Norwegian Building New Terminal At Port of Miami

March 7, 2018.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, today unveiled the design of the new and dedicated Norwegian Cruise Line terminal at PortMiami.   Pending the final approval by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, the project will commence in May 2018, and is scheduled for completion by the fall of 2019, as Norwegian Encore, the newest ship of the Breakaway Plus class, makes her debut in Miami with seasonal cruises to the Caribbean.

Norwegian is widely recognized for introducing modern-day cruising more than 50 years ago, by transforming a common means of transportation to a new style of vacation with its first Caribbean voyages out of the port of Miami and launching the city’s status as the “cruising capital of the world.” As a result of the continued relationship, Miami-Dade County will invest $100 million to build a new terminal dedicated to Norwegian Cruise Line, with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. augmenting the county’s allocated funds with its own contribution to PortMiami, as was unveiled today at a press conference held at the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Global exhibition.

The modern terminal draws its inspiration from a nautilus, with its spiraled and multi-level façade, opening up to grand ocean views.  Once complete it will be the new “pearl” of Miami, redefining the landscape of the city’s skyline.  Innovative lighting, inviting indoor and outdoor waiting areas and other guest-centric elements will enhance the overall passenger experience.  At nearly 166,500 square feet, the debuting Norwegian terminal will accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers, and feature new technology to support faster and more efficient embarkation and disembarkation processes, as well as expedited security screening and luggage check-in.  A dedicated lounge and service area will facilitate a warm and welcoming sense of arrival for large groups and charters, and a new parking garage, and valet parking area with direct access to the terminal and lounge are also scheduled to be completed.


Carnival Sensation To Feature Cuba Cruises From Miami In 2019

February 27, 2018.

The Carnival Paradise arrives in Havana Harbor in Havana, Cuba. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Who said the Trump administration’s restrictions on the travel policy for Cuba would end cruises to the island nation?  You wouldn’t know it by looking at Carnival’s cruise schedule.

Carnival Cruise Line will add another ship and embarkation port to the mix in 2019, offering 17 new sailings to Cuba aboard Carnival Sensation in 2019.  The five-day Cuba voyages will be the line’s first to operate round-trip from Miami and feature a day-long call in Havana as well as stops at popular Caribbean and Bahamian ports,  including Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Nassau, and the private destinations of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.

The voyages complement a series of voyages to Cuba departing from Tampa aboard Carnival Paradise taking place in 2018-19.  I was aboard the inaugural visit to Havana on the Paradise last summer.

A Cuban taxi driver, piloting a vintage car, pulls up to the El Morro Castle while the Carnival Paradise cruise ship is docked in Havana, Cuba. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Sensation’s Cuba schedule includes:

  • four five-day sailings to Havana and Grand Turk departing May 20, Sept. 9, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16, 2019
  • five five-day voyages featuring Havana, Nassau and Half Moon Cay departing June 17, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 23, and Nov. 4, 2019
  • a five-day cruise to Havana, Nassau and Princess Cays departing April 22, 2019
  • seven five-day cruises to Havana and Grand Cayman departing May 6, June 3, July 1 and 29, Aug. 26, Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, 2019

Carnival Sensation underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock last year that added what I call “the full treatment”, including Guy’s Burger Joint , RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar,  BlueIguana Cantina, Alchemy Bar, and the Cherry on Top sweets shop.

Guests sailing on Carnival’s Cuba cruises can select from nearly 20 different shore excursion experiences.  Also, a variety of Cuban-themed activities and entertainment will be featured aboard, including the sizzling Amor Cubano:  A Caribbean Dance Romance Playlist Productions show, Havana-inspired deck parties, trivia contests and salsa lessons.  There’s also a lecturer on board who discusses the country’s history and culture.

The visits to Havana 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.

Norwegian Announces New Cruises To Cuba & Caribbean From Miami

February 13, 2018.

Norwegian Cruise Line has opened brand-new cruises to Cuba and the Caribbean aboard Norwegian Sun round trip from Miami.  For a limited season this fall, Norwegian Sun will offer cruisers a chance to discover the rich history of Cuba and explore some of the brand’s most popular tropical destinations in just one journey on 7, 9, and 13-day cruises.

