Carnival Victory Gets Several Popular Venues Installed

January 15, 2018.

Carnival Victory is in the midst of an extensive, multi-million-dollar dry dock that is adding what I call ‘the full treatment’ and what used to be called the Funship 2.0 upgrades.

The ship is currently in drydock at Freeport, The Bahamas, and is scheduled to complete the work on January 21.

The additions include:

• Guy’s Burger Joint:  The best burgers at sea, anywhere.  Trust me.  Guy’s is a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with chef and restaurateur Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture.

• New Accommodations: Several new cabin categories will be added to Carnival Victory, including 260-square-feet Scenic Ocean View staterooms and 320-square-foot Scenic Grand Ocean View accommodations as well as Captain’s Suites, spacious 820-square-foot cabins offer a large extended balcony, two full-size bathrooms, separate sleeping quarters and a large living room.

• RedFrog Rum Bar: Poolside bar offering the quintessential Caribbean  rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

• BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar: the second poolside bar offering Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers.

• Bonsai Sushi Express:  walkup window in the Lido Buffet area featuring an array of sushi, sashimi, California rolls, etc. (a la carte pricing)

• Re-Branded Deli: the ship’s deli has been completely renovated with an updated design and new menu offerings, including seven sandwiches such as meatball, buffalo chicken, and The Cubano, along with Southwest chicken, falafel and turkey wraps.

• Cherry on Top:  The shop with bins of bulk candy,  gifts, just-because novelties, colorful custom apparel and more.

Carnival Victory operates year-round three- and four-day cruises from PortMiami. Three-day cruises depart on Fridays and call at Nassau, while four-day voyages depart Mondays and visit Key West and Cozumel or Nassau and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay.

Azamara Unveils 3 New Land & Sea Packages In South America

January 12, 2018.

Azamara Club Cruises has announced three new Land and Sea packages in South America that explore bucket list destinations with the brand’s signature Destination Immersion cruise experiences.  These new packages include a Galapagos immersion with sister brand Celebrity Cruises.

All three locations – the Galapagos in Ecuador, Machu Picchu in Peru, and Iguaza Falls in Argentina and Brazil- are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while Machu Picchu is acknowledged as one of the New Wonders of the World.  For both first-time South America travelers and return visitors, these experiences provide guests a chance to fully connect with locals and discover the local heritage, art and culture.

The Galapagos:  In partnership with sister brand Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Pursuit guests are afforded a post cruise experience in the Galapagos. The 11 Night Colombia, Panama & Peru voyage takes travelers to experience the islands on a 10-Night Galapagos Inner Loop, all-inclusive package, on the 100-passenger Celebrity Xpedition.  Guests will explore two destinations per day with several options for activities on the island with all tours led by a certified Galapagos National Park naturalist.  As the Galapagos were deemed the “living laboratory of evolution” by Charles Darwin, guests will take in the pristine environment and unique wildlife first hand, enjoy the chance to swim with sea lions, walk along barren volcanic landscapes and snorkel with penguins.

Machu Picchu:  The five-night Machu Picchu package follows the footsteps of the ancient Incans and tells the story of Peru’s rich history through the eyes of local communities, ancient ruins and artists continuing the legacy of their ancestors. Guests will have the opportunity to visit with local Peruvian artists at both a ceramic and weaver’s workshop, to explore the Maras Salt Mines and to view the Huaypo Lagoon.  Visits to the religious site of Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Sun and Inca Bridge will take up the second half of the land stays that ends in Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire.

Iguazu Falls: The four-night Iguazu Falls experience will explore the most expansive waterfalls in the world through both the Argentinian and Brazilian perspective. Guests will embark on an exhilarating boat ride through the water formations, journey to the Jasy Pora Guarani Indigenous Village in the middle of the Yriapu rain forest and learn about the Guarani way of life that emphasizes a self-sustainable mindset.

Land and Sea packages can only be purchased through Azamara’s call center and can be added on to sailings already purchased.

