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    Norwegian Cruise Line is touting new seven-night Caribbean cruises that include a call in Havana, Cuba — a first for the line. 
    Until now, the Miami-based company's only voyages with Havana on the schedule have been short trips lasting four nights. Norwegian also plans new nine- and 13-night sailings that feature a call at Havana.  All of the new voyages will take place this fall on the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun. 
    The new seven-night cruises will kick off in September through October out of Miami. In addition to Havana, the itinerary will feature stops at Costa Maya, Mexico; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas. 
    Also taking place this fall, Sun's new nine-night cruises will expand upon the week-long sailings with additional visits to Roatán, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico. They'll also start in Miami. 
    Sun will sail a single 13-night voyage that includes Cuba on Oct. 30. Also starting in Miami, it'll feature calls at eight destinations including Puerto Limón, Costa Rica; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; and Oranjestad, Aruba.
    Norwegian also added a new five-night cruise to Cuba and the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Fla. on Sept. 3. 
    Sun already had been scheduled to spend the summer sailing short trips to Cuba out of Port Canaveral, Fla. Norwegian also offers short trips to Cuba out of Miami on the 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky. Norwegian is one of more than half a dozen cruise lines that have begun sailing from the USA to Cuba over the past year.  
    Cruise lines began planning the voyages several years ago after the Obama administration loosened rules on travel to Cuba. President Trump tweaked the rules last year but not in a way that had a significant impact on cruises to the country.
    The Cuba calls offered by the lines are designed to provide an opportunity for "people-to-people" exchanges between Americans and Cubans as allowed by U.S. rules governing visits to Cuba. U.S. visitors are limited in the activities they are allowed to do in Cuba by the terms of the USA's five-decade-old embargo.
    By Craig Platt, Traveller.com
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to @ https://www.cruisecrazies.com
    One of the world's most famous cruise ships will be based in Australia for more than 100 days over the 2019-20 summer, but there's a twist.
    Rather than having the iconic Sydney Harbour as its home base, ocean liner the Queen Elizabeth will be based in Melbourne.  The ship, part of the Cunard line's "three queens" (along with the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria) and successor to the famous Queen Elizabeth II, can carry up to 2080 passengers.
    The Queen Elizabeth, which is 294 metres long and can carry 2068 passengers and 996 crew, is coming to Melbourne.  The ship will sail on six round trips from Melbourne during the season, along with two trips from Sydney, with itineraries travelling to South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
    The record visit will be almost double the ship's planned 54-day season in 2019.
    Cunard senior vice-president Simon Palethorpe said the move reflected the importance of the Australian cruise market to Cunard as well as Melbourne's growing attraction as a cruise hub. Cunard expects the ship to inject almost $7 million into the local economy.
    The news comes after Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Legend recently arrived in Melbourne to begin its season with Victoria's capital as its home port. The ship made headlines this week after it anchored in Eden, New South Wales to put some passengers ashore after outbreaks of violence on board.
    The announcement of another major ship to be based in Melbourne comes as Sydney struggles to cope with the number of cruise liners visiting Australia.
    A Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia report late last year found NSW accounted for 58 per cent of the cruise industry's $5.3 billion contribution to the national economy, but its share had dropped 10 per cent over the past two years due to Sydney reaching capacity for ships.
    As a result, Victoria had experienced a 12 per cent increase to take a 7 per cent share of the national contribution.
    "Australia is one of the world's most appealing cruise destinations for global cruise lines but Sydney is a big drawcard and if Sydney is full, this discourages more cruise ships from heading to our shores," managing director of CLIA Australasia Joel Katz says.
    At 90,900 tonnes, Queen Elizabeth is the second largest ship to sail in Cunard's fleet, behind the Queen Mary 2 that visited Melbourne on the weekend. The Queen Elizabeth launched in 2010 and features more than 10 restaurants and cafes, a two-storey library, a ballroom and a three-deck theatre with seating for 800 guests.
    Full details of the 2020 World Voyage season will be released on March 13, with the program scheduled to go on sale on March 20, 2018. See cunard.com
    By Gene Sloan, Traveller.com
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to @ https://www.cruisecrazies.com
    Cruise lines have never had a cleanliness problem this big.
    In 2017, cruise lines failed their sanitation inspections at the highest rate ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program started holding cruise ships to its Operations Manual guidelines in 1990.
    Fifteen ships earned failing scores last year, a figure that dwarfs the average failure rate of about two to four ships a year, a Miami Herald analysis of the CDC’s historical inspection data found. The only year that comes close to 2017’s all-time-high figure is 2013, with 10 failures. In 2016, just four ships flunked their inspections, and from 2009 to 2011, there was only one failure a year.
    In 2017, the failures included five cruise ships from Doral-based Carnival Cruise Line, one from Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line, one from Miami-based Oceania Cruises and one from Deerfield Beach-based Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. A Caribbean ferry, Ferries Del Caribe’s Kydon, failed its inspection twice.
    Carnival has been quick to respond, adding staff training and changing procedures even though they face no legal penalties. Still, the line says, the failures correspond with a greater emphasis on administrative details during inspections that don’t necessarily reflect a ship’s cleanliness.
    The increase in incidents follows a significant increase in the size of the global fleet. In 2017, the number of cruise ships increased by about 6 percent from nearly 450 ships in 2016. But the spike in failures is still unusual, said Ross Klein, a professor at the School of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, who tracks cruise ship outbreaks, health issues and other factors.
    “We can say it’s the worst year, but also the best because it means inspectors are doing their jobs,” Klein said.
    There were a total of 255 inspections in 2017, with the majority of ships passing their inspections. Forty-one ships got perfect scores, accounting for about 16 percent of all inspections. The spike in failures, though more elevated than in recent years, still only accounts for 6 percent of all inspections in 2017.
    What triggered the increase remains unclear.
    When asked about the reasons behind the trend, VSP Chief Commander Aimee Treffiletti said via a statement that, “VSP does not routinely evaluate frequency or trend of specific violation categories.”
    Ross Klein, a professor at the School of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada
    Carnival Cruise Line, which snagged headlines when its ships failed four inspections from November 2017 to January 2018, said it has now implemented an intensive, fleet-wide retraining process to avoid further failures. Carnival has passed two re-inspections out of the four so far, with inspections on the other two ships forthcoming.
    “All retraining is complete across our fleet. We have implemented continuing education, as well as bi-weekly conference calls for all of our food operations teams to share best practices and learnings,” the cruise line said in a statement.
    Cruise expert Stewart Chiron said the failures may be a result of more “aggressive” inspections.
    “I’m unaware of any internal personnel changes and know that no excuses have been offered up by Carnival during recent discussions,” Chiron said.
    The Vessel Sanitation Program randomly inspects ships that dock at U.S. ports at least twice a year to help control the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses like norovirus. The program first launched in 1975 but didn’t begin to hold ships to its VSP Operations Manual guidelines until 1990.
    Vessels are scored on a 100-point scale. A score of 85 or below is considered failing.
