Carnival “Homeport Advantage” Airship Flying Over Southeast U.S.

August 29, 2018.

Read how you can win prizes including free cruises

(Photo by Gary Miller/Carnival Cruise Line)

 

Carnival Cruise Line took to the sky today with the Carnival AirShip – a 128-foot-long red, white, and blue blimp that takes center stage as part of the line’s innovative Homeport Advantage campaign, designed to raise awareness of new cruise ship deployments in several key markets along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

The AirShip made its aerial debut today at Carnival’s Sixth Annual Day of Play at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. – the first stop in a 30-day airborne journey across seven U.S. states.  After departing Memphis, the AirShip will proceed to Dallas before heading down to Houston then continue the journey with visits to homeports in Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Jacksonville and Charleston before ending in Atlanta.

As part of the campaign, consumers will have a chance to win free cruises, Carnival swag, VIP event passes and Carnival cruise gift cards when they take a picture or video of the AirShip and post it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #ChooseFun. The hashtag will also trigger a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ®, Carnival’s longtime charitable partner.

As part of its journey, the Carnival Airship will stop in Miami on Sept. 20 to welcome the new Carnival Horizon to its year-round homeport.  Shipboard festivities will include fun events hosted by NBA Hall of Famer and Carnival Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal and featuring Miami Heat players.

The Homeport Advantage campaign is also designed to raise awareness for the variety of Carnival’s U.S. embarkation options, with 18 year-round and seasonal ports – the most in cruising – along the East and West Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. Roughly half of the U.S. population is within a day’s drive of a Carnival homeport.

Four ships will be arriving at new homeports in September. The new ships and itineraries include:

  • Carnival Horizon (Miami): Carnival’s newest ship that made her U.S. debut in New York in May will launch year-round home six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning Sept. 22 following a special two-day cruise to Nassau Sept. 20. Carnival Horizon introduced several new innovations, including the first-ever Dr. Seuss water park, Guy Fieri’s Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse with BBQ favorites from Food Network star and longtime Carnival partner Guy Fieri, and the line’s first teppanyaki venue.
  • Carnival Vista (Galveston): Launched in 2016, Carnival Vista moves to Galveston, offering features such as the SkyRide, an IMAX theatre, Family Harbor staterooms and suites, and a Cuban-themed Havana section with its own pool and bar. Carnival Vista kicks off her  new year-round sailing seven-day Caribbean schedule from Galveston Sept. 23.
  • Carnival Breeze (Port Canaveral): Carnival Breeze will offer a diverse Caribbean schedule from Port Canaveral with seven-day and 14-day itineraries starting Sept. 30. Popular features on Carnival Breeze include a massive WaterWorks aqua park, the interactive Thrill Theater, and dining options ranging from casual options like Guy’s Burger Joint to the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse.
  • Carnival Magic (Miami): Also new to Miami is Carnival Magic, which kicks off a new schedule of week-long Caribbean cruises Sept. 30. Guests can enjoy such features as a Serenity adults-only retreat, a Cloud 9 Spa, the Caribbean-inspired Red Frog Pub and the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant.

Additional information on the Homeport Advantage campaign and how you can participate for prizes is available at carnival.com/ChooseFun.

Royal Caribbean To Officially Allow Guests To Carry Non-Alcoholic Beverages Aboard (Again)

August 28, 2018.

What has been going on regardless of the rule prohibiting it is now okay, again.  Royal Caribbean is going to allow guests to bring non-alcoholic beverages aboard on embarkation day.  The cruise line used to allow this until a few years ago when the rule was changed to prohibit it.  Despite that official ban, guests were still doing it quite openly, and it was rare that port security or the cruise line personnel confiscated anything.  So it seems Royal Caribbean has acquiesced.

As reported at Royal Caribbean Blog, there are restrictions on quantities and container size.  Also, the new policy appears to prohibit handing off beverages to the cruise terminal porters to load along with checked luggage.  It is common to see guests tape luggage tags to cases of soda and water, drop them off with the actual luggage, and see them arrive at the cabin door unscathed.  Whether the cruise line will crack down on this practice, and porters will refuse to accept beverages as luggage, remains to be seen.

The revised policy, starting September 1, will be no more than 12 standard size cans, cartons, or bottles per cabin (not per person).   No alcoholic beverages are allowed other than the previously approved two 750ml bottles of wine per cabin.

Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam Completes Sea Trials

August 28, 2018.

Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam, the second Pinnacle Class ship in the fleet has successfully completed two sets of sea trials.

