Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam to be Single- & Family-Friendly with New Stateroom Catgories

Family Ocean-view Stateroom
When ms Koningsdam debuts for her Mediterranean Season 2016, the ship’s innovative design will feature Holland America Line’s first-ever purpose-built staterooms for families as well as single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations (total capacity is 2,650). In addition, many familiar stateroom categories such as Neptune, Signature, and Vista suites will be available in a wider range of sizes and different configurations to choose from.

The 32 new specially designed family ocean-view staterooms will range from 222 to 231 square feet and feature special amenities such as two bathrooms and accommodations for five people. The 12 single ocean-view cabins will range from 127 to 172 square feet in size and will be available on multiple decks at a variety of forward, mid-ship and aft locations.

“A cruise is one of the most popular ways to travel as a family, and we continue to welcome more multigenerational groups each year. To help us better serve families, we are pleased to be able to offer these tailored staterooms on ms Koningsdam,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs. “And the new one-person staterooms enable us to serve the growing market of solo travelers.”

Interior Stateroom
With a sophisticated color palette and the freedom to design from the ground up based on guest feedback, ms Koningsdam’s staterooms and suites feature a host of modern functional details such as bedside USB ports, custom casework, and frameless glass shower doors that feel elegant and luxurious. Additional amenities found in all suites and staterooms include Holland America Line’s signature Mariner's Dream bed with finely woven cotton linens, plush bathrobes for use during the voyage, a premium massage showerhead, flat-panel TV with video-on-demand, mini fridge, complimentary fresh fruit on request, and fragrant soaps, lotions, shampoo, and other bath amenities from Elemis Aromapure.

On ms Koningsdam, the “suite life” gets sweeter with larger, more luxurious quarters. A grand Pinnacle Suite is an expansive 1,290 square feet with a bedroom, living room, dining area, dressing room and private verandah with whirlpool. The two Neptune Spa Suites and 43 Neptune Suites range from a generous 465 to a huge 855 square feet. Neptune and Pinnacle Suite guests have access to the exclusive Neptune Lounge, a private place to relax, socialize with other suite guests and enjoy the personalized service of a concierge. The fleetwide lounges provide worktables, a large screen television, library, sofas and chairs, and complimentary refreshments throughout the day. Pinnacle and Neptune Suite amenities also include corsages and boutonnieres for the first formal night, a cocktail party with the ship’s officers, priority dining and seating requests, binoculars and umbrellas for use during the cruise, a wall-unit bar, cold hors d’oeuvres served before dinner each evening on request and complimentary laundry, pressing and dry cleaning throughout the cruise and more.

The 14 Signature Suites are up to 400 square feet in size and the 104 Vista Suites range from 260 to 356 square feet. Signature and Vista suite guests receive many special amenities, including personalized cruise stationery, oversized bath towels, fresh flowers, a pillow menu, mini bar and one-touch phone concierge service.

“Holland America Line is known in the cruise industry for providing well-appointed staterooms,” said My Nguyen, Holland America Line’s deputy director of interior design. “With ms Koningsdam we enhanced these qualities by including many thoughtful details that improve the functionality of the staterooms. We also adopted a color pallet that takes advantage of texture and quiet color combinations to achieve a feeling of serenity and luxuriousness in each category.”

The ship will have the most staterooms with verandahs in the Holland America Line fleet with 912 total from Verandah to Pinnacle Suite categories. Guests looking to focus on health and wellness during the cruise can book verandah spa accommodations, conveniently located near the Greenhouse Spa & Salon that come with yoga mats for use during the voyage and an iPod docking station. For guests looking for a more affordable option, the line is offering 266 standard or large interior accommodations up to 225 square feet.

Images Courtesy Holland America Line

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Join Cruise Diva for an Inside Look at Regal Princess

Cruise Diva recently returned from the maiden Caribbean sailing of Princess Cruises' newest "royal" ship, the stunning Regal Princess.

Welcome aboard for a CruiseDiva.com preview of all the features we found during our cruise on Regal Princess and follow the included links to the blog stories written daily while at sea.

We hope you enjoy the journey as much as we did!

Image © CruiseDiva.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

Farewell, Majesty of the Seas

Majesty of the Seas, the last of the Sovereign-class vessels in the Royal Caribbean International fleet, will transfer to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd's Pullmantur brand in 2016.

