Holland America To Visit Cuba Starting December 2017

May 24, 2017.

Demand expected to be high when Cuba cruises open for booking on May 26, 2017
 

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard ms Veendam. Holland America Line becomes Carnival Corporation’s third cruise line to be approved to sail to Cuba following the company’s inaugural sailings to the island last year.

The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos, known as the model of early 19th century urban planning in Cuba. The 12-day holiday cruise showcases both Cuban ports. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Most itineraries include an extended call at Havana, allowing guests the time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in a wide array of historical and cultural adventures. Additionally, a stop at Cienfuegos presents the opportunity for a special visit to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cuba’s province of Sancti Spíritus.

The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

On board, the Cuba experience will be enhanced through the line’s Explorations Central, or EXC, program, featuring EXC Guides who will bring the destination to life through presentations and EXC Talks that will enable guests to deepen their understanding of the Caribbean’s largest island. Also enriching the Cuba experience for guests are EXC Port Maps created for the Cuban calls, EXC Encounters that will showcase the culture and history of Cuba to guests before they visit the ports, and much more. In addition, educational and cultural EXC Tours are being developed in and near Havana and Cienfuegos with a highlight being Trinidad, one of the best-preserved historic towns in the Caribbean.

Bookings for Holland America Line’s cruises to Cuba will open May 26, 2017. Guests booked on Veendam’s previous deployment will be given a full refund and opportunity to book on another Holland America Line voyage. Fares for Cuba cruises begin at $899 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional.

The visits to Havana and Cienfuegos comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control. All information about special requirements for travel to Cuba is available at hollandamerica.com.

Carnival Unveils ‘Carnival Studios’

May 18, 2017.

In a move designed to further elevate its entertainment offerings across the fleet, Carnival Cruise Line yesterday unveiled “Carnival Studios,” a state-of-the-art 44,500-square-foot rehearsal venue in Davie, Florida, near the company’s Miami headquarters.

Three years in development, Carnival Studios brings entire bands, casts, and technical teams from every ship together shoreside for intensive rehearsals as a team, while providing additional opportunities to conceptualize innovative new shows on site.  More than 500 entertainers and performers will convene at Carnival Studios to rehearse new shows that are constantly being rolled out across the fleet.

The expansive space encompasses eight dedicated music studios, five full-stage dance studios, a training room, a green room and offices for the line’s entertainment department many of whom will be relocating to the Davie campus.

Designed as a creative hub for Carnival’s entertainment department, every single space within Carnival Studios has been outfitted with the latest digital sound, lighting and recording technology.

At Carnival Studios, the main theater stages within the fleet have been replicated within five full-scale studios.  One of the dance studios boasts a massive 480-square-foot LED screen that is an integral part of the line’s high-tech Playlist Productions shows, allowing performers to hone their craft with daily interactions with the groundbreaking technology.

The development of Carnival Studios also enables entertainers to work with top-rated talent from Broadway, London’s West End, Las Vegas and award-winning partners across the globe in conceptualizing new innovations in shipboard entertainment.

 

Carnival Elation Sailing Unique 8-Day Bermuda and Bahamas Cruise April 2018

 

May 17, 2017.

Carnival Elation will offer a unique cruise from Jacksonville next spring – an eight-day voyage that visits scenic ports in both Bermuda and The Bahamas.  The voyage will operate round-trip from Jacksonville April 7-15, 2018, and will feature an overnight call in Heritage Wharf, Bermuda, as well as an extended stay at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay.

Including the newly added cruise on the Carnival Elation from Jacksonville, in the coming year Carnival Cruise Line will offer 19 four- to eight-day Bermuda departing from six East Coast U.S. ports, including New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Port Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale.

Carnival Elation will also offer a special three-port, six-day Bahamas cruise round-trip from Jacksonville April 15-21, 2018, visiting visit Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

The new voyages are in addition to the ship’s year-round four- and five-day schedule from Jacksonville.  Carnival Elation is Jacksonville’s only year-round ship and carries approximately 170,000 passengers annually from that port.

ms Nieuw Statendam’s Premiere Voyage and Inaugural Caribbean Season Open For Booking

May 17, 2017.

