MSC Armonia Arrives In Miami For Cuba Sailings

December 10, 2018.

 

MSC Cruises welcomed MSC Armonia to Miami today in preparation for her first ever sailing from the United States to Cuba.  Starting today, MSC Armonia will begin sailing 7-night Caribbean itineraries year-round departing from Miami and calling at Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico before arriving in Havana, the Cuban capital, on Saturday and staying overnight to Sunday. And, with only one day at sea in this itinerary, cruisers are given more time to explore these sun-soaked ports of call.

With two full days in Havana, guests will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in the Cuban culture both during the day and in the evening through a variety of distinctive tours. Shore excursions will explore local highlights from music, art and architecture to classic cigar rolling, rum distilling and much more. Guests can:

  • Ride in vintage American cars, a staple of the Havana experience. On this excursion, guests will tour the city in classic vehicles down the seafront Malecón boulevards and Quinta Avenida. Guests will stop for a historic photo opportunity at Plaza de la Revolución, and then head to the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery. As the drive continues, participants will marvel at some of the city’s key landmarks.
  • Sip on local rum and try classic Habanos cigars to learn about a key part of Cuban culture. Guests will visit a cigar factory to watch highly-skilled torcedors as they hand-roll Cuban cigars. Then, cruisers will head to the Havana Club Museum to learn about how freshly cut sugarcane is distilled into rum and then try some of the final product.
  • Dance at Havana’s largest nightclub, the renowned Tropicana Club. Founded in 1939 in Havana’s Marianao suburb, the Tropicana Club is an iconic celebration of Cuban culture with tropical surroundings. Visitors will listen to live music and see a variety of performers in vibrant costumes, while sipping on a local cocktail and dancing the night away.

These on shore experiences are complemented by the variety of on board enhancements to MSC Armonia, including new dining and entertainment concepts and special features paying homage to Cuba.

GETTING A TASTE FOR LA HAVANA ON BOARD

Local entertainment while in port

On Saturday evenings, during MSC Armonia’s overnight stay in Havana, a highlight of MSC Armonia’s entertainment offering will be the addition of local Cuban music while in port in Cuba. Straight from the city of Havana, various musicians will join guests on board to play local Cuban music and dance the evening away.

Havana-inspired Mojito Bar

Bringing the Cuban experience on board, MSC Armonia will transform one of its bars into a Havana haven, with a wide range of Mojito cocktails to choose from, whether traditional or out-of-the-box. These include, to name a few:

  • Classic Mojito, made in traditional style with mint leaves, sugar, lime, club soda and rum.
  • Guava Mojito, with rum mixed with sweet guava, fresh lime and sprigs of mint, topped with crushed ice and club soda.
  • Cape Cod Mojito, mixing rum, muddled mint and dried cranberries, splashed with cranberry juice and topped with club soda.
  • Flightless Bird Mojito, featuring kiwi with rum, muddled mint and topped with club soda.

For Families

MSC Armonia is offering families an opportunity to explore and learn together with the Kids Sail Free promotion available on many sailings.

Additional enhancements made as part of the Renaissance Program include exquisite, varied dining offerings; outstanding, all-hours entertainment; a broad choice of relaxation and wellness options, and more, all with the European flair MSC Cruises is known for.

New Dining Choices

MSC Armonia is introducing a brand new specialty restaurant to the culinary line-up. The 38-seat “Surf & Turf” costs $35 per person, where guests can select an appetizer, main course and dessert.

Sample  items include an appetizer of slow braised pork belly, paired with Jalapenos, radish slaw and topped with a pineapple BBQ sauce. For main courses, the Surf & Turf has a 6 oz filet mignon and 7 oz cold water lobster tail. Additional entrée highlights include a Lobster Thermidor, baked in shell with a mushroom cream sauce, and the 18 oz Certified Angus Beef Bone-in Ribeye. Desserts include items such as Guava cheese cake, dressed in a warm Rum sauce, a Red Velvet Cake, and a Seven Layers Mexican Chocolate cake.

