Azamara Club Cruises Announces 2019 Voyages

March 29, 2017.

Azamara Club Cruises today unveiled its 2019 itineraries to 250 ports of call, including 45 maiden ports, 69 countries, 94 overnight stays, and 145 late night stays. New offerings include Azamara’s first-ever sailings to Alaska, 9 Special Events Voyages and 9 Country Intensive Voyages.

North To Alaska!

Azamara is offering a variety of Alaska experiences with 11 cruises, from 8 to 10 days in length, between May and September of 2019.  The line’s new Alaska voyages will feature many late night stays.  Complimentary “AzAmazing Evenings” will feature local experiences, and curated optional shore excursions in small groups of 20 – 25 guests.

Shore excursion highlights include:

  • Haines off the Beaten Path – Meet LocalTake a scenic drive to Picture Point along the Chilkat River to visit the artists’ enclave of Mud Bay with a special tour of Extreme Dreams Art Studio – a handcrafted timber-frame gallery filled with unique creations by select local artisans.  Then, return to Haines for a guided visit to the quirky yet fascinating Hammer Museum.
  • Icy Strait Point – Taste LocalIn Alaska’s wildest kitchen, guests can capture the essence of real Alaskan flavors with fresh seafood tasting in a rustic setting hosted by an Alaskan fisherman and an expert filleting demonstration.
  • Juneau Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier – Adventure LocalA dynamic helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier is followed by an exhilarating dog sledding journey with about 300 spirited Alaskan huskies.
  • Skagway White Pass Legacy Club Luxury Railway Experience – View LocalExperience the dramatic beauty of Southeast Alaska in opulence while traveling aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route’s luxurious Legacy Club Car, featuring your very own private guide.

Azamara’s Land & Sea Experiences include pre- and post-voyage land programs of two to six nights.   Curated Land & Sea Experiences include Untamed Alaska, Native Villages for an authentic and traditional community gathering, riverboat cruising, or an afternoon in a local dog handler kennel, learning about the famed Iditarod Dogsled race where guests can meet with some furry and friendly Alaskan Huskies.

More 2019 Voyage Highlights

  • Golf Local with Perry Golf: In partnership with Perry Golf, Azamara has eight new voyages for golf enthusiasts that include The British Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland and The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
  • Special Event Voyages: Premier events include two Formula One races (the Monaco Grand Prix and Spanish Grand Prix), the Cannes Film Festival, a round-trip California Wine Cruise from Los Angeles and an Annular Solar Eclipse voyage through the Indian Ocean.  The line will also be in Edinburgh for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and on the Azamara Journey’s May 28,2019 voyage, guests will experience the 75th anniversary of D-Day, as well as the once every five years Rouen Festival featuring many of the world’s largest and most beautiful tall ships.
  • Country Intensive Voyages:  These itineraries consist of most – if not all – ports of call within the destination.  Japan, one of the new intensive voyages, offers 13 ports in 15 days throughout a circumnavigation of the country allowing experiences in every part of the country. Other countries include New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Greece.
  • 45 Maiden Ports of Call: 2019 will see Azamara sailing to 45 maiden ports of call including Aalborg, Denmark; Lorient, France; Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; Boracay Island, Philippines; Stewart Island, New Zealand and many more.

Finally, Azamara’s recently launched Cruise Global, Connect Local land programs offer an impressive variety of over one thousand new and existing intimate shore excursions. Custom experiences curated by Azamara’s expert team accommodate every travel style whether it be an interest in experiencing local life behind the scenes (Cruise Global, Meet Local), food and wine (Cruise Global, Taste Local), guided historic tours (Cruise Global, View Local), enjoy exclusive, custom after-dinner experiences (Cruise Global, Nights Local), biking (Cruise Global, Bike Local) and much more.

Opportunities to travel deeper are endless.  Additionally, all guests experience complimentary AzAmazing Evenings that provide true cultural immersion and local entertainment in places like a French chateaux, Caribbean gardens, Spanish forts, Russian ballet halls and Roman amphitheaters.


For a full list of 2019 Azamara Voyages, visit 

Caribbean Princess to Debut Seven New Dining Options

March 28, 2017.

When Caribbean Princess debuts from a two-week, multi-million-dollar renovation on April 6, the ship will have completed its largest food and beverage innovation to ever take place during a drydock and guests will enjoy seven new onboard dining venues.

According to Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz, “Fresh, regionally-inspired and family friendly offerings were the inspiration behind our largest food and beverage makeover ever. With updated décor and designs that offer a welcoming atmosphere, the seven new dining options aboard Caribbean Princess are sure to please any palate and delight the senses.”

