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GerryBarker

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  1. MIAMI (Sept. 19, 2019) – Carnival Cruise Line expressed appreciation today to the Miami-Dade County Commission for approving a proposal for a complete renovation and major expansion of Cruise Terminal F at PortMiami that will be capable of supporting the operations of Carnival’s new Excel class ship – clearing the way for the yet-to-be-named sister ship of Mardi Gras to be homeported in Miami when it is delivered in 2022. “With today’s approval, we will move quickly on a plan to remodel and expand Terminal F so that it will accommodate the most innovative class of ship to join our fleet,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Over the last several months, we have had very constructive discussions with PortMiami and Miami-Dade leaders about our plans for Miami and our goal to enhance and grow our capacity and operations in our hometown. Everyone is very excited about Miami being home to our next liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship in North America and the sister ship to Mardi Gras, which arrives next August and is generating tremendous enthusiasm. Today’s vote assures that the new ship and terminal expansion will both arrive in time for Carnival’s 50th anniversary in 2022.” Carnival Cruise Line is the largest cruise operator in Miami with more year-round ships sailing from PortMiami than any other cruise line. The redesigned Terminal F will allow Carnival to continue to be the leader in the market, accommodating not only its largest and newest class of ship, but also allowing the line to bring its next LNG ship to south Florida. Duffy thanked local officials for their efforts to work cooperatively with the company to reach agreement on scope, timing and design work so that construction can be completed in time for the ship’s late 2022 arrival. Mardi Gras, the first Carnival Excel class ship for the line, will be delivered in August 2020 and be homeported at Port Canaveral after inaugural sailings from Europe and New York. When completed, Terminal F will be the third cruise terminal at PortMiami dedicated to Carnival operations. The agreement includes a commitment by Carnival to keep ships at Terminal F for 20 years, with the option of two additional seven-year extensions. The terminal’s simple and open design by Berenblum Busch Architects of Miami will allow for exceptional efficiency and flexibility to accommodate Carnival’s largest class of ships, maximizing use of facial recognition technology and other elements to move guests through the embarkation process. Expansion plans will result in Terminal F being Carnival’s largest terminal in North America. All renovations are set for completion by October 2022 to welcome the Carnival Excel class ship arriving in late 2022. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  2. MIAMI (Sept. 19, 2019) – Carnival Cruise Line expressed appreciation today to the Miami-Dade County Commission for approving a proposal for a complete renovation and major expansion of Cruise Terminal F at PortMiami that will be capable of supporting the operations of Carnival’s new Excel class ship – clearing the way for the yet-to-be-named sister ship of Mardi Gras to be homeported in Miami when it is delivered in 2022. “With today’s approval, we will move quickly on a plan to remodel and expand Terminal F so that it will accommodate the most innovative class of ship to join our fleet,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Over the last several months, we have had very constructive discussions with PortMiami and Miami-Dade leaders about our plans for Miami and our goal to enhance and grow our capacity and operations in our hometown. Everyone is very excited about Miami being home to our next liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship in North America and the sister ship to Mardi Gras, which arrives next August and is generating tremendous enthusiasm. Today’s vote assures that the new ship and terminal expansion will both arrive in time for Carnival’s 50th anniversary in 2022.” Carnival Cruise Line is the largest cruise operator in Miami with more year-round ships sailing from PortMiami than any other cruise line. The redesigned Terminal F will allow Carnival to continue to be the leader in the market, accommodating not only its largest and newest class of ship, but also allowing the line to bring its next LNG ship to south Florida. Duffy thanked local officials for their efforts to work cooperatively with the company to reach agreement on scope, timing and design work so that construction can be completed in time for the ship’s late 2022 arrival. Mardi Gras, the first Carnival Excel class ship for the line, will be delivered in August 2020 and be homeported at Port Canaveral after inaugural sailings from Europe and New York. When completed, Terminal F will be the third cruise terminal at PortMiami dedicated to Carnival operations. The agreement includes a commitment by Carnival to keep ships at Terminal F for 20 years, with the option of two additional seven-year extensions. The terminal’s simple and open design by Berenblum Busch Architects of Miami will allow for exceptional efficiency and flexibility to accommodate Carnival’s largest class of ships, maximizing use of facial recognition technology and other elements to move guests through the embarkation process. Expansion plans will result in Terminal F being Carnival’s largest terminal in North America. All renovations are set for completion by October 2022 to welcome the Carnival Excel class ship arriving in late 2022. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  3. MIAMI, Sept. 13, 2019 – Royal Caribbean International will dial up the adventure in South Florida in fall 2020 with the debut of the highly anticipated Odyssey of the Seas – the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to arrive in North America. The global cruise line’s 27th ship will arrive to her seasonal homeport of Fort Lauderdale, FL in November 2020 to offer 8- and 6-night Caribbean cruises. Odyssey will then continue her inaugural year in Europe for summer 2021. Offering even more ways to experience the sun-soaked islands of the Western and Southern Caribbean, Odyssey of the Seas will be the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to call on Aruba and Curacao as part of its 8-night itineraries. Island-hopping vacationers can explore Aruba’s rugged landscape off-roading in Arikok National Park, and discover the beloved architecture and narrow streets of Willemstad, Curacao. Primed for memory-making, Odyssey’s 6-night adventures will open the door to deep diving in Cozumel, Mexico; swimming with sea turtles in George Town, Grand Cayman; and a day of thrill and chill on Perfect Day at CocoCay, home to Daredevil’s Peak, the tallest waterslide in North America; Up, Up & Away, the helium balloon experience that soars up to 450 feet in the air; Oasis Lagoon, the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool; and the pristine, white sand beaches of The Bahamas. Odyssey’s Caribbean cruises are now open for sale; and Europe itineraries will open in November 2019. As part of the Quantum Ultra Class, Odyssey of the Seas will represent the next evolution of Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking and high-tech Quantum Class. First introduced in 2014, Quantum Class ships boldly redefined the industry with unprecedented innovations in design, thrilling activities, game-changing technology and multidimensional entertainment. Travelers on board Odyssey can expect to find an unrivaled combination of new, soon-to-be-announced experiences, plus “Only on Royal” features, including the RipCord by iFLY sky-diving adventure; North Star, a glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; the state-of-the-art Two70 entertainment venue; and a robust lineup of culinary experiences. The ship will also tout the SeaPlex, the largest and most revolutionary indoor active space at sea, featuring a trapeze school, full-size basketball court, roller-skating rink and bumper cars. For more details on these new itineraries, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  4. MIAMI, Sept. 13, 2019 – Royal Caribbean International will dial up the adventure in South Florida in fall 2020 with the debut of the highly anticipated Odyssey of the Seas – the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to arrive in North America. The global cruise line’s 27th ship will arrive to her seasonal homeport of Fort Lauderdale, FL in November 2020 to offer 8- and 6-night Caribbean cruises. Odyssey will then continue her inaugural year in Europe for summer 2021. Offering even more ways to experience the sun-soaked islands of the Western and Southern Caribbean, Odyssey of the Seas will be the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to call on Aruba and Curacao as part of its 8-night itineraries. Island-hopping vacationers can explore Aruba’s rugged landscape off-roading in Arikok National Park, and discover the beloved architecture and narrow streets of Willemstad, Curacao. Primed for memory-making, Odyssey’s 6-night adventures will open the door to deep diving in Cozumel, Mexico; swimming with sea turtles in George Town, Grand Cayman; and a day of thrill and chill on Perfect Day at CocoCay, home to Daredevil’s Peak, the tallest waterslide in North America; Up, Up & Away, the helium balloon experience that soars up to 450 feet in the air; Oasis Lagoon, the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool; and the pristine, white sand beaches of The Bahamas. Odyssey’s Caribbean cruises are now open for sale; and Europe itineraries will open in November 2019. As part of the Quantum Ultra Class, Odyssey of the Seas will represent the next evolution of Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking and high-tech Quantum Class. First introduced in 2014, Quantum Class ships boldly redefined the industry with unprecedented innovations in design, thrilling activities, game-changing technology and multidimensional entertainment. Travelers on board Odyssey can expect to find an unrivaled combination of new, soon-to-be-announced experiences, plus “Only on Royal” features, including the RipCord by iFLY sky-diving adventure; North Star, a glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; the state-of-the-art Two70 entertainment venue; and a robust lineup of culinary experiences. The ship will also tout the SeaPlex, the largest and most revolutionary indoor active space at sea, featuring a trapeze school, full-size basketball court, roller-skating rink and bumper cars. For more details on these new itineraries, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  5. MIAMI, Aug. 21, 2019 – A bolder and reimagined Freedom of the Seas will redefine island hopping in the Southern Caribbean, following a $116 million amplification. Royal Caribbean International has announced the high-energy features and guest favorites that will come aboard, including The Perfect Storm duo of waterslides, a redesigned Caribbean poolscape, a new take on a signature venue with Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and completely transformed kids and teens spaces. Starting March 2020, the newly amplified Freedom will set sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico on 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises to idyllic destinations, from Saint Lucia and Antigua to the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. All-day Thrills on Deck Vacationers can up the ante with more ways to play joining fan favorites like the FlowRider surf simulator, mini-golf and the rock-climbing wall. The Perfect Storm, the heart-pumping duo of racer waterslides, is three stories of adventure that will take excitement off the charts. On Cyclone and Typhoon, guests are in for the ultimate race as they go head to head through twists and turns for bragging rights A reimagined poolscape comes to life with all-day Caribbean vibes, a larger variety of seating and shade with casitas, daybeds and hammocks, and the Splashaway Bay aquapark for the youngest travelers. For downtime, guests can escape to the renewed, adults-only Solarium The Lime & Coconut, Royal Caribbean’s new, poolside signature bar, is at the center of it all. The three-level spot serves up live music, a lineup of cocktails and a rooftop deck for a bird’s eye view of the action Next-level Culinary Delights Freedom’s amplification will also introduce more dining venues, spanning Italian, Asian and Mexican cuisine, tantalizing guests’ taste buds more than ever. Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen is a fresh, new twist on a guest favorite. Vacationers can have their pick from authentic Italian dishes with a contemporary flair, including made-to-order pizzas hand tossed front and center, and baked in the new, in-house pizza oven. With a wide selection of wines and limoncellos on the reimagined menu, it’s “Sunday supper” Royal Caribbean style Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, the Asian-inspired restaurant with teppanyaki tables and a sushi bar, features a variety of hot and cold appetizers, entrees, desserts and more Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, where everybody wins. Guests can catch their home team on more than 80 TV screens, hit “play” on any one of the arcade games, and refuel with a menu of classic bar bites and ice-cold brews on tap El Loco Fresh will sit poolside and offer fresh grab-and-go Mexican fare, from tacos and burritos, to quesadillas, along with an array of salsas for an extra kick. For the first time, the venue will include a full-service bar with a selection of tequilas on offer Playtime Reimagined Adding to the roster of activities on board, Royal Caribbean will offer glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure Clash for the Crystal City, and the debut of a floor-to-ceiling redesign of Freedom’s dedicated teens spaces and award-winning Adventure Ocean. Adventure Ocean takes on a whole new look after a makeover that will touch every inch of the spaces specially designed for babies and kids. The imaginative layout encourages young vacationers to venture into a world of interactive experiences, from thought-provoking exploration at Play Place to art, science and tech activities at Workshop, and friendly challenges at Arena. Kicking back is just as fun with gaming consoles and places to chill at Hangout. Babies and 3- to 5-year-olds will each have personalized areas with AO Babies and AO Junior Teens will rejoice at their exclusive hangout, entirely transformed to feature the latest in movies, gaming and music, plus a new, private outdoor deck Beginning March 8, 2020, the reimagined Freedom will sail 7-night, roundtrip Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan. The year-round itineraries are set to visit tropical locales in the region, including Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Castries, Saint Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Saint Johns, Antigua; and Kralendijk, Bonaire. For more details on the new, bold Freedom of the Seas, visit www.royalcaribbean.com. Freedom joins her sister, Independence of the Seas, as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort. An investment of more than $1 billion across 10 ships in four years, Royal Caribbean’s program touches every facet of the guest experience and introduces a wide range of new adventures spanning one-of-a-kind attractions and experiential dining and nightlife. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  6. MIAMI, Aug. 21, 2019 – A bolder and reimagined Freedom of the Seas will redefine island hopping in the Southern Caribbean, following a $116 million amplification. Royal Caribbean International has announced the high-energy features and guest favorites that will come aboard, including The Perfect Storm duo of waterslides, a redesigned Caribbean poolscape, a new take on a signature venue with Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and completely transformed kids and teens spaces. Starting March 2020, the newly amplified Freedom will set sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico on 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises to idyllic destinations, from Saint Lucia and Antigua to the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. All-day Thrills on Deck Vacationers can up the ante with more ways to play joining fan favorites like the FlowRider surf simulator, mini-golf and the rock-climbing wall. The Perfect Storm, the heart-pumping duo of racer waterslides, is three stories of adventure that will take excitement off the charts. On Cyclone and Typhoon, guests are in for the ultimate race as they go head to head through twists and turns for bragging rights A reimagined poolscape comes to life with all-day Caribbean vibes, a larger variety of seating and shade with casitas, daybeds and hammocks, and the Splashaway Bay aquapark for the youngest travelers. For downtime, guests can escape to the renewed, adults-only Solarium The Lime & Coconut, Royal Caribbean’s new, poolside signature bar, is at the center of it all. The three-level spot serves up live music, a lineup of cocktails and a rooftop deck for a bird’s eye view of the action Next-level Culinary Delights Freedom’s amplification will also introduce more dining venues, spanning Italian, Asian and Mexican cuisine, tantalizing guests’ taste buds more than ever. Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen is a fresh, new twist on a guest favorite. Vacationers can have their pick from authentic Italian dishes with a contemporary flair, including made-to-order pizzas hand tossed front and center, and baked in the new, in-house pizza oven. With a wide selection of wines and limoncellos on the reimagined menu, it’s “Sunday supper” Royal Caribbean style Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, the Asian-inspired restaurant with teppanyaki tables and a sushi bar, features a variety of hot and cold appetizers, entrees, desserts and more Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, where everybody wins. Guests can catch their home team on more than 80 TV screens, hit “play” on any one of the arcade games, and refuel with a menu of classic bar bites and ice-cold brews on tap El Loco Fresh will sit poolside and offer fresh grab-and-go Mexican fare, from tacos and burritos, to