Norwegian Sun will sail six 7-day cruises from Miami departing on Sundays from September 9 through October 14. The ship will cruise to ports including Havana, Cuba, Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas; Costa Maya, Mexico and Harvest Caye, Belize. The ship’s nine-day Cuba and the Caribbean cruises will expand upon the 7-day sailings and also include additional visits to Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico.

Those wishing to visit the Panama Canal can do so aboard Norwegian Sun’s new 13-day Cuba, Caribbean and the Panama Canal cruise departing from Miami on October 30. This bucket-list cruise will visit eight destinations including Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia and Oranjestad, Aruba, among others.

Norwegian Cruise Line has also added a new 5-day cruise to Cuba and the Bahamas from Port Canaveral on September 3. The new cruise will round out the ship’s season sailing from the Space Coast with an afternoon visit to the southernmost city of Key West, Florida then head to Havana for an overnight stay in the historical city, followed by a beach day at the private-island paradise of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

All of Norwegian Sun’s recently released cruises will visit the popular destinations of Havana, Cuba and Harvest Caye, Belize. While in Cuba, Norwegian Sun sails into the very heart of Havana, providing guests with the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and visit Cuba’s warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges – all just steps away from the comfort of the ship. Norwegian offers a selection of 13 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests have the chance to have a farm-to-table dining experience or explore modern Havana in an American classic car and discover the arts, culture, dance and cinematic masterpieces of Fabrica de Arte Cubano on an exclusive private tour.

Located one mile off the coast of Southern Belize, Harvest Caye, is a resort-style destination where guests can lounge along the expansive beach or at the 15,000 square-foot pool with a swim-up bar, enjoy a nature center with wildlife and reptiles or opt for an adrenalin rush zip line adventure at the 130 ft. tall Flighthouse, among many other on-island attractions. Those who want to explore mainland Belize have several convenient options from Harvest Caye including the island ferry, rainforest tubing or private boat excursions.

Royal Caribbean International Wants Cruisers To “Amp Up Their Weekends” On Reimagined Mariner Of The Seas

February 1, 2018.

Royal Caribbean International is inviting adventure seekers to break out of their ordinary routine and take their weekends to new heights with the debut of the reimagined Mariner of the Seas. After an extensive $90 million makeover, Mariner will offer the chance to do, see and experience more than any quick getaway has ever done before. Beginning in June 2018,  adventurers can enjoy 3- and 4-night Bahamas escapes from PortMiami to Nassau and CocoCay – Royal Caribbean’s private island destination – where they will experience a variety of new thrills, nightlife and culinary creations.

Out-of-this-World Thrills

SkyPad Interior

Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss Sky Pad, a brand new virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience on Mariner of the Seas. Guests will strap in and don their virtual reality headset to transport them to another time and planet to bounce over moon craters or compete in intergalactic games. The out-of-this-world experience is for guests of all ages and also can be enjoyed without virtual reality headsets, for those who prefer to look out over the ocean as they leap toward the sky.

Mariner will see the addition of several recent Royal Caribbean innovations following the extensive modernization, including The Perfect Storm, a duo of racing waterslides called Cyclone and Typhoon, and a glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience in Studio Bwhere friends and family can team up to play “Battle for Planet Z.” Mariner will offer Puzzle Break: The Observatorium, a new escape room experience where competitors can put their minds to the test, working together to find hidden clues and solve a series of high-tech riddles to unravel a mystery. With only 60 minutes of play, the excitement builds with each tick of the clock. Guests also will have the chance to catch a wave with another added Royal Caribbean-favorite, the new 40-foot-long FlowRider surf simulator.

Re-invented Nightlife

Bamboo Room Bar

The adventure doesn’t stop when the sun goes down – The Bamboo Room, an all-new Polynesian-themed watering hole found only on Mariner, will be the coolest bar on anyone’s must-do list. The retro lounge will heat up the ship’s already vibrant nightlife scene with its tiki-chic décor. Guests can choose their favorite specialty handcrafted cocktails to sip and savor, plus, make their friends jealous with Instagram worthy moments throughout the kitschy-cool, uniquely styled space. For sports fans, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade is the place to be on game nights, where they can enjoy all the biggest live sporting events over ice-cold brews, wings, sliders and more.

