• Cruise Ship Industry News


    Jason
    NEW ORLEANS - The state bond commission has approved the final portion of the financing for the new Poland Avenue cruise ship terminal in New Orleans. If all goes as planned, the Port of New Orleans could begin construction of the new facility, early next year.
    For now, the $51 million complex is expected to handle one ship at a time. Port Director Gary Lagrange says the terminal building will serve the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods as well as cruise ship passengers.
    "We want to receive the input from the neighbors as to what the final product is going to look like, what it consists of and that's a process we're in right now," Lagrange said.
    Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association President Lisa Suarez has her concerns.
    "The impact to Marigny is going to be greater intensity as well as problems with traffic and parking," Suarez said. "Peters and Chartres have been beefed up to handle traffic, but it's going to be gridlock if the port even makes one mistake."
    Bywater resident Phillip Cobb lives on Poland Avenue, about a block away from where the new terminal is expected to be built.
    "At this point, they're talking about all the traffic, coming down Poland Avenue from St. Claude and turning at Dauphine into that one gate," Cobb said.
    Cobb is pushing the port to build a ramp off of St. Claude Avenue. That would take vehicles through the old navy base, rather than down Poland Avenue to the new facility.
    "Do a right hand lane, do a flyover and drop them right into the facility on the back side," Cobb said.
    "The access, egress, transportation access is something that we're looking for input from the neighborhood," Lagrange said. "We're studying as part of the process a shuttle bus service that will actually be available to shuttle people on the river side of the floodwall, not down Charter Street."
    Neighbors say if done wrong, the Poland Avenue Terminal could cause harm to their current quality of life, But, they say if done right, it could be a win-win for the neighborhoods and the Port of New Orleans.
    The port is planning a series of community meetings about the new cruise ship complex.
    The project is now expected to be completed in late 2017.
    By 4WWL Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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    Jason
    The Swedish Migration Board has inked its first deal for cruise ship housing for migrants, on schedule with its previously announced timeline. The Swedish Migration Board told media in November that it is running out of refugee housing on land and is considering both cruise ships and offshore accommodations facilities (flotels) as alternatives.
    The first vessel, an unnamed cruise ship owned by firm Accumul8or Invest, will be able to accommodate as many as 1,260 refugees.
    The Board has not yet announced where the ship will be berthed, but accommodations manager Willis Åberg told Swedish media that harbors could include Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Oskarshamn, Uddevalla and Gävle. Following contracts, site surveys and local approvals from harbor authorities, the vessel could be in place and accepting migrants as early as the summer of 2016.
    “It's a bit unusual,” Åberg told regional media. “It's nothing we're used to.”
    It is not unprecedented, though: in August a cruise ship was contracted to provide refugee processing space for authorities on the Greek island of Kos, a major migration arrival point, and as recently as the 1980s passenger vessels have been repurposed from leisure travel to troop transport in time of war.
    As it struggles to find living quarters for thousands of permitted migrants, the board has taken other unusual steps to find shelter capacity, including housing at a luxury ski resort some 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
    Åberg previously told media that a plan for temporary housing on public and private lands faces difficulty due to a shortage of tents.
    The refugee problem appears to be easing for Sweden as border restrictions and reductions in residency permits take effect. The nation had an influx of 10,000 migrants per week in October, but the number has recently fallen to about 3,000 per week.
    By The Maritime Executive
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    sunluva7
    (I thought I’d share one traveler’s recent experience on board a Regent Seven Seas luxury cruise – courtesy of TravelPulse – and several reasons why a luxury cruise might not be as unreachable as you think!)
    So this is how the other half lives. I took a cruise on Regent Seven Seas Mariner through the Mediterranean, and it has opened my eyes to what luxury cruising is all about.
    The price is not right for most travelers who scrape and save each year to afford one special trip, but if you have a milestone anniversary or birthday to celebrate or have designated a luxury all-inclusive cruise as a must-do experience, then make sure you put aside your pennies (you'll need a lot of them).
    After dozens of cruises on the mass-market lines that typically price out about $100 per person per day to get onboard, I was able to set sail with Regent Seven Seas on my first luxury cruise. These trips typically run about $300 per person per day and higher (depending on promotional offers), but you'll love the level of service, high-quality meals and much more about these voyages.
    We sailed for nine days, leaving from Lisbon, Portugal, and stopping in five ports in Spain (Cadiz, Alicante, Ibiza, Malaga and Barcelona), three in Italy (Genoa, Livorno and Rome), Saint Tropez, France, and Monte Carlo, Monaco. Here are the best things I discovered about cruising on Regent Seven Seas Mariner.
    Excursions included. You get to choose from free excursions in every port, led by expert guides.
    Fewer crowds. The ship holds 700 passengers and has plenty of space to accommodate them all. Public areas are never clogged, and you can always get a lounger at the pool area. Plus, these loungers feature extra comfy padding.
    Drinks, anybody? Order what you want (except a selection of premium liquors), and you won't have to sign for it the way you do on mainstream cruise lines.
    Use that mini-bar. Speaking of drinks. Your cabin's mini-bar is yours to raid. Soft drinks, waters, beers, etc. They'll all be refilled for you. Don't like Coke but adore mineral water? Let your cabin steward know, and he'll make sure your fridge is stocked just the way you want it.
    Gourmet meals — in your bathrobe. Order a meal to be delivered to your room. You get the same delicious courses being served at the ship's restaurants, right in your cabin if you so desire.
    Smaller ports. Regent Seven Seas can access smaller ports that can't handle larger mass-market ships. This allowed us to walk off right into the historic city centers of Malaga and Ibiza in Spain, and right in the harbor in Monte Carlo, for example.
    Balconies. All staterooms and suites feature balconies, so you get to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous views as you're sailing and visiting exotic ports.
    Cookies. It's the little touches that you'll love on a Regent Seven Seas cruise, and the 24-hour cookie station was a fave of mine. OK, maybe it technically is a coffee/tea station, but I went strictly for the cookies and other pastries.
    Fabulous fresh fruit. A fresh fruit plate is replenished daily in your cabin.
    Bon voyage bubbly. You receive a welcome-aboard bottle of Champagne in your cabin.
    Free Wi-Fi. Internet access has zoomed toward the top of passenger lists of must-have amenities, but the price can be prohibitive on most cruise ships. Regent Seven Seas offers free Wi-Fi to most its passengers. And beginning in winter 2016, all passengers get free Wi-Fi.
    No tipping. Gratuities are included in the price of your cruise.
    Fly for free. Round-trip flights from gateway cities are included in your cruise fare.
    When you tally up all the extras that are included and compare this to the a la carte-type pricing for certain amenities on major lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises can prove to be an affordable way for you to step up for a quick taste of luxury.
