Monday, May 31, 2010
Passengers numbering in the hundreds of thousands embark on cruises during the "official" hurricane season every year without a thought about storms on land or at sea. For some, it's the only time they can schedule a family vacation. For others, it's just not a consideration. After all, the official hurricane season consumes a full six months of the year, from June 1st until November 30th. While it is something to ponder in terms of comfort and convenience, I wouldn't let it stand in my way of scheduling a cruise during that time frame. Chances are, you'll never have a problem. It's a big ocean out there and there's room for you, your ship, and Mother Nature.
Consider what can happen on a land vacation; I once had to evacuate a hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai because of a tsunami warning. I'd rather be drinking coffee on a pitching cruise ship than in a Red Cross Evacuation Center any day. But, before you plan your cruise this summer or fall, take a look at what Cruising into Hurricane Season can mean to your plans.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
"Celebrity Mercury has been a cherished member of the Celebrity family since she entered service in 1997, and has offered countless guests outstanding vacation experiences," said Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "We are dedicated to offering the same impeccable service our brand is known for right up until the ship transitions to TUI Cruises, and we are confident that the ship's future with TUI Cruises is very bright." Hanrahan assured that the future for the crew on Celebrity Mercury is equally bright. "With the rapid growth and momentum of the Celebrity brand, and the fourth member of our five-ship Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Silhouette, launching in July 2011, we have abundant opportunities for the fine crew on Celebrity Mercury to transfer to another Celebrity ship."
Celebrity Mercury joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in November 1997, and was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, builder of Celebrity's widely heralded, new Solstice Class fleet. The 77,713-ton ship carries 1,898 guests (double occupancy) and 909 crew. Celebrity Mercury will complete its scheduled sailings through the Feb 14, 2011, itinerary. Guests with individual bookings and named group bookings on Celebrity Mercury on or after Feb 26, 2011 have the option to either cancel their booking or move to any Celebrity Mercury sailing from Baltimore from Oct 18, 2010, through Feb 14, 2011, with the exception of the Dec 20, 2010 itinerary.
Guests who pursue this option will receive an onboard credit of $75 per stateroom for inside or ocean-view accommodations; $100 per stateroom for veranda or Concierge Class, and $200 per suite. Guests with reservations affected by the transition will be proactively contacted by Celebrity Cruises. Guests with questions specific to impacted bookings are welcome to call 1-888-281-9343.
Celebrity Mercury will enter service with TUI Cruises in May 2011, as Mein Schiff 2, following an extensive refurbishment resulting in additional verandas, an expanded spa and fitness area, inclusion of a teen bar, and a host of design elements and other attributes consistent with those found on Mein Schiff. Mein Schiff 2 will spend her first cruising season in the Baltic and Nordic regions. Full itinerary details will be published when bookings open June 1, 2010.
Sadly, for North Americans, "my ship" is now "your ship."
Thursday, May 27, 2010
During the Baseball Greats sailings, guests gain insight into the world of Major League Baseball as seen through the eyes of some of the greats of the game. The Baseball Greats cruises include free interactive guest/player activities, including a player-hosted trivia game in which guests can test their baseball knowledge, question-and-answer sessions with the players, a guest pitching contest, and a story-telling session where players share candid revelations about their baseball experiences. Players will also host pitching, hitting, fielding, and base running clinics. There’s an extremely popular free autograph session at the end of the cruise.
The following itineraries will be Baseball Greats cruises:
• Nov 14, 2010: 7-night Eastern Caribbean calling at St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas. Featured former players include: Bob Feller, Tommy Davis, Glenn Beckert, Clarence Jones, and Stan Bahnsen.
• Dec 5, 2010: 7-night Western Caribbean, calling at Key West, Florida; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. Featured former players include: Graig Nettles, Amos Otis, Dave Campbell, Stan Bahnsen and one more still to be announced.
• Jan 9, 2011: 7-night Eastern Caribbean. Featured former players include: Stan Bahnsen and four more still to be announced.
• Jan 23, 2011: 7-night Eastern Caribbean. Featured former players include: Rick Burleson, Jim Fregosi, Rick Wise, Stan Bahnsen one more to come.
• Feb 6, 2011: 7-night Eastern Caribbean. Featured former players include: Stan Bahnsen and four more still to be announced.
For more information about MSC Cruises and its theme cruises in the Caribbean, visit MSCCRuisesUSA.com, call 877-665-4655, or contact a travel agent.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
In addition to the musical artists already announced, which include Terry Mike Jeffrey, Andy Childs, and The Memphis Boys with Bobo Moreno, guests on the 2010 cruise will also be entertained by James Burton and Glen D. Hardin, original members of Elvis' TCB Band; DJ Fontana, Elvis' drummer for 14 years; and Jamie Aaron Kelley, who is an Elvis fan favorite and has performed the king's music all over the world. Leading them all will be Elvis' friend and the conductor of many of his live concerts, Joe Guercio.
