MSC Armonia Prepares For First Miami To Cuba Cruise

October 11, 2018.

Today marks the 60-day countdown until MSC Armonia arrives in Miami for the first time. Beginning December 10, 2018, the ship will offer unique 7-night Caribbean sailings departing from Miami and calling Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, before arriving in Havana on Saturday and staying overnight to Sunday.

MSC Cruises’ 7-night itinerary to Cuba will include two days in Havana over the weekend.

Highlights of the Cuba cruises will include:

NEW ON BOARD CULINARY ENHANCEMENTS

A new specialty restaurant

MSC Armonia will introduce a brand new specialty restaurant to the culinary line-up. The 38-seat “Surf & Turf” will offer a $35 per person menu, where guests can select an appetizer, main course and dessert from an assortment of gourmet options.  Items include Surf & Turf of course, Lobster Thermidor, an 18 oz Ribeye, Pork Belly, and Guava Cheesecake.

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.

Enhanced Pub Menu

MSC Armonia’s White Lion Pub will introduce a new and complimentary menu featuring hand-helds like the 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.

New included delights

MSC Armonia will also introduce a few items on board that come complimentary with the cruise. MSC Cruises is already known for offering some of the best gelato at sea, and now the gelato bar will be included in the cruise price.

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.

NEW ENTERTAINMENT

Local Cuban music will be featured while in Havana.  Various local musicians will join guests on board to play the best of local Cuban music during the Saturday evening of the ship’s overnight stay in Havana.

MSC Armonia’s evening theater entertainment will undergo a complete review, with an entire line-up of new performances to be introduced on board.

  • 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.

MORE TIME TO EXPERIENCE LA HAVANA

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.
  • Sip on local rum and classic Habanos cigars to learn about a key part of Cuban culture.
  • Dance at Havana’s largest nightclub, the renowned Tropicana Club.

 

Holland America Raising Daily Gratuity Rates

October 9, 2018.

Holland America Line is increasing the automatic gratuity fees effective for sailings that depart on or after December 1, 2018.  This was quietly announced in an update to the cruise line’s website FAQ for Hotel Service Charge.  The increase is $1.00 per person/per day.

The current rate, which was set in May 2017 – a little over 18 months ago – is $13.50 per guest per day for non-suite staterooms and $15.00 per guest per day for suites.

After December 1, 2018, the rates will be $14.50 for non-suites and $16.00 for suites.

Curiously, the FAQ has an asterisk denoting that the rates can change at any time without notice.

Holland America is not unique in having more frequent gratuity increases.  All of the mainstream cruise lines have been doing it for the past few years.

I’ll go on record again and say it’s time to end this shell game and roll these service charges into the basic cruise fare.

 

1st School Built With Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings “Hope Starts Here” Hurricane Relief Funds Opens

October 8, 2018.

Ivan Dawson Primary School Opened Its Doors Today on Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH), operator of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, today announced the opening of Ivan Dawson Primary School, the first school to be constructed as a result of the company’s Hope Starts Here hurricane relief campaign.

Together with All Hearts and Hands – Smart Response, the company raised over $2.5 million dollars to deliver early relief response and rebuild safe, resilient schools in the Caribbean communities impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  A portion of the proceeds was used to build the primary school on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. On October 5, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings officials attended the grand opening celebration of the Kindergarten through sixth grade school, which will open its doors to students on October 31.

The Hope Starts Here hurricane relief program launched in late September 2017, when the company partnered with relief organization All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response to help provide immediate relief in Key West and reconstruct schools and critical infrastructure in affected islands in the Caribbean including St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Tortola. It has been the largest fundraising campaign in the company’s history. Within 90 days of the launch, Hope Starts Here reached its goal of raising $2.5 million to assist All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response.  The program has received more than $1.25 million in donations from the company’s valued team members, loyal guests, travel partners and business partners, which Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has matched.

 

1st Modern Riverboat in U.S. History, the American Song, Begins Service

October 8, 2018.

Image

American Cruise Lines’ new riverboat American Song departed from the Port of New Orleans this past Saturday, October 6, 2018.  Underway at 100% capacity, this new riverboat is off to a great start and is cruising the Mississippi River on its 8-day inaugural sailing between New Orleans and Memphis.  American Song’s 184 guests are enjoying the cruise with stops at Oak Alley, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Natchez, and Vicksburg, arriving in Memphis Friday, October 12th.