    Article Courtesy of John Roberts (Travel Pulse, 12.3.15) and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Photo courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises
    Jason
    The baby born 15 weeks premature on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean has finally returned to Utah, after spending 78 days at Miami Children’s Hospital where he defied the odds for survival.
    Fox 13 Now reported that 4-and-a-half-pound Haiden Morgan reunited with his family Saturday at the Ogden Airport. When Haiden was born during a seven-day Royal Caribbean cruise in late August, doctors told his mother, 28-year-old Emily Morgan, that she had miscarried. But 45 minutes later, they revised their prognosis and clarified the baby boy had survived but likely wouldn’t live for long.
    The captain of the cruise ship sped to the port nearest to a hospital in Puerto Rico— 14 hours away— whereby two ambulances rushed the family to the hospital. A few days later, they were transferred to Miami Children’s Hospital.
    Emily told fox13now.com that she “never had a doubt” that her son would survive.
    “It’s just been a fighting chance every day,” she told the news station.
    Haiden will now rest at the McKay Dee Hospital in Utah?, until doctors determine that he is strong enough to return home with his family. The Morgans are hopeful he’ll be able to leave the hospital by Christmas.
    “He is actually coming home,” Chase told fox13now.com. “It is a very surreal feeling.”
    By FOXNews.com
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    Jason
    A number of cruise ships are to be hastily converted for migrant use over the next month, as massive demand for housing continues unabated.
    Despite government efforts to introduce a semblance of control at the national borders, Sweden continues to receive thousands of migrants a week, but has long ago run out of beds and shelters. Having exhausted every government building, school gymnasium, and army barracks the Swedish government is now looking to pay out as of yet undisclosed sums to charter vast cruise liners outright to house migrants.
    The government contract to provide floating hotels is potentially a lucrative one for the cruise trade. Despite additional additional wear to the ship’s living spaces, the charters will require minimal crewing, low usage of fuel oil and no stress on the expensive marine diesel engines. So far several shipping companies have been in touch with the Swedish government to offer their ships, reports Afton Bladet.
    Migrants could live on-board for a year or more while they are assessed for refugee and asylum status.
    Speaking to the paper, Migration Bureau spokesman Willis Atkins said they expected to hire ships with up to 1,500 beds each, and they would be moored in the harbours of some of Sweden’s largest cities including the capital Stockholm, multicultural melting pot Malmö, and Gothenburg. The first ships are expected to be ready before Christmas.
    As if being stuck on a luxury ocean liner over winter with only occasional ship to shore boats wasn’t bad enough for the thousands of migrants demanding accommodation in Sweden, the Migration Bureau is also looking to chartering oil rig platform accommodation, placing migrants even further from the shore. Mr. Atkins believes the first such craft could be ready for migrants before July.
    The move to place the migrants in effective lock-down aboard ships moored off shore recalls the British prison hulks of the 19th century, when surplus or outdated warships were stripped of their sailing and fighting gear and used to house thousands in Spartan accommodation.
    Cruise ships are just the latest luxury housing to be doled out to migrants in Sweden. As reported by Breitbart London last month, the Swedish state had leased the world’s most northerly ski resort to house 600 migrants. Although a dream holiday for some, the resort may now be proving unpopular with those more acclimatised to warmer places, as it sits some 125 miles north of the Arctic circle and consequently receives zero hours of sunlight a day for much of the year.
    By Oliver Lane, Breitbart.com
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    sunluva7
    Princess Cruises announced today its 2017 cruise vacations to Europe, including the inaugural sailings of the line’s newest ship Majestic Princess.
    The season features six ships sailing to 119 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe.
    Guests can choose from 64 unique itineraries on 153 cruise departures, visiting 27 countries. Debuting in April 2017, Majestic Princess first sets sail on maiden European sailings with five- to 28-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona, Athens and Rome.
    “Princess is known for offering the best cruise itineraries around the globe and our 2017 Europe season is sure to inspire our guests with our newest and largest ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We’re especially excited to debut Majestic Princess in the Mediterranean before she officially sails to Asia for her maiden China cruise season.”
    Princess now offers the More Ashore program, crafting the line’s newest itineraries to give guests more opportunities to experience the color, culture and flavors of the region in 2017. With port calls offering more time ashore with either late night departures (9pm or later), an overnight, or a two-day experience, travelers can see the sights during the day and then experience the nightlife of select destinations in the evening.
    All 2017 Europe sailings open for bookings on Thursday, December 3, 2015.
    Highlights of the Princess Cruises 2017 Europe program include:
    Majestic Princess
    The newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet debuts in Rome (Civitavecchia) on April 4, 2017 for a five-day Maiden Adriatic Sea roundtrip voyage visiting Kotor and Corfu. The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess then sails on a series of seven-, 14-, 21- and 28-day Mediterranean voyages departing Barcelona, Athens and Rome from April 9-May 14, 2017.
    Cruises to the Mediterranean
    In addition to Majestic Princess, Royal Princess features new 11-day Grand Mediterranean and 10-day Western Mediterranean combinable for a 21-day Grand Mediterranean Collection, as well as seven, 14-, 21- and 28-day sailings throughout the Mediterranean
    Scandinavia & Russia Cruises
    Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, along with Crown Princess and Pacific Princess for popular cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia, offering an overnight in St. Petersburg with departures from London (Southampton or Dover) or Copenhagen. A new Pacific Princess Baltic Heritage itinerary includes overnights in Stockholm and St. Petersburg, sailing from London (Dover).
    British Isles Cruises
    The 2017 Europe season marks the line’s largest British Isles season ever with 12 departures on Caribbean Princess and two on Pacific Princess, including last night stays in Edinburgh offering the opportunity to visit the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo on select sailings. All 12-day British Isles cruises include a new late evening stay in Belfast and an option of an overnight in Dublin on select departures from London (Southampton).
    New Ports of Call
    Summer 2017 features maiden port calls to Haugesund (Norway), Oban (Scotland), Siracusa (Sicily, Italy), Ulvik (Norway), and St. Tropez (France).
    Iceland & Norway Cruises
    Both Crown Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Crown Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway.
    Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic passage featuring Iceland.
    European Land & Sea Vacations
    Guests can enhance their European travel with five unique Land & Sea Vacation options, which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour. Choices include Paris and the French Countryside; Ireland’s Ring of Kerry; Classic Italy, visiting popular sites in Venice, Florence and Rome; Imperial Treasures of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin; and Swiss Splendors featuring the mountain beauty of Interlaken and Lucrene, as well as a scenic boat trip on Lake Como.
    Source: (Cruise Industry News, Nov. 23, 2015 "Princess Announces 2017 Inaugural European Sailings of Majestic Princess”)
    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
    sunluva7
    The Norwegian Escape has celebrated its christening, marking the debut of the largest ship in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet and the first in the line's new Breakaway Plus class.
    International musician Pitbull, who also served as godfather for the ship, performed a special pierside concert at PortMiami as part of the ceremony. Guy Harvey, who created the ship's hull artwork, was also a guest at the event.
