Princess Announces Next Three Ships To Receive ‘Ocean Medallion’

June 27, 2017.

Princess Cruises announced today that Golden Princess, Crown Princess and Ruby Princess will be the next three ships to feature the Ocean Medallion™.

Golden Princess (November 2018), Crown Princess (November 2018) and Ruby Princess (January 2019) join four other Princess ships scheduled to debut Ocean Medallion Vacations — Regal Princess on November 13, 2017, followed by Royal Princess on January 19, 2018, Caribbean Princess on March 18, 2018 and Island Princess on May 16, 2018.

The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action. The pre-cruise engagement will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so their onboard experience can be personalized.

Pairing with the Medallion is the Ocean Compass™ – a digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs, via guests’ own smart devices or through a crew member.

Some of the initial service innovations include:

  • Ocean Ready: Expedites embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.
  • Stateroom Access: The Ocean Medallion will unlock a guest’s stateroom door – replacing the key card.
  • Here & Now™: Guests can place food and beverage orders and have them delivered to select locations.
  • There & Then™: Guests can place select food and beverage orders and have them delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time.
  • Ocean Navigate: Accessed through the Ocean Compass, guests can learn the whereabouts of their family as they enjoy activities throughout the ship and be guided seamlessly in finding their way around the ship. Friends and family will also be able to easily communicate with each other through a seamless messaging service.

More information about O·C·E·A·N is available at ocean.com

Carnival Imagination Holding Month-Long ‘Spook-tacular’ Halloween

June 22, 2017.

Fans of Halloween should look closely at a cruise aboard Carnival Imagination this coming October.  While Carnival always shows its guests a great time on Halloween cruises, this year the festivities will be taken to another level on the ship, with a month-long spook-tacular with “extra scares” on the three- and four-day cruises from Long Beach, Calif.

From October 1-31, guests aboard Carnival Imagination will enjoy a host of fun Halloween-themed activities, everything from costume contests and dance parties to scary story times complete with s’mores and warm cider.   Other activities include Halloween parades, pumpkin-carving demonstrations, arts and crafts classes, and classic horror movies on the big screen.   It all culminates, of course, with trick-or-treating for kids and adults alike along the Promenade.

Carnival Imagination will be in full “haunted ship” mode with an elaborate “spooky tree” in the atrium and team members decked out in the scariest of costumes while leading Thriller dance classes, so get busy practicing your moonwalk!

Carnival Imagination now features many popular venues including Guy’s Burger Joint,  Alchemy Bar,  BlueIguana Cantina,  RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and the 312-foot-long Twister water slide.

Carnival Imagination departs Long Beach on Fridays on three-day cruises to Ensenada and Mondays on four-day voyages to Ensenada and Catalina Island.

Additional information on this year’s Halloween festivities aboard Carnival Imagination is available at https://www.carnival.com/halloween-month-carnival-imagination

In addition to the month-long festivities aboard Carnival Imagination, all Carnival Cruise Line ships will offer Halloween activities on and around October 31.

Princess Cruises Sip & Sail Cruise Promotion

June 20, 2017.

Sale Features Free All-Inclusive Beverage Package and Specialty Dining for Two

Princess Cruises is offering the Sip & Sail cruise promotion with free all-inclusive beverages, plus an early booking bonus offer of free specialty dining for mini-suite and suite bookings made before July 5, 2017. All six to 49 day cruises and cruisetours to destinations around the globe sailing Summer 2018 to Spring 2019 are included in the sale.

Guests booking balcony, mini-suite or suite categories will receive a free All-Inclusive Beverage Package for two people, plus reduced fares as well as free Unlimited Soda & More Packages for third and fourth guests.

The All-Inclusive Beverage Package includes any individual beverage item such as soda, juices, shakes and floats, bottled water, cocktails, spirits, wines, beers, specialty coffees and tea, up to $10 retail value, purchased at all bars, public lounges and dining venues. Additionally guests can enjoy discounts on bottles of wine purchased in the bars, dining room or in stateroom.

Guests can also book and receive these offers with a special reduced deposit of only $100 per person for first through fourth guests in a stateroom.

