• Cruise Ship Industry News

    (1st of a Series, by Travel Pulse)
    For cruising veterans, it may seem obvious how to choose the best cruise line for your vacation, but for newbies, it’s the crucial first step and begins by asking the right questions.
    To start, ask: What is my budget and what is my traveling personality?
    There are four main categories of cruise line quality increasing in cost in order of standard ones, premium ones, upscale ones and luxury ones, and in each category, there are a number of different lifestyles to be expected onboard each individual line.
    The guidelines below are merely a loose primer, that for the sake of this exercise excludes boutique and adventure lines, and researching those brands in your budget more extensively will point you to the one best suited to your tastes.
    Mainstream cruise brands like Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International fit into the standard quality category, and while many are similar, they do each have their own personalities that may or may not match your own. Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are fun casual options with MSC Cruises and Princess Cruises being a bit more refined.
    Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line and arguably Disney Cruise Line make up the premium category of cruise brands for offering a step up in overall quality of service, dining and more. Of course, Disney is going to be more family-friendly whereas Cunard will be far more formal and traditional. Meanwhile, Celebrity and Holland America are both known for great cuisine.
    For an upscale experience, the likes of Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises near luxury quality for a lower price and are thus known for offering a fantastic value. Viking is raising the bar for this category overall while Oceania is the leader in fine dining and Azamara excels in entertainment.
    Then luxury brands like Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises lead the pack as the best of the best. All-inclusive is the name of the game onboard these, which are altogether very similar, with Regent perhaps being the most inclusive of the bunch.
    Another question to ask: where do you want to go?
    Not all cruise lines go to every desired port of call, or at least not with regular frequency. Upscale and luxury lines have smaller fleets and spread their ships around internationally, and standard and premium lines usually follow seasonal deployments in regions such as Alaska, Canada/New England and Europe while often having a year-round presence in the Caribbean. Plus, it’s good to remember that specific destinations affect fares as well. For example, Alaska commands a premium price that can tip the scales of perceived cruise line value.
    One last question to ask is: Who will you be traveling with? 
    An elderly couple that might ordinarily sail on a luxury line might be better off on Norwegian Cruise Line when with their children and grandchildren. That way they can stay in the line’s luxurious Haven ship-within-a-ship complex while the younger generations are happily tended to in less-expensive stateroom categories.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse/Thinkstock
    There are effectively two cruise travel lifestyle camps – a la carte and all-inclusive – and the bottom line price of each and the hybrids in between differs substantially as well. Of course, which is best for you depends on what you value most.
    All-inclusive is the mainstay of luxury lines like Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Essentially, guests pay much more up front so that the vast majority of things not included on mainstream lines are complimentary once embarked such as alcoholic beverages, gratuities and even shore excursions in some cases. The benefits are such that passengers need not pull out their cabin key to authorize a transaction each time they want a drink or a tour, making it a more restful experience.
    Inclusivity these days also extends beyond luxury lines to upscale ones like Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises, the latter of which even includes internet access for all guests. The degree to which any cruise vacation is all-inclusive really varies and can even be enjoyed on mainstream lines by tacking on different packages ahead of time.
    Otherwise, standard brands like Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International approach extras in an a la carte fashion. That is, drinks like beer and wine, specialty dining and gratuities all cost more. To be sure, a sailing on these lines can absolutely still be enjoyable by taking advantage of those options which are entirely free, from the main dining room and buffet to most activities and entertainment.
    It just so happens that so many cruise lines offer additional choices that it might seem you are not getting the full experience without partaking in all the bonus offerings, and there is certainly a strong argument to be made for trying everything if you can afford it.
    In contrast, these lines are sometimes described as all-exclusive, but the benefit there is that you only pay for what you actually enjoy, as opposed to a larger sum up front regardless if you actually drink or head out on every excursion. In fact, even on luxury lines, spa treatments and retail shopping still incur extra costs, so inclusivity is all relative.
    What is worth looking at are per diem costs, however, because even though the bottom line fare of a luxury line may cost more than a standard one, there is added value to be had in bundled prices, and sometimes it can amount to less daily than if you were to pay for everything separately. That’s why upscale and premium lines succeed in between the extremes to offer experiences approaching luxury at a fraction of the cost.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse/Thinkstock
    Holland America Line will eliminate smoking on the balconies of its ships starting in 2017.
    HAL was the last sizeable cruise line based in North America to still allow the practice. It said it was making the change “to better align with guest wishes and health concerns.”
    Most other cruise lines banned smoking on balconies in the last few years.
    Enforcement will begin on the Rotterdam and Maasdam on Jan. 2 and will be rolled out on most other ships the first two weeks in January. The policy will take effect on the Amsterdam on April 26 and on the Prinsendam May 6, HAL said. 
    All HAL ships will continue to have outdoor public areas where smoking is permitted. In addition, smoking is allowed indoors in the Oak Room on the Noordam, and in ship casinos in designated areas where slot machines are being played, with the exception of the Oosterdam and Eurodam.

    Article Courtesy of Travel Weekly/Tom Stieghorst (Oct. 3, 2017)
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Weekly
    Eight years ago, Holland America Line christened the ms Eurodam, their first Signature line cruise ship.
    After many voyages to destinations around the world, the ship went to dry dock for 14 days and returned to the waters with upgraded suites, and more dining and entertainment options than ever before. This partial makeover is all part of Holland America’s $300 million enhancement initiative for all of its ships.
    Cruisers want to be entertained during their time onboard, so Holland America Line partnered with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, to bring chamber music to the passengers in afternoon recitals, and with Billboard for Billboard Onboard. Musicians will take turns performing 50 years of hit music directly from the Billboard charts.
    The new Gallery Bar replaced the former Northern Lights bar and serves a menu of drinks from master mixologist Dale DeGroff, who is also known as ‘King Cocktail.’ Displaying artwork that Holland American Line hoped inspired its guests to mix and mingle with each other, the Gallery Bar is decorated in eclectic portraits, landscapes, still-life, and abstract pieces.
    Back in the suites, there is new furniture, wall coverings, and carpets, as well as bathroom makeovers. To support today’s tech savvy cruiser, the suites include electronic upgrades, such as additional USB outlets, LED flat-screen TVs with complimentary movies, and Bluetooth speakers in the Neptune and Pinnacle suites.
    Speaking of technology, Eurodam provides free Digital Workshop sessions on how to get the most of today’s technology, from photo editing to creating movies to Cloud storage and security.
    In addition to its newly expanded Lido Market where guests can choose from a variety of food from themed stations, there is a variety of cuisines to choose from, as well as 24-hour in-room dining. The ship also offers Dive-In which features gourmet burgers and hot dogs, and the vegetarian-friendly portabella mushroom stack.
    There’s something for everyone to do on a cruise. For those cruisers who want to just sit back and relax, you can enjoy R&R with spa treatments at the Greenhouse Spa & Salon. Get a little more active with yoga, Pilates and indoor cycling classes. There are also cooking classes and culinary demonstrations. Of course, there are outdoor pools, and basketball and volleyball courts.
    When it comes to nightlife, those guests who need to feel the need to sing the blues can head over to the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club, which features an eight-piece band that plays the Memphis blues. Eurodam also has its own casino, so guests who are feeling lucky can try their hand at Blackjack, Roulette, Three Card Poker, and penny to five-dollar slot machines.
