Princess Cruises Celebrates Progress on 3 New Royal-Class Ships Under Construction at Fincantieri Shipyard

February 14, 2019.

Sky Princess Madrina and Princess Cruises 2nd Officer Ms. Kerry Ann Wright and Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz at special ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

Princess Cruises is growing and today major milestones for three ships under construction at the same time were celebrated, at Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

The three milestones included the introduction of the Sky Princess crew member who was nominated by her peers to serve as Madrina to celebrate the recent float out of the ship which will enter service in October 2019; the keel laying ceremony for Enchanted Princess launching June 2020 and the steel-cutting ceremony for the sixth and final Royal-Class ship, yet to be named, debuting 2022. With two additional ships on order for delivery in 2023 and 2025, Princess Cruises will increase its capacity by 32 percent over the next six years, adding to its current fleet of 17 ships.

Sky Princess is the first new ship to join the fleet activated with Princess MedallionClass™ Vacations enabled by the OceanMedallion, the industry’s most advanced wearable technology delivering guests hassle-free, personalized cruise vacations. Sky Princess will also feature MedallionNet, “the best Wi-Fi at sea” delivering land-like internet speeds for watching sports, movies or making video calls from a smart-phone.

Steel-Cutting Ceremony for the final Royal Class ship
The steel-cutting ceremony for the sixth and final Royal-class ship, was broadcast live to the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone from the builder’s yard in Naples, Italy. This ceremony marked the cutting of the first plates of steel to begin the building phase of the ship, which is scheduled to launch in 2022.

Enchanted Princess Keel Laying Ceremony
Princess Cruises and Fincantieri executives started the countdown to the launch of Enchanted Princess as the keel – the bottom-most part of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position in the dry dock. Following a traditional blessing, the ship’s keel – which weighs approximately 500 tons – was lifted then lowered into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. Representatives and invited guests participated in a traditional coin ceremony, and for this occasion, welding an OceanMedallion into the ship believed to bring good luck to the vessel and all who sail on her.

Sky Princess Madrina Celebration in Honor of the recent Sky Princess Float Out
Ms. Kerry Ann Wright, 2nd officer for Princess Cruises, nominated by her fellow crew members will serve as the Madrina recognizing her “Reach for the Sky” story and the career she is forging in the cruise industry. Sky Princess is nearing the final construction and interior outfitting phase before joining the fleet in October 2019.

Recently announced features to debut onboard Sky Princess, include:
Largest Balconies at Sea for guests in the Sky Suites accommodations, featuring the largest continuous private balconies ever offered by any cruise line. Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the furnished balconies will provide a private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screen and create the ultimate space for entertaining. The two suites will also offer 270-degree panorama views and have sleeping capacity for five guests, and more room for gathering — making them ideal for families.

Princess MedallionClass™ Vacations enabled by the OceanMedallion, this complimentary wearable device is the most advanced in the vacation industry. Delivering a hassle-free, personalized vacation giving guests more time to enjoy what they love most about cruising.

Award-winning entertainment offerings, including new jazz lounge Take Five, the popular Vista Lounge, an enhanced Princess Theatre, and new exclusive entertainment options.

World-class dining with more than 25 restaurants and bars onboard. From the World Fresh Marketplace to guest favorites like the Crown Grill Steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, offering the Northern Italian flavors of acclaimed chef, Angelo Auriana and La Mer, a French Bistro by Chef Emmanuel Renaut whose Flocons de Sel restaurant has received three Michelin stars.

Contemporary-designed Sanctuary with eight private cabanas – offering an adults-only area for rest and relaxation.

The Enclave at Lotus Spa. Sky Princess will include Princess’s largest thermal suite at sea – featuring a stunning hydrotherapy pool, heated stone beds, Turkish bath and dry, steam, and aromatherapy chambers.

Sky Princess is scheduled to launch in the Mediterranean in October 2019, before debuting in North America in December 2019 marked with the traditional naming ceremony before sailing a season of Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale.

