Enhanced Carnival Players Club Casino Program Debuts

May 31, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line is refreshing its Carnival Players Club casino program to give members more unique offers and experiences, both on board and ashore.

The program includes a new “Dealer’s Choice” offer with exclusive cruise savings opportunities, complimentary in-casino drinks for qualified guests, and invitation-only Carnival Players Club events.

Carnival has also upgraded several new programs to offer guests an enhanced cruise and casino experience with value-added benefits, privileges and exclusive events based on level of play:

  • Getaway: a great way for players looking for a short vacation, Getaway is available on three- to five-day cruises with extras like in-stateroom gifts, priority check-in and luggage delivery, complimentary in-casino drinks to qualified players, and a chance to win up to $10,000 in free play, cash and prizes.
  • Premier: for our more avid casino players, Premier is available on cruises of six days or longer and offers all the benefits of the Getaway program plus a complimentary pre-cruise gift, priority debarkation, a special Welcome Aboard party, invitation-only casino tournaments, and a chance at $20,000 in free play, cash and prizes every cruise.
  • Ultra: loyalty matters, and our most loyal players will receive Ultra invites, which include all of the benefits of the Premier program plus a chance at $100,000 in cash and gifts on board.
  • Elite: reserved for our very best players, the Elite program provides exclusive experiences and perks like complimentary parking or local airport pick-up and drop-off, early stateroom access, complimentary drinks throughout the cruise, a free shore excursion and Wi-Fi, special Welcome Aboard and sailaway parties, and VIFP Platinum status for the entire voyage.

If you are a casino fan, here is the link for you to bookmark: www.carnivalplayersclub.com

Carnival Horizon Officially Named By Godmother Queen Latifah In New York City

May 24, 2018.

Carnival Horizon Godmother, Queen Latifah, officially names Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 in New York.

Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Carnival Horizon, was officially named by godmother Queen Latifah in a ceremony in New York yesterday that showcased the talented young artists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital whose artwork adorns the Dreamscape, a three-deck-high LED sculpture in the ship’s atrium.

Following the ceremony, Latifah squared off against Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl champion Jake Elliott in Lip Sync Battle: Horizon modeled after the Paramount Network TV series and rolling out across the Carnival fleet.

Latifah rocked the house with the Weather Girls classic “It’s Raining Men,” while Elliott performed Whitesnake’s arena anthem “Here I Go Again,” all performed with back-up dancers from Carnival Horizon’s Playlist Productions to a full house in the Liquid Lounge.

The big winner was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which received a $100,000 donation from Carnival representing monies raised from various fundraisers, both onboard and ashore.  The funds continue the line’s ongoing support of St. Jude with more than $16 million raised in the fight against childhood cancer since the partnership began in 2010.

As the newest ship in the fleet, Carnival Horizon introduces several innovations, including the first-ever Dr. Seuss water park, a new teppanyaki venue, and Smokehouse Brewhouse, a unique dining concept that combines real deal BBQ favorites created by Food Network star and longtime partner Guy Fieri, along with four craft beers brewed on board by brewmaster Colin Presby.

The second in the line’s Vista-class series, Carnival Horizon also includes features like the bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre, a Havana section with its own Cuban-themed bar and pool, and Family Harbor with extra-roomy staterooms and the Family Harbor Lounge.

Carnival Horizon kicks off a summer schedule from New York with a four-day cruise to Bermuda departing later today.  The ship will operate four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from New York through September then reposition to Miami for year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning later that month.

Royal Caribbean Website Update Makes Refundable Deposits Less Apparent

May 19, 2018.

Do you use the Royal Caribbean (RCI) website to do your own bookings online, or to check prices by doing a dummy booking?  If so you need to pay attention or you might lock yourself into a cruise with a non-refundable deposit.

Some time ago the cruise line changed its booking policy and made all suite reservations non-refundable and then extended this to offer both refundable and non-refundable options for non-suite cabins.  Up until a few days ago, when you booked a cruise online and selected a cabin category, two prices appeared on the screen.  One for non-refundable and one for refundable.  You then picked one and moved on to complete the booking.