    Eurodam hasn’t forgotten about the kids. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities including a game room, and Club HAL for ages 3 to 17. At the Club, the younger children participate in arts and crafts, pirate treasure hunts and pizza making, while the tweens will enjoy karaoke, video game tournaments and scavenger hunts. The Loft is for the teens who can dance or sing the night away, play video game and enjoy time with other teens onboard.  
    Eurodam still travels to Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii and the Panama Canal.
    Article Courtesy of Lisa Iannucci/Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Featured photo credit: Princess Cruises
    (Reposted from TravelPulse/Seven Sea Journeys)  It rarely happens, but every once in a while, a planned cruise port-of-call has to be skipped because of weather conditions. In those cases, an extra sea day is usually the alternative, but that needn’t be a bad thing.
     As I currently sail on Seabourn’s luxurious Seabourn Quest in Canada and New England, we unfortunately had to bypass Baie-Comeau as the heavy wind and swell conditions were such that there would not be enough water under our keel to safely dock alongside, but such things are outside the control of the cruise line and ship’s captain.
    Within the last year, we were also on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy when it couldn’t stop at Castaway Cay. To be sure, if you’ve planned a Disney cruise, especially for its highly-regarded private island specifically, it’s extremely disappointing to miss it, but safety must always come first.
    You may not be surprised to know that weather can have an affect on a smaller vessel like the Seabourn Quest, which we must admit has ridden extremely stable considering the conditions, but wonder how it could possibly deter a much larger one like the Disney Fantasy.
    Well, as powerful as such ships are to plow through the water forwards, they also contain lots of superstructural surface area, all of its balcony nooks and crannies mathematically included, and that collectively acts as a giant sail that can catch the wind. It’s never enough to topple a cruise ship, as they are built to withstand that, but lateral thrusters, fully capable the majority of the time, can sometimes be overcome by very high winds, making delicate docking maneuvers too difficult to achieve safely.
    So, the alternative is an unplanned day at sea, which are honestly some of the most relaxing and enjoyable of a cruise vacation. An abundance of shore excursions mean passengers get to see a lot ashore, but they can take their toll on a trip frequented by tours. The antidote is a sea day—perfect for getting in a spa treatment, provided you book it quickly enough to reserve limited space, or just reading a good book in the ship’s observation lounge, watching the waves go by.
    Usually the cruise director and entertainment staff will also swiftly modify the daily schedule of activities and dining times to accommodate more people suddenly being onboard than initially planned. That can mean bonus trivia sessions, film screenings and lots more are likely in store. In fact, as the shops are closed on port days due to shore regulations, those can now be reopened at sea as well. If, of course, you really had your mind set on the destination that was omitted from the itinerary, you can always use this time to research and book a return cruise.
    Either way, ships these days offer plenty to do onboard and truly are often destinations unto themselves, so all is not lost.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse/Jason Leppert and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse
    Acclaimed actress Jane Seymour is happy to announce her first ever Open Hearts, Open Minds Cruise set to sail February 18 - 25, 2017!
    Ms. Seymour will personally meet and greet her guests as they embark on a journey of self-exploration and open-hearted camaraderie.  All of this will be set against the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean and as the ship sets sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - on Holland America's luxurious MS Eurodam!  
    Ms Seymour will host seminars, cocktail parties and offer insights into her health and beauty routine as well as teach art and creativity lessons.  It will be an exciting week of non-stop activities!  Ms. Seymour will share her personal story of living with an open heart and will be encouraging others to share their stories. For 12-plus hours of guided inspiration, Ms. Seymour will focus on empowering the group with the Open Hearts, Open Minds concept - pointing the way to expanding creativity.  She will also share her secrets of resilience and living life with a purpose. 
    The breathtaking beaches, the duty-free shops and other fun activities all make this the perfect getaway - not only to the Caribbean, but for everyone to join Ms. Seymour on this historic Open Hearts maiden voyage.
    Below are the programming opportunities that have been developed specifically for and offered on the cruise. 
    1. Share my philosophy of an Open Heart, Open Mind way of living. 
    We will learn how to achieve abundance and expand an honest dialogue with yourself. We will discuss creative techniques for self-expression and practice the art of allowing.
    2. Party on the open ocean! 
    Join me and Life Journeys as we host fun mixers, cocktail parties, and a vintage costume cocktail party. Wear what you have or what you want, whatever it is, it will be a FUN time. 
    3. Hear never before shared stories. 
    My career, my wins, and my losses; we'll talk about the things that I've never shared with an audience before. I want to hear from you too! We will spend a lot of time sharing and growing together. It is going to be an incredible week-long event packed with an empowering and fun program not to be missed!
    4. The CARIBBEAN!
    The sand, the surf, a Mai-Tai are all we will need. With plenty of ports of call there will be time to explore and discover, or just relax on the beach.
    This is what life is about, getting together with people of like minds and hearts in a casual setting to let their hair down and swim into all that we can be, and achieve all that we can become.

    Book Today or Get More Information Here!

    MIAMI (Sept. 20, 2016) – For the second consecutive year, Carnival Cruise Line has been named Most Trusted Cruise Line in America by Reader’s Digest.
    The award is based on a poll of more than 5,000 Americans nationwide who were asked to rate products they trust across 40 different categories in areas such as quality, value, and reliability. Carnival received more votes than any other cruise line. The awards are featured in the October issue of Reader’s Digest.
    Carnival continues to enhance its onboard offerings, building upon its brand promise of providing fun, memorable vacations at a great value while keeping up with consumer trends and exceeding the expectations of its guests.
    Earlier this year marked the debut of the line’s newest, largest and most innovative ship, Carnival Vista, which offers such groundbreaking features as the SkyRide aerial attraction, the first IMAX Theatre at sea, the RedFrog Pub & Brewery that includes the line’s first on-board brewery and the fleet’s largest water park highlighted by the 455-foot-long Kaleid-o-Slide.
    Carnival has also expanded upon its exclusive partnerships with Food Network star Guy Fieri with plans to roll out the new Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse on several ships and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, serving as the Official Seagoing Headquarters for The Cat in the Hat’s presidential campaign, part of the fleetwide Seuss at Sea program.
    Carnival is also a major supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, raising more than $10 million for the hospital since launching its Care to Play: Carnival for St. Jude Kids program in 2010. As part of its Honor. Family. Fun. program honoring Operation Homefront, an organization that assists military families, Carnival will be hosting an exclusive shipboard concert for military families by seven-time Grammy Award-winning country music superstar Carrie Underwood aboard the new Carnival Vista when it makes its U.S. arrival in November.
    The Carnival Journeys enrichment series is also expanding with more than 20 voyages visiting spectacular ports throughout Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and other destinations.
    Vacations are more important than ever and as America’s Cruise Line we consider it an honor that our guests entrust us with their well-deserved vacations year after year,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “Being named America’s Most Trusted Cruise Line by the readers of Reader’s Digest for two years running is a testament to our focus on providing our guests with unforgettable vacations as well as the incredible effort put forth by our team members, both on board and ashore,” she added.
    Source: Carnival Corp. (Sept. 20, 2016)
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo Credit: Carnival Corp.
    If you love country style, antiquing excursions, craft demos…and piña coladas with tiny (gingham!) drink umbrellas, then mark your calendars! On March 12, 2017, the Country Living Coast-to-Coast Cruise, aboard the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam, sets sail from Fort Lauderdale for seven nights of bringing the magazine’s content to life and giving cruisers exclusive access to Country Living editors, contributors, and special guests.