The Elvis tribute artists performing on the ship are the best in business and include the winners of last three Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contests: Shawn Klush, Brandon Bennett, and Bill Cherry. Other Elvis tribute artists who will keep the ship rockin' 'n' rollin' include David Allen, Mark Anthony, Kevin Mills, Gino Monopoli (pictured above entertaining cruisers on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise), Ted Torres, Victor Trevino, Jr., and Jay Zanier. Backing up these amazing performers one again in 2010 will be The EAS Band.
In addition to the musical guests, Elvis' stylist and close personal friend Larry Geller will share many personal stories and memories. Fans on the cruise will also learn what it was like to star in a movie with Elvis from Diane McBain and Warren Berlinger, who costarred with Elvis in one of his classic films, Spinout. Roy Turner and Jim Palmer, Elvis historians and documentarians, will share a screening of their recent documentary "Homecoming: Tupelo Welcomes Elvis Home" and will show clips that have never before been seen by the public.
Also, just added to the incredible line-up is a fun segment that takes guests behind the scenes of Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil when members of the creative team show video clips and photos, play music and share their stories on creating the new show that is getting Vegas "all shook up."
Bookings are open now for this unparalleled Elvis experience. View the full list of entertainment and get on board at TheElvisCruise.com.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Port Canaveral boasts that passengers can enjoy "Freestyle Cruising" at its best from the Florida seaport that's free of big-city congestion but easy to reach—surrounded by three international airports and only 15 driving minutes east of I-95 (provided you don't run into a traffic jam or make a detour to stop at Ron Jon's Surf Shop). Port Canaveral gets a relaxed vacation off to a great start with 24/7 secured and lighted parking close to its ships, a smooth pre-boarding experience and an abundance of close-by destinations—such as Kennedy Space Center, airboat rides, nature preserves, beaches, and the Orlando attractions. And, it's not an idle boast. Port Canaveral is a great embarkation port.
Monday, May 24, 2010
However, for cruise lines to provide new and interesting shore experiences for their guests, that's not always the case these days. Guest blogging for Adam, Craig Milan, RCI's Sr VP, Land Operations, outlined the changes in the way business is done now by describing a huge project Royal Caribbean has spearheaded in the Caribbean, "For the past 3 years, Royal Caribbean has been leading an initiative in collaboration with the Port Authority of Jamaica to create a brand new cruise port of call: 'Historic Falmouth Jamaica.' The port is located on the North coast of Jamaica midway between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. It is currently under construction and is designed to accommodate two large ships simultaneously. It meets the operating requirements of the Oasis of the Seas and will become a marquee destination of the Oasis’ Western itinerary beginning in March 2011. The new port will start to accept cruise ships in January 2011 (Jan 7 with Navigator of the Seas) and Oasis and Allure of the Seas will start to make biweekly calls in March 2011. Originally we had planned to open this port at the same time as Oasis arrived into Port Everglades but as is often the case with really big projects, it has taken somewhat longer than we originally anticipated."
At Cruise Diva we understand Island Time, so the construction and opening delay is no surprise to us, but we read something the other day on Seatrade Insider that did surprise us and we wonder if RCI is aware that, "Holland America Line’s Ryndam is scheduled to make the inaugural cruise call at Jamaica’s new port of Falmouth, Seatrade Insider has learned. The visit is set for Nov. 3, 2010." Holland America is beating RCI to the port it spearheaded? Oops.
In any event, the Why Not? blog assures us that the port will offer a more authentic Jamaican experience. "Guests arriving into Falmouth will be able to choose between the shore excursion options in both Ocho Rios and Montego Bay since the new port is equidistant from both of these Jamaican towns. Additionally there will be an array of options for both tour and non tour guests at Falmouth. Guests arriving into Falmouth will feel like they are in the old world of the Caribbean and find themselves availed of numerous shopping and authentic dining opportunities. Historic Falmouth will blend well into the local town and will seamlessly allow our guests to experience one of the true treasures of Jamaica."
Sunday, May 23, 2010
In case you've forgotten, or don't remember anyone older than Tyra, Twiggy exploded onto the international modeling scene as a London teenager in 1966. She went on to define the term ‘supermodel’ and to become the icon of 1960s style worldwide. In the early 1970s she became an actress and singer and in the 1980s she took Broadway by storm. She designs her own clothing and bed linen lines in the UK and has recently launched her ‘Twiggy London’ collection in the United States on the Home Shopping Channel. An ardent campaigner for animal welfare and breast cancer support, Twiggy’s renowned elegance and style perfectly complement the values of Seabourn, reflected in the gracious lines and sophistication of Seabourn Sojourn.