    All ships cited with violations are required to submit a Corrective Action Report detailing how they corrected the problems; vessels that fail are re-inspected “within a reasonable period of time,” Treffiletti said. But a ship that fails an inspection a second time or a cruise line that has a string of failures faces few legal consequences.
    Most violations recorded on inspections are seemingly harmless, like corroded machinery or water pooling. Some are more significant and in some cases even show an intent from crew members to disguise the true condition of a vessel.
    As recently as Dec. 2, an inspection of the Carnival Vista while the ship was docked in Miami found that crew had made an “organized effort” to hide potentially hazardous food, raw produce, utensils and other items in a crew cabin hallway and a crew cabin to avoid inspection. During several inspections in 2017, crew members were also found clocking back into work even though they showed symptoms of acute gastroenteritis.
    Klein said the inspection failures may reflect turnover within the Vessel Sanitation Program and within the cruise lines, which have grown exponentially in the last decade with larger ships.
    That rapid growth may have diluted the talent pool of employees on cruise lines who have extensive experience working on ships, he said.
    Most workers are hired from Asian nations where cruise-ship jobs are highly coveted. But prior hospitality experience is not always required, say experts. The cruise lines train the workers once they are hired, Klein said. Across the hospitality industry, hotels, restaurants and other entities are feeling the squeeze of a labor shortage as such businesses continue to grow.
    “I can’t see how the cruise industry would escape the erosions we have seen elsewhere in the service industry,” he said.
    But the Cruise Lines International Association refutes the claim that staffing challenges have led to inspection failures. Cruise ship jobs remain very popular, said CLIA spokeswoman Catharine Montgomery in a statement, with lines receiving up to 100 applications for each job opening.
    “In addition to their salary, crew members typically receive free medical care, room and board, meals and many other benefits that are often unavailable in their home countries,” Montgomery said. “Crew members are very satisfied with their jobs and the opportunities for career advancement, which explains why employee retention rates in the cruise industry are upwards of 80 percent.” 
    A Missouri couple on their honeymoon said they could not use the bathroom in their cruise cabin aboard Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Triumph because of "black sewage," smelling of poop, that would bubble up out of the shower drain. The ship would then go on to fail its sanitation inspection.
    Downward trend
    For the past seven years, cruise lines have seen a downward trend on their average annual inspection scores, indicating that inspectors are catching ships with more violations per year.
    The final score is based on a point system, with points deducted if there is a pattern of similar violations or when there are significant individual violations. That means that a lower score, though passing, means more violations were found. Even ships that score 100 can be found with a half dozen violations or more.
    “If you look at the regulations in the past inspections, it’s pretty hard to fail. Even a ship with [a score of] 98 is found with lots of infractions,” Klein said.
    Since 2011, the average annual inspection score that the three major cruise lines — Carnival, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line — have earned has been declining. For example, Norwegian ships earned about a 98 on average in 2011. Their average in 2017 was 96. (Norwegian declined to comment for this story).
    The Vessel Sanitation Program periodically changes its guidelines to incorporate new technologies, emerging public health issues, industry recommendations and other considerations. The guide was updated in 2011, before the decline in the scores began.
    Carnival said in a statement that the evolution of the program has created a greater focus on administrative issues that don’t necessarily represent a public health risk.
    “For example, a coffee machine that is out of service and marked as such in a pantry can result in a points violation and a report stating we had no cases of [gastro] illness that was submitted an hour late can cause a 4-point deduction,” the cruise line said. “There is now a greater than ever focus on the requirement to maintain detailed records and these are being extensively reviewed during inspections. We have refocused efforts and our shipboard training on the importance of maintaining accurate and up-to-date records.”
    Carnival and other lines all play an active role in the Vessel Sanitation Program’s continuation. They help fund the program, paying between $1,495 and $17,940 per inspection depending on the size of the ship, and also have a hand in developing new guidelines. Carnival, Royal, Norwegian and others were all involved in creating the 2011 guidelines.
    The inspection guide is set for another update this year, to reflect disease patterns and trends, emerging pathogens and other features, said Treffiletti of the VSP.
    Despite the overall trend toward lower scores, experts don’t see a direct correlation between ships that fail their inspections and those that are plagued by norovirus outbreaks.
    According to the CDC, the number of reported rates of diarrheal disease on cruise ships decreased 2.4 percent from 1990 and 2004. From 2008 to 2014, according to a recent report, that rate continued to decrease with only 0.18 percent of all cruise passengers in that time frame reporting cases of acute gastroenteritis. Increased rates of the illness happened in years that novel strains emerged, such as 2012, the CDC found.
    Of the 11 ships that reported having a gastrointestinal disease outbreak in 2017 to the CDC, only two ships also failed their sanitation inspections the same year. Of the two failed inspections, just one corresponded with the date of an outbreak on the same vessel.
    For cruise ships that do fail an inspection, there are few legal penalties.
    Ships that fail their inspections have to pay the cost of a re-inspection — up to $17,940 for most of the newest ships from mass market lines.
    “The VSP is a voluntary program... It doesn’t have any legislative or any legal sort of teeth to it,” Klein said.
    But there is an exception in extreme cases: If a ship’s sanitation condition presents an “imminent public health risk,” the Vessel Sanitation Program can issue a “no-sail” recommendation that, if ignored, can become an order. The U.S. Coast Guard enforces the order.
    A ship displaying an imminent public health risk may be facing an inability to keep food within safe temperatures, have inadequate facilities for cleaning and sanitizing equipment, or other factors, Treffiletti said.
    It’s only ever done so once: In 2001, a Greek-owned ship sailing in the Great Lakes, the Arcadia, earned a 59 on an inspection, then failed another but kept sailing when the CDC recommended it stop until the problems were corrected. The recommendation finally became an order when the ship failed a third inspection.
    But an initial failure doesn’t necessarily mean the conditions on a ship pose a health risk to its passengers. And most major cruise ships with failing grades correct issues and pass their re-inspections.
    “A score of 85 or below does not necessarily mean the ship is unsafe and this is why no specific restrictions were placed on our vessels, other than to have them re-inspected,” Carnival said in a statement.
    Still, the penalties are more severe for other land-based entities when they fail inspections, said John Hickey, a Miami-based maritime attorney with Hickey Law Firm.
    “Local authorities can close a restaurant, they can fine a restaurant, and that’s really powerful,” Hickey said. “That just does not exist on cruise ships.”
    Most major lines also have a clause in their passenger contracts that denies a cruiser the ability to bring a class action lawsuit against the line. In the case of a norovirus outbreak that may be the result of unsanitary conditions, it’s difficult for lawyers to bring a class action suit against the line — nor is it financially feasible for them to do so when it’s just an individual case.
    Overall, the problems with ship sanitation remain so isolated that it’s clear the sanitation program has been a success, Klein said.
    “If health outbreaks became a critical problem or there was a fair proportion of ships not passing the program, then it might make sense to look at legislation,” he said. “[As it is,] the program is quite helpful.”