American Song is the first ship in American Cruise Lines’ new modern riverboat series—the 2nd ship in the series, American Harmony, is under construction and will be launched in a few weeks. American Cruise Lines also operates a fleet of classic paddle wheelers.

After this week’s inaugural cruise, American Song will continue to cruise the Mississippi throughout 2018. In 2019, American Song will reposition out West to the Columbia & Snake Rivers and American Harmony will begin cruising the Mississippi.

American Song is equipped with many modern features, including a unique bow with a retractable gangway.  The interior design offers a five-story glass atrium with spacious lounges and sweeping views throughout the ship. The vessel offers the largest staterooms in the riverboat industry, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, and private furnished balconies.

Silversea Cruises Orders 3 New Ships

October 8, 2018.

Silversea Cruises and corporate partner Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) today announced agreements to build three new ships for the ultra-luxury and expedition cruise brand that recently joined the RCL family.

Silversea signed a memorandum of understanding with German shipbuilder Meyer Werft to build two new vessels in a new “Evolution Class.” The first Evolution-class ship is expected to deliver in 2022.

Silversea also signed a contract with Dutch shipbuilder Shipyard De Hoop to construct a new expedition vessel, named Silver Origin, that will serve the Galapagos Islands itinerary currently sailed by Silver Galapagos. The new ship is expected for delivery in March 2020.

The inflow of capital from RCL was a key factor in the decision by Silverseas to enter into a partnership.

The agreements are subject to certain contingencies which are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

Norwegian Offering Free Airfare For Hawaii & Caribbean Cruises

October 5, 2018.

Norwegian Joy

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced an expansion of the free and reduced round trip airfare offer for new reservations on select cruises sailing from November 2018 through September 2019.  But you need to act fast because you must book by October 16 to get the offer.

The promotion includes free or reduced round trip economy class airfare for up to two guests from over 100 airports across the U.S. and Canada flying to homeports including Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Port Canaveral, San Juan, Seattle and Tampa. Guests reserving an oceanview, balcony and mini-suite stateroom receive free or discounted airfare from select gateways.  The Haven and Concierge level receive complimentary airfare at all eligible airports. The Free Air promotion is also combinable with Norwegian’s Unlimited Internet Package, and Norwegian’s Free at Sea offer, which allows guests to select up to five specified amenities of their choosing.

Available on 12 of Norwegian’s ships, including Norwegian’s newest sister ships Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss, the promotion applies to select sailings including Alaska, Bahamas and Florida; Bermuda; the Caribbean; Canada and New England; Hawaii; Mexican Riviera; and the Panama Canal.

The limited-time Free Air offer is also available for new reservations on Pride of America, the only ship to offer seven-day inter-island Hawaii cruises from Honolulu.  The promotion is available in all stateroom categories, excluding Sail Away categories and must be combined with a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay.

Additional terms and conditions may apply.

Princess Cruises Announces “Sea to Sky Princess” Destination-Inspired Photo Contest

October 4, 2018.

Majestic Princess at Sea Trials

 

Princess Cruises invites guests to send in their images of destinations across the globe in its “Sea to Sky Princess” photo contest. One thousand images will be chosen, framed and displayed throughout the stateroom corridors aboard the new Sky Princess when the cruise ship debuts in October 2019.

The contest is open to guests and runs through November 13, 2018. The contest is open to entrants 21 years of age or older, residing in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

One entry and its photographer will be awarded a grand-prize cruise for two, up to seven days, aboard the new Sky Princess.

The contest will be judged by a panel looking for scenic beauty, creativity, originality, style and high-quality images that capture the spirit of connecting to a destination in a meaningful way through discovery and exploration.

Winners will be announced in early 2019. Full entry details for the contest can be found at www.princess.com/skyphotocontest.

About The Sky Princess

The new 3,660-guest Sky Princess debuts in October 2019, sailing a series of Mediterranean cruises, followed by a season of Caribbean voyages from Ft. Lauderdale. More details can be found at www.princess.com/skyprincess.

Holland America Offering Up to $400 Onboard Credit in Celebration of Choose Cruise Month

October 2, 2018.

Holland America Line is supporting October’s Choose Cruise Month organized by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) with an offer on more than 800 cruises sailing to all destinations that features up to $400 onboard spending money.

The month long event that runs Oct. 1 – 31, 2018 and applies to select sailings from fall 2018 through spring 2020.

