baltimore's role in the cruise industry. Currently, Carnival has the Carnival Pride based in Baltimore offering Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda cruises.
August 3 2011: When is 2nd really 1st?: When you are booked on Oceania Cruises Riviera. You see, 270 days before the Maiden Voyage of April 14 2012 the cruise line already knows that the crew will need another 10 days of ship acclimation. So the Maiden Voyage is being delayed 10 days and the second cruise for the Riviera will now be the first. The cruise line is transferring all reservations to the 2nd cruise. Not everyone can just change their already booked vacations. In an era where ships are delivered early, it seems suspect that between now and April 2012 Oceania cannot find 10 extra days to train the crew. I think there is more to the story so I am not buying this reason - not that Oceania cares if I buy into the story.
August 3 2011: Big Carnival order for its European brands: Costa gets a new ship in 2014 with a size of 132,500grt and 3,700 passengers AND Aida gets two new ships: one in 2015 and the other in 2016 - both will be125,000grt and 3,250 passengers. Pricing must be right for these orders.
August 2 2011: Aruba's Prince(ss) Charming: Princess Cruises will offer 85 calls to Aruba for the 2011/2012 season. With a whopping 34% of the cruise business, Princess is Aruba's biggest cruise visitor. Over the course of 85 calls, 200,000 passengers will have the opportunity to enjoy all Aruba has to offer.
July 30 2011: Long Weekends short cruises: If you have to fly to your cruise departure port, the airfare is the same no matter if you book a 4 day cruise or a 10 day cruise. The popular 7 day cruise rules, except for those sailing out of Jacksonville. The few 7 day cruises Carnival offered were not as popular as the short cruises. The Carnival Fascination will continue with the popular 4 and 5 day cruise market. Maybe when our economy recovers and travelers are more comfortable with spending the extra money for a 7 day cruise, then Carnival will revisit. Right now the 4 and 5 day cruises are priced just right for a cruise vacation.
July 27 2011: The Key West butt bump: Sister ships from Carnival did a little bump and grind in Key West as the Carnival Fantasy scraped the Carnival Imagination while docking. No injuries and only scraping of the ships. Both ships continued on with their cruise with no delays.
July 21-25 2011: experiencing a long weekend in New Orleans. City/Port review will be posted on Aaron's Cruise Chatter Blog: www.fromtheporthole.wordpress.com Stay tuned AND new drink recipes have been added to the Happy Hour page
July 11 2011: A Royal Upgrade: Royal Caribbean is spending $300 million the next 3 years to upgrade its older ships of the Vision, Voyager, and Radiance Classes. All the upgrades, called "Royal Advantage" will be a result of popular features found on the newer ships and have yet to be incorporated on the older vessels. Amenities include: Chops Grille, Rita's Cantina, new baby care, new cabins, wi-fi, flat panel tv's, outdoor video walls, tots nursery, and other dining options. Ships in line to be revitalized include Spendour of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas. Investments in older ships with the latest amenities freshens and updates the ships to current, modern guest's expectations at a fraction of the cost of building a new ship.
July 7 2011: 24hr Pizza Service: Pizza delivery to almost anywhere on the ship is now available fleetwide on Norwegian Cruise Line. Many cruise lines serve pizza 24hrs a day, but they don't deliver it to you. Norwegian Epic was the first to offer this service for Norwegian Cruise Line and now all ships will deliver pizza to you. The 16-inch handmade, stone baked pizzas are $5 each. That which you can get on land you can now get on a Norwegian cruise.
July 7 2011: Coveted award: American Cruise Lines has been awarded a coveted contract to operate their Alaska cruises in Glacier Bay National Park. Only a few contracts are awarded to this beautiful area and this is a huge feature in advertising Alaskan cruises and for cruisers. American Cruise Lines will offer 7 to 11 night cruises with roundtrip cruises from Juneau.
July 6 2011: 25% off to dine: Celebrity Cruises offered cruisers a pre-booking beverage package that has been very successful and now they are offering cruisers a dining package allowing you to dine at more than one specialty restaurant for a savings of 25% compared to booking them individually. There are 3 pkgs: Savor = 3 dining reservations per couple and 3 bottles of wine; Gourmand = 5 dining reservations per couple and 3 bottles of wine; Bacchus = 5 dining reservations per couple and 5 bottles of wine. Prices per person start from $89.
July 6 2011: 3.5hrs for $150: Would you pay that? Well, after Princess and Carnival started offering an onboard behind the scenes tour a couple of years ago, Royal Caribbean has now followed suit. Beginning with each ship's first cruise of July 2011, the "All Access" tour will be offered once on less than 7 day cruises and twice or more, depending on demand, on longer voyages. Your visit will include, bridge (which became off limits after 9/11), galley, engine room, back stage of the theater, and other below deck areas.
June 23 2011: Aruba and Cargo Piers on the move: A record 100,000 passengers arrived Aruba via cruise ships in March and cruise traffic is up for the first 5 months of 2011. To make your vacation experience better, Aruba is investing in a refurbishment of the airport and cruise terminal and they are adding a San Francisco style trolley to move tourists. A $62million and 2 year project is planned to move the cargo piers away from the tourist area allowing more development and more cruise ships to berth. The island is very aware of the "growing to fast" problems that have plagued other ports and are planning to control the number of cruise ships visiting with the mantra of "quality over quantity". This is a great island and I hope they do control the growth.
June 15 2011: Adam, Eve, Carnival, and the Big Apple: Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that in April 2012 they will homeport the 2,124 passenger Carnival Miracle in New York City. Carnival Miracle will offer year-round 8 day cruises: Eastern Caribbean rotating April through October to San Juan, St Thomas and Grand Turk. Bahamas Cruises to Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and Nassau rotating April through October. November through April cruises will stop at Port Canaveral, Nassau, and Freeport. Another way for passengers to save money avoiding airfare by driving to the port.
June 15 2011: Up in smoke: Carnival, Princess, and Holland America modify their smoking policy banning smoking in staterooms while Princess expands the ban to balconies. Good news for non-smokers, not so good for smokers. The cruise lines are responding to passenger surveys stating that a low percentage of passengers are smokers.
June 15 2011: The fall color attraction: Cruise Lines have indicated that there is low demand for off-season cruising in Canada and New England. The main attraction is the changing colors of the fall season. The area is a big draw for U.K passengers. Better port infrastructure and marketing for the off-season may help change people's mindset.
June 8 2011: Alone No More: Royal Caribbean's 1,800 passenger Legend of the Seas has been plying the waters of China seasonally for 3 years and will do so again in 2102, but not alone anymore. Big, and I mean Big, sister 3,110 passenger Voyager of the Seas will be joining the Legend of the Seas in the summer of 2012 expanding the China cruise market. The news gets bigger. Once the summer is over, Voyager of the Seas will be heading to Australia for the fall season and becoming the largest cruise ship sailing in Australia.
June 2 2011: No rest for the kiddies: Do you, at times, find yourself wishing your kids would tire quickly and go to bed? Well, Carnival Cruise Lines will keep your kids up even later as it is offering late-night children's programs on all 23 ships. Camp Carnival Night Owls will allow parents a little more late evening alone time: Owl Jams is for 2-11 year olds from 10pm to Midnight; Fun 'Til One is for 6-8 yr olds from 10pm to 1am; Fun at Sea... 'Til 3:00 for 9-11 year olds is open from 10pm to 3am. Babysitting will also be offered from 10pm until 3am.
June 1 2011: New order: P&O Cruises will have a new flagship in 2015 as an order has been placed with Fincantieri for a 141,000 grt - 3,611 passenger ship. This will be the largest ship built for the British market.
May 31 2011: Four's a Costa charm: South America shows more potential as Costa Cruises will base the Costa Victoria in South America for Dec/March 2012 offering 9 night cruises to Rio, Buenos Aires, Montevidea, Porto Belo, Ilhabela. The Costa Victoria will join three other Costa ships: Costa Pacifica, Costa Magica, and Costa Fortuna.
May 28 2011: The Dawn of Boston: Boston keeps growing along with Bermuda cruises as NCL has based a large ship in Boston. The Norwegian Dawn will offer 22 Boston to Bermuda sailings this year. Boston's growth is reflected in the numbers: a 60% growth in Bermuda cruises since 2006. Sixteen cruise lines with over 100 calls and over 300,000 passengers this year. Just not sure Boston can secure a regularly scheduled cruise line sailing to the Caribbean.
May 26 2011: Glory in Boston: As reported Oct 10 2010 Boston refurbished the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal and it seems to be paying off as Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Glory will homeport in 2012 offering four and five day cruises to Canada.
May 25 2011: New Orleans is back: Royal Caribbean will offer the largest cruise ship sailing out of New Orleans - Voyager of the Seas and for the winter of 2012/2013 Royal Caribbean will offer the Navigator of the Seas sailing weekly cruises from this great city.
May 24 2011: Radiant overhaul: Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas is visiting Victoria B.C., but not on a cruise. Radiance of the Seas is spending 22 days in drydock receiving many Oasis/Allure enhancements to bring the ship up to date for past and new guests. The ship will receive the cruise line's first cabins for singles, new restaurants, new cabins, and a new nursery. Five other ships for Royal Caribbean will be receiving enhancements this year as the cruise line ( like many others) invest in current ships vs building many new ships.
May 19 2011: A Queen reborn: The Great American Steamboat Company has aquired a federal loan to help acquire the American Queen which is in storage in Texas after Majestic America Line went bankrupt. Great news!
May 18 2011: What's old is new: Many, many years ago cruise ships had a few cabins dedicated for the single traveler. As new ships were built those cabins were eliminated. Now Royal Caribbean will add a few to the Radiance of the Seas and if successful will add to other ships in the fleet in response to the popularity of these solo cabins on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic.
May 18 2011: Charleston's anniversary: Carnival Cruise Lines is celebrating its one year anniversary with year-round cruises from Charleston SC aboard the Carnival Fantasy. The Carnival Fantasy has carried approximately 140,000 passengers on 65 cruises. Charleston has become one of Carnival's highest rated homeport.
May 18 2011: Guadaloupe is back: Over a decade ago Guadaloupe appeared on several cruise line's itineraries. Fast forward to today and it is difficult to find this port of call. Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas will add Guadaloupe as a new port for its 2012/2013 Caribbean Season. A great island to visit.
May 17 2011: Kiss, not a smooch: If you are booked on the Carnival Destiny's October 13 sailing and not a fan of the rock band KISS, you may want to contact your agent. The KISS Kruise Wet, Wild & Rockin event will sail a four night cruise to Nassau Bahamas and Half Moon Cay. If you are a fan, cabins go on sale June 7 2011.
May 8 2011: No jacket required: When Royal Caribbean finalized plans for Oasis of the Seas, they could not imagine the chaos and amount of time necessary to carry out the life boat safety drill if every passenger had to go to their cabins to retrieve and return their life jackets. The Coast Guard rule, as it turns out, does not require the wearing of life jackets. A demonstration of proper wearing and mandatory attendance are the Coast Guard requirements. Following the lead from Royal Caribbean other cruise lines are also streamlining their safety drill. Not all lines have altered from the long standing tradition of wearing your life jacket, but there is hope that this process will not be as "painful" as in the past.
May 6 2011: A hoppin' place: Carnival Cruise Line's new ship, Carnival Magic, has a new feture for Carnival - a pub. The Red Frog pub with it's Caribbean theme has proven so popular that waiters cannot keep up with service. One more unique feature to the Red Frog is the main attraction - Thirsty Frog Red, Carnival's own label draught beer ran dry early on in the Carnival Magic's first voyage. See Aug 24 2010 news about Carnival Magic features.
May 4 2011: A delivery received: P&O Cruises has taken delivery of their newest fleet addition - Adonia. The ship is currently in drydock undergoing a refit updating the Adonia to P&O's passenger expectations. The ship will be an adults only ship and traditionally intimate and refinded - the P&O way.
