Cuba Cruises On Norwegian Sun Open For Booking

July 26, 2017.

Norwegian Cruise Line today opened 2018 cruises to Cuba aboard Norwegian Sun, which will homeport in Port Canaveral starting in May 2018, following a dry dock enhancement. Norwegian Sun’s new all-inclusive four-day cruises to Cuba will depart Port Canaveral each Monday, beginning May 7, 2018, and feature a call on Key West, Florida on Tuesdays, followed by an early morning arrival to Cuba’s capital city of Havana on Wednesday, allowing guests the opportunity to experience a full day and night of exploration.

The Norwegian Sun cruises to Cuba will provide guests with cultural immersion during OFAC-compliant* shore excursions.

Just prior to her arrival in Port Canaveral, Norwegian Sun will undergo a two-and-a-half week dry dock in April 2018 as a part of the Norwegian Edge™, the brand’s revitalization program encompassing the entire guest experience. Norwegian Sun accommodates 1,936 guests, with 16 dining options, and 12 bars and lounges. All guests sailing aboard one of Norwegian Sun’s Cuba or Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages included in their cruise fare as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program.

For a limited time, guests can take advantage of Norwegian’s Havana Nights offer and enjoy $50 in free onboard spending money** when they book a new cruise now through August 31 for 2017 and 2018 Cuba sailings. Those who act fast and take advantage of Norwegian’s Havana Nights can also enjoy $50 deposits*** now through August 7.

*Norwegian Cruise Line is currently authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer carrier services to authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba under the travel guidelines for US citizen travel to Cuba. Norwegian Cruise Line will continue to work with the administrations in both Cuba and the US to comply with any policy changes and regulations so that the brand may provide guests with educational and culturally rich experiences in Cuba, with all sailings subject to potential changes due to governmental relations.

** Offer not applicable to categories IX, OX, BX, or, MX.

*** (Suite categories are not applicable for this offer. Offer is only applicable for mini-suites and below. Offer available for new bookings made more than 90 days from sail date.

 

Carnival Fantasy Hosts ‘Seuss-A-Palooza’ For YMCA Of South Alabama

 

July 24, 2017.

It’s always a delight to post news about Alabama’s favorite cruise ship, and “my” homeport of Mobile.

Carnival Cruise Line today celebrated its partnership with the Port of Mobile and greater Mobile community by hosting a Seuss-a-Palooza event for kids attending the YMCA of South Alabama Summer Camp program. The event aboard Carnival Fantasy, which is homeported year-round in Mobile, was highlighted by a Green Eggs and Ham brunch with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, a Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time and Parade and other Dr. Seuss–inspired activities that are featured on Carnival cruises.

During the event, Carnival made a $20,000 donation to the YMCA of South Alabama, reinforcing the cruise line’s commitment to supporting its homeport communities.

Carnival Fantasy sails from Mobile on four- to 10-day cruises to destinations across The Bahamas, eastern and western Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. The ship carries approximately 170,000 guests a year from Mobile.

“The event today was a terrific opportunity to celebrate our long-standing relationship with the Port of Mobile and demonstrate that we’re proud to be community partners,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “The partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises is unique to Carnival and we were happy to share this fun experience with such a great group of kids from the Mobile area.”

Today’s festivities are part of Seuss at Sea, Carnival’s exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises that features fleetwide activities like the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, the Seuss-a-Palooza Parade and Story Time, Dr. Seuss Bookville, a family reading venue on select ships, character interactions, Dr. Seuss toys and games, and popular movies shown on board.

 

Norwegian Garners Several Beverage Awards & Accolades

July 20, 2017.

Following Norwegian Escape’s Head Mixologist Marc McArthur’s win at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year semifinals competition on June 20, Norwegian Cruise Line is once again in the spotlight for its outstanding onboard beverage program. Led by Wesley Cort, Senior Director of Restaurant and Beverage Operations, and Luis Ortega, Manager of Beverage Operations Development, Norwegian’s beverage team is celebrating the recognition stemming from several honors received in the first half of 2017.

2017 Diageo WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year Semi-Finals

On June 20, Marc McArthur, head mixologist aboard Norwegian Escape, took home the gold in the semi-finalist round of the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year competition and was awarded the title of Diageo Global Travel’s Best Bartender in the cruise industry division.