    The inspections have also received more attention in recent years, as consumers have become more adept at scrutinizing and rating facilities through the growth of sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.
    Now, consumers are also looking at cruise lines with the same discerning lens through which they scrutinize other business in the service industry.
    “These inspections are the wake-up call that hopefully remind [the cruise lines] not just that the need for sanitation has a purpose,” Klein said, “but that the eyes are on them and that consumers really do care.” 
    By Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to @ https://www.cruisecrazies.com
    For the first time in 20 years, cruise giant Carnival will base a new ship on the West Coast.  The Miami-based cruise giant on Saturday revealed that its soon-to-debut, 3,960-passenger Carnival Panorama will make Long Beach, Calif. its home. 
    Scheduled to debut in 2019, the 133,500-ton Panorama will take the place of the 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor, which is moving from Long Beach to Australia. Like Splendor, Panorama will sail seven-night cruises to Mexico. 
    Currently under construction at a shipyard in Italy, Panorama will be the third vessel in Carnival's new Vista Class of ships. The first vessel in the class, Carnival Vista, debuted in 2016 and will be followed this year by sister ship Carnival Horizon. 
    Like the earlier vessels, Panorama will boast an 800-foot-long sky ride around its top deck, a massive deck-top water park and other deck-top fun zones as well more than a dozen interior eateries, bars and lounges. The vessels are the largest ever for Carnival.  The Panorama deployment announcement came as Carnival officially unveiled a major makeover of its cruise terminal in Long Beach.  
    The overhaul more than doubled the size of the terminal's facilities and brought design changes that should enhance passenger flow. The upgrades included the expansion of port-side shore power to enable larger ships to plug into the local electric grid, reducing exhaust emissions while docked. The terminal is housed in the world’s largest, free-span geodesic dome — a structure originally built to house film and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes’ famed Spruce Goose flying boat.  
    In a nod to the dome’s former tenant, a model of the Spruce Goose hangs from its ceiling, and the terminal features the original model of the plane used in the 2004 movie The Aviator. The dome also includes a 1980s-style arcade that is open to arriving passengers.  
    Carnival on Saturday also announced a major port development project in Ensenada, Mexico, currently featured on the line’s three- and four-day cruises from Long Beach. 
    Panaroma's first sailings out of Long Beach will be available for booking starting in March. 
    By Gene Sloan, USA TODAY
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to @ https://www.cruisecrazies.com
    Australia is about to experience the ultimate in Carnival-style splendor. 
    The Miami-based cruise giant this week revealed it would move one of its glitziest ships, the 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor, to Sydney in 2019.  The 3,012-passenger vessel will be the newest and largest cruise ship ever based year-round in Australia.
    Christened in 2008, Splendor features one of the most over-the-top interior designs of any Carnival ship, including walls with pink polka dots and black tile with lime green grout. It was one of the last Carnival vessels to debut with an interior designed by Joe Farcus, a legendary cruise ship designer known for wild and extravagant creations.  Splendor will begin sailing out of Sydney in December 2019, Carnival said. 
    Carnival has been offering year-round cruises in Australia since 2012 on its smaller, 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit. A second Carnival ship, the 2,124-passenger Carnival Legend, also operates in Australian waters for part of the year.
    The arrival of Splendor will boost Carnival's capacity in Australia by 66%, the line said.   In advance of its move to Sydney, Splendor will undergo a major makeover that will include the addition of new eateries and a water park. 
    Splendor currently operates cruises to Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii from the Los Angeles area. 
    By Gene Sloan, USA TODAY
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to @ https://www.cruisecrazies.com
    This is the first half of an article posted by BLOOMBERG which reveals little known facts about cruise ships.  Part 2 is coming soon.
    At a time when travelers are feeling more precious than ever about “authentic experiences,” the cruise industry is doubling down on the exact opposite: completely manufactured fun. Leading the pack is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., whose mega-ships are destinations unto themselves: Its restaurants, casinos, Broadway-caliber musicals, silent disco parties, skating rinks, karaoke, dance clubs, and escape-the-room experiences are such strong lures, some guests don’t even bother to look up where the ship is docking.
    So when the cruise line invited me to join the ranks as temporary director of its largest ship, Harmony of the Seas—which is as big as five Titanics—I knew I was signing up for the most manic week of my life.
    As cruise director, my primarily responsibility was seeing to the happiness of 6,322 passengers and 2,200-plus crew. Over the course of a week, I had my hands in every department, from ship activities and entertainment to onboard revenue, making sure that everyone and everything worked in, well, harmony. From stocking the world’s biggest buffet and staving off gastrointestinal disasters to hosting celebrity guests, everything is 10 times crazier when you’re mayor of a city that’s floating in the middle of the sea.
    There Is Secret Cruise Code Language
    It’s crucial for the staff to have code words so that passengers don’t get freaked out if something goes wrong. A “30-30” means the crew is asking maintenance to clean up a mess; three times during my stint I called in a “PVI” (public vomiting incident). An “Alpha” is a medical emergency, a “Bravo” is a fire, and “Kilo” is a request for all personnel to report to their emergency posts, which happens in the event of, say, a necessary evacuation. Be wary of “Echo,” which is called if the ship is starting to drift, or “Oscar,” which means someone’s gone overboard. A crew member told me he’s had only four or five “Oscars” in 10 years of cruising.
    Drunk Guests Can’t Outsmart the On-Board Bartenders
    If you thought those all-you-can-drink beverage packages were directly correlated with drunk debauchery at sea, think again. Only eight to 10 percent of passengers purchase unlimited booze packages—Royal Caribbean’s guests are largely family travelers—and those who do are carefully monitored. Every single alcoholic beverage is poured with a jigger. Intoxicated passengers can have their SeaPasses (onboard credit cards) temporarily disabled, barring them from being served at any of the ship’s bars. As for the most popular alcoholic beverage ordered on board? It’s a cinnamon fireball shot.
    According to Ivan De La Rosa, the ship’s senior doctor, the biggest issue involving alcohol is when the ship is docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Mix an afternoon of unregulated drinking on land at Señor Frogs with tropical heat and a few glasses of Mexican tap water, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed “PVI.”
    Cruise Staffers Regularly Engage in Subliminal Messaging
    The first thing guests likely see in their cabins is a gleeful jingle about hand-washing looping on their television screen. It’s catchy as a Katy Perry song and meant to steer you toward Purel pumps around the ship, each carefully positioned at high-traffic junctions (think entrances to the main dining halls and theaters) by senior staff. Along with the emcees’ banter at large group events—“Have you washed your hands 50 times today? I have!”—the jingle is part of the crew’s unwavering effort to stave off a potential Norovirus outbreak.
    But sanitation is just one aim of the frequent subliminal messaging. Special promotions around the ship encourage passengers to scatter when certain areas become congested, and moving guests around the ship subtly encourages them to diversify (and increase) their onboard spending. If casino revenue is low, for instance, senior management might host a raffle or karaoke event at the far side of the slots to drive foot traffic and encourage passengers to linger (or better yet, play) a while. Activities managers will even film their daily newscast about onboard events with Starbucks iced coffees in hand, as a quiet reminder that passengers can get their venti latte fix on Deck Six. Often times, these veiled announcements are aimed at boosting the ship’s bottom line.