    After a kickoff by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio, a surprise opening act saw acrobatic parkour performers take the stage (with the help of hidden trampolines). Radio personality Froggy from the “Elvis Duran Morning Show” was the event MC.
    Attendees also got a preview of Norwegian Escape's entertainment offerings as the casts of Tony Award-winning Broadway shows “After Midnight” and “Million Dollar Quartet” performed a selection of songs from each respective show.
    Norwegian Escape Details
    The new ship offers The Haven by Norwegian, a ship-within-a-ship concept that is the largest such area in the Norwegian fleet, centered around a three-story covered courtyard on the top of the ship. There is also an expanded forward sundeck with a cantilevered whirlpool, along with a new outdoor dining space in the Haven’s private restaurant.
    The ship's other dining options include signature specialty restaurants Le Bistro, Cagney’s and La Cucina, as well as two new specialty restaurants from James Beard Award-Winning Iron Chef Jose Garces: Bayamo, which serves Latin seafood, and Pincho Tapas Bar. Also new onboard is the Food Republic, a sophisticated food hall developed by Miami-based The Pubbelly Restaurant Group.
    Nightlife onboard includes outposts of several popular land-based outlets, including the first-ever Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar at sea, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront that features live nightly performances. The District Brew House, a craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami’s Wynwood Brewing Company, will serve more than 24 draft beers, while The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, features an array of wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine. Norwegian Escapewill also have an outpost of Miami’s oldest bar, Tobacco Road.
    For recreation, there is the largest ropes course at sea, a three-story multiplex with two planks and five Sky Rails, zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. On the top of the ship, guests will find a redesigned pool deck area that features an open area for sunbathing, a double-deck bar and two new large format LED screens. Norwegian Escape’s Aqua Park includes a new tandemAqua Racer slide, complete with a clear acrylic section. For families, there is an expanded Kids’ Aqua Park with an enclosed slide, rope climb fun zone and spray cannons. Along with an expanded Splash Academy youth center that includes dedicated play spaces for specific age groups, Norwegian Escape also offers the line’s first nursery for cruisers two and under.
    In addition to family oceanview staterooms that accommodate up to five guests,Norwegian Escape’s accommodations include Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts and more.
    Source: Newswire/Travel Agent Central (November 10, 2015 "Pitbull Christens Norwegian Escape")
    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
    Photo courtesy of: The Toronto Sun
    sunluva7
    The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a Royal Caribbean cruise ship passenger who went overboard into the Atlantic Ocean early Friday.
    The incident happened about 1 a.m., when a 35-year-old man from Brazil fell from the Oasis of the Seas while the vessel was traveling 17 miles east of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the cruise line said.
    The man, who had been on the seventh deck of the vessel, apparently jumped into a lifeboat one deck below, the Coast Guard said.
    "He was spotted by Oasis of the Seas crew members intentionally going over the side of the ship," Royal Caribbean Cruises spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in an email.
    A video posted on YouTube shows passengers calling to the man who is holding on to a life boat as the sea churns below.
    "Let go of me!" he shouts. "You don't touch me!"
    A crowd of bystanders watches as he continues talking to someone on board, "Because of you, this happened...I'm not going anywhere...Let go of me! Get off of me!"
    The man, shirtless and wearing a red swimsuit or shorts, appears to try and pull himself up onto the edge of the lifeboat. But he seems to lose his grip or slips on the boat surface and falls into the ocean.
    A woman passenger shouts, "He's there, he's there! Get the life thing, throw it over!"
    The video was later removed from YouTube.
    The Coast Guard is searching with a long-range plane and a helicopter deployed from the Clearwater air station, Petty Officer David Schuhlein said.
    We have one aircraft with seven crew members on it that took off this morning at 4 a.m., and they're flying all the low search patterns in the area," he said. "So we have one C-130 and one helicopter in the air."
    Cruise passengers used social media to transmit updates on the search and images from the vessel.
    A tweet shortly after 6 a.m. indicated that it was light and that at least two rescue boats could be seen searching the water for the fallen passenger. An earlier tweet from about 3 a.m. read, "Horrible rain hampering rescue efforts."
    The cruise departed Port Everglades Oct. 31 and will return there Saturday.
    As the search continues, the cruise line said it was comforting the missing passenger's relatives.
    "Our Care Team is providing support to the guest's family and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time," Martinez said.
    Searchers are focusing in the area around where the ship's crew estimated the man went overboard, Schuhlein said. The Turks and Caicos Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean, north of the Dominican Republic.
    "[We're] using our algorithms and drift techniques to see exactly where he could be at now, given the drift pattern hours later, to search in that area for him," he said.
    One of the world's largest cruise ships, the Oasis of the Seas is more than 1,100 feet long and weighs more than 225 tons. It is returning from a week-long cruise in the eastern Caribbean.
    Its base has been Port Everglades since 2009, but is scheduled to move to Port Canaveral, along the central Florida coast, in 2016.
    Source: Doug Phillips-Sun-Sentinel (Nov. 6, 2015)
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Featured photo credit: Royal Caribbean
    sunluva7

    By sunluva7, in Articles,

    As fine as the gourmet food is aboard a cruise ship, sometimes you just crave a good hamburger, and many cruise lines cater to those comfort food cravings as well with their own signature offerings.
    In fact, one not yet on the list, but to soon watch out for, is the sure-to-please Cheeseburger in Paradise heading for Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Escape at Jimmy Buffett’s first Margaritaville at Sea. In the meantime, five other great choices await your palate below.
    Azamara Club Cruises
    The inclusion of Azamara Club Cruises on this list may come as a surprise to you, but the pool grill onboard the Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey whips up a mean burger.
    After selecting a juicy hamburger, cheeseburger, turkey burger, salmon burger or vegetable burger patty, a list of yummy toppings are available to crown the culinary creation. Bacon, American cheese, Swiss cheese, blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, guacamole, jalapeños and BBQ sauce are all tempting options that send an otherwise simple sandwich over the top.
    Carnival Cruise Line
    Celebrity chef Guy Fieri was called upon by Carnival Cruise Line not to create a 5-star dining experience but rather an ace roadside-style eatery for serving up some delicious meat on a bun at Guy’s Burger Joint, on select ships.
    Each variety starts with a perfect blend of 80/20 ground chuck. Specialty preparations include my personal favorite, the Pig Patty with a bonus bacon patty topping, Chilius Maximus with, as you guessed it, chili and The Ringer complete with Guy’s Bourbon and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce and an onion ring.
    Things then get even more wild with acronyms and pseudonyms. L.T.O.P. (lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle), S.M.C. (super melty cheese), Rojo Ring (crispy spicy onion ring) and Donkey Sauce (jacked up secret mayo sauce) are all available plus a whole additional fresh toppings bar. And the savory seasoned fries are a delightful accompaniment.