May 3 2011: A large Breeze heading to Europe: In June 2012 Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, Carnival Breeze, will offer 12 day Mediterranean cruises before sailing to Miami for the winter. In Miami the Carnival Breeze will offer 6 & 8 day cruises. Carnival's famous interior ship designer Joe Farcus will not be the designer of the Carnival Breeze as he is "retiring" from the duty and was only partially involved in the design of the Carnival Magic. The Carnival Breeze theme will be tropical, Caribbean Style, and the theme will appear throughout the ship, including staterooms. Should be very interesting and a nice change.
April 28 2011: No Travolta: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas will feature a new Broadyway show for the ship: Saturday Night Fever - the musical. The ship is currently sailing in Europe so you will have to fly overseas to see this great show this summer.
April 20 2011: A new name: When SilverSea Cruises expedition ship, Prince Albert II, undergoes drydock for maintenance, part of the maintenance will be scrubbing off its current name and renaming the ship Silver Explorer.
April 19 2011: Hot Europe: Holland America will base 7 of its 15 ships in Europe in 2012 offering 44 different itineraries ranging from 7 to 35 days in length. Ships sailing: Eurodam, Rotterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Massdam, Prinsendam, Noordam, Ryndam.
April 17 2011: A new best friend: Carnival Cruise Line's mascot, Funship Freddy, has a new unnamed friend - a six foot tall Towel Elephant has been seen on at Camp Carnival on the Carnival Dream and will soon turn up on Carnival Imagination, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Magic. A Very Busy Towel animal.
April 16 2011: Another Queen: American Cruise Lines' new paddlewheeler debuting in 2012 now has a name other than Mississippi sternwheeler. The new name - drum roll - Queen of the Mississippi. Oh, yeh, the owner's cannot make up their mind as to building another riverboat or a sister to the Independence. Queen of the Mississippi is to debut in June 2012, but is two months ahead of schedule. Wouldn't it be nice to see two riverboats sailing the Missisissippi river again?
April 14 2011: Up close and personal: In 2012 Alaska will have a new cruise line visiting. American Cruise Lines will be offering small ship cruising up close and personal in 2012.
April 7 2011: An Asian Celebrity: Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium will spend the winter of 2012 - 2013 in Asia offering 14 night cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong. The Celebrity Millennium will undergo a refurbishment and enhancement prior to heading to Hong Kong. This will be Celebrity's first season in Asia.
April 5 2011: Mouse Ears & a Stetson: Disney is heading to the Lone Star State Sept 2012 with the Disney Magic. Sailing out of Galveston (another big win for Galveston), Disney Magic will offer 7 day itineraries to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. Grand Cayman is a tender port, that may be very interesting with all the children Disney attracts.
March 29 2011: New itinerary: Beginning January 2012 through Mid October 2012 the Carnival Valor will substitue its 7 day itineraries for 6 and 8 day itineraries offering more choices with more island options for cruisers. The 6 day cruises will begin on Sunday and end on Saturday with stops at Key West, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios. The 8 day itinerary will begin on Saturday and end on the following Sunday offering 3 different itineraries: Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Grand Turk, and Nassau OR St Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, and Nassau OR Grand Turk, La Romana, Curacao, and Aruba. Great islands with differing choices and excited about the new itineraries.
March 21 2011: New port, will they come: Roatan, Honduras may be one of your stops on a Western Caribbean cruise. Roatan is one of the Bay Islands of Honduras. Now Honduras is building a cruise port in Trujillo. A project with a $20million investment as new cobblestone streets and building facades are updated along with a new 50,000 square foot cruise center. The project seems to be on a fast pace as it is scheduled to be open 2012. Oh, yeh, it has a name: Banana Coast. As cruise lines continue to look for new places in the Caribbean to keep itineraries new and fresh for its repeat and new passengers, I am sure the cruise lines will come calling.
March 15 2011: Royal repeat: Princess Cruises has named its 2013 newbuild the Royal Princess. Third times the charm as this will be the third time the name has been used. If you recall, the first ship of the name was innovative and a trendsetter as the ship consisted of mostly balcony cabins. Today balconies are the norm. On the new Royal Princess there will be a SeaWalk that extends over the ship with a seaview below; the ever popular Piazza will be expanded; all outside cabins will have balconies; the Sanctuary will be expanded; the pool area will have an island and be used in the evening for shows; and they will have their largest Movies Under the Stars screen. Cannot wait.
March 10 2011: Jumping ships: Mobile Alabama's loss is Port Canaveral's gain? Here's the deal. Mobile Alabama committed $1million dollars on expanded parking for Carnival's passengers. An hour before the city's press conference, Carnival announced it was pulling out of Mobile October 22 2011. Great timing! While the Carnival Elation was sailing full out of Mobile, it was not as profitable as other markets as more discounting was involved to fill the ship (think the West Coast cruise issues). AND Carnival announced more changes. The Carnival Ecstasy which was repositioning from Galveston to New Orleans will have a short visit in New Orleans as it wil leave New Orleans and begin sailing out of Port Canaveral November 7 2011 offering 4/5 day cruises to the Bahamas. Carnival will have 3 ships sailing out of Port Canaveral (Carnival Dream, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Ecstasy). On November 5 2011 the Carnival Elation will take over in New Orleans and offer 4/5 day cruises to the Western Caribbean.
March 5 2011: Port growth: St Kitts wants another pier, Grenada is looking at expansion and now Baltimore is reviewing the option of adding another terminal. The port had 27 calls in 2006 and fast forward to 2011 the port will have 112 calls. The current terminal is near I-95 with easy access on and off the highway. The new terminal will be nearby and close to I-95 access. Cruising had a $90 million impact on Baltimore in 2010. Baltimore is a great drive to port saving airfare costs for millions of cruisers. Baltimore is within a 6 hour drive of 40 million people and is within a 4 hour drive of 8 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the U.S. Go Baltimore!!!
March 3 2011: Galveston Princess: Princess Cruises is returning to Galveston TX in December 2012 with the 3,070 passenger Crown Princess. 19 cruises will be offered between December and April to Costa Maya, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. Welcome Back.
March 3 2011: Caribbean Expansion: Yes there is room for expansion in the Caribbean and St Kitts and Grenada are proof positive. Grenada is reviewing berth expansion to accomodate the largest cruise ships sailing and St Kitts has seen a 20% increase in traffic. St Kitts is discussing a second pier to accomodate increased cruise traffic. The Allure of the Seas will be making visits in December. Growth in cruising continues worldwide.
March 2 2011: NYC swap: NCL's Norwegian Pearl will spend the winter 2012/2013 sailing from New York replacing the Norwegian Jewel. The Norwegian Jewel will head to Miami. The Norwegian Pearl will be sailing 21 seven-day Bahamas and Florida cruises. There will also be 3 twelve-day Southern Caribbean cruises.
March 2 2011: One upmanship: Celebrity announced yesterday they were sending the larger Celebrity Solstice to Australia. Holland America quickly announced they are sending the 1,926 Oosterdam to Australia for the 2012/2013 season replacing the 1,432 passenger Zaandam. Down under is coming up.
March 2 2011: Early room service: Holland America has announced a new service called Stateroom Direct Service. This new service is all about enhancing guest experience. Cabins will be ready at 11:30am so you will no longer have to wait for your cabin to be ready. Luggage will also be delivered earlier allowing guests to unpack earlier and enjoy more of their cruise vacation. This streamlined boarding process is a good thing.
March 1 2011: Solstice going down under: The 2,850 passenger Celebrity Solstice will spend the winter of 2012/2013 in Australia and New Zealand. Not a bad place to spend winter.
February 23 2011: Have an island, they will come: NCL announced that the Norwegian Sun will now be visiting St Lucia on its Southern Caribbean 2012-2013 cruise season. A long way off, but a good choice to be on your cruise itinerary.
February 18 2011: Better late...: Falmouth is welcoming cruise ships. See Jan 4 2011 news for more info. Falmouth is the new port in Jamaica that Royal Caribbean played a major role in developing to accomodate its new Oasis Class ships. There have been many delays for not only Royal Caribbean, but other cruise lines as well. Falmouth welcomed Voyager of the Seas to rave reviews. Construction is still ongoing in the local town, but so far it appears "better late than never" could be the new slogan.
February 17 2011: Reaching the Summit: The Celebrity Summit will be "Solsticized" January 2012. It's not as vulgar as it sounds. It means that the Celebrity Summit will receive upgrades that have proven popular on the new Solstice class ships. Here are some of the Solsticizing enhancements: AquaClass accomodations, AquaClass restaurant Blu, Qsine specialty restaurant, Celebrity iLounge, iced bar Martin Bar & Crush, Bistro on Five(creperie), Cafe al Bacio, wine bar Cellarmasters, new verandas on the Celebrity Suites, suite and stateroom enhancements, new carpeting, and expanded art collections. All ships benefit from the popular features of a cruise line's new class of ships and the evolution of cruise ship enhancements continues.
February 16 2011: Asia and United Emirates expansion: Costa Cruises will be expanding in both areas with the larger Costa Victoria replacing the Costa Classica in Asia and increasing its offerings by 40% while the new Costa Favolosa (debuting in June) will head to Dubai for the winter 2011/2012. The Costa Mediterranea will be based in Costa's new homeport Abu Dhabi. The Costa Favolosa and Costa Mediterranea will increase Costa's presence by approximately 16%.
February 15 2011: Value=Bookings: Carnival Cruise Lines set a one-week booking record Feb 7-13 of 165,308 customers booked on a fun ship cruise. Close to home ports, recovering economy, and short cruises are all contributors to this new record. I, however, was not part of the record as I have yet to book my Carnival Dream September cruise. I could have been 165,309.
February 13 2011: Baltimore cruisers = cash: Carnival Cruise Lines states that it collects the most money onboard its ships from those sailing out of Baltimore. What are the Baltimore ships doing to help passengers part with their money so easily?
February 11 2011: The sun shines bright: Royal Caribbean has announced its plans for a new ship to be built by Meyer Werft who built the Solstice Class ships for Celebrity. This is a departure for Royal Caribbean as they have had great success with the Turku, Finland shipyard. The ship will be 158,000grt (a big drop from the Oasis class ships) and carry 4100 passengers. The first unnamed ship will debut in Fall of 2014. There is an option for a second ship that would debut Spring 2015. The ships are currently being classified as "Project Sunshine" and will feature the best of Royal Caribbean's existing ships and will also feature new and exciting innovative ideas.
February 8 2011: More private island enhancements: NCL owns Great Stirrup Cay and has for decades and was the first cruise line to offer a private hideaway. NCL is in the process of enhancing guest's experience by opening a new marina with four docks for the tenders. Also, a new dining facility with two bars and four picnic pavilions seating over 500 also debuted. The new marina for tenders has allowed NCL to open up a greater expanse of the beach that was used for tendering. The dining facility contains stations (much like on the ships) of pizza, grills, hot and cold stations, fresh fruit, and breads with two bars on either side. More enhancements are in the works and new activities are on the way. This is all part of phase one. Phase two will include an arrival/departure area, more bars, band stand, beachfront cabanas, kid's area, straw market, and beach volleyball. The island's west end will see the beach being expanded to that area. Cruise ships are not the only area of cruising that will see enhancements and upgrades.
February 7 2011: Yo ho ho & a bottle of rum: Holland America has debuted a new bar experience on their beautiful private island of Half Moon Cay. They call it Captain Morgan on the Rocks Island Bar. The new bar is designed to resemble a 101-ft long, twin decked, three-masted schooner that has washed up on the beach. The bar has rum casks or stools"/seating for over 300 guests all with a nautical theme and featuring historical references to Captain Morgan and his mischief. If you need cooling off while at the bar, there are cannons that release a light mist of water so you can stay cool.
