Norwegian Celebrates Construction Milestone For Newest Ship

January 31, 2018. 

Named Norwegian Encore, the new vessel will sail the Caribbean from Miami seasonally beginning fall 2019

Today Norwegian Cruise Line marked the start of construction for its newest ship. Named Norwegian Encore, Norwegian’s latest addition to its young, modern fleet will sail the Caribbean from Miami seasonally beginning fall 2019.

The big takeaway from this news for North American cruisers is this ship was initially slated to go straight to China upon completion, and now that plan has been dropped.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and MEYER WERFT executives gathered at the MEYER WERFT Laser Center in Papenburg, Germany and cut the first plate of steel, marking the ceremonial start of construction of Norwegian Encore, which is due for delivery on October 31, 2019.

Norwegian Encore will be the seventeenth ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet and the line’s fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful Class in the brand’s history.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will sail weekly seven-day Caribbean cruises each Sunday from PortMiami.   The ship will be available for reservations in March 2018.

Holland America Line Adds New Guest Accommodations To McKinley Chalet Resort and Denali Square

January 29, 2018.

Guest Accommodations Featuring First-Ever Junior Suite-Level Rooms

Holland America Line is expanding the guest experience on its Alaska Land+Sea Journeys with the addition of new guest accommodations at its Denali operation. The 99-room addition will feature the first-ever junior suites at the resort and is expected to be open for the 2019 summer Alaska cruise season. The 55 new junior suites will showcase balconies, larger living areas and greater amenities for guests.

A woman gazes at Mount Denali in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. A look at the highest peak in North America is a highlight on a Holland America Line Alaska Land+Sea Journey. (Andy Newman/Holland America Line)

The new rooms are an extension of Holland America Line’s overland Alaska experience to Denali, which includes the McKinley Chalet Resort hotel and Denali Square, a gathering area to relax, shop, dine and enjoy music and entertainment. The addition will be located just west of Denali Square with views of Mt. Healy and Denali National Park.

The three-story project will feature junior suites and standard rooms with rustic-chic décor. All junior suites have balconies, so guests can enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding Alaska wilderness in private comfort. Each floor will have a central, open-air lobby with cozy furniture. The third floor has open public deck space with tables and loungers so guests can take in the panoramic scenery.

The new building will become a fundamental feature of the McKinley Chalet Resort, Holland America Line’s magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River. The hotel — featuring a reception hall, dining facilities and guest rooms — serves as base camp for all adventures at Denali National Park such as flightseeing, ATV adventures, hiking trails, river rafting and more. All accommodations feature stylish décor and premium amenities.

Alaska-based companies heading up the project include general contractor Ghemm Company, Inc., based in Fairbanks.  Lead architect Heliotrope is based in Seattle, Washington, and also developed Karstens Public House at Denali Square. Heliotrope is working with the Fairbanks office of Alaskan architectural firm Bettisworth North. Costigan Integrated of Seattle is serving as project manager.

Denali Square Complex Immerses Guests in Alaska Culture
Steps from the new rooms, Denali Square is at the heart of Holland America Line’s Denali property and is centrally located between the main area of the McKinley Chalet Resort and the riverfront guest rooms.

The largest building in the complex is Karstens Public House, the grand 7,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant showcasing views of the neighboring mountains for dining guests. An inviting deck with fire pits and outdoor seating also allows guests to immerse themselves in this special venue as they drink and dine.

At the center of Denali Square is an amphitheater with a covered performance stage and bench seating for guests to enjoy a variety of local shows and ranger talks. Those wanting to quench their thirst or listen to live music can visit Gold Nugget Saloon, home to the Music of Denali Dinner Theater, that becomes a bar and music venue after the show.

Denali Square also features fire pits, outdoor seating, retail shops offering local goods, and an artist-in-residence cabin where Alaska native and local artists display and discuss their works. Walking paths in and around Denali Square show off the property’s mountainous landscapes and beautiful setting.

Carnival Miracle Begins Year-Round Sailings From Tampa

January 29, 2018.

Six- to 14-Day Cruises to the Panama Canal, Western Caribbean and Central America Also Added to Line’s Tampa-Based Options

Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle kicked off a year-round program of seven-day cruises from Tampa this weekend, doubling the line’s capacity at the port and further bolstering its position as the leader in Caribbean cruising.   I’m a fan of the Spirit-class ships of Carnival and am looking forward to doing another cruise from Tampa.