    There Is a Cruise Ship Burn Book
    Dru Pavlov, veteran cruise director and my mentor during this Royal Caribbean stint, keeps a hallowed book of stupid comments and questions; passed down from one cruise director to the next as a right of passage, it makes great vamping material for event emcees.
    The book Pavlov bequeathed to me included such doozies as: “Where’s the elevator to get to the front of the ship?” Others include “Is the toilet water drinkable?” and “How long does it take the crew to get home every night?” My favorite contribution came three days into my tenure, when a passenger stopped me to complain that she could no longer find her cabin. The ship had been parked backwards, she claimed.
    All Cruise Guests Basically Eat the Same Things
    Freezers on board Harmony of the Seas are the size of New York studio apartments—and stocking them is an art form. Before each sailing, the inventory team receives enough ingredients for 20 different dining venues, plus servings for the 2,000-member crew. (The total cost, including such other consumables as paper towels, is about $800,000.) Overestimate the order, and the voyage becomes less-profitable (and wasteful); underestimate, and you’ll risk a riot over coconut shrimp.
    Luckily, passengers’ eating habits are fairly predictable. On the average week-long cruise, Royal Caribbean estimates its guests will be 80 percent American, consuming around 3,000 bottles of wine, 7,000 pounds of chicken breast, and almost 100,000 eggs.
    If more than 80 percent of the guests are American, the crew orders extra ketchup. When the percentage of Chinese passengers increases, they bump up the supply of sliced fruit, seafood, and rice. Latin Americans consume more red meat and Coronas (which also requires additional limes). And family-prone Spring Break cruises require three times as many chicken nuggets. The one thing that never changes no matter who is on board? Toilet paper. Around 9,600 rolls are used each week.
    By Brandon Presser, Bloomberg
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to @ https://www.cruisecrazies.com
    Authorities have removed 23 passengers from a Carnival Cruise Line ship in Australia after a series of brawls, New South Wales police and Carnival said in statements.
    Cellphone video from the ship shows passengers tussling with each other, and with security officers, outside a nightclub and by a swimming pool amid shouting and screams from alarmed onlookers.
    The video also shows security officers kicking passengers after they were down on the floor.
    Carnival said police on Friday removed "a large family group who had been involved in disruptive acts aboard Carnival Legend. Our security team responded in several instances to extremely unruly behavior by these guests."
    "One particular altercation in the nightclub began when the group physically attacked other guests. The actions seen on the video by our security team are not in line with our Carnival values and policies."
    Police said they were told several men fought in the early morning hours Friday while the ship was about 220 kilometers (137 miles) off Jervis Bay. Security officers on the ship intervened and detained the men before notifying police, police said.
    "About 1.30 p.m. (Friday), six men and three teenage boys were removed from the ship at Twofold Bay, Eden," the police statement said. "A further 14 passengers, including women and children, also left the ship. The group were transported to Canberra where other travel arrangements were made."
    Carnival and police did not say what started the fights, how many people were hurt and whether any charges were filed. Both the police and the cruise line are conducting investigations.
    Passenger Kellie Peterson told radio station 3AW she saw a lot of injuries.
    "There's people been walking around with cut heads and hands and bandages everywhere," she told the station.
    "They were looking for trouble from the minute they got on the ship," Peterson said, noting that she and her husband tried to move her three children out of the swimming pool when the group was around.
    "Five of them surrounded my husband," she said. "And unfortunately my children witnessed it and they're scared. We've been told to watch our backs by this group. We're scared to go anywhere on the ship."
    The remaining passengers disembarked Saturday in Melbourne after a 10-day cruise in the South Pacific, Carnival said. CNN affiliate Seven Network said the ship carried 2,100 passengers.
    One passenger, Cindy Buglisi, told Seven Network the situation was "horrifying, like people screaming, running around, throwing glasses, everything -- like nightmare."
    Another, Jarrah Boliltho, said, "They (members of the family group) were roaming the decks just looking to pick on any Aussie they could find."
    Some of the passengers told Seven Network they wanted full refunds from the cruise line.
    Carnival said it would offer a 25% discount to these passengers on future cruises as a goodwill gesture.
    "We have a zero tolerance approach to excessive behavior that affects other guests," the Carnival statement said. "We sincerely regret that the unruly conduct and actions of the passengers removed from the ship may have prevented other guests from fully enjoying their cruise."
    CNN's Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.
    Lisa Lillien (a.k.a. Hungry Girl) is the creator of Hungry Girl and a guru of better-for-you eating. Nearly 3 million daily email subscribers and social media followers eagerly await her healthy recipes, food finds, and tips ‘n tricks each weekday. Come spend a week with Lisa and her team, and learn how to lose weight and keep it off for good!
    Learn how to outsmart your cravings, overcome common setbacks, and more! Bonus: Award-winning health journalist Robert J. Davis, PhD, will reveal some shocking food and fitness myths. See more event highlights here: http://cruise.hungry-girl.com/#hgevents
    Hear from weight-loss superstars who won the battle with the scale. Through interactive discussion panels, they’ll reveal their top smart-eating strategies and share their personal keys to success. Get inspired to sit on the panel at next year’s cruise! Plus, down-to-earth cooking demos will show you how to make smart (and delicious!) at-home choices with ease.
    A private island in the Bahamas; duty-free shopping in George Town, Cayman Islands; storybook coral reefs in Cozumel, Mexico; and beach-side architecture in Key West… It’s the adventure of a lifetime, so get your cameras ready! For port descriptions, click here: http://cruise.hungry-girl.com/#portdescriptions 
    Learn simple ways to burn major calories from Mandee Miller, a physical wellness pro and Lisa’s personal trainer. Mandee will also lead all-level workouts and reinvigorating mid-session stretches to music. And join Lisa and team for “Deckwalking,” brisk walks around the boat to rack up your daily step count!
    Enjoy group dinners with Hungry Girl entrées and desserts, complete with calorie counts! Of course, there will be plenty of indulgent dishes worth splurging on too... Feel free to indulge -- it’s YOUR vacation!
    Come party with Lisa and the Hungry Girl staff! Snap selfies, sip low-calorie margaritas, and dance it up to Holland America’s world-class live music!
    The Hungry Girl cruise is like a luxury summer camp for grown-ups. Connect with Lisa and fellow HG cruisers, and build a support system that lasts long after the cruise ends. Grab your mom, your sister, and your gal pals! (Husbands and kids can come at a discounted rate!)
    For more information and to book the Official Hungry Girl Cruise, visit cruise.hungry-girl.com!
    Celebrity Cruises has introduced a new ship to be built specifically for the Galapagos Islands.
    The premium cruise line revealed plans for the 100-passenger Celebrity Flora Thursday. According to USA Today, the ship will be based in the archipelago year-round beginning in 2019, replacing the 48-passenger Celebrity Xperience and 16-passenger Xploration.