For the Choose Cruise offer, travelers making a booking on select fall and holiday 2018 through spring 2020 cruises (excluding Grand Voyages) in ocean view and above staterooms receive onboard spending money up to $400, depending on the length of the cruise and type of stateroom (ocean view or higher) booked. This offer can be combined with the cruise line’s Explore4 promotion that provides four added-value extras for guests booking any category stateroom, including a Signature Beverage Package, dinner at the Pinnacle Grill for two, free or reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom, and 50 percent reduced deposits.

With Explore4 suite bookings also receive $200 onboard spending money per stateroom ($100 per person) in addition to the four offers and exclusive Choose Cruise Month onboard spending money, making it possible to receive a total of up to $600 in onboard spending money.

Through the combined Choose Cruise and Explore4 promotions, for example, guests can book a seven-day western Caribbean sailing aboard Nieuw Statendam Feb. 10, 2019, for $849 per person for an ocean view stateroom with a 50 percent reduced deposit required. Each stateroom would receive a total $50 shipboard credit in addition to Pinnacle Grill dinner for two ($70 value) and Signature Drink Package for two ($700 value). Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional.

Guests looking to take advantage of the Choose Cruise offer can book select itineraries to all of Holland America Line’s global destinations, including Alaska and Alaska Land+Sea Journeys (Explore4 applies to cruise portion only), Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the Baltic, Canada and New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Holiday, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Panama Canal and South America. Grand Voyages and Grand Voyage segments are excluded.

Carnival’s ‘Frightfully Fun’ Halloween Events On All October Sailings

October 2, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line is hosting “Frightfully Fun” festivities during all sailings throughout the month of October.

Patch the Pumpkin Pirate

The month-long “spook-tacular” is highlighted by the debut of Patch the Pumpkin Pirate, a colorful swashbuckling seafarer who towers 12 feet tall and greets guests as they board each ship.  Kids can gather around Patch as they listen to Scary Story Time hosted by the cruise director.

And what’s Halloween without trick or treating where guests of all ages can stock up on candy and other goodies from costumed crew members at different venues throughout the ship.  The event concludes with a costume contest with prizes for the most creative get-ups.

All-ages activities including Thriller dance classes, Patch’s Deck Party, Halloween-themed trivia and bingo, and pumpkin-carving contests, along with poolside DiveIn Movies showing scary (and not so scary) films like Hotel Transylvania 3:  Summer Vacation, Dracula Untold and It, are also featured.  Guests can also enjoy tasty Halloween treats and custom libations like Witches Brew and the Green Goblin.

Ocean Medallion Now Operating Ship-wide on Caribbean Princess

September 27, 2018.

Caribbean Princess Bar Harbor, Maine

For guests sailing on Caribbean Princess since early September, satisfaction scores indicate they thoroughly enjoy using their OceanMedallion™ to discover how the technology can elevate their experience to a higher level by removing friction points, delivering enhanced levels of personalization and guest service all the while staying connected with land-like internet streaming speeds.

OceanMedallion, the wearable device guests use to access enhanced experiences, continues to roll out as part of a phased activation plan that since early September has been used by all of the 3,100 guests on Caribbean Princess. OceanMedallion features leading-edge technology that enhances guest-crew interactions, enables interactive entertainment, and delivers personalized service.

OceanMedallion-enabled features specifically designed to enhance the vacation experience. They currently include:

  • Keyless Stateroom Access: Stateroom entry is a seamless experience where each guest is securely validated and the door automatically unlocks, with personalized greetings launching soon.
  • MedallionPay™: All guests use an easy and hassle-free, payment experience enabling crew members to focus on guest service interactions.
  • OceanCasino™: On smart devices and select portals, guests can wager real money on a portfolio of games, including slots, poker, bingo, roulette, keno and lottery from anywhere on board.
  • OceanCompass™ featuring OceanNav™ and ShipMates: On select portals guests can use OceanNav for point-to-point wayfinding throughout the ship via an intelligent navigation assistant, and utilize ShipMates to easily locate friends, family and kids.
  • JourneyView: On portals throughout the ship, guests can access a real-time look at their itinerary, along with events and activities taking place during their cruise.
  • OceanViewTM: Guests can stream more than 100 hours of award-winning Ocean Original travel content – which airs nationally on weekends on ABC and NBC – to their smart device anywhere on the ship at no cost.
  • PlayOceanTM: On portals located shipwide, guests are able to play family games, including trivia, word jumble, a matching game, and Ocean Treks Adventure – an interactive, shipwide digital scavenger hunt.

OceanMedallion was first unveiled by Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald at CES 2017 and was a key factor in Fast Company recognizing the corporation with two Innovation as Design Awards that same year.