Carnival Miracle will offer the only year-round longer-length cruise program from Port Tampa Bay.

Carnival Miracle joins Carnival Paradise which operates year-round four- to eight-day voyages from Tampa to the Caribbean and Cuba.  Together, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Paradise will carry an estimated 280,000 passengers annually from Tampa – the most of any cruise operator.

Seven-Day Sailings from Tampa    

On its week-long Tampa-based cruise program, Carnival Miracle departs Port Tampa Bay Saturdays or Sundays calling at four popular western Caribbean ports:  Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay (Roatan) and Belize.

These voyages from Tampa are part of Carnival’s exclusive Cozumel Plus program, which feature extended stays that provide guests even more opportunities to experience and explore one of the Caribbean’s most diverse vacation destinations with a variety of exciting and unforgettable excursion choices, many taking place on Mexico’s mainland.

New Six- to 14-Day Cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal

Carnival recently added several six- to 14-day sailings aboard Carnival Miracle visiting spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean as well as an unforgettable opportunity to experience a partial transit of the Panama Canal.  During the transit, guests will experience one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and sail on Gatun Lake, one of the largest man-made bodies of water in the world.

The new six-day voyages feature day-long stops at Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya or Mahogany Bay.  Departure dates include Sept. 2 and Nov. 11, 2018, and Jan. 27 and March 31, 2019.

Eight-day Panama Canal cruises depart April 14 and Sept. 8, 2018, and Feb. 2 and April 6, 2019, and include a partial transit of the Panama Canal along with stops at Limon (Costa Rica) and Grand Cayman.  There’s also an eight-day, five-port Caribbean cruise that departs Nov. 17, 2019, and visits Cozumel, Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Grand Cayman.

Carnival Miracle will also offer a 14-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal cruise round-trip from Tampa Dec. 2-16, 2018, featuring Cozumel and Limon prior to a partial Panama Canal transit followed by visits to Cartagena (Colombia), Aruba, Curacao and Montego Bay (Jamaica).   Guests sailing on Carnival Journeys cruises enjoy unique local dining and entertainment experiences and a number of shipboard enrichment activities.

Signature Carnival Innovations

Guests sailing aboard Carnival Miracle can enjoy a wide range of onboard choices, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, Nick and Nora’s steakhouse located atop the ship’s 10-deck-high atrium, a luxurious 14,500-square-foot spa, and a Serenity adults-only retreat.  Of the ship’s 1,062 staterooms, 80 percent offer either an ocean view or private balcony.  (Sadly, Carnival Miracle does not have Guy’s Burger Joint or BlueIguana Mexican Cantina.)

Family-friendly options include Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Hasbro, The Game Show, with larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic games and complimentary programming for children in three age groups – Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17).

Cuba Voyages with Azamara for 2018-2019

January 25, 2018.

Last year I took a 4-night cruise to Cuba on a mainstream cruise line, and while it was a great experience it would have been better if I traveled first class with a luxury cruise line.  Well, the good news is you can and for a surprisingly good price.  Azamara Club Cruises has several voyages to Cuba in 2018/2019, including a very affordable 4-night cruise that is in Havana overnight, leaving in the afternoon of the following day, so it’s essentially two days to explore and interact with the wonderful Cuban people.

While in port, guests can participate in featured Cuba shore excursions including the Old Havana Heritage Walking Tour and the Best of Havana, allowing travelers to have authentic experiences that bring the rich heritage and cultural treasures to life.

Azamara is an all-inclusive cruise line, so all of those usual onboard expenses such as gratuities, drinks, incidentals, are included in your cruise price.  Plus, these are smaller cruise ships with 690 guests so there is never a crowd and the service is personal.

More information about some of the featured sailings are below.

o   Sailing date of 11/10/2018

o   Azamara Journey

o   Sailing date of 11/20/2018

o   Azamara Journey

o   Sailing date of 12/21/2018

o   Azamara Journey

o   Sailing date of 1/15/2019

o   Azamara Journey

Royal Caribbean & CPP-Myers-Briggs Letting Travelers Seek Their ‘Adventure Personality’

January 16, 2018.

