Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
- Best Caribbean Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
- Best Premium Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises
- Best Premium Cruise Ship: Celebrity Solstice
- Best New Cruise Ship: Celebrity Solstice
- Best Overall Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
- Best Overall Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
- Best Cruise Line Sales & Service: Royal Caribbean International
Accepting the awards were Dondra Ritzenthaler (Senior Vice President of Sales for Celebrity Cruises), Vicki Freed (Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Royal Caribbean International), Ken Muskat (Vice President of Sales for Royal Caribbean International) and Joanne Schimelman (Vice President of National Accounts for Royal Caribbean International).
Once again, congratulations to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises for being so overwhelmingly recognized by the entire travel agent community (and their clients) two years in a row.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
For those of you that love the slushy colorful concoctions that are synonymous with cruising, the frozen drink package may be to your liking. Starting at $22 per night you can enjoy an unlimited variety of frozen and blended drinks. Strawberry or Piña Coladas Mango Tangos, and Margaritas… oh, I feel the onset of brain freeze! But as much as I enjoy sipping these as I sit by the pool, if I drank $22 worth in a day (I guess that’s about 3 or 4 of them) you’d find me at the bottom of the pool! It’s worthy to note that these drinks can be made with or without the alcohol and on our last cruise my son sampled them all….the non alcoholic version! He’s a gulper, not a sipper, so this would be a good package for him!
Celebrity has also added a beer package at $34.50 per night. Brands served include both domestic and imported brews such as Corona, Heineken, Budweiser, Samuel Adams and many more. Wow, that’s almost $250 per person for a week of drinking beer! Still, I suppose it can really add up if you buy it bottle by bottle. A few bottles by the pool, one while you watch the sunset, a couple with dinner, one with the evening show…
Whether one chooses the Classic ($51.50 per night) or Premium ($76 per night) Liquor Package, guests can take advantage of an unlimited variety of the selection of spirits available onboard Celebrity, per person. Whether in a bar, lounge, or any of the restaurants, your favorite drink is yours for the asking. Worth it? I don’t know, unless this was a family plan, I think I’ll have to forego it!
So those are the details. All beverage package prices include a 15% service charge. For Celebrity to institute such a program there must have been many requests for it. I know as a travel agent I have been asked many times if alcoholic drink packages were available. So what do you think? Deal or no deal?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Due to a job that includes some wonderful perks I was lucky to find myself aboard the November 19th one night cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. Check in was as quick and efficient as promised in the new and improved Port Everglades, Pier 18 cruise terminal. Despite my numerous cruises on Voyager class and Freedom class ships, I was still not prepared for my first “ahh” moment when I stepped aboard the Oasis and found myself amid the astounding Royal Promenade! The area is wider and more spacious than I imagined it would be, but it is the brightness and airiness that makes the Royal Promenade a truly evolutionary feature of the Oasis. This is due to the Crystal Canopies, giant skylights from Central Park above, that flood the area in natural light. Once again the Royal Promenade will be the heart of the ship featuring guest services, shops, bars, lounges and a variety of spots to get a bite to eat. Several “street parties” take place here, but I’ll have to wait for my summer sailing to experience them.
The area I was most eager to see was Central Park. Could a deck within a ship be transformed into a paradise of greenery and make me forget for just a moment that I am out at sea? The answer is a resounding YES! That’s because during the planning stages of the Genesis project it was determined that the increased width of the ship would allow the design team to open up the “spine” of the ship to the elements. One such area became Central Park, a lovely outdoor space where guests can stroll under blue skies or dine beneath the stars. Paved paths curve around lush and exotic gardens passing by Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Vintages, and the very special 150 Central Park (I had the privilege of dining here and look forward to telling you about it in the near future). The aforementioned Crystal Canopies look like glass sculptures on this level but if you peer down you can check out what’s going on at the Royal Promenade. As pretty as this area is during the day, after dark it becomes a magical and romantic haven. I think that a balcony cabin overlooking this area would be a lovely option for a couple.