However, earlier this week I started seeing posts on social media and in cruise forums asking if RCI had eliminated refundable deposits.  I investigated and discovered that the company hadn’t eliminated them, but had changed the booking screens so the pricing you see for your cabin category is only for the non-refundable deposit fares.   It now looks like this image. ( I don’t have an image showing the old screen but it would have shown two prices, side-by-side).

The new booking screens now have you fill out all the information such as name, contact info, birthdate, and then when you get to the screen for choosing dining time, insurance, prepaid gratuities, they have added a new checkbox that allows you to change to a refundable deposit.  It looks like this:

I don’t agree with this change, because at this stage of the booking process a person can look at the above check boxes as a way to “run up the check” and unless reading closely they might skip over them.  What would you think if you saw a box that wanted to add (in this example) $222 to the cost of your cruise and then also wanted to take away $50 in onboard spending credit?  So you say no and move on to the final screen to enter credit card info and boom, you have just made a booking with a non-refundable deposit.

So, my advice to you is to slow down and read each screen very carefully.

Princess Cruises Reveals 2019-2020 Panama Canal Itineraries

May 17, 2018.

Princess Cruises fall 2019 through spring 2020 season went on sale today, and it includes the line’s largest deployment ever to the Panama Canal, featuring the maiden season of Emerald Princess sailing through the new locks.  A bit of cruise trivia: In 1967, Princess Cruises was the first cruise line to sail through the Panama Canal locks.

Emerald Princess will be the cruise line’s second Neo-Panamax ship, after Caribbean Princess, to be modified during a scheduled spring 2019 drydock. The ship will traverse the new Agua Clara locks on the Atlantic side of the canal as well as the new Cocoli Locks on the Pacific Side, that opened in June 2016, as part of the 10-year, $5.4 billion “Neo-Panamax” expansion.

Princess Cruises offers three ways to visit the Panama Canal – roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, roundtrip from Los Angeles, or a full transit that sails ocean between Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles or San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C.

The 2019-2020 line-up features five ships, with 10- to 21-day options, also visiting other ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America.

Each Princess Cruises transit of the Panama Canal includes live narration from the bridge offering a glimpse into the history and insight that went into this engineering feat, as well as a day of scenic cruising through Gatun Lake.

Program highlights for the 2019-2020 Panama Canal season include:

  • Five ships offering six itineraries and 36 departures onboard Caribean Princess, Coral Princess, Emerald Princess, Island Princess and Pacific Princess.
  • Six unique itineraries from four departure ports – Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
  • Visits to 24 destinations in 12 countries, including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Cartagena’s walled Old City.
  • Featuring 21 transits through the historic original locks on Coral, Island or Pacific Princess and 15 transits through the new locks on Caribbean or Emerald Princess.
  • Shore excursion offerings including the Animal Planet Exclusive tour of the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, where guests may even meet sloth superstars featured on the Animal Planet. (No autographs please, but selfies are fine)

Princess Cruises Announces 2019-2020 Caribbean Season

May 17, 2018.

Princess Cruises has announced the fall 2019 to spring 2020 Caribbean sailings, which go on sale today.  They feature the maiden season of Sky Princess, debuting in December 2019 on a three-day inaugural cruise, followed by a series of seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages.  Sky Princess also will debut new staterooms that can accommodate up to 5 guests.

The cruise line’s fourth Royal-Class ship, Sky Princess, sets sail out of Ft. Lauderdale on a three-day, roundtrip cruise departing Dec. 4, 2019, visiting Princess Cays, recognized as one of the top cruise line private islands in the Bahamas. The ship then sails on alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale Dec. 7, 2019 – April 4, 2020. Voyages offer late-night stays, during every visit to St. Thomas and Cozumel so guests can enjoy more time in these popular destinations.