Nieuw Statendam left Marghera, Italy, August 10 and performed the first set of sea trials over two days before going into dry dock at Fincantieri’s Trieste shipyard, where the trial’s data was reviewed and standard hull maintenance was performed. The ship sailed its second sea trials Aug. 18, making its way back to Marghera Aug. 22 where the finishing touches will be completed.

During the sea trials, Nieuw Statendam underwent a series of performance tests on the ship’s systems, machinery and engines. The shipyard’s team of nautical officers, naval architects and builders tested the ship’s maneuvering characteristics and safety systems.

Due for delivery Dec. 1, 2018, Nieuw Statendam will cruise the Caribbean in winter and then move to northern Europe, Iceland and the Mediterranean in summer during its inaugural year. The 2,666-guest, 99,500-ton ship will be similar to sister Koningsdam but will have exclusive public spaces and its own style created by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjørn Storbraaten.

Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898, and this will be the sixth ship in the company’s history to carry the name. In combining the Dutch word for “new” with the classic “Statendam,” Holland America Line celebrates the company’s past, present and future.

Carnival Panorama To Have First Ever Female Cruise Director/Entertainment Director Duo

August 28, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line has announced that for the first time ever, a female cruise director and entertainment director tandem will bring out a new ship – Carnival Panorama, set to debut in December 2019.  British-born Emma Nixon will serve as cruise director and Canadian native Brittany Boyd entertainment director when the 133,500-ton cruise ship sets sail next year from Long Beach, Calif., becoming Carnival’s first new ship homeported on the West Coast in more than 20 years.

Emma Nixon

The dynamic duo will lead all of the ship’s entertainment offerings, everything from deck parties to Hasbro, The Game Show; Lip Sync Battle; performances at the Punchliner Comedy Club,  and new Playlist Productions shows created especially for Carnival Panorama.

A six-year Carnival veteran, Nixon joined as a member of the Fun Squad and quickly moved up the ranks within the entertainment department serving as comedy club manager and assistant cruise director before being named cruise director of Carnival Spirit in 2015.  Known for her positive nature and infectious laugh, Emma’s role as cruise director is to create the fun, spirited environment on board and make sure that guests go home with a lifetime of wonderful vacation memories.

Brittany Boyd

Boyd joined Carnival in 2011 as a Fun Squad Host and was named entertainment director in 2014.   As Carnival Panorama’s entertainment director, Boyd will oversee all of the ship’s entertainment and will put her incredible organizational skills and keen attention to detail, planning, organizing and scheduling the literally hundreds of activity and entertainment choices that will be featured during its week-long cruises.

Nixon and Boyd will join the nearly 1,400 team members who will travel to Italy to prepare the ship for its Dec. 11, 2019, maiden voyage from the renovated Long Beach Cruise Terminal, home to three year-round Carnival Cruise Line ships and hosting upwards of 600,000 guests a year.

Following its inaugural three-day voyage departing Dec. 11, 2019, Carnival Panorama will launch year-round seven-day cruises Dec. 14, 2019 departing every Saturday to stunning seaside destinations along the Mexican Riviera, including Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

Carnival Panorama sailings are currently open for reservations.

Carnival And Port Canaveral Reach Agreement In Principle For State-Of-The-Art Terminal

August 21, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line has reached an agreement in principle with the Canaveral Port Authority on a new state-of-the-art terminal able to accommodate its new 180,000-ton Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) powered ship, the largest ever constructed for the line, set to debut in 2020.

The terms of the agreement are expected to be included on the agenda of the Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018.  If approved, the agreement will clear the way for Carnival Cruise Line’s plans to homeport the as-yet-unnamed 5,286-lower berth ship at Port Canaveral, further bolstering the line’s position as the port’s number one cruise operator.

The vessel will offer an array of groundbreaking, never-before-seen features and attractions while also being the first North American-based cruise ship to be powered by LNG, part of Carnival Corporation’s “green cruising” design platform.

Construction of the 180,000-ton cruise ship is scheduled to begin in November 2018 with the official steel-cutting ceremony at the Meyer-Werft shipyard in Turku, Finland.  Further ship details, along with itineraries from Port Canaveral, are expected to be announced in 2019.

The decision to base the new ship on the Space Coast continues a decades-long relationship and reinforces Carnival Cruise Line’s position as Port Canaveral’s number one cruise operator.  The line currently has three year-round ships based in Port Canaveral carrying upwards of 650,000 passengers a year. In October, Carnival Cruise Line will also reposition the newer Carnival Breeze to homeport at Port Canaveral.

Princess Cruises Reveals Name of Fifth Royal-Class Ship As Fleet Expansion Continues

August 20, 2018.