    Joining us on board for this exciting week will be the sassy and spirited JUNK GYSPIES, JOLIE AND AMIE SIKES!  These bona fide junkers, Texas businesswomen, and all-around southern girls will share their addiction to flea marketing and Americana-inspired design on the cruise through demonstrations, DIY projects, Q&A sessions, AND JOIN US FOR THE SPECIAL JUNK GYPSY PROM—DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY ON THE HIGH SEAS IN JUNK FASHION!   
    Love Country Music?  The Country Living cruise is proud to present singer/songwriter/style setter HOLLY WILLIAMS . As a contributor to Country Living, Holly shares her love of design within the pages of the magazine, and on the cruise, she’ll share what inspires her, her favorite go-to’s for decorating, and secrets for adding soul to a space. She’ll also give a special performance exclusively for Country Living cruisers and give us the backstory behind her songs. Don’t miss this!



    Country Living editors and other special guests (surprise!) will offer everything from design consultations and styling seminars to crafting and cooking demos.  
    Learn to:
    Create farm-to-table fare Mix those country cocktails Learn to fix up that antique piece you love View demonstrations on crafting Design Consultations Music Cooking demonstrations AND MORE!!!
    Don’t miss quality pool time spent on your mason jar-shaped pool float! Give it all you’ve got during once-in-a-lifetime jaunts to Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, St. Maarten, and San Juan, Puerto Rico! And when the sun sets on those stunning Caribbean waters, there will be plenty of fun to be had with cocktail parties, karaoke nights, and more before calling it a night in your luxury cabin.
    “I can’t wait to pack my bags for our first-ever Country Living Coast-to-Coast Cruise,” said Rachel Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of Country Living. “First, I truly believe we have the best readers in the country, so the idea of hanging out with them for seven days to talk about all things Country Living—all while taking in the Caribbean sunshine!—is particularly exciting. When you combine that with farm-to-table fare, country-fied cocktails, antiquing excursions, craft demos, and design consultations, what more could you want?! It’s essentially a floating Pinterest board! And we’re already dreaming up clever ways to fold those bath towels into adorable farm animals.”
    Be one of the first 100 people to register, and you’ll be invited to an exclusive cocktail party featuring all of our VIP guests.

    (Psst: More special guests will be announced soon!  We will sell out!)
    See you on the Lido Deck – Poolside!
    For more information on the Country Living Coast-to-Coast Cruise, visit CountryLivingCruise.com.

    Country Living (countryliving.com) is a shelter-lifestyle magazine focusing on a variety of topics including decorating, antiques, cooking, travel, remodeling, and gardening. In addition to its U.S. flagship, Country Living publishes a United Kingdom edition. Country Living is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst (hearst.com),one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies with interests in magazines, newspapers, digital media, business media and television. Follow Country Living on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
    Do you ever wonder how some cruisers get loads of free credit to use for onboard purchases? For the benefit of you folks new to cruising, any added value in the form of cash for you to use on board your cruise - for things like beverages, shopping, drinks, shore excursions, the spa, and other for-fee extras - is known as on-board or shipboard credit. Some people get a lot of it, while others seem to get none. If you're looking to score maximum onboard credits for your next cruise, you just need to know where to look. Here are a half dozen tricks for finding free money for your cruise:
    A Travel Agent. Don't expect an agent to fork over their whole commission to you in the form of credit so you can have a good time, but do expect them to know which cruise lines are offering some in the form of a promotion. The best way an agent can give you onboard credit is through a value-added offer (gifting you something rather than discounting your cruise), and many times this is done through group blocks the agent holds for the purpose of booking their clients. Either way, if you are dedicated and loyal to your travel agent, no doubt they will reward you. 
    Cruise Line Promotions. Cruise lines run deal after deal, and many of them come with a specific dollar amount of onboard credit, usually tied in with the number of days sailing or the category of cabin booked. The more money you are willing to pay for your cruise, the more credit you could receive.
    Book Your Next Cruise While On Board Another. Most cruise lines have an on-board booking program, either a Future Cruise Desk or an entire office staffed by crew members whose job it is  to entice you into booking your next cruise with them. After all, this is what builds their loyal customer base. To do this, you would place a small deposit ($100 per person, in many cases) on a future cruise, and the cruise line will reward you with onboard credit, again, tied in with the number of days or category of cabin you intend on booking for your next cruise. In fact, you don't even have to decide right then and there. Instead, the cruise line will give you a year or two to think about it.
    Refer a Friend. Many lines will reward you for bringing them business in the form of your friends and relatives who may be new to cruising - or new to a particular cruise line - and want to see what they've been missing. 
    Price Drops. This is hit or miss, but worth asking. If you find your cruise price dropped after final payment, the cruise line may issue you the difference in the form of onboard credit - or perhaps an upgrade. 
    Register a Complaint. Did you have a bad experience on your last cruise? Write a letter to the cruise line, explain what happened, and you may receive a letter of apology in return with a certificate for a discount on your next cruise or for shipboard credit. The amount would most likely depend on the severity of the complaint. Some assistance from a travel agent will help to assure your letter of complaint gets to the right people.
    Not all onboard credit is combinable, meaning you may not be able to combine onboard credits received from a promotion with those received as a loyalty reward. But it never hurts to explore all the options.
      Contributor: Janice Neves - CruiseCrazies Member and Authorized Agent   Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more. Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images
    MasterChef Cruise Announces Updated Programming Slate Including Entertaining and Theatrical Offerings For A Week- Long Culinary Adventure At Sea
    All-new events on the week-long culinary adventure at sea include Nacho Battle, Cupcake Tower Battle, MASTERCHEF Classic Relay Race Challenge and more  
    Expanded programming slate to include live stage demonstrations hosted by the MASTERCHEF All-Stars MASTERCHEF Season Seven winner (To be announced on the Sept. 14 finale), Claudia Sandoval (MASTERCHEF Season Six winner), Addison (MASTERCHEF Junior Season Four winner), Luca Manfé (MASTERCHEF Season Four winner), Elizabeth Cauvel (MASTERCHEF Season Five runner-up, Leslie Gilliams (MASTERCHEF Season Five Contestant), Zac (MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Season Four contestant) and Sean (MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Season Two contestant)  
    MasterChef Cruise announced today the all-new expanded slate of entertaining and theatrical programming on the seven-day cruise sailing through the Caribbean November 6-13, 2016. Guests have the opportunity to expand their culinary skills and a chance to cook with their favorite MASTERCHEF All-Stars in live theatre demonstrations during the culinary adventure at sea.