World Fresh Marketplace

Replacing Horizon Court (deck 14), World Fresh Marketplace unveils a completely new look and improved layout, featuring freshly-made regional specialties and well-balanced food choices: 

  • Breakfast will include 24-hour cereal stations; a designer pancake station with “pancake of the day” stacks; unique hot cereal offerings such as shrimp & grits and polenta porridge.
  • Lunch serves up signature hand-crafted sandwiches, regionally inspired dishes and soups, as well as carvery selections of specialty sausages, hams and roast meats.
  • Dinner selections include breakfast at night with omelets and chicken & waffles, family kitchen comfort foods and a kid-friendly PB&J bar. Night-time offerings will also include a live-action station with stir-fry and customized pasta, plus composed salad choices.
Two Casual Specialty Restaurants

Café Caribe (deck 14 aft) transforms into two new, casual evening specialty restaurants great for families with kids who want to enjoy a special meal in a nice, yet laid back setting. These options include:

  • Planks BBQ serving up family-style “Planks” of loaded ribs, beef, sausages and chicken plus all the fixings – fries, chili, coleslaw, charred toast and dill pickles. Dinner is served by wait staff for a cover charge of $12 per person. Complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch options include savory customizable breakfast bowls and signature soup, freshly tossed salads and fork & knife sandwiches.
  • Steamers Seafood offers east coast-style Steamers with regional flair including Black & Blue Mussels, Scallops & Sausage, Classic Clams, Shrimp and Sausage and Broiled Scallops, Shrimp and Crab-stuffed Flounder. Dinner is served by wait staff for a cover charge of $12 per person. A delectable lobster tail and King Crab legs can be added for $10. Complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch options include specialty egg dishes and ramen bowls with regionally-inspired broths.
Top-Deck Dining Venues

Four Princess top-deck outdoor dining offerings will be revitalized, renamed and enhanced, including:

  • The Salty Dog Grill (formerly Trident Grill) – guests can indulge in “The Ernesto” burger, voted “#1 Burger at Sea” by Cruise Critic from Chef Ernesto Uchimura, as well as signature Princess burgers grilled up with 100 percent handmade beef patties and buns. In addition, guests can choose new Street Tacos of grilled chipotle-lime chicken or roasted sweet potato-green chile with corn tortillas. Loaded fries in tempting varieties include chili cheese and bacon & cheese. Classic hot dogs round out the menu offerings.
  • Slice (formerly Pizzeria) – featuring west coast and east coast offerings, Princess guests will enjoy award-winning signature classic Neapolitan-style pizza. 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 Scoops) 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 Blackbeard’s Bar) – the poolside bar will be updated and redesigned with vibrant colors (full designs will be completed by fall 2017).

In addition to the food and beverage innovations, Caribbean Princess will emerge from drydock with new offerings appealing to families, including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and interconnecting staterooms, just in time for the upcoming Europe summer and fall Caribbean seasons. The cruise ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season.

Royal Caribbean Looking For Team Of Thrill Seekers

March 27, 2017.

#AdventureSquad Challenge Invites Consumers to Compete for Title of “World’s Most Adventurous Squad”

Harmony of the Seas nighttime drone shot

Royal Caribbean is on the lookout for the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad.” The #AdventureSquad social media contest will challenge explorers and aspiring Instagram stars to act on their wanderlust and prove that their adventurousness is off the charts. In the end, one group of up to four friends will be crowned as the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad,” and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails to help live up to their newly minted title.

Those looking for a shot at social stardom and global adventure can enter by participating in any one of five adventure-themed Instagram challenges.  Each challenge will run for 72 hours on Royal Caribbean’s Instagram account starting on March 29 through April 12. To take part in the challenge, adventurers simply post their photo to Instagram, tag three friends that will comprise their squad and use the hashtag #AdventureSquad and #Contest.

Upon completion of each challenge, Royal Caribbean will select one winning squad.  The winners will then set sail on the adventure of a lifetime onboard Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest and most adventurous ship taking over Royal Caribbean’s social media channels as they go. The finalists will go head-to-head both on the ship and in various destinations, including Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s private destination; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. At the end of their adventure, the squad that most embodies the spirit of adventure will be named the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad” and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails. In addition, the winners adventures will be seen when they light up Royal Caribbean’s digital billboards in New York City in May. 