As Princess Cruises fleet expansion continues, the cruise line reveals the name of the ship it will launch in 2020 – Enchanted Princess.

Enchanted Princess is scheduled to debut on June 15, 2020 sailing on a series of European voyages. Bookings for her maiden season, summer 2020, will open on November 8, 2018.

“The name Enchanted Princess is captivating and conveys the elegance and grace of our new ship which will introduce more travellers to the pleasures and value of cruising,” said Jan Swartz president of Princess Cruises. “We are certain Enchanted Princess will exceed the expectations of our guests, ensuring they have the most memorable cruise vacation.”

The arrival of Enchanted Princess will be followed by the debut of the sixth Royal-Class vessel for Princess Cruises in 2021. The cruise line also has two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered ships on order, bringing its new ship order to five ships in six years.

Construction of the 143,700-ton, 3,660-passenger Enchanted Princess will take place in the  Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard with the ship set to feature an evolution of the design platform used for the cruise line’s previous Royal-Class ships.

For more Enchanted Princess updates visit www.princess.com/enchantedprincess

Royal Caribbean International Bans Emotional Support Animals

August 14, 2018.

Royal Caribbean International announced today that effective immediately, emotional support animals are no longer allowed aboard any of the cruise lines ships.  This does not effect fully trained and documented animals such as seeing eye dogs, medical alert animals, and others that meet legal requirements such as the Americans With Disability Act (ADA).  In short, those cruisers who bought a fake “support animal” vest on eBay so they can put it on Fifi and take her along on the cruise need to look elsewhere.  Those who booked a cruise prior to July 30, 2018, will still be allowed to bring their animal on those cruises.  That is the only grandfathering being allowed.

The news if rife with reports of incidents involving alleged service animals, that in fact are not trained for specific tasks or needs and often not basically trained at all.   This abuse of the system has caused a lot of grief and frustration on both sides of the issue.  Recently there were several reports on various cruise forums about pseudo-service animals snapping at cruise guests, the owners feeding them from the buffet while holding the animals in the serving line, and in at least one instance, defecating on the deck at the guest relations desk aboard one Royal Caribbean ship.

I’m sure this isn’t the end of this and a vigorous push back effort is in the offing.  I’ll be watching for it.  But I can say that I applaud Royal Caribbean for finally taking a stand.

Princess Cruises Unveils New Beverage Menus

August 8, 2018.

New Drinks Developed in Collaboration with Master Mixologist Rob Floyd

Princess Cruises has revealed the line’s newly enhanced beverage menus, featuring globally inspired signature cocktail offerings created by master mixologist Rob Floyd. As one of the most significant beverage changes in the history of the company, destination-specific ingredients have been carefully selected to tantalize guests’ taste buds with flavors from every corner of the world. In addition to the new cocktails, the line has added 20 new high-end and exotic spirits, 39 new wines by the glass, and 17 new international and craft beers to the new menu.

Highlights of the new onboard offerings include a set of signature cocktails designed by Floyd, who used fresh ingredients and destination inspiration to develop a portfolio of new drinks for Princess Cruises. Bars and lounges throughout the ships will also feature new, themed menus, so guests can have fun exploring the different offerings at the various bars on board.

Floyd believes spectacular drinks combine the best of “The Three T’s.” First and foremost is “Taste,” as interesting ingredient combinations produce delicious flavors. The second element, “Technique,” refers to the skill and craft that goes into creating each drink. And last but not least the “Tale;” a creative and fascinating inspiration behind each unique cocktail.

Whether traveling to Mexico, Italy, or the South Pacific, the globally designed cocktails by Rob Floyd have the flavors to inspire. Initial offerings include:

●        Mayan Heat: Patrón Silver tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, agave syrup, muddled jalapeño

●        Italian Sunset: Aperol, Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters

●        Ver-Jus: St. George “Terroir” gin, St-Germain, muddled green grapes, lemon juice, simple syrup

●        Mint Divine: Bombay Sapphire gin, ginger beer, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh mint

●        Amaretto Manhattan: Bulleit Bourbon, Disaronno, sweet vermouth, Angostura orange bitters

●        Princess Punch: Absolut Elyx vodka, St. George raspberry liqueur, fresh lime, simple syrup, Gosling’s ginger beer

●        East Side Punch: Absolut Elyx vodka, fresh mint, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup, club soda

●        A Trip to the Tropics: Absolut Elyx vodka, apricot liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice

●        Ivory Coast: Grey Goose vodka, Amarula African liqueur, Kahlúa, chocolate shavings

●        The Egyptian Zombie: Bacardi Superior rum, Gosling’s Dark rum, blackberry brandy, sweet and sour, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine

Rounding out the new drinks are “zero-proof cocktails,” made without alcohol. These light, fruity and refreshing drinks skimp on the alcohol, but miss none of the flavor:

●        Zero Mojito: Fresh mint, lime, simple syrup, Sprite

●        Strawberries on Fire: Fresh strawberries, lime juice, agave syrup, jalapeño, soda

The new beverage menu offerings will be available aboard all ships in fall 2018.