    Celebrity Flora's unique design will capitalize on the Galapagos' beauty while helping preserve the destination. For example, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows will provide 360-degree views and anchorless technology will allow the ship to remain stationary without damaging the sea floor.
    Other highlights aboard the Celebrity Flora will include a marina able to accommodate up to three Zodiacs at once; an open-air, deck-top lounge featuring cocoon-style loungers and private cabanas; a stargazing platform; a research lab; indoor and outdoor lounges; an observatory; two restaurants and a library.
    Guests will be able to access invaluable destination information at Darwin's Cove and the Naturalist Center and visit the Discovery Lounge for Naturalist presentations and excursion details.
    The ship's two 1,288-square-foot Penthouse Suites will be the largest in the Galapagos, featuring separate indoor and outdoor living spaces, customizable lighting and a telescope for checking out wildlife or the night sky.
    Onboard accommodations will also include Royal Suites, Ultimate Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda, Premium Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda and Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda cabins. The Infinite Veranda is similar to a balcony and utilizes a window wall that can be opened up.
    Sustainable elements will include in-room water filtration stations and a strict waste management system. The Celebrity Flora will also convert sea water and air conditioning condensation into fresh water.
    What's more, an advanced propulsion system, hull configuration and specially designed diesel engines will allow for a 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and fewer air emissions.
    "Celebrity Flora marks another example of our revolutionary ship design by allowing the destination and its environment to influence every decision we've made," said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo in a statement. "From the luxurious all-suite accommodations to industry-first, eco-friendly innovations, we created a ship that brings a new level of luxury, sustainability and natural exploration to the region."
    Ecuador's Minister of Tourism, Enrique Ponce de Leon said the sustainable ship will "mark a very important milestone in the tourism development" of the region.
    Last month, Celebrity Cruises announced plans to begin a $400 million fleet-wide renovation. The innovative cruise line also recently transformed its onboard weddings program to include legal same-sex ceremonies and will welcome the highly anticipated Celebrity Edge to its fleet next year.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
    A Frenchman was escorted off a cruise in the Indian Ocean after staging multiple protests against the captain and crew.
    According to The Telegraph, 53-year-old Alain Jan and some other passengers aboard Costa Cruises' Costa neoRiviera became upset after several planned stops were canceled due to the threat of bubonic and pneumonic plague outbreak in Madagascar last month.
    The Washington Post reported the outbreak has infected about 1,800 people and killed at least 127 others in the African nation.
    "We said OK, it's for health reasons and anyway there were two other excursions left in Nosy Be and Diego Suarez," Jan told French newspaper, Le Parisien.
    However, passengers learned later on that two other stops would be canceled. The cruise line compensated them with $175 to spend onboard the ship.
    "That evening, we organized a protest in the restaurant. There were 60 of us banging our fists on the table to alert other cruise passengers to this con job," said Jan.
    Passengers staged a second protest in the ship's theater before the captain alerted local police in the Seychelles.
    Jan and his wife were escorted off of the ship for making "violent protests" and "disturbing the cruise." They spent two nights in a hotel in the Seychelles before flying home. Costa Cruises paid for the couple's flight.
    "That's how I was freed from the floating prison," Jan said.
    Costa Cruises defended its decision to cancel the three Madagascar stops as well as two others in Nosy Be and Diego Suarez.
    "The company made every effort to maintain the stop-offs on Madagascar, looking into all the alternatives," the cruise line said in a statement, adding that "security, health and well-being of passengers and crew are an absolute priority."
    "Given the delays that [quarantine] would have created, and even longer ones if there were any suspect cases on board, and considering that passengers were already on board, the company was forced to restrict its trip to the Seychelles and Reunion."
    Passengers have been reimbursed for canceled excursions in Madagascar and those traveling on future sailings have been informed of the itinerary changes.
    Earlier this month, Costa Cruises was awarded the best Mediterranean itineraries in the industry by Porthole Cruise Magazine readers.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Costa Cruise Line
    Guests traveling aboard the Disney Dream last week were treated to Disney Cruise Line’s inaugural live performance of a new telling of the classic story, “Beauty and the Beast.”
    The all-new production was inspired by Disney’s live-action stage show, which in turn is based on the animated classic film. The performance combines favorite elements from both productions into a unique, only-at-sea production that can only be seen in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre onboard the Dream.
    As with previous productions, the new stage show celebrates romance, adventure and magic in true Disney fashion, while underscoring the “power of transformation through true love and courage.”
    And yes, the performance brings to life many of the Disney classic’s favorite tunes, including some from the original award-winning soundtrack by acclaimed composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. Also in the lineup are two of the new songs created by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice, for the live-action film, including “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and “Days in the Sun.”
    Some favorite songs, such as “Belle,” “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast” have received a musical makeover for their at-sea debut, while showstoppers like “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” are being transformed into full-fledged spectacles. In particular, “Be Our Guest,” designed as a multi-course French dinner, promises rousing choreography and dazzling visual effects.
    The set, designed by Jason Sherwood (“Paint Your Wagon,” “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular”) and Aaron Rhyne (“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular,” Broadway’s “Anastasia”), was created to emulate a music box, through which passengers can enjoy such iconic settings as Belle’s provincial French town and the Beast’s mysterious castle.
    Adding an extra dimension to the production, costume designer Sarah Cubbage (Broadway’s “Skylight”) worked with puppet designer Jeff Conover to bring to life the enchanted characters for which “Beauty and the Beast" is known. Such favorites as Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth are all depicted through innovative puppetry and elaborate costumes.
    “Beauty and the Beast” first debuted last week during the Disney Dream voyage that set sail from Port Canaveral, Florida on Nov. 6, 2017. It joins other onboard Broadway-stage productions such as “The Golden Mickeys” and “Disney’s Believe.”
    Disney is also set to debut “Beauty and the Beast” voyages onboard AmaWaterways’ AmaKristina next year, in partnership with Adventures by Disney. Although there will be no live-action show, the 8-day, 7-night cruises will include stops at Beauty and the Beast-inspired locations in France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
    Cunard's Queen Elizabeth will be a busy ship in 2019 as the cruise line makes its triumphant return to Alaska.
    The Province reported its been more than 20 years since Cunard sailed Alaska.
    The cruise line announced this week its newest ship will set sail from Japan to Alaska just in time for the spring of 2019 before traversing multiple oceans en route to some of the world's most coveted destinations.
    The 2,057-passenger ship will arrive in Alaska in May and remain in the diversely beautiful region through June, giving travelers ample time to explore The Last Frontier in luxury.
    Guests' first chance to sail to Alaska with Cunard is the 27-night voyage from Tokyo to Vancouver on May 5, 2019. Starting at $4,409 per person, the sailing will feature stops at ports in Kodiak, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria before arriving in Vancouver.