Majesty of the Seas' last 3-night sailing for Royal Caribbean International will depart on April 29, 2016. She will then enter dry dock before joining the Pullmantur fleet, allowing her to be tailored to fit Pullmantur's brand standards and offerings.

Although Majesty of the Seas was once one of the cruise industry's largest vessels, she has been overshadowed by larger and more feature rich fleetmates since her introduction. While her transfer won't affect the total capacity of Royal Caribbean International's fleet that much, Pullmantur's total guest capacity will increase in excess of a whopping 20 percent with her addition to their fleet.

"Majesty of the Seas has created wonderful memories for millions of guests, and we expect this record of success to continue as she transitions to Pullmantur," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "The vessel's transfer is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur. We are fortunate that our mix of brands allows us the flexibility and opportunity to expand in key strategic markets."

Built at Chantiers de L'Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, France, Majesty of the Seas sailed its maiden voyage on April 26, 1992. The 74,077-ton ship carries 2,350 guests (double occupancy) and 912 crew. Most recently, she was sailing year-round 3- and 4-night cruises from Miami, often visiting Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, Bahamas. While Majesty of the Seas caters to all types of cruise passengers, she is known for her first-time cruisers, offering newcomers the opportunity to get a feel of the cruising experience. Following the transition, all three Sovereign class ships—Sovereign, Monarch, and Majesty—will be operated by Pullmantur Cruises.

Over the past 40 years, Pullmantur has built a position as the leader in the Spanish cruise market. Since 2006 it has belonged to U.S.based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Currently, Pullmantur's fleet of five ships has a daily capacity of more than 11,000 passengers. Since 2013, it has promoted a strategic growth plan in the Latin American cruise market, where more than half of its business is located.

Image: Royal Caribbean International

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vow to WOW With This Royal Caribbean Deal

With winter already firmly entrenched in most parts of the country, families should take advantage of the upcoming holiday gatherings to plan their next adventure in warmer locales with Royal Caribbean Intl. The cruise line known for its innovative style s making it more enticing for cruise vacationers to seek out WOW moments on a Royal Caribbean ship with the Vow to WOW offer.

For a limited time, through Dec. 31, 2014, Vow to WOW offers vacationers half off of the cruise fare for a second guest, booked in the same stateroom with a full-fare guest. With a 50 percent-reduced deposit, travelers can reserve their room for as low as $50 per guest. Guests also will receive $100 onboard credit per interior and oceanview stateroom; $200 onboard credit per stateroom with balcony; and $300 onboard credit per suite-category stateroom. The Vow to WOW offer applies to all new U.S. and Canadian individual and named group bookings in all stateroom categories and open sailings, but excludes Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas and China sailings. For more details, visit RoyalCaribbean.com/DealsandMore.

Image Courtesy Royal Caribbean Intl

Friday, November 21, 2014

Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2014

If you followed our daily stories here on the blog, you know what a great time the Cruise Diva crew was having on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise this month.

We've wrapped up all the fun, music, parties, and entertainment, as well as added even more photos to the Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2014 article on our website and we invite you to sail along.

Photo © CruiseDiva.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

‘Premiere Sailings’ in the Med to Mark Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam Maiden Season

It was just a few days ago that Holland America Line revealed that their new ms Koningsdam would debut an innovative design aboard the premium line’s largest ship to date and we didn’t expect additional information quite so soon. However, we have just learned that when ms Koningsdam sets sail in February 2016 for her maiden sailings, she will head to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea to explore some of the region’s most popular capitals, culturally rich cities, charming villages, and beautiful beaches.

“Since we announced ms Koningsdam, guests have been anxiously awaiting itinerary details, so we’re pleased to share the spring Mediterranean season,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest relations. “We have a very loyal following and we anticipate these cruises will fill up quickly, so I recommend booking early.”

Reservations for the Premiere Voyage and Sailings open Dec. 1, 2014. The 2,650-guest ship is scheduled for delivery by Fincantieri’s Marghera, Italy, shipyard Feb. 15, 2016. After its repositioning to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, ms Koningsdam will sail a 7-day Premiere Voyage roundtrip from Civitavecchia departing Feb. 20 to Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kérkira (Corfu) and Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; and Naples, Italy.