February 5 2011: A youngster is reborn: Royal Caribbean's young Liberty of the Seas will emerge from outpatient shiplift this weekend with new enhancements only three years after entering service. Its sister Freedom of the Seas will also receive enhancements, most of which are from the Oasis class. Some of upgrages: Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, Cupcake Cupboard(there will be a nominal fee to control demand), outdoor video screen, 3-D movies, complimentary passenger service kiosks, DreamWorks immersion, and the new Broadway show Saturday Night Fever: The Musical. As ships advance in design and new amenities, the older vessels (although Liberty of the Seas is not that old) always benefit from the new features - so old is new again as cruise lines extend the life of their ships and keep them fresh with new enhancements that prove popular with the guests.
February 4 2011: Another port record: Even before setting foot on Grand Turk, you knew the Grand Turk Cruise Center (GTCC) and new island stop on cruise itineraries was going to be top notch. And it is. The GTCC opened 5 years ago and has evolved in that time with new additions to the area and more ship calls. In 2010 there were 248 calls from 40 ships with a record 622,720 passengers. This equals a 17% increase vs 2009 and an unbelievable 113% increase over 2006. The GTCC has added new stores, a flow rider attraction, and currently new beach enhancements (beach furniture, palm trees, beach bar, and landscaping) and don't forget the popular Margaritaville bar and restaurant.
February 3 2011: 4.0, 4.9, 5.0, 5.0: The Caribbean Tourism Organization is working on a project to create a rating system called the Total Visitor Satisfaction (TVS) index which will measure a destinations food, service, and attractions. We can rate practically everything else, so why not the Caribbean islands. This should help promote tourism and increase customer service satisfaction.
February 1 2011: NASA, we have splashdown: History lesson: In 1962 the Friendship 7 capsule splashed down a few miles from Grand Turk. The historical event has already been recognized with a small attraction recognizing the occasion and honoring John Glenn. Now there is a new attraction commemorating NASA's Mercury space program with a 3,500 square foot attraction celebrating the spaceflight mission. On your next visit check out this free exhibit and experience the history the island shares with the U.S. space program.
January 31 2011: Going once, twice, Sold: The S.S. United States Conservancy has bought the SS United States from Norwegian Cruise Line. The plans as reported from November 24 2010 Cruise News are still the same: Saving the SS United States: There is a stalled casino project on the south Philadelphia waterfront. The idea is to utilize space onboard the SS United States as part of the casino project. It would cost $200-$300 million to relocate the ship to the site of the new casino and build a two story casino. The ship would have two floors for gambling with retail space and conference center and future additions. The SS United States set the trans- Atlantic speed record on its maiden voyage 58 years ago. The ship was removed from service in 1969 and has been rusting away in Philadelphia for over 10 years. It is highly unlikely that this ship will ever be put back in service, so maybe this is a good option to generate the cash need for restoration. Let's hope they remain committed to preserving as much of the ship in its original glory.
January 28 2011: Jewelry is fashionable: Princess Cruises has been offering Ceramics@sea to its guests for some time. Princess provides picture frames, plates, bowls, etc for you to purchase and then you paint your piece with the paints provided. On the next to last day Princess fires all the pieces in their onboard kiln and you pick up your work of art on the last day. Ceramics@sea has run its course and will be replaced soon with jewelry fusing. You get to create your own piece of jewelry and then take it home once Princess does its thing - not sure of the details involved. Princess claims preliminary test results are very successful and popular and jewelry fusing will be coming soon to certain Princess ships.
January 27 2011: Virtual Portholes = real profits: One of the latest and greatest features of the new Disney Dream is virtual portholes for inside cabins. You no longer have to be claustrophobic with an inside cabin. There are 6 cameras located on the outside of the ship sending current images to the virtual portholes in the cabins. Here is how popular these new cabins have become (and the Disney Dream just set sail): the interior cabins are selling for 60% more than similar cabins (sans virtual porthole) on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and 78% more than Carnival Cruise Lines new Carnival Dream - all sailing out of Port Canaveral. Easy to see how $1billion will be generated when all four ships are sailing (Disney Fantasy coming 2012). When I first read about the virtual portholes over a year ago I wondered as to what took the industry so long to come up with a great idea. I wonder how soon others will adopt this new technology.
January 26 2011: Old is new again: Years ago ships had cabins for single travelers. As new ships and new designs emerged, gone were the solo cabins and a single traveler had to pay full fare (for the most part) to travel alone. Enter Norwegian Epic with cabins designed for the solo traveler. They are very popular and now Royal Caribbean is following suit with three solo cabins being added to Radiance of the Seas during her drydock in May. Three may not sound like a lot, but it is a start. We will see if the trend continues.
January 25 2011: Bright Shiney Sun: The Norwegian Sun has emerged from her 12 day drydock and is sparkling new again. A Brazilian steakhouse was added following the popularity on the Norwegian Epic. Improvements were also made to the children's area, the suites received new decor, new carpets and wall coverings in all public areas, new energy efficient HVAC system, propeller and rudder modifications to increase efficiency, and new piping to name a few enhancements. Norwegian Sun is the first of 3 ships that will be enhanced this year during drydock service.
January 24 2011: New kid on the block: Ocean Star Cruises will begin service in April with the recently purchased Aquamarine (aka Nordic Prince) from Louis Cruises. The ship - Ocean Star Pacific - will sail three, four, and seven day Mexican Riviera cruises generating 750 jobs. The ship is currently being refurbished in Curacao. Odd that most cruise lines are pulling their ships from this market, but since the ship is much smaller than those being pulled, there may be just enough demand to keep this ship sailing full at profitable fares for the company.
January 22 2011: A star is not born: Pullmatur's Atlantic Star is being sold to an unnamed buyer, but it has a new name: Mona Lisa II. The ship was originally built for Sitmar as the Fairsky.
Jan 14 to Jan 22 2011: Sailing the Crown Princess
January 13 2011: Eggcellent: Royal Caribbean is to be honored for switching to cage-free eggs. In 2010 Royal Caribbean became the first cruise line to start using cage-free eggs. As is the norm in the cruise industry, others followed the lead. Immediately, Royal Caribbean switched to 3.2 million cage-free eggs and then committed to reaching 6.8 million eggs within a year. This new policy spared approximately 30,000 hens from being crammed into tiny cages. Other companies have followed suit (Wal-Mart, Burger King, Hellmans, Costco, etc) switching and offering cage free eggs. You may not be able to discern the difference in your morning breakfast, but the next time you eat an egg, you will know that companies are supportive of the need to reduce animal suffering.
January 11 2011: Going down under: BIG, BIG NEWS!!! Carnival Cruise Lines will base a ship in Australia for the very first time. In 2012, Carnival Cruise Lines will homeport the Carnival Spirit year round in Sydney. The Carnival Spirit will sail 8-12 day cruises to the Pacific Islands and will offer select 13 day cruises to New Zealand. The Carnival Spirit will be the largest ship to sail year round from Sydney and that poses a problem. You see, the ship is too tall to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so the ship will be based at Circular Quay's Overseas Passenger Terminal. This new deployment confirms the strength and growth of the Australian market. Cruising just keeps opening up the world to travelers.
January 11 2011: The Golden State not so Golden: The Port of Los Angeles may have recently set a record of four ships berthed in one day, but Southern California is losing cruise ships from Los Angeles and San Diego for more profitable destinations. San Diego's cruise calls will be half this year vs 2010, and 2010 was down 45% vs 2009. Los Angeles cruise passengers this year will be approx 605,000 from a peak in 2008 of 1.2 million. As more cities around the US want to become a major cruise port, but lack some key components, Southern California is the model port city with year round sunshine, superb air access, and a drive to populaton of 17 million in just the San Diego and Los Angeles area. There are also wealthy neigborhoods, a young and old population, and great pre and post cruise options. All make the perfect attraction for a major cruise port. So what is the problem? There are many: hard hit recession combined with slow recovery, which means cruise pricing has to drop in order to fill ships. With pricing so low to fill ships, cruise lines can command better (meaning higher) pricing in Europe; thereby, generating more profits. Along with the higher fare pricing in Europe, shore excursions command higher pricing and generate more profits on European sailings. Another issue is distance traveled. Caribbean ports of call are much closer and require less fuel as ships do not have to sail full-speed ahead. The first port of call on a Mexican Riviera cruise is Cabo San Lucas at about 800-1000 miles and the ships have to cruise faster, burning more fuel, to reach the destination. Cruise lines have moved ships out of Alaska to Europe because of the high cost of doing business with the state of Alaska. This in turn has hurt California as the state benefits from seasonal ship re-positioning. Let's not forget all the great news coming from Mexico in regards to drugs and murders and H1N1 Swine Flu. There is a silver lining as cruise lines are sailing from Southern California to Hawaii and are offering more sailings. Disney Cruise Line is headed to the West Coast and there is a glimmer of slight cruise fare increases; although, that may be due to the lack of supply. As many US cities are drooling to attract the cruise business, San Diego and Los Angeles are losing what these cities crave. Perhaps, a little makeover is needed in Southern California.
January 8 2011: The select 12(pack): Carnival has officially rolled out, fleetwide, the Chef'sTable. What is the Chef's Table: 12 select guests (not so much select as the price is $75/person) will experience cocktails and hors d'ouevres hosted by one of the master chefs. Following this experience, the guests will tour the operation of the bustling galley. After this, the group will enjoy dinner and dessert created by the ships chefs. Depending on the ship, the dining venue may be held in the galley, library, or any other area of the ship.
January 7 2011: A four-pack - no parking: All parking/berthing slots were full at the Port of Los Angeles on January 5. While Southampton set a record with six ships that day(see news below), the Port of Los Angeles filled all spaces with four ships and roughtly 13,000 passengers.
January 6 2011: A six-pack record: Six ships in one day in Southampton helps set a new one day record for the city with approx 18,000 passengers disembarking and embarking. More than 350 ships are scheduled to call or turn-around in 2011 - an increase of over 50 ships vs 2010. As great as this one day record was for the economy, not so good for the local infrastuctures - gridlock.
January 5 2011: Sunny in Philly, no Sun in Port Canaveral: NCL will be repositioning the Norwegian Sun from Port Canaveral for the 2012-2013 season stating that there is better demand in other markets(read Europe). NCL tempered the loss by stating that they would return to Port Canaveral when there fleet size increases(a little future forecast with two newbuilds on the books).
January 4 2011: Dreams coming true: Disney Cruise Line welcomed their latest and greatest Disney Dream early this morning as it arrived in Port Canaveral to a welcoming display of fireworks. The official naming ceremony will be held January 16 with the maiden voyage set for January 26.
January 4 2011: If you build it, they won't come: Well, it is partially built, but they are still not coming. That's right, the most anticipated new port, Falmouth Jamaica, is still not ready and Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain stated that there is no pressure to open the port, so the opening and ship arrival has been delayed. This is the second delay and while the port facility itself appears to be able to handle the throngs of passengers, the local town is far behind in upgrades to its infrastructures. Falmouth Jamaica was originally to be opened last spring for Oasis of the Seas and now the official opening day is Feb 17 2011. What about the unpublicized strike by the Jamaican workers...perhaps that could be a reason to postpone...hmmm
January 2 2011: You won't believe these numbers: Disney Dream will be arriving Port Canaveral this week - not the amazing part. When Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are both in service (Spring 2012), the company's capacity will increase 150%. Wait, it gets better. The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have been very profitible for the cruise line and Disney Co the last 12 years. Goldman Sachs predicts that the four ships will produce a quarter of the overall profit growth in the parks and resorts division. Here's the amazing part: once all four ships are sailing, the prediction is that they will bring in $1billion - yes BILLION - in revenue a year. UNBELIEVABLE for just four ships. Disney is taking steps to ensure that the new ships will not take away from the two existing ships by moving the two older ships to destinations that Disney fans have yet to experience while still providing the common destinations on the newer ships. Of course Disney ships do sail fuller than any other cruise ship and also command a much higher price. If only one could invest in Disney Cruise Line only...