    "Cunard is thrilled to make our return to Alaska with our youngest ship Queen Elizabeth," said senior vice president of Cunard North America, Josh Leibowitz in a statement accompanying this week's announcement. "Our guests can now explore the region on the best itinerary in Alaska—four 10-night roundtrip Vancouver sailings with more time in port and opportunities to visit the natural wonders of Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier."
    The Vancouver voyages will depart May 21, May 31, June 10 and June 20, 2019.
    Highlights of the itineraries include touring the waterways of the Inside Passage, stops in the Gold Rush era town of Skagway and the capital city of Juneau, experiencing Ketchikan's native tribes and a visit to the Russia-influenced Sitka.
    The itineraries also include trips to the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria. Fares start at $1,699 per person.
    After the final sailing from Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth will sail south to San Francisco and Los Angeles for an overnight stay on the Fourth of July. The three- and five-night voyages to California start at $779 per person.
    Guests can also book a Grand Voyage ranging from 21 to 49 nights starting at $3,479 per person. Passengers will depart from Vancouver, stop in California and travel on through the Panama Canal to Ft. Lauderdale or New York before crossing the Atlantic to Reykjavik, Dublin, Glasgow and eventually London. Guests can pick a distance based on preference.
    Select sailings will also offer Rocky Mountain Rail Land Tours pre- and post- cruise featuring two full days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Passengers opting for the rail adventure will pass through numerous tunnels and canyons while getting a unique look at the Canadian Rockies and the Continental Divide.
    Cunard World Club members can book these experiences early beginning October 30, 2017. Reservations will open to the public October 31. Those who book a Grills Suite prior to February 28, 2018, can also score complimentary drinks and gratuities.
    Launched in 2010, Queen Elizabeth is Cunard's newest vessel and boasts a plethora of luxe features, including a spa, library and games deck, as well as world-class dining and entertainment offerings. Last month, the Carnival Corporation brand announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement for a fourth ship to be delivered in 2022.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Cunard
    A few months after a series of hurricanes battered the Caribbean, cruise ships are planning to return to many of the islands.
    Most recently, some of the hardest hit islands, St. Maarten and Puerto Rico, will welcome back cruise ships to their ports.
    Royal Caribbean announced it will return to both Caribbean gems before the end of the year. On November 30, Freedom of the Seas will be the first ship in the fleet to call on San Juan, Puerto Rico. On December 17, the Grandeur of the Seas will be the first cruise ship to sail into St. Maarten since Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas arrived with humanitarian aid.
    "Royal Caribbean is encouraged by the commendable progress that has been made by the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten towards the recovery of these destinations and it means a lot to us that we are heading back home,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
    “We have been part of the Caribbean community for almost 50 years and for all of us, it has been paramount that we focus on supporting our long-standing partners–who feel more like family after so many years," added Bayley. "Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we–as travelers and businesses–can do for the islands."
    The cruise line has worked with the local governments in both destinations to be able to offer destination experiences that highlight the beauty and culture of the islands.
    In San Juan, guests will be able to tour the city by foot, bike, Segway or bus and explore the epic fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal in Old San Juan. They will also be able to spend the day on the beach at VIVO Beach Club or admire the countryside through Cueva Ventana – the Window Cave – which sits atop an 800-foot limestone cliff.
    In St. Maarten, shops, restaurants and bars in and around the port city of Philipsburg will be fully operational and offer an extensive array of dining, shopping and activities in the area.
    Starting November 30, calls in St. Thomas and San Juan will operate as normal across the fleet and beginning December 17, calls to St. Maarten will operate as scheduled on all itineraries with the exception of Oasis of the Seas, which will make her return to St. Maarten on January 1, during her New Year’s Eve cruise.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo Credit: J. Neves
    This holiday season why not opt for something out of the ordinary? 
    Rather than head to grandma’s, why not pack up the entire family and experience the holidays onboard an American Queen Steamboat Company ship? 
    Cruising America’s waters is a great way to share the season with your nearest and dearest and make new friends along the way.
    The best holiday gift of all? American Queen is offering fantastic deals on these holiday adventures:
    —Pacific Northwest Splendor (October 29, November 5. American Empress). Follow the path of Lewis and Clark as you travel the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Highlights include visits to The Dalles, Oregon (known as the end of the Oregon Trail) and Tri-Cities, Washington.
    —Antebellum South (November 12, American Queen. November 19, American Duchess). The Antebellum South is yours to discover on this journey. Experience Southern culture and living history as you travel from town to town, learning about the region’s past, present and future.
    —Vineyards, Vintages and Varietals (November 12, 19. American Empress). The Pacific Northwest is home to more than great coffee and craft beer. Enjoy the best of the region’s wines as you cruise the Columbia River. Onboard tastings and wine pairings, as well as excursions to nearby vineyards, introduce passengers to the area’s famed varietals.
    —Musical Heritage of the Delta (November 26. American Queen). Soak up the romantic spirit of the Old South as you sail past cotton fields, sugar cane plantations and Civil War battlefields. Among the highlights are visits to Oak Alley, Louisiana, and Natchez and Vicksburg, Mississippi.
    —Thanksgiving Festival (November 19. American Queen). Enjoy some turkey and all the fixings on a cruise of the lower Mississippi River as you sail from Memphis to New Orleans. Along the way, you will encounter charming towns, plantations and antebellum mansions.
    —Nashville Holiday (December 4, 10. American Duchess). Revel in a homespun holiday with a visit to Nashville. Passengers will have the chance to see a performance of the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium as a highlight of the trip.
    —Music of America (November 26, December 15. American Duchess). Journey to America’s great music capitals as you travel between Nashville and Memphis. Explore Music City and its country melodies, the sounds of New Orleans jazz and Memphis’ Delta Blues.
    —Holiday Christmas Markets (December 3, 10, 17, American Queen). Get in some last minute Christmas shopping as you visit American Queen’s exclusive lineup of Christmas markets. The pinnacle comes at Nottoway Plantation, where passengers can enjoy live music, dancing and see the ceremonial lighting of levee bonfires.
    —Creole Christmas (December 22, American Duchess). Experience all the glitter and magic of the holiday season as you travel through the antebellum South. Passengers will learn about traditional Creole and Cajun cultures as they journey from Memphis to New Orleans.
    —New Year’s Celebration (December 25, American Queen). Ring in the New Year as you sail along the lower Mississippi River. The ship will be specially decorated for the holidays, and passengers will celebrate the end of 2017 at a New Year’s Eve party with music and a champagne toast at midnight.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company
    Dubbed the Celebrity Revolution, Celebrity Cruises is set to modernize its existing ships following the introduction of the new Celebrity Edge.
    In order to refurbish the premium line’s five Solstice-class ships and four Millennium-class vessels, $400 million will be spent between 2019 and 2023. Specific changes include updated accommodations such as inside and ocean-view cabins, signature and AquaClass staterooms and the Reflection suite.
    “We’re not just redesigning the staterooms, we’re tearing them down and building them back up,” explained Brian Abel, Vice President, Hotel Operations, Celebrity Cruises, in an infographic. “The incredible new design by HBA is sleek, contemporary and comfortable, and speaks volumes about our commitment to the guest experience.”