The other neighborhood of the ship that takes advantage of the open air above is the Boardwalk. Enter an area that epitomizes the playground-on-pilings boardwalk areas found at Coney Island, Ocean City, or Myrtle Beach. Its complete with the first ever carousel at sea, ice cream parlor, donut shop, candy shop, and family friendly eateries such as Johnny Rockets and The Seafood Shack. In order to give you a tried and true review I rode the carousel even though I was unaccompanied by a child, ate a chocolate donut (I was boring… other varieties, mango glazed for example, were available), browsed in Pinwheels and Candy Beach and licked an ice cream cone as I made my way down to the far end. The only thing missing was the ceaseless cacophony of children squealing in delight…sure to be remedied on the first revenue sailing! At the very end of the Boardwalk, set against the backdrop of the ocean, is the amazing Aquatheater. There will be two different shows performed here, but I was only able to see a sampling of what the talented divers are capable of. Still, the Aquatheater itself does not have a bad seat in the house and I look forward to revisiting! I had the opportunity to check out the balcony cabins that overlook the Boardwalk. Perfect for people watching, a partial ocean view, and fresh air!
I love the whole concept of Entertainment Place! It’s a grouping of “after dark” entertainment venues that give the feel of a night club district. There’s Jazz on 4, Casino Royale and Studio B. A word about the ice show, “Frozen in Time” ….don’t miss it! Sorry, that was three words. When I saw “Spirits of the Seasons” on Explorer in August I thought it was incredible. This new show is even better. It’s an interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen popular children's stories such as “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid”. The skating is as always, superb, the costumes colorful and the story, creative and imaginative! Blazes, the disco, is also here and I liked the layout of it a lot, as it’s all on one floor. Right across the way is Comedy Live, a stand up comedy club with décor inspired by a New York subway station. Don’t think dark…its not. Lots of oranges and blues with tables scattered about a small stage. My favorite lounge on the ship, although not located in this area, is Dazzles. It’s elegant and glamorous and sexy…can you call a lounge sexy? Yes, the crushed velvet chairs and muted tones of pink and taupe and color changing chandeliers…very sexy! Behind the stage is a floor to ceiling glass wall that looks down onto the Boardwalk. The band was playing Beatle’s music on my one-nighter and the dance floor was packed! You’ve got to stop in for a drink!
Time was of the essence on this one night cruise so I had to forego my favorite spa treatments and did no more than pass through the Fitness Center. For your information, it will boast new spa treatments not before found on Royal Caribbean ships and other new-for-Royal Caribbean options such as Kinesis group classes. The spa area also will have a Thermal Suite at sea with heated tile loungers, saunas and steam rooms; three couples massage suites and seven individual treatment rooms. Kids and teen passengers, meanwhile, will find their own dedicated spa on the ship. The fitness center will have the latest cardio and resistance equipment, and offer spinning classes, kickboxing, pilates and yoga. The treadmills and ellpticals are no longer facing a wall of glass looking out onto the ocean and that is something I will miss.
I quickly walked through the Youth Zone and what I saw was quite impressive. It’s the largest space afloat dedicated to young cruisers. Kids Avenue is a central boulevard with dedicated Adventure Ocean spaces and themed play areas. You will also find a nursery for infants and lots of room for toddlers with plenty of ride on toys! The dedicated science lab will be a hit with school age kids! Now quite honestly, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program has always been sensational. As a parent I was always pleased with both the facilities and the exceptionally well trained staff. It is the size of the ship that now allows the program to take it to the next level. You’ll find exciting new enhancements, spaces created and equipped for particular activities, and age appropriate enrichment programs. The Teen Zone looked really cool too! It’s a place I could see my son wanting to check out, even if just to initially meet up with others his age. They could then go off to play basketball, eat, play dodge ball, eat, play ping pong, eat, play mini golf, eat, surf, eat zip line, eat….Well, you get the picture!
So, that was my glimpse of Oasis of the Seas. Absolutely incredible and certainly worthy of all the hype! I can’t wait to return with my husband and son this coming summer. I know I skipped over tons of stuff, including info on the restaurants and the shows. There was just too much to see and too little time! You however, wouldn’t have that problem. You can take an entire week to experience all the Oasis has to offer! So that leaves you with a choice. I’ll cruise her again this summer, return to write all about it for you to read, OR, you can book it for yourself! See ya onboard!