quesadillas, along with an array of salsas for an extra kick. For the first time, the venue will include a full-service bar with a selection of tequilas on offer Playtime Reimagined Adding to the roster of activities on board, Royal Caribbean will offer glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure Clash for the Crystal City, and the debut of a floor-to-ceiling redesign of Freedom’s dedicated teens spaces and award-winning Adventure Ocean. Adventure Ocean takes on a whole new look after a makeover that will touch every inch of the spaces specially designed for babies and kids. The imaginative layout encourages young vacationers to venture into a world of interactive experiences, from thought-provoking exploration at Play Place to art, science and tech activities at Workshop, and friendly challenges at Arena. Kicking back is just as fun with gaming consoles and places to chill at Hangout. Babies and 3- to 5-year-olds will each have personalized areas with AO Babies and AO Junior Teens will rejoice at their exclusive hangout, entirely transformed to feature the latest in movies, gaming and music, plus a new, private outdoor deck Beginning March 8, 2020, the reimagined Freedom will sail 7-night, roundtrip Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan. The year-round itineraries are set to visit tropical locales in the region, including Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Castries, Saint Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Saint Johns, Antigua; and Kralendijk, Bonaire. For more details on the new, bold Freedom of the Seas, visit www.royalcaribbean.com. Freedom joins her sister, Independence of the Seas, as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort. An investment of more than $1 billion across 10 ships in four years, Royal Caribbean’s program touches every facet of the guest experience and introduces a wide range of new adventures spanning one-of-a-kind attractions and experiential dining and nightlife. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  7. MIAMI, Aug. 14, 2019 – With the smashing success of Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International is celebrating 100 days of Perfect Day with a double dose of adventure. The cruise line has revealed new, 4-night itineraries that now tout two visits to the industry’s leading private island destination. In one short getaway, guests will have twice the time to thrill and chill on their choice of nearly 40 sailings beginning Sept. 30, 2019. Three exclusive cruises also make their debut today, featuring the ultimate late-night island experience on Perfect Day, complete with extended hours and new adventures. “Perfect Day at CocoCay has revolutionized private destinations in the vacation industry, and the resounding feedback from our guests is that they want more – more time and even more ways to experience the island,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We’re building on an incredible adventure that’s already winning the hearts of many.” Guests sailing on board Navigator and Mariner of the Seas on these select cruises can double down on adventure by chilling one day and dialing up the thrills the next, or hitting repeat on a combination of all their favorites. From plunging down the tallest waterslide in North America, Daredevil’s Peak, and soaring up to 450 feet in the air in the Up, Up & Away helium balloon, to relaxing in the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool, Oasis Lagoon; or on the pristine, white sand beaches, vacationers have plenty to choose from. PERFECT DAYS TURN INTO PERFECT NIGHTS Shining a whole new light on the ultimate short getaway are Royal Caribbean’s three one-of-a-kind cruises with late-night visits to the island on board Navigator. Travelers of all ages will have the chance to extend the excitement long after the sun sets with traditional Bahamian-inspired activities, including a Junkanoo Jam Up Party, an island barbeque and performances by a calypso band and fire dancers, topped off with unforgettable farewell fireworks before setting sail. For more details on the cruise line’s new itineraries to Perfect Day at CocoCay, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  8. MIAMI, Aug. 14, 2019 – With the smashing success of Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International is celebrating 100 days of Perfect Day with a double dose of adventure. The cruise line has revealed new, 4-night itineraries that now tout two visits to the industry’s leading private island destination. In one short getaway, guests will have twice the time to thrill and chill on their choice of nearly 40 sailings beginning Sept. 30, 2019. Three exclusive cruises also make their debut today, featuring the ultimate late-night island experience on Perfect Day, complete with extended hours and new adventures. “Perfect Day at CocoCay has revolutionized private destinations in the vacation industry, and the resounding feedback from our guests is that they want more – more time and even more ways to experience the island,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We’re building on an incredible adventure that’s already winning the hearts of many.” Guests sailing on board Navigator and Mariner of the Seas on these select cruises can double down on adventure by chilling one day and dialing up the thrills the next, or hitting repeat on a combination of all their favorites. From plunging down the tallest waterslide in North America, Daredevil’s Peak, and soaring up to 450 feet in the air in the Up, Up & Away helium balloon, to relaxing in the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool, Oasis Lagoon; or on the pristine, white sand beaches, vacationers have plenty to choose from. PERFECT DAYS TURN INTO PERFECT NIGHTS Shining a whole new light on the ultimate short getaway are Royal Caribbean’s three one-of-a-kind cruises with late-night visits to the island on board Navigator. Travelers of all ages will have the chance to extend the excitement long after the sun sets with traditional Bahamian-inspired activities, including a Junkanoo Jam Up Party, an island barbeque and performances by a calypso band