    Holland America Line
    Holland America Line has recently updated its fleet-wide Terrace Grill to feature Dive-In, a new poolside gourmet burger and hot dog stand.
    One-third freshly ground beef patties are served with chopped lettuce and a sliced tomato on a buttery brioche bun, and burgers feature signature Dive-In Sauce – think of a tangy mustardy secret sauce – and a side of tasty crispy fries.
    Delicious variations include The High-Dive cheddar cheeseburger; The Gainer crispy, frizzled onion burger and The Cannonball gouda cheese, applewood smoked bacon and caramelized onion burger.
    Royal Caribbean International
    On select ships, including Royal Caribbean International’s newest Anthem of the Seas, Johnny Rockets is the only burger option on this list that comes at an extra cost, but it’s a wonderful retro diner experience worth the small surcharge.
    The old-fashioned style choices range from The Original with lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, relish, pickle, mustard and mayonnaise to the Streamliner with Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and mayonnaise.
    Add on a side of “frings" (half fries and half onion rings) and a classic milkshake, and you’re good to go — that is unless you’d like a slice of apple pie à la mode too.
    Viking Ocean Cruises
    A more recent discovery was onboard Viking Ocean Cruises’ new Viking Star at the pool grill where the Pancho Villa Burger squarely drew my stomach’s attention to its tasty blend of arugula, guacamole, chipotle aioli and blue cheese toppings. It was an unusual but scrumptious combination that resulted in an outstanding flavor explosion.
    Is it lunchtime yet?
    Article Courtesy of Jason Leppert (10.30.16), Travel Pulse/Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Featured photo credit: Jason Leppert
    sunluva7
    Perhaps to your initial surprise, Disney Cruise Line can be a wonderful sailing option for adults without children. Any fears you might have about a ship overrun with kids are quickly alleviated, as the children’s facilities are exceptional at keeping them so entertained that they seldom want to leave their exclusive spaces.
    In fact, the adults only spaces themselves are standouts. Each Disney ship has an adult district as well as secluded upper deck space. Beyond the elaborate production shows and first-run Disney films staged and screened in the theaters for all guests, here there are dance parties, variety shows and live music that are specifically tailored to adults.
    The Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Cafe are getaways at the top of the ships for a relaxed retreat with views of the passing scenery. And the bonus Outlook Cafe, only found on the Disney Wonder, is particularly lovely as an observation lounge when sailing though Alaska.
    Besides the well-advertised exclusives, it’s often the family-friendly activities and features open to all guests that hold adults’ attentions. Many, for instance, relish the opportunity to take photos with the characters on deck, and queues to do so are far shorter than those at the shoreside parks and resorts.
    It’s also hard for anyone not to get a kick out of a fireworks show at sea, and now that Norwegian Cruise Line has suspended its nighttime display, Disney once again reclaims the title of the only company to offer such a spectacle. Launching during the first months of 2016, “Star Wars” Day at Sea is set to, among many other things, heighten the Disney Fantasy’s deck parties with extra special effects and characters. And there are plenty of adult “Star Wars” fans, myself included, ready to board in a nanosecond.
    When returning to your cabin, even the so-called family bathrooms that split the toilet and the shower into their own compartments with separate sinks for added privacy and discretion are welcome features for adults. As staterooms and suites designed with multiple occupants in mind, they also feature more storage than comparable rooms on other cruise lines, and for an added touch of wonder on inside rooms, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream have Magical Portholes that digitally display a live outside view superimposed with playful character animations.
    Among other ship-wide details, the Fantasy and Dream also showcase Enchanted Art that animates upon close inspection. This art plays a vital role in the Midship Detective Agency games where guests of all ages can become sleuths to solve interactive puzzles, and as you guessed it, you’ll also find plenty of adults playing the different variations — one featuring the Muppets on the Fantasy and, come October 26th, the Dream as well.
    On both newer ships, the unique AquaDuck water coaster has all passengers coming back again and again for its watery fun as rafts thrillingly cantilever over the side of the ship and swiftly propel up and downwards in a translucent tube, and the Disney Magic newly sports the variant AquaDunk free-fall body slide.
    After so many activities, guests easily work up an appetite, and adults get their own specialty restaurants as well. Palo, featuring Italian fare on all four ships, and the French “Ratatouille”-inspired Remy on the Fantasy and Dream are exquisite dining experiences, but again, the included main dining rooms are not to be missed by adults either. The transformative Animator’s Palate sets the scene for a magical evening as the black and white space is colorized on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder and animated by your own drawings on the Fantasy and Magic.
    As for the kids facilities, there are even a few open house hours where adults can enjoy all the Disney, Marvel, Pixar and, beginning this fall on the Dream, “Star Wars” areas, but the activities are generally only for the young ones. I have heard, however, that on longer transatlantic sailings adults have been invited to make filmic flubber.
    Lastly, it’s also not a prerequisite to be a Disney fan before boarding. Just as cruise ships alone, the vessels are beautifully designed ocean liners in the vintage styles of art deco and art nouveau, with just a touch of character. Any adult with good taste and a sense of wonder can appreciate the incredible attention to detail throughout, and with any luck, or as Disney calls it — faith, trust and pixie dust — you may well be on your way to rediscovering your own kid-at-heart on a Disney Cruise Line journey.
    Article Courtesy of Jason Leppert (10.24.16), Travel Pulse/Seven Sea Journeys
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Featured photo credit: Janice Neves
    sunluva7
    Who needs a translator?
    Kids certainly don't aboard a cruise ship, even far from home. "We use a lot of sign language," explained Elizabeth Williams, who is 13 and from London, cruising in Japan aboard the Diamond Princess with her family. Forty percent of the guests were Japanese.
    Elizabeth made fast friends on board with two Canadian teens and Yuka Iwasa, who speaks very little English. "You meet a lot of different people from different parts of the world and you spend a crazy time with all of them," she explained, her friends all giggling at her side.
    Listen up parents and grandparents. If you think great sites are the reason you are treating your children and grandchildren to a cruise, think again. A lot of what they learn about the world takes place right on board in the kids' and teen clubs, especially when they are meeting so many youngsters from different cultures and countries. "We'd much rather be on the ship than touring," said Vivian Trinh, 14 and from Toronto.
    Dilini Desilva from Sydney, Australia, was pleasantly surprised when her two young daughters preferred time on board with their new multilingual friends to touring with their parents. "This is our first cruise and it's marvelous," she said.
    Families like the Desilvas like cruising because it offers the opportunity for family time, as well as guilt-free adult time because the kids are so happily ensconced in organized activities where they are also expanding their horizons.
    There are opportunities for learning together too. Princess Cruises has teamed up with Discovery Communications to offer families new science-focused activities based on hit TV shows -- think stargazing at sea or Animal Planet-recommended shore excursions.