Note that guests not wanting the beverage package can opt for onboard credit instead.  Sailings of 6-9 days can receive $150 per guest. Guests booking sailings 10-12 days can receive $200 per guest. Guests booking sailings 13 or more days can receive $250 per guest. Mixing and matching the All-Inclusive Beverage Package and OBC is not allowed on the same booking. Both guest 1 & 2 must choose the same amenity.

Examples of Sip & Sail cruise deals include:

  • Alaska cruise — 7 days: $1,649 balcony stateroom; $1,899 mini-suite stateroom
  • Alaska cruisetour — 11 nights: $2,649 balcony stateroom; $2,949 mini-suite stateroom
  • Caribbean cruise — 7 days: $1,399 balcony stateroom; $1,699 mini-suite stateroom
  • Mexico & California Coast cruise — 7 days: $999 balcony stateroom; $1,249 mini-suite stateroom
  • British Isles cruise — 12 days: $2,949 balcony stateroom; $3,449 mini-suite stateroom
  • Majestic Grand Asia cruise —14 days: $2,599 balcony stateroom; $2,999 mini-suite stateroom

More information about the Sip & Sail cruise sale is available at princess.com/cruisedeals.

All prices are per person based on double occupancy. The “Sip & Sail” cruise deal runs from 12:00 a.m. PDT on June 20, 2017 through 11:59 p.m. PDT on August 31, 2017 and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Bermuda.

 

Royal Caribbean Invites You To A First-Of-Its-Kind Snapchat Experience

June 19, 2017.

Royal Caribbean invites the world to experience a first-of-its-kind underwater adventure through the lens of Snapchat Spectacles. From June 21 to June 25, Royal Caribbean’s Snapchat channel will immerse viewers in a one of-a-kind underwater adventure thanks to a custom-designed scuba mask dubbed “SeaSeekers.” The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life. Fans can #SeekDeeper by following @RoyalCaribbean on Snapchat.

“The SeaSeeker will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer and SVP of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travelers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeeker mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to. We’ve even taken the added step of applying for a patent for the SeaSeeker mask so that we can bring it to our guests exclusively.”

The three dives will feature underwater adventures seen through the eyes of three well-known divers:

  • Mexico marine wildlife photographer and conservationist Roberto Ochoa will give viewers a rare glimpse into the annual migration of Whale Sharks in Cozumel.
  • Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava and co-founder of the organization Oceanus, A.C. based in Mexico, will then take viewers to see a coral reef restoration project where she and her team have been working to restore the local reefs.
  • In Belize, fans can follow along as free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that is believed to be the largest of its kind. 

Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s Snapchat channel or by searching on other social platforms by using #SeekDeeper.

Trump Administration Tightens Up On Cuba – How Does It Affect Cruises?

June 16, 2017.

I just listened to President Trump’s speech regarding U.S. policy with Cuba.  He said he was cancelling the Obama Administration’s ‘bad deal’ during a speech filled with tough words about the Castro regime. Of course much of the passionate speech was for the benefit of the crowd,  which was mostly Cuban-Americans who have borne a heavy human and financial burden in many cases, and who also helped deliver Florida to Trump in the election.  But it also was a clear message to the Cuban government.

The speech didn’t provide any specifics on how travel will be affected. Many of the details were already provided to the media Thursday, and the new rules still have to be written and approved.  The federal agencies have 90 days to do that, so cruises in the near term should not see any changes.

The Cuba FAQ on the U.S. Treasury website indicate that there will be no immediate changes for U.S. citizens, and in fact if they have booked part of a Cuba trip prior to today, they will be covered by existing rules and not the new ones if their trip occurs after the new rules take effect.

Now It’s Cuba’s Turn

The one thing few are talking about is how will Cuba respond?  I have to say that the rhetoric used by the President was not exactly cordial and I doubt the Cuban government was smiling after hearing it.  But will they respond in kind?  That remains to be seen.