Shaquille O’Neal Is Carnival’s New CFO (Chief Fun Officer)

January 12, 2018.

NBA Hall of Famer and TNT commentator Shaquille O’Neal – known by millions of fans as “Shaq” – announced on last night’s TNT  NBA Tipoff broadcast that he has been given a new title, joining Carnival Cruise Line as their newly appointed “CFO.”

The announcement was made with a tongue-in-cheek video that features Shaq and Carnival President Christine Duffy but omits one minor detail: CFO stands for “Chief Fun Officer,” personifying the cruise line’s newest brand campaign, “Choose Fun,” which launched earlier this week.

As the newly appointed “CFO,” O’Neal has partnered with the cruise line, lending his fun, larger-than-life personality and playful spirit to inspire America to Choose Fun with Carnival when planning their next vacation, and in their everyday lives.

Shaq’s role will be brought to life via engaging video content, social media and experiential activations, beginning today.

In the first piece of advertising that introduces Shaq as Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer, he takes viewers on a whirlwind 30-second tour of Carnival Vista, showing his playful self as he enjoys the ship’s many attractions and experiences, including SkyRide, Havana pool, Cloud 9 Spa, a burger at Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint and, of course, the basketball court.

“We are very excited to have Shaq as part of the Carnival team! He will serve as a great partner ensuring everyone knows all about our one-of-a-kind brand of fun,” said Duffy.  “We’re confident that his embodiment of our brand values will inspire America to Choose Fun and discover the authentic, participatory and social atmosphere that Carnival offers.”

“In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to choose fun, especially when everyone is busy with work, family, and life in general,” says O’Neal. “So, I’m honored to be appointed the Chief Fun Officer at Carnival – a company that lives and breathes fun.”

Carnival’s ‘Late Night’ Room Service Menu With Prices

January 12, 2018.

Earlier this week, Carnival announced it was going to start charging for room service between 10pm and 6am.  This morning, the new menu was posted on John Heald’s Facebook page.

Late Night Room Service Menu

 

For comparison, here is the ‘free’ room service menu for the rest of the day and evening.  Note that many items are on both menus.

Carnival Adds Fees For Late Night Room Service, Fun Shop Deliveries

January 10, 2018.

Carnival is beginning the new year with new fees for various services.

For most purchases made online from the Fun Shops, a new 15% delivery charge will be tacked on.  This includes things such as six-packs of soda, cookies, cakes, but apparently if you buy bottled water it will still be delivered to the cabin for free.

When it comes to room service there are two big changes.  As announced by Brand Ambassador John Heald on his Facebook page, Carnival will now be charging for late night room service.

From 10pm to 6am, room service will offer an expanded menu of fee-based  salads, sandwiches, and specialty items such as Greek Salad; Chicken Caesar Salad; Portabella & Veggie Bun; Grilled Cheese, Bacon and Tomato Sandwich; and Roast Turkey Wrap; as well as a selection of new desserts including Dark Chocolate Walnut Brownies; Doughnut Sandwich; and Banana Split. Prices for menu items will range from $2 to $6.

Also, Carnival is going to discontinue offering room service breakfast on debarkation morning.

 

Star Princess Renovation Completed

 

January 9, 2018.

 

Star Princess has returned to service following a two-week multi-million dollar renovation that added some of the latest Princess Cruises innovations and enhancements.

Resuming a season of 15-day Hawaiian Island cruises roundtrip from Los Angeles and Vancouver through April before summer cruising in Alaska, Star Princess guests will enjoy the following updates:

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria – this signature specialty restaurant now offers updated décor and a new menu developed in collaboration with Chef Angelo Auriana, Executive Chef and partner at the authentic Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen and Officine BRERA, in Los Angeles.  Inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavors the menu features handmade pasta dishes from Chef Auriana, as well as family recipes from Italian Princess executive chefs.

Princess Luxury Bed – available in every stateroom aboard Star Princess, the Princess Luxury Bed was developed by Princess Cruises in collaboration board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson. The bed offers the ultimate night of sleep at sea combining the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – for cruisers ages 3-17, Star Princess now offers a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications™, as part of the cruise line’s Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle.