    It's so easy too, parents and grandparents said on the Diamond Princess. They can tour a foreign country (or countries) without packing or unpacking or worrying about finicky eaters, as they can always find something to eat -- a burger, pizza, noodles. Families also like the all-inclusive nature of paying for transportation, lodging, entertainment and food. I just wish there were fewer upcharges -- everything from specialty coffee to specialty restaurants.
    Still, families don't tend to appreciate the opportunities their kids will have to mix and mingle with kids from around the world until they get on board. On the Diamond Princess, which underwent a $30 million renovation last year, for example, there were people from 39 countries, including more than 1,000 from Japan. The crew came from 44 countries. Princess Cruises adapted with Japanese-speaking staff, Asian food (think rice and miso soup among the breakfast offerings, a ramen bar in the afternoon and a sushi specialty restaurant, as well as Asian offerings in the dining room) entertainment (more magic and Japanese-style comedy), the chance to try on traditional Japanese dress and a Japanese Izumi bath experience -- think sitting in a big hot tub sans bathing suit (there is one for men and one for women) looking out at sea. More than 50 westerners turned up for a Japanese language lesson.
    "I've learned so much on board," said Josh Berkowitz, 13, cruising with his grandmother, Myrna Dukart from suburban Philadelphia. The trip was his bar mitzvah gift, he explained, and he didn't mind a bit that there were just 134 kids and teens as compared to 1,000 on some Caribbean and Mediterranean itineraries. "You get to know people better," he explained adding that he was even taking some etiquette lessons back to school. "The Japanese are so polite," he added. "I'm going to try to be more polite when I get home."
    What else did the kids learn about Japan?
    "The sushi is different, much fresher," offered Vivien Tranh. But once was enough for unfamiliar ice cream flavors like squid ink ice cream.
    Japan is that rare combination of a commitment to tradition and cutting edge of technology in entertainment. "Kids and adults see in Japan that there is more than one way to do things and that one way isn't good or bad, just different, and that's what makes life interesting," said Heather Clement, a Japan expert who serves as the ship's ports expert and is working on innovative products for cruise passengers in Japan who want to tour independently.
    This particular itinerary started in Yokohama and traveled north stopping in towns like Kushiro, Otaru (time to try a traditional Japanese bath) and Hakodate where we sampled the most amazing sushi. At another port, we opted for an excursion in Japanese so we could tour a national park. It seems the Japanese go in for more active shore excursions. In Hakodate, Japanese teens in their school uniforms were waiting, hoping English-speaking passengers would allow them to practice their English. We did, of course, and they handed out rice cookies.
    What do you like to do for fun? We asked the Japanese teens.
    "Lucky Pierrot!" they declared. We figured out that was a local burger and ice cream place that certainly would appeal to the teens on board.
    "It's amazing how the kids communicate," observed Caroline Andrews, the mom of Jessica Maresca, 8. Andrews has had a lot of time to observe. Her husband, Fabrizio Maresca, is a veteran Princess captain commanding the crew of 1,050 when we were aboard recently. His wife and daughter sail with him whenever Jessica isn't in school. That the kids on board are from all over the world and might not speak English or Italian, Jessica's two languages, is never an issue, her mom said.
    "The older kids teach each other language," agreed Justine Pastor, the youth programs manager and a 10-year Princess veteran herself. "At the end of the day, they all play together. The kids help us translate." Of course, the crew, including kids' club staff, come from around the world as well and speak many languages.
    Josh Berkowitz, for one, says he plans to keep in touch with his new friends, just as he has with other kids he's met from around the world on past cruises. "You learn more being in a country for a week on a cruise than in school for half a year," he said. "I'm going to miss the friends I made and the crew and Japan. I'm going to come back for sure."
    Article Courtesy of Eileen Ogintz (10.23.16), Fox News/Seven Sea Journeys
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    Featured photo credit: Fox News
    Jason
    Entertainer Armando Christian Perez — aka Pitbull — will christen Norwegian Cruise Line's newest cruise ship.
    The Norwegian Escape will debut at PortMiami on Nov. 9, with Perez as "godfather."
    Perez, also known as Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide, will be the headline performer at the ship's naming ceremony, the Miami-based cruise operator announced Wednesday.
    The Miami native also performed at the christening ceremony for Norwegian Getaway when it debuted in Miami in February 2014. He also introduced his Voli vodka brand to cruisers at that time. Voli is now available across Norwegian's fleet and featured in several signature cocktails.
    The 4,200-passenger, 164,600 gross ton cruise ship will be the largest to be based year-round in Miami and will sail seven-day cruises to the Eastern Caribbean starting Nov. 14, stopping at St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas.
    From Mariah Carey to Sally Ride to Tinker Bell to Queen Elizabeth, there have been many famous cruise ship godmothers over the years.
    Norwegian Escape's signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and ocean conservationist Guy Harvey.
    By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel
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    Jason
    Disney Cruise Line is embracing the Force and really long hair as changes are coming to three of its four cruise ships.
    Star Wars features big on both Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy while new Broadway-style show "Tangled: The Musical" will debut on Disney Magic.
    First up will be the revamp of Disney Dream, currently in dry dock until Oct. 24 in the Bahamas. Among new features coming to the nearly five-year-old ship will be two new spaces in the Oceaneer Club including the "Star Wars: Millennium Falcon" play area.
    Aimed at children ages 3-12, the new Star Wars-themed area will allow children to join the Rebel Alliance, punch up the hyperdrive and navigate Han Solo's ship across the galaxy. A large-screen TV will play the Disney XD series "Star Wars Rebels" while gaming stations will let kids play video games based on the TV series.
    Also coming to Dream is Disney Infinity Toy Box, a space dedicated to the company's figurine-based gaming system with a life-size Disney Infinity Base for children to step onto for interactive game play. On display and available for use will be a complete set of figurines from all of Disney's franchises including Pixar, Marvel and classic Disney characters. The Star Wars and Infinity play spaces replace the Monster's Academy and Disney's Explorer Pod play areas while Andy's Room and Pixie Hollow remain.
    Disney Dream debuted in 2010. It was the third Disney Cruise Line ship.
    Star Wars will also be embraced with the on-board version of Jedi Training Academy, a popular experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Young cruisers will become Padawans to master a lightsaber and use the Force in a showdown with Darth Vader.
    Dream's overhaul will also see the addition of Vanellope's Sweets & Treats, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, adults-only splash pool Satellite Falls and the addition of a "Muppets"-themed adventure to the Midship Detective Agency scavenger hunt.
    Dream's sister ship Disney Fantasy will also be feeling the Force farther down the road for a set of eight special Star Wars-themed sailings from January-April 2016. Those sailings will feature the Jedi Training Academy, but also screenings of all of the Star Wars films including "The Force Awakens" that debuts Dec. 18. In addition, there will be Star Wars trivia, a Star Wars deck party with lasers and fireworks and for the adults, a transformed nightclub to resemble the Mos Eisley cantina featured in the original 1977 film.