    Staterooms are being efficiently reconfigured with storage optimization in mind, including the 11,579 new Cashmere Mattresses and Bedding Collection sets that are on the way.
    Suite guests will soon also have access to the new Retreat Sundeck and Retreat Lounge. The sundeck will be an al fresco venue with outdoor day beds for scenic rest and relaxation, while the lounge will be a high-end hotspot for complimentary drinks, gourmet tastes and live entertainment.
    Meanwhile, for everyone on the Millennium-class, the Oceanview Cafe will serve as an international marketplace buffet with a sleek, whimsical setting. It will only be aboard the Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Summit.
    The four oldest ships had previously been “Solsticized” to better match the newer Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Solstice, but these upgrades will enhance them even further. More announcements regarding the entire fleet are expected to come.
    “Celebrity Cruises has always been recognized as an innovative, trend-setting brand, and the Celebrity Revolution is just another instance in which we keep raising the bar in modern luxury travel,” concluded Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises, in the infographic.
    “This is the largest investment the brand has ever made to modernize our fleet, and it’s all for our guests.”
    Because the Millennium-class has the most updates needed to bring it closer in line to the future Celebrity Edge, it makes sense that current details are specific to that grouping of ships beyond accommodations.
    It’s likely as more Celebrity Edge features are revealed, other means in which both the Millennium-class and Solstice-class are effectively “Edgeized” to match will become apparent. As the latter is not largely different in size to the upcoming ship, it could easily facilitate a number of similar amenities. The new Edge will surely retain plenty of uniqueness, however.
    It’s an exciting time for Celebrity Cruises as the company anticipates the Celebrity Edge to come online in December 2018, before any of the Celebrity Revolution renovations are complete.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    While Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas is set to become the world’s largest cruise ship next year, it will have a lot in common with its sister ships.
    Except they won’t have laser tag.
    “I think it will be a mind-blowing blast for kids of all ages,” said Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley on a call revealing some of what will make the fourth Oasis-class ship unique.
    Bayley touted it as the “world's largest laser tag arena,” and headed for the ship’s Studio B, which is also where the cruise line’s signature ice skating productions take place. It will be a glow-in-the-dark venue themed around the fate of the last planets of the galaxy, Bayley said.
    “We think the kids are going to engage with this big time,” he said.
    It’s part of an overall pitch by the line to target families, according to Bayley, as is a new Ultimate Family Suite, a two-level suite that will feature a slide, a floor-to-ceiling Lego wall, air hockey, movie-theater-style TV room with popcorn machine as well as a 212-square-foot wraparound balcony with its own climbing wall feature, bumper pool table and whirlpool. It’s a two-bedroom suite that can accommodate up to eight guests.
    “I think we should put a guarantee on it that if you kids aren't happy we'll give you your money back,” Bayley said.
    Much of the ship will be similar to sister ship Harmony of the Seas including the presence of the 10-story Ultimate Abyss dry slide, Perfect Storm water park, twin 40-foot-tall rock climbing walls, FlowRider surf simulators, zip line and more.
    Something slightly different than Harmony of the Seas, though, will be a shift in the design of the Boardwalk neighborhood.
    “We're bringing a whole new level of energy and interactive experience mostly with technology,” Bayley said. “We're going to kind of change the whole vibe to a kind of day-night experience.”
    Those changes include the removal of the Sabor’s Mexican dining venue and Starbucks in favor or a sports bar and arcade called Playmakers that will span the length of the Boardwalk. Some shopping venues will also be making way for Sugar Beach, an ice cream and candy venue.
    Starbucks fans will be glad to know that the venue isn’t going away, although it won’t be on board for the ship’s European sailings that begin when it debuts next April. It will be located on the Royal Promenade, though, when the ship makes its ways to PortMiami to begin Caribbean sailings in November 2018.
    And while Sabor’s is leaving, there will be a Mexican food option called El Loco Fresh as well as a new casual seafood option called Hooked that will be located in the redesigned Solarium.
    “The focus of the new seafood restaurant will be fresh seafood, a robust raw bar, oysters shucked to order,” Bayley said, “Casual, high quality and the most unbelievable views at seas.”
    The ship will also feature many dining venues found on its sister ships including fusion food venue Wonderland, Jamie Oliver's Italian dining venue, Japanese cuisine at Izumi, the Chops Grill steakhouse and 150 Central Park, which serves seasonal American cuisine.
    Entertainment offerings were also announced including the return of the Broadway show “Hairspray,” which was once the featured show on board Oasis of the Seas. Augmenting the marquee stage show will be an original production called “Flight” that is a humorous look at the history for flight from the Wright Brothers all the way to the first tourist trip to Mars. On the ice will be a skating show titled “1977” and in the AquaTheater will be a show titled “HiRo.”
    “We're the only brand and product that can offer you ice shows, air shows, water shows and stage shows,” Bayley said.
    One other feature coming to the ship will be the introduction of app-based mobile check in, that will be available in both Europe and when it comes to North America.
    “The nickname we've given this is frictionless arrival, which means guest will be able to use their mobile phone to check in and walk on the ship with just one security check,” Bayley said.
    Symphony of the Seas' gross registered tons will be more than Harmony of the Seas, which comes in at 226,963 tons. Harmony of the Seas currently holds the title for world's largest cruise ship, slightly larger than the original ships, 2009's Oasis of the Seas and 2010's Allure of the Seas.
    Symphony will feature 28 more staterooms than Harmony of the Seas with a Royal Suite class, neighborhood balconies overlooking Central Park, virtual balconies on inside staterooms, and the highest number of ocean-view cabins at sea.
    The ship is set to debut April 21, 2018 with an inaugural sailing from Barcelona as it spends its first season of cruising in the Mediterranean. It then repositions to PortMiami on a 12-night transatlantic voyage that departs Oct. 28 and begins Caribbean sailings on Nov. 9 with the first seven-night cruise on Nov. 17.
    By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
    Starting Sunday, a Carnival Cruise Line ship will serve as the new home for relief workers in St. Croix.
    The Miami-based cruise line finalized an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Wednesday for a four-month charter of the Carnival Fascination, which typically home ports in San Juan, Puerto Rico. St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was one of several Caribbean islands severely hit by Hurricane Irma last month.
    The ship will house and provide meals for workers until Feb. 3. Many of the crew of the 2,056-passenger Fascination will remain on board during the charter period, while others will be shifted to other vessels or offered early vacation, Carnival said. 
    “Carnival Cruise Line’s history is deeply linked to the Caribbean and our ships have been sailing within the region for more than 45 years. We are pleased to be partnering with FEMA on this charter in support of the ongoing relief efforts in the Caribbean,” the cruise line said in statement.
    Guests on the line’s scheduled cruises for the period of the charter will receive a full refund and a future cruise discount.
    “We have reached out to our airline partners to request their cooperation in waiving change fees and will also be working with our guests on non-refundable airline change fees,” Carnival added in a statement.