“I am incredibly excited that Seabourn has asked me to be Godmother to Seabourn Sojourn.” said Twiggy. “Her stylish interiors and sleek silhouette make her one of the most elegant yachts at sea. I am thrilled that Seabourn is combining their inaugural celebrations with Breast Cancer Haven’s 10 year anniversary–it really is a wonderful organization.’’
Seabourn Sojourn is the second of the three new, ultra-luxurious vessels to be launched by the Yachts of Seabourn in a three-year period. The first, Seabourn Odyssey, launched in 2009, has already been hailed as a “game-changer” in the luxury cruise segment. After departing on its Maiden Voyage from Greenwich, Seabourn Sojourn's ‘Northern Star Sojourn’ cruise will visit Scotland, Denmark, Iceland, the Norwegian Sea, Norway, and the Netherlands. The voyage ends on June 20 in Dover, England.
Throughout the summer season of 2010 Seabourn Sojourn will sail a series of 12- to 14-day voyages of Scandinavia, Russia, and the Baltic. All Seabourn fares are remarkably inclusive, including all tips and gratuities, fine dining, open bar and a fully stocked mini-bar. For details, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391, or visit Seabourn.com.
(Twiggy photograph by www.brianaris.com)
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Now there's an affordable alternative, especially if you plan to drive in a day early. Check out the "Park Here, Cruise There" package at the Newark Liberty Intl Airport Marriott Hotel, which includes:
-- Deluxe overnight hotel accommodations
-- Complimentary parking at the hotel while you're on your cruise
With the $19/per day parking rate at the port, it's like getting a hotel room for free to start off a week-long cruise vacation.
Even for those who live close by, staying at the Marriott the night before sailing is a great way to relax and unwind before any trip. And, with complimentary shuttle service directly to the pier, there's one less thing to worry about. The package is a convenient way to make your cruise even more enjoyable. For more information or to make a reservation, call 973-623-0006, or visit www.marriott.com/ewrap.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Designers for the new Queen Elizabeth’s interiors considered the best way to treat the Grand Lobby’s soaring central arched space on the sweeping staircase leading up from the main deck, as it is the first area to greet embarking guests. Linley’s magnificent work shows the port bow of the original Queen Elizabeth seen dramatically from sea level, and is intricately executed using the technique of marquetry inlay with nine individual panels made of various types of wood veneers seamlessly jointed to lightweight board. Featured woods are Madrona, Indian ebony, American walnut, grey ripple sycamore, burr ash, bird’s eye maple, satin walnut, ash, burr walnut and Macassar ebony – all utilized to depict the evocative image of one of Cunard’s most elegant Queens. When complete, the 18 and a half foot panel will be shipped this summer to the Fincantieri shipyard at Monfalcone, Italy, where it will be installed over a four-day period to take pride of place at the heart of the ship just before she enters service in October. The rendering pictured above is the panel as it will appear in the Grand Lobby, a closer look is illustrated below.
Queen Elizabeth will be the second largest Cunarder ever built and will join her sisters, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, as part of the youngest fleet in the world. The first Queen Elizabeth was one of Cunard’s greatest ships, and the new Queen Elizabeth will reflect her predecessor in interior grandeur, décor and style, but with a modern twist. Queen Elizabeth will depart on her Maiden Voyage on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010. This 13-night celebration will leave from the company’s home port, Southampton, and will call at Vigo, Lisbon, Cadiz, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (overnight call) and Funchal. She will then embark on five celebratory maiden voyages to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and the Caribbean. For more information and to book a voyage aboard Queen Elizabeth, consult your Travel Agent, call toll-free 1-800-7-CUNARD, or visit Cunard.com.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
To book tickets for many of these stellar performances, Norwegian Epic guests can pre-book reservations prior to their cruise. Booked guests can go to the Norwegian website, NCL.com, log in to the “My NCL” section and visit a special entertainment page where they can select and reserve their desired performance. Pre-booking will be available for performances of Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams & Dinner, Legends in Concert, The Second City Comedy Troupe, the Murder Mystery “Presumed Murdered,” and Nickelodeon™ Slime Time Live!, Breakfast with Nickelodeon™. Guests may make a reservation for each show once per sailing.
Online bookings open 45 days prior to sailing date. Reservations for entertainment events with no cover charge are valid until 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. At that time, all unclaimed reservations with be released to guests on a first come first serve basis. Cancellations of reservations for entertainment events which have a cover charge must be made no later than 24 hours prior to the scheduled start time to receive a full refund. If cancellation occurs with less than 24 hours notice, the full price of the ticket will be charged. Once on board, guests may still make reservations for available shows through the ship's iTV system or by contacting the Box Office.