January 1 2011: Enhancements not enhancing: Hearing from passengers that the Thomson Dream may not be quite ready for service after its latest drydock facelift. Thomson actually notified a few passengers at the last minute on the latest cruise that their particular cruise was canceled. It seems that the cold weather in the drydocking facility damaged some of the cabin's a/c units. New ones have been ordered, but some passengers; unfortunately, received a last minute phone call that they would not be joining the cruise. And now passengers on the current voyage are reporting that it is not just a/c issues, but plumbing issues, overheating issues, bad smells, and the passengers are suggesting the ship should not have left drydock. Passengers are also upset with Thomson as the cruise line is reporting all is well, even though it does not appear that way.
December 30 2010: Dollar signs in their eyes: If you build it, it is not a guarantee they will come. Corpus Christi Texas is now performing a study to ascertain the viability of becoming a cruise port and enjoying the cruise cash infusion. Air capacity and proximity may be the donwfall.
December 20 2010: New part of the world experiencing cruise growth: Thanks to a new cruise terminal, Costa Cruises and Aida Cruises marketing the area with regular cruises and the naming of Costa Deliziosa in the Arabian Gulf, Dubai is predicting a 50%+ growth by 2015 with a forecast of 575,000 passengers vs 325,000 passengers in 2009/2010. Besides expanding cruise port handling capabilities, other areas in the region need to jump on board and offer more options creating more destinations for cruise itineraries - if you build it, they will come and cruising has proved in the past that they will accomodate in order to explore new destinations for their discerning passengers.
December 17 2010: Being passed around, but no scrapyard: The Nordic Prince, a name that is not mentioned much anymore, was a pioneer for Royal Caribbean in the 1970's and 1980's. I still remember the pocket sized brochures featuring the sleek Nordic Prince with the famous Viking Crown Lounge. Even though it no longer sails as the Nordic Prince, it continues to provide passengers with a classic cruise. The Nordic Prince was sold to Sun Cruises in 1995 and renamed the Carousel. In 2004 the ship was sold to Louis Cruises and re-named Aquamarine (we had the pleasure of seeing the Aquamarine as we sailed into Athens and she slowly glided past us). And now the ship has a new owner and new name - Ocean Star Pacific is the name and Corporacion De Cruceros Nacionales of Mexico is the new owner. A classic liner that keeps alive with new ownership and avoids the scrapyard - kudos to a great ship.
December 15 2010: Freestyle Europe: NCL expands in Europe in a big way for 2012 with four ships in the region and two of them will be year-round. The Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Jade will be sailing year-round in the Mediterranean. The Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Sun will sail seasonally frorm Barcelona and Copenhagen just as they are sailing in 2011. This is an expansion for NCL from three ships in the region with one based year-round to four ships in the region with two based year-round.
December 15 2010: Not so splendid: Carnival Splendor will not be ready on January 16. As repairs continue on the ship, more issues are being discovered and the ship will not be back in service until February 20 2011. Parts are being manufatured in Europe and are being used from other ships that are in the construction phase. The use of these parts will not delay those ships under construction. The affected passengers on the canceled cruises will receive a refund or future cruise credit, reimbursement of air schedule change fees, and those who re-book will also receive a 25% future credit or onboard credit.
December 9 2010: Tush lift/tuck/enhancement: The nightclub structure on the back of the Grand Princess may no longer exists when the ship goes into dry dock next year. Not only is the nightclub an eyesore, but Princess states that the costs of maintaining this structure outweights the revenue generated.
December 9 2010: To insure prompt service: Royal Caribbean is raising recommended gratuities from $9.75 per passenger per day to $11.65 per per passenger per day. As I mention in my book (Beginner's Guide to Cruising), when you consider the great service you receive onboard, this is much cheaper than you would tip if you had to pay for your gourmet, elegant dinner onboard and the daily gratuity covers several employees. This is the first increase Royal Caribbean has implemented in 13 years and will be effective July 1 2011.
December 9 2010: Cunard has a new Queen: No, not another ship. Cunard has its first female Captain in the company's long history. Inger Klein Olsen will helm the Queen Victoria.
December 8 2010: If it's not broke, improve it: That is what Celebrity is doing with its newest Solstice Class ships: Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection. As a matter of fact, Celebrity Reflection will be bigger than its four sisters. Both ships will receive the same enhancements with Celebrity Reflection featuring more cabins with its increased size in width and the addition of an extra deck. All this is a result from the success of the first three Solstice class ships: Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, and Celebrity Eclipse. Here is the breakdown: Celebrity Reflection will have an extra deck added to accomodate the popular AquaClass spa cabins. The ship will have the first AquaClass Suites, additional Sky Suites, additional ConciergeClass cabins, and a few extra inside staterooms. In order to accomodate everything being added the ship is being widened in order to maintain the same space ratio of the previous ships and to maintain the exceptional traffic flow of the previous ships. There will also be more loungers on the expanded pool deck, more seats in Celebrity Theater, Oceanview Cafe, Blu, Tuscan Grille, Qsine, and main dining room. Absent from both ships: the popular Corning Glass Museum and hot glass show; however, enhancements to the Lawn Club are many and the hot glass show may not be missed. The Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection will have the Lawn Club Grille - an industry first outdoor, interactive grill with stainless steel grills, large ovens, and pizza making tables. During the day the lunch menu will feature highe-end burgers, interactive demonstrations and classes on pizza making, grilling, and more. These demonstrations and classes will be led by Celebrity's own chefs and guest chefs. At night the Lawn Club Grille will feature top-quality meats in which passengers can grill themselves or have them grilled to order. There will be a charge for evening dining (even if you cook your own??). Also new: The Porch. The Porch will enliven the tastebuds with smells of fresh baked bread and pastries. This will be the spot for quick and casual breakfasts and lunches in a chic setting with views of the Lawn Club and the sea and will be located on the starboard side at the entrance to the Lawn Club. Enjoy a salad, sandwich, panini (hope Bistro on 5 is not replaced), coffee, beer, or wine. Enhanced further will be The Art Studio. The Art Studio will be located within the Lawn Club and this will also be interactive as you can participate with hands-on instruction from experts in painting, drawing, and even the art of food. Another new feature will be The Alcoves. Located within the Lawn Club, The Alcoves will overlook the lawn and sea with eight cabana-style settings for two to four passengers offering WiFi, picnic baskets, beverages and will be available as an all day rental or partail day rental. Nearby you will find hammocks and Adirondack chairs all to make your quiet retreat more relaxing and enjoyable. Michael's Club will be enhanced with a restyled bar with a more choices in beers, malts, whiskies, and homemade snacks(potato chips, bread sticks, caramel popcorn, etc). Michael's Club will also offer interactive experiences as you can learn how to pair beer with food, learn to select the proper glass, and even learn how to pour the perfect draft. The Hideaway will be another one of those quiet relaxing areas inspired by the live trees suspended in the atrium on the Solstice Class ships - think tree house with nests. I am sure there will be more announcements on the new features of the Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection that sets them apart from its three other siblings.
December 8 2010: NCL musical chairs/ships: NCL is swapping some of its ships in 2012. Norwegain Star will be leaving Alaska in 2012 and repositioning to New York to sail Bermuda cruises. Norwegian Jewel will takeover the Alaska cruises sailing out of Seattle. NCL will have the Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl sailing out of Seattle on Alaskan itineraries and the Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Star will be sailing on Bermuda itineraries with the Norwegian Star sailing out of New York and Norwegian Dawn sailing out of Boston. The Norwegian Star will be replacing the Norwegian Gem and at this time there is no announcement as to where the Norwegian Gem will be based.
December 8 2010: Sisterly reunion: Mark your calendar for January 13 2011 for New York at the Statue of Liberty. This is where all three family members of Cunard: Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth will meet at the Statue of Liberty approximately 6:45pm. This is only the second time in Cunard's history that the fleet will meet at this place. The last time was 2008 when the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2(now retired), and Queen Victoria met. A fireworks display will help celebrate this grand occasion.
December 6 2010: Goodbye Yachts of Seabourn: Seabourn Cruise Line adopted a new tag line a few years ago: The Yachts of Seabourn. Mention Seabourn Cruise Line and the moniker The Yachts of Seabourn accompanied the company name. The Yachts of Sebourn is mentioned in their advertisements and website - you can't get away from it, until now. It seems that Seabourn Cruise Line is dropping the tag The Yachts of Seabourn. They are even creating a new logo. Why the change? Perhaps its because their new "yachts" are three times the size of their "original" trio of small ships/yachts.
December 6 2010: New Caribbean route? As reported earlier in the month it looks like Philadelphia is out as a cruise port. One of those reasons is because cruisers found it more attractive to sail from New York or Baltimore. Well, even though New York City has been a cruise player for decades, Boston - yes Boston - is considering and investigating the prospect of offering cruises to the Caribbean. That which needs resolved is the fact that it will require approximately nine days to sail from Boston to the Caribbean and back (at least one extra day vs. leaving from NYC). Boston will also need to attract cruise lines to commit to this itinerary, fuel consumption and the biggie: will there be enough demand from the New England and surrounding areas to make this a viable option. A decision is not imminent, but a couple years away. Stay tuned to see of Boston becomes a year-round cruise port.
December 6 2010: Floating cities, floating police force: Cruise ships have their own security staff onboard. A lot of attention is coming from Australia in which it is being recommended that Federal police be onboard all vessels. Also being recommended is every passenger and crew be scanned for drugs before coming onboard. I am sure there could be some jurisdiction issues having Federal police onboard. The fact that cruise lines register their ships in foreign countries and a lot of negative press in the mishandling of crimes onboard could lead to a harder stance as far as security is concerned.
December 5 2010: An unusual delay: A return to delay from dry dock is a rare occurrence, but the Norwegian Jewel is experiencing a delay. The ship was in Boston for repairs to its azipod propulsion system and Murphy's law intervened as a crane collapsed in the shipyard and caused the delay. Norwegian Jewel will now arrive in New York on Monday at Noon and will depart at 4pm. Passengers will receive a refund of one seventh of the cruise fare and $100 onboard credit per cabin for the shortened seven day cruise.
December 3 2010: Stay longer in Curacao: The government of Curacao created a new policy giving cruise ships more time in port in order to help support the economy and allow passengers more time to explore. The policy also allows the shops and casinos to be open (from 7pm) on the ship for those staying onboard. If the shops and casinos are open onboard, won't that take away from the local economy and island exploration...
December 2 2010: A Titanic learning opportunity: Azamara Club Cruises' Azamara Journey will offer an anniversary cruise to the Titanic in 2012 and not only will the passengers learn about the historical event, children in elemetary and middle schools will also be able to witness the event from the remotely operated vehicle that will be sent to the Titanic to transmit images of the bow and interior. Contact www.voyages-to-remember.com for more information on participating.
December 2 2010: Here fishy, fishy: Like to fish? Princess has the answer. Princess Cruises has a new 14 day Alaskan Cruisetour that includes fishing excursions, for those who love the sport, that involves three types of fishing in Alaska. Check with your agent or online for specific information if you are interested in this new excursion.
December 1 2010: Philadelphia no love for cruises: Sandwiched between New York and Baltimore, it appears Philly is out as a cruise port. Philadelphia has not drawn the "drive to" cruise crowd as most cruisers are driving to New York or Baltimore. The Delaware Port Authority will end its lease at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia, thereby ending its participation in the cruise business. Cruise lines started moving away from Philadelphia as low turnouts and low yields resulted in a shift to New York and homeporting year-round in Baltimore.
November 27 2010: It has a name: German cruise line Aida Cruises has named its ninth ship, drum roll, and the name is... AidaMar. The newly named ship is scheduled to debut in 2012.