Enhanced Pub Menu

MSC Armonia’s White Lion Pub will introduce a new and complimentary menu featuring hand-helds like the befitting Cuban sandwich, a Mojo Chicken Quesadilla, an Avocado and Tuna Salad Wrap, and Spinach and Artichoke Dip to share. The pub will also continue serving a wide selection of beers, including four new additions — Heineken, Newcastle Brown Ale, Murphy’s Irish Stout, and Lagunitas IPA.

New included delights

MSC Armonia will also introduce a few items on board that come complimentary with the cruise experience. MSC Cruises is already known for offering some of the best gelato at sea, and now, every creamy bite comes included with the cruise cost, leaving guests plenty of opportunity to try every flavor on board.

 

In the main dining room, guests will be able to order cold water lobster as part of a special seafood dish at no additional cost. And, while dining on these elevated offerings, Aurea experience guests will have the option to dine al fresco, with a reserved outdoor area, featuring the open water as the backdrop.

THEATRICAL ENHANCEMENTS

MSC Armonia’s evening theater entertainment has undergone a complete change, with an entire line-up of new performances introduced on board.  Shows include:

  • ABYSS: A mermaid’s spectacular adventures under the sea.
  • THE TIME OF MY LIFE: Inspired by the famous 80s film, Dirty Dancing, the show features songs, dances and a story that still captures audiences to this day.
  • ADDAMS FAMILY: The famous quirky family stars in this hilarious show, inspired by the satirical and ironic portrayal of the 20th century American Dream family.
  • FRENCH FOLLIES: An all-French variety show, with artists, dancers, singers that come together for an elegant and joyful show.
  • THE GREATEST: Featuring the best of Broadway, guests are taken through the most iconic pieces of musical theater.
  • ITALIAN TOUCH: True to MSC Cruises’ Mediterranean heritage, this show will feature Italian music and the most unforgettable Italian songs.

MSC Armonia will continue to sail year round from Miami to the Caribbean and Cuba, with balcony stateroom prices starting at $1,169 per person. For more information on MSC Cruises’ Cuba program, MSC Armonia and to book, contact a preferred travel agent or visit www.msccruises.com/cuba.

 

Carnival Airship Coming To California For A Month-Long Tour

December 10, 2018.

The Carnival Airship floats near the Carnival Vista Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, off Miami Beach. Following a two-day cruise, Horizon is to kick off kicks off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from PortMiami beginning Saturday, Sept. 22. The 128-foot-long red, white, and blue blimp is traveling the southeast to promote ship deployments in several key markets including in Miami. Vista is repositioning to Galveston, Texas, to sail on Western Caribbean cruises. The blimp and the ship are emblazoned with “Choose Fun” stern signage promoting the line’s newest marketing campaign. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Look up in the sky! You could win prizes including a free cruise.  As part of the year-long celebration welcoming the new Carnival Panorama to the West Coast, Carnival Cruise Line today announced that its #ChooseFun AirShip will return with a month-long journey across California, launching on Dec. 31 in conjunction with the line’s first-ever Rose Parade float on New Year’s Day.

The 120-foot Carnival AirShip will travel throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties and then to Northern California, heralding the December 2019 launch of Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Panorama and inviting everyone to “Choose Fun.” The AirShip will fly over major cultural events and venues including The Rose Parade: A Showcase of Floats and sporting events, as well as visit schools, Carnival’s home ports in Long Beach and San Diego, travel agent viewing parties, and select trampoline park locations of Sky Zone, Carnival Panorama’s newest all-ages attraction.  The AirShip will also be incorporated into the design of the Carnival Cruise Line float which will sail in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1.

In conjunction with AirShip’s aerial tour of California, consumers will have a chance to win prizes that give them a taste of Carnival fun, including a Carnival cruise for two, when they enter the sweepstakes that begins on Dec. 31. Details on the sweepstakes will be announced later this month.