"Norwegian Epic will redefine cruise ship entertainment with its wide variety of world-class entertainment," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "We believe there will be a huge demand for the on-board entertainment and to ensure that guests can see the performances of their choice, we created a special pre-booking mechanism. We feel that this will further the Freestyle Cruising experience, offering guests unsurpassed flexibility and convenience."
Guests will have many entertainment options and venues to choose from on board Norwegian Epic. Blue Man Group will perform eight shows per sailing; Legends in Concert, six performances; Legends Unplugged, three shows; Nickelodeon SlimeTime Live, three shows; Cirque Dreams & Dinner will be performed 12 shows per cruise; Second City, 14; Howl at the Moon, four shows; and there will be Breakfast with Nickelodeon on three mornings per sailing. Amongst the 13 entertainment venues is the first big top at sea, the Spiegel Tent, which will be home to Cirque Dreams & Dinner, created and directed by Neil Goldberg. A special Murder Mystery, called “Presumed Murdered,” presented by The Second City will also be featured in the Spiegel Tent one time per cruise.
Online reservations for entertainment are currently being accepted for Norwegian Epic’s June 24 transatlantic sailing. The ship begins alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean 7-day sailings from Miami on July 10. To book a cruise on Norwegian Epic, visit NCL.com; call 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784); or contact a travel professional.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
“Charleston is a beautiful, historic city within easy reach of millions of US residents who will now have convenient access to Carnival’s fantastic and affordable cruise vacation options year-round,” said Jim Berra, Carnival Sr VP & Chief Marketing Officer.
“Carnival Fantasy’s year-round service is a welcome addition to the Port of Charleston and fits well within the context of the internationally acclaimed Charleston tourism market,” said Jim Newsome, SC State Ports Authority President & CEO. “Cruise business benefits Charleston because it provides a positive economic impact in the form of jobs, investment, and visitor spending. We look forward to continuing our successful, long-standing relationship with Carnival.”
The 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy features a host of on-board amenities and facilities including a 12,000-square-foot health spa, extensive children’s facilities for kids in three age groups, a variety of formal and casual dining options and 12 lounges and bars. Also featured is Carnival WaterWorks, an expansive, all-ages aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long water slide, 82-foot-long dual racing slides and a splash zone. Carnival Fantasy also offers Serenity, an exclusive adults-only retreat, and a resort-style main pool area.
Carnival Fantasy departed yesterday on a 5-day voyage from Charleston to Freeport and Nassau, The Bahamas. Carnival Fantasy will operate 5-, 6- and 7-day voyages to The Bahamas and Key West, FL from Charleston and Carnival will also offer a series of Bermuda cruises from Charleston on the Carnival Fantasy in 2011. Cruise Diva will be on board Carnival Fantasy next month to share a sailing from Charleston, including pre-cruise options, so watch for those daily reports here on Cruise Diva's blog.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
We wish to advise passengers of a change to our scheduled Ruby Princess itinerary. Unfortunately, there continues to be political demonstrations in and around Athens, Greece. In particular, there is a 24-hour general strike and march planned in Athens for May 20th, the day of Ruby Princess' scheduled call. This will present problems with local transportation, shops, and monuments--much of which will be closed the day of our visit. In addition, it creates safety concerns that naturally occur with large public gatherings. Therefore, we do not believe it is in the best interest of our passengers to make a call to Athens.
As there is not another nearby port to appropriately accommodate a ship of our capacity, we made arrangements with the local authorities to extend our call in Venice until 10:00pm Monday, May 17th. We are confident guests enjoyed the additional time experiencing this unique city. We will then sail directly for Kusadasi and arrive as planned on Friday, May 21.
Please find the impacted revised portion of our itinerary below:
- Monday, May 17: Venice, Italy
- Tuesday, May 18: Venice, Italy -- Depart 10 pm
- Wednesday, May 19: At sea
- Thursday, May 20: At sea
- Friday, May 21: Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey--Arrive 7am/Depart 1pm
For passengers who were booked on shore excursions in Athens, their shipboard folio will be credited automatically. There is no need to visit the Shore Excursions Desk or Passengers Services Desk to receive a refund.
We apologize for any disappointment or inconvenience. We are looking forward to having our guests onboard and wish them an enjoyable time aboard the beautiful Ruby Princess.