Bookings are open for the Premiere Voyage and 2018-19 inaugural Caribbean cruise season of Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Statendam. Due for delivery Dec. 1, 2018, the second Pinnacle Class ship in the fleet currently is under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy.

When Nieuw Statendam departs the yard, it will be delivered in Venice, Italy. The ship will then sail to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, and departs Dec. 5, 2018, on its first revenue voyage — a 14-day transatlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. The ship will then spend the winter season cruising roundtrip from the South Florida port on seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with select three-, four- and 10-day options.

Premiere Voyage Repositions to Caribbean Winter Home Port
When Nieuw Statendam departs Civitavecchia Dec. 5 on its Premiere Voyage, it will spend 14 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Fort Lauderdale. After leaving Italy, the ship will call at Cartagena and Málaga, Spain, and Funchal, Madeira, before spending seven days at sea where guests can experience all the newbuild’s amenities. Guests will enjoy an overnight call at Fort Lauderdale before leaving the ship Dec. 19.

Nieuw Statendam to Offer a Variety of Caribbean Cruises in Winter/Spring 2018-19
From December 2018 through April 2019, Nieuw Statendam will spend its inaugural season exploring the golden beaches and sun-kissed skies of the Caribbean on roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruises. All Caribbean itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island known for its pristine landscapes, exciting shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and child-friendly activities.

Nieuw Statendam’s first Caribbean cruise is a four-day itinerary that calls at Half Moon Cay and Key West, Florida, departing Dec. 19. The ship then embarks on a series of seven-day sailings, including a Dec. 23 Holiday cruise that calls at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay. A Dec. 30, 2018, New Year’s cruise departure calls at Half Moon Cay; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. A similar Jan. 6 cruise replaces Ocho Rios with Montego Bay, Jamaica. The ship then sets sail Jan. 13 on a seven-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Guests looking for an extended Caribbean adventure on Nieuw Statendam can depart Jan. 20 on a 10-day cruise to the ABC Islands with calls at Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstad, Curaçao; and Oranjestad, Aruba.

For a quick get-away, a three-day cruise departs roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Jan. 30 and includes a call at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

For the remainder of the season, the ship will feature western and eastern Caribbean itineraries: the first calls at Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while the second features calls at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay — with the March 17 departure swapping Amber Cove for Grand Turk.

Fares for the first Nieuw Statendam cruises begin at $499 per person, double occupancy, for a three- or four-day Caribbean sailing, and $799 for a seven-day cruise.  The Premiere Voyage begins at $1,199 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional.

MSC Cruises Offers Helpful Tips & Experiences

 

May 17, 2017.

According to the Cruise Line International Association’s 2017 State of the Industry Report, the demand for cruising has increased 62 percent from 2005 to 2015 and nearly half (48%) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise.

Looking ahead to the busy summer travel season, our friends at MSC Cruises USA — the North American arm of MSC Cruises has provided some helpful tips and experiences to help every type of traveler make the best of their summer vacation.

THE FAMILY TRAVELER

Tip: People often have very different ideas of what makes a great vacation. Cruising makes it easier to choose a family vacation by offering activities and amenities that appeal to everyone in your group.  Do your research on family friendly activities the cruise line offers ahead of time so you have an idea of what to expect. Once on board, don’t forget to check the daily program highlights.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Kids sail free on MSC Cruises making traveling as a family extremely affordable. In addition, fleet wide, the cruise line offers dedicated activities for kids of all ages – from infants to teens.  Highlights include: cooking classes, where kids are taught basic cooking skills; language courses, where children learn basic sentences in 6 different languages; themed costume parades and shows; sports tournaments; scavenger hunts; arts and crafts; and teen disco and karaoke parties. In addition, MSC Cruises offers a unique LEGO Experience Day in which kids and their parents can compete in LEGO themed competitions and games where kids earn their LEGO Junior Master Builder Diploma. While the kids are off having fun with their new friends, adults can enjoy a relaxing treatment in the MSC Aurea Spa, catch one of the cruise lines award-winning Broadway style production shows, try their luck in the on-board casino, or dine in one of the many restaurants and bars.