Australian travel blogger Tyson Mayr (@tysontravel) will act as the contest host, announcing each 48-hour Instagram challenge. Mayr is no stranger to social media contests; he won one himself in 2014 and was paid to travel the globe for a year. Since then, he’s made a living as an adventurer and content creator, proving that Internet fame is within reach for social media contest winners. 

Those back at home can watch the action by following @RoyalCaribbean and #AdventureSquad on Instagram and Snapchat. For details on how to take part in the Adventure Squad challenge, as well as information on the winning squad, visit  If you enter, make sure to read the “Legal Stuff” at the bottom of the linked webpage.

New Digital Travel Company Launches

March  26, 2017.

The new consumer travel company and online booking platform debuts with thousands of tours and activities in 97 countries launched this past Thursday,  offering an interactive digital platform that travelers can use to book thousands of day tours and activities in hundreds of destinations worldwide.  The enterprise is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), but is independent of the RCCL-owned cruise lines.

With an activity searchable by nearly any traveler’s interest, the website offers easy-to-use search features that allow travelers to search by Destination, Interest or Group requirements.

The site has three primary categories of activities: high-value group tours, private excursions, and exclusive, completely tailor-made “Travel Creations”.  Additionally, the easy-to-navigate portal searches cruise schedule itineraries, pricing, and availability for a wide variety of experiential activities, from architecture walking tours and culinary adventures to wildlife exploration and bucket-list experiences.

Pricing can vary from under $100 to a few hundred dollars per person, all the way up to exclusive excursions costing thousands of dollars.  The following links are examples:

  • Rome by Private Helicopter with Five-Star Lunch: This scenic flight provides views of the Vatican and dozens of Roman landmarks and outlying hill towns, while a private car and guide visits the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Condotti’s fabled Italian boutiques.
  • Tour of Cayman’s Sparkling Crystal Caves: A guided tour of Grand Cayman’s ancient geological landmark reveals the Crystal Caves’ glistening stalactite and stalagmite crystal structures and rarely seen flora and fauna of this unique tropical forest.
  • Brazilian Surfing Class at Geriba Beach: Using specially designed boards, expert instructors teach surfing theory and practice on one of the best surfing meccas in Brazil, a haven for all water sports and the occasional celebrity sighting.

GoBe aims to triple its quantity of activities around the world by the close of 2017. As of today they feature  tours in 896 cities and 97 countries.

Holland America Offers ‘Ready Set Sail’ Promotion

March 24, 2017. 

Holland America Line is offering its popular Ready Set Sail promotion again, featuring pre-paid gratuities and up to $500 onboard spending money per stateroom. Guests who book a Holland America Line cruise by June 1, 2017, will be eligible to receive the offer, and guests who book a suite also will receive an additional $100 internet credit.

All cruises between June 1, 2017, and March 30, 2018, excluding Grand Voyages and Grand Voyage segments, are eligible for the Ready Set Sail promotion. Depending on stateroom category, guests will receive onboard spending money ranging from $100 up to $500 per stateroom. 

Onboard Spending Money  

In addition to pre-paid gratuities for the entire cruise valued at up to $27 per stateroom per day, guests receive onboard credit that can be used to enjoy a variety of shipboard experiences and amenities. Examples of things you can pay for using the onboard credit include Greenhouse Spa and Salon, gift shop purchases, Journeys Ashore tours, beverages or dinner at one of the specialty restaurants such as Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer, Canaletto or Tamarind, depending on the ship.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel professional, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit


Carnival Elation Scores 2nd Consecutive Perfect Score On Health Inspection

March 22, 2017.

Carnival Elation scored 100 during its recent United States Public Health (U.S.P.H.) inspection which took place in Jacksonville, Florida. This marks the second consecutive time the ship has achieved a perfect U.S.P.H inspection score.

To earn a 100 score, cruise ships must receive perfect marks on all 44 items that comprise the U.S.P.H.’s comprehensive Vessel Sanitation Program checklist. The unannounced inspections, which are conducted twice a year and required for any cruise ship with an international itinerary calling at a U.S. port, evaluate vessels in a wide variety of areas, including adherence to proper food handling, preparation and storage procedures, and overall galley cleanliness. Ships’ potable water supplies used in spas and pools are evaluated, as well.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation operates year round 4 and 5 night cruises from Jacksonville, carrying 170,000 guests a year from JAXPORT.

MSC Cruises Introduces New Dining Options

March 22, 2017.