Additionally, for those who take a picture of the blimp using the hashtags #ChooseFun and #JumpIntoFun, inspired by the first-ever Sky Zone at sea on Carnival Panorama, Carnival will make a donation to one of its favorites charities, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Carnival AirShip made its inaugural journey this past summer when it toured the southeast U.S. in August and September to celebrate the arrival of new ships in multiple home ports.  The AirShip proved to be a popular topic on social and news media channels, as well as with thousands of cruise fans who posted photos of the blimp on their own social media profiles.

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 service on Dec. 14, 2019. The ship joins Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration to carry upwards of 600,000 guests annually from the West Coast

Carnival Returns To It’s Roots: New Ship To Be Named ‘Carnival Mardi Gras’

December 5, 2018.

In a nod to Carnival Cruise Line’s rich history, the line announced today that it will name its new XL-class ship Mardi Gras, bringing back to the fleet the name of the first Carnival Cruise Line ship that entered service in 1972 and started the wave of cruise vacation popularity in the United States.

In keeping with its tradition of fun, Carnival revealed the name to a nationwide television audience on the popular game show Wheel of Fortune on its signature Puzzle board at the conclusion of the broadcast.

Mardi Gras will be the largest Carnival Cruise Line ship ever constructed and the first in North America to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), part of Carnival Corporation’s green cruising platform.  At 180,000 tons, the new Mardi Gras will be more than six times the size of its namesake.

Currently under construction at Meyer Turku in Finland, the 5,200-plus lower berth vessel will offer a variety of new innovations and attractions.

Itineraries for Mardi Gras will be announced in January and go on sale later that same month.  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 to get a “first to know” alert and special promotional offer when itineraries are opened for sale.

The original 27,000-ton TSS Mardi Gras, a converted trans-Atlantic ocean liner  purchased by entrepreneur and Carnival founder Ted Arison, ushered in the modern-day cruise industry when it set sail on its inaugural voyage in 1972, helping to transform cruising from an experience once reserved for the elite into a mainstream vacation accessible and affordable to everyone.

Carnival previously announced that the ship will be based in Port Canaveral, Fla., which will feature a new state-of-the-art terminal.  A second XL ship will start construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Line’s founding.

Carnival Legend To Sail Extensive European Schedule In 2020

December 3, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ new Carnival Legend departs Harwich, England, on its inaugural cruise Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2002. Photo by Andy Newman/CCL

Carnival Legend will operate Carnival Cruise Line’s most diverse European season to date with 9- to 16-day voyages visiting 34 ports in 14 countries including Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Croatia, Portugal, Greece, Greenland and Iceland in the summer and fall of 2020.

Available through the Carnival Adventures program, hundreds of shore excursions will be offered where guests can explore centuries-old historic sites and landmarks, savor local cuisine and view spectacular scenery, including the majestic Norwegian fjords.

European Itineraries on Carnival Legend

Highlights include:

  • A 16-day Northern trans-Atlantic crossing from New York to London (Dover) June 3-19, featuring day-long visits to these spectacular destinations: Qaqortoq, Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Cork (Cobh), Ireland.
  • A nine-day Norwegian Fjords cruise round-trip from London June 19-28, visiting six scenic Norwegian ports:  Bergen, Olden, Molde, Trondheim, Alesund, and Stavanger, with ample opportunities to view the majestic Norwegian fjords.
  • A nine-day Western Europe cruise June 28 – July 7 from London to Barcelona, visiting Le Havre (Paris), France; La Coruña, Spain; Leixoes and Lisbon, Portugal; Gibraltar; and Malaga, Spain.
  • Nine- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises between Venice and Barcelona with stops at some of Europe’s most beautiful and sought-after destinations, including Marseilles, France; Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Rome (Civitavecchia) and Naples, Italy; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; and Dubrovnik and Rijeka, Croatia.
  • A 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to Tampa Oct. 30 – Nov. 15, highlighted by visits to Malaga, Spain; Funchal (Madeira), Portugal; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Antigua; San Juan; and Amber Cove (Dominican Republic).