In the competition’s Mystery Box Challenge, the bartenders were asked to create cocktails using several secret ingredients, provided just 15 minutes prior to the challenge. McArthur served up two concoctions, pulling inspiration from legendary public figures – Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. For his first drink, inspired by Nelson Mandela, McArthur combined Zacapa Rum, passion fruit, peanut butter, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth and cardamom. His second cocktail evoked the distinctively elegant spirit of Princess Diana with Matcha-infused Tanqueray 10, fresh lemon, simple syrup, gooseberries and pink peppercorn.

In the Cocktails Against the Clock Challenge, the bartenders were asked to create as many unique cocktails as they could in just five minutes. McArthur bested the competition, meticulously executing six incredible signature cocktails – Zacapa Mai Tai, Winter Old Fashioned, Sherry Martini, Marilyn Monroe, Smoke n’ Fire and the Traquila – serving up his final cocktail just before time ran out.

McArthur will now continue on to represent Norwegian at the WORLD CLASS global finals event in Mexico City on August 20. He will compete against 56 top bartenders from around the world for the coveted title of WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2017.

2017 BACARDI® Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year

Earlier this year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Wade Cleophas bested competition from more than 2500 entries across 13 different cruise lines to win the title of 2017 BACARDÍ® Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year. The finals took place in Miami on February 13 in a live competition judged by a panel of experts from the beverage industry, held at award-winning restaurant Alter in Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood.

Wade’s winning creation – the ‘Legend Reviver’ – was inspired by classic cocktails with spices reminiscent of exotic destinations. The cocktail, featuring BACARDÍ® OCHO (8) ANOS, was mixed with star anise infused sweet vermouth, caramel/cinnamon syrup with drops of whisky barrel aged bitters and finished with a mist of Absinthe.  His perfectly presented cocktail was artistically finished off with a garnish resembling the sails of a merchant ship and the wings of the BACARDÍ bat. A key element of the competition was the requirement for finalists to promote their cocktail around the world.  In the three months that Wade was promoting Legend River Reviver, Norwegian sold almost 2000 servings of the specialty drink.

 

2017 Vista Awards Best Beer and Wine Programs

Rounding out Norwegian Cruise Line’s beverage kudos for the first half of 2017, the line was recognized as having the Best Beer Program and the Best Wine Program out of all hotels, cruise lines and casinos at the 2017 Vista Awards, held on Tuesday, February 28 during the VIBE Conference, the premiere on-premise beverage conference for beverage executives. Norwegian was the only cruise line honored at the awards.

VIBE Vista Awards recognize the top performers in the beverage industry through the creation, training, execution, management and ongoing positive results of beverage programs. Entries were reviewed by a panel of Johnson & Wales University beverage faculty, staff and alumni and were judged on positive beverage sales initiatives, efficient operational innovations and training and service programs producing high quality standards.

 

Norwegian Announces 2017-2018 ‘Meet The Winemaker’ Cruises

 

July 13, 2017.

On select cruises, guests can partake in a variety of enriching onboard experiences with famed winemakers and industry experts including Michael Mondavi, Aaron Sanchez, Gerard Bertrand and Salvatore Ferragamo

 

Calling all wine aficionados!  Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the 2017/18 Meet The Winemaker Cruises, a selection of cruises aboard Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Dawn during which guests will have the opportunity to wine and dine with leaders and legends of the winemaking industry.

The full series was revealed during the first Winemaker Dinner cruise of the season, held this week on Norwegian Escape and featuring Antonio Hidalgo, President of Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana. Hidalgo represents the 8th generation of the sherry winery, family owned and operated since 1792. Norwegian’s Winemaker Dinner series is hosted at the line’s popular wine venue The Cellars, a Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, and is in celebration of Norwegian’s successful ongoing partnership with the family and other valued beverage partners, including Moët Hennessy.

In 2015, the Michael Mondavi Family partnered with Norwegian to introduce the line’s first branded wine bar aboard Norwegian Escape – The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar – boasting a curated wine list and service provided by a Court of Master Sommeliers certified Sommelier.

The venue invites guests to participate in a variety of interactive, fun and educational wine activities including seminars, tastings, pairings and workshops. This partnership was further expanded upon when The Cellars opened aboard Norwegian Dawn in 2016 after ship-wide enhancements. Mondavi is recognized as one of the global emissaries of California wine and is widely credited with helping to establish and build the Napa Valley wine industry as we know it. The newly-announced series of sailings evolves from the popular and well-received visits Mondavi has made to Norwegian Escape in celebration of the partnership.