A New York Times best-selling author, and star of the NBC hit The Biggest Loser and the upcoming series Losing It with Jillian, Michaels and her super team of experts will be on board to motivate and inspire guests on the ultimate wellness vacation! Guests will experience four days of healthy cuisine, heart-pounding exercise, live wellness speaking engagements led by Michaels, activities for kids, and live entertainment, all while learning invaluable wellness lessons and acquiring the tools to help reboot one's life. With beach workouts, team sports, high-energy dancing, great comedians, fitness fun for kids and more, the JILLIAN MICHAELS ULTIMATE WELLNESS CRUISE 2010 will be a family friendly, exciting way to get on the road to a healthier, balanced life. Reservations and more information are available now at JillianMichaels.com/cruise.
"Being physically fit and healthy transcends into every facet of our lives," says Michaels. "I'm excited to bring the ultimate in both wellness and fun to Norwegian Star - and to provide our guests with the tools to eat healthier, exercise better and improve all aspects of their lives."
Sixthman founder Andy Levine says, "We are proud to partner with Jillian Michaels in bringing her vision for a healthy and active vacation to life. She is a hero to her legions of fans in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, and they will be in for a great four days at sea."
Monday, May 17, 2010
It’s pretty obvious why Frankie Avalon is still so popular that he's one of the busiest nightclub performers in the country. I’ve had the opportunity to see him several times over the years and he never seems to change, nor is he ever disappointing. While my husband doesn’t get it, I consider his cameo appearance to sing “Beauty School Dropout” one of the best scenes in the movie “Grease.” It must be a girl-thing. However, Mel does agree that Frankie Avalon’s performance during the Malt Shop Memories Cruise was a major highlight.
We’ve made so many new memories and relived so many old ones that it seems a shame our cruise aboard Carnival Inspiration has ended. We’re leaving with one last look at the Malt Shop Memories Cruise hula hoop contest winner. If you’re a baby boomer, you’ll know by her dress why she was nicknamed “Eve Arden.”
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Once back on board and underway, the Malt Shop Memories Cruise shows and other activities were in full swing as it was “Prom Night” on board. Our fellow passengers have really gotten into the theme and, like yesterday when poodle skirts were the fashion statement to make, many are dressed for the prom as well. I can only wish that my prom dresses from 1960-something still fit.
Little Anthony and the Imperials performed for our reserved show last night and what can I say? It’s not often that artists get a standing ovation just for walking on stage. They really rocked the boat and had everyone singing along with “Tears on My Pillow” and left the stage to another standing ovation.
Another performer who is stealing hearts on board is Gino Monopoli, whose appearances in the atrium and promenade are drawing nightly crowds—he looks and sounds so much like a young Elvis that I’d almost swear the King is back.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
We had a sunny and warm sea day filled with dance lessons, a hula hoop contest, and a sock hop. For me, the highlight was sitting outside the Candlelight Lounge while Lesley Gore was rehearsing. Naturally I couldn’t go inside the lounge, but sound carries and she sounds great.
Our reserved show tickets last night were for Bobby Rydell. While changed a lot since he was a teen heart throb (haven’t we all?), he’s still quite a performer.
Friday, May 14, 2010
After grabbing a snack in the Lido Cafe we attended the safety drill—no life jackets required—and then settled in to see what’s on the program for the rest of the day. Once underway, Frankie Avalon made an appearance at the Sail Away Beach Party. The memories had already begun to accumulate by the time we sailed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Following open-seating dinner in the Mardi Gras Restaurant we settled down to see Lou Christie in the show lounge—and he can still hit those impossibly high notes. Afterward Herb Reed & The Platters took the stage. Then? During a walk around the Promenade deck we danced to the Del Rays before calling it a night.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Shopping along 9th Avenue and in Centro Ybor was a delight for Mel. There’s a cigar store every few yards, some with on site rollers to fill their humidors. A cup of Cuban coffee at Casa del Mojito perked me up mid-afternoon. Mel’s travel humidor is now filled and he looks forward to savoring his smokes in the cigar lounge on board Carnival Inspiration during the Malt Shop Memories Cruise.
After dinner we dropped in on the pre-cruise party at Gaspar’s Grotto—the shiny red Studebaker parked out front made it easy to find. With our Sixthman hosts on hand, a couple hundred of our fellow Malt Shop cruisers were having a great time dancing to 50s and 60s music and even sharpening their hula hoop skills. However, we skipped any additional late night “clubbing” in Ybor City—the area’s trendy nightclubs attract a younger crowd—and instead turned in early for a good night’s sleep. We’ll be heading to the Port of Tampa to board the Carnival Inspiration at about noon and hope you join us for the entire voyage as we share the exclusive shows and other Malt Shop Memories cruise activities on board and in port as we sail to Cozumel, Mexico.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Norwegian Epic is an innovator in cruise ship entertainment, featuring world-class entertainment on board such as Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams™ & Dinner, Legends in Concert, The Second City®, Howl at the Moon and Nickelodeon™ at Sea. In keeping with its focus on exceptional entertainment, it is only fitting that an entertainer–particularly one as celebrated as Reba McEntire–christens the ship.