As it exists now, cruise passengers can self-certify that they did legal things while in Cuba from a list of 12 approved activities.  They don’t need to take an organized tour through the cruise line or with a tour operator. However, going forward that could change.  The Trump Administration wants to end individual travel to Cuba that is not tightly controlled, and that could very well cause the cruise lines to require all guests to have an approved tour of the minimum legal length (5 to 8 hours per day depending on how long the ship is in port), or they won’t be allowed off the ship.  Guests may have to start keeping a log of their shore activities, keep tour documentation and be prepared for a more in-depth interview by Customs upon their return to the U.S.  Currently, Customs has been treating visitors to Cuba no different than those going to other Caribbean nations.  The Treasury Department could audit the records of any U.S. citizen who visits Cuba, and they have 5 years in which to do it so visitors will need to keep all their records for that period of time.  That rule exists now and won’t be new.

We’ll be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Senior Officers Named for Carnival Horizon

June 13, 2017.

133,500-ton Ship Set to Debut in Europe April 2018

Carnival Cruise Line has announced the appointment of the senior officers for its newest ship, the 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon, which is currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy and set to debut in spring 2018.

Carnival Horizon’s senior officers will include:

  • Captain Luigi De Angelis – A 22-year veteran of Carnival Cruise Line, De Angelis joined the company as a deck cadet aboard the Carnival Imagination in 1995 and was named captain in 2010. During his Carnival career, De Angelis has been part of the start-up teams of five ships and most recently served as master of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Vista, during its inaugural season in Miami.

  • Chief Engineer Rosario Capilli – Capilli joined Carnival in 1990 following a career in the tanker and cargo industries in his native Italy. He was named chief engineer in 2002 and has served in this capacity on a number of Carnival ships, including Carnival Vista during its inaugural season. During his 27-year Carnival career, Capilli has served on the start-up teams for three Carnival ships.

 

  • Hotel Director Pierre B. Camilleri – Now in his 13th year with Carnival, Camilleri joined the company as hotel director after managing hotel and resort properties in his native Malta, as well as North Africa, Italy and China. He has served as hotel director on several Carnival ships and traveled to Italy to be a part of the inaugural teams for the line’s two most recent newbuilds – Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista.

 

These talented professionals will lead a team of nearly 1,400 dedicated employees who will travel to Marghera, Italy, to prepare the ship for its April 2, 2018 maiden voyage – a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona.

Carnival Horizon will also operate two seven-day Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona departing April 15 and 22, 2018, and a 10-day Mediterranean cruise departing April 29, 2018, before repositioning to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Carnival Horizon will then operate a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple before shifting to Miami to launch year-round 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.

Carnival Horizon will offer a wide range of onboard activities, including the popular bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre, and a vast array of dining choices, including the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and Ji Ji Asian Kitchen.  Carnival Horizon will also be the first ship to feature a colorful Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks park – part of an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

Pacific Princess Emerges from Drydock with Modern Touches

June 9, 2017.

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After a two-week, multi-million-dollar renovation, Pacific Princess returned to service today in Ft. Lauderdale with new modern colors, patterns and textures, while still keeping the small ship essence and traditional architecture revered by Princess Cruises guests.

Guests will now experience several new enhancements with the addition of the new livery hull design featuring the cruise line’s iconic brand mark; 700 Princess Luxury Beds and 336 refreshed staterooms including the new Club Class Mini-Suites; four refurbished dining venues; an updated Atrium and pool deck; and 178,000 square feet of new carpet. The Princess Luxury Beds and Club Class Mini-Suites add to the cruise line’s previously announced “Come Back New Promise,” a multi-year, multi-million-dollar program introducing new product innovations that offer guests enriching vacation experiences.

Elegant Welcome

Upon boarding Pacific Princess, guests walk into a modernized, yet familiar, welcoming Atrium. This area, as well the overall ship style, maintains the existing classical Beaux-Arts dark, rich, architectural millwork, ornamentation, vaulted stained glass ceiling and spectacular grand staircase. In contrast, guests will experience modern styling with warm, light tonal elements and that take their cue from the sophisticated uptown luxury hotels lining Central Park in New York City.

