Thursday, April 24, 2014

Regal Princess Completes Successful Sea Trials

With the completion of her sea trials, Princess Cruises' newest ship Regal Princess has accomplished another major milestone in preparation for her May 20th debut. The new cruise ship set out to sea from her construction dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, and was put through her paces with a series of maneuvers to test her propulsion, steering and navigational equipment. After a successful five days of trials, the ship is now back in the shipyard for further exterior and interior finishing. Regal Princess will be ready for her maiden voyage from Venice, a 7-day Mediterranean cruise to Athens including stops in Corfu, Mykonos and an overnight call in Istanbul. Throughout the summer, the new ship will sail on Princess’ signature Grand Mediterranean cruises, with two itinerary choices.

Regal Princess, a sister ship to Royal Princess, will offer a variety of enticing features, including a soaring atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas; the Princess Live! television studio; a dedicated pastry shop; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Princess Cruises Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Nostalgic Sailing to Mexico

Before "The Love Boat" appeared on our television sets in the 1970s, Princess Cruises was making its mark on the cruise industry. Now, to cap a year of 50th anniversary activities, the line will celebrate the five decade mark in 2015 by creating a special Mexico itinerary departing on Dec 3, 2015, exactly 50 years to the day that the line's original ship, Princess Patricia, set sail on the company's very first cruise in 1965.

Offered on the intimate Pacific Princess, next year's unique sailing is the same length as the company's first cruise--14 days--and will include a blend of ports from the maiden itinerary such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, with some newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto.

Guests on the cruise will be treated to an array of activities and entertainment commemorating half a century of cruising by the famous line, and will also be joined by some surprise guests. Our bet is that "Captain Steubing" will be on board, if not at the helm.

"This nostalgic cruise to Mexico will be the perfect finale to what's sure to be a special 50th anniversary year for Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "For this significant milestone we couldn't resist recreating, with some new touches, the very first cruise our company operated. And because the name Pacific Princess is so integral to our company's history, we wanted to offer the cruise aboard the current ship with this iconic name."

One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises first set sail in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico. Nearly 50 years later, the line has grown to become the third largest cruise line in the world and a recognized leader in taking travelers to some of the most fascinating places around the globe. This anniversary sailing on Pacific Princess, which carries 670 guests, is available for sale on May 13 and additional information is available at Princess.com.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Holland America Line Introduces 'Dive-In At The Terrace Grill'

With Holland America Line's announcement that they are enhancing the Terrace Grill on their 15 premium ships and rebranding the popular lunch spot as "Dive-In at the Terrace Grill," I know where I'll be heading for lunch aboard Eurodam during The Malt Shop Memories Cruise this fall!

The outdoor bistro-style grill area by the ships' Lido pool will feature new signature burgers, hot dogs, and fries. The first ships to open the new gourmet grill were ms Eurodam, ms Amsterdam, and ms Maasdam. The remaining ships in the fleet will be opening Dive-In at the Terrace Grill throughout summer 2014. The areas will be decorated with new Dive-In signage and decor.

"We're always listening to our guests and travel partners for ideas to evolve the dining experience on our ships with new concepts, and the Dive-In is an exciting enhancement to our culinary offerings," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest programs for Holland America Line. "For a casual meal, Dive-In offers a delicious choice with a gourmet twist."

All of the signature burgers are hand-formed, freshly made beef patties featuring Holland America Line's secret Dive-In Sauce, chop-chop lettuce, and sliced tomato on a toasted brioche bun in addition to other accoutrements. Guests can choose from burgers such as The Gainer, which is served with a mound of crispy frizzled onions; The Cannonball with Gouda cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and sweet caramelized onions; and The High-Dive with cheddar cheese. Guests in the mood for chicken can choose The Back Flip chicken breast burger topped with guacamole and all the burger dressings, while vegetarians can sample The Freestyle, a vegetarian burger with grilled portabella mushroom topped with melting Gouda and cheddar cheeses, avocado, and Dive-In sauce.