November 24 2010: Saving the SS United States: There is a stalled casino project on the south Philadelphia waterfront. The idea is to utilize space onboard the SS United States as part of the casino project. It would cost $200-$300 million to relocate the ship to the site of the new casino and build a two story casino. The ship would have two floors for gambling with retail space and conference center and future additions. The SS United States set the trans- Atlantic speed record on its maiden voyage 58 years ago. The ship was removed from service in 1969 and has been rusting away in Philadelphia for over 10 years. It is highly unlikely that this ship will ever be put back in service, so maybe this is a good option to generate the cash need for restoration. Let's hope they remain committed to preserving as much of the ship in its original glory.
November 17 2010: Stay in touch: Disney will be offering "Portable Wave Phones" to its guests as a way to stay in touch with one another. The phones offer text messaging and send/receive calls to other Wave phones onboard the ship or on Castaway Cay. The phones do not work off of the ship (other than Castaway Cay). Disney will provide two phones in each stateroom with concierge class staterooms receiving four phones. There is no fee for the phones unless you require more than the number provided in your room and then the fee is $3.50 per unit per day. Disney is planning on using these phones to replace the pager system that is currently in place.
November 17 2010: Delta Queen comeback: November 2008 is when the Delta Queen lost her Congressional Exemption to the fire safety rule and was no longer allowed to sail carrying passengers (the ship is mostly wood). Since that time the riverboat has been utilized as a floating hotel in Chattanooga Tennessee. A groug called Save the Delta Queen 2010 is in the process of purchasing the Delta Queen and the plans are to put her back in service. Let's not forget that the riverboat American Queen is laid up in Texas and is also for sale. The American Queen is not as historic or aged as the 1926 built Delta Queen, but still worth saving and returning to service. The third of the trio, Mississippi Queen, was gutted during the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and one night not too long ago it was quietly sent to the scrapyard (RIP). Let's all support the return to service of the Delta Queen and the American Queen.
November 16 2010: Not such a Splendor: Well, the Carnival Splendor will be out of service until at least January 16 2011. There still does not seem to be a firm cause for the problem. A lot of holiday travel plans are being disrupted by this and the supply is not that high for west coast cruising. A lot of the passengers taking this cruise drive to the ship so even if they found some great pricing in the Caribbean for the holidays, they will now have to pay for airfare. Hopefully, the problem will be discovered and resolved quickly. Carnival is refunding all passengers their cruise fare and giving them a 25% future cruise discount.
November 14 2010: Infinity Solsticized: It was announced onboard the newly arrived Celebrity Eclipse that the Celebrity Infinity will not only be Solsticized in late 2011, but the ship will also receive 60 new cabins. The children's area on deck 11 will be replaced with 43 new cabins of which 37 will be Aqua Class staterooms. The children's area will be moved to the Observation Lounge and the Observation Lounge will become smaller. Seventeen more cabins will be added to deck 3 and eight verandahs will be added to suites. Deck 3 will be remodeled with the addition of a 200 seat conference center. Alternative dining options will also be added to the ship along with Celebrity's Martini Bar & Crush. Management believes the ship will not be crowded adding these additional cabins as they have felt that the ship could accomodate more staterooms.
November 12 2010: From July 28 2010: Third time's a charm???: Same ship, different name: In March, MSC ordered a new ship to be named MSC Favolosa. Recently, MSC has signed on the dotted line to build this new 140,000grt, 3500 passenger ship. MSC has also changed the name of the ship to MSC Fantastica. Apparently, Costa's next ship is named Costa Favolosa, so MSC has changed the name of it's newest order. UPDATE November 8: The name has been changed again to MSC Divina as godmother Sophia Loren wanted a ship named after her and the result was Divina.
November 11 2010: Coming home - sort of: FIRST OF ALL - THANKS TO ALL OF OUR VETERANS AND MILITARY PERSONNEL WHO ARE STILL ON DUTY WHO ENSURE OUR FREEDOM - SOMETHING WE SHOULD NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED. The Carnival Splendor is now docked in San Diego and all passengers returned safely. Also in the news, Allure of the Seas arrived in its new homeport of Fort Lauderdale and Celebrity Eclipse arrives Miami - welcome home to all.
November 10 2010: Cruise to Nowhere: Carnival Splendor, which has been all over the media, is under tow and heading back to San Diego as passengers dine on SPAM, pop tarts, and sandwiches with no air conditioning, no warm water, and no lights. I am quite certain this has been an awful experience, but there will be those featured in media interviews that will experience something more horrific than the rest of the passengers experience. There are always two sides to a story.
November 8 2010: Spirit is alive in New Orleans: In a few days the Norwegian Spirit will arrive in New Orleans and instead of leaving in 6 months, she will be homeporting for 18 months. Norwegian Spirit will sail 7 day cruises to Costa Maya, Cozumel, Guatemala, and Belize. In 2011 Honduras will replace Guatemala.
November 8 2010: Sibling rivalry: As reported October 27, Allure of the Seas is getting the first Starbucks at sea. Now, Oasis of the Seas will have a Starbucks added, which will replace the Mondo Cafe. Also, Radiance of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas will receive new eateries (like those on Oasis of the Seas), a Diamond Lounge for loyalty members, Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, flat panel TV in all cabins with wireless internet throughout the ship. Splendour of the Seas will also receive new balcony cabins. Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas will receive their makeovers in 2011 receiving the same amenities along with the Cupcake Cupboard and an outdoor video screen.
November 6 2010: New ships Florida bound: The "recession" in 2008 created a hesitation and re-evaluation of new ship orders by all cruise lines. The ships that were already on order are, for the most part, now sailing and heading to the U.S. Florida will not only welcome the "snowbirds" who escape the cold northern winters, but will also welcome 8 of the new ships over several months. The list of new ship arrivals include: Nieuw Amsterdam, Allure of the Seas, Celebrity Eclipse, Seabourn Sojourn, Azura, Queen Elizabeth, Disney Dream and Oceania Marina. There are 3 new ships that are sailing Europe year round and will not be making a U.S. debut: Costa Deliziosa, MSC Magnifica, and AidaBlu.
November 5 2010: Another Port Record: For the second year in a row Baltimore has set a passenger record of 169,490 for 2010. In 2009 that number was 167,235. 2011 should also be a record year as more cruises are scheduled next year compared to this year. These numbers equate to roughly $90 million for the state of Marlyand. 40 million people are within a six hour drive of the Port of Baltimore. This is a great success for the cruise line's homeport cruising initiatives after 9/11.
November 4 2010: Economic Recovery?!: Seabourn Cruises is implementing fare increases between $200 and $800 per couple due to increased demand and its best booking month in history. Seabourn's new yacht/ships have attracted new cruisers and now those new cruisers are becoming repeat passengers.
November 3 2010: Solo cruisers are heard: The popular solo cabins found on NCL's Norwegian Epic, will be incorporated into the newbuilds NCL has just ordered.
November 3 2010: A $610,228 fuel bill: That's the price or fine Jamil Murni must pay for frauding Royal Caribbean in which he bought oil for RCL, except he sold it to a fictitious company and then resold it to RCL at a higher price. Oh, along with the fine comes a four year prison sentence.
November 3 2010: It's a mystery: Whodunit Cruises plans for its first mystery cruise on the world's largest cruise ship: Oasis of the Seas on April 2 2011 to the Western Caribbean. Whodunit Cruises creates interactive mysteries on ships in which passengers, who become involved, try to solve the crime. So far over 100 mystery cruises have been offered on Royal Caribbean since 1991. Let me see, The Purser with a stapler on the merry-go-round hmmm...
November 1 2010: Recycling: Another ship will soon be no longer as the Maestro (formerly the Renaissance from Paquet) is at the breakers in Alang and will soon be no more.
October 30 2010: Under the bridge: After adding extra ballast weight to increase draft, a little increase in speed to let the ship ride lower, and the lowering of the funnel stacks the Allure of the Seas passed under the Storebaelt Bridge in Denmark with moments of anticipation even though all precautions were taken to ensure a successful pass. It is also a dramatic scene to sail under the Tampa Sunshine Bridge on the Carnival Legend - very exciting and suspenseful.
October 30 2010: No longer under cover: The Disney Dream has left her cloak of the covered dock and emerged into daylight, or twilight, for the first time tonight. The Disney Dream still has more than a month of interior work before her maiden voyage in January, but fans lined the waterfront to cheer the sparkling new ship's entrance into the cruising world.
October 29 2010: Free Shuttle: Starting November 1, P&O Cruises is offering guests free shuttle transportation from the pier when the ship cannot dock close enough so that guests are within walking distance to the main town.
October 28 2010: Shipyard lacking new orders: STX Europe shipyard in Turku has to shut down due to lack of work. The shipyard is famous for building the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, but as cruise lines are being cautious with their newbuild programs, STX Europe Turku does not have enough work to maintain its staffing levels which peaked at 5,500 when both mentioned ships were under construction.
October 28 2010: New investment opportunity: You can purchase shares of Carnival Corp and you can purchase shares of Royal Caribbean on the NYSE as investment opportunities. You may be able to purchase shares of Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) in the future. NCL Corp Ltd registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public as soon as possible. They will offer $250 million in shares. NCL intend to use the proceeds to pay down some of the $750 million revolving credit and to fund future expenditures.
October 27 2010: A Starbucks on every corner: The first Starbucks at sea will be located on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. Starbucks will be able to satisfy your cravings from 7am to 11pm daily with a la carte selections.
October 27 2010: Port Canaveral expanding: A new terminal has been approved for port expansion at Port Canaveral. The new terminal, Terminal 6, has been approved and will be built to accomodate future cruise industry growth.
October 26 2010: Abu Dhabi now a homeport: As reported October 1, MSC is sailing around the Persian Gulf. Not only will the MSC Lirica cruise the area, Abu Dhabi will be the homeport in October 2011. Abu Dhabi is eager to grow with the cruise industry and the agreement between MSC and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority allowing Abu Dhabi to become more than just a port of call is a big boost for the UAE capital. MSC is the first cruise line to utilize Abu Dhabi as a homeport offering eight day/seven night cruises November 2011 to March 2012.
October 25 2010: Norwegian Epic an only child: Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed that they are building two new ships for delivery in April 2013 and April 2014. The ships will be built by Meyer Werft in Germany and will NOT be sisters to the Norwegian Epic. They are a little smaller than the Norwegian Epic with a similar passenger count.
October 22 2010: Seattle sets passenger record: The Port of Seattle realized its best cruise season in 2010 with 12 ships homeporting in Seattle and ships using Seattle as a port of call. 931,698 passengers came through Seattle's two terminals.
October 21 2010: Panama Canal: Work is underway on the new expansion of the locks with 15 percent of the work complete. A 1:30 scale model of the new locks was built to perform tests of the waterflow and hydraulics. With positive results from the model, the construction stage will soon begin. The new set of larger locks are scheduled to be open in 2014.
October 20 2010: Cancel for any reason Part II: News from Sept 14 2010 informed you that Holland America offered a new cancel for any reason option to their cruise insurance policy. Now Carnival is offering a "cancel for any reason" coverage. This feature will be included for all plan purchases for cruises departing January 1 2011 or later. If you purchase Carnival's Cruise Vacation Protection Plan, you will be able to cancel your cruise for any reason and receive a cruise credit for a future cruise of 75% as long as you notify Carnival before the ship departs. If the reason you cancel is for a covered option, you will receive 100%. Last year Carnival enhanced the cruise protection by adding severe weather protection and job loss protection. With today's economy and unforseen weather and airline issues, Carnival's insurance adds more peace of mind for travelers in protecting their vacation investment. Check with your agent or Carnival for more information.
October 20 2010: Miami sets record: 4,145,053: That is the number of passengers that the Port of Miami processed from October 1 2009 to September 30 2010. That same time frame, the previous year, Miami processed 4,110,100 passengers. Passenger traffic was up for the summer period and the positioning of the Norwegian Epic helped increase passenger traffic. For next year's growth(and maybe another record) the Port of Miami will feature the Celebrity Eclipse, Marina (Oceana Cruises), and the Costa Atlantica.