First Photos Of New “Perfect Day At Coco Cay” Attractions

February 8, 2019.

Royal Caribbean released a couple photos of the new attractions under construction at the private island of Coco Cay.  The small Bahamian island is being totally revamped with the initial phase set to open this coming May.

Here is the foot bridge over the Oasis Lagoon which will be the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean according to Royal Caribbean.  (Strictly speaking, Coco Cay is not geographically in the Caribbean, it’s in the Atlantic Ocean.)

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

The water slides for Splash Summit are also being installed.  (the image seems to be the Splash Speedway slides although the press image didn’t specify.)

Splash Summit will include six slides, including:

The Twister:  a winding tube slide for two people aboard a raft

The Slingshot:  a zero-gravity slide for four

Splash Speedway: four separate racing slides

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Although opening in May 2019 with some of the new features, the full Perfect Day At Coco Cay experience will not be completed until December 2019.  In the end it will cost $200 million dollars and will boast the Thrill Waterpark, Oasis Lagoon, Up, Up and Away helium balloon (yes, it’ll be tethered), Chill Island beach, and South Beach.

Carnival Expands Hub App Features To Include ‘Pizza Anywhere’ & Pre-Cruise Purchases

February 5, 2019.

The Carnival Cruise Line Hub App has received more enhancements which were announced today with the launch of pre-cruise purchasing functionality and online check-in for its North American-based ships.  The app’s popular “Pizza Anywhere” on board function is now available on 11 ships with a fleetwide rollout expected to be completed later this year.

New Pre-Cruise Functionality 

With the Hub App’s new pre-cruise capabilities, guests can now manage their booking, complete their online check-in, and purchase a wide variety of items and experiences before departure, including shore excursions, spa treatments, specialty dining reservations, Wi-Fi packages and Fun Shop orders for stateroom delivery. 

Expanded ‘Pizza Anywhere’ Feature

First available on Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista, the Hub App’s popular “Pizza Anywhere” feature has been added to nine other ships, including Carnival Victory, Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Dream, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Glory, Carnival Ecstasy, and Carnival Liberty.

With the “Pizza Anywhere” function, guests can order a made-to-order pizza for delivery anywhere on the ship.  To place an order, guests simply click on the ship’s map to mark their location, take a selfie to identify themselves and select their desired pizza and toppings. Five hand-tossed pizzas are available: margherita, funghi, prosciutto, pepperoni and quattro formaggi.

Pizzas are cooked to order and delivered hot to the guest’s location on board. Cost is $5 per pizza and automatically charged to guests’ Sail & Sign shipboard accounts.   Carnival is now working towards a pilot to expand “Pizza Anywhere” deliveries with the addition of beverages.

Launched in 2015, Carnival’s Hub App has become the leading app in the cruise industry with a 4.6+ rating in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and more than 5.1 million total downloads. Hub App is designed to serve as a one-stop-shop for making the Carnival vacation experience seamless and convenient from beginning to end, allowing guests to track daily happenings on board, view food, beverage and entertainment offerings, chat with family and friends, follow the ship’s route in real time, and access their Sail & Sign account.

 

Royal Caribbean Begins Construction Of 2nd Quantum Ultra Class Ship – To Be Named Odyssey Of The Seas

February 1, 2019.

In a ceremony at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg Germany earlier today, Royal Caribbean executives did the ceremonial cutting of the first steel for Odyssey Of The Seas.  Odyssey will be the second of the Quantum Ultra class of ships, following the Spectrum Of The Seas which is scheduled for delivery this coming April.

Odyssey will be the 27th ship for Royal Caribbean International and is planned to be delivered in the fall of 2020.

Great news for those who sail from the United States was also announced, with word that Odyssey will sail from a U.S. port.  The exact port is still to be determined and will be announced at a later date.

 

Meet ZOE – Virtual Cruise Assistant From MSC Cruises and HARMAN Connected Services

February 1, 2019.