    The special Star Wars sailings on the Fantasy will be Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 6, Feb. 20, March 5, March 19, April 2 and April 16, 2016.
    Disney Magic had a major overhaul in 2013, but is debuting this November a new stage show based on the 2011 movie "Tangled" about Rapunzel and her extremely long hair. "Tangled the Musical" is the cruise line's first original production since 2012 and will feature three new songs along with popular numbers from the film, all written by Oscar-nominated songwriters Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.
    Replacing "Villains Tonight!," the new show debuts when Disney Magic begins sailing from PortMiami in November.
    The cruise line's fourth ship, Disney Wonder, has been in a holding pattern for any major overhaul, awaiting the completion of a Panama Canal project that would allow larger ships to make the trip to the West Coast. At this point, Disney Wonder is the only ship in the fleet that can traverse the canal and take advantage of the lucrative Alaska summer sailing season.
    By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
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    Jason
    Norwegian Cruise Line officially got its hands on its brand new ship, its biggest ship ever.
    Norwegian Escape, the first of the line's new Breakaway Plus class of ship, takes over the title of the line's largest ship as officials took part in a handover ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany today after the 164,600-ton ship completed its 17-month trip from drawing board to world's newest cruise ship, courtesy of Meyer Werft shipyard.
    "Norwegian Escape's arrival marks a true evolution for our brand," said line president and COO Andy Stuart in a press release. "We've capitalized on the best of our Breakaway Class ships and taken freedom and flexibility to the next level with this incredible new ship."
    Escape finished sea trials in the North Sea after making the trip from the shipyard last month. Now Escape will make its way to Hamburg, spend two nights in Southampton, England and then make the transatlantic trip to Miami on Oct. 29. The ship's christening, courtesy of Miami native and ship godfather Pitbull, will be on Nov. 9. After that, the ship will sail year-round out of PortMiami on 7-night Caribbean itineraries.
    "We are thrilled to deliver the first in Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Plus class," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner with Meyer Werft. "Norwegian Escape is the newest and most advanced cruise vessel on the seas and we are proud of the team that worked diligently to design and build her."
    The 4,200-passenger Escape becomes the line's 14th ship in the fleet, and now the largest over 155,873-ton Norwegian Epic. A sister ship to Escape, formerly known as Norwegian Bliss, but now awaiting a Chinese name, is currently under construction at Meyer Werft and due in 2017. That ship is being built specifically for the Chinese market. Two more Breakaway Plus class ships are expected in 2018 and 2019. Escape is now the fifth largest ship at sea, trailing only two Oasis-class and two Quantum-class ships from Royal Caribbean.
    Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of Miami-based industry website CruiseGuy.com, was in Germany and had a tour of the ship before its conveyance in September.
    "It was definitely an impressive ship," Chiron said. "There were definite improvements on the ship compared to Breakaway and Getaway. The look and the feel and the flow of the ship has been improved. The dining options were upgraded. The bars and lounges are going to be fun. There are some nice additions."
    Escape has a lot of Miami and South Florida influences, from the hull artwork from marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey to the first Margaritaville at Sea. Also on board will be a version of Miami's famed Tobacco Road blues bar, a craft beer hall partnering with Wynwood Brewing Company and a dining partnership with restaurateurs Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, which has opened six dining concepts in South Florida in the past three years.
    Other notable features of the ship include the largest water park at sea, largest ropes course at sea, a spa with a snow room and Tony Award-winning musical productions "Million Dollar Quartet" and "After Midnight" as well as an ode the 80s films of director John Hughes like "The Breakfast Club."
    By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
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    Jason
    Disney Cruise Line is bringing its fleet back to Florida in early 2017 with a few trips offered from Puerto Rico and Galveston.
    The cruise line's four ships will be primarily based in Port Canaveral and PortMiami, a strategy the line has followed since 2014.
    Disney Magic, which will be sailing from Miami for fall 2016, will continue to offer 3-, 4- and 5-night cruises to the Bahamas as well as some 5-night western Caribbean cruises through March 2017.
    Disney Fantasy, Dream and Wonder will sail out of Port Canaveral with Fantasy continuing eastern and western 7-night cruises while both Dream and Wonder will be offering 3- and 4-night Bahamas cruises. Wonder arrives in Port Canaveral in late January while Dream and Fantasy have never called another port home.
    Both Disney Magic and Wonder will offer sailings from San Juan, marking the third season the line will sail southern Caribbean itineraries from the U.S. commonwealth. Magic made the first sailing from Puerto Rico in 2014 and Wonder is set to sail from San Juan for four sailings this coming January.
    In 2017, Wonder will be the first to call on the island after completing its season in Galveston with a six-night journey from Galveston to San Juan on Jan. 20 with stops in Cozumel; Grand Cayman; and Falmouth, Jamaica. It will then sail a three-night voyage from San Juan to Port Canaveral on Jan. 26. Magic will make a longer stint with four sailings in April 2017.
    Magic's itineraries include stops in Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Kitts. Those sailings will be on April 9, 16, 23 and 30.
    "Our San Juan itineraries have been very popular," Disney Cruise Line spokesperson Jennifer Haile-Tinn said. "Utilizing San Juan as a homeport enables us to offer a wider variety of destinations to our guests."
    No sailings beyond April 2017 have been announced. Bookings for the new sailings will be open to the public Oct. 8. Details and pricing can be found at disneycruise.com.
    By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
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    Jason
    Just 30 months ago, the cruise news that broke earlier today would have been unimaginable. One company’s turnaround from villain to champion has turned them into a blueprint for how to turn corporate crisis into a large-scale impetus for evolution.
    No, we’re not talking about norovirus or tragedy here. This is good news for the industry and great news for Carnival Cruise Line.
    Readers’ Digest readers have named Carnival America’s Most Trusted Cruise Line. More than 4,500 respondents agreed – Carnival is No. 1.
    On the surface, it’s just another press release. This is the beginning of the travel award season, it's just another plaudit. But when you zoom out to Feb. 10, 2013, this news becomes a remarkable achievement.
    That’s the day that an engine fire broke out in an engine room aboard the Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was on the third-day of a four-night itinerary from Galveston to the Western Caribbean.
    Dream vacations quickly evolved into a nightmare as the ship drifted out at sea for four days with more than 4,000 passengers and crew members in agony. Air conditioning, lighting, water, food and even working toilets failed one by one before it was ultimately towed back to Mobile, Alabama.
    A subsequent investigation revealed that the crew set sail in February with only four of six generators fully operational – a fleetwide problem well known among Carnival crew.
    The perception then was that Carnival was OK with substandard, that company officials knew this ship was prone to fires, that the faulty generators were long overdue for maintenance.