Signature hot dogs feature Nathan's Famous all beef dogs, all served with Dive-In Sauce in a poppy-seed bun. The Dive-In Dog is topped with American-style mustard and a mound of crispy frizzled onions; The Dog Paddle is topped with sauerkraut, crispy bacon bits and German mustard, while The Dunkin' Dog is topped with melty cheese sauce, pickled jalapenos, and chopped red onions.

No hamburger or hot dog would be complete without Dive-In French Fries, and guests can order them three ways: traditional, topped with Dive-In Sauce, or smothered in melty cheese sauce.

Additional good food news is that the existing Taco Bar will continue to be available adjacent to the Dive-In at the Terrace Grill. Guests make their own taco with handmade tortillas or hard taco shells and a selection of popular condiments and fillings including chicken, beef and pork.

Image Courtesy Holland America Line

Monday, April 21, 2014

Camp Carnival Children's Program To Become Marine-Themed 'Camp Ocean'

Carnival Cruise Lines, a leader in family cruising, has unveiled Camp Ocean—an exciting, new marine-themed children's program coming to its fleet of 24 "Fun Ships." Set to debut May 24th on Carnival Freedom, the expansive new program will immerse children ages 2-11 in the wonders of the sea through fun, engaging and educational experiences. More than 200 new ocean-inspired activities will range from educational games such as Sea Creature Discovery, Marine Life Trivia, Under the Sea Mad Libs and Ocean Artifacts Memory Tray to creative arts opportunities such as Design Your Own Aquarium, Make Your Own Sailboat, Sea Salt Art, and Create a Penguin from Oreos.

Camp Ocean, which will replace the line's existing Camp Carnival program, will welcome youngsters in with light blue and white underwater colored spaces and friendly, experienced staff. Three age-related categories will each have their own identity: children ages 2-5 will be dubbed "Penguins," with those ages 6-8 called "Sting Rays" while 9-11 year olds will be "Sharks."

Distinctive areas and activities have been custom-created for each of the new age designations—from miniature play igloos for the Penguins to interactive gaming stations for the Sharks. On Carnival Freedom, which is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment, and Carnival Vista, which debuts in 2016, a new purpose-built Camp Ocean play area will include Party Reef, a common shared space that brings each of the groups together, as well as Creative Cove, a breakout room for arts and crafts activities.

"While our current children's program consistently gets very high marks, we've challenged ourselves to exceed expectations with a truly dynamic and diverse program for our youngest guests," said Mark Tamis, Carnival's senior vice president of guest operations. "With our new highly tailored age groupings and themed activities connected to the oceans and their fascinating underwater habitats, we're excited to invite kids to Camp Ocean to have an extra special and memorable Carnival vacation experience."

In developing the new Camp Ocean program, the company convened a Carnival Play Panel comprised of experts in child education, media and play to develop and curate the more than 200 new activities to resonate with today's children and to continually review and guide updates to the children's programming.

The new Camp Ocean activities span across 11 key categories of play, including the core themes of active play, games, free play, arts and crafts and digital, coupled with additional categories such as role play, music, party time, science and discovery, social and food fun, all designed to find the ideal combination of activities catering to children's varied interests.

Carnival will also introduce a Badge Challenge as part of Camp Ocean, which will provide the opportunity for kids to earn and collect badges as a special memento of their cruise. Badge challenges will include a variety of unique activities that provide an original way for kids to learn about their vessel, experience onboard adventures and gain a sense of accomplishment. After completing tasks which may include trying a new food, making an aquatic towel animal or riding the water slide, children will collect corresponding Camp Ocean badges.

The new Camp Ocean program builds upon Carnival's leadership position in family cruising with more than 700,000 kids expected to sail on Carnival ships in 2014. Another recently announced enhancement to the line's children's programming is a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to introduce the family-focused Seuss at Sea, with youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences inspired by the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss.