Carnival Legend Voyages from Tampa, New York

Before her summer in Europe, Carnival Legend will operate a 13-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal voyage from Tampa to New York May 3-16, 2020, with calls in Cozumel, Mexico and Limon, Costa Rica prior to a partial Panama Canal transit followed by visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Aruba; and Grand Turk.

Once in New York, Carnival Legend will operate two nine-day Caribbean sailings departing May 16 and 25, 2020 and featuring San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.

Carnival Legend will also offer a schedule of six- and seven-day Caribbean sailings featuring calls at a variety of tropical islands, including Grand Cayman, Belize, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), as well as eight-day partial Panama Canal voyages, round-trip from Tampa in winter 2020-21.

A full schedule of Carnival Legend’s 2020 European schedule can be viewed at https://www.carnival.com/cruise-to/europe-cruises.aspx

Holland America Line Takes Delivery of Nieuw Statendam from Fincantieri Shipyard

November 29, 2018.

Holland America took delivery of Nieuw Statendam today,  officially making it the 15th ship in the fleet. A hand-over ceremony took place at Fincantieri’s Marghera, Italy, shipyard, and Nieuw Statendam will set sail for Venice tomorrow en route to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, for its Premiere Voyage with guests departing Dec. 5.

The delivery was attended by Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president; Carnival Corporation’s Micky Arison, chairman of the board, and Arnold Donald, president and CEO; and Stein Kruse, chief executive officer of Holland America Group and Carnival UK. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, and several other executives from both companies also attended.

Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Holland America Line 

Following its transatlantic crossing from Civitavecchia, Nieuw Statendam will spend a full season in the Caribbean sailing round trip from Fort Lauderdale. Nieuw Statendam’s official naming ceremony will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Feb. 2.

The ship will head to its summer homeport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in May and sail a series of northern Europe, Baltic and Iceland cruises before making its way to the Mediterranean in September for cruises out of Civitavecchia.

The 99,902-ton vessel accommodates 2,666 guests and features purpose-built staterooms for families and solo travelers among its 1,377 guest accommodations.

While much of the ship’s design will be similar to the first Pinnacle Class ship ms Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam will have exclusive public spaces and its own style created by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjørn Storbraaten. The ship will feature light-filled spaces, visual drama and interiors inspired by the fluid curves of musical instruments.

In addition to the Dining Room, guests will dine in specialty restaurants that include newly designed Rudi’s Sel de Mer, a French seafood brasserie; pan-Asian Tamarind, with a new al fresco dining area where guests can enjoy the ocean breeze; Nami Sushi, a new sushi experience within Tamarind; the award-winning Pinnacle Grill; Canaletto, with family-style Italian dining; and the new Club Orange restaurant exclusively for guests in the Club Orange program.

Additional culinary venues include Grand Dutch Cafe featuring traditional Dutch coffee and treats and European beer; Dive-In, serving up gourmet burgers and fries poolside; New York Deli & Pizza, offering made-to-order sandwiches and pies; and Lido Market, with themed serving stations that revolutionize the buffet experience.

Onboard entertainment features the innovative Music Walk offering a variety of authentic live musical experiences and genres.   These include the debut of the new Rolling Stone Rock Room with classic rock hits; Lincoln Center Stage, with chamber music; Billboard Onboard, with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club, bringing the best of Memphis music to sea. With the 270-degree LED projection at World Stage and expanded seating on Nieuw Statendam, even more guests will enjoy performances with panoramic visuals and sound effects.

More Details On The “Royal Up” Cabin Upgrade Bidding Program From Royal Caribbean

November 27, 2018.

Yesterday I posted about the new Royal Up program from Royal Caribbean, which is a bidding program where, on select cruises, booked guests may receive an email invitation to submit bids on available cabin upgrades.  Images of sample screens that bidders will see are available and I’m posting them here.