Itinerary highlights for the 2019-2020 Caribbean season include:

  • Five ships offering 10 itineraries and 119 departures onboard Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Pacific Princess, Regal Princess and the new Sky Princess.
  • Regal Princess also offers seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages from Ft. Lauderdale with “More Ashore” stays in St. Thomas and Cozumel.
  • Longer and more destination-rich itineraries to the Southern Caribbean aboard Caribbean Princess and Crown Princess, featuring 10- or 14-day cruises.
  • Princess Cruises visits 25 Caribbean islands and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Belize Barrier Reef System and Antigua Naval Dockyard and related archeological sites.
  • Calls to Princess Cays on every seven-day Eastern Caribbean voyage, and select Western and ten-day Southern Caribbean voyages.
  • A unique 14-day holiday cruise aboard Pacific Princess visiting Southern Caribbean island Mayreau for the first time. Mayreau is the smallest inhabited island of the Grenadines, with an area of around 1000 acres and a population of less than 300.

As mentioned above, Sky Princess introduces the line’s new Sky Suites, offering guests the largest staterooms on the ship, and best views with their most premium suite ever. With 270 degree views from the top of the ship and exclusive views of the ship’s Movies Under the Stars screen, guests will enjoy a variety of new amenities exclusive to the Sky Suites. The Princess Cruises Sky Suites will be the first staterooms to accommodate up to five guests, and offer the largest balconies in the fleet with luxury furnishings. More details on the suites to be announced in the coming months.

 

3 Longer Length ‘Carnival Journeys’ Sailings Announced for 2019

May 15, 2018.

As Carnival Cruise Line continues to expand its itinerary offerings, the company today announced it will offer three special longer length Carnival Journeys cruises in 2019.

The voyages include a unique 24-day trans-Pacific crossing aboard Carnival Splendor from Long Beach to Singapore, as well as two voyages aboard Carnival Miracle – a 13-day Panama Canal transit from Tampa to Long Beach and a 14-day Hawaii cruise round-trip from Long Beach.

The 24-day voyage is the longest single departure in Carnival Cruise Line’s history and marks the first time that the line will visit Guam, Vietnam and Malaysia on a North American departure.

The Carnival Splendor cruises at sea in the Bahamas. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

Guests sailing on Carnival Journeys cruises enjoy unique on-board activities during which they can sample local cuisine and enjoy entertainment and cultural opportunities within the various ports of call. Activities focusing on topics such as photography, cooking, arts and crafts and celestial navigation, along with a 1980s-themed “Throwback Sea Day,” are also offered.

24-Day Transpacific Crossing on Carnival Splendor

The 3,012-passenger Carnival Splendor will operate an unprecedented 24-day trans-Pacific crossing that will depart Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 5 and arrive in Singapore Oct. 30, 2019.

The voyage will feature extended port calls at Maui and Honolulu, Hawaii, before crossing the International Date Line, then visit Guam, and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – the first time the line has visited these destinations on a ship departing from North America.

The 24-day voyage will also offer a traditional ceremony held when mariners cross the International Date Line which essentially adds an extra day to the cruise.  (This ceremony is better known as the Shellback Initiation)

13-day Panama Canal, 14-Day Hawaii Carnival Journeys Cruises

Carnival Miracle will operate a 13-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal transit that will depart Tampa Sept. 29 and arrive in Long Beach Oct. 12, 2019, positioning the vessel for a series of seven- and 14-day cruises from that port.

The 13-day cruise will include an overnight stay in Cartagena, Colombia; prior to the Panama Canal transit followed by calls at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Carnival Miracle will also operate a 14-day Carnival Journeys cruise to Hawaii round-trip from Long Beach Oct. 19 to Nov. 2, 2019, featuring stops at four destinations within the Aloha State – Maui, Honolulu, Kona and Hilo – along with a call at Ensenada, Mexico.

The ship will also offer a series of seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach beginning Oct. 12, 2019.  The week-long voyages visit Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, all home to gorgeous white-sand beaches, excellent snorkeling and a variety of water sports.

‘Fish & Ships’ Menu On Independence Of The Seas

May 14,2018.

The other day I posted an overview of the changes made to Royal Caribbean’s Independence Of The Seas.  One of the new things is the Fish & Ships food venue, located on the aft port side of the pool deck.  This replaces the original ‘Squeeze Juice Bar’ which is on all three of the Freedom-class ships but frankly has never been popular.  Squeeze suffered from a poor location, very few people ordering the fresh juice choices, so it wasn’t long before Squeeze became just another bar.  Sort of an auxiliary pool bar.