THE ADVENTURER

Tip: If exploring or mingling with the locals is your thing, make sure to research and plan excursions ahead of time to maximize new cultural opportunities – and so you don’t miss out.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Excursions vary from port to port, but each tour is provided by certified partners with carefully selected, multilingual guides. From culinary tours of Italy, to experiencing the magnificent Tulum Mayan Ruins in Cozumel, walking tours of Split, Croatia, jeep adventures in Iceland, and exploring the interiors of the mosques in Abu Dhabi – MSC Cruises offers up to 2,000 shore excursions that have been specially created to satisfy every need and giving you the freedom to make the most of every moment ashore.

THE FIRST-TIMER                              

Tip: Make the most of your time at sea! Cruise ships are essentially floating cities – they are considered destinations in themselves. Guests should take the time to utilize and explore the various amenities and numerous choices of activities available to them on-board.

Experience on MSC Cruises: MSC Cruises offers unique, unexpected experiences on every voyage. On MSC Divina, guests can try out the Virtual Winery at Sea, a unique BlendCraft wine experience with professional winemakers where participants learn how wines are mixed and then are able to create, bottle and label their own blend of wine to enjoy on board, or take home! MSC Cruises also features 4D motion theaters, AquaCycling, Formula One race car simulators, state-of-the-art fitness facilities featuring Technogym equipment, bowling alleys, and most exclusively, Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows debuting this summer on MSC Meraviglia.

THE FOODIE 

Tip: Cruises offer a multitude of both casual and fine dining options while on board, so it’s important for food lovers to take advantage of as many as possible. Pre-purchase a dining package to venture out of your foodie comfort zone and try new cuisines at the best prices – your wallet and your taste buds will thank you for it.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Specialty restaurants are a standout feature on MSC Cruises’ ships, offering guests the opportunity to experience quality cuisines from around the world, even while at sea. On MSC Meraviglia, debuting in June in the Mediterranean, these exquisite dining experiences range from the freshest sushi, sashimi and tempura created by expert sushi chefs at Kaito Sushi Bar, an open chocolate atelier and sweet treats from award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury, and delectable Italian dishes at Eataly’s Ristorante Italiano. The elevated dining experience will also be found on MSC Seaside, debuting this December in Miami, where guests can enjoy a variety of savory pan-Asian fare at the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi and American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist served at the signature seafood restaurant Ocean Cay.

THE SMART SPENDER

Tip: When booking, make sure you cruise for “deals!” If you book your trip far enough in advance, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars. Also, make sure to do your research and take advantage of package offerings that provide a great value.

Experience on MSC Cruises: With MSC Cruises’ unique “Inclusive Experiences” pricing, guests can select from five different vacation packages that range from best price to nearly all inclusive, based on their own personal vacation desires. By bundling various services and activities into a package, consumers get an excellent value for price and are able to pay for all the amenities they want upfront – a highly recommended option for travelers looking to save money and stick to a budget.

Looking for a great summer deal? With MSC Cruises’ Two for One cruise deal going on now, guests can save 50% off brochure rates.  Sample summer cruise itineraries and prices on MSC Divina, departing from Miami and sailing the Caribbean include:

August 19 Eastern Caribbean Cruise

  • Length: 8-days/7-nights
  • Itinerary: Departing from Miami and sailing to Philipsburg, St. Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Nassau, Bahamas
  • Cost: Prices start at $449 per person

July 8 Mini Cruise

  • Length: 4-days/3-nights
  • Itinerary: Departing from Miami and sailing to Freeport, Grand Bahama and Nassau, Bahamas
  • Cost: Prices start at $299 per person

THE WELLNESS GURU

Tip: Don’t let a vacation trip up your healthy lifestyle – keep it going and utilize the available health and wellness amenities. Select healthy options such as the salad bar in the buffet, choose an active shore excursion such as hiking or horseback riding, or choose the stairs over the elevator. Your body will thank you for it.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Fleet wide, MSC Cruises offers a one of a kind Wellness Experience by Technogym – the first completely personalized 360° wellness experience at sea that incorporates wellness into every aspect of the cruise experience including: on-board fitness classes and activities, dedicated healthy food and beverage offerings, exclusive shore excursions, and stateroom amenities. The experience starts before the cruise even begins with a pre-cruise questionnaire designed to understand each guest’s specific goals. Once on board, the guest then meets with a MSC Master Trainer, trained by Technogym, who reviews the results of the questionnaire and helps them create a personalized wellness plan for the duration of the cruise shaped around the individual needs of the guest. As part of the experience, the self-service buffet on board includes a dedicated wellness corner and menus in the main restaurants include special icons to help guide guests’ food selection.