October 19 2010: Maiden voyage set: Disney has announced the date of the maiden voyage for the much anticipated Disney Fantasy. The date: April 7 2012 from Port Canaveral to the Western Caribbean. The Disney Fantasy is a sister to the Disney Dream which is entering service in January of 2011. The Disney Fantasy will cruise to the Western and Eastern Caribbean on seven night cruises with a stop at the popular private island of Castaway Cay. Disney is also taking bookings for the Disney Dream, Disney Wonder, and Disney Magic for 2012. The Disney Dream will be sailing 3,4,5 night cruises to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay. The Disney Wonder will be sailing from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera. The Disney Magic will sail the Eastern and Western Caribbean for the first part of 2012.
October 18 2010: It happens in threes: First it was Celebrity canceling sailings on Celebrity Century because of rudder damage. Then it was P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel canceling the next voyage because of propulsion problems. Now Costa has canceled a cruise on the Costa Classica because of a collision with a cargo vessel suffering a gash in the side of the ship above the waterline.
October 15 2010: Another Queen: Cunard's Queen Elizabeth was christened by Her Majesty The Queen with a bottle of white wine. The 90,400 ton, 2,092 passenger Queen Elizabeth set sail on her maiden voyage on October 12 2010.
October 15 2010: Back to Alaska: It wasn't too long ago that cruise lines were pulling ships from Alaska due to the increased taxes the state charged passengers and cruise lines. Earlier this year the state reduced those taxes (did not eliminate) in hopes of appeasing the cruise industry. Princess Cruises will be adding a ship in 2012 to the Alaskan market which will be a fourth ship for Princess cruising Alaska during the summer. Princess will announce its ship deployment and the name of the fourth ship in spring of 2011.
October 15 2010: Big talk, no action update: As noted below August 29 2010, Falmouth, the new cruiseport in Jamaica was behind schedule. It looks like it is still not ready for cruise passengers as Holland America and P&O have cancelled what should have been the first cruise calls. Falmouth's debut is now slated for January 2011. Stay tuned.
October 14 2010: Still growing and upgrading: The fast growing, small ship company American Cruise Lines (news Sept 21, June 10th), who purchased the Queen of the West last fall, is planning renovations for the Queen of the West after its last cruise in November and will be ready for service by its first cruise scheduled April 2011. The multi-million dollar renovations will be ship-wide and will include staterooms receiving new furniture and flat screen televisions, increased size of the staterooms, increased balconies, addition of single staterooms, new carpeting throughout the ship, along with new floor coverings and new lighting, the dining room and lounges will be redecorated, a library will be added, new state of the art entertainment equipment will be added, and the ship will be getting a new galley. The stateroom expansion will decrease passenger capacity from 150 to 120. The Queen of the West sails seven-day cruises from Portland, Oregon along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
October 12 2010: Getting your hull wet: Carnival Cruise Line's 23rd ship, the Carnival Magic, was floated out from the dry dock. Once a ship leaves the dry dock all the major exterior outfitting is complete. The next step for the Carnival Magic will be sea trials scheduled for early in 2011 in the Adriatic Sea. The 130,000 ton, 3,690 passenger ship is a sister to the Carnival Dream and will spend the summer of 2011 in Europe before heading to her year round homeport of Galveston, Texas. The Carnival Magic will have a few new features: pub, Italian restaurant - family style: see August 24 2010 news to read more about the Carnival Magic.
October 10 2010: Boston's new terminal: The Black Falcon Cruise Terminal - Cruiseport Boston - refurbishment now complete. How big of a deal is this to make news? Well, before the expansion passengers could not enter the terminal to embark until all disembarking passengers cleared because there was not enough space. Very inconvenient to say the least. After spending $11 million on improvements there is now enough room to elimate this problem. Along with more space came new elevators, escalators, picture windows on the third floor and curb-side baggage check-in. Passengers sailing out of the refurbished terminal - enjoy!
October 9 2010: Guinness Book record: AIDA Cruises' AIDAbella is currently the largest cruise ship to pull a water-skier. The record was set off the Spanish coast in the Bay of Alicante. Jan Schwiderek, a reporter for the TV show "Galileo" skied at a speed of 14 knots behind the AIDAbella for 6 minutes and 25 seconds. Jan started out from a speedboat driving full speed to set the new record.
October 6 2010: New Homeport: Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun will call Port Canaveral home when the ship arrives October 16 2010. Norwegian Sun will sail seven-day cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean through April 7 2012. In May 2011 the Norwegian Sun will spend the summer in Europe.
October 2 2010: 10 year anniversary: Carnival is celebrating its 10th anniversary sailing out of Galveston, Texas - doesn't seem like it has been that long. It all started in 2000 with the small Celebration leading to the giant Carnival Magic in 2011. Positioning a ship in Galveston helped set the stage for the continuation of "home port" cruising as Carnival's success in Galveston has expanded to new ports of Mobile, Jacksonville, Baltimore, and Charleston.
October 1 2010: Persian Gulf cruise growth: Add MSC Cruises to the growing list of cruise lines offering cruises around the Persian Gulf. The MSC Lirica will be based in the United Arab Emirates during the winter of 2011/2012 operating seven-night voyages from October 28 2011 to March 9 2012. Costa Cruises and Aida Cruises have been cruising this area for the past four years and Costa will again operate for a fifth year with the Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa. Royal Caribbean started offering cruises this year with the Brilliance of the Seas and the ship will return in 2011.
September 26 2010: Popularity breeds upcharge: The Norwegian Epic's new, popular and unusual circus show is so popular and in such high demand that Norwegian Cruise Line has announced they are increasing the seat price from $20 to $30 for the best seats and from $15 to $20 for the least expensive seats. I guess the cruise price you pay when you book your cruise no longer includes what it used to!!!
September 23 2010: Another naming: Celebrity Cruise Lines has released the name of the fifth Solstice Class ship: Celebrity Reflection. She will debut in 2012 and join sisters Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, and the upcoming Celebrity Silhouette.
September 21 2010: Mississippi Cruises: In 2012 paddlewheel cruising will be back. American Cruise Lines is building a new paddlewheeler carrying 140 passengers and plans to offer cruises on the Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, and Cumberland rivers. If you recall, American Cruise Lines built the m/v New Orleans(entering service in 1985) that was a mock paddlewheeler sailing on the Mississippi River. The company's owner sold the cruise line and in 1989 the cruise line went bankrupt. American Cruise Lines was reborn in 2000 by the original owner and it has followed the same path in shipbuilding and naming ships. No name has been chosen for the newbuild.
September 18 2010: No longer: Cruise West, the 64 year family business, has officially ceased operations.
September 16 2010: More culinary features: Royal Caribbean is expanding its culinary offerings by partnering with Chefmakers Cooking Academy to offer unique cooking experiences and skill that you can apply in your day-to-day life. There will be a dozen plus classes available, for a fee of $40-$125, that will be taught in the ship's galley and can be enjoyed by new cooks or experienced ones. It is now available on Liberty of the Seas and will be offered on Freedom of the Seas in the fall. Check out Royal Caribbean's website for availability and to explore all the various classes offered ( All About Chicken, Knife Skills, Quick and Easy Fish, Quick and Easy Pasta, Small Bites, Lazy Day Brunch, Tamales, and more).
September 15 2010: Europeans on the rise: According to the European Cruise Council: 4.9 million European residents booked a cruise last year which is a 50% increase over 5 years and translates to 30% of the world's cruising passengers.
September 14 2010: Cancel for any reason: Holland America passengers who purchase Holland America's cruise Cancellation Protection Plan can now cancel their cruise for ANY REASON and receive up to a 90% refund on the cruise fare. You can now also add this protection any time after booking as long as it is purchased before cancellation fees begin.
September 9 2010: New features: Allure of the Seas (debuting December 2010) will feature a few new twists to its onboard dining vs Oasis of the Seas. In the Solarium, a Brazilian steakhouse will open for dinner service. On the boardwalk, Rita's Cantina will not only offer Mexican fare, but also the widest selection of margaritas at sea - and supposedly the best margaritas at sea. Rita's Cantina will replace the Seafood Shack found on the Oasis of the Seas. Also on the boardwalk you will find the The Boardwalk Dog House featuring hot-dogs and located where the Donut Shop is located on the Oasis of the Seas. The Donut Shop will be relocated next to the Ice Cream Parlor.
September 2 2010: A swap: Carnival Inspiration (based in Tampa) and Carnival Paradise (based in Long Beach) will be swapping ports in the fall of 2011. Each ship will offer a 14 day repositioning Panama Canal cruise as they switch home ports.
August 29 2010: Big talk, no action: Jamaica has been extoling the makeover of Falmouth, which is to be the next major cruise destination. Unfortunately, the port will not be ready in two months when ships start to arrive. The town is not ready, the streets are dirty, and the courthouse, which will greet arriving passengers, needs a major facelift. Holland America's Ryndam and Noordam are visiting in October and Decemer, respectively. In January Holland America's Eurodam and Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas will be visiting. Next April Oasis of the Seas will be calling regularly. Falmouth was created and designed for the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Falmouth is located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios and officials expect 500,000 cruise passengers a year at Falmouth. Roads still need widened, trees growing through the police station need "groomed", and building facade improvement needs started. Stay tuned...
August 24 2010: Magic time: Less than 250 days to go until Carnival Magic sets sail and Carnival has announced some new innovations for their latest ship. Carnival will have its first ever pub called Red Frog Pub featuring Carnival's own beer - Thirsty Frog Red. The new pub decor will be British West Indies meets Key West and will be located on Promenade Deck. The pub will be an indoor/outdoor concept with 100 seats and featuring island snacks (conch salad, grouper fingers, firecracker Jamaican chicken wings, and others) and will also feature rums of the Caribbean to try. Also, the ship will feature a ropes course, weight lifting, and water dump bucket on its outdoor sports complex. One other new feature will be Cucina del Capitano (The Captain's Kitchen) which will be a new dining option paying homage to Carnival's Italian lineage as Carnival's captains are all Italian and numerous ships have been built in Italy. Most sister ships are carbon copies, but Carnival and Royal Caribbean are making sure that when you sail on a sister ship you will enjoy many differing features. Check out the dedicated website at www.carnivalmagic.com
August 17 2010: Debarkation blues: If you don't have an early flight home, there is not much to do other than wait at the airport. There is always the option of booking one of the very few tours offered for debarkation day. Royal Caribbean to the rescue. Royal Caribbean is testing "extended stay" for cruises ending in Fort Lauderdale. The new option includes transportation to the boardwalk in Hollywood, FL for shopping, exploration, trolley, and relaxing and then a transfer to the airport. Also included - luggage storage so you can enjoy your sight seeing without hauling the cumbersome bags. There is a fee of $35 per person. You will pick up your bags at the airport. This option, for now, is only available on Oasis of the Seas. At least it is another alternative to sitting at the airport with nothing to do.
August 12 2010: New order: German cruise operator AIDA Cruises has just ordered another new ship. The 71,300 ton ship will debut in 2013 carrying 2,192 passenger. AIDA Cruises has AIDAsol set to debut in April 2011 and another unnamed vessel due in June 2012.
July 28 2010: Same ship, different name: In March, MSC ordered a new ship to be named MSC Favolosa. Recently, MSC has signed on the dotted line to build this new 140,000grt, 3500 passenger ship. MSC has also changed the name of the ship to MSC Fantastica. Apparently, Costa's next ship is named Costa Favolosa, so MSC has changed the name of it's newest order. UPDATE November: The name has been changed again to MSC Divina.
July 22 2010: Bermuda: Holland America will continue cruising to Bermuda in 2011 with the ms Veendam offering 24 seven day cruises. The 2011 cruises beging May 1 and end Oct 9 sailing from New York roundtrip. 2010 was the first time in 25 years that Holland America has offered regular service to Bermuda and now continues in 2011.