    Presented by Endemol Shine North America, producers of the television series, and events company Life Journeys, the MasterChef Cruise will satisfy guests’ appetites with culinary events and demonstrations featuring the MASTERCHEF All-Stars who are set to appear, including MASTERCHEF Season Seven winner (To be announced on the Sept. 14 finale), Claudia Sandoval (MASTERCHEF Season Six winner), Addison (MASTERCHEF Junior Season Four winner), Luca Manfé (MASTERCHEF Season Four winner), Elizabeth Cauvel (MASTERCHEF Season Five runner-up), Leslie Gilliams (MASTERCHEF Season Five Contestant), Zac (MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Season Four contestant) and Sean (MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Season Two contestant
    In addition to previously announced programming such as intimate dining experiences, a Mac-N-Cheese @ Sea Showdown, Iconic Mystery Box Challenges as seen on the show, Meet-and-Greets, Book Signings and an All Stars Finale “Best of the Best” Competition, guests will enjoy a number of new entertaining challenges and exciting demonstrations based on the full schedule available on the MasterChef Cruise website:
    Taste Test Trivia: If you’re lucky, you could be chosen to test your own skills in our first Taste Test Trivia competition.  Luca's Pasta 101: Learn from the pro as Luca demonstrates key steps to making the perfect pasta. Simple Sushi By Sean: It’s not as hard as you think!  Watch as junior contestant Sean walks you through simple and fun ways to build and serve classic sushi favorites. The Soul of Mexico With Claudia: Claudia will inspire you as she dazzles us with her creations inspired by heritage, family, friends and history.  A true labor of love! Grill Master Leslie: He knows his way around a grill and during this demo you’ll get his tips and tricks to kick your grilling game up a notch!   Designing a Dinner Party with Elizabeth: Food preparation is most important but sophisticated details and playful touches can help you bring life to your next dinner party.  Nacho Battle: It’s your turn as we challenge a few audience members to build the best nachos to impress Claudia, Sean and Zac. A True MasterChef Dish: Our Season 7 Winner will guide you through a quick and easy way to turn a family favorite into a MasterChef masterpiece. The Art of Decorating with Addison & Sean: Let these juniors inspire your creativity as they share beautiful and fun ways to elevate your baking game! Relay Race: Working together is the key to success.  Watch as our All-Stars compete in an exciting relay race culinary competition. Cupcake Tower Battle: Can you build the ultimate cupcake tower in less than 30 minutes?  
    The MasterChef Cruise will also feature premium VIP experiences:
    Culinary Arts Center Cooking Demo with Luca + Kitchen Tour:  Get up-close with Season 4 winner, Luca as he demonstrates how to make the perfect pasta. Culinary Arts Center Cooking Demo with Junior Addison + Kitchen Tour: Follow MasterChef Jr Season 4 winner, Addison, as she guides you on how to build an impressive and delectable Croquembouche. Lunch with Elizabeth:  Relish in a charming and delicious lunch menu prepared by Season 5 All-star Elizabeth. Culinary Arts Center Cooking Demo with Claudia + Kitchen Tour: Learn hands-on from our MasterChef Season 6 winner Claudia, her technique for making the classic Mexican favorite, homemade Tamales. Culinary Arts Center Cooking Demo with Elizabeth + Kitchen Tour: MasterChef All-star Elizabeth, will show you how to prepare a tasty flatbread that’s the perfect recipe for date night! Luca’s Italian Masterpiece Dinner:  Delight your palate with an extravagant Italian tasting menu created by Season 4 winner Luca, featuring his favorite family recipes and other delicious culinary surprises.  MasterChef Junior Restaurant Takeover by Addison, Zac and Sean: Our talented MasterChef Juniors are ready to have some fun in the kitchen as they create their own Asian-inspired menu bound to be delicious and delightful. Lunch with Claudia: Enjoy an elevated Mexican Street Food Fiesta inspired by the family recipes and culinary imagination of our Season 6 winner, Claudia.   
    All programming is subject to change.
    The seven-day cruise sets sail November 6-13, 2016 on board Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam. Embarking from Fort Lauderdale, FL, it will visit Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas.
    For additional details and the full MasterChef Cruise itinerary visit www.masterchefcruise.com. For additional information about the onboard event schedule visit http://www.masterchefcruise.com/schedule/.
    Further information:
    Julie Holland
    Endemol Shine North America
    California-based Life Journeys Inc., is the nation's premier global travel tour production company.  Life Journeys brings content to life, creating an exciting event platform that will immerse your fans/audience into your brand, message and products. Life Journey's vision is to bring together an array of authors, celebrities, speakers, musicians and organizations that inspire, motivate, educate, entertain and empower participants by creating a targeted unique brand of customized, one-of-a-kind event productions on Cruise ships, all-inclusive Resorts and Multi-City tours worldwide. 
    Endemol Shine North America delivers world-class content and compelling storytelling to multiple platforms in the U.S. and across the globe. Endemol Shine North America is part of Endemol Shine Group, the newly launched global content creator, producer and distributor with a diverse portfolio of companies that are behind some of the most prominent hit television formats and series in the world.
    Its Endemol Shine Studios division develops and produces original scripted television programming in the U.S. for global exploitation and Endemol Shine Latino oversees all Spanish-language sales and development in both the U.S. and now across all of Latin America. Subsidiary production companies include Authentic Entertainment, Original Media, True Entertainment and 51 Minds Entertainment. In addition, Endemol Shine North America has a strategic partnership with Ryan Seacrest Productions.
    Endemol Shine Group’s companies in North America are behind such hit series as Big Brother (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), Hell on Wheels (AMC), Ink Master (Spike), Kingdom (AT&T Audience Network), MasterChef (FOX), MasterChef Junior (FOX), Restaurant Startup (CNBC), Swamp People (History), The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo), Steve Harvey (NBCU), T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle (VH1), Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge (CMT), Billion Dollar Buyer (CNBC) and upcoming Hunted (CBS), Superhuman (FOX), The Almost Impossible Game Show (MTV), and I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime).
    Endemol Shine Beyond USA is the digital studio of Endemol Shine North America, focused on developing original series across a wide array of platforms. In partnership with Michelle Phan, Endemol Shine Beyond is home to the ICON Network, a female-driven digital network focused on beauty, fashion, comedy, relationships, wellness and travel. ICON is available on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many other platforms. Endemol Shine Beyond produces numerous original digital-first series including lifestyle comedy “Pretty Little Pranksters,” “Beauty Newbies,” as well as eSports hit global franchise “Legends of Gaming.
    Sadly, your cruise has come to an end, and its time to disembark the ship. As the process is comparable to everyone in a sold-out hotel checking out on the very same morning, it can be a busy and complicated one. However, weve gathered seven tips to make it all that much easier.
    Dont Book a Flight Too Early
    When arranging your flights to and from a cruise long before first boarding, its important to not book your return airfare too early on the day of disembarkation. Just because your ship may be scheduled to arrive in its final port at say 7 a.m. doesnt necessarily mean youll be able to get off right away and transfer to the airport in time for an early morning departure. In fact, the ship still needs to clear customs, and the crew needs to begin offloading passenger luggage. Usually, its not advised to book a flight before 11 a.m., and unexpected delays can make an afternoon one a safer bet.
    Verify Your Account Statement Ahead of Time
    Final account statements are delivered to guest cabins late on the final night of the cruise or early morning on the day of departure. To avoid any surprise charges and a need to resolve them at an overrun reception desk at the last minute, its best to get a printout beforehand to confirm that everything looks as it should, particularly if you need to settle your account should a credit card not already be on file.
    Put Out Enough Clothes the Night Before
    In order to expedite luggage offloading, guests are asked to place their luggage outside the night before disembarkation so that the crew can have it ready pier-side before you leave the ship. Of course, that means you will be without the bulk of your belongings on that morning. It may seem obvious, but its inevitably a classic mistake that some passengers still do not set aside the next days clothes before placing their suitcases outside their stateroom. Dont forget or you will be without apparel, short of a bathrobe, crossing the gangplank.
    Mind Your Luggage Tag Color
    Most cruise lines assign luggage tags with specific colors on them to stagger the flow of guests departing the ship. That is your luggage will be awaiting you, stored in a section of the port facility that matches the time you are scheduled to disembark. The color group order is determined by the travel arrangements that you share with the cruise line to prioritize those on earlier flights. Times are usually estimated, however. So, be sure to listen for when your group is called over the PA system to know for sure when you are free to disembark. Otherwise, premature lobby crowding ensues.