ZOE– the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant – is poised to take MSC Cruises’ Guest Services to a new level with guest-centric technology that will further enrich the cruise vacation.  Developed in partnership with HARMAN and Samsung Electronics, ZOE is a voice-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) tool found in every stateroom.  ZOE can speak seven languages, answer hundreds of questions about the cruise and provide information about on board services, guidance and suggestions or help to book a service. An easy to use device – guests simply say, “OK ZOE”, and she’s ready to help. The advanced voice recognition feature makes it easy for everyone to control and access information using only voice commands.

ZOE is a first in the cruise industry and another example of how MSC Cruises continues to lead the way by employing technology to enhance the guest experience.  ZOE will launch on MSC Bellissima and will then be available on each following new ship, including the upcoming MSC Grandiosa in 2019 and MSC Virtuosa in 2020.

ATL USAGE ON REQUEST (BTL, Web, Digital, Social included) – Zoe, Digital Personal Assistant

CO-CREATING INNOVATION

This ground-breaking AI guest service has been developed in partnership with the MSC Cruises’ Business Innovation team and HARMAN International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. The collaboration has brought together the best-in-class expertise in voice-enabled technology and cruise expertise as part of a shared vision for connected living, now extended to the cruise industry.

ZOE’s physical design features advanced audio with far field microphones and a professional quality speaker to provide the best audio experience. Guests will enjoy fast response times, thanks to the integration of a top-of-the-line quad-core processor, and also have the opportunity to connect their phones directly to the device through Bluetooth to enjoy music, podcasts and more directly in their staterooms.

ANSWERING GUEST QUESTIONS FROM THE COMFORT OF THEIR STATEROOMS

To ensure ZOE could respond effectively to all guests, she has been programmed and trained to respond to more than 800 of the most commonly asked questions with thousands of different variants of each question. The conversation designs, ZOE’s natural speech recognition and ability to transform speech into text and back again has undergone significant testing, in addition to a variety of other behavioral, experiential and performance tests. As an artificial intelligence solution, ZOE is designed to continue learning and developing her responses based on real guest interactions.

While ZOE acts as a 24/7 virtual personal cruise assistant, she is not designed to replace human interaction between crew and guest, but rather to provide guests with the flexibility to communicate and discover information from the comfort of their staterooms.

To find out more about ZOE visit here and to find out more about MSC Bellissima visit here.

 

Carnival’s #ChooseFun Airship To Soon Fly Over Las Vegas & Phoenix

February 1, 2019.

Kicks Off Sweepstakes, Continues #ChooseFun Social Media Campaign Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®

After completing its successful month-long tour of California to celebrate the arrival of the new Carnival Panorama to the West Coast, Carnival Cruise Line’s #ChooseFun AirShip is extending its journey by taking to the skies over Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona.

The airship will begin a five-day tour of Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 2,  with aerial visits to major attractions and including the Las Vegas Strip as well as travel agent events.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the airship will arrive in Phoenix for a five-day flyover of the city through Sunday, Feb. 17.

In conjunction with the extended West Coast tour, Carnival is hosting a sweepstakes where consumers have a chance to win a free cruise as well as additional prizes each week when they enter at carnival.com/choosefun.

And there’s never an end date to raising money for a great cause – continuing the charity component of the AirShip’s month-long flyover, for anyone who takes a picture of the AirShip and posts it on social media with the hashtag #ChooseFun, Carnival will make a $2 donation to its longtime charity partner St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® up to a maximum donation of $20,000.

Last month, the AirShip made its West Coast debut gaining the attention of tens of thousands of consumers across California in anticipation of the arrival of Carnival Panorama to Long Beach, Calif. in December – the first new Carnival ship homeported on the West Coast in 20 years and the world’s first ship to have a trampoline park at sea, in partnership with Sky Zone.  Carnival Panorama will debut with a special three-day inaugural cruise from Long Beach on Dec. 11, 2019, followed by the launch of year-round, seven-day Mexican Riviera sailings on Dec. 14, 2019.

