Sunday, March 28, 2010

Norwegian Epic

She’s beautiful, she’s hip, she’s revolutionary and she’s trendy! She’s the next generation of freestyle cruising! The Norwegian Epic will make waves beginning this July by taking cruising to a whole new level. But who will this stylish and innovative ship appeal to? The answers easy…EVERYONE!

The Norwegian Epic is perfect for families! It starts with accommodations that give families of every size the space they need. Balcony cabins comfortably sleep four, but maybe you want more room. This ship offers more choices of connecting staterooms than any other cruise line giving you the space to spread out and more importantly, the advantage of a second bathroom! Luxurious villas can hold up to six and offer amenities you’d never believe were possible on a cruise ship!

Imagine cruising with Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob and his sidekick, Patrick! Well, they’re here, exclusively on select NCL ships including the Epic! “Nickelodeon at Sea” is a unique family cruise vacation experience that includes character meet and greets, character breakfasts, story hours, Nick-themed dance parties and interactive game shows such as “Slime Time Live.” What could be more fun for a kid than to be cruising and to have the opportunity to be covered with oozy goozy green slime!

Maybe your family wants a wet and wild cruise vacation. The Epic will debut NCL’s first ever Aqua Park! Imagine three multi-story water slides with varying degrees of “thrill factor”, culminating with the “Epic Plunge”, the only tube slide at sea with a thrilling drop through a 200-foot long tube! Yikes! The Aqua Park also includes two main pools with arching water effects which illuminate at night, five whirlpools, a wading pool and a kid’s pool in the children’s Splash and Play Zone which features whimsical sculptures, water sprays and effects, along with a kiddy slide.

If that is not enough reason for you to want to bring the family aboard, how about a complimentary kids program that delivers fun day and night? The youth staff at “Recess” is carefully selected from university education and recreational programs and are experts in providing enjoyable, engaging activities for every age group. A designated area for “tweens” includes a Wii and Playstation gaming area, a karaoke stage and a surround sound cinema.

“Entourage” is Norwegian Epic’s high energy, exclusive teen zone for ages 13 through 17. This funky space includes air hockey, pinball, foosball, a video jukebox, and nine large flat screen televisions, five of which are located around a central video game console featuring PlayStation 3. In the evening, “Entourage” transitions into a hip nightclub with a space for dancing or just hanging out on comfy couches.

The Norwegian Epic is perfect for both singles and couples! Regardless if you’re on your own, traveling with friends, or with that special someone, adults will find cruising aboard the Epic the ideal vacation!

For those that like to travel alone, accommodation innovations include hip urban flats designed for single occupancy…with single occupancy pricing! Studio guests have access to an exclusive keycard-access-only Studio Living Room complete with large screen TVs, a jukebox, and lots of comfy seating. What a great place to meet fellow travelers!

Or maybe you and that special someone are looking to retreat to your own private paradise. New Wave staterooms have sexy curved walls and concealed contour lighting. Every oceanview stateroom has a private balcony. And the romantic and secluded Spa Suites have their very own hot tubs! Find them in a private access area with direct entry to the spa.

Looking for the amenities of an upscale, glamorous and private resort? Head up to POSH Beach Club. Adult guests take a private glass elevator to enter this exclusive outdoor entertainment complex styled with a panache and excitement that’s half South Beach, half Costa del Sol. During the day, you can lounge on thickly padded Balinese day beds and in private cabanas. When it gets too hot, cool off beneath a 35-foot long cascading waterfall. The POSH VIP Host and crew are at hand to cater to your every wish. At night, the scene heat up as POSH Beach Club becomes an open air night club.

Spice H20, another adult only area is infused with Latin and Asian influences. It features a massive LED screen playing eccentric video images paired with vibrant music to create a truly unique and sensory experience. During the day, soak up the sun in lounge beds around the pool while enjoying Asian-inspired cuisine in those little white to-go containers. As the sun sets, Spice H20 morphs into an Ibiza-inspired beach club with live entertainment and dinner served tableside or directly on plush sun beds. At night, the mood is red-hot with Latin music, dancing, and unique entertainment atop the covered pool.

