Oprah Winfrey Named Godmother of Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam; Hosting 3-Day Girl’s Getaway Cruise

June 13, 2018.

Three-Day Girls’ Getaway Cruise Jan. 30, 2019, with Oprah Winfrey Aboard Nieuw Statendam
Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine announced today a three-day Girls’ Getaway cruise on Holland America Line’s newest ship, Nieuw Statendam, Jan. 30, 2019. Oprah Winfrey will embark on the cruise, joined by O, The Oprah Magazine Editor-at-Large Gayle King and other members of the magazine’s editorial staff, who will host special presentations and events on board the ship, currently under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy. Winfrey will serve as godmother of Nieuw Statendam, with an official dedication by Winfrey to take place in a private ceremony at a later date to be announced.

The Girls’ Getaway cruise sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and spends a day at Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private island in the Bahamas. The Girls’ Getaway cruise celebrates the power of friendship and will feature exclusive onboard experiences that honor and pay tribute to the special bond between women.

As a highlight, guests will have the opportunity to attend one of three live “Conversations with Oprah.”  Additionally, editorial staff from O, The Oprah Magazine will be on board hosting special events, including Editor-in-Chief Lucy Kaylin, Creative Director Adam Glassman, Beauty Director Brian Underwood and Books Editor Leigh Haber.

Activities and Events on the Girls’ Getaway Cruise
A Conversation with Oprah: Winfrey will share highlights of her career, inspirational stories of the amazing women she has met over the years, and the desire for this cruise to be the start of something meaningful for those on board. King will join Winfrey on stage for a candid and entertaining chat that shows the deep bond between these two best friends.

Love That! Style Session with Adam Glassman: Glassman will host a style presentation revealing his tips, tricks and secrets for essential pieces that everyone needs in their wardrobe. Following his talk, Glassman will join guests in the onboard dedicated O Shop to offer shopping advice.

O’s Reading Room with Leigh Haber: Guests will have the opportunity to read the latest onboard book club selection (to be announced) and then join Haber for an intriguing discussion with the author. O’s Reading Room was introduced on Holland America Line ships in 2017, and due to its overwhelming popularity, is now available on all ships in the fleet.

Just Breathe: Led by a guest instructor to be announced, participants set their intentions for the day and are encouraged to become present with themselves and those around them through meditation and movement. On the at-sea day, Just Breathe will be held around the serene Lido Pool area, and the experience moves to the beach during the call at private island Half Moon Cay.

Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine Partnership
Building on the success of the exclusive partnership started in 2017, Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine have extended their agreement through 2019 to unite the soul-stirring power of travel with O‘s deep commitment to connection and personal growth. Two remaining Adventure of Your Life Cruises with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine also will feature members of the magazine’s editorial team, along with special guest speakers: Aug. 11, 2018, on a seven-day Alaska itinerary and Oct. 28, 2018, on a seven-day Caribbean sailing.

Royal Caribbean To Eliminate Plastic Straws From All The Corporate Brands

June 8, 2018.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has committed to removing plastic straws by the end of this year.  This includes all ships of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Pullmantur.

Current policy has been that plastic straws would be offered on request but not automatically handed out with drinks.  Come 2019, when guests ask for a straw they’ll get a paper one.

In addition,  wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks will be used.

“Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program.”

Also in the wings are plans to eliminate plastic condiment packaging, cups, and bags.  A full plastics audit is underway, with the overall plan to be completed in phases by 2020.

Princess Cruises to Show 2018 FIFA World Cup

June 6, 2018.

Princess Cruises does an especially fine job of showing recently released movies and other programming on their poolside Movies Under the Stars big screens.  Now, guests sailing all over the world will be able to watch their favorite team during the most popular sport on the planet – the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Broadcasting all 64 soccer games aboard nine cruise ships, the matches start June 14, culminating with the final in Moscow on July 15.

It was while on a cruise during the World Cup a few years ago that I first got hooked on what we call soccer in the U.S.   The crew really got excited over it and their enthusiasm was contagious.

2018 FIFA World Cup™ games will be shown aboard:

  • Sea Princess (World Cruise)
  • Crown Princess (Mediterranean)
  • Diamond Princess (Japan)
  • Emerald Princess (Alaska)
  • Majestic Princess (Taiwan and China)
  • Pacific Princess (Northern Europe)
  • Regal Princess (Scandinavia and Russia)
  • Royal Princess (British Isles)
  • Sapphire Princess (Northern Europe)

Soccer fans will also enjoy themed entertainment and activities, including interactive game play with PlayStation units on Movies Under the Stars®, obstacle course competitions, and penalty shoot outs for prizes, such as specialty dining, with a small entry fee going to charity, plus swag giveaways, themed bites and beverages.

The FIFA World Cup™ is just one of many special events shown on the Movies Under the Stars screens, including Monday Night Football, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. The giant LED screens are more than 300 square feet in size, with a 69,000-watt sound system and have sufficient lighting power to be seen clearly at mid-day and heard even while the ship is moving at full speed.