Guests aboard these select sailings will have several opportunities to engage with the wine makers and experts, enhancing their onboard experience with a variety of enriching seminars and activities. On the second day of each cruise, guests will have the chance to dive into the seasoned minds of the visiting experts with an open-forum question and answer session, held in the Atrium of the ship. Following the open forum, guests will have the chance to purchase featured wines selected by the wine makers and varietals from the ship’s wine list, meet the expert and have him sign the bottle to take home as a memento. The open forum and personal meet and greet are complimentary and open to all guests.

For a more intimate experience, guests can attend an interactive, hands-on wine tasting and educational seminar hosted by the vintner in The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. The vintner will take the guests on a tour of the winemaking world and the elements that complement it, providing tailored insight into their specific area of expertise. The tastings will feature wines hand-picked by the expert and brought on board for the seminar. Pricing for the tastings will be $19.95 per person.

Guests seeking an unforgettable gourmet experience can attend an exclusive wine dinner, hosted by the vintner or industry expert. They will be treated to a truly special event, consisting of five courses paired with wine specifically chosen for each course. The cost of the dinner with wine pairings is $59.95 per person. Seating is limited for both the tasting seminars and wine pairing dinner and reservations will only be available on board the ship.  The full lineup of the 2017/18 Meet The Winemaker series includes:

  • September 22, 2017 – Norwegian Dawn: Michael Mondavi, founder of the Michael Mondavi Family Estate, co-founder of Folio Fine Wine Partners and co-founder of The Cellars – A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. Mondavi represents the third generation representative of the prestigious family of wineries in Napa Valley.
  • November 4, 2017 – Norwegian Escape: Bill Whiting, Director of Wine Education at Banfi Vintners. As the grandson of John F. Mariani Sr., founder of Banfi Vintners, Whiting carries on the tradition of the award-winning Castello Banfi estate, founded in 1919 in the Brunello region of Tuscany.
  • December 2, 2017 – Norwegian Escape: Aarón Sánchez. Famed TV Chef and James Beard award winner, Aarón Sánchez is the official ambassador and spokesperson for Terrazas de los Andes wines and is considered one of the world’s leading contemporary Latin chefs.
  • February 17, 2018 – Norwegian Escape: Gerard Bertrand, renowned vintner of Languedoc-Roussillon. Bertrand, a legendary expert in the winemaking industry, boasts 20 years of experience and a breadth of awards and accolades.
  • March 2018, Norwegian Escape: Salvatore Ferragamo, heir of famed Italian fashion house and owner at Il Borro Winery in Tuscany, Italy. Salvatore, whose father Ferruccio, bought the beautiful Il Borro Estate in 1993, has replanted the family’s vineyard and has been releasing delicious Tuscan wines since 1999. (Specific date for this cruise was not provided by the cruise line)

 

Norwegian Cruise Line Updates 2018 Summer Deployments for Alaska and Caribbean

 

July 10, 2017.

Norwegian Sun to be second Norwegian ship to offer all-inclusive cruises to both Cuba and the Bahamas from Port Canaveral and Norwegian Jewel will cruise Alaska in the summer 2018 season

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced updates to the their summer 2018 deployment.

Norwegian Sun will reposition to Port Canaveral and offer all-inclusive four day cruises to Havana and Key West, and three-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Jewel will sail to Alaska in summer 2018, doing 7 and 9 day sailings from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver.

Following her fall/winter season in South America and a dry dock enhancement, Norwegian Sun will spend her summer 2018 season sailing all-inclusive cruises from Port Canaveral, offering four-day itineraries that call on Key West and Havana, Cuba, along with three-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Sun accommodates 1,936 guests, with 16 dining options and 12 bars and lounges.

All guests sailing aboard one of Norwegian Sun’s Cuba or Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages included in their cruise fare as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program. Norwegian Sun’s new itineraries include the following:

  • Norwegian Sun will undergo a two-and-a-half week dry dock in Victoria, British Columbia as a part of the Norwegian Edge™, the brand’s revitalization program, and re-enter service on April 19, 2018 where she will begin her journey to the east coast with a 17-day Panama Canal cruise departing from Seattle.
  • Norwegian Sun’s four-day cruises to Cuba will depart Port Canaveral each Monday, beginning May 7, 2018, and feature a call on Key West, Florida and an overnight stay in Havana, returning to Port Canaveral each Friday. Norwegian Sun will transport guests to the heart of the action in both Key West and Havana.  Norwegian Sun will offer guests the opportunity to experience the culture and history of Cuba during OFAC-compliant* shore excursions.
  • Norwegian Sun’s three-day cruises to the Bahamas will feature calls in Nassau** and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s popular private island beach paradise that was recently enhanced with new food and beverage outlets, expanded Cabanas for daily rental and a new underwater snorkeling garden.