    This after sister cruise line Costa suffered a fire aboard the Allegra in February 2012.
    It was a public relations nightmare, not only for Carnival but a perception problem for the entire industry. The company that built its reputation on being the Fun Ships with America’s sweetheart Kathie Lee Gifford belting out jingles was suddenly showing itself to be far from trustworthy.
    The company owned the mistakes, and it started an internal audit and a long road back to earning the public trust.
    Carnival dedicated $300 million to a fleetwide safety upgrade. It instituted a 110%-money-back “Great Vacation Guarantee.”
    From there, Carnival focused on making the guest experience better than ever. The arrival of the Breeze started a Fun Ships 2.0 drydock overhaul of the fleet, adding upgrades to the kids’ program that included the Dr. Seuss at Sea initiative, a new comedy partnership with George Lopez and new eateries such as Guy’s Burger Joint, to name just a few of the innovations.
    The corporate staff enhanced their travel agent outreach efforts, creating communication channels that made the agent community feel as if they were being heard when it came to onboard changes and compensated better for selling the Carnival experience.
    Carnival kept moving forward, creating the successful Carnival Live program, bringing well-known singers onboard for free shows.
    They recommitted themselves to cleanliness and safety and the results showed. The three cruises I’ve taken my family on aboard Carnival ships over the last two-plus years have been among the best vacations we’ve ever had. We saw all the efforts in action, from the cleaning staff to the entertainment staff to the stewards, a "how can we make this trip magical?" attitude shined through.
    The end result has been a turnaround rarely seen in any other economic sector, let alone in just 30 months. Carnival is strong financially once again, and this Readers’ Digest award is just the latest sign that they are once again beloved by the cruising public.
    New CEO Christine Duffy spoke to a packed house of travel agents last week at the Agent@Home Travel Summit in Atlantic City, N.J. As she spoke gleefully of the company’s newest ship, Vista, coming online in May 2016, she said with conviction that Carnival is focused on being America’s cruise line.
    Their rivals have made great strides in earning that title. Cynics might say this award is just the result of a voting public with a short-term memory. But Carnival has owned its flawed past and executed an extensive plan to earn that label once again. They have listened to their guests, worked in concert with the agent community and ultimately achieved in delivering a top-notch cruise experience.
    As a result, they’ve gone from being the poster child for failure to the blueprint for success.
    It’s a case study I hope U.S. airlines will follow, and quick.
    By Tim Wood, Travel Pulse
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    Jason
    Smartships with cocktail-wielding robots is just the beginning.
    Cruise ships have long lagged the rest of the travel industry when it comes to technology. Wi-Fi connections have traditionally been painfully slow, and the only noteworthy technology investment cruise lines made usually involved systems designed to make it easier to pay for optional items like spa treatments, dinners and trips to the onboard casino.
    That is officially changing.
    Royal Caribbean Cruises just introduced a fleet of what it calls “smartships” that offer high-tech touches like cocktail-mixing robots, RFID powered wristbands, and mobile apps. And Carnival announced that it’s creating the cruise industry’s largest Wi-Fi network, which will offer the broadest possible high-speed global coverage across dozens of ships. Luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises also said on its official blog that it will offer free unlimited Wi-Fi access for every passenger starting in late 2016.
    These upgrades promise to change the sailing experience, opening cruise vacations to passengers like always-connected Millennials and conference attendees, who would have never considered a cruise before. But as always, there’s a catch: Someone has to pay for the technology, and that someone is probably you.
    Faster Wi-Fi
    The centerpiece of these technology upgrades is faster Wi-Fi. O3b Networks, a company that provides ship-to-shore communication systems, started working with Royal Caribbean back in 2011 to upgrade its internet connections. It developed a new type of high-throughput satellite which quadrupled connection speeds, according to Steve Collar, O3b’s CEO.
    “It allows passengers to play interactive Microsoft Xbox online games with players around the world, stream Netflix HD videos to their devices, share their vacation experience via social media and even chat online,” he adds. “This is an unprecedented experience on a cruise ship.”
    Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s CEO, said passengers want a connected ship. “Access to reliable and fast internet access is now a requirement by our guests,” he says. “We have worked very hard to find ways to simplify how we provide our unique high speed internet service.”
    Royal Caribbean’s Wi-Fi packages, called Voom, will cost $15 per day per device with a second device half off, and offer download speed that was available for the entire fleet not long ago, according to the company.
    Demand for wireless connection is high, agrees Reza Rasoulian, a vice president for connectivity for Carnival. “Historically for the cruise and maritime industry, connectivity while sailing in the middle of the ocean has been a challenge,” he admits. But he says Carnival has pulled it off. Its new wireless network is deployed on 34 of its 100 ships, and represents a huge investment in satellites, networks and optimization technologies.
    Carnival’s system, called WiFi@Sea, allows guests to share photos and updates, and even call home from a computer. “Previously, a simple connection was a challenge,” says Rasoulian.
    It’s difficult to quantify the upgrades with any precision. Neither Royal Caribbean nor Carnival would disclose their exact connection speeds pre- or post-upgrade. A Carnival spokeswoman would only say that speeds “are similar” to those found in a public Wi-Fi setting. (Those can range from 1 to more than 4 Mbps.) Royal Caribbean claims its Wi-Fi service “exceeds” 500 Mbps per ship. The cruise lines declined to discuss the costs of the new, better-connected ships.
    Just the beginning of a tech renaissance
    “Customer experience across all segments of the travel industry is being transformed by technology,” says Umar Riaz, managing director of North American for Accenture Travel. Customers want better Wi-Fi, seamless booking and check-in, social media integration, and mobile device enablement, so the cruise industry is meeting that demand.
    Better Wi-Fi is just the beginning, says Chris Ruff, the CEO of UIEvolution, which provides software solutions to Enterprise companies in the cruise, automotive, and hotel industries. The entire industry is one on the cusp of a digital revolution.
    “Technology like faster Wi-Fi, improved in-cabin entertainment, and other tools like digital signage and wayfinding not only improves the experience for passengers, but provides opportunities for the brand to collect valuable guest intelligence that can be used to further enhance and personalize passengers’ experiences,” he says.
    Steve Griswold, an Atlanta-based travel agent who just cruised on the retrofitted Oasis of the Seas, is a convert to “smart” ships.
    “We used to lock our cell phones in the safe and then find an internet cafe at the cruise ports to catch up every few days on work emails,” he says. “Now all that has changed. Wi-Fi is everywhere.It’s a blessing, but also no longer are you device-less for a week, which I have to admit was kind of nice.”
    Griswold says he paid $15 per device per day for unlimited Internet access, and, he adds, “it just plain works.”
    How much will all of this cost?
    Certainly, cruise lines hope to cover the expense of the new technology with higher usage rates. Carnival, which is shifting from a pay-by-minute model to an “unlimited” model for wireless connections, claims the new system will cost passengers less. On Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas unlimited internet will be included in the price of the cruise, starting next May — something Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s CEO, calls “previously unthinkable.”