New Features and Upgrades Debut Onboard Crown Princess

June 5, 2018.

Princess Cruises guests sailing onboard Crown Princess in the Mediterranean this summer will  be enjoying new onboard offerings after an extensive ten-day dry dock. Completed last month, these enhancements  continue the line’s “Come Back New Promise” campaign focused on investing more than $450 million across the global fleet.  

Crown Princess new and enhanced offerings onboard include:

  • The Salty Dog Grill (formerly Trident Grill) – guests can indulge in a variety of signature Princess burgers grilled up with 100 percent all-beef patties and buns freshly baked onboard, or choose from new Street Tacos made with grilled chipotle-lime chicken or roasted sweet potato-green chile at the new Salty Dog Grill. For a nominal charge, “The Ernesto” burger, from Chef Ernesto Uchimura, voted “#1 Burger at Sea” by Cruise Critic, is also available, where guests can accompany their selections with loaded fries in tempting varieties include chili cheese and bacon & cheese. Classic hot dogs round out the menu offeringsat the new on-deck dining venue.
  • Slice (formerly Prego Pizzeria) – featuring west coast and east coast offerings, Princess guests will enjoy the cruise line’s signature classic Neapolitan-style pizza that has been voted “Best Pizza at Sea” by USA Today. New menu items include Deep Dish Focaccia layered with marinara, meatballs and cheese, California Artisanal Toast including Cali-Avocado or Caprese, as well as Sliced Stromboli, an east coast take on an Italian calzone filled with deli meats and cheese.
  • Coffee & Cones (formerly Sundaes Ice Cream Bar) – offering treats of gourmet ice-cream sandwiches, complimentary ice cream cones and now brewing specialty coffee on the top deck, serving New Grounds Crafted Coffee.
  • The Mix (formerly Mermaid’s Tale) – the poolside bar has been refreshed and the brightly lit surroundings create a festive atmosphere for guests celebrating the day or catching up with friends and family.

Princess Luxury Bed – available in every stateroom aboard Crown Princess, the Princess Luxury Bed was developed by Princess Cruises in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV designer Candice Olson.

Club Class Mini-Suites – Crown Princess offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options, as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – for cruisers ages 3-17, Crown Princess will offer a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery™, as part of the cruise line’s Discovery at SEA program. Catering to specific age groups, kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle. Camp Discovery programs are being delivered onboard while we continue the transformation which will be completed by early summer.

Enhanced Boutiques – guests will enjoy aesthetic enhancements to the Shops of Princess, offering an upgraded shopping experience, such as a branded Effy Fine Jewelry boutique. There will also be new products to choose from featuring a collection of Princess branded athletic wear and logo apparel displayed in a newly designed Logo shop.

Casino – guests ready to take a gamble will take their chances surrounded by new carpet, light fixtures and bar TV screens.

Lotus Spa & Fitness Center – a space where guests can relax and invigorate, salon and treatments rooms have been upgraded and the latest in fitness equipment is now available.

Further general refurbishing and technical updates have also been implemented aboard Crown Princess.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2019-20 Mexico Voyages

 June 1, 2018.

Princess Cruises will again be bringing the flavors and fun of Mexico in 2019 and 2020.  The cruise line  has more experience in this market than any other line, with more than 50 years of experience sailing the region.

Highlights for the 2019-2020 season include the introduction of one of the line’s newest ships to Mexico, Royal Princess, for her first full season based in Los Angeles. Royal Princess will offer 27 total departures including seven-day Mexico itineraries, plus opportunities offering guests more time in port with an overnight in Cabo San Lucas on every 5-day Cabo San Lucas Getaway sailing.

As the only cruise line to sail year-round out of San Francisco, Princess also offers Grand Princess roundtrip 10-day Mexico itineraries in 2019. Star Princess will make her return to the west coast in 2019 as well, featuring 10-day Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez with roundtrip departures out of Los Angeles with an overnight in Cabo San Lucas.

Developed in collaboration with Bill Esparza, noted author and leading expert on Latin American cuisine, the line’s enhanced shore excursion offerings along the west coast take guests off the beaten path, on culinary excursions featuring the local flavors of the region. Esparza has developed the culinary shore excursions for Princess in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

You can check out the Princess Mexico itineraries at this link.

Enhanced Carnival Players Club Casino Program Debuts

May 31, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Caribbean Website Update Makes Refundable Deposits Less Apparent

May 19, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess Cruises Reveals 2019-2020 Panama Canal Itineraries

May 17, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess Cruises Announces 2019-2020 Caribbean Season

May 17, 2018.

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

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

Itinerary highlights for the 2019-2020 Caribbean season include:

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

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

 

3 Longer Length ‘Carnival Journeys’ Sailings Announced for 2019

May 15, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

24-Day Transpacific Crossing on Carnival Splendor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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