Princess Cays Fire UPDATE

January 30, 2019.

Yesterday we reported about a fire at the private resort of Princess Cays in The Bahamas.  The resort is owned by Princess Cruises but is used by all cruise brands owned by the parent Carnival Corporation.

The initial news reports painted a dire picture that led many, including me, to believe the entire resort was destroyed.  Well, while this wasn’t ‘fake news’ it seems it was ‘hyped news’.  Soon after posting the original article word began to emerge that the fire was not as widespread.

Updated reports state that the only damage on the guest side of the resort was fire damage to a public restroom.  The major fire damage was confined to four buildings in the resort support facilities, with the electrical generator and potable water treatment plant (reverse osmosis) being the worst of it.  This is not insignificant since power and water are key to the resort operation.  However, it should be a lot quicker to recover from the damage since new generators and a water treatment plant could be brought in on trailers for temporary use while the permanent facilities are restored.  But you know how it is with “Bahamas Time”.

I would anticipate three or four weeks before ships return to Princess Cays, but this should not be a months long shutdown.

 

Carnival’s New Mardi Gras Opens For Bookings

January 30, 2019.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (note that the ship is not named ‘Carnival Mardi Gras’) is now open for sale of its inaugural 2020 schedule.

Mardi Gras will offer a schedule of 6 to 15 night sailings in Europe and the Caribbean beginning in summer 2020.

Guests can choose from more than 20 different stateroom categories and  suites, more than on any other Carnival ship.  Stateroom options include both general and special stateroom and suite areas such as Family Harbor, Havana Cabana and Cloud 9 Spa accommodations. 

Inaugural Season

The schedule includes:

  • A nine-night maiden voyage from Copenhagen to Southampton Aug. 31 – Sept. 9, 2020 calling at Kiel (Hamburg), Germany; Gothenburg, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Zeebrugge (Brussels), Belgium; and Le Havre (Paris), France.
  • A 14-night trans-Atlantic crossing from Southampton to New York Sept. 9-23, 2020, with stops at Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain; and Funchal (Madeira) and Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.
  • A six-night cruise round-trip from New York to Portland, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick Sept. 24-30.
  • A 15-night Carnival Journeys voyage departing New York Sept. 30, 2020 and arriving in Port Canaveral, Fla., on Oct. 15, 2020, calling at Amber Cove, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Aruba, Curacao, and Grand Turk, positioning the vessel for year-round voyages to the Caribbean.

Year-Round Caribbean Departures from Port Canaveral

Following a special eight-night Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral on Oct. 16, 2020, Mardi Gras will kick off its seven-night program from the Space Coast Oct. 24, 2020, offering two different three-port, seven-day itineraries, alternating weekly to the eastern and western Caribbean featuring some of the region’s most beautiful and popular ports.

  • Eastern Caribbean cruises will visit San Juan, Amber Cove and Grand Turk.
  • Western Caribbean sailings will stop in Cozumel, Costa Maya and Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan).

Additional Information and Reservations

Additional details on the six themed zones that will provide Mardi Gras guests with scores of ways to Choose Fun and have a great Carnival cruise vacation are scheduled to be announced over the coming weeks.

Princess Cays Gutted By Overnight Fire

January 29, 2019.

Photo credit Bahamas Press

The private resort of Princess Cays was ravaged by fire Monday night, which by initial reports appears to be substantial.  Owned by Princess Cruises and located on the southern tip of the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, the resort recently completed several upgrades which included adding wifi for the cruise line’s MedallionNet system.

According to a spokesperson for Princess Cruises the fire encompassed several buildings on the south side of the island and was took approximately one hour to extinguish.  An investigation is underway to determine the cause.   Bahamian officials report the fire started in the electrical generator structure.  The company is also assessing impact to scheduled ship visits.

You can see video and images of the blaze, and read more details from the Bahamas Press report here.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras To Feature Six Themed Zones

January 25, 2019.