MSC Cruises is also the first cruise line in the world to offer AquaCycling classes to its passengers on board MSC Divina. Designed for all ages, AquaCycling is a full body workout allowing participants to burn up to 800 calories per hour! For MSC Cruises’ guests, it’s truly a unique experience, allowing them to cycle under water to upbeat music, while enjoying an amazing view at sea, and most importantly, having fun!

THE LUXURY LOVER

Tip: No vacation shaming allowed. You earned it. Indulge.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Guests looking for a more upscale, luxurious experience can opt stay in the MSC Yacht Club, which includes 24-hour butler service, concierge reception, dedicated MSC Yacht Club fine dining venues, a private pool, and a private elevator to take guests directly to the MSC Aurea Spa. With an innovative “ship within a ship” design, the MSC Yacht Club is an entirely self-contained private club area (accessed by key card only) that provides guests the best of both worlds — the privacy and exclusivity of a smaller ship with the bountiful choices and amenities only found on a larger ship, such as world-class entertainment like Cirque du Soleil, on board casinos, and specialty dining experiences like Eataly’s Chef’s Table.  Guests booking on MSC Cruises’ new builds – including MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside – will enjoy an enhanced MSC Yacht Club with additional suite options and enlarged public areas within with MSC Yacht Club.

Princess Cruises Great Getaways Sale

May 16, 2017.

Princess Cruises is offering guests buy one, get one 50% off on voyages of five days or less sailing Fall 2017 through Spring 2018 during the Great Getaways Sale.

Guests can book getaway cruises from both coasts, including those with itineraries to the Caribbean, California Coast, Mexico, Canada, and New England.

Guests can book with reduced deposits of only $50 per person. Third and fourth guests will also save with fares starting at $99 per person.

Great Getaways Sale cruise deals include:

  • 5-day Eastern Caribbean — $549 interior; $749 balcony per guest
  • 5-day Western Caribbean Getaways — $549 interior; $749 balcony per guest
  • 5-day Mexico Getaway — $549 interior; $799 balcony per guest
  • 5-day Canadian Atlantic Provinces Getaway — $599 interior; $899 balcony per person
  • 4-day California Coast Getaways —  $449 interior; $699 balcony per person
  • 3-day Pacific Coastal Getaways —  $349 interior; $509 balcony per person

Additional details about the “Great Getaways Sale” can be found at princess.com/sale.

All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy.  The “Great Getaways Sale” is available now through 11:59 p.m. PDT on June 15, 2017 and is open to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Bermuda.

 

 

MSC Cruises Offers Kids Chance To Star In Web Series ‘Kelly & Kloe’

May 11, 2017.

MSC Cruises  is offering younger guests the opportunity to star in its popular web series ‘Kelly & Kloe.’ Onboard auditions are now open as the show gears up for its second season.

Following the success of the first series of Kelly & Kloe and accompanying onboard experience, the new series will consist of four episodes, each with its own theme — an episode on the brand new mega ship MSC Meraviglia, seasonal episodes for Halloween and Christmas, and a special themed episode, Masquerade.

To date, the web series and trailer have been enjoyed by over 1.5 million people on the website and social media. More than 40,000 children have taken part in the on board Kelly and Kloe experience day where the fun of the series is brought to life through a range of interactive activities.

MSC Cruises has opened auditions for all children on board between the ages of 8 and 17 for a number of roles in the new series. Auditions will be filmed via a green screen experience, where the children will perform the show’s theme song and dance routine and explain on camera why they would like to be featured. Parents can also purchase this video to take home as a souvenir from their cruise.  (The video is loaded on a USB stick and sells for $22.)

 

All entries across the entire MSC Cruises fleet will be collected and reviewed by a judging panel including members of the MSC Cruises’ entertainment division as well as the writer, series producer and director of the series. Judges include Roberto Cuccarini, Roberto di Napoli and Andrea Parodi, all well known for their TV work and musical theatre productions. Casting will run until January 2018 with characters being selected in June, September, and November 2017, and January 2018.