    “We’ve seen satisfaction rates jump by 50 percent on guest surveys, which was a major catalyst for us to continue to expand this solution across our brands,” notes Carnival’s Rasoulian.
    It also seems likely that some cruise lines will raise their prices or cruise fares — or both — in order to cover the substantial expense of these shipboard upgrades. And while the ships of the past may have been “dumb,” at least in terms of technology, they were also often cheaper.
    Attracting business customers
    All of the upgrades in tech could mean that cruising will appeal to a whole new set of passengers, beyond the traditional cruise-interest demographic, sometimes derisively (but not entirely inaccurately) referred to as the newlywed, overfed and nearly dead.
    “We anticipate more conference, training and incentive meeting sales opportunities across the board,” says Bernadette Stark, the vice president of conference, events, and training for Vacation.com. “In many cases, holding these events onboard a cruise ship can help minimize costs over a land-based event.”
    By Christopher Elliott, Fortune
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    Jason
    A growing number of upscale cruise lines are beginning to include free unlimited Wi-Fi in the price of a ticket as lines lure customers with the promise of faster, more affordable Internet access.
    Luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises Wednesday announced on its official blog that it will offer free unlimited Wi-Fi access for every passenger fleetwide starting in late 2016. The new service provides Internet access from any location on the ship via laptop, tablet or smartphone.
    Currently, unlimited Internet is free in top suite categories, while other guests get a package of 200 free minutes or more based on voyage length. The luxury line already offers many inclusions such as alcohol, gratuities and round trip airfare.
    Most cruise companies are improving Wi-Fi technology to enable passengers to stay connected while on the high seas and to be able share their vacation photos and comments on social media sites. Currently, most lines offer pay-as-you-go packages for Wi-Fi usage, and passengers can easily get caught with a bill for $50 to $100 a day just on Wi-Fi.
    But that paradigm is shifting.
    In August, luxury line Crystal began offering all passengers a limited amount of free Wi-Fi access per day. USA Today notes that Viking Ocean Cruises, the river cruise company’s new ocean ship that promises "no nickel-and-diming" mantra includes free unlimited Wi-Fi for every passenger.
    And Silversea and Oceania say they’ll soon offer free unlimited Wi-Fi for passengers in top suites, while offering free, limited Internet access for lesser cabins.
    But these lines are not the only lines looking to meet the growing demand for faster connectivity at a cheaper price.
    Last month, Carnival Corp. announced it is expanding Wi-Fi options with its WiFi@Sea, an Internet access system that charges clients based on how they use the service rather than by the traditional per-minute fees that have dominated the industry for years.
    The plans cost from $5 per day for basic social media only access, to $16 per day with access to the web for emailing, social media, and browsing, to the premium service at $25 per day that gives customers full web access, including calling sites like Skype.
    The line says the service will be available across most of the company's fleet by the end of 2016.
    “We know that each of our guests is looking for something different, whether that is being completely or partially unplugged from the Internet or staying plugged in,” said Reza Rasoulian, Carnival Corp.’s vice president of global connectivity and shipboard technology operations.
    Last year Skift reported that Royal Caribbean tested free Wi-Fi among 5,000 passengers on voyages aboard Oasis of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas and is looking at offering Wi-Fi while in port.
    By Grace E. Cutler, FOXNews.com
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    sunluva7
    The arrival of the Carnival Victory opened the new port of Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. It is the first of many Carnival Corp. ships that will dock at the $85 million facility.
    Amber Cove is expected to revive cruise tourism on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, which has been dormant for 30 years.
    The port includes a pier capable of simultaneously docking two of the cruise company's largest vessels. It has a shopping village, bars and restaurants, a pool, ziplines, rental cabanas and a large excursion-staging area.
    Carnival Corp. has said that Amber Cove will be included on stops from eight of its 10 cruise lines, although at least half of the passengers are expected to come from Carnival Cruise Line.
    Amber Cove will serve as a base of operations for the Fathom social-impact brand when it begins sailing to the Dominican Republic next April.
    ~~~
    Source: Tom Steighorst (Travel Weekly, October 6, 2015 "Amber Cove Welcomes First Ship")
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Featured photo credit: Sun Sentinel
    sunluva7
    Princess Cruises will raise the gratuity for service staff from $11.50 to $12.95 per passenger, per day for voyages that depart on and after Jan. 1.
    The increase would bring the suggested amount for two passengers on a seven-day cruise to $181.30.
    The line said guests in mini-suite categories and above, who currently pay $12 per day, will contribute $13.95 per day.
    The amounts are automatically added to a guest’s final shipboard bill, but can be adjusted upwards or downwards at the guest-services desk. Princess noted that gratuities will be deemed “undisputed” unless a request to modify is received prior to disembarking the ship.
    Princess said, “This gratuity will be shared amongst those staff who help provide and support your cruise experience, including all waitstaff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards and housekeeping staff across the fleet."
    The suggested gratuity has been $11.50 since 2013.
    Besides Princess, cruise lines that have increased or will increase their gratuity charge this year are Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line.
    ~~~
    Source: Tom Steighorst (Travel Weekly, October 6, 2015 "Princess the Latest Cruise Line to Raise Gratuity")
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Featured photo credit: Princess Cruise Line
    sunluva7
    Carnival Cruise Line has announced a multi-year agreement with the New Orleans Saints that includes in-stadium promotions, community partnerships, onboard game-day festivities, social media activities and advertising opportunities.
    As the Official Cruise Line of the New Orleans Saints, Carnival will offer a variety of in-game activities and promotions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, including the “Helmet Shuffle” contest that awards one lucky fan a free cruise during each home game. Additionally, stand-alone ads will be positioned throughout the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, while Carnival messaging will be featured on the team’s website.
    Guests on board Carnival’s New Orleans-based ships can also enjoy the new Saints Sailgate Sailaways, football-themed deck parties that will include food and drink specials, games, prizes, a DJ, dancing and more.
    Saints fans will also have a chance to win a number of prizes, including autographed jerseys, footballs and helmets and free Caribbean cruises departing from New Orleans.
    Carnival is also teaming up with the Saints to support the team’s Read and Rise program that promotes children’s literacy in and around the New Orleans area.
    Carnival currently operates two year-round ships carrying 400,000 guests annually from New Orleans. Carnival’s New Orleans-based ships include Carnival Dream, which sails seven-day cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida, and Carnival Elation offering four- and five-day cruises to Mexico. Next spring, the newer, larger Carnival Triumph will assume Carnival Elation’s short-cruise program, increasing capacity on this route by 34 percent.

    Source: Travel Agent Central/Newswire, October 2, 2015 ("Carnival Partners with New Orleans Saints")
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
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    Featured photo credit: biz new orleans dot com
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