Playmakers Bar

Can’t Miss Culinary Creations

For those looking for an adventure of the taste buds on their getaway, Mariner will not disappoint with new culinary offerings added to its lineup.Jamie’s Italian offers Chef Jamie Oliver’s rustic Italian dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, including delicious pastas made in-house daily. Caffeine junkies will be able to get their fix at Starbucks even at sea, and sushi fans can enjoy Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, offering exotic made-to-order hot and cold dishes á la carte.

The 15-guest deck Mariner of the Seas will continue to offer an array of signature Royal Caribbean experiences, including a Studio B ice-skating rink, a 40-foot rock-climbing wall, a nine-hole miniature golf course, three pools, a full-sized basketball court and “Dive-In” outdoor movie nights poolside.

Norwegian Celebrates Construction Milestone For Newest Ship

January 31, 2018. 

Named Norwegian Encore, the new vessel will sail the Caribbean from Miami seasonally beginning fall 2019

Today Norwegian Cruise Line marked the start of construction for its newest ship. Named Norwegian Encore, Norwegian’s latest addition to its young, modern fleet will sail the Caribbean from Miami seasonally beginning fall 2019.

The big takeaway from this news for North American cruisers is this ship was initially slated to go straight to China upon completion, and now that plan has been dropped.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and MEYER WERFT executives gathered at the MEYER WERFT Laser Center in Papenburg, Germany and cut the first plate of steel, marking the ceremonial start of construction of Norwegian Encore, which is due for delivery on October 31, 2019.

Norwegian Encore will be the seventeenth ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet and the line’s fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful Class in the brand’s history.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will sail weekly seven-day Caribbean cruises each Sunday from PortMiami.   The ship will be available for reservations in March 2018.

MSC Cruises Takes Delivery Of MSC Seaside, Announces Two New Seaside EVO Ships Ordered

November 29, 2017.

Today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, MSC Cruises officially took delivery of its new flagship MSC Seaside. The delivery ceremony took place in the presence of Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, Graziano Delrio, Italy’s Minister of Infrastructures and Transports as well as other authorities and dignitaries.

MSC Seaside “the ship that follows the Sun”

During the delivery ceremony of MSC Seaside, the Company’s second newly-built to come into service in 2017, MSC Cruises and Fincantieri also signed firm orders for the construction of two Seaside EVO ships, a further evolution of the Seaside Class prototype, for a total investment of €1.8 billion EUR.

Following the new agreement between MSC Cruises and Fincantieri, the initial slot reservation agreement to build a third Seaside Class ship to be delivered in 2021 has been replaced to instead build the first of two Seaside EVO ships. The second ship is set to come into service in 2023.

Key specs for the new Seaside EVO are as follows:

  • Length/beam: 1,060 ft. / 134 ft.
  • Gross tonnage: 169,380 GRT

In addition to offering even more space, Seaside EVO ships will have greater dimensions, more cabins, an even larger Yacht Club – with an additional deck and larger cabins — and will be hosting up to 5,646 passengers. At the same time, just like the Seaside Class, the Seaside EVO ships will be equipped with the latest advanced environmental technology, including: a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system, an advanced active emissions control technology system, that significantly reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx) into harmless nitrogen (N2) and water; exhaust gas cleaning (EGC) technology to meet the strictest exhaust regulations in port and in operating areas; state-of-the-art waste management and recycling systems; advanced water treatment systems – going above and beyond regulatory standards and meeting the highest industry standards; and, an advanced energy and heat recovery system.

Across the ships, there will be the latest generation of energy-saving devices and all areas will feature LED lighting. The ships will be ultra-hydrodynamic and thanks to optimized hull lines, propellers and rudders, combined with the latest anti-fouling paint, wave resistance will be further reduced, and greater fuel-efficiency will be achieved.

With the addition of these new ships, the Company’s already industry-unprecedented investment plan will now account for 12 new ships to be built between 2017 and 2026, for an overall investment of EUR 10.5 billion.

MSC Seaside is the first ship in the Seaside Class and a completely new prototype pushing the boundaries of innovative ship building and design. At 153,516 GRT and with a guest capacity of 5,119, she is the second newly-built next-generation mega cruise ship in the MSC Cruises fleet and the first one to be delivered by Fincantieri.

MSC Seaside will be homeporting in Miami and will begin her first sailing in the Caribbean where she will call at various ports in the East and West Caribbean.