and fire dancers, topped off with unforgettable farewell fireworks before setting sail. For more details on the cruise line’s new itineraries to Perfect Day at CocoCay, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  9. Photo: A rendering of the new m/s Ocean Explorer, Vantage’s first small-ship ocean-going vessel debuting in 2021, with tours available for sale now Boston, MA – August 13, 2019 – Vantage Deluxe World Travel, the region’s premier deluxe travel provider celebrating more than 35 years as a family-owned company, is pleased to announce that Travel + Leisure magazine has named it one of the top ten Best River Cruise Lines in its 24th annual World’s Best Awards. For more information about Vantage Deluxe Travel or to make reservations, please call 888-514-1845 or visit https://www.vantagetravel.com/ Vantage’s owned fleet of five- and six-star European river cruise vessels are specifically designed for American travelers to experience the best of the Old World’s waterways, with supplement-free solo cabins outfitted especially for single travelers—unique to the deluxe cruise industry. Convenient triple-occupancy accommodations are also offered in suites, all adding up to thousands of dollars in savings for the best experience at the best value. Vantage’s fleet continues to expand; in 2020, Vantage Deluxe World Travel will debut the m/s Nebu, the newest and most luxurious ship on the Nile with five incredible itineraries and four cabin categories, and with a maximum capacity of just 76 passengers, allows guests a truly intimate and special travel experience. Vantage will also debut its first small-ship ocean-going vessel, the m/s Ocean Explorer, in 2021, with tours available for sale now. Information is available at www.vantage.cruises. “We are so proud to once again be honored by Travel + Leisure for doing something that we truly love,” said Henry Lewis, CEO and founder of Vantage Deluxe World Travel. “We strive to create memorable experiences for each of our valued guests by providing unparalleled concierge-level service, dining, amenities and exclusive tours, all while traveling to some of the most breathtaking locations in the world.” In addition to myriad accommodation options, Vantage offers convenient complimentary extras including free deluxe bicycle use onboard European river cruises and Concierge service to help reserve on-the-ground activities like concert tickets and onboard events like birthdays and anniversaries. Cruise Directors and local guides enhance the experience, with insider knowledge of each city and village so no matter a traveler’s special interest, whether art, history, or wine, they can guide their discoveries each day. Onboard experiences at night include entertainment like musical acts and culinary demonstrations, and with just 134-176 passengers on each sailing, each is an immersive and fun memory. Each year, Travel + Leisure asks its readers to rate properties across the world in categories ranging from cities and hotels, to airlines, cruise ships and destination spas in this popular annual ranking. Vantage Deluxe World Travel outranked other river cruise lines across the globe. Of the 10 selected river cruise operators, Vantage ranked eighth with a score of 91.98. Vantage onboard amenities include: · Solaris deck with a walking and jogging track, including mini golf, large-scale chess, and morning yoga/stretching · Complimentary Wi-Fi onboard river ships · Fitness rooms with a treadmill, stationary bike, and free weights · Reading room with a selection of books and magazines · Housekeeping service twice daily with evening turndown · Beauty salon or spa · Luxurious hotel-style linens and L'Occitane de Provence amenities · Single-seating dining with a tempting menu of American and European favorites (vegetarian, gluten-free and heart-healthy dishes available) · Regional wines and beers included with onboard dinners · Early-riser breakfast available daily · Free coffee, tea & hot chocolate available 24 hours a day; cookies and snacks available every afternoon · Breakfast and lunch buffets available daily Each cabin features an outside-facing room, extensive in-room movie list and many US TV channels. Suites include butler service, floor-to-ceiling windows with French balconies, bathrooms with double sinks and bathtubs with Jacuzzis, a separate sitting area, hotel-style beds, complimentary mini-bar, laundry service and multiple flat-screen televisions. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  10. Photo: A rendering of the new m/s Ocean Explorer, Vantage’s first small-ship ocean-going vessel debuting in 2021, with tours available for sale now Boston, MA – August 13, 2019 – Vantage Deluxe World Travel, the region’s premier deluxe travel provider celebrating more than 35 years as a family-owned company, is pleased to announce that Travel + Leisure magazine has named it one of the top ten Best River Cruise Lines in its 24th annual World’s Best Awards. For more information about Vantage Deluxe Travel or to make reservations, please call 888-514-1845 or visit https://www.vantagetravel.com/ Vantage’s owned fleet of five- and six-star European river cruise vessels are specifically designed for American travelers to experience the best of the Old World’s waterways, with supplement-free solo cabins outfitted especially for single travelers—unique to the deluxe cruise industry. Convenient triple-occupancy accommodations are also offered in suites, all adding up to thousands of dollars in savings for the best experience at the best value. Vantage’s fleet continues to expand; in 2020, Vantage Deluxe World Travel will debut the m/s Nebu, the newest and most luxurious ship on the Nile with five incredible itineraries and four cabin categories, and with a maximum capacity of just 76 passengers, allows guests a truly intimate and special travel experience. Vantage will also debut its first small-ship ocean-going vessel, the m/s Ocean Explorer, in 2021, with tours available for sale now. Information is available at www.vantage.cruises. “We are so proud to once again be honored by Travel + Leisure for doing something that we truly love,” said Henry Lewis, CEO