Carnival Cruise Line today revealed the first look at design details for the highly anticipated Mardi Gras, the line’s most innovative ship set to debut in 2020 and the first cruise ship in North America powered by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).  Mardi Gras will offer an extensive array of Carnival guest favorites along with new experiences highlighted by six themed zones.

The accommodations on Mardi Gras will include over 20 different stateroom categories and multiple levels of suites.  Mardi Gras will also include the most expansive open decks on any Carnival ship, and an atrium that will serve as the hub of the ship as well as a focal point where guests will be welcomed on board. 

Six Distinctive Zones

The six areas will be themed around Grand Central, French Quarter, La Piazza, Summer Landing, Lido and The Ultimate Playground and highlights include:

  • Grand Central (Decks 6-8, mid-ship):  Grand Central takes the traditional atrium concept to new heights, combining a day-to-night entertainment complex with three-deck-high floor-to-ceiling windows and a bar overlooking the starboard side of the ship.  Nearby are Bonsai Sushi and Bonsai Teppanyaki which will be expanded from designs on existing ships to reflect their popularity with guests.  There’s also the first-ever dedicated Punchliner Comedy Club and the always popular Piano Bar 88.
  • French Quarter (Deck 6, aft): In a nod to the New Orleans’ culture that combines lively entertainment with an unparalleled food scene, French Quarter will be lined with new bars, music and eateries that perfectly capture the spirit of the Big Easy.  And since the spirit of New Orleans is so closely tied to the jazz scene, this neighborhood is linked via a two-deck-high promenade leading to a traditional New Orleans jazz club with live entertainment and hand-crafted libations. More details on these new dining and entertainment choices and the introduction of a new Carnival celebrity partnership will be revealed this spring.
  • La Piazza (Deck 8, mid-ship):  La Piazza features Italian cuisine from the casual family-style Cucina del Capitano and 24/7 Pizzeria del Capitano to a new Mediterranean-themed seafood restaurant. There’s also a bar where guests can have cappuccino by day or classic Italian cocktails at night, while roaming musicians keep everyone entertained.
  • Summer Landing (Deck 8, aft): Summer Landing will be home to an expanded Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse with smoked-on-board barbecue favorites created by longtime Carnival partner Guy Fieri, along with the line’s exclusive ParchedPig craft beers brewed right on board.  There will be a pool and whirlpools, a new bar, the lunch counter for the Smokehouse Brewhouse along with ample lounging spaces and hang outs.
  • Lido (Deck 16-17, aft): Carnival is already known for its varied casual poolside restaurants and Mardi Gras’ expanded Lido will take this to a whole new level with existing Carnival favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint, the New England-inspired Seafood Shack, and BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, along with some new concepts to be announced at a later date that are sure to inspire foodie fans.
  • The Ultimate Playground (Decks 18-20, aft): The Ultimate Playground will span Decks 18-20 and offer guests sea vistas highlighted by the largest and most elaborate Carnival WaterWorks aqua park in the fleet, along with an expanded SportSquare. The Ultimate Playground is also where guests will find the much-anticipated BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster, the first rollercoaster at sea announced in December 2018, where riders race along an 800-foot-long track achieving speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour.

Mardi Gras will also incorporate all of the line’s most popular signature features from its nearly completed $2 billion fleet enhancement program that has brought a consistent level of experiences to the more than five million passengers who annually sail on Carnival, such as Alchemy Bar, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, and the Serenity adult-only retreat, among others – many of which will offer an exciting twist, along with a variety of new innovations exclusive to this vessel.

Additional information on Mardi Gras, along with specifics on each of the six themed areas will be revealed in the coming months.

Reservations for Mardi Gras will be open for sale on Jan. 30, 2019.  Carnival Cruise Line fans who want to be the first to book on Mardi Gras can get a head start by clicking here where they can register up until Jan. 27, 2019 to get a “first to know” alert and special promotional offer when reservations open.