The offer email will look like this image:

When you select the ‘Request Upgrade’ link in the email you will see this next screen:

Next up will be the screen where you can place your bids, and you can bid on several categories.  A  meter gauges the strength of the bid.

Finally you will get a screen to submit your payment information and then another similar screen to submit the bids:

So with this program beginning I think it’s safe to say that the ‘Upgrade Fairy’ is dead and buried.  Although they had become rare, getting a phone call and offer of a free upgrade still happened.  Not anymore.

Holland America Line Announces 2019 Food & Beverage Aficionado Cruises

November 26, 2018.

World-renowned celebrity chefs, vintners and cocktail collaborator host select 2019 cruises

Following the success of the 2018 series, Holland America Line is announcing dates for the 2019 Food & Beverage Aficionado Cruises that showcase the talents of the members of its highly regarded Culinary Council, Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff and the line’s Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker partners. The Culinary Council comprises a collection of elite international celebrity chefs who bring global influence to every dining venue across Holland America Line’s fleet of premium ships.

The Culinary Council is led by Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, who is joined by international chefs Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner, Andy Matsuda, Ethan Stowell and Jacques Torres. James Suckling, world-renowned wine critic and Holland America Line’s wine curator, has created an extensive new wine list featured on all ships in the premium fleet. The cruise line also collaborates with Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff on its cocktail program and vintners from its home state of Washington, including Chateau Ste. Michelle winery, which helped develop the BLEND wine experience on board Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam.

During each Food & Beverage Aficionado Cruise, guests will have the opportunity to attend cooking, cocktail or wine demonstrations; get to know the experts at presentations; meet them at photo opportunities; and join an intimate, reservation-only dinner in the Pinnacle Grill.

Guests who wish to make reservations for the specialty dinner can contact Holland America Line’s Ship Services Department upon booking to secure their spot.

The 2019 schedule (and it’s a lengthy schedule) of Food & Beverage Aficionado Cruises:

Rudi Sodamin, Culinary Council Chairman
Sodamin was born in Austria and trained in France. The Master Chef recently released his latest culinary masterpiece, an art table book called “Food Faces” featuring more than 150 images of edible creations that display a whimsical spectrum of human emotion. His “Food Faces” have also been immortalized on Bernardaud porcelain and are on display in Rudi’s Sel de Mer, a sea brasserie available on all Holland America Line ships. Sodamin’s innovative approach has made him the most decorated chef on the world’s oceans.