Enhanced Boutiques – guests will enjoy aesthetic enhancements to the Shops of Princess, offering an upgraded shopping experience, such as a branded Effy Fine Jewelry boutique and a modern Fragrance & Cosmetic shop. There will also be new products to choose from such as a new collection of Princess and Under Armour branded athletic wear and Princess logo apparel featured in a newly designed Logo shop.

Lotus Spa & Fitness Center – in a space where guests can relax and invigorate, salon and treatments rooms have been upgraded and the latest in fitness equipment is now available.

Casino – for guests ready to take a gamble, reconfiguration of machines and tables, as well new carpet tempt them to roll the dice.

Other general refurnishing upgrades of carpet and upholstery are found throughout Star Princess.

 

Carnival Rolls Out The Barrel With 4 New Craft Beers

January 9, 2018.

Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

WILL DEBUT AT CARNIVAL HORIZON’S ONBOARD BREWERY IN APRIL 2018

Carnival Cruise Line has announced the names of the four craft beers that will be brewed aboard the new Carnival Horizon which is set to debut in Europe April 2, 2018.

The new brews were developed by Carnival’s expert brewmaster Colin Presby and will be offered at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse|Brewhouse, a new dining concept that combines the best of both worlds – an onboard brewery and a full-service restaurant featuring “real deal” BBQ favorites and sides developed by Food Network star Guy Fieri, a member of the American Royal National Barbecue Hall of Fame.

The announcement was made by Presby and Carnival Vice President of Beverage Operations Edward Allen at a traditional keg-tapping ceremony held aboard Carnival Vista, the first North American-based cruise ship to feature an onboard brewery.

At a Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, beer-tasting event aboard Carnival Vista at PortMiami, Carnival Cruise Line’s Vice President of Beverage Operations Edward Allen (left) and Brewmaster Colin Presby tap the ceremonial keg of a craft beer that will be featured in the Smokehouse Brewhouse restaurant aboard the new Carnival Horizon. (Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

The names of the beers – whose names are playful takes on the line’s popular ThirstyFrog brews that debuted on Carnival Vista – are inspired by the varied barbecue offerings at Smokehouse|Brewhouse.  The four new beers on Carnival Horizon will include:

  • ParchedPig Smoked Porter – brewed with in-house smoked malt, this robust, full-bodied beer offers big and bold flavors and notes of molasses and hickory smoke, providing the perfect complement to Smokehouse|Brewhouse’s BBQ favorites
  • ParchedPig Farmhouse Ale – this lightly hopped beer is distinguished by its blond color, fruity and complex character with mild spice notes that balance the brew’s dry finish
  • ParchedPig Toasted Amber Ale – highlighted by its rich amber color and notes of toasted caramel and biscuit, this beer is well balanced, smooth and highly drinkable
  • ParchedPig West Coast IPA – the embodiment of a traditional West Coast India Pale Ale, this hoppy, intense beer is loaded with bitterness with a bright flavor profile and distinctive aroma of citrus and pine

 

The brewery takes center stage at Smokehouse|Brewhouse, which, in addition to delicious craft beers and custom cocktails, will offer a rustic, down-home décor as well as a variety of Fieri-designed favorites, all smoked “low and slow” using the chef’s signature rubs and spices.  The tantalizing offerings include smoked-on-board brisket, Memphis-style back ribs, dry-rubbed chicken, pulled pork, and cedar-smoked salmon, along with the chef’s own take on traditional sides and his signature sauces.  Dinner menu items are offered on an a la carte basis with a free-of-charge self-service BBQ lunch buffet available on embarkation day and sea days.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from that port.  Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Following its summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Azamara Pursuit To Undergo Refit At Historic Belfast Shipyard

January 8, 2018.