Following the Premiere Voyage, from the end of February through early May ms Koningsdam will cruise a series of six 12-day Premiere Sailings on two alternating itineraries roundtrip from Civitavecchia. The first itinerary calls at Katakolon, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes and Crete, Greece; Istanbul (overnight) and Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and Naples, Italy. The other itinerary visits Naples, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; Gibraltar, British Territory; and Cádiz, Málaga, Cartagena and Barcelona (overnight), Spain. Holland America Line is working to finalize details on the ship’s summer and fall 2016 cruises and information will be released in the coming months.

As previously reported, ms Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. The vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public spaces and venues, while still featuring popular features that guests associate with Holland America Line.

Image Courtesy Holland America Line

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quantum of the Seas Sails Into New York

Last week the Cruise Diva crew was sailing the sunny and warm Caribbean aboard Regal Princess and missed the excitement surrounding the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas for its season of cruises from the New York area before repositioning to its home in China. While we couldn't be there in person, we enjoyed the following video and wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cruise Line Gift Cards For Holiday Giving

Just in time to make the holidays a bit brighter for cruise travelers, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines are offering the ideal gift to make their next voyage memorable.

Princess Cruises has announced a brand new gift card program making it easy to give the gift of cruising. Princess Cruises gift cards can be applied as payment towards the purchase of a Princess cruise, as well as onboard products and services including specialty dining, drinks, Lotus Spa treatments, shore excursions and more.

“Our new gift card offering is customizable, easy to purchase, ideal for any celebration and is the perfect gift for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We hope our new gift cards will inspire new travelers to take a Princess cruise and introduce them to the many worldwide destinations and memorable onboard experiences only a Princess cruise vacation can offer.”

Additional features of the Princess Cruises gift card program allow buyers to choose from various designs, schedule a delivery date to the recipient, and even personalize the notification by allowing buyers to record an audio message and add a digital photo.

Cruise gift cards are available in $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,000 increments and can be customized for a specific dollar amount up to $2,000. Buyers purchasing a gift card for $100 or more will also receive free shipping. Gift cards can be sent electronically or via mail. Princess Cruises gift cards are available at princess.com/giftcard. The program is available to all U.S. and Canadian residents.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ popular gift card program, a prepaid card that can be used as payment toward a “Fun Ship” vacation or a variety of shipboard purchases, is now available in more than 9,000 retail outlets throughout the U.S. This marks the first time that a cruise line-specific gift card has been made available at retail establishments ashore. Carnival will offer its gift cards at such locations as Giant Eagle, Kroger, and Safeway beginning later this month.

“Based on feedback from consumers and our travel agent partners, we’re very pleased to enhance the availability of our gift card program and provide consumers with even greater convenience and flexibility,” said Gus Antorcha, senior vice president of guest commerce for Carnival Cruise Lines.

Also available online at carnivalgiftcards.com or sold on board Carnival’s ships, the gift cards are ideal for any occasion, from weddings and graduations to birthdays and anniversaries, and offer consumers flexibility and convenience in their vacation purchases. The cards can be pre-loaded with funds ranging from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $1,000. The Carnival Gift Card is simple to use and may be applied online via the dedicated web site using the 16-digit card number, redeemed by calling 1-800-CARNIVAL, or used like cash on board as payment toward guests’ “Sail & Sign” shipboard account.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Debut an Innovative Design

ms Koningsdam Atrium
When Holland America Line welcomes ms Koningsdam to the fleet in February 2016, the ship will debut a new era in design approach for the line. As the first ship in the Pinnacle class, the 2,650-guest ship will have an interior that blends fresh, contemporary styling in harmony with the line's renowned classic elegance. The story of the ship will unfold online over the coming months through vibrant renderings, engaging videos, ship facts and more details about the interiors created by Adam D. Tihany and Bjorn Storbraaten.

"When guests come aboard ms Koningsdam they'll know they're on a Holland America Line ship, but they'll see we're taking a forward-thinking approach to many of the design elements," said Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group.