  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Eastern Caribbean, Feb. 17, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Veendam, 7-Day Eastern Caribbean, Nov. 13, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale
David Burke
Burke is a restaurateur, cookbook author, inventor and consultant at ESquared Hospitality, which owns and operates the BLT restaurant brand. He has been featured on “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef Masters.” He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has worked with legendary chefs in France and New York.
  • Rotterdam, 7-Day Western Caribbean, March 3, 2019, roundtrip Tampa, Florida
  • Veendam, 7-Day Canada & New England, Sept. 7, 2019, Boston, Massachusetts, to Montréal, Québec, Canada
Andy Matsuda
The Japanese-born Matsuda is at the forefront of sushi trends and techniques. At Matsuda’s Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles, California, he teaches aspiring chefs and professionals about sushi and Japanese cuisine.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Eastern Caribbean, March 3, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale
  • Eurodam, 7-Day Mexican Riviera, Oct. 19, 2019, roundtrip San Diego, California
Ethan Stowell
With an impressive roster of highly acclaimed restaurants, Stowell has helped to change the face of the Seattle food scene. He was named one of the Best New Chefs in America by FOOD & WINE magazine in 2008 and chosen as one of the Best New Chef All-Stars in 2013.
  • Eurodam, 7-Day Alaskan Explorer, May 11, 2019, roundtrip Seattle, Washington
  • Noordam, 7-Day Alaska Glacier Discovery, July 21, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Seward, Alaska
Jacques Torres
A French-trained Master Chef and artisan chocolatier, Torres is a James Beard award winner. After rising to executive pastry chef at New York’s legendary Le Cirque, he opened a chocolate factory and stores throughout New York. Torres is co-hosting and co-host on the Netflix culinary show “Nailed It” with Nicole Byer.
  • Zaandam, 7-Day Canada & New England Discovery, June 1, 2019, Montréal to Boston
  • Veendam, 7-Day Canada & New England Discovery, Sept. 28, 2019, Montréal to Boston
Dale DeGroff
DeGroff received the James Beard Award for Wine & Spirits, was inducted into the prestigious James Beard Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2015 and is author of “The Essential Cocktail” and “The Craft of the Cocktail.” He is a partner in the award-winning Beverage Alcohol Resource bar-training program and founding president of the Museum of the American Cocktail.
  • Zuiderdam, 11-Day Panama Canal Sunfarer, April 10, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale
  • Westerdam, 7-Day Alaska Glacier Discovery, Aug. 4, 2019, Seward to Vancouver
Top Vintners Share Their Love of Wine
The spotlight is on wine — and its fascinating journey from vine to table — on selectNieuw Statendam and Koningsdam itineraries throughout 2019. On each of these special cruises, a different Chateau Ste. Michelle expert will join the onboard vinologist for several one-hour sessions each day at BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle. They’ll also be present for the ship’s special Cellar Master’s Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center, where the accent will be on perfect wine and food pairings. There is a modest fee for this dinner.

BLEND — the only purpose-built wine-blending venue at sea — has a tasting table that accommodates 10 guests who can create their own blend from a selection of five barrels of single-vineyard red wine. In addition to participating in the blending process, guests also will learn about wine from each wine expert. BLEND has a small fee.

Al Portney, Vice President, International Sales
Portney is a veteran of the wine industry with 43 years of experience. He became vice president, international sales, for Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2006 after running his own company. Portney travels more than 200 days a year assisting the many people representing the wines of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and their associated wineries.

  • Nieuw Statendam, 14-Day Azores & Normandy Expedition, April 21, 2019, Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cary Kloster, Vice President, Group Brand Director
Kloster joined Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in August of 2005 as Marketing Manager supporting Chateau Ste. Michelle and Domain Ste. Michelle brands. She has worked in roles touching all of the Washington brands, including Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14 Hands, Columbia Crest, Spring Valley Vineyard, Northstar and Col Solare.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Vikings Saga, Aug. 18, 2019, roundtrip Amsterdam
Paul Asikainen, National Wine Educator
As National Wine Educator for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Asikainen is responsible for a wide breadth of educational activities representing the entire portfolio of domestic and import wines. Asikainen is certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers and Society of Wine Educators.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Tropical Caribbean, Nov. 24, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale
Tristan Butterfield, Winemaking
As an enologist, Butterfield describes his role as “caretaker” of the red wines at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate Winery in Paterson, Washington. The winery houses over 85,000 oak barrels filled with wine from Washington state. He keeps track and monitors each lot of wine from harvest to bottle.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Tropical Caribbean, Dec. 15, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale
Natalie Guillen, Marketing Manager
Guillen develops and supports the annual marketing plans and cross-functional project management for Chateau Ste. Michelle, Eroica and Anew brands. Guillen is a long-time wine enthusiast and loves experiencing new cultures, cuisine and people. Her favorite travel destinations are wineries and vineyards around the world.
  • Koningsdam, 10-Day Southern Caribbean, Feb. 3, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale
Tracey Keller, Winemaking
President and winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Keller oversees the winery operations and collaborates with her winemaking team to develop blends and tastes for the acclaimed winery.
  • Koningsdam, 11-Day Ancient Empires, June 1, 2019, roundtrip Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Kara Koh, Winemaking
Koh is assistant winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle and has been with the winery for more than 20 years, working in most aspects of the business. Koh regularly shares her knowledge and experience at tastings and wine-pairing meals.
  • Koningsdam, 13-Day Mediterranean Legends, June 24, 2019, roundtrip Civitavecchia (Rome)
Brett Scallan, Senior Vice President, Marketing
Scallan joined Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in September 2000 as Director of Marketing for Columbia Crest Winery. Prior to his current role, he served as vice president of domestic brands and vice president group brand director, with responsibilities including innovation.
  • Koningsdam, 12-Day Mediterranean Legends, July 29, 2019, roundtrip Civitavecchia (Rome)
Thom Horsey, Wine Educator
As National Wine Educator for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Horsey is responsible for a variety of educational activities representing the entire portfolio of wines. Horsey is a 35-year veteran of the wine industry and has conducted more than 2,000 seminars on all aspects of wine.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 14-Day Premiere Voyage, Dec. 5, 2018, Transatlantic crossing from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, to Fort Lauderdale
Lacey Steffey, Winemaking
Steffey is the assistant traveling winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle and works with partner facilities in Washington to ensure quality with daily tastings and assesses grape maturity.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Vikings Sagas, May 5, 2019, roundtrip Amsterdam
Linda Chauncey, Director of Education
With more than 30 years’ experience in the wine and culinary industry, Chauncey oversees Chateau Ste. Michelle’s new Visitor Center and corporate education program, and creates a wide array of winetasting experiences for the more than 300,000 guests who visit the winery each year.
  • Nieuw Statendam, 7-Day Eastern Caribbean, Feb. 17, 2019, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale

 

Year-Long Celebration for California-Based Carnival Panorama Begins at Rose Parade

November 26, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line will kick off its 2019 West Coast expansion plans on New Year’s Day with its first-ever float in the Rose Parade.  The float is just the beginning of a year-long celebration of its first new ship to homeport in California in 20 years, Carnival Panorama, which will arrive in December 2019.

As it prepares for the arrival of Carnival Panorama in Long Beach next December, Carnival will preview a floral replica of the ship to 700,000 spectators on hand to view the 130th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, as well as a worldwide television audience of more than 80 million parade fans.  The float will include many of the signature features of Carnival’s ships – including the red and blue funnel, a water park and Lido Deck party – as well as the line’s newest fun feature, and first-ever trampoline park at sea, in partnership with Sky Zone.

Sky Zone Boston

Comprised of tens of thousands of flower petals meticulously applied by hand, the 55-foot-long float will sail the five-mile parade route and show off signature touches, such as flowers from more than 100 countries to represent the number of nations that Carnival employees hail from, snorkelers enjoying a shore excursion, and a RedFrog and a BlueIguana from their namesake poolside watering holes.  Additionally, as a replica of the Carnival AirShip flies over the float, fitness enthusiasts will be jumping into the fun on a Sky Zone trampoline built directly into the front of the float.

Celebrating its role as the cruise line that carries the most military personnel, the float also salutes the brave men and women of the Armed Forces with a special appearance by Former Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, godmother of Carnival Panorama’s sister ship, Carnival Vista, and the first active member of the military to serve as Miss USA. Every Carnival cruise includes a special onboard tribute to honor guests that have served or currently serve in the U.S. armed forces.

Designed by Carnival’s in-house creative team and Fiesta Parade Floats, construction of the maritime marvel will begin in mid-November and is expected to encompass 10 designers collectively working hundreds of hours. This year’s Rose Parade is themed “The Melody of Life” and Carnival will encourage parade fans to “Come Sail Away.”

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 service on Dec. 14, 2019.  The ship joins Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration to carry upwards of 600,000 guests annually from the West Coast – more than any other cruise operator.

Royal Caribbean Introduces “Royal Up” Bid-based Cabin Upgrade Program

November 26, 2018.

In an email to travel partners, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has announced the Royal Up cabin upgrade bidding program.  The program will begin on November 28, 2018.