Renovated Dining Venues

The four dining areas now offer a range of intimate to expanded gathering spaces, including:

  • Sterling Steakhouse – this traditional steakhouse offers décor reminiscent of the infamous Rush Street Steakhouses of Chicago and the golden era of the Hollywood Brown Derby. Diners are surrounded by silky drapery, comfortable upholstered arm chairs and black and white photographs of movie stars, both classic and contemporary, for guests of all ages to enjoy.
  • Sabatini’s Restaurant – drawing inspiration from Sabatini’s authentic heritage, the beloved specialty restaurant is updated with modern Italian-designed furnishings, freshly painted walls and ceiling, new carpet, reupholstered chairs, refreshed draperies and a new lounge area in front of the restaurant.
  • The Club Restaurant – the main dining room enhancements were inspired by the fashionable district and hotels of Central London with classic architectural millwork surrounding the rhythmic pattern of Palladium arched windows, softened by contemporary draperies, overlooking the ocean. The room’s rich, dark woods are contrasted with a warm and inviting light palette highlighted with fresh, vibrant, jewel-tones within the modern furnishings, updated carpets, draperies and upholstered arm chairs.
  • The Panorama Buffet – also receiving a complete makeover, the room invites guests in with new carpeting, fresh paint, new tilework, updated furniture, draperies and awnings. The dining room opens up to the outdoor deck, alfresco dining area with spectacular views overlooking exotic ports of call.

Modernized Pool Deck

The heart of the ship is transformed into a cool garden-like atmosphere, inspired by the swanky Art Deco boutique hotels of South Beach. With new tiles, refinished teak woods, lounge furniture including double bed loungers and casual seating groups of outdoor living sofas, lounge chairs and pool chaises for guests to relax, unwind and soak up the sun.

Enhanced Luxurious Staterooms

All guests can delight in the ultimate sleep at sea in the Princess Luxury Bed, as Pacific Princess has 700 new beds and plush linens. Developed in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson, the bed combines the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design. In addition, the 10 luxury guest suites and all staterooms have been updated with new plush light-colored carpet, fully upholstered headboards, modern style draperies and decorative lamps and wall sconces with USB ports incorporated into the fixtures for guest convenience. The suites also will have new contemporary furniture including a sleeper sofa, dining room table and chairs, lounge chairs and desks.

New Club Class Mini-Suites

Pacific Princess now offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with first priority in choosing their preferred seating and expanded menu options and priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Pacific Princess departed from Ft. Lauderdale on an 18-day Fire & Ice Explorer cruise to London. The ship will sail various European itineraries through December, before departing on a 111-day World Cruise from Los Angeles on January 20, 2018.

Carnival LIVE Bringing Chris Tucker Back For Two Shows

June 9, 2017.

Shipboard Performances to Take Place Aboard Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty While Ships are Docked in Nassau

Back by popular demand, comedian Chris Tucker has signed on for two shows aboard Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty this fall as part of the Carnival LIVE Concert Series.

Carnival LIVE brings the best in live music and comedy to the seas and provides guests an opportunity to enjoy performances in an intimate venue by major artists at a tremendous value.  Performances are held in the ships’ main theaters – ranging in guest capacity from 900 to 1,300 – meaning there’s never a bad seat in the house.  I’ve been on several Carnival LIVE cruises and the shows were all fabulous.  They truly are special cruises that you’ll never forget.

Famous for his starring role in the blockbuster Rush Hour movie series, Tucker will do two shows – one aboard Carnival Breeze Sept. 21 and another Carnival Liberty Sept. 22 while the ships are docked in Nassau.

After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream, Tucker was a staple on the Def Comedy Jam series before breaking into movies and continuing his legendary stand-up comedy career.  Most recently, he starred in a self-titled comedy show, Chris Tucker – Live, on Netflix.

Carnival LIVE tickets for Chris Tucker range are $30 for general admission, significantly less than land-based venues.  VIP tickets are available for $100 and include seating in the first few rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.

Additional Carnival LIVE acts are expected to be announced in the coming months.