Rollout of Camp Ocean will begin aboard Carnival Freedom in May 2014 following a major refurbishment which will also include the line's first Dr. Seuss Bookville interactive reading venue. Camp Ocean will be introduced on Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Triumph later this year with the balance of the fleet implemented by 2016, including Carnival Vista, which is set to debut in early 2016.

Carnival's popular programs for tweens and teens, Circle C (for 12-14 year olds) and Club O2 (for 15-17 year olds) will continue across the fleet.

Images Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spectacular Entertainment For Regal Princess

Youngsters with a talented older sibling can relate to the upcoming launch of Regal Princess, the sister-ship of Princess Cruises' Royal Princess, which was christened with such fanfare just last year by godmother Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge. Next month's introduction of Regal Princess will be low key by comparison, but the new ship promises to be a near-clone, right down to the spectacular entertainment.

Take a look at Spectacular, a live stage show that is available only on board the Royal Princess and Regal Princess. Offering a lively night of entertainment from some of the world's most talented singers, dancers, and performers, Spectacular is a show you won't want to miss.


Additional information can be found at Princess.com/RegalPrincess.

Friday, April 18, 2014

China Syndrome: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is Shanghai’ed

With its bumper cars, entertainment offerings that include the Broadway hit Mama Mia!, and newly announced dining options all rolled out with great fanfare, it seemed that Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas was designed with features to specifically appeal to North American cruisers. The line even has had popular American television interior designer Genevieve Gorder collaborating on some of the d├ęcor. Additionally, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey approved Royal Caribbean’s plans to build a new $70 million cruise terminal and parking facilities at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey to prepare for the highly anticipated ship’s arrival.

However, in a startling twist, Royal Caribbean has tossed a “gotcha” into the future homeporting of their newest vessel—beginning in May 2015, Quantum of the Seas will make its homeport in Shanghai (Baoshan), China, ‘to bring the company’s most innovative ship to the world’s fastest-growing cruise market.’ Quantum of the Seas will reposition to China in May 2015, following her inaugural winter season sailing out of Cape Liberty to the Caribbean. In China, Quantum of the Seas will join Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas in Asia, increasing the company’s capacity in the region by 66 percent.

“Consumers in China have grown to expect the best the world has to offer, and Quantum of the Seas meets that standard like no other ship,” said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are ready to accelerate the growth of this vital market with a ship that will capture the imagination of travelers looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience. Every trend we are seeing in China tells us we can achieve real long-term competitive advantage and appealing returns on our investments in this fast-growing market by accelerating our presence there. We will have to be nimble, but the ability to move fast is one of our strengths.” In addition, Goldstein noted that the company was able to make the move because its new-ship pipeline will keep the New York region supplied with top-rated ships as well. “We are very mindful of the importance of New York, which is why we are bringing Liberty of the Seas and then Anthem of the Seas to this market.”

Does that mean that North Americans do not “expect the best the world has to offer” in the minds of Royal Caribbean executives? It’s a here today, gone tomorrow scenario—with cruise travelers accustomed to sailing on the newest ships from South Florida suffering the brunt of the implied insult because, at least for the immediate future, there will be no Quantum-class ship based there as Anthem of the Seas will homeport in Cape Liberty instead of Fort Lauderdale as previously announced. For Royal Caribbean to disappoint their loyal passengers—who looked forward to sailing a second Quantum-class from North America—and to snub the South Florida region that has traditionally been the world’s cruise capital is a striking development.

“These incredible ships will meet the sophisticated expectations of consumers in Shanghai, New York, and London. Our mantra for the new Quantum class of ships is ‘this changes everything’ and upping our game in these key markets achieves just that,” said Dominic Paul, Vice President International, Royal Caribbean International. “Our distinctive style of high quality innovative cruises has become known to travelers around the world and we will continue to deploy our most technologically advanced ships where the demand is, with the expectation of winning new converts to cruising.”

Is there no demand in North America for top-rated and technologically advanced ships? We doubt that inferred assumption, as well as the unsaid suggestion that North America—outside the northeast region—is no longer a key market, but only time will tell.

Quantum of the Seas will debut in November 2014, and spend its inaugural season sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ, before repositioning to China in May 2015. Beginning late June 2015, the ship will sail 3- to 8-night itineraries year-round from Shanghai to Japan and Korea. Liberty of the Seas will then arrive to Cape Liberty to sail to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada and New England for the 2015 summer and autumn seasons. The Freedom-class ship will be the company’s newest and largest ship to offer cruises to Bermuda from the New York-metropolitan area. Finally, Quantum of the Seas’ sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, which launches in April 2015, will complete her inaugural Europe season from London (Southampton), UK, before arriving to Cape Liberty in November 2015 to continue Quantum-class cruising to the Bahamas and Caribbean for the winter 2015-16 season.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three New Artists Join Norwegian Getaway’s Grammy® Experience

Norwegian Cruise Line welcomes the next three artists that will perform on board Norwegian Getaway’s GRAMMY® Experience at Sea: Sugar Blue, a GRAMMY-Award-winning harmonica dynamo; Carolyn Malachi, a GRAMMY-nominated soul-fusion artist; and Roddie Romero, a GRAMMY®-nominated Louisiana artist.

When Sugar Blue joined Norwegian Getaway on April 12, 2014, he began dazzling guests with his incredible harmonica mastery. Known as the Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Parker of the harmonica, his style is melodically fluid and instantly recognizable. Born in Harlem, New York, his fate was sealed when he received a harmonica for his 10th birthday and since then he has been performing worldwide. Blue feels music deeply, as part of the human experience, and he is excited to share his gift with guests sailing on board Norwegian Getaway through June 14, 2014.

Carolyn Malachi, famous for her popular brand of soul music, emerged as a star following the release of her GRAMMY-nominated single, “Orion,” in 2011. Her unique spoken-word meets hip-hop, R&B and jazz-fusion style of music intoxicates listeners and takes them on an inspiring musical journey. Guests will be delighted and inspired by Malachi’s incredible sound and inspirational lyrics while cruising on Norwegian Getaway from June 15 through Aug 1, 2014.

Following Carolyn Malachi, Roddie Romero, a renowned, GRAMMY-nominated Louisiana artist who has been performing internationally for over 20 years, will join Norwegian Getaway. Known for his authentic, traditional Cajun and zydeco music, this Louisiana-roots rocker puts on show guaranteed to get guests in Norwegian Getaway’s GRAMMY Experience at Sea on their feet and dancing. Romero is no stranger to cruising; he recently performed on board Norwegian Pearl during Cayamo, one of the line’s music festival series events in partnership with Sixthman. Romero will perform on Norwegian Getaway from Aug 2 through Aug 30, 2014.

Image Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Legendary Rock Band Styx Goes LIVE With Carnival

Carnival officially launched their one-of-a-kind Carnival LIVE Concert Series last week with sold-out performances by world-renowned rock band Styx. Fans packed the show lounges on Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination for live performances that brought audiences to their feet.

Tommy Shaw, guitarist for Styx, commented, “All I know is our boats were rockin’. We had a great time and it looked like our fans loved it, too. Can’t wait to do it again in the fall in Nassau and then in Catalina Island and Cozumel.”

Take a look at the excitement on board...