Ms. McEntire, who recently hosted the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, has achieved legendary status in the music world having sold over 55 million albums worldwide; earned 34 #1 singles and won 15 American Music Awards, 12 Academy of Country Music Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards and two GRAMMY Awards. She is also an avid cruiser and has taken several family cruise vacations, most recently on Norwegian Gem in the Mediterranean.
“I met Reba and her family on Norwegian Gem and saw how much they were enjoying the freedom and flexibility that Freestyle Cruising offers. Later, I discovered that they are frequent customers on our ships which is why I believe that Reba is the perfect choice to christen our largest and most innovative ship, Norwegian Epic,” said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are more than thrilled that such a celebrated performer as Reba, who also has experienced our product firsthand, will serve as Norwegian Epic’s Godmother.”
"I am truly honored that Norwegian Cruise Line asked me to christen Norwegian Epic, a ship that is so focused on entertainment," said Reba McEntire. "As a fan of Norwegian and Freestyle Cruising, this is a very special honor; I'm so excited to serve as Norwegian Epic's godmother."
While we didn’t have much of an opportunity to explore the area last night, we discovered Carmine’s Restaurant on 9th Avenue for dinner. The setting is old Tampa with brick walls, a tin ceiling, and Victorian-style chandeliers. The food is described as “the flavor of Ybor City”—Spanish, Italian, and substantial. The Devil Crabs are huge. We brought our leftover portions of crab, sweet plantains, and Cuban sandwich back to the hotel. Our hotel room has a refrigerator and microwave so we’re set for lunch today.
Before turning in we took a stroll down 9th Avenue and stopped at the Cuban-inspired Casa del Mojito where Mel bought a hand-rolled cigar. We’ll be back tonight for a drink and to play dominoes while Mel enjoys another cigar. Yes… smoking is allowed.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Where to stay? The Hilton Garden Inn Tampa Ybor Historic District is "Highly Recommended" by Fodor's and we saved $30 a night by pre-paying at the time we made our reservation. The location is excellent—a block from the dining and entertainment palace Centro Ybor and less than two miles from Channelside, where the offical Tampa Bay Visitor's Center is located amid shops, restaurants, and clubs. The Florida Aquarium is also near by. Best of all, the hotel is only minutes from the cruise terminal where we'll board Carnival Inspiration on Thursday for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise.
Where to eat? For dinner, we plan to try Columbia Restaurant, also in Ybor City, which is described as having some of the best Latin cuisine in Tampa. It's also a "Fodor's Choice" as well as recommended by a family friend.
The pre-cruise party planned for the Malt Shop Memories cruisers is being held at Gaspar's Grotto on Wednesday night and we may drop in there as well. With information provided by Sixthman, sponsors of the Malt Shop Memories Cruise, and our copy of Fodor's Caribbean Ports of Call in hand, we should be set to explore historic Ybor City, sleep in comfort, and dine on Cuban classics.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Signature Dream-class elements featured on Carnival Breeze will include expansive facilities for children and teens, a 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa and The Lanai, an outdoor promenade featuring cantilevered whirlpools that extend over the ship’s sides. Other features will include a WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot-long corkscrew water slide, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza and a wide range of staterooms including deluxe ocean views with two bathrooms, some of which feature five berths and hold particular appeal for families. In addition, some exciting and unique new elements will be created just for Carnival Breeze that will be detailed at a later date, along with homeport and itinerary information.
Not so fast... I'm packing for the Malt Shop Memories cruise this week and there are a few themed events for which special clothing is suggested. There's a beach party, sock hop, and prom night. While dressing in themed attire isn't mandatory, it's more fun if everyone participates. And it should be a kick to see what our fellow passengers come up with. For me, the beach party is no problem (bathing suit and cover-up) and the prom is easy with a filmy skirt and camisole, but what the heck did I do with my poodle skirt and crinolines?!? No matter. I have capris, bobby socks, and Keds. I'm all set.
Take a peek at what's in store when the Malt Shop Memories cruise sets sail this Thursday, May 13th from Tampa on the Carnival Inspiration.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
What was my mother's first cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Song of Norway in 1980 like? Some things never change ... there was the boat drill and Captain's Party (pictured here, Mom being greeted by the ship's Master), plus sunny days, relaxation beside the pool, dancing the night away, and plenty of casino action. Blackjack was her game and my mother loved the casino!