Fresh on the heels of MSC Seaside, her sister ship MSC Seaview will come into service in June 2018, starting her summer season in the Mediterranean. Today at the delivery ceremony, Mr Vago also announced thatMSC Seaview will be christened in Civitavecchia, Italy, on June 2, 2018.

MSC Seaside’s Entertainment Options Are Sure To Please

November 20, 2017.

MSC Cruises today announced more details of the new entertainment options aboard its latest flagship, MSC Seaside.

Late-Night Fun and Laughter with BeerProv, New Improvised Comedy Concept

For the first time on the MSC Cruises fleet, guests will be able to enjoy improvised comedy at sea. The well-known North American comedy troupe BeerProv, famed for instantly creating hilarious, unscripted sketches based on audience suggestions, will perform six nights a week in the Metropolitan Theatre, offering guests an entirely unique and unexpected show every performance. This new 45-minute concept features four comedians and includes a high level of audience participation.

Seven Brand New Broadway-Style Shows

MSC Cruises places a large emphasis on delivering quality entertainment, and has been recognized multiple times for its top-notch productions. The cruise line received the award for Best Production Shows in Porthole Cruise Magazine’s Editor in Chief Awards for 2017 and earned a spot under Best Cruise Ships for Entertainment in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice 2016 Awards, as well as the Cruisers’ Choice in the CruiseCritic 2016 Awards.

MSC Cruises has worked to develop seven original Broadway-style theater shows for the 934-seat Metropolitan Theatre. Shows include something for movie fans, with My Life in Music presenting the most famous movie soundtracks performed live onstage, as well as something for vintage musical fans, with The Dream. Another eye-catching show, The Wizard, will feature breathtaking illusions, and Peter Punk provides a fresh new take on the famous story of Peter Pan.

Six original concerts, in varieties ranging from opera, to Latin, to piano solos, are also performed in the Metropolitan Theatre, with the help of the onboard pianist, violinist, soprano and tenor, for fans of live music.

More Flexible Theater Show Sittings

Also for the first time in MSC Cruises’ fleet, guests of MSC Seaside will be able to choose from up to four sittings of a Broadway-style show each evening starting from 6:00 p.m. and running until late, allowing greater flexibility to fit a fantastic show around even the busiest schedule. The shows will feature 14 variety artists, 15 dancers, and five singers, offering an assortment of different performances.

Activities Kids Will Love

Lego Experience

As a family-owned company, MSC Cruises is dedicated to creating unique moments for families, and each and every new ship offers an even greater family offering. Two special LEGO® rooms, unique to MSC Seaside, will allow children to develop their creativity with tens of thousands of the world’s most famous bricks, all while making new friends in their age group. The Mini Club – LEGO® Sailor room is themed to mirror the ship’s Caribbean environment, with sailors made entirely out of LEGO®, for kids aged three to six. The Junior Club – LEGO® Pirates is for kids aged seven to eleven, filled with the latest LEGO® toys, video games and kits, this time with pirates made out of LEGO®.

Parents can enjoy a night to themselves, by dropping their kids off at late night group babysitting services, available for ages 3 to 11. Parents can leave kids from 11pm until 2am to enjoy everything the ship has to offer by night. In addition, during port days, parents can drop their kids off for free from 9 am until 11 pm, for a full, stress free day. Each kids’ club will be equipped with the latest, cutting-edge equipment, including 3D printing, VR Gaming and 3D product scanning.

To create more opportunities for together-time for the whole family, the Metropolitan Theatre will host screenings of popular family movies up to twice per cruise. Also on every port day, MSC Cruises will also open one of the kids’ clubs for both kids and their parents, so that the “big kids” can join in on the fun!

Other new features include an interactive game show, Buzzer the Game, which will offer kids and teens a chance to test their music, pop culture and sports knowledge in a speedy team game taking place in the disco.

Interactive Entertainment

An entertainment area offers guests high-tech thrills, including an authentic F1 racing simulator, immersive XD cinema, two full-sized bowling lanes and a whole host of arcade games. Two of the longest zips line at sea will also take guests on a high-speed thrill ride, finishing at the back of the ship. Guests can either take the plunge on their own or race a friend side-by-side.

New shows in the ship’s atrium will also offer surprise performances. Game shows, flash mobs, karaoke and more will make up the varied line-up in this uniquely designed space.