    Fascination will return to San Juan to operate Southern Caribbean cruises on Feb. 18, after the ship gets a scheduled upgrade with a new restaurant, bar and other features.
    By Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald
    A transformative vote in Malta, where a majority of Celebrity’s cruise ships are registered, has transformed its onboard weddings program. 
    A referendum on the legality of same-sex marriages has opened the door to LGBTQ+ couples looking to wed onboard its ships. The cruise line can now recognize same-sex marriages performed onboard and have the captain of the ship officiate ceremonies.
    "Celebrity Cruises has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and I cannot think of a more important time in our history than right now to do all we can to support inclusion,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. 
    “I am absolutely thrilled to announce that starting today, we welcome same-sex couples to marry on our ships while in international waters," added Lutoff-Perlo. “This is one for the history books.“ 
    Prior to the announcement, it was more complicated for same-sex couples to wed onboard, although many ceremonies were still performed. 
    “Celebrity Weddings has already hosted many same-sex weddings in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, where legal,” said Barbara Whitehall, managing director, The Wedding Experience. “We are ecstatic that this new Malta ruling opens up marriage equality for anyone and everyone sailing with Celebrity Cruises while in international waters.”
    Celebrity offers a comprehensive wedding program through The Wedding Experience. The Celebrity weddings program Nuptials at Sea package includes a captain-led ceremony, an event coordinator, music, photography, a cake, a bottle of champagne, two bouquets and/or boutonnieres and more. 
    Couples can also choose to hold receptions onboard with the Celebration Package, plan a shoreside wedding in port, or choose from a number of vow renewal options.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo Credit: Travel Pulse & Thinkstock
    Norwegian Cruise Line has bumped up the price of its Ultimate Beverage Package (UBP).
    The $10 daily increase is the first in 18 months and went into effect September 29 according to x.
    The new cost for the UBP is $89 per person, per day, or $105 per person, per day when factoring in the 18 percent gratuity and beverage service charge added at checkout. 
    According to x, any passengers who purchased the package prior to September 29 will receive the original price of $79 per person, per day.
    The UBP includes unlimited soft drinks, bottled and draft beers, spirits, cocktails and wines by the glass up to and including $15. Guests who purchase the UBP also receive a 20 percent discount on bottles of wine.
    Prices for Norwegian's Corks and Caps Wine and Beer Package and Soda Packages haven't changed.
    Norwegian last raised the cost of its UBP in March 2016. On that occasion, the cruise line also increased the price of its Corks and Caps and Specialty Dining Packages.
    In a statement, Norwegian noted that "pricing may change from time to time due to costs increases and other factors."
    While the most recent change is unlikely to appease cruise passengers, Norwegian isn't alone in reconfiguring its beverage offerings. 
    As x points out, Princess Cruises revamped its All-Inclusive Beverage Package into the Premier Beverage Package last month, tacking on an additional $7.99 per person, per day while also increasing the price limit per drink and expanding its bottled wine discount.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo Credit: Cruise Radio
    Carnival Cruise Line is in the final process of enhancing another one of its Fantasy-class ships.
    The Carnival Elation is receiving some of the brand’s newest additions in a multi-million-dollar refurbishment.
    The major overhaul encompasses the tacking on of 38 new cabins including two Grand Vista suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, 22 junior suites, two scenic ocean view cabins and 12 interior staterooms. Verandas are also being grafted to 98 existing accommodations to craft fresh 230-square-foot balcony staterooms. All cabins will newly display island-inspired decor with vibrant colors and soft pastels.
    Fan-favorite dining venues and bars including Guy’s Burger Joint, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Cantina and BlueIguana Tequila Bar are being added.
    Guy’s will be the home to complimentary gourmet burgers and fries from Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri amid a California car culture atmosphere. Washing the grub down will be the rum-based frozen drinks and beers of the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar across the way. Carnival’s house draft ThirstyFrog Red brew will also be among the Caribbean drinks.
    On the opposite side, the playfully competing BlueIguana Cantina and BlueIguana Tequila Bar will serve up Mexican flavors. The cantina is where guests will be able to get complimentary made-to-order burritos and tacos on fresh tortillas and top them off at the extensive salsa bar, while the bar is where they will be able to pour tequila-based frozen drinks and beers.
    Other added attractions are going to be Camp Ocean, WaterWorks and a Mini-Golf Course. The new kids facility will be marine-inspired for children aged 2-11 complete with over 200 activities like arts and crafts as well as science programs.
    WaterWorks will then make up an all-ages aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long Twister water slide, a pair of 82-foot-long racing slides and a kids splash zone on Verandah Deck. Lastly, the nine-hole Mini-Golf Course will be a relocated stretch on Deck 14 for family fun.
    Once the renovation is complete, the Carnival Elation will return to year-round four- to eight-day departures from Jacksonville, Florida on October 7, 2017. Four- and five-day sailings go to The Bahamas with calls at Freeport, Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.
    In April 2018, the ship will embark on a special six-day Bahamas voyage and an eight-day Bermuda adventure before offering a single seven-day eastern Caribbean sailing in May 2018.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    (CNN Money) — Royal Caribbean is using a cruise ship to help evacuate people from Puerto Rico and deliver needed supplies to Caribbean islands.
    The cruise line announced on Tuesday that it is canceling its September 30 Adventure of the Seas trip so it can use the ship to help victims of Hurricane Maria.
    The 3,800 passenger vessel will bring aid to San Juan, as well as St. Croix and St. Thomas, which were hit by both Maria and Hurricane Irma. Adventure arrives in San Juan on Wednesday and will take evacuees to Fort Lauderdale before returning to Puerto Rico next week.
    The evacuations come as people remain stranded inside Puerto Rico’s main airport, which is running on fumes. Only ten flights made it in and out of the San Juan airport on Tuesday, and just 18 are scheduled for Wednesday. Security checks are being done by hand because TSA equipment was damaged in the storm and airlines are having a hard time printing boarding passes.
    A week after Maria hit, people are desperate for provisions.
    Royal Caribbean is donating water, medical supplies and more to those in need.
    The company started offering aid after Hurricane Irma devastated a wide swath of the Caribbean earlier this month. So far, it has helped evacuate more than 1,700 people and has promised to match donations of up to $1 million to help with Irma relief.
    Other cruise lines are also pitching in.
    Norwegian Cruise Line is working with the disaster relief group All Hands Volunteers to help rebuild schools and infrastructure in Puerto Rico. The company is donating $600,000 toward rebuilding efforts in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, and has promised to match up to $1.25 million in donations to All Hands Volunteers and Happy Heart Fund’s relief efforts from its guests, team members and partners.
    Following Hurricane Irma, Carnival deployed 11 ships to bring supplies to islands in the Caribbean. The ships have been making stops in Antigua and St. Kitts to drop off deliveries to Barbuda and St. Maarten during regular cruise trips.
    In addition to making donations, Carnival Corporation joined the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation and Miami HEAT Charitable Fund in pledging up to $10 million in funding and support for Florida and the Caribbean following Irma.
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