and founder of Vantage Deluxe World Travel. “We strive to create memorable experiences for each of our valued guests by providing unparalleled concierge-level service, dining, amenities and exclusive tours, all while traveling to some of the most breathtaking locations in the world.” In addition to myriad accommodation options, Vantage offers convenient complimentary extras including free deluxe bicycle use onboard European river cruises and Concierge service to help reserve on-the-ground activities like concert tickets and onboard events like birthdays and anniversaries. Cruise Directors and local guides enhance the experience, with insider knowledge of each city and village so no matter a traveler’s special interest, whether art, history, or wine, they can guide their discoveries each day. Onboard experiences at night include entertainment like musical acts and culinary demonstrations, and with just 134-176 passengers on each sailing, each is an immersive and fun memory. Each year, Travel + Leisure asks its readers to rate properties across the world in categories ranging from cities and hotels, to airlines, cruise ships and destination spas in this popular annual ranking. Vantage Deluxe World Travel outranked other river cruise lines across the globe. Of the 10 selected river cruise operators, Vantage ranked eighth with a score of 91.98. Vantage onboard amenities include: · Solaris deck with a walking and jogging track, including mini golf, large-scale chess, and morning yoga/stretching · Complimentary Wi-Fi onboard river ships · Fitness rooms with a treadmill, stationary bike, and free weights · Reading room with a selection of books and magazines · Housekeeping service twice daily with evening turndown · Beauty salon or spa · Luxurious hotel-style linens and L'Occitane de Provence amenities · Single-seating dining with a tempting menu of American and European favorites (vegetarian, gluten-free and heart-healthy dishes available) · Regional wines and beers included with onboard dinners · Early-riser breakfast available daily · Free coffee, tea & hot chocolate available 24 hours a day; cookies and snacks available every afternoon · Breakfast and lunch buffets available daily Each cabin features an outside-facing room, extensive in-room movie list and many US TV channels. Suites include butler service, floor-to-ceiling windows with French balconies, bathrooms with double sinks and bathtubs with Jacuzzis, a separate sitting area, hotel-style beds, complimentary mini-bar, laundry service and multiple flat-screen televisions. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  11. MIAMI, August 9, 2019 – One year from tomorrow, on August 10, 2020, Crystal Endeavor will embark on her maiden voyage from Tokyo. The groundbreaking vessel under Crystal Expedition Cruises will sail a remote and remarkable journey through the islands of Japan and the Russian Far East, marking the beginning of her inaugural season exploring the world’s farthest corners. In her 2020 season, the yacht will sail expedition voyages through Japan and the Russian Far East; Antarctica via the Ross Sea; New Zealand and Tasmania; Australia and the Great Barrier Reef; and Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines. In 2021, Crystal Endeavor will add New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands; Alaska and the Aleutian Islands; Norway and the United Kingdom; Canary Islands, Atlantic and South America to her repertoire, as well as an extraordinary voyage through the rarely traveled Northeast Passage. Guests sailing on her maiden voyage round-trip from Tokyo will enjoy an inclusive overnight pre-cruise stay. The voyage explores the island coastlines and volcanic landscapes of Japan, as well as the remote islands and forests of Russia’s Far East, including sailing along the Zhupanova River and Morzovaya Bay. On other voyages, travelers can visit iconic natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Mount Fuji; reflect on ancient heritage at Japan’s most sacred temples and shrines; trek among the treetops of Borneo’s rainforest observing the resident orangutans; and quest for penguin colonies on Antarctica’s expansive icy landscape. In May, Crystal announced that veteran explorer David Sinclair will serve as one of the expedition leaders for Crystal Endeavor’s most intrepid journeys. His decades of experience exploring the polar regions –skiing across Greenland, summitting the Arctic’s highest peaks and honing his skills as a naturalist and photographer – will bring the destinations and experiences to life for Crystal guests. Sinclair is also involved in building the team of expedition guides and experts on board and developing the shoreside excursions. For an exclusive interview with Sinclair and Crystal’s senior vice president and managing director of Australasia, visit the Crystal Insider blog. The German-built, 20,000-GRT Crystal Endeavor will accommodate just 200 guests with elegantly casual, expansive public spaces; all-suite, butler-serviced guest rooms; Michelin-inspired dining options including Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma & Sushi Bar; full-service Crystal Life Salon & Spa and state-of-the-art Fitness Center. Expedition-specific amenities and spaces will enhance guests’ experience, including designated “mud rooms” and helicopter lounge. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  12. MIAMI, August 9, 2019 – One year from tomorrow, on August 10, 2020, Crystal Endeavor will embark on her maiden voyage from Tokyo. The groundbreaking vessel under Crystal Expedition Cruises will sail a remote and remarkable journey through the islands of Japan and the Russian Far East, marking the beginning of her inaugural season exploring the world’s farthest corners. In her 2020 season, the yacht will sail expedition voyages through Japan and the Russian Far East; Antarctica via the Ross Sea; New Zealand and Tasmania; Australia and the Great Barrier Reef; and Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines. In 2021, Crystal Endeavor will add New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands; Alaska and the Aleutian Islands; Norway and the United Kingdom; Canary Islands, Atlantic and South America to her repertoire, as well as an extraordinary voyage through the rarely traveled Northeast Passage. Guests sailing on her maiden voyage round-trip from Tokyo will enjoy an inclusive overnight pre-cruise stay. The voyage explores the island coastlines and volcanic landscapes of Japan, as well as the remote islands and forests of Russia’s Far East, including sailing along the Zhupanova River and Morzovaya Bay. On other voyages, travelers can visit iconic natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Mount Fuji; reflect on ancient heritage at Japan’s most sacred temples and shrines; trek among the treetops of Borneo’s rainforest observing the resident orangutans; and quest for penguin colonies on Antarctica’s expansive icy landscape. In May, Crystal announced that veteran explorer David Sinclair will serve as one of the expedition leaders for Crystal Endeavor’s most intrepid journeys. His decades of experience exploring the polar regions –skiing across Greenland, summitting the Arctic’s highest peaks and honing his skills as a naturalist and photographer – will bring the destinations and experiences to life for Crystal guests. Sinclair is also involved in building the team of expedition guides and experts on board and developing the shoreside excursions. For an exclusive interview with Sinclair and Crystal’s senior vice president and managing director of Australasia, visit the Crystal Insider blog. The German-built, 20,000-GRT Crystal Endeavor will accommodate just 200 guests with elegantly casual, expansive public spaces; all-suite, butler-serviced guest rooms; Michelin-inspired dining options including Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma & Sushi Bar; full-service Crystal Life Salon & Spa and state-of-the-art Fitness Center. Expedition-specific amenities and spaces will enhance guests’ experience, including designated “mud rooms” and helicopter lounge. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  13. MIAMI (Aug. 5) – Continuing to help families make the most of their vacations, Carnival Cruise Line has updated its popular HUB App to include a comprehensive day-by-day schedule of onboard youth programming and activities with the ability to “like” favorites to receive reminders and updates. The leader in family cruising carrying more than 900,000 children each year, Carnival has created seemingly endless opportunities for kid-friendly fun from its three age-specific programs to a wide range of onboard activities and attractions. Now, as part of the app’s expanded capabilities and functionality, schedules and details for these options are available in one convenient and centralized area. Carnival’s age-specific youth programs featured on the app include: · Camp Ocean (ages 2-11) – ocean-inspired area with 400+ arts & crafts, games and educational activities; three age groups: Penguins (2-5), Sting Rays (6-8) and Sharks (9-11). · Circle “C” (ages 12-14) – colorful, vibrant teen space featuring active and video games, crafting activities and dance parties. · Club O2 (ages 15-17) – cool, high-tech hangout with theme nights, dance parties, movies, karaoke, and more. A variety of family-friendly programming is also highlighted within the app, including: Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea – kids make their own customized furry friend keepsake. Hasbro, The Game Show – family-oriented entertainment option including larger-than-life adaptations of the brand’s iconic games and activities. Outdoor Attractions – operating hours for WaterWorks aqua parks, SportSquare outdoor recreation area and other open-air spaces. Punchliner Comedy Club – early evening hilarious family-friendly comedy performances for guests of all ages. Seuss at Sea – fleetwide program featuring Green Eggs and Ham with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time, and other activities. Zumbini – high-energy early childhood music and movement class created by Zumba and BabyFirst combining singing, dancing and fun instruments; family classes offered on longer cruises for parent/child bonding. “Our guests continue to be engaged and excited by our award-winning youth programs, and the HUB App now helps parents keep up with all of the fun in one easy-to-navigate area to plan their perfect vacation. We expect this to be an extremely popular feature for families that want to maximize the fun,” said Melissa Wisecarver, director of youth experience for Carnival Cruise Line. “We’re always looking for ways to expand the capabilities of the HUB App and we’re delighted to provide parents and families with this comprehensive overview of our offerings right at their fingertips. We have a lot more in store for the HUB App,” said Alfredo Rojas, senior director of digital product and mobile for Carnival Cruise Line. Also new is a feature that allows parents to view a detailed, time-specific breakdown of activities and locations for Camp Ocean’s daily programming as well as check-in and check-out information and reminders. Launched in 2015, Carnival’s HUB App has become the leading app in the cruise industry with a 4.6+ rating in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and more than 6 million total downloads. HUB App is designed to make the Carnival vacation experience seamless and convenient from beginning to end, allowing guests to track daily happenings on board; view food, beverage and entertainment offerings; chat with family and friends; book shore excursions; and access their Sail & Sign account. The HUB App was recently expanded to allow guests to have pizza and beverages delivered anywhere on board. Further enhancements and innovations will continue to be rolled out in the coming months. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