This type of sales program was first rolled out by Norwegian Cruise Line and then Celebrity Cruises started its own version, so it was a matter of time before RCI jumped on the auction bandwagon.

How does RoyalUp work?

According to the travel partner email the program works as follows:

  • booked clients will receive an email if their sailing is eligible and will have the opportunity to browse through various stateroom options with associated minimum bids.
  • They will select the dollar amount they are willing to pay for the upgrade. Making a bid on multiple categories will increase their chance of being upgraded — but they’ll only pay for one upgrade.
  • Their bid is priced per person and based on two guests per stateroom for the entire length of their cruse. Only the first and second guest will be charged, even if four are sailing.
  • Offers will be accepted up to 2 days prior to sailing and charged to the credit card used when the upgrade was submitted.
  • The travel agent will also have the ability to handle the bidding on the clients’ behalf.  The agent will be notified of the bidding opportunity at the same time as the client.

So – RCI will contact clients directly even if they didn’t book direct with the cruise line, but instead used a travel agent.  The client (you) will see a minimum bid for each available upgrade and can submit that minimum (a sure way to lose the auction), or go higher, and you can bid on one or several upgrades depending on how many higher categories are available.  And, bidding will stay open until 2 days prior to sailing so the process could last for several days or more.  The words “how high can it go?” spring to mind.

For travel partners the deal is good if a client’s bid is accepted, because they’ll get whatever higher commission is involved, even if the client did all the work for the bidding.

However, the fine print is always worth reading and this new program has lengthy fine print.  It’s longer than the actual message in the email, by far.

Key points in the fine print are:  you pay any higher gratuities associated with the winning bid for a higher category cabin (in other words, you “win” a suite upgrade).  However, even though you are paying for an upgrade by bidding for it, you will NOT get additional Crown & Anchor points if the upgrade moves you to a suite.  C&A points will still be based on the cabin category initially booked.

Put me down as being “not a fan” of this.  You can read the original email and significantly long fine print at this link.

Princess Cruises Cyber Event Includes Two Great Offers

November 20, 2018.

 

Holiday shoppers looking for cruise vacation deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can take advantage of Princess Cruises Cyber Event, with two great offers on cruises to the more than 380 worldwide destinations the cruise line visits. The sale runs Nov. 20 through Dec. 3, 2018.

Guests booking winter 2018 through spring 2019 sailings can save up to $900 per stateroom, or $450 per guest based on double occupancy. Cruise savings include:

  • Caribbean Cruises on Caribbean Princess sailings from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean – 7 days; starting at $779
  • Mexico Cruise Vacations from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera – 7 days; starting at $799

Cruisers booking summer 2019 through spring 2020 sailings receive three free perks, including:

  • FREE Stateroom Location Upgrade – the preferred stateroom location for the lowest fare available within selected room type.
  • FREE Gratuities – paid on the guest’s behalf, up to a $15.50 value per day, per guest for all guests in a stateroom, up to four guests.
  • FREE Onboard Spending Money for All Guests – up to $800 per stateroom, based on the length of the voyage.

Enjoy these perks on cruises including:

  • Alaska “Voyage of the Glaciers” cruises, from Vancouver to Anchorage (Whittier) — 7 days: starting at $699
  • Scandinavia & Russia (From Copenhagen) – 11 days; starting at $2,299

Guests booking select seven-day cruises aboard Caribbean Princess and Regal Princess, departing February through July 2019, also receive free MedallionNet for one guest, usable on up to four devices, per stateroom. This offer is redeemable onboard and details will be delivered to the stateroom. MedallionNet offers land-like connectivity for streaming sports, movies, music and videos, communicating on video phone calls from anywhere on the ship, and sharing their vacation experiences in real time with friends and family back home on social media platforms.

“The Cyber Event” cruise sale starts at 12 am PST on November 20, 2018 and runs through 11:59 p.m. PST on December 3, 2018, and is available to residents of the 50 United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Bermuda and the District of Columbia who are 21 years of age or older.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.