Following her winter 2017/2018 season sailing in Australia and Asia, Norwegian Jewel will sail from Tokyo (Yokohama) to Seattle and will replace Norwegian Sun as Norwegian’s third ship sailing in Alaska in summer 2018.

  • Beginning May 26, 2018, Norwegian Jewel will reposition from Seattle to Vancouver with a nine-day Alaska cruise.  This scenic itinerary will visit  Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan.
  • Norwegian Jewel will sail a seven-day roundtrip cruise from Vancouver to Alaska departing on June 4, 2018 with calls on Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
  • Beginning June 11, 2018 from Vancouver, Norwegian will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to enjoy alternating embarkation ports in Vancouver and Seward. From Vancouver, Norwegian Jewel will sail seven-day Glacier Bay cruises calling on Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and disembarking in Seward. From Seward, Norwegian Jewel will feature seven-day Inside Passage Alaska cruises calling on Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and disembarking in Vancouver. Both itineraries will include a sail past the breathtaking Hubbard Glacier.

*Norwegian Cruise Line is currently authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer carrier services to authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba under the travel guidelines for US citizen travel to Cuba. Norwegian Cruise Line will continue to work with the administrations in both Cuba and the US to comply with any policy changes and regulations so that the brand may provide guests with educational and culturally rich experiences in Cuba, with all sailings subject to potential changes due to governmental relations.

** Selected dates to include calls on Freeport and Great Stirrup Cay. 

Carnival Delivers “Thank You Burgers” To Troops In 1st Social Media Powered Barbecue

 

 July 5, 2017.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 05: (L-R) Operation Homefront President and CEO John Pray, Carnival Vista Godmother and former Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Carnival Cruise Lines Chief Maritime Officer William Burke and Carnival Cruise Lines Director of Entertainment Butch Begovich attend Carnival Cruise Line’s First Ever Socially Powered BBQ at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on July 5, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Carnival Cruise Line)

(Editor’s Note:  As a former Marine “airdale” I was extremely proud that Carnival chose MCAS Miramar for this celebration.  Ooh Rah!)

Carnival Cruise Line, which carries more active and retired military personnel than any other cruise operator, joined forces with Operation Homefront today to extend the July 4th holiday and thank men and women in uniform by hosting the world’s first “social media powered  barbecue” for military troops at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 05: Carnival Vista Godmother and former Miss USA Deshauna Barber attends Carnival Cruise Line’s First Ever Socially Powered BBQ with partner Operation Homefront at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on July 5, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Carnival Cruise Line)

The unique summertime feast featured burgers whose buns were laser printed with heartfelt messages of thanks to service members using a one-of-a-kind culinary laser printer.

Using the hashtag #ThankYouBurger, Americans were encouraged to show their appreciation of the U.S. military by tweeting and posting messages of gratitude via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  More than 15,000 thank you messages were transmitted in real time to a tech-enabled grill at the base in San Diego, and then laser printed onto burger buns and served to military troops during a backyard barbecue themed event.

In recognition of the thousands of #ThankYouBurger tweets and posts received, Carnival donated $25,000 to help the organization fulfill its mission of building strong, stable and secure military families.

Deshauna Barber — godmother to Carnival Vista and the first woman serving in the military to be named Miss USA — joined Carnival Chief Maritime Officer William Burke and Operation Homefront president and CEO Brig. Gen. (ret) John I. Pray Jr.  to personally serve nearly 2,000 burgers to military personnel.

This special event is part of a continuing partnership between Carnival and Operation Homefront. Last year, hundreds of military families were welcomed aboard the company’s newest ship, Carnival Vista, prior to its inaugural sailing from the U.S. The festivities, were the culmination of a year-long campaign called Honor.Family.Fun which helped raise funds and awareness for Operation Homefront and its cause.

 

MSC Cruises Announces Port Info Service and New Mediterranean Shore Excursions

July 5, 2017.

MSC Cruises today unveiled a comprehensive range of shoreside activities and services for guests. The company has debuted a new Port Info service on board MSC Meraviglia, allowing guests to discover and explore more of each destination through complementary expert advice and information, and has also introduced a variety of new Mediterranean shore excursions.