At the helm of the interior conceptualization is Tihany, regarded as one of the world's pre-eminent hospitality designers. Tihany has approached ms Koningsdam with an eye toward creating public spaces that reflect the tradition and signature elegance for which Holland America Line is known, while elevating the design to strike a more modern balance of past, present and future. Focusing on fluid curves and graceful lines, light-filled spaces and the natural flow of public areas, Tihany's metaphorical approach to the interiors of ms Koningsdam was inspired by the "architecture of music."

"The idea was to tell a story that guests can connect with throughout their voyage," said Tihany. "I was inspired by the thought of what you might see from the inside of a musical instrument, what the architecture of the surfaces and the geometry look like."

Key to his concept is utilizing visual interaction, where guests actively engage with the architecture rather than passively moving through it.

"The design isn't a literal translation of music, but a conceptual approach where we seek to evoke the feeling and beauty of an instrument with graceful lines, dramatic textures, lighting effects and use of materials," said Tihany. "My inspirations were not only instruments, but also majestic spaces and exaggerating the feeling of height, so guests feel the grandeur of every room."

For example, at the heart of the ship Tihany is creating visual drama with the central atrium, pictured above. Soaring three decks high, the space is graced by an airy stainless-steel sculpture that represents the synthesis of a string quartet. Like music, the experience changes as guests move around and through it, so no two perspectives are the same. The atrium is capped by a ceiling "skylight" that serves as a backdrop for subtly changing high-definition projections. Guests will look up by day and see wispy cirrus clouds floating in an azure sky or perhaps soothing images of light in water. By evening, the atrium takes on dramatic lighting hues or reflects the starlit constellations of the night sky.

Hallmark Venues Reimagined with A Fresh Approach
The main Dining Room aboard ms Koningsdam will span two floors and be framed by views of the sea. A bright interior will be inspired by a modern, global design and sets the stage for the exceptional culinary experience to come. Strong, curved architectural pillars will accentuate the soaring ceiling. Chic, custom furnishings and modern glass lighting are being fabricated especially for the ship. The centerpiece is a curved copper sheath surrounding a two-story wine tower showcasing an impressive selection.

The Queens Lounge
The iconic Queen's Lounge pictured here has been completely reimagined as an elegant theater and entertainment venue that spans two floors. Tihany once again drew inspiration for the space from music, nodding to the sensual curves of a violin and featuring extensive use of wood, fluid waveforms and light. With state-of-the-art technology, the Queen's Lounge will showcase world-class musicians and the largest dance floor on the ship.

Architect and designer Bjorn Storbraaten joins Tihany in bringing the ship to life in a familiar yet innovative style. With his previous work on ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Storbraaten adds continuity of the brand to ms Koningsdam, while taking elegance to the next level.

"It's been fascinating to work on ms Koningsdam where we are introducing design elements never before seen on Holland America Line," said Storbraaten. "We were tasked with evolving the look and feel of the ship while keeping it true to the brand, making this an exciting and rewarding project."

Storbraaten's hand is clearly present in the design of the central pool area. The Magrodome, which typically is a single level on Holland America Line ships, has been expanded to two levels to create a vast glass-enclosed space. The lower level will have more traditional poolside elements, while the mezzanine level will be a new concept for the brand. In addition to other areas, Storbraaten is designing the exotic look of Tamarind, the line's Pan-Asian restaurant that emphasizes nature's basic elements: water, wood, fire and earth.

Across the ship, Tihany and Storbraaten are working together to make ms Koningsdam an evolution of the Holland America Line brand. Over the coming months, even more innovative features and detailed renderings of ms Koningsdam will be released on the company's website. Early season premier itineraries will be revealed in the coming weeks, in advance of these first ms Koningsdam sailings opening for booking on Dec. 1.

Images Courtesy Holland America Line

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Suite Life Aboard Regal Princess

While our balcony stateroom on Regal Princess isn’t a suite, I was afforded a peek into the Suite Life of those who are ensconced in the top accommodations on board. In addition to their posh suites with numerous upscale amenities, they have access to the Concierge Lounge, which is tucked away next to the Wedding Chapel on Deck 14.

Inside the private lounge accessed by keycard, the concierge can assist with arranging specialty dining reservations, spa appointments, and shore excursions, as well as answer any questions they might have.


Available around the clock, the lounge offers complimentary tea, coffee, juices, sweets, fruit and cheeses, and small sandwiches.


Images © CruiseDiva.com