Boutique cruise line Azamara Club Cruises announced today that its new ship, Azamara Pursuit, will undergo its transformation to be almost identical to sister ships Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey.  Azamara Pursuit will be refitted in the U.K. as it prepares to go into wet dock in Belfast in Spring 2018. The ship’s maiden voyage will begin in Southampton, England in August and visit eight destinations throughout Norway as part of its Destination Immersion® country-intensive series.

The refit will take place at the iconic Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland and be completed by one of the world’s top outfitting specialist MJM Group. Work will begin in Spring 2018 and will be completed by the end of July.

The maiden voyage will depart Southampton on August 1, 2018 and travel to eight Norwegian destinations, including Kristiansand, Flam and Haugesund, with overnight stays in Oslo and Bergen. Azamara Pursuit’s sister ship, Azamara Journey, will also be dock in Haugesund on the same day, marking their first meeting. Azamara Pursuit will then depart Southampton for an Iceland-intensive voyage on 13 August 2018, before a special christening voyage on 28 August 2018. The ship will then depart Southampton once more on 30 August 2018 for its 13 Night Wine & Romance Voyage.

Carnival Announces “Choose Fun” Brand Campaign

January 8, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line and its newly appointed ad agency of record, Anomaly, are launching a new brand campaign called “Choose Fun.”

After robust research on Carnival guests, Anomaly determined that the Carnival brand, guests, and crew all share the common belief that fun is a choice and whether on board or ashore, those vacationing with Carnival choose to be their truest self, embrace positivity and have fun with others.

With guests possessing their own definitions of fun, and Carnival offering an array of onboard attractions and experiences, Anomaly created a campaign to connect the same activities that vacationers enjoy on land with those offered on board on a one-to-one personalized level.  Driven by these consumer insights, Choose Fun is designed to attract those who have never cruised, but share the same values and passions.

The Choose Fun campaign launches with two distinctly different sets of advertising. First, longer-length testimonials depict first-time cruisers who were initially reluctant to set sail but were liberated on a Carnival cruise, making the vacation more fun and memorable for everyone. These testimonials are viewed in unexpected situations such as sliding down a water slide, posing for photos and even conversing with family members under water.   The three testimonials include:  “Excursions”, “Stacy Tracy” and “Insta-worthy”.

Additionally, six-second video snippets will be customized to match content on various websites and viewer preferences delivering the ultimate one-to-one marketing. Each pod showcases a fun activity aboard a Carnival ship including biking in the sky on SkyRide, getting a massage at the Cloud 9 Spa, performing at Lip Sync Battle, enjoying the Punchliner Comedy Club and feasting on burgers by Food Network star and Carnival partner Guy Fieri as well as fun activities ashore.

Choose Fun will come to life in digital display, paid social and modular online videos on platforms such as Amazon Video, Hulu, Roku and Vevo. The new advertising will also air on television in the Atlanta, Houston Dallas and LA markets during high profile events like the GRAMMY’s Red Carpet and NFL Playoff Games.

In these key regional markets, large and disruptive out of home placements will also showcase Carnival’s signature bold visual identity and uncommon text-only communications to break through the sea of sameness in the category.

 

Royal Caribbean Raises VOOM Internet Pricing

January 6, 2018.

Along with their recently announced increase for the automatic gratuities, Royal Caribbean has rung in the new year by increasing the on-board pricing for the much lauded VOOM internet plans.

The increase is $2 or $3 per device/per day depending on which level of service is purchased, and how many devices are included in the internet plan.  Before and after photos show the details.

2017 VOOM Price List

2017 VOOM Pricing

2018 VOOM Price List

2018 VOOM Pricing

Examples: Buying Surf + Stream for 2 devices for a 7-night cruise will cost $3 more per day/per device, or $42 more for the cruise.  For the “Best Value” 4 Device plan, you’ll shell out $84 more for that 7-night cruise.

Members of the Crown & Anchor Society get varying discounts for onboard purchase of VOOM, which mitigates some of the price increase.  Also, RCI often has sales of the VOOM plans online for purchase prior to the cruise, both as a stand alone purchase or bundled with the deluxe drink package for 1 device.