As I remember my mom today, join me in a Mother's Day tribute to the lady who passed along her cruise genes to me. Welcome aboard my mom's first cruise on the Song of Norway: Cruise On, Mom.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Carnival’s 2011 Bermuda departures include:
• Baltimore (7-day cruises on Carnival Pride): April 10 & 17, Sept. 18, Oct. 2, and Nov. 6
• New York (7- & 8-day departures on Carnival Miracle): April 14 & 21 and Sept. 11 & 27
• Norfolk (6-day sailing on Carnival Glory): Oct. 16
• Charleston, SC (6-day voyages on Carnival Fantasy): April 23, May 19, June 16, Aug. 25, Sept. 15, and Oct. 6
All 16 voyages will dock at King’s Wharf (pictured above), and while in Bermuda guests can sample the island’s many fine restaurants, shops and boutiques, and visit a number of interesting sites and landmarks. Six-day voyages will offer 2-day calls at King’s Wharf while 7- and 8-day cruises will feature 3-day visits. During their visit to Bermuda, guests can relax on the island’s legendary pink sand beaches and partake in a wide variety of watersports, including snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving. Shore excursions visiting historic sites such as the Royal Naval Dockyard and Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere, also are available. Through Carnival’s golf program, guests also can hit the links and play the island’s most challenging and beautiful courses.
“Bermuda is one of the world’s most desirable cruise destinations, and offering three different cruise lengths from four East Coast homeports provides our guests an unprecedented variety of choices for visiting this beautiful island paradise,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.
Reservations are currently open for the six Charleston departures with the line’s other Bermuda cruises expected to be open over the next few weeks. For additional information and reservations on Carnival’s Bermuda cruises, call 1-800-327-9501.
For more insight into Bermuda cruising, CruiseDiva.com takes a look at what to see and do in Bermuda Ports of Call.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Chicago fans will find that Allure of the Seas’ version of the popular production includes the same infamous cast of characters and one show-stopping-song after another, weaving together a universal tale of fame, fortune, and ‘all that jazz.’ Slightly condensed to fit an approximate run time of 90 minutes, the musical will be brought to life on Allure of the Seas’ Broadway-style proscenium stage in the ship’s state-of-the-art, 1,380-seat Amber Theater. A new webisode about Chicago: The Musical aboard Allure of the Seas is now playing at AllureoftheSeas.com.
“Allure of the Seas will feature an unbelievable lineup of new entertainment options that will dazzle and delight guests of all ages,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “Chicago: The Musical will become the second Tony Award-winning musical that Royal Caribbean debuts at sea and tops the list of award-winning caliber entertainment created by our own Royal Caribbean Productions team.”
While Chicago: The Musical is the first production announced for Allure of the Seas, many more world-class entertainment options will be available for guests to enjoy at the wide variety of venues found ship wide, including a spectacle of music, dance and aerial acrobatics called Blue Planet; OceanAria, a signature aquatic production in the ship’s open-air AquaTheater, fusing high dive thrills with dramatic aerial choreography; an ice show extravaganza planned for the ship’s ice-skating rink; spectacular and colorful parades in the Royal Promenade; and everything else in between, from jazz performances to comedy.
If you have “all that jazz,” auditions for the Royal Caribbean’s production of Chicago, as well as the other shows on Allure of the Seas will begin June 3. Open casting calls will be held June 3-5 in Chicago, June 8-11 in London, and June 14-17 in New York. More details and a full schedule can be found at RoyalCaribbeanProductions.com.
Allure of the Seas will share the title of the world’s largest cruise ship with sister-ship Oasis of the Seas. She will span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. Allure of the Seas will tout Royal Caribbean’s exclusive neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which will include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place, and Youth Zone. The ship will alternate a Western Caribbean with an Eastern Caribbean 7-night itinerary from her Port Everglades home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The soccer games will be broadcast in the public areas including the bars and sports bars onboard. Dedicated areas will be decorated with pennants, balloons, and the teams’ colors. In addition, passengers will be able to participate in activities such as sports-related trivia challenges. Special drinks representing each country will be served at the bars such as Pimm’s and Ginger Ale served in England and the Italian cocktail with Campari, Martini Rosso, and club soda. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and beer will be available at the restaurants. Also, the onboard shops will stock a wide variety of themed items including the Havaianas® flip-flops, bearing the colors of the different participating countries.
MSC Cruises has the most modern fleet in the world with eleven ships: MSC Magnifica, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica, and MSC Melody. The fleet cruises year round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, US and Canada, (Fall 2010), South America, the Indian Ocean, and South and West Africa. For more information, visit MSCCruisesUSA.com.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
"We're pleased that in this challenging economic environment, the order for these new ships is a testament to the confidence in the growth potential of the Princess brand," said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises. "These new ships will include the features from our newest ships that have been so well received, and take them to the next level," he added.