July 19 2010: Laughing is contagious: Carnival's comedy club on the new Carnival Dream has been such a success that all ships will have dedicated lounges by the end of the year. "Punchliner Comedy Clubs", as they will be named, will be located in the ship's aft lounge and will offer five 35 minute shows on multiple nights during each cruise with at least two comedians performing each night. The early evening shows will be family oriented while the later shows will be adult-oriented. Carnival will offer 10 shows for each cruise on short itineraries and approximately 20 shows on longer length voyages. All of the aft show lounges in the entire fleet will receive a makeover and the employee's uniforms, menus, and glassware will feature the newly branded Punchliner Comedy Club logo.
July 19 2010: Down Under vs Baltimore: Celebrity will be returning to Australia in late 2011 after an absence since 2009 with the downturn in the economy as travelers scaled back on exotic travel. Baltimore pays the price as the Celebrity Century will leave Baltimore for Australia. All cruises for the end of 2011 and 2012 sailing from Baltimore on Celebrity Century have been canceled. Contact Celebrity or your travel agent if booked on a cruise November 1, 2011 through March 21, 2012.
July 18 2010: Istanbul: Celebrity Constellation will be homeporting in Istanbul - that's right Turkey. Because of security and safety issues after 9-11 the port has seen little use as a turnaround port. Celebrity Constellation will be offering a series of Greek Island cruises in the fall of 2011 from Istanbul.
July 14 2010: Epic overview: Comments are starting to pour in over NCL's Norwegian Epic. The ship is not sailing at full capacity in order to acclimate to large numbers of passengers. I am hearing that the ship has many congested areas that are a concern as NCL will need to reconfigure passenger flow before the ship sails full. The entertainment venues are varied and amazing. The cabins and their curved-wall design are smaller than norm and the curved beds are a little short for six-footers as your feet hang out of the bed. The bathroom layout (separating shower, sink, toilet) is a little clumsy and not as popular as designed to be. A lot of effort was spent in the "new" cabin design, but perhaps was not tested as the reviews are not impressive. None of these issues should determine cancelling a cruise, but the ship is having some growing pains, and some seem permanent.
July 8 2010: Pay to stay: Debarkation day is a drag. You have to leave your home of the last seven days in the early morning. Royal Caribbean has a plan to counter your short stay on the morning of debarkation. For $35, you can remain onboard through lunchtime up to 90 minutes prior to the next sailing. You still have to vacate your cabin by 9am, but you will still have access to all public areas and select restaurants. Currently, this program is being offered on all 8 ships sailing in Europe. Maybe this will eventually become a standard on cruises outside of the European market.
July 1 2010: Saved: The s/s United States has been saved, for now, from the scrapyard. The SS United States Conservancy will buy the ship from NCL for 3 million dollars. Hopefully, the ship will be restored and useable like the Queen Mary.
June 25 2010: One of a kind: NCL has confirmed that Norwegian Epic will be one of a kind. The original plan was to build two ships with an option for a third, but NCL declined the option and then cancelled the second ship following a dispute with the shipyard. This is very unusual in today's cruising environment as cruise lines carbon copy a style of ship, building several to maximize savings in construction. NCL is biding its time with the economy and hoping with the slow down in new ship orders from all cruise lines, the shipyards will offer bargains.
June 23 2010: New homes: Following its maiden season in Europe, the Carnival Magic will home port in Galveston Texas on November 14, 2011. The Carnival Magic is the second ship in the Dream Class for Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival Magic will offer 7 night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Also, the New Orleans based Carnival Triumph will homeport in Galveston on October 6, 2011 offering 4 and 5 night cruises. Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy will leave Galveston and move to New Orleans returning Carnival's capacity in New Orleans to pre-Katrina levels.
June 13 2010: Name change: American Canadian Caribbean Line has changed its name to Blount Small Ship Adventures. The name change is a tribute to the founder Capt. Luther H. Blount who passed away in 2006. The new name also reflects the type of cruises the line offers, which are small and informal and appeal to the active, mature traveler.
June 11 2010: More Protection: The Cruise Safety Bill was passed by the Senate. This bill requires the reporting of crimes onboard cruise ships to U.S. authorities and to take other action to protect victims. Now the House and Senate Bills need reconciled of their minor differences before being sent to the President for signature.
June 10 2010: Maiden Voyage: American Cruise Lines' Independence is being prepared by the crew for its first voyage on June 12 2010. This ship is a little different for American Cruise Lines as the ship has a wider beam, allowing for larger cabins, and features stabilizers. The Independence was delivered ahead of schedule and after the Maiden Voyage will summer in Maine. The anticipation of the new ship has been overwhelming with the first voyage comprised of 60% repeat passengers of American Cruise Lines. In the summer of 1984 I worked as a deckhand on the original Independence for the original American Cruise Lines.
June 9 2010: More dining options: Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam will feature new dining options and venues. Nieuw Amsterdam will feature the largest and most flexible dining options ever offered on Holland America ships. Nieuw Amsterdam is scheduled to enter service on July 4 2010. This is one ship we are looking to sail on in January 2011.
June 7 2010: Let there be light: The largest chandelier at sea has been installed on the Norwegian Epic. LED technology of 10,000 diodes changing colors with 255 variations allows it to be the most energy efficient at sea. The chandelier is 21 ft tall and 11 ft wide and weighs in at two metric tons. NCL is creating many firsts on Epic and the excitement around this ship is very high. Let's hope it is received well and NCL can build another ship with all these enhancements.
June 4 2010: Pillars of Distinction: Oceania Cruises has recently invested multi-millions in enhancements and upgrades to its ships called "Pillars of Distinction". These upgrades will focus on comfort, cuisine, and service. The Nautica was the first ship to be upgraded and will be followed by Insignia in November and Regatta in January 2011. Oceania's newbuilds, Marina due in January 2011 and Riviera due in April 2012, will also see the Pillars of Distinction enhancements.
May 27 2010: New name, new home: TUI Cruises will receive its second ship in 2011 as the Celebrity Mercury will become Mein Schiff 2 in May 2011. She will be be joining her sister the Celebrity Galaxy which is sailing as Mein Schiff for TUI Cruises. TUI Cruises was established in 2008 as a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises and TUI AG. TUI Cruises is tailored to the German market and the Celebrity Mercury will join TUI after an extensive refurbishment that will make it consistent with Mein Schiff.
May 16 2010: Epic Entertainment: NCL raised the bar in onboard entertainment and now (similar to Royal Caribbean for Oasis of the Seas) you can pre-book online your entertainment choices for the Norwegian Epic. Some of the new entertainment venues include: Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams™ & Dinner, The Second City® Comedy Troupe, Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos Show and Nickelodeon™ at Sea.
May 16 2010: Easier Air: Direct From Princess Cruises Captain's Circle Magazine: Princess eZAir takes flight! The new, innovative air program designed to give passengers more control over their flights is now available. The new program offers real-time competitive air pricing and flight schedules, no customization fees to choose a preferred airline, class or seat, and something not offered by other major air booking websites - Next Port Protection. With Next Port Protection, if you miss your cruise embarkation due to airline delay or service disruption, Princess will work with the airline to provide flights to the next appropriate port at no additional air cost to you.
May 13 2010: Enhancements: The success of the Oasis of the Seas for Royal Caribbean has prompted them to add some of the popular features to the Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas. Some of the added features you will notice will be: Royal Babies and Tots Nursery; Outdoor video screens; Wayfinder system for shipboard navigation; updated Vintages Lounge; the family musical Imaginocean; and the Cupcake Cupboard. There will also be new entertainment features and shore excursions. New families of ships that offer revolutionary enhancements to the guest experience are often implented on earlier built ships. If you are not enthused about the large size of Oasis of the Seas, you will be able to experience a few of the popular features onboard the Freedom class vessels
May 11 2010: Solsticized: That's the word that Celebrity coined to define the success of new features on the Solstice class ships that will be added to the Millenium class of ships.The Celebrity Constellation received the first enhancements with the rest of its siblings to receive the same upgrades by 2012. Some of the enhancements you will find: Tuscan Grille steakhouse; creperie; Bistro on Five; ice-topped Martini Bar; Cafe al Bacia and Gelateria; Cellarmasters wine bar; and overall enhancements to staterooms and public areas. New ships and new innovations are good for all ships as many of the popular enhancements are adopted to older vessels.
May 10 2010: New name: Carnival's 24th ship to enter the fleet has been named Carnival Breeze. The 130,00 ton ship will enter service in in spring 2012 and is a sister to the Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic, which is currently under construction.
April 22 2010: They come and they go: Mariner of the Seas will be leaving Los Angeles and the Mexican Riviera market in January 2011 and sailing to Europe home porting in Rome. After spending a few months in Europe, Royal Caribbean will again have a presence in New Orleans as Mariner of the Seas will have a new home port in Galveston replacing Voyager of the Seas which will be relocated to New Orleans.
April 21 2010: Go girl!: It took 173 years, but P&O has its first female Captain. Sarah Breton will take the helm of P&O Cruises Artemis. Royal Caribbean promoted the first woman to Master in 2007 - Karin Stahre-Janson on the Monarch of the Seas.
April 19 2010: Less tax: Alaska law makers have agreed to lower the head tax currently charged to cruise passengers. It does not appear to be a huge decrease and may be a little too late for 2011 as most ships have their itineraries set. We all know how itineraries are not set in stone! Stay tuned.
April 8 2010: Record breaker: The largest cruise ship in the world, Oasis of the Seas, has just set a passenger record carrying over 6,000 passengers on the most recent cruise!
April 8 2010: Disney Dining: Disney has announced that the Disney Dream will feature a new French-inspired restaurant called Remy. The restaurant will be for adults and is an extension of the successful Palo's on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Remy's will be a top deck restaurant featuring ocean views with a French menu serving a Champagne cocktail and followed by 8 or 9 courses.
March 24 2010: MSC Expansion: MSC cruises is relatively unknown in the North American market as the focus on this European cruise line's popularity has been expansion in Europe. There will be some changes to this model and Richard Sasso, the CEO of the North American division, answered my question in regards to expansion: Mr. Sasso, MSC has experienced fast growth with a very young fleet. Congratulations! What is MSC's 5 year plan for expanding beyond the European market and establishing a known presence to compete with other cruise lines? Also, what are your thoughts on ship size (what "large" size is the perfect fit for MSC to be able to offer all guests varied amenities and do you see the trend to continue with larger and larger ships or slowly retreat to the more mid-sized ships)? His response:Yes. We are the fastest growing cruise line in history and we are proud to operate the youngest fleet. Thanks for your best wishes. Our five-year plan will include further expansion into North America as well as in other regions around the world. Stay tuned.
We are blessed with a versatile fleet comprised of mid-size, Lirica class; Panamax, Musica-class; and post-Panamax, Fantasia-class ships. A perfect size ship is in the eyes of the beholder (cruiser).
March 17 2010: Island Overhaul: NCL will be investing $20million to overhaul their 250-acre private island Great Stirrup Cay. There will be a new tender landing area which will free up more beach space that should finish by the end of the year. In 2011 more landscaping, a straw market, a band stand, and beach volleyball courts will also be available. The best improvement for all the private islands that the cruise lines visit would be to build a dock and eliminate tendering. Disney's Castaway Cay has a dock and all cruise lines should invest in this infrastructure to eliminate rough water rides to the island and to eliminate the cancellation of a private island visit due to rough seas.
March 11 2010: No place like home: Royal Caribbean has announced that Explorer of the Seas will remain in New York for 2011. This will be the 5th year in a row for Explorer of the Seas. Not everyone is happy as cruisers have been asking Royal Caribbean for a different ship to freshen the cruise experience. Maybe 2012 will be the year Royal Caribbean replaces Explorer of the Seas. In other home port news, Enchantment of the Seas will be remaining in Baltimore for 2011.
March 5 2010: Europe bound: NCL announced their ship deployment to Europe(see below) and not to be outdone, Princess and RCL have made their announcements: Princess will be sending 7 of their 17 ships to Europe in 2011. Royal Caribbean is sending 10 of their 22 ships to Europe in 2011. Where are all the ships coming from? Alaska. Higher operating costs and lower revenue in the Alaskan market is creating fewer berths for Alaska and more berths for Europe.