A full listing of all Carnival LIVE performances is available at www.carnival.com/CarnivalLIVE.

Cunard Completes $40 Million Refurb of Queen Victoria

June 9, 2017.

Cunard’s Queen Victoria made her return to Southampton yesterday, showing off an array of new features following an extensive $40 million refurbishment. First-look photography was released today.

Exquisite interior design takes center stage in the new Britannia Club Restaurant and continues within the 43 new Britannia Club staterooms. Further enhancements on board include refined and redesigned Grand and Penthouse Suites, as well as a new sun deck and an enhanced Winter Garden.  Every stateroom has been refreshed, including the installation of large flat screen TVs and much requested tea and coffee brewing set ups.

AFT LIDO SUN DECK: This lounge space has been extended to provide guests with additional deck space and access to the rays from sunrise to sunset. Windbreakers and additional sun loungers and luxury cabanas have also been introduced to accommodate sunseekers on board, while the shaded area has been extended for those looking to dine al fresco. Full beverage service is also available throughout the day and into the evening to enjoy alongside live entertainment.

WINTER GARDEN: A beautiful room for relaxation located in the heart of deck 9. Guests can sip their favorite beverage on the elegant lounge furniture while looking out through the floor to ceiling windows at the view. In addition, the comfort and décor has been further refined, with a statement floor and glass canopy.

BRITANNIA CLUB STATEROOMS: In a prime mid-ship location on decks 7 and 8, all staterooms have been upgraded and refreshed with newly-designed carpets featuring a contemporary geometric design as well as the addition of new soft furnishings. New flat screen TVs and, by popular request, tea and coffee making facilities, have also been added to upgrade the stateroom experience even further. The additional 43 balcony staterooms will be further enhanced with premium balconies and a nine-pillow concierge menu to ensure maximum comfort for guests on board.

BRITANNIA CLUB DINING: The new Britannia Club restaurant has gone through a full interior re-design and will offer guests the flexibility to dine whenever they choose. Located in the space of the former Chart Room, the new restaurant resides alongside the main Britannia restaurant on Deck 2.

PENTHOUSE SUITES: Five of Queen Victoria’s elegant Penthouse Suites have been completely redesigned to maximize space and luxury, and raise the quality of guests’ experience even further. The new suites feature floor to ceiling windows and doors, private balcony with stunning sea views, additional storage space and beautiful bathrooms with luxurious whirlpool baths. With butlers and concierge on hand to take care of every need, the luxurious suites are among the finest accommodation available at sea.

GRAND SUITES: The Aquitania, Berengaria, Mauretania and Laconia Suites have been redesigned to maximize space, with similar square footage to those on Queen Elizabeth at approximately 1,436 sq.ft. Mirroring a luxurious residential apartment, refreshed designs include floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, a separate snug room with TV, beautiful lounge, master bathroom with sea views and dual aspect balcony, as well as a second bathroom and walk-in wardrobe, providing guests with supreme luxury and comfort whilst on board.

CHART ROOM: A new concept introduced as part of the Queen Victoria refit, the Chart Room is located just off the Grand Lobby and will provide guests with illy coffee, Godiva chocolate treats and light bites by day, before transforming into a cocktail lounge by night.

Symphony Of The Seas Floated Out of Drydock

June 9, 2017.

The newest member of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis class of ships, Symphony of the Seas, is now one step closer to full completion as her April 2018 debut approaches.  With the exterior now complete, Symphony of the Seas was floated out of dry dock to begin the next phase of interior construction.

Symphony of the Seas will spend her inaugural summer season in the Mediterranean calling on ports in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy.  The ship will then arrive to Miami in early November 2018 to begin 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Just as each of her sisters did in small increments, Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, offering 28 more staterooms than Harmony of the Seas and encompassing 230,000 gross registered tons.

Along with new features and amenities for guests, Symphony also will boast all the innovations and experiences of Harmony of the Seas.  Among these are the seven-neighborhood concept, a vast array of dining options, Bionic Bar robot bartenders powered by Makr Shakr, Broadway-caliber entertainment, the iconic waterfront AquaTheater, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, and Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea.