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.

MSC Cruises Offers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

November 20, 2018.

Beginning on Wednesday, November 21,  and extended through Black Friday and Cyber Monday to Tuesday, November 27, guests booking a balcony stateroom or above on select Caribbean sailings on MSC Seaside, MSC Divina, and MSC Meraviglia will enjoy $100 shipboard credit per stateroom on top of the cruise line’s already attractive Drinks on Us promotion — offering cruisers a total of $500 added value per stateroom with a selection of complimentary drinks throughout the cruise. In total, this means cruisers can save up to $600 for two guests.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deal

From November 21-27, 2018, guests will receive $100 shipboard credit per stateroom — on top of Drinks on Us — when booking a balcony stateroom or above on select sailings on board MSC Seaside, MSC Divina, and MSC Meraviglia in the Caribbean. Guests can select from a range of cruise options beginning November 24, 2018 all the way through April 5, 2020.

SAMPLE ITINERARIES

MSC Seaside Sailings

  • January 26, 2019: 7-night sailing from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; and Costa Maya, Mexico. Prices start at $829 per person for a balcony stateroom.
  • February 16, 2019: 7-night sailing from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Prices start at $838 for a balcony stateroom.

MSC Divina sailings:

  • December 9, 2018: 11-night sailing from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Oranjestad, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico. Prices start at $979 per person for a balcony stateroom.
  • January 10, 2019: 10-night sailing from Miami to St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis; Road Town/Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Prices start at $1,039 per person for a balcony stateroom.

MSC Meraviglia sailings:

  • December 1, 2019: 7-night sailing from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Prices start at $779 per person for a balcony stateroom.
  • January 5, 2020: 7-night sailing from Miami to Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Isla de Roatan, Honduras; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Prices start at $869 per person for a balcony stateroom.

Guests can also book a cruise on board MSC Armonia with MSC Cruises’ 2 for 1 promotion and receive $100 shipboard credit per stateroom when booking a balcony stateroom or above.

For more details on applicable itineraries and rates and to book the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal please visit www.msccruises.com/blackfriday-cybermonday or contact your preferred travel agent.

NOTE: Specific sailings and rates will not be available on the web site until the sale opens on November 21.

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.

Symphony Of The Seas Production Shows Take Center Stage

November 20, 2018.

Symphony of the Seas US inaugurals.
Flight…..Dare To Dream.

Royal Caribbean International continues to push the entertainment boundaries with the debut of cutting-edge productions on stage, in the air, under water and on ice on board Symphony of the Seas.

Headlining is the all-new show ‘Flight: Dare to Dream,’ a one-of-a-kind journey through the past, present and future of air travel and space exploration that makes history as one of the most ambitious stage productions to date. Guests take off on an adventure through time, chronicling key milestones in aeronautics, beginning with the first leisure voyage to Mars and ending with a stunning homage to the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.

International Space Station set piece

‘Flight: Dare to Dream’ introduces cutting-edge 3D flying technology, video and automation to the 1,401-seat Royal Theater. Going where no stage has gone before, space and zero gravity is simulated as actors “float” within a detailed replica of the International Space Station (ISS). The first theater set piece of its kind, the detailed design of Royal Caribbean’s ISS involved consultation by Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson, who lived 167 days in space and completed 38 hours and 28 minutes over 6 spacewalks in two separate missions. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the first launch of the ISS into space, Royal Caribbean shares a behind-the-scenes video look into the making of ‘Flight.’

Royal Caribbean is the first to consult with an astronaut that lived in space for a live theatrical production. Complex, high-impact choreography and production also take form in 3D flying with a custom-built recreation of the Wright Flyer that takes off into the house; the set piece has a 22-foot wingspan and single-seat “cockpit.”

Three additional headline shows across three distinct stage venues on Symphony of the Seas, include:

  • 1977 in Studio B is the continuation to “1877,” the ice-skating show introduced on sister-ship Harmony of the Seas, featuring the time-traveling hero, Tempus. In his latest adventure, Tempus heads to London where a mysterious jewel thief with special powers has stolen the Queen’s crown jewels on the eve of her Silver Jubilee. Timing is everything in this imaginative original ice show, featuring 48 perfectly choreographed performing drones, high-tech 5K projection mapping images that bring the ‘70s to life on the ice.
  • Hairspray, a guest favorite, gets a makeover for Symphony of the Seas with new choreography and staging of the Tony Award- winning musical. The larger-than-life, Royal Caribbean Productions’ original introduces revolutionary set design, taking the story of loveable teen Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore, to the next level.
  • HiRO raises the bar on Royal Caribbean’s aqua shows with more high flying feats, unexpected stunts and extraordinary acrobatics than ever before. Brought to life by the world’s best extreme-sport athletes, HiRO pushes the limits of an outdoor theatrical production with cutting-edge technology and choreography; no two shows are the same, making it worth seeing twice. The show features 3D flying technology used by aerialists as they literally soar above the crowd, plus acrobats and professional divers.

Symphony Of The Seas Officially Named

November 16, 2018.

Symphony of the Seas US inaugurals.
Naming Ceremony.
God family Alexa and Carlos PenaVega with their son Ocean.

Royal Caribbean International celebrated the homecoming of the world’s largest cruise ship with the naming ceremony of Symphony of the Seas, the 25th ship in the cruise line’s fleet. Symphony was named by Royal Caribbean’s first-ever Godfamily, actors Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, who along with 23-month-old son Ocean, were on hand to christen the ship and bestow a blessing of safekeeping over her crew and guests. Having celebrated many happy occasions onboard the cruise line’s Oasis Class ships, the naming ceremony marks the avid Royal Caribbean fans’ biggest adventure yet with the cruise line.

With almost 1,000 guests in attendance, Symphony of the Seas was christened while dockside at the cruise line’s new state-of-the-art Terminal A at PortMiami, making for the largest naming ceremony in Royal Caribbean’s history. The customary event was infused with modern day elements – ranging from an electronic violinist who serenaded the crowd throughout the ceremony, to a stunning sail away performance by nearly 400 choreographed drones – and also incorporated a number of local Miami touches. Florida International University’s Marching Band kicked off the celebration, while students from Miami Southridge Senior High headlined the occasion on stage with a rousing drumline performance. Through Royal Caribbean’s partnership with the GRAMMY® Museum, Miami Southridge Senior High was one of 20 high schools within the Miami-Dade County Public School District that received a Royal Caribbean-funded grant through the GRAMMY Museum® Signature Schools program, which supports music education programs in underserved high schools.

 

Windstar Cruises Announces Plans To Renovate & Lengthen Star-Class Ships

November 15, 2018.

Windstar Cruises today announces the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative.  The multi-million dollar, multi-year undertaking will impact and enhance all aspects of the guest experience for the highly awarded small ship cruise line’s three Star Class vessels.  All three ships were originally built for Seabourn Cruise Line and sold to Windstar over the past few years.

The initiative will expand guest accommodations on the all-suite vessels, increasing capacity from 212 to 312 guests per ship following the lengthening.  The work will be done to Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride in succession between October 2019 and November 2020, and take place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. The project represents an overall capacity increase of 24% for the small ship line.

The project is expected to be partially financed through an export credit facility guaranteed by SACE, Italy’s export credit agency.

Each Star Class ship will be cut in half to allow the installation of a new section of ship that will lengthen each vessel approximately 25.6 meters bringing the total length to just over 138 meters.  The project adds 50 new suites, bringing the total number of suites per ship to 156, and represents an investment of more than $267,000 per passenger berth.

Also involved is the creation of new public spaces including two new dining locations; new shop and retail space; a much enlarged fitness center; and a new world-class spa.

The renovation includes a comprehensive re-engine project for each ship. This will involve the removal of the seven currently installed engines and replacing them with four more efficient and environmentally friendly engines.

Windstar has partnered with designer Ray Chung, Director of Design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, to create modern and inviting design aesthetics for the new public spaces and new suites.

Among new guest amenities and accommodations in the planning phase are:

  • 50 new suites featuring new suite categories and open floor plan configurations.
  • Creation of two brand new, larger Owner’s Suites, that combines existing suites to create up to a three-bedroom, two-balcony suite – the first of its kind in the cruise industry.
  • Two brand new dining experiences including: an intimate, alternative dining restaurant, and a casual barbecue space adjacent to the top deck Star Bar, perfect for outdoor grilling during Windstar’s Signature Onboard Barbecue celebration or enjoying while spending time on deck.
  • Expanded Veranda Restaurant to offer more seating and upgraded dining area.
  • For existing suites, all-new bathrooms and installation of new sliding doors for the Balcony Suites.
  • Larger pool and hot tub that will be reconfigured and elevated offering better views, along with more and enhanced outdoor deck area.
  • A completely re-imagined and enlarged spa and fitness center.
  • A new elevator mid-ship, making access to all decks easy from anywhere on board.
  • A comfortable, new tender loading area located mid-ship and two new 90-passenger tenders that will ferry guests to port when ships are at anchor.

In addition, ship staff and crew areas and accommodations will be expanded and upgraded. Additional crew will be hired and the increase will maintain the line’s 1.5:1 guest to hotel staff ratio.

As planning on the project progresses, additional details will be revealed in press releases and on a dedicated microsite that will launch in 2019.

Norwegian Bliss Arrives In Miami For Winter Season

November 15, 2018.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss is in Miami to offer Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning November 17.

The ship will offer seven-day cruises with calls to St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau through March 30, 2019.  In April, she’ll cross the Panama Canal, returning to Los Angeles for select sailings to the Mexican Riviera before moving to Seattle to meet sister ship Norwegian Joy, which will make its U.S. debut on April 25, 2019.

 

Construction Of First Carnival XL-Class Ship Begins

November 15, 2018.

Carnival Cruise Line and Meyer Turku shipyard have officially started construction for the line’s newest class of ship.  Also, Carnival revealed the new livery (paint job) for the 180,000-ton XL vessel that will be the first-ever ship operating in North America to use liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The traditional steel-cutting ceremony held at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, signified the official start of construction of the largest Carnival cruise ship ever constructed, to be delivered in 2020.  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.

At the ceremony, the company also revealed a dramatic new red, white and blue hull design that celebrates its legacy as “America’s Cruise Line” and pays homage to maritime tradition.  Developed by New York-based Bluarch Architecture, the design builds upon the company’s iconic color scheme that has made Carnival one of the most recognizable brands in travel and is highlighted by a navy blue hull with red and white accents running the entire length of the 1,130-foot-long ship.

Following the steel-cutting ceremony, construction began on the 5,200-plus lower berth ship which will offer a variety of new innovations.

As previously announced, the as-yet-unnamed ship will operate from Port Canaveral beginning in 2020.  The ship’s name is scheduled to be revealed in early December.  Details on the ship’s inaugural season are planned to be announced in January, with information on the vessel’s culinary, beverage and entertainment options to be revealed later in 2019.

Carnival Radiance Will Sail To Europe, Bermuda, Canada, AND Cuba In 2020 Inaugural Season

November 13, 2018.

At first glance, you’ll think that the Carnival Radiance is sailing to every port in the northern hemisphere when the totally rebuilt ship returns to service in 2020.  And, you won’t be far off.

Carnival Cruise Line today announced the diverse inaugural schedule for the transformed Carnival Radiance, including 9- to 13-day European voyages, the line’s first to Cuba from New York and Norfolk, four- to nine-day sailings to the Caribbean, Canada/New England from New York, and a winter season of voyages to the Caribbean and Cuba from Port Canaveral.

Additionally, the company revealed details of Carnival Sunrise’s 2020 schedule, including an expanded series of New York to Cuba cruises, as well as four- to nine-day voyages to the Caribbean from New York and Norfolk, Virginia.

Carnival Radiance’s Diverse 2020 Inaugural Season
Following a $200 million dry dock that will take place in Cadiz, Spain, Carnival Radiance will debut April 29, 2020, with a 10-day Mediterranean sailing from Barcelona followed by nine-and 12-day departures visiting top destinations throughout the region, including Italy, France, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain. The ship will then embark on a 13-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York June 11-24, 2020, positioning the vessel for its inaugural season in New York.

Once in New York, Carnival Radiance will offer a series of four- and six-day Bermuda cruises as well as a four-day cruise to Saint John, New Brunswick, eight-day eastern Caribbean voyages and the line’s first Cuba cruises from New York – nine-day sailings that include a full-day and overnight stay in Havana and two Bahamian ports of call.  The New York program will conclude with a series of Canada/New England voyages featuring stops in Boston, Portland, Saint John, and Halifax.

The ship will also offer four five- to seven-day voyages from Norfolk in October and November 2020, including the line’s first Cuba cruises from that port.  The week-long Cuba cruises will feature an extended stop in the capital of Havana along with visits to two Bahamian ports.  There will also be a five-day and a six-day Bahamas cruise.

Following the cruises from the Northeast, Carnival Radiance will reposition to Port Canaveral to operate a winter schedule of six- to eight-day voyages to the Caribbean and Cuba beginning Nov. 8, 2020.  The program includes six-day voyages featuring a day-long visit and overnight call in Havana and two Bahamian ports; a six-day sailing to Grand Turk, Amber Cove, Dominican Republic and Nassau, The Bahamas; and seven-and eight-day Caribbean voyages visiting Aruba, Curacao, St. Kitts and Grand Turk.

Carnival Sunrise to be Major Player in Bermuda and Cuba

Building upon the popularity of short Bermuda cruises introduced on Carnival Horizon, Carnival Sunrise will offer a series of “long weekend” getaways to Bermuda as well as longer length Caribbean voyages and cruises to Cuba from New York beginning May 21, 2020.

The program includes eight, nine-day voyages to Cuba featuring a full day and overnight call in Havana along with stops at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau.  Eight, four-day “long weekend” voyages to Bermuda will also be offered, departing Thursdays and returning Mondays and spending a full day on the island.  Seven, eight-day voyages visiting beautiful ports in the Caribbean and Bahamas will be offered as well. The program concludes with a 12-day Carnival Journeys partial Panama Canal transit from New York to Fort Lauderdale Oct. 19-31, 2020.

Carnival Sunrise will also sail from Norfolk, Va., in May 2020, offering a pair of five-day cruises to Nassau and Freeport, along with a three-port, six-day voyage featuring Half Moon Cay, Nassau, and Freeport. 

The Changes Being Made To The Ships

Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Radiance will each undergo extensive dry docks in 2019 and 2020, respectively, that will add an array of food, beverage and entertainment choices.   New culinary and beverage offerings will include Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse developed by Food Network star and longtime partner Guy Fieri, a classic American steakhouse called Fahrenheit 555, and the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub.   Carnival Radiance will also feature Big Chicken, a seagoing version of a landside restaurant operated by the line’s Chief Fun Officer, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.

A sprawling new WaterWorks aqua park featuring the new AquaTunnel slide as well as a SportSquare open-air recreation complex with a suspended ropes course will be added, as well.   All staterooms will be renovated with a tropical color palette reminiscent of the ships’ Caribbean itineraries.

Princess Cruises Gift Cards Now Sold in Select Grocery Stores Nationwide

November 12, 2018.

 

Wondering what to give the cruisers on your gift list?  Just in time for the holidays, Princess Cruises announced today that it will  distribute its gift cards through brick and mortar retail stores across the country.

You can purchase Princess Cruises gift cards in more than 3,500 Kroger, Harris Teeter and Giant Eagle locations nationwide. Available in denominations between $50 and $500, cards can be used to purchase cruises or be used toward onboard products and services. Princess Cruises gift cards will be activated upon payment and checkout at these locations.

Princess is also pleased to announce the release of its annual holiday e-gift cards, which can be purchased at princess.com/giftcard. This year more than five new original designs are available from which to choose, including cards with Christmas and Hanukkah-specific themes, Princess-branded options including Stanley the bear, and Happy Holidays greeting in the languages of some of the destinations we sail.

Princess Cruises gift cards can be redeemed on princess.com, through travel agent advisors and by calling 1-855-426-0168. For more information and to view Princess Cruises gift card options, visit www.princess.com/giftcard.