Known as the star of the Love Boat television series, and one of the most widely recognized names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 17 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment, and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service. A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess offers its passengers the opportunity to escape completely to the top destinations around the globe, with sailings to all seven continents.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Families can experience the ultimate summer vacation on Norwegian Jewel’s 7-day Bahamas & Florida sailing from New York, which offers exclusive Nickelodeon at Sea activities and shows on board each and every cruise year-round, in addition to all the current on-board programming already offered. Hints of Nickelodeon will be discovered ship-wide with programs that include signature Nickelodeon activities, popular characters and interactive game shows, such as Slime Time Live!, which the entire family can enjoy together. This programming will also be available on Norwegian Epic when the ship launches this summer. And there will be no shortage of family fun on board Norwegian Epic with its expansive Aqua Park featuring the three-story Epic Plunge; two-deck sports complex; and interactive children’s area, Recess. For more information on Norwegian or to book a cruise, call 866-234-7350, visit NCL.com or phone your travel agent now.
Monday, May 3, 2010
For Tara Jacobs, "the thrill of seeing the locks in operation were more about seeing and experiencing history in full force, in person. I had spent some time reading the history of the building of the canal which only led to more anticipation of the cruise. However, when it came down to the actual cruising through the canal itself, the length of time became a bit on the tedious side. To transition through three sets of locks took us nine hours."
Join Tara to share an Island Princess Panama Canal cruise from Acapulco to Port Everglades, complete with a pre-cruise stay in Acapulco and a video cabin tour.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Ah, to relive those good old days... and we plan to when we sail on the "Malt Shop Memories" cruise out of Tampa on May 13th aboard Carnival Inspiration. We look forward to performances by some of our favorite artists like Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Leslie Gore, Lou Christie, Little Anthony & The Imperials, The Platters, The Drifters, and more.
The entire ship will be our Malt Shop and to build the excitement, Sixthman (the affinity travel company whose mission is to connect passionate music lovers with the artists and bands they love) has just sent out our "welcome aboard" package full of info about the cruise and very sharp embroidered luggage tags that will be a collector's item one day. Whether you'll be sailing or not, you don't have to miss out on the good times. Cruise Diva will be there and blogging daily from the ship. Plan to join us May 13-17 for all the fun as this still-so-cool baby boomer hopefully remembers the moves to those dances and the words to the songs!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Direct spending in 2009 included $73,424,807 by the company in Seattle including $63,704,926 for payroll and $14,248,260 spent by passengers and crew in shops, restaurants, hotels, museums, local sightseeing attractions, and taxicabs. Holland America Line's economic impact includes maintaining a corporate headquarters in Seattle, community giving, local payroll, provisioning ships, passenger spending, crew spending, port fees and taxes, and marketing and sales expenditures in Washington. Of course not every homeport has a major cruise line headquartered there, but keep in mind that Holland America ships sail only seasonally from Seattle.
In 2009, the 1,380-guest ms Amsterdam, 1,432-guest ms Zaandam and 1,916-guest ms Westerdam sailed roundtrip Seattle to Alaska on a total of 61 cruises with more than 103,000 passengers. For 2010, increased demand for cruises departing from Seattle has prompted Holland America Line to add a fourth ship and a new 14-day Alaskan Adventurer cruise by way of the Hubbard Glacier.
"The increase in the number of itineraries underscores our commitment to the Seattle region as a major gateway to Alaska," said Stein Kruse, president and chief executive officer. "As Seattle's hometown cruise line, we are very proud of our strong ties to community businesses and causes."
Holland America Line provides both cash and in-kind sponsorships to local non-profit organizations. In the Seattle area, it supports dozens of such organizations such as Seattle Repertory Theatre, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pike Place Market Foundation, Center for Wooden Boats, World Trade Center, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Men's & Women's Chorus, Seafair, Boys & Girls Club, INTIMAN Theatre, Seattle Theatre Group, Seattle Children's Theatre, United Way, Northwest Harvest, the University of Washington, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure Puget Sound.
Since moving its headquarters to Seattle in 1983, Holland America Line has increased its fleet from two ships to 14 with a 15th to launch July 4, 2010, in Venice, Italy. The company works with 616 vendors in the Puget Sound area and 1,150 vendors across the state. These businesses range from local dairy companies who supply Holland America Line ships with $1.7 million in products each season to local vendors who will provide $4 million in printed collateral for the company.
Holland America Line provisions each ship every other week on the "turn around" sailings. Provisioning a ship means bringing aboard all of the supplies and food products needed for a sailing. For example, the Oosterdam requires some 25,200 eggs and 1,527 gallons of milk each week--coming from local farmers. In addition, local growers supply 58,875 (147,550) pounds a week in fresh produce.