As with most new things added to older cruise ships, Fish & Ships food comes at a price.  And it seems Royal Caribbean is mighty proud of the menu.  Prices range from $10 for deep fried haddock and chips (french fries) to $3 for a Chip Butty, which is an English snack comprising white bread with butter and chips on it, often with another condiment such as ketchup or mayonnaise added. Of course, for no charge you could go into the Windjammer buffet and make your own from the fries, bread, and butter on the serving lines.

Here is the menu:

Independence Of The Seas Completes Makeover

May 13, 2018.

Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas arrived today at her new home in Southampton England, featuring a plethora of new experiences and  features after a family-focused multi-million dollar makeover.

Newly dubbed as ‘the ultimate family ship’, Independence has an array of  new features such as the Sky Pad, a new virtual reality bungee trampoline experience, and the interactive aqua park, Splashaway Bay, which is bigger and better than ever before.

The reimagined ship also includes a host of other new features:

  • The Perfect Storm, a duo of racing waterslides called Cyclone and Typhoon.
  • Glow-in-the-dark laser tag, an experience in Studio B unlike any other, where friends and family can team up to play “Battle for Planet Z”.
  • Puzzle Break, a new escape room experience where competitors can put their minds to the test, working together to find hidden clues and solve a series of high-tech riddles to unravel a mystery. With only 60 minutes of play, the excitement builds with each tick of the clock.
  • New lounges and Panoramic Oceanview staterooms. With wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling views looking forward above the bridge.
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, enables sports fans to enjoy all the biggest live sporting events over ice-cold beers, wings, sliders and more.
  • Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, the exotic Asian-inspired dining experience gives guests the chance to enjoy fresh sushi and experience skilled chefs cooking tableside on teppanyaki grills.
  • Fish & Ships, a poolside eatery where guests can grab quintessentially British seaside treats.
  • Sugar Beach candy shop, a wondrous world of delicious delights, along with a few exciting surprises.

Guests will be welcomed onboard for her first new sailing on  May 15, 2018.

Following her inaugural sailing, the ship will call at destinations across Europe and the Mediterranean until November 2018, when it repositions to Fort Lauderdale for the winter season.

Carnival Miami Fleet Operations Center Unveiled

May 10, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line today previewed its new Fleet Operations Center (FOC) in Miami, the largest and most advanced in the cruise industry. The 35,000-square-foot facility is custom-designed for hands-on, around-the-clock monitoring and support of the line’s 26 cruise ships.

The Carnival Cruise Line FOC is the first facility of its kind in South Florida and features a state-of-the-art tracking and data-analysis platform that enables real-time information sharing between Carnival ships and specialized shoreside teams designed to support fleet operations.

It was unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony and interactive demonstration of its most innovative new high-tech features, which is anchored by a 74-foot-long video wall composed of 57 LED screens. The high-definition wall displays the status of all ships, including weather, itinerary updates, safety, engine and environmental updates. Additionally the status of ports, ships logistics, guest operations and a host of other functions are also monitored. The 24/7/365 system will support the work of cross-functional teams, including technical, nautical, port and guest operations, environmental operations and compliance, occupational safety, technical services, and other key areas. Seating is arranged in open “pods” aligned with  Carnival’s ship classes, to invite constant collaboration, integration and streamlined communication between these and other departments, bringing together all areas of expertise into shared spaces.

Carnival built custom tools for use and integration into the FOC, such as the proprietary software applications “Neptune” and “Argos.” Developed in-house, Argos is an always-awake knowledge management tool which harnesses information from thousands of data points and overlays rules-based decision making, predictive alerting and queuing into one visual dashboard. The result is at-a-glance situational awareness across the fleet which significantly improves communication from ship to shore, enhances safe passage of ships, improves operational efficiencies and supports overall environmental initiatives.