Fans of the Kelly & Kloe series can stay tuned for four brand new episodes which will be available to watch on the following dates:

  • MSC Meraviglia: September 15, 2017
  • Halloween: October 20, 2017
  • Christmas: December 15, 2017
  • Masquerade: February 9, 2018

For more information on MSC Cruises family offering please visit: https://www.msccruisesusa.com/en-us/Discover-MSC/Family-Cruises.aspx

To find out more about Kelly and Kloe and to watch series one, please visit www.kellyandkloe.com

Royal Caribbean Open First Year-Long Program To Cuba

May 10, 2017.

Expanded Sailings Introduce 58 New Cruises, Including 28 Havana Overnights through March 2019

Royal Caribbean International has greatly expanded their sailings to Cuba on Empress of the Seas.  The ship will sail 58 cruises of 4- and 5-night itineraries from January 2018 through March 2019, more than half offering overnight stays in Havana.  The Western Caribbean and Havana sailings are open for bookings as of today.

“Since arriving in Cuba for the first time last month, we’ve seen the excitement of our guests when sailing into Havana and the passion they have for the city at sail away – its people, its architecture, its food, its music. This is the enthusiasm we strive to bring to adventure-seekers who vacation with us,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.  “The positive reaction to our Cuba sailings is very encouraging, and we are thrilled to expand on the number of sailings for our 2018-2019 itineraries.”

Empress of the Seas will return to Tampa for summer 2018, offering a series of 4- and 5-night cruises, calling on Key West, Florida, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, as well as Havana on most sailings. The ship will reposition to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the winter 2018-2019 season, continuing short Caribbean adventures to the Caribbean destinations. Currently, Empress sails from Tampa through Nov. 4, 2017.  The ship then returns to Miami for the winter 2017-2018 season, adding calls to Royal Caribbean’s private island destination CocoCay and Nassau in The Bahamas.

Forbes Names Royal Caribbean As One Of ‘America’s Best Employers’

May 9, 2017.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) announced today that it has been named to the Forbes List of Best Large Employers for 2017. Forbes surveyed employees at mid-size and large companies or institutions. Respondents were asked to rate their employer on the quality of the work environment and whether they would recommend their company to potential employees as one of the most important factors in the assessment.

“I am extremely pleased that Forbes has recognized Royal Caribbean as one of America’s Best Employers of 2017,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “This recognition would not be possible without our employees.  It is because of their passion, determination and commitment that we are constantly able to push the boundaries of what is possible.”

America’s Best Employers are chosen by Forbes based on an independent survey from a vast sample of 30,000 American employees working for large or midsize companies. The employees participated anonymously through several online panels so they could openly state an opinion without influence from their employer. The survey has been conducted on companies from all industry sectors employing more than 1,000 employees in the United States. The recommended employers have been grouped into one or more of 25 industry sectors.

Azamara Club Cruises Adds More Cuba Voyages

 

May 3, 2017.

Want to see Cuba in style, on an all-inclusive upscale cruise with very attractive pricing?  Look no further than here.  Azamara Club Cruises has added four additional sailings to its lineup of Cuba voyages in 2017 and 2018.

Departing from Miami, the sailings feature overnights in Havana, as well as visits to two maiden ports of call – Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

 

Azamara has also created a variety of unique people-to-people shore excursions for Cuba.

These shore excursions feature a variety of experiences including a visit to the open air cabaret, Tropicana, a Nelson Dominguez art gallery tour, Havana by classic car along the Malecón waterfront and Hemingway’s Havana, with more experiences coming soon. All tour programs offered by Azamara are designed to meet U.S. requirements for travel to Cuba.

Two New Cuban Ports of Call

  • Cienfuegos:  Known as La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South), Cienfuegos sits on the south-central coast of Cuba. Cienfuegos translates to “100 fires” and the town adds a bright light to this fascinating country.
  • Santiago de Cuba: Perched on the Caribbean Sea southeast of the capital of Havana is Santiago de Cuba. The soul of Cuba’s second largest city is bustling, diverse and bursting at the seams with fascinating history and cultural life.

Six Opportunities to Experience Cuba

Azamara’s full list of Cuba itineraries for 2017 and 2018 is below. Demand is high, so travelers are encouraged to book early.