    Take Off Your Own Luggage
    Alternatively, if you desire to get off sooner than later and are independent and able-bodied enough to handle your own suitcases, you can often opt to disembark first with a self-assist group. While this option is perhaps physically less convenient, as the path off the ship can be a longer one than expected to roll off your own luggage, its usually the best for ensuring the fastest disembarkation should that be required.
    First Take the Elevator Up to Go Down
    Whether you are taking off all of your own luggage or just your carry-on bags, elevators heading down to the gangway are frequently full with other passengers and their belongings. Especially if you have a lot of suitcases with you, a trick that works well is to call an emptier elevator up before descending back down.
    Consider Cruise Lines with Simpler Disembarkation
    For decades, most cruise lines have followed the system of group assignments to schedule guest departures spread out during the morning, the result of which can sometimes become complicated if delays change the priority dynamic. Disney Cruise Line instead simplifies it all by dropping a specific schedule besides a first self-help group. And you know what? It works seamlessly. Guests know when they need to be off by at the latest, they will organically depart evenly as travel dictates. It would sure be nice if other cruise lines adopted this model accordingly.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse/Thinkstock
    This highly anticipated weeklong event will be packed with exclusive parties, life-changing presentations, and more. Fans will learn firsthand how to lose weight and keep it off forever, all while cruising the Eastern Caribbean with Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien herself!
    As the creator of the Hungry Girl brand, founder of hungry-girl.com, and author of eleven New York Times bestselling books, Lisa Lillien has devoted her entire career to helping people eat the foods they love and still fit into their pants. Nearly 3 million email subscribers and social media followers eagerly await Hungry Girl's recipes, food finds, and tips & tricks each weekday! And eleven super-successful nationwide book tours have shown that fans are always hungry to hear Lisa's real-world healthy-eating advice straight from the source. A Hungry Girl vacation led by Lisa herself is the next logical step.
    The Official Hungry Girl Cruise promises to be a unique travel experience that's equal parts motivational, informative, revitalizing, and FUN!
    Want to know more? Here are the top 5 reasons to book the Hungry Girl Cruise today!
    1. You'll learn how to lose weight and keep it off... for GOOD.
    This incredible experience can truly help you reach your health and weight goals once and for all. Through interactive presentations packed with information and motivation, you'll learn real-world survival strategies that you can use forever. It's more than a vacation; it's an investment in yourself!
    2. It's two vacations in one: A luxurious Caribbean cruise PLUS a life-changing Hungry Girl experience.
    In addition to the Hungry Girl events, you'll enjoy all the luxuries of a state-of-the-art cruise ship (spa, restaurants, shopping, casino, live entertainment, and more) and spend time on some of the most beautiful islands in the world (Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Bahamas)!
    3. You'll get face-to-face expert advice from Hungry Girl Lisa herself. (Plus, you'll get to hang out with her all week long!)
    Lisa will be on board for the entire cruise, and she'll personally lead each and every Hungry Girl event. There will also be one-on-one opportunities and Q&A sessions to address specific struggles. Plus, morning workouts by the pool, exclusive parties, games, raffles, and more.... all with Lisa and some special guests!
    4. It'll be easy to eat smart on this vacation... Hungry Girl recipes will be served daily!
    The chef will be whipping up Hungry Girl entrées every single day on the cruise. And (of course) calorie counts will be provided! We'll also be dishing out smart-eating advice for the entire vacation -- from the best buffet options to my top picks at the specialty restaurants.
    5. It's perfect for a girls' trip OR a family vacation.
    Get a group of friends together for the trip of a lifetime! There will also be plenty of family-vacation fun to be had, and discounted rates are available for family members not attending the HG events. Spouses and kids can enjoy everything that the ship has to offer while you're getting your Hungry Girl on!
    For more information about the Official Hungry Girl Cruise, visit cruise.hungry-girl.com.
    Cuba has been off limits to cruise travel from the U.S. for decades as ships have frequently come and gone, skirting the island nation on Caribbean itineraries but not being permitted to stop there. Now, the forbidden fruit is available to taste, and it is sweet. Fathom is one of the most convenient ways for American citizens to do so, sailing roundtrip from Miami, Florida.
    Cuba is not only a singular port-of-call on Fathom, but the entire focus of its biweekly seven-day cruises, visiting three destinations: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. And Havana is an overnight port that facilitates the most cultural immersion, day and night. Mostly, the program is already set out for guests with extensive shore excursions included in the cost of the cruise, but there is still plenty of time on your own to reserve additional evening experiences or get in other people-to-people activities throughout the day.
    Remember, outright tourism is still not permitted. As such, Tara Russell, president of Fathom, said, Right now our focus in Cuba is around (those) 12 authorized forms of travel approved by U.S., OK with Cuba. And its really about beginning a series of learnings with the Cuban people. In Havana, that translates to a walking tour on one day and a bus tour on the next with opportunities to engage with locals.
    The briefings onboard, presented by the expert Impact Guides, give a very good overview of what to expect in ports, but a more detailed excursion timeline would additionally better inform guests. Traditional shore excursions are more specifically described to include exact expectations and schedules.
    Compared to other ports in the Caribbean, Havana is definitely grander in scale. Cuba is the largest island in the region, after all. The capital citys character gives off a vibe that is almost a cross between New Orleans and San Juan, Puerto Rico, particularly in regards to its eclectic architectural patina and live music spilling into the streets. Locals are very friendly, and Americans may feel somewhat at home when seeing classic domestic cars rolling down the streets.
    The city really is a fascinating time capsule unearthed at the intersection of African, American and Caribbean cultures, and its a pleasure to see the remains of political posturing crumble to finally allow this very special travel exchange one I never expected to be able to partake in, at least not this soon in my life.
    The walking tour through Old Havana provides a wonderful primer to the city and includes a local lunch that brings the sights, sounds and tastes together for an unforgettable experience. The bus tour, like those anywhere in the world, isolates you a bit more from the surroundings, although the air-conditioned respite from the heat and humidity is welcome. Other cultural highlights may encompass a cemetery tour, monumental plaza stop, Santeria dance demonstration, second lunch at Ernest Hemingway-favorite Floridita and a visit to Hotel Nacional de Cuba as well as the Cuban art museum.
    Of course, after exchanging money, there are also opportunities to purchase local souvenirs and even world-famous Cuban cigars and local Havana Club rum. Overall purchases are restricted to $400 per person, only $100 of which can total from tobacco and liquor.
    However, the real highlight is often the time spent away from the group excursions. I highly recommend renting a classic American car taxi and going on a short ride or extended tour. My friend and I enjoyed an excellent experience in a 1952 convertible Buick Super in baby blue, driven by Carlos Castellanos and led by guide Yordi (available at ce.carcastellanos@nauta.cu and yordycha@nauta.ca) until my friend and I took to the front seat for a final photo-op (pictured in the header above).
    Not only were we able to additionally explore El Morro Fort across the bay, but the adventure included getting caught in the rain and keeping dry under a makeshift tarp. Between my own broken Spanish, my friends superior language understanding and our shared laughs, a true local connection was made, leading our new friends to say we were Cubans now too.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Jason Leppert
    It’s the magic of Broadway in the world-class luxury of a brand new cruise ship.