MSC Cruises is bringing it’s version of the popular ‘my time’ dining featured by other mainstream cruise lines to the fleet, beginning on the highly anticipated MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside.  The two ships will introduce the new flexible dining option and a specialty restaurants that can be booked at any time prior to embarkation and while on board.  (Note that there are restrictions on which main dining options can be selected, based on which cruise experience level you booked.) 

Flexi Dining  

This is what MSC Cruises calls their ‘my time’ dining and allows guests to pre-select a time slot for their evening meal, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise.  


This is the assigned seating option with a choice of two seatings each evening. This traditional dining style is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night so that they can enjoy personalized service from the same waiter who will know their names, dining preferences and how to accommodate them.  

In addition, MSC Yacht Club guests will continue to benefit from free-time dining (you simply show up when you want) in the dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant, with the option of reserving a table in advance.

Casual Dining

Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours a day, offering a wide range of freshly prepared dishes. The buffet has been further enhanced with a wide range of different international dishes suited to any taste. MSC Seaside will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will be dedicated to families, serving family-friendly options and featuring child-friendly seatings.  MSC Cruises makes their own pastas aboard ship and have what I consider the best pizzas at sea.

International Specialty Restaurants 

MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will feature restaurants with ‘open kitchens,’ following the trend in restaurant design and creating a sensory experience that allows guests to see, smell and hear expert chefs at work. Selected restaurants on these ships will also feature a Chef’s Table for a five-star dining experience.  So, more than just one Chef’s Table.  Very nice.

Both the Meraviglia and the Seaside will be Butcher’s Cut, an authentic American Steakhouse blended with the skillful mastery of the butcher. Guests can select their favorite steak from glass-fronted meat aging fridges and then watch the skilled chefs preparing their selections in the open kitchen. The bar will feature wines and cocktails with an American theme and an assortment of craft beers. 

MSC Meraviglia will feature The Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant which will complement the ship’s Kaito Sushi Bar.

MSC Seaside will have the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. This venue will have three distinct eateries: an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations; a Sushi Bar; and an area with Teppanyaki Grills.

The Seaside will also feature the signature seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay. This restaurant will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. A simple menu will include locally-sourced Stone Crabs, a delicacy in the homeport of Miami, beautiful fresh Sea Bass, flown in from the Mediterranean, and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).

MSC Meraviglia Dining Packages

The Meraviglia will have dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. For example:

· ‘Dinner & Show’ where they will enjoy an exclusive table d’hôte menu and then experience the Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the purpose-built Carousel Lounge.

· ‘Eataly Chef’s Table’ which includes a dedicated chef and sommelier for the night, seven gourmet dishes, with each course paired with seven wines.

Royal Caribbean’s Implementation Dates For New Room Service Menu and Fee

March 21, 2017.

As we’ve reported twice recently, Royal Caribbean is rolling out a new enhanced room service menu that adds a $7.95 service charge for most orders.  You can read more about it here, and see the new menus here.

Serenade Of The Seas will be the first ship to get the new room service on March 27, and the plan is to have the whole fleet* transitioned by May 26.

*Quantum Of The Seas is not included in this new room service plan.

The ship-by-ship rollout is as follows:

Norwegian Cruise Line Raises Service Charges

March 18, 2017.


Over the past two days, word spread across social media about Norwegian Cruise Line raising their onboard service charges, as booked guests started receiving e-mails from their agents alerting them to this.  Yesterday the cruise line made an official announcement and updated their website service charge page.

The New Charges

For those in standard cabins up to mini-suites, the fee is going from $13.50 to $13.99 per person/per day.  If you are in a suite  the charge will increase from $15.50 to $16.99 per person/per day.  The new rates take effect April 1, but if you book by March 31 and pre-pay the service charge you get the old rate.

But Wait, There’s More!

You see, the prices listed above do not include the Norwegian Sky.  The Sky provides all-inclusive bar sales in the basic cruise fare, so this ship will have higher service charges.  Norwegian said the reason for this is “to better address the demands of the enormously successful all-inclusive product aboard Norwegian Sky.” Well, if they say so.  

The new fee for the Sky will be $18.99 per person per day for standard cabins up to mini-suites and $21.99 per person per day for the full suites.

To summarize, if you cruise on the Norwegian Sky you pay $5 per person more each day than on the company’s other ships.

Also, the state of Hawaii needs to get their cut too, so for sailings on Pride Of America your service charges have an additional 4.275% tacked on for the “General Excise Tax” which is a state law.  This tax is not a new thing.

In addition to the cruise service charge, the bar and spa staff, and the specialty dining venues, also add 18% to the bill each time you use their services.