In addition to adding the new wines by the glass, Princess Cruises worked with Doug Frost, one of only four people in the world to hold both the prestigious ranks of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine to refresh the wine menus onboard.  More specific details will be shortly announced.

To whet guests whistles even more, Princess Cruises also unveiled this summer a thirst-quenching deal with the Sip and Sail promotion, offering complimentary beverages for balcony, mini-suite and suite bookings. More information about the Sip and Sail offer is available at princess.com/cruisedeals.

All prices are per person based on double occupancy. The Sip and Sail cruise deal runs through 11:59 p.m. PDT on September 5, 2018 and is available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Bermuda who are 21 years of age or older.

Royal Caribbean Introduces “SoundSeeker” Tool For Creating Musical Photo Art

August 7, 2018.

 

SoundSeeker Produces Original Soundtracks Based on Mood and Content of Pictures, Powered by Music Theory from Berklee College of Music

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what if it was possible to “hear” what it sounds like?  Royal Caribbean International has designed and built a first-of-its-kind tool that transforms travelers’ photos into an original, shareable soundtrack with a video to match. More than a year in the making, SoundSeeker is a groundbreaking, patent-pending digital experience powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The innovative tool is specifically designed to use machine learning to seamlessly create original soundtracks based on the content of each photograph. 

By visiting www.royalcaribbean.com/soundseeker, users can upload three photos of their choice, and the AI analyzes them based on color, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language and facial expression. SoundSeeker then turns them into a shareable and one-of-a kind soundtrack – virtually DJing life’s moments. Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s social channels, and by searching #SoundSeeker.

Royal Caribbean teamed up with experts from Berklee College of Music, and technologists from around the world, to create the unique song generator. Berklee leveraged music theory to create a roadmap for the tool that helps determine the musical pairing to photos, accounting for pitch, tempo and instrumental combinations, among others.

SoundSeeker uses machine learning, an artificial intelligence technique that enables computers to simulate human intelligence and make decisions on their own without explicit instructions. The learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 10 moods.

The AI in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colors in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee. SoundSeeker then finds the musical elements corresponding to each mood in the photo to compose a genuinely distinct audio and visual photo album. The Royal Caribbean tool is equipped to generate over one million unique tracks, based on custom base tracks, composed exclusively for the cruise line. The customized tracks take inspiration from a wide variety of music, including 90s hip-hop, rock, modern and electronic dance music.

Pretty cool huh?

Royal Caribbean To End Onboard Credit For Non-Refundable Bookings

August 1, 2018.

Royal Caribbean fans listen up:  Effective November 1, 2018,  the cruise line will end the current practice of offering an onboard credit for new cruises booked with the non-refundable deposit option.  Onboard credits for cruises booked prior to that date will still be honored.  This new policy does not affect onboard credit for refundable deposits (at least not yet).

Royal Caribbean made the announcement in a letter to travel partners.  The salient part of the letter states:

“We would like to inform you of an upcoming change to our Non-Refundable Deposit Program, resulting from a review of booking analytics over the past year. Based on this research, the onboard credit earned when booking six months or more prior to sailing will no longer apply. This update will take effect on all new bookings made on or after November 1st, 2018.

We are confident that this change will not impact your business. The Non-Refundable Deposit Program continues to offer the best pricing available — and will always be priced lower than the standard fare during brand promotions.”

Typically this credit has been $100 for a 7-night cruise, $50 for shorter cruises.  But it will soon be history.  Refundable bookings typically have an onboard credit of half that amount.  The non-refundable cruise pricing is lower than prices for cruises booked with a refundable deposit.  I would not be surprised if another “review of booking analytics” eventually gives them justification to end the credit for the refundable deposits as well.

Opinion

I think refundable deposits will eventually go the way of the dodo bird and cruises will only come with a no-refund requirement for the deposit and change fees that are heftier than the current $100 per person.   This has long been the policy for people living in the UK, Australia, and other regions.  It’s only a matter of time before it comes to America.