    TravelPulse was allowed behind the scenes at the Norwegian Creative Studios to preview the entertainment planned for the launch of Seven Seas Explorer, the newest and most opulent cruise ship of the Regent fleet, due to set sail in July.
    Previously known far more for its top-notch service and luxurious accommodations, Regent Seven Seas has tapped into the industry-leading and well-renowned team at Norwegian to develop four new live-staged musical and theatrical productions.
    The team at Norwegian Creative is entirely made up of entertainment industry veterans who had previously made their living touring with some of the biggest Broadway shows on the planet. The casts are culled from all over the planet, comprising some of the most well-rounded talents imaginable. The costumes, set pieces, music and choreography would all seem just as much at home on London’s West End as in the Explorer’s new Constellation Theater.
    Let me tell you: It will be fantastic.
    The four show are as follows, from the company’s press release:
    • “Peggy Lee” — An homage to the American jazz and popular music crooner, “Peggy Lee” explores her legendary career through memorable hits such as “Fever,” “The Freedom Train” and “You Gotta Have Heart.” This original show is flawlessly directed by William Whitener, who has performed, choreographed and directed for stages worldwide, including Broadway.
    • “Burn the Floor” — This enthralling musical takes the audience back to Feb. 9, 1964 when Beatlemania and the British Invasion hit North America during the Sunday night Ed Sullivan Show. The cast dances and sings through this musical era with dances including The Jive, Swing, Fosse, Contemporary, The Madison and The Twist.
    • “Paradis” — Featuring the finest in Parisian-style entertainment, Paradis is a bawdy burlesque blend of percolating dance, steamy song stylings and audacious costumes set to a heart-throbbing beat. It is directed by veteran Broadway and Off-Broadway choreographer Patricia Wilcox.
    • “A Day in Hollywood” — This Tony Award-winning show spurs singing and dancing in the aisles, and leaves guests yearning to go to the movies. The show features some of the greatest music ever written for the movies, such as “Over the Rainbow,” “Thanks for the Memory” and “Hooray for Hollywood.”
    The 12-person cast for these shows is one of the most talented group of people this author has even seen perform. From the first bawdy notes of “Paradis”’ “Flapper’s Delight,” to the high-flying kicks of the can-can and the sensory explosion of the tap routine from “A Day in Hollywood,” it was clear that the Explorer will have no trouble filling out the seats in its theater in no time at all.
    Set to carry only 750 guests, the new ship boasts one of the highest space ratios in the cruise industry and will feature both extravagantly designed lounges and showplaces, and lavish gourmet restaurants. The luxury liner’s maiden voyage is scheduled for July 20, 2016, and will be christened by H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco before spending its inaugural season in the Mediterranean and then heading to Miami for a series of Caribbean voyages.
    Article Courtesy of Travel Pulse/Michael Schottey and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.

    Featured photo credit: Michael Schottey
    Musician and singer Dean DiMarzo had just joined a local dance band and had only been playing clubs with them for a couple of months when his bandleader got a call for a gig aboard the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship. After giving it some consideration, DiMarzo decided to take what many would consider a glamorous and luxurious opportunity.
    For eight months, DiMarzo, who was born and raised in the Hudson Valley, New York area, lived aboard the ship and sailed from Bayonne, New Jersey to Bermuda, St. Martin, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Nassau, and Quebec City.
    It was pretty cool, said DiMarzo. Glamorous isn't quite the word I'd use, though. Yes, we got to travel, and play music for a living, and that was fantastic. It was still a job, though. There's plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff the passengers don't see. Weeks and weeks of safety training, weekly drills, and lots and lots of strict regulations. Of course I'm glad the cruise lines are taking the safety of both the crew and passengers seriously, it just wasn't all glamorous fun and games.
    As musicians, DiMarzo explained that he had a little more freedom than some of the other crew members on board. We only worked at night for about four hours, meaning we were almost always free to go out into whatever island we'd landed at that day, he says. San Juan, Puerto Rico was my favorite port by far, but St. Martin was great, too.
    His room and meals were all covered, so he had no expenses. I made a lot of great friends onboard, from all over the world, he says. I have friends in Italy and Hong Kong now.
    Most days, DiMarzo didnt have to be on stage until around 9 p.m., so he slept in. If we were in port, I'd usually head into town with some friends from the ship, head to the nearest Starbucks and catch up on my emails, and do some sight-seeing if it was a particularly interesting destination, he says.
    Four hours of singing Earth, Wind, and Fire tunes kind of takes it out of you. Dean Dimarzo
    During the day, while the ship was at sea, he would spend the day watching movies in his cabin, writing music or hitting the gym before working in Dizzys Lounge for four hours. After we wrapped up, usually around 1-1:30 a.m., I'd either head down to the crew bar to hang out for a bit, or (more often than not) just head straight to bed. Four hours of singing Earth, Wind, and Fire tunes kind of takes it out of you.
    On his rare nights off, he would watch other bands play, or catch a show in the theatre. We had a few fantastic mini-Broadway revues put on weekly by our amazing musical cast, he says.
    While it might sound like a dream job, there were some down sides. The worst part was the lack of Internet and phone onboard, he says. It turned me into a Wi-Fi addict. We could be in the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, and as soon as we stepped off the ship I'd book it to the nearest Starbucks so I could check my email, because I hadn't been able to talk to my fiancé in three days.
    Even though it was only four hours of work a night, being a musician can be tough. It gets tough to put on the same performance with the same level of energy night after night, every single night for weeks on end, says DiMarzo. We got a night off now and then, but it was still exhausting.
    DiMarzo says that it was an amazing experience that hes very glad he did once, but doesnt plan on doing again. I'm getting married next month, and I don't think my future wife would be too excited about me disappearing off to the Caribbean for another eight months, he says. Also, I've been focusing more on studio work and teaching lately, and that's been really rewarding, so I think I'm going to keep heading down that road.
    Article Courtesy of Travel Pulse/Lisa Ianucci and Seven Sea Journeys/News: http://sevenseajourneys.agentstudio.com/news.html
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles: http://www.cruisecrazies.com/cruise-planning-and-information
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse
    Princess Cruises has unveiled a new stateroom category today with its Club Class Mini-Suite option that will roll out across the fleet beginning in December 2016 as part of the lines Come Back New Promise enhancement program.
    The new category takes existing mini-suites spacious cabins with a separate bedroom and living area and tacks on bonus amenity, service and dining perks. Highlights include access to a reserved Club Class Dining area in the restaurant with expedited seating and an expanded menu and priority embarkation and disembarkation, as well as the new Princess Luxury Bed.
    Club Class Mini-Suites provide Princess guests yet another elevated product enhancement to enjoy during their cruise vacation, said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. The VIP perks, including the new Club Class Dining, offers a premium and memorable onboard experience so our guests can completely relax, unwind and immerse themselves in worldwide destinations and ultimately come back new.
    Already included with mini-suites are up to 323 square feet of space with a balcony, a separate seating area with a sofa bed and coffee table, a bathroom with a tub and shower combo and a welcome glass of champagne.