Royal Caribbean International is teaming up with the international authority on personality research, CPP–The Myers-Briggs Company, to create a convenient way for travelers to navigate the possibilities for their next adventure from start to finish. Adventure seekers can visit MyAdventurePersonality.com through March to discover more about who they are and what places around the world would most likely energize and excite them. The co-created quiz from Royal Caribbean and the Myers-Briggs team serves as a tool to guide adventurers in planning more fulfilling vacations than ever before, and maximizing their value for spend as well as their precious time off.

The easy-to-complete, 13-question quiz draws on The Myers-Briggs Company’s knowledge of personality types, and specifically assesses a person’s underlying motivations and interpersonal needs that most affect their travel preferences. Once complete, quiz-takers receive a unique description of who they are as a traveler, along with insight into destinations and activities that best suit them – from relaxing on a Caribbean beach to dogsledding across Alaska.

The Adventure Personality quiz will be available during prime travel-planning season, known as ‘Wave Season’ in the cruise industry, when the best offers are available for the year ahead. Adventurers can take advantage of Wave Season, by visiting RoyalCaribbean.com.

You can share your results @RoyalCaribbean and #ComeSeek on Facebook and Twitter. (I got “Relaxation Artist”)

 

Carnival Triumph To Offer Wide Variety Of 2019-2020 Cruises

January 16, 2018.

Carnival Triumph will operate a diverse schedule in 2019-20, with a wide variety of 4 to 14 night cruises from New York, Fort Lauderdale, and Norfolk, Va., visiting nearly two dozen destinations throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Canada, New England, Bermuda and the Panama Canal (not entering the locks).

4 to 14 Night Cruises from New York

Carnival Triumph will sail from New York in the summer and fall 2019 visiting Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada and New England, as well as the Panama Canal.

Five “long weekend” 4-night Bermuda cruises depart May 23, June 20, July 18, Aug. 15 and Sept. 12, 2019, and offer guests a full day to experience the island while a 6-night Bermuda cruise departs Sept. 16, 2019, and spends two full days at the island.   An 8-night cruise departing June 24, 2019 offers two full days in Bermuda, as well as a stop in Grand Turk.

Three 7-night cruises will also be offered, departing Sept. 22 and 29 and Oct. 6, 2019 and featuring day-long calls in throughout New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

Carnival Triumph’s schedule from New York also includes two distinctly different exotic 8 night Caribbean itineraries: one featuring Grand Turk, San Juan and Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) with departure dates of July 2, 10 and 30, Aug. 7 and 27, Sept. 4, 2019, the other visiting San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk and departing July 22 and Aug. 19, 2019.

There’s also a 10-night exotic eastern Caribbean itinerary departing June 10, 2019, calling at San Juan, Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk, as well as a 14-night Carnival Journeys cruise that departs May 27, 2019, and includes the opportunity to visit the Panama Canal during a call in Colon (Panama), as well as visits to Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Limon (Costa Rica), and Half Moon Cay.  Guests sailing on Carnival Journeys cruises enjoy unique local dining and entertainment experiences and a number of shipboard enrichment activities.

4 and 5 Night Cruises From Fort Lauderdale

As part of its new schedule, Carnival Triumph will offer a series of 4 and 5 night cruises from Fort Lauderdale in April 2019 and, following its summer schedule of cruises from New York, will also operate these itineraries from November 2019 through April 2020.  Carnival Triumph will be the only Carnival ship to operate a short cruise itinerary from this port.   On this route, the “long weekend” voyages depart Thursdays and visit Nassau and the private Bahamian destinations of Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays.  5-night sailings departing Saturdays call at Grand Turk, Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays, while 5-night voyages departing Mondays feature Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman.

5 and 6 Night Cruises From Norfolk 

Carnival Triumph’s schedule will also include 5 and 6 night Bahamas voyages departing from Norfolk’s Half Moone Cruise Center.   Two 5 night voyages will depart May 12 and 17, 2019 calling at Nassau and Freeport while 6-night cruises depart May 6, and October 14 and 20, 2019, visiting Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport.

Wide Variety of Onboard Amenities

Carnival Triumph currently has Guy’s Burger Join,  Alchemy Bar,  RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Cantina Tequila Bar, and the BlueIguana Cantina.  The ship also features hundreds of balcony staterooms,  health and wellness facility, complimentary children’s programs for kids in three age groups, and a 214-foot-long cascading water slide.

Prior to the launch of this program, Carnival Triumph will undergo an extensive multi-million-dollar refurbishment that will add additional food and entertainment options.  Details will be announced at a later date. 

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.