February 25 2010: Play with your food: The Celebrity Eclipse and all future Solstice class ships will have a new dining venue called Qsine. Fun food will feature such items as sushi lollipops, decorate your own cupcakes, and spring rolls in springs. There will be no printed menus as you will press a button and the menu will light up. The dinner will be served family style instead of being served in courses. There will be hands on culinary delights for your interaction and enjoyment. Qsine will be located in the space now occupied by Silk Harvest that is now featured on the Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox. Silk Harvest will remain on these two ships.
February 23 2010: NCL ship positioning: Norwegian Star to Tampa on seven-day Western Caribbean cruises October 16 2011 through April 8 2012...Norwegian Sun to Port Canaveral on seven-day alternating Eastern & Western Caribbean cruises for the winter of 2011/2012...Norwegian Epic to Miami on seven-day alternating Eastern & Western Caribbean cruises for the winter of 2011/2012...Norwegian Pearl to Miami on seven-day Western Caribbean cruises for the winter of 2011/2012...Norwegian Dawn to Miami on ten and eleven-day Southern Caribbean cruises for the winter of 2011/2012
February 17 2010: Princess newbuild: Ruby Princess debuted in 2008 and that was the last ship Princess had on order. Carnival Corp (Parent of Princess) has just signed a memorandum of agreement for two new ships at 139,000grt with 3,600 passengers each. The first is to debut in the spring of 2013 with the second to follow a year later. No details on the ship design or amenities have been released.
February 11 2010: Sail away party: Princess Cruises is reviving a popular tradition from the early days of cruising when friends and family could see you off on your voyage: non cruisers will be allowed onboard during embarkation day. Princess is calling this the "Bon Voyage Experience". Your family and friends are welcome aboard to wish you a bon voyage. There is a cost to participate in the new program of $39 per person, but this includes a four-course dining room lunch with wine, a tour of the ship, and a souvenir photo. Passengers and friends who participate in the program will receive priority embarkation and will be allowed onboard for approximately 4 hrs. The $39 fee can be applied to a future cruise on Princess. The program will begin in March in Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale and then continue with New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. Even though there is a cost, this is a nice tradition to bring back to cruising.
February 11 2010: RCL: Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas will be sailing out of Barcelona in the summer of 2011 competing with NCL's Norwegian Epic.
February 9 2010: NCL, NCL, NCL: NCL announced several changes for 2011 and here they are: the Norwegian Dawn will replace the Norwegian Spirit on the Boston to Bermuda run in 2011 providing passengers with a newer and larger ship...the Norwegian Spirit will be positioned year round in New Orleans offering 7 day Western Caribbean cruises (Costa Maya, Cozumel, Roatan, Belize) in 2011...the Norwegian Sun will sail from Copenhagen instead of Dover, England on its 9 day Baltic cruises in the summer of 2011...the Norwegian Jade will be offering 7 night Greek Isles from Venice in the summer of 2011...and the Norwegian Epic will be sailing 7 night Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona.
February 9 2010: For Sale - QE2: The QE2 is for sale again, if you are interested in writing a check for this legendary liner. Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, is deeply in debt and needs to raise cash. Istithmar purchased the QE2 from Cunard in 2007 for $100 million with the intention of converting the ship into a floating hotel. Particulars of the impending sale are unknown.
February 5 2010: New onboard feature: AIDABlu will the be the first cruise ship to feature a micorbrewery with its very own brewmaster. What will they think of next? Stay tuned...
February 3 2010: Third times a charm: The Carnival Ecstasy damaged the passenger gangway while docking in Galveston. Last October the Carnival Legend had an incident in Cozumel, a few days ago the Carnival Miracle sustained damage in St. Kitts, and now the Carnival Ecstasy in Galveston. Let's hope this is the last of the "touch and go" for Carnival.
February 1 2010: She's baaaack: The Carnival Fascination has returned to Jacksonville after being dry docked for upgrades to the ship and to add Carnival's "Evolution of Fun" water park.
January 31 2010: A hole in one: The Carnival Miracle suffered damage while docking in St. Kitts opening a 30 square foot gash just above the waterline. There will be delays in repairing the ship.
January 28 2010: This and that: The Norwegian Epic will be heading to the Med in 2011... Carnival will be returning to Europe in 2011 with the Carnival Magic...The keel has been laid for the Carnival Magic...Royal Caribbean has returned to their private island (Labadee) in Haiti donating supplies and proceeds spent by passengers visiting the private island...
January 15 2010: NCL will offer their "studio" staterooms on the Norwegian Epic to singles without the singles supplement charge making cruising affordable for solo travelers. NCL may be breaking the mold again just as they did with "any time dining" which most cruise lines are now embracing and offering passengers as an alternative dining choice to traditional dining.
January 7 2010: A new name for a new ship. Seabourn has named their third new build Seabourn Quest. Seabourn Quest is scheduled to debut June 2011 and will follow the same style as the newly launched Seabourn Odyssey and soon to debut Seabourn Sojourn.
January 6 2010: Two new ships are now out of drydock and afloat. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth and Aida's AIDAblu have entered the next phase of their birth as workers continue to work on the interior of the ships.
December 9 2009: More ships are pulling out of Alaska. Holland America's Ryndam and Princess Cruises Royal Princess will not be sailing in Alaska in 2011. As the taxes and charges increase in Alaska, the cruise lines are sending their ships to more profitable destinations.
December 1 2009: Dream big - Carnival has placed an order for a third ship in the Dream series. The ship will be 130,000grt with 3690 passengers due in 2012. The new Carnival Dream has received great reviews from passengers and agents alike and Carnival is building on that success. The new ship will have a lot of the same popular features as the Carnival Dream and the upcoming sister ship Carnival Magic due in 2011 with a few new additions that will be reavealed later. Carnival has placed one of the new first orders of the major cruise lines. Princess (owned by Carnival) does not have any new ships on order. Will they be next in placing new orders?
November 19 2009: It has been very busy in Ft Lauderdale as the largest cruise ship has arrived and is preparing to welcome aboard the media. The media will be given the first glimpses of this engineering marvel and only time will tell as to the public acceptance of this behemoth. Once the ship begins its regular itinerary with paying passengers we will learn how well the ship handles over 6,000 people. Oasis of the Seas seems to have it all as you can enjoy the greenery and al fresco dining in Central Park, you can enjoy cotton candy and a ride on the merry-go-round on the Boardwalk, you can enjoy the sand at the beach pool, you can zip line, ice skate, rock climb, surf, enjoy a water ballet at the Aqua Theater, ride a three-deck rising bar (that should be interesting if you enjoyed too many tropical drinks), shop at the Royal Promenade, and enjoy culinary delights at one of the many dining options available onboard.
November 7 2009: Oasis of the Seas will be arriving at her new home in Ft Lauderdale a little later than expected due to high winds and high seas while crossing the Atlantic. All is expected to go according to previous plans as work is still being done while the ship is cruising to its new home.
November 5 2009: Time to say goodbye. Carnival Cruise Line's Holiday has sailed its final voyage. The Holiday has been in service for Carnival since 1985. Life is not over for the Holiday as it will undergo a planned refurbishment and when it is complete, the Holiday will be transferred to Carnival's Spanish cruise operater IberoCruises. The Carnival Fantasy will take over Holiday's route sailing from Mobile, Alabama(see Sept 18 cruise news). Also, saying goodbye is NCL's Norwegian Majesty. The Norwegian Majesty had a previous life sailing for Majesty Cruise Line as the Royal Majesty from 1992 - 1997. Since then the ship has been sailing for NCL. Louis Cruise Lines of Cyprus will take ownership and the ship will be renamed Louis Majesty.
November 4 2009: Costa Cruises has announced the names of their next two new ships due to be released in 2011 and 2012. These two ships will complete Costa's fleet expansion plans that will bring the fleet number to 17 ships. The Costa Favolosa will debut in 2011 and the Costa Fascinosa will debut in 2012.
October 31 2009: The WOW factor!! Disney Imagineers are at it again with some really cool features on the Disney Dream now under construction and due 2011. The first WOW feature is a 765 foot water coaster called the AquaDuck. Riding an inflatable raft, you will be blasted through a transparent tunnel/tube navigating twists and turns and over the side of the ship 150 feet above the ocean. The AquaDuck will span 4 decks and will include a stretch of "river rapids". Another WOW factor will be inside cabins with ocean views. This is made possible with "virtual portholes". Cameras on the outside of the ship will provide live views on the flat-screen "windows". Disney even allows you to turn off your window if the seas are rough and you don't want to watch anymore. Also, there may be a friendly sight of Disney's animated characters passing by the window. One has to wonder why this has not been done until now. Other features will be a full deck of space for children's areas and a neighborhood for adults with bars and clubs and eateries. One of the eateries is called Enchanted Garden and the colors will change during the day and night and the ceiling scenery will change to reflect the time of day. Skyline will be an adult venue with faux windows that provide an ever changing view of Paris, London, etc. The scenes will also change based on time of day. As you wander around the ship, the artwork on the walls will come to life. The framed LCD screens (that will look like art) will come to life as it senses when a passenger is present. There could be different animations for different people to give the more personalized feel. Can't wait to see more of this ship. It is going to be amazing.
October 22 2009: Carnival is heading back to Aruba. During the 2010-2011 winter itineraries, Carnival will be calling on Aruba twice a month.
October 1 2009: A bump in the night. As the Carnival Legend departed Cozumel, a sudden storm with 50+ knot winds and strong currents pushed the Carnival Legend into Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. No injuries were reported and a friend onboard reports that the captain's exchanged driver's licenses and insurance cards and once the Mexican authorities gave their blessing, they were on their way to Belize. Broken glass and bent railings were reported and there is damage to the stern of the Enchantment of the Seas. The extent is yet to be determined by Royal Caribbean.
September 18 2009: Charleston, SC will no longer be a seasonal cruise port as Carnival will begin year round cruising from Charleston May 18 2010 as the Carnival Fantasy is relocated from Mobile, AL to sail 5, 6, and 7 day cruises from Charleston. Five-day voyages will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and will call on Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas. Six-day voyages will be departing on Saturdays and will visit Freeport, Nassau and Key West, FL. Seven-day voyages will depart on Saturdays and will stop at Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau. Replacing the Carnival Fantasy in Mobile will be the Carnival Elation on May 15 2010.
September 12 2009: Disney is going to Alaska. The Disney Wonder will be sailing Alaska starting in 2011 sailing from Vancouver, B.C. and calling on Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.
September 9 2009: Celebrity Cruise line has finally joined other cruise lines and will now be offering "anytime" dining, "flexible" dining or as they call it, Celebrity Select. Now diners can enjoy dinner in the main dining room at their convenience. Celebrity is planning on offering three options to Celebrity Select: 1. Four days before your cruise you can go online and select your dining times - seems like this defeats the purpose of anytime dining. 2. Reservations can be made daily onboard. 3. You can go to the dining room at your convenience and see if there is a table available. None of these options seem as easy as the programs offered by other cruise lines. Some lines reserve a section of their dining room for those who do not want to be regimented to a certain time and they are having success with their tests One thing to note is that if you choose Celebrity Select, you will have to pay gratuities up front and not at the end of the cruise as other cruise lines.
August 26 2009: The first step to reality occured today for the Disney Dream as the keel laying ceremony took place. This will be the first new ship for Disney in over 10 years when the Disney Dream debuts in 2011. It's sister, the Disney Fantasy, will debut in 2012. Port Canaveral will be the home port for both ships. Itineraries will be announced later this fall. The ships will both be 128,000 grt and two decks higher than the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic and each carrying 2500 passengers - before children. Disney's private island, Castaway Cay will be expanded to accomodate the increased number of cruise passengers on these ships.