    Club Class Mini-Suite added perks are outlined as follows:
    Club Class Dining
    Dedicated section of the Main Dining Room complete with expedited seating
    Dedicated wait staff and distinct table decor
    Exclusive menu items with a daily chefs special plus table-side preparations
    Available every day for dinner and for sea day breakfasts and lunches
    Upgraded Amenities & Services
    The Princess Luxury Bed developed by board certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV designer Candice Olson
    Priority check-in and embarkation at the start of the voyage and priority disembarkation at the end
    One-time free wine preparation on embarkation day (half bottle of red and white)
    Evening canapes (upon request)
    Terry shawl bathrobes
    On the bulk of Princess ships, save for the newest Royal-class ships, the mini-suite is the first category to accommodate a third guest in the room, and now these extra features add more value to the configuration. The benefits will also extend to guests booked in full suite categories above and beyond those perks already included therein.
    The new Club Class Mini-Suite is set to debut on the Ruby Princess on December 10, 2016 and the Emerald Princess on December 12, 2016, and the rest of the fleet will follow through October 2, 2017 with the Golden Princess scheduled to receive it last.
    Article Courtesy of Jason Leppert/Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Princess Cruises
    At first glance it would appear that the modern cruise industry is only concerned with building ever more elaborate mega ships that serve as destinations themselves, but another less obvious trend is moving towards smaller ocean vessels and riverboats. And Viking Cruises is a leader in both with its Viking Ocean Cruises and Viking River Cruises brands.
    In fact, as I write this, I'm aboard the ocean line's newest, Viking Sea, sitting in its beautiful double-decker observation lounge, the appropriately titled Explorers Lounge, where there is a welcome shift in focus back to the destination itself. Floor-to-ceiling windows, and even glass stairs, offer expansive wraparound views of Cadiz, Spain today and an increasingly international collection of port cities tomorrow and farther into the future.
    While Viking Ocean Cruises frequents the Baltic and Mediterranean with its two ships for now, the Viking Star is set to head across to the United States and the Caribbean in the fall. Plus, the fleet will expand to at least six ships through 2020 and surely deploy to worldwide regions beyond as it grows. In the meantime, the template Viking presents is one that places the priority on the destination, and everything else follows.
    Remarkably, the ocean line comes very close to a luxury product at a fraction of the cost, and, like on the river brand, its sea fares even include one shore excursion in every port, usually an overview tour for first-time visitors. Other excursion options provide a deeper dive at reasonable costs. For instance, I enjoyed a Gaudi architecture tour in Barcelona, Spain for only $69, and thats the kind of thing that excites me as a millennial even over waterslides and rock climbing walls.
    I had the chance to previously see the iconic Sagrada Familia church under construction from the outside, but I was particularly excited to check out its interior on my visit. Thanks to Viking, I was able to do just that, and I was blown away by the opportunity. While its doubtful the cathedral will be completed by its 2026 target date, its something else to see it now knowing I'll most likely return once it does finally finish, hopefully via another Viking voyage.
    Elsewhere onboard the Viking Star and Viking Sea, the destination continues to take center stage. Knowledge on related subjects literally permeates every nook and cranny. Rather than having a dedicated library room, the entire ship acts as one since books are found everywhere on shelves and cubbies and even around the pool. Expert lectures also discuss the ports that are visited, and the tapestry-sized LED screen at the top of the atrium stairs displays dramatic high-definition images of locations on quarter-hour rotation.
    Viking cruise ships dont have bells and whistles (well, it does have a horn at least), but its brands accurately realize they dont require them. The ports are plenty, and, while other attractions certainly have their place, they sometimes distract from the destination. Viking instead chooses to accentuate it.
    Article Courtesy of Jason Leppert/Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News (4/28/16)
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Jason Leppert
    Cruise ships are self-contained towns unto themselves that just happen to float on the ocean, sea, or whatever body of water the captain chooses to traverse. They’re big, full of entertainment options, and not a bad way to travel (and even live, as the case may be).
    With that in mind, let us take a look at some intriguing things about cruise ships you might not have known beforehand.
    The Biggest and Best

    You knew, no doubt, that these babies were very large. Some of them are big enough to dwarf the Titanic, in fact, a historical, ill-fated vessel so large that its modern day meaning has become synonymous with colossal.
    But did you know that the largest cruise ships in the world are 90 meters longer than the Titanic, measuring about the length of four football fields and reaching a full 16 stories high? The Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, the first and second largest cruise liners respectively, are both the property of Royal Caribbean International. These 6,000 passenger-bearing vessels unsurprisingly outweigh the Titanic by about four times as much mass. Finally, the Allure of the Seas has a total of 22 restaurants, virtually guaranteeing that you will not get tired of eating the same food.
    Tons of Entertainment Options

    There are tons of entertainment options onboard for the traveller of any taste. This includes:
    · theatrical productions that Broadway would be envious of
    · Olympic-sized swimming pools
    · ice skating
    · bars
    · surfing
    · table games
    · casino games
    It is nearly impossible for you to get bored while onboard. If you cannot find something that seems appealing to you, that is entirely on your shoulders, and not due to a lack of activities available to you.
    One enduring games, both on the casino floor or on the cruise ship, is Bingo. One reason casino games have found life onboard is due to the number of retirees that are passengers on cruises who are looking for a fun social activity to meet others. If you are looking for a more solitary experience, there are some great reviews for online games like free no deposit bingo. With all these entertainment options, it is no wonder so many people choose to cruise. Which brings us to our next point…
    Cruises as a Lifestyle Choice

    This may sound crazy, but the cost of retirement nowadays in the Western world is prohibitively expensive, something to the tune of north of $100,000 for assisted care living. Taking into account rocketing health costs, the pittance they call a pension fund nowadays, and an overall low cash flow from what a newly retired person is accustomed to, choosing to live on a cruise liner is not as ridiculous as it might seem. Not only are there, as mentioned, tons and tons of entertainment options to keep you from being bored in old age, but retirees get to cross off destinations from their bucket list.
    Cruise liners go everywhere from the Polynesian islands, to the Indian Ocean, to the Mediterranean and Dalmatian coasts, to the Caribbean Isles; one can literally travel the globe, something that may not have been possible raising a family while holding down a job. Health care is included in the cost as well, which is roughly the same as living in a retirement home.
    Living and Dying at Sea
    In the worst case scenarios, when health care just is not enough for someone facing critical health concerns, there are, believe it or not, morgues on board. In case you thought the above facts about retirees on board were dubious, here is a substantiating fact: the average age of a cruise ship passenger is middle-aged. In addition, the longer the voyage of the vessel, the older the guests tend to be, where anything lasting longer than a week will have a significant number of senior citizens.
    Of course, any health complication is possible, and unfortunately, some people pass away. That is why there are morgues onboard with capacity for anywhere from one to three bodies. Ensuring that the bodies are sent back to the country of origin or point of embarkation, or taken off at the next port is an important decision for the family and the cruise line.
    Holland America Line celebrated the delivery of ms Koningsdam with an official Handover Ceremony, luncheon and shipyard workers party aboard the ship Saturday, April 2, 2016, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy.
    In attendance at the ceremony was Italy's Minister of Infrastructures and Transport Graziano Delrio, who expressed his appreciation for the long-standing relationship between Carnival Corporation, including Holland America Line, and Fincantieri. Other speakers included Giuseppe Bono, chief executive officer, Fincantieri, and Arnold Donald, chief executive officer, Carnival Corporation. A video was shown of the Italian flag being changed to the Dutch flag, as flown by all Holland America Line ships. Fincantieri also presented ms Koningsdam's Captain Emiel de Vries with a bottle containing the first water that touched msKoningdam's hull.
    "The Official Handover Ceremony was a celebration of the years of planning and hard work that went into building our gorgeous new ship and a chance to honor all those who made this day possible," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Thank you to Fincantieri for being an exceptional partner. We look forward to beginning work soon on our second Pinnacle-class ship scheduled for delivery in late 2018."