  14. MIAMI (Aug. 5) – Continuing to help families make the most of their vacations, Carnival Cruise Line has updated its popular HUB App to include a comprehensive day-by-day schedule of onboard youth programming and activities with the ability to “like” favorites to receive reminders and updates. The leader in family cruising carrying more than 900,000 children each year, Carnival has created seemingly endless opportunities for kid-friendly fun from its three age-specific programs to a wide range of onboard activities and attractions. Now, as part of the app’s expanded capabilities and functionality, schedules and details for these options are available in one convenient and centralized area. Carnival’s age-specific youth programs featured on the app include: · Camp Ocean (ages 2-11) – ocean-inspired area with 400+ arts & crafts, games and educational activities; three age groups: Penguins (2-5), Sting Rays (6-8) and Sharks (9-11). · Circle “C” (ages 12-14) – colorful, vibrant teen space featuring active and video games, crafting activities and dance parties. · Club O2 (ages 15-17) – cool, high-tech hangout with theme nights, dance parties, movies, karaoke, and more. A variety of family-friendly programming is also highlighted within the app, including: Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea – kids make their own customized furry friend keepsake. Hasbro, The Game Show – family-oriented entertainment option including larger-than-life adaptations of the brand’s iconic games and activities. Outdoor Attractions – operating hours for WaterWorks aqua parks, SportSquare outdoor recreation area and other open-air spaces. Punchliner Comedy Club – early evening hilarious family-friendly comedy performances for guests of all ages. Seuss at Sea – fleetwide program featuring Green Eggs and Ham with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time, and other activities. Zumbini – high-energy early childhood music and movement class created by Zumba and BabyFirst combining singing, dancing and fun instruments; family classes offered on longer cruises for parent/child bonding. “Our guests continue to be engaged and excited by our award-winning youth programs, and the HUB App now helps parents keep up with all of the fun in one easy-to-navigate area to plan their perfect vacation. We expect this to be an extremely popular feature for families that want to maximize the fun,” said Melissa Wisecarver, director of youth experience for Carnival Cruise Line. “We’re always looking for ways to expand the capabilities of the HUB App and we’re delighted to provide parents and families with this comprehensive overview of our offerings right at their fingertips. We have a lot more in store for the HUB App,” said Alfredo Rojas, senior director of digital product and mobile for Carnival Cruise Line. Also new is a feature that allows parents to view a detailed, time-specific breakdown of activities and locations for Camp Ocean’s daily programming as well as check-in and check-out information and reminders. Launched in 2015, Carnival’s HUB App has become the leading app in the cruise industry with a 4.6+ rating in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and more than 6 million total downloads. HUB App is designed to make the Carnival vacation experience seamless and convenient from beginning to end, allowing guests to track daily happenings on board; view food, beverage and entertainment offerings; chat with family and friends; book shore excursions; and access their Sail & Sign account. The HUB App was recently expanded to allow guests to have pizza and beverages delivered anywhere on board. Further enhancements and innovations will continue to be rolled out in the coming months. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)
  15. Photo: Rendering of American Countess NEW ALBANY, IN, July 31, 2019 – American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a leader in U.S. river cruising, announces the opening of sales for the 2020 season of its fourth vessel, the American Countess. As the newest paddlewheeler on U.S. rivers, the American Countess is already showing record-breaking interest. While still under transformation, the boat will officially debut for her inaugural voyage on April 5, 2020 and will travel from New Orleans to Memphis. To explore upcoming sailings, please find the full schedule here. Built using the existing hull of the Kanesville Queen, a former gaming vessel built in 1995, the American Countess was cut in two as part of her planned lengthening, with the addition of a 60-foot mid-body section. The American Countess will offer many of the same exciting heartland and deep South itineraries as her sisters - the American Queen and American Duchess, and will be sailing from April 2020 to January 2021, with additional sailing seasons to be announced. “This opening of sales milestone is the next step towards her grand reveal in April 2020,” shared American Queen Steamboat Company EVP of Hotel Operations and New Construction David William Kelly. “On behalf of the entire AQSC team, we are thrilled to see the interest in her inaugural season, and we know that it will be nothing short of what you’ve come to expect and enjoy when sailing with our fleet.” Currently under construction, the American Countess will accommodate 245-passengers over the course of six- to 15-day itineraries, including her own “Mighty Mississippi” cruise. The new boat will feature four decks including a Sun Deck, and 123 comfortable, inviting staterooms in four categories. Guests aboard will enjoy cabins that feature a sleek, modern design, offering guests the perfect place to relax and recharge in between delicious dining, premier shore excursions, Broadway-caliber performances and more. The unveiling of the American Countess follows the recent addition of the M/V Victory I and M/V Victory II to the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet under the Victory Cruise Lines name, alongside the flagship American Queen, the American Duchess, a 166-guest boutique paddlewheeler sailing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the American Empress in the Pacific Northwest. For additional information and reservations on the American Countess, please contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit www.AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com or call a professional travel agent. (Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com) View full article
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