Barcelona, Spain

NEW Port Info Service

The introduction of the complimentary Port Info service offers guests a one-stop destination support service. Assisting guests in making the most of every itinerary destination, the Port Info desk will offer personal, tailored and expert information on what to see, where to eat, where to visit and how to get there. The desk will also help guests book local transportation such as train tickets, taxis or a car service, as well as assist in creating private tours and experiences. This is an especially invaluable service in countries where guests don’t speak the local language.

MSC Cruises has developed the service through collaboration with local authorities and tourism boards, ensuring guests receive the most accurate and up-to-date information, key local insights and ‘must-see’ attractions. Additionally, Port Info onboard crew members have been personally trained by local experts to be able to offer tailored information and advice from personal experience.

Port Info will also highlight local events, festivals and parades, allowing guests to discover local culture and traditions. Where possible, ship port times will be adjusted to allow enough time for guests to fully experience events and get the very most out of their stay.

The Port Info service debuted on board MSC Meraviglia when the ship launched in June, with plans to extend the service to the entire MSC Cruises fleet.

NEW Mediterranean Shore Excursions

MSC Cruises has added 19 new shore excursions to its already extensive range of tours in the Mediterranean, including five of which are exclusive to MSC Cruises’ guests on board MSC Meraviglia. These excursions have been specially developed for families and food lovers, with something to suit all ages and allow guests to experience destinations on their cruise in new and exciting ways.

Naples, Italy

MSC Meraviglia Exclusive Shore Excursions:

  • Tour Italy’s largest aquarium in Genoa for the perfect family day out. The tour gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at marine laboratories, plankton farming and jellyfish not usually accessible to the public.
  • Relish Messina’s best sights including the magnificent Cristo Re Church, which towers over Messina’s harbor, “Piazza del Duomo,” and its golden Bell Tower, and the nearby Cathedral. Along the way, guests will have a chance to stop off at a number of small bars and restaurants to taste arancine (rice balls) and cannoli, a local pastry roll filled with sweet cream. The day will end with a little tipple of passito, a local sweet liquor wine made from raisins.
  • Experience Italy like a local in Naples, with highlights of the city complemented by coffee, pastry and pizza. Guests will taste the freshest Neapolitan pizza in the San Gregorio Armeno region (known as the “street of the Nativity Scenes”), then stop to taste Scaturchio, the “sweet” of Naples, and the famous sfogliatella, a typical Neapolitan cake, before finishing the day off with an authentic Neapolitan coffee at the Gran Cafè Gambrinus.
  • Savor a gastronomic delight In Barcelona, at the world’s first and only museum dedicated exclusively to Iberian ham where the tour, of course, ends in a tasting session.
  • Enjoy the essence of Malta with local tastes and sights including a coach drive to Vittoriosa, one of the Three Historic Cities. Guests will stroll the narrow streets of the city and step back in history to the Church of St. Lawrence and Fort St. Angelo. Then, they will see Marsaxlokk, Malta’s largest fishing village, with a chance to peruse the local market and taste local snacks.

New Family Tours:

  • Discover ancient Pompeii in Naples through an interesting and educational tour of the once thriving city frozen in time thousands of years ago after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Close the adventure with a fun question-and-answer game for the children.
  • Walk barefoot at farm Villarè in Messina, famed for its barefoot path that lets visitors feel nature through five senses: Touch, Hearing, Smell, Sight and Taste. Guests end the tour with a tasting of organic and local products.
  • Take to the hills at the highest point in Barcelona with enchanting, panoramic views, and then experience a thrill at the city’s only amusement park, Tibidabo Park, offering exciting Sky Walk rides and rollercoasters.

New Foodie Tours:

  • Bake handmade pizza In Naples. (Editor’s Note:  I Love this one!) Guests can enjoy one of the city’s best-kept secrets in the historical quarter — baking pizza on the city’s subterranean geothermal rock, hot enough to bake to perfection. The personal creation becomes lunch with the ability to taste some of the areas flavorsome ingredients.
  • Sail along the scenic Maltese coastline in Malta passing much of Valletta’s iconic waterfront sights including its Cottonera area made up of Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa — collectively known as The Three Cities. Finish with a treat for the taste buds with a unique wine-tasting session with a view.

To find out more information on the Port Info service and shore excursions, visit here.