    Invited guests at the Handover Ceremony also witnessed a contract signing between Fincantieri S.p.A. and Carnival Corporation to build five new cruise ships as part of a memorandum of agreement announced in 2015. The five new ships include two that will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, two ships for Princess Cruises and one designated for P&O Cruises Australia, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020.
    Following the official ceremony, the shipyard employees who worked over the past two years to build Koningsdam were invited on board with their families to celebrate their accomplishment. Guests were treated to dinner in the Lido Market, and a performance in World Stage, showing off the venue's 270-degree LED projection. A tour of the ship allowed the shipyard employees to share the final result of their hard work with their families.
    The ship will sail from the yard Sunday, April 3, to make its way to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, for its Premiere Voyage departing April 8.
    Following a series of premiere Mediterranean voyages, Koningsdam's official naming ceremony will take place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 20.
    Source: PRNewswire, April 2, 2016
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.

    Featured photo credit: Holland America
    Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the Pride of America just wrapped a three and a half week drydock that added newly designed public spaces, new venues and refreshed décor in all staterooms. The renovations are part of The Norwegian Edge program, a $400 million fleetwide investment.
    The new public spaces, as well as several of the ships restaurants as well as bars and lounges, now sport a modern look with new contemporary décor and furniture as well as new lighting and flooring. Every stateroom aboard Pride of America was touched by this renovation, receiving new bedding, new furniture, new flat screen televisions and updated flooring.
    The new venues the ship added include the Soho Art Gallery, which offers original works of art available for purchase; the new Perspectives Photo Studio, an area for couples, families and friends to have professional photo memories taken of their vacation; and Dolce Gelato, Norwegians signature gelateria. Those looking to tie the knot while in any of the ships ports of call can do so in the ships wedding chapel, now in a new location on deck six with new flooring, furniture and wall fixtures.
    The ships pool deck underwent a complete refurbishment with a refinished pool, new loungers and Jacuzzis.
    The ship's Conservatory was also completely transformed, with new furniture, flooring and modern décor; and the library and card rooms, which were outfitted with new flooring, furniture and six computer stations for Internet access, for those who prefer to leave their personal devices at home. The Mandara Spa has been expanded with more treatment rooms. The spa will feature New Mexican décor including soft, neutral colors and natural elements like stone and wood to provide a tranquil atmosphere.
    Dining enhancements for Pride of America include extensive renovations to all of the existing complimentary dining venues, most notably the ships Skyline Main Dining Room, which received a refreshed look with new décor including a new entrance, new carpet design, new furniture upholstery, new window drapes and new columns throughout the restaurant. La Cucina, Norwegians signature Italian restaurant, aboard Pride of America has also been updated. The ships specialty restaurants East Meets West, Cagneys Steakhouse and Jeffersons Bistro also received enhancements with new flooring, re-upholstered furniture, new artwork, lighting fixtures, new window treatments and more.
    Beyond hardware upgrades, guests sailing aboard Pride of America can now enjoy new menus in all dining outlets with additional choices and à la carte priced items in complimentary dining rooms and specialty restaurants. Building on the success of the enhanced menus aboard Norwegians newest ship Norwegian Escape, Pride of Americas new menus have been developed by Norwegians culinary team with a focus on balancing popular traditional dishes like prime rib, chateaubriand, rack of lamb and escargot with current dining trends.
    Pride of America is the only ship that sails year-round from Honolulu on seven-day intra-Hawaii cruises. The itinerary visits Hawaiis main islands, including an overnight in Kahului, Maui; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; stops in Hilo, Hawaii and Kona, Hawaii; as well as an afternoon cruise by the spectacular Nãpali Coast.
    Source: Travel Agent Central/Newswire (March 29, 2016)
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Featured photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Lines
    The force continues to be strong with the Disney Cruise Line as it announces that Star Wars Day at Sea will be reprised onboard in 2017 and a pair of new ships are set to arrive in 2021 and 2023.
    The initial 2016 lineup of eight Star Wars theme cruises is still underway now through April aboard the Disney Fantasy, and already Disney has renewed the experience for 2017. Next time around, the film franchise will feature on 15 cruises on eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
    Our guests keep telling us that Star Wars Day at Sea is an experience theyll never forget, that its a thrill of intergalactic proportions, said Karl L. Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line. In response to guest demand, were pleased to create even more Star Wars memories aboard the Disney Fantasy in 2017 with an expanded schedule of these special sailings. Clearly, the Force is alive and well on the high seas!
    The same exciting programming I had a chance to experience on the inaugural Star Wars Day at Sea cruise this January will return including screenings of all seven movies plus Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, an all new feature film set for release on December 16, 2016. The main event will still be a final dance party and grand fireworks deck show following character meet-and-greets and family-friendly interactions throughout the day. Guest cosplay will also be celebrated in the atrium.
    Kids will once again have the chance to become Padawans and duel Darth Vader in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, and Star Wars crafts and trivia games will further test the mind as themed food and beverages satiate the stomach. Whats more, exclusive merchandise will encompass everything from apparel to collectible pins.
    The 2017 experience will be aboard seven-night Disney Fantasy cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida on Jan. 7, 21; Feb. 4, 18; March 4, 18; April 1 and 15, 2017 in the western Caribbean and Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 11, 25; March 11, 25; and April 8, 2017 in the eastern Caribbean. All itineraries also feature Disney Cruise Lines private island of Castaway Cay.
    The news that the Disney Cruise Line will construct another two ships to join the fleet in 2021 and 2023 respectively currently lacks much detail, but enough is already known to glean some further insight.
    First, the to-be-named ships (how about Disney Imagination for one?) will be constructed where the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy originated at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, and they will begin to emerge nine years after the Fantasy set sail in 2012. Compare that to the 11 year span between the Disney Wonder (1999) and the Disney Dream (2011). Simply put, Disneys fleet expansion is accelerating.
    The new pair of vessels will measure in at 135,000 tons slightly larger than their predecessors, 5,000 tons over the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy to be exact but the guest capacity will remain the same as the last two with about 1,250 cabins planned for 2,500 double occupancy.
    As to where that extra space might be allocated, closer inspection of the released fleet rendering shows ships that look nearly identical to the Dream and Fantasy, but a bonus suite deck is perched above the spa facility. Suite accommodations might potentially be larger this time around or doubled in number with some other cabin categories making way for new venues elsewhere. Additionally, the former porthole windows at the aft superstructure appear to now be replaced in favor of more balconies behind an architectural swooping curve, maintaining the graceful lines.
    Interestingly missing from the renderings is the AquaDuck water coaster, but the pool deck does display a new bowed-out section between the funnels, indicating an enlarged space for something fresh. Might there be both the AquaDuck and free-fall AquaDunk variety from the Disney Magic onboard or a hybridization of the two?
    With Royal Caribbean International having introduced the North Star passenger pod crane on its Quantum-class ships and Carnival Cruise Line introducing the SkyRide suspended cycle track aboard its forthcoming Carnival Vista, the competition for appealing deck attractions has heated up recently. What the Disney Cruise Line will present to match or exceed the others in the family cruising segment is yet to be announced. These concept sketches are likely not a final depiction of what exactly is to come, but we will soon find out.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    - http://sevenseajourneys.agentstudio.com/news.html
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Featured photo credit: Disney Cruise Line
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