The Carnival LIVE Concert Series offers guests sailing on select Carnival Cruise Lines ships the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive onboard performance by a diverse roster of popular music artists while ships are docked at a port of call. Carnival has booked 49 performance dates for the 2014 concert series with the following artists:
• 38 Special
• Chicago
• Daughtry
• Foreigner
• Gavin DeGraw
• Jennifer Hudson
• Jewel
• Kansas
• Lady Antebellum
• LeAnn Rimes
• Martina McBride
• Olivia Newton-John
• REO Speedwagon
• STYX
• Trace Adkins
Performances are scheduled on board eight Carnival ships that call in the following ports: Cozumel, Mexico; Nassau, the Bahamas; and Catalina Island, California. Artists join the ship while in port, perform in the main show lounge that evening, and debark following their show.

Tickets cost $20-40 each and a limited number of VIP tickets are also available for each show for $100-$150 each. The VIP experience includes an artist meet and greet, complimentary photo with the band, seating in the first three rows and a commemorative laminated concert pass. All tickets can be purchased through Carnival’s online shore excursion system prior to sailing, or on board participating ships at the shore excursion desk based on availability.

For a preliminary list of ships, sailings, and concert dates, see 'Carnival LIVE Concert Series' here on Cruise Diva’s Blog. To view full list of 2014 Carnival LIVE concert dates, visit Carnival.com/CarnivalLive. When planning, take note that the dates are subject to change and are the dates when the concert itself takes place, not the date the sailing begins.

Video Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Carnival Dream Sails On Inaugural Cruise From The Big Easy

The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, the largest cruise ship to homeport in New Orleans year-round, departed on its inaugural 6-day cruise yesterday afternoon from the newly refurbished Erato Street Cruise Terminal, which underwent a $2.3 million upgrade to accommodate a ship as large as the 130,000-ton vessel. Solidifying the line's distinction as New Orleans' largest cruise operator, Carnival Cruise Lines now bases two ships carrying more than 400,000 passengers annually from the port. Carnival Dream joins Carnival Elation, which sails year-round 4- and 5-day cruises to Mexico from New Orleans, the sixth largest cruise port in the U.S. as ranked by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The special inaugural voyage is set to visit Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), and Cozumel. Carnival Dream's next move is to launch year-round 7-day service from New Orleans beginning April 20th by offering three distinctly different itineraries: western Caribbean cruises visiting Montego Bay, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman; or Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize and Cozumel; and a Bahamas/Florida route calling at Key West, Freeport, and Nassau.

"New Orleans is one of our most popular homeports and Carnival Dream provides vacationers with a spectacular 'Fun Ship' cruise option from the Big Easy offering an incredible array of on-board innovations," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival's president and CEO.

The 1,004-foot-long Carnival Dream offers a host of on-board features, including WaterWorks with a 303-foot-long Twister water slide, among the longest at sea, as well as a 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, a half-mile outdoor promenade with whirlpools that extend out over the ship's sides, and more than two dozen bars, restaurants, and lounges, including the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar. Carnival Dream also includes an indoor/outdoor cafe/live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza as well as the Seaside Theatre, a 270-square-foot LED screen displaying concerts, sporting events, and nightly Dive-In Movies.

Also featured is a Punchliner Comedy Club with nearly two dozen family-friendly and adult-oriented comedy shows per voyage. Carnival Dream also offers fun, supervised activities for children in three age groups and later this year will add Seuss at Sea, part of a fleetwide partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises featuring exciting youth, family, dining, and entertainment experiences inspired by the world of Dr. Seuss.

A variety of spacious accommodations are also available, with dozens of suites and a wide selection of balcony staterooms, including unique cove balconies located closer to the water that offer outstanding sea views. There are also ocean view staterooms with a full bath plus separate wash room and five-berth staterooms, which are ideal for families.

Image Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quantum of the Seas Floats Out



It wasn't that long ago that the final building block was moved into position, making it possible for Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship to have water beneath her hull for the first time just last week. As you can see from the photo above, Quantum of the Seas was floated out in the building dock at the MEYER WERFT shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

In November of this year the 167,800-ton, 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas—the first of the Quantum-class vessels—is scheduled to launch her maiden season from Cape Liberty, located in Bayonne, New Jersey.