Neptune captures and provides analytics for dozens of distinct parameters for navigational safety from each ship, focusing on the following strategic areas to optimize safety, efficiency and overall fleet performance:

  • Nautical Operations & Safety – including the capability to see current radar visuals, stability conditions, automation, the Safety Management and Command System, and webcams from each ship, along with GPS location, routing, ship conditions and weather data.
  • Procedural Optimization & Efficiency – including speeds, navigational data and engine conditions.
  • Sustainability – including fuel and energy usage, emissions levels, water and waste management.

Carnival partnered with Constant Technologies, Inc., a design firm that specializes in building operations centers in the public and private sectors. The design includes an open concept floor plan with sustainable furnishings and ergonomic features such as the ceiling’s blue lighting which minimizes eye fatigue, all sit/stand desks and carpeting made from recycled fish nets. There are also multiple conference rooms that are linked via video screens to the main LED wall and are intended to be utilized by support teams that would assist during any incidents.

The South Florida-based facility is the third and largest in Carnival Corporation’s global FOC network, complementing those in Seattle, Washington, and Hamburg, Germany, where Neptune was first piloted. While the new location primarily is dedicated to Carnival Cruise Line, it includes the ability to monitor the entire 103-ship fleet among parent company Carnival Corporation’s nine operating lines and it can act as the FOC for any of them at a moment’s notice.

Carnival Adds More Cuba Cruises For 2019-2020 – Including Carnival Sunshine From Charleston

May 10, 2018.

Carnival Sunshine entered service in May 2013 following an unprecedented $155 million renovation that added all of the bar, dining and entertainment options of the lineÕs groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines)

3,002-Passenger Carnival Sunshine to be Largest Cruise Ship Ever to Call in Havana When It Introduces Cuba Service From Charleston Next Year

Carnival Cruise Line has expanded its cruises to Cuba with the addition of 23 three- to five-day sailings to Havana in 2019-20 aboard five different ships departing from four convenient East Coast homeports – Carnival Sunshine from Charleston, Carnival Triumph from Fort Lauderdale, Carnival Paradise from Tampa and Carnival Victory and Carnival Sensation from Miami.

The 3,002-passenger, 102,853-ton Carnival Sunshine  will be the largest cruise ship to ever call in Havana while offering the first-ever cruise to Cuba from the Port of Charleston.

These new sailings complement previously announced voyages aboard Carnival Paradise and Carnival Sensation.

The new Cuba sailings include:

  • Carnival Sunshine (Charleston): a four-day cruise with a day-long call in Havana departing Nov. 21, 2019, along with eight five-day cruises featuring Havana and Freeport departing Jan. 6, Feb. 3 and 17, March 2, 16 and 30 and April 13, and 27, 2020.
  • Carnival Triumph (Fort Lauderdale): eight five-day cruises featuring an overnight call in Havana and a day-long call in Nassau departing Dec. 14, 2019, and Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and 22, March 7 and 21, and April 4 and 18, 2020; and a five-day cruise featuring an overnight call in Havana and a visit to the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay departing Jan. 20, 2020.
  • Carnival Victory (Miami): a three-day voyage with a day-long call in Havana departing Nov. 22, 2019.
  • Carnival Sensation (Miami): a four-day cruise featuring an overnight call in Havana and an extended visit to Nassau departing March 19, 2020, along with two five-day sailings with an overnight call in Havana and visits to Freeport and Nassau departing Feb. 15 and 29, 2020.
  • Carnival Paradise (Tampa): a five-day voyage departing Nov. 18, 2019, with an overnight call in Havana and a stop at Key West.

Guests sailing on Carnival’s Cuba cruises can select from nearly 20 different shore excursion experiences that showcase the island’s vibrant culture, majestic beauty and centuries-old architectural landmarks.  A variety of Cuban-themed activities and entertainment, Havana-inspired deck parties, trivia contests and salsa lessons, are also offered.  There’s also an onboard Cuba expert who discusses the country’s rich history and culture.

The visits to Havana comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control. Carnival’s shore excursions meet all U.S. government regulations and provide a convenient means for complying with the people-to-people requirements of cruises to Cuba.