If sophisticated and cosmopolitan dining is part of your ultimate vacation experience then the Epic has just what you’re looking for! With 21 dining options, 11 of them complimentary, seven nights at sea is hardly long enough to experience them all! One evening you could do French at Le Bistro and feast on coq au vin. On another evening try Brazilian barbecue served by the passadores (meat waiters) at Moderno Churrascaria. Or maybe you’ll want to sample the sushi at Wasabi; just enough to hold off hunger pangs until you’re ready to head for the classy Manhattan Room and an evening of dinner and dancing. Of course you can begin another evening with a pre-dinner cocktail at the Ice Bar. One of fourteen authentic ice bars in the world, it’s kept at a frigid 17 degrees. Don’t worry, between the vodka and the faux fur they lend you upon entering, you’ll be toasty in no time. But don’t get too comfortable because it’s off to Cirque Dreams and Dinner, a dinner show that combines European cirque-style artistry with American circus and Broadway theatrics. So many choices!

The Norwegian Epic is perfect for those seeking an active vacation! The sports complex, yes, I said complex, is incredible! Two deck of multifarious activities that can put any land resort to shame! The full sized basketball court offers much more than just a game of hoops. How about hockey, dodge ball and soccer too? Or maybe you’ll want to spend some time working on your swing…baseball swing that is… in the full size batting cage. Not to worry, you can work on your golf swing too!

The climbing wall is incredible. Part rock and part vertical building, the climbing wall is accessible on two levels with varying degrees of difficulty, rated according to official U.S. climbing grades. At 33 feet high and 64 feet wide, the climbing wall includes a water tube weaving right through the middle and the first-ever rappelling wall at sea. There’s also a 24-foot tall enclosed climbing cage called the Spider Web. Now that’s extreme!

Norwegian Epic features not one, but two of their signature, industry-first bowling alleys at sea. There’s O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill where the whole gang (including the kids) can head on over to the lanes and test their skills. Then there’s the three lanes at Bliss Ultra Lounge where during the day all ages are welcome.

The Fitness Center, open 24/7, is state of the art. It has 25 treadmills with their own TVs and cross trainers too. It features a TRX Suspension trainer, a complete total-body training tool built around a set of nylon straps that create resistance from two sources always at your disposal: your body weight and gravity. If you need the latest in workout routines the Epic has them all. Case in point; Kettle ball training is exploding on the exercise scene and the Epic has it. There are also more diverse fitness classes than any other ship at sea including yoga, Pilates, Activio group cycling and body sculpting boot camp.

Then head to the Mandara Spa to give those achy muscles some TLC. The spa is every bit as high-tech and high-end as any on land. Twenty-four well appointed rooms offer every type of luxurious therapy imaginable. Among the many sumptuous treatments for you to indulge in is the couple Rasul Rooms. Enter into the exotic chamber together to take part in a traditional cleansing ritual. Apply different colored medicinal muds to specific areas of the body, while gently inhaling the steam infused by pure herbs. To complete the ritual, a warm tropical rain pours down from the dome of the room and the muds are gently washed away …

The menu of spa treatments is vast and they no longer cater to only women. There is an enriching diversity of therapies that are designed for men and the Epic also has special treatments for moms and daughters or fathers and sons. Several relatively new services available are acupuncture, teeth whitening and even Botox!

Can one cruise ship be everything to everyone? Regardless of the experience you are looking for and despite your uncompromising expectations, a cruise aboard the Norwegian Epic can and will be whatever you want it to be. After all, that’s what freestyle cruising has always been about. But now, it’s just gotten better!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Innovative NEW Cruise Ships

There has been a lot of excitement in the cruise industry as of late, and it's no wonder when you consider the inspiring and innovative vessels that are being built! It's fair to say that in the last year or so, the ships that have joined the fleets Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Lines have revolutionized the cruise industry. These ships are like resorts in and of themselves with amenities and features that surpass their land based counterparts. Let's take a closer look:

Never before did a cruise ship receive as much pre-inaugural hype as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas did (inaugural sailing December 2009)! Well deserved? Oh yes! It wasn't just that the Oasis made its debut as the "worlds largest cruise ship" weighing in at a whopping 225,282 tons. It was the whole pioneering "neighborhood" concept, which made all this extra space so manageable. Imagine a Central Park at sea, in which the center of the ship is open to the sky and provides guests with a lush landscape of seasonal flower gardens, canopy trees, and peaceful winding pathways. Or a Boardwalk neighborhood reminiscent of seaside piers like Coney Island complete with a hand carved, hand painted carousel. In total there are seven distinct areas that allowed Royal Caribbean to focus on unique experiences and then create a corresponding ambiance for each. Other neighborhoods include a bigger and better Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sport Zone, Vitality Spa and Fitness Area, Entertainment Place, and the Youth Zone. All this and it floats too!

The sister ship of the Oasis, Allure of the Seas will make her debut in December of 2010. While many people would come to expect the same onboard amenities as the Oasis, the Internet chat boards have been buzzing about some new and exciting changes possibly coming exclusively to the Allure. Ah, the suspense is killing me!

Not to be outdone when it comes to radical new design ideas, Norwegian Cruise Line has some original thoughts of their own for the soon to sail Norwegian Epic (July 2010). Coined "the next generation of freestyle cruising" the Epic will premier world-class entertainment never before available on a cruise ship! Blue Man Group, known for their zany and outrageous performances that combine percussion, comedy, and multimedia theatrics, will be the headline entertainment onboard. In addition, "Cirque Dreams and Dinner" will provide guests with a dinner show that combines European cirque-style artistry with American circus and Broadway theatrics. The specially designed theatre-in-the-round brings the big top to sea for a unique dining experience. Wait-staff and performers are one in the same here, so watch for aerialists drop down from the ceiling to fill your water glass! That's just a sample of what you can expect. There are 17 extraordinary dining options and an astounding 18 bar/lounges, including the first ice bar at sea! It's one of 14 authentic ice bars in the world and kept at a chilly 17 degrees so pack your mittens! Accommodation innovations include hip urban flats designed for single occupancy...with single occupancy pricing!

When Celebrity Cruise Line debuted the Celebrity Solstice at the end of 2008 the International Interior Design Association recognized it for establishing "a new benchmark in cruise ship design". The second ship within that class, Equinox, quickly followed in the summer of 2009 and shares that same airy, upscale sophisticated look. Celebrity's contribution to the growing list of industry firsts? The Lawn Club, a half-acre of plush green grass perfect for a game of croquet, bocce, or even a picnic! The area also features the Hot Glass Show, another first in the industry, developed in collaboration with The Corning Museum of Glass. Despite all of this, I'm most impressed by the new AquaClass stateroom category. Booking this type of cabin allows unlimited access to the AquaSpa relaxation room and the Persian Garden, an exotic aromatherapy and steam room. Guests may also enjoy an exclusive restaurant, Blu, which serves healthy fare in a sophisticated and soothing atmosphere. Staying in an AquaClass balcony cabin is like going on a spa destination vacation...only at sea!

Sister ships within this Solstice class are currently being built. The Celebrity Eclipse will begin sailing out of Southampton, England in April 2010 followed by Silhouette in 2011 (home port not yet determined). On these ships the specialty restaurant Silk Harvest will be replaced by an exciting new dining venue called Qsine. Unlike any restaurant on land or sea, Qsine takes a modern and playful approach in interpreting familiar dishes from around the world. This dining experience plays out as one continuous script. No appetizers, salads, entrees or course dividers. Just good food cooked and delivered tableside as it becomes ready and intended to be shared, family style. No traditional serving plates either. Food is served in custom made tableware designed for each particular dish. Think spring rolls served in well, springs...vertically mounted on a slab of granite! It is in these ways that Chef Jacques Van Staden achieves his goal to "make the ordinary, unordinary."

I'm in awe of the brilliant minds and imagination that goes into the designs of these new ships! Each one has something unique and exciting to offer and I'd like to cruise on every one! With all the choices available I'm sure you too will find a new cruise ship on your horizon!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NCL Balcony & Suite SALE

Direct Line Cruises is now offering great cruise perks for balcony & suite bookings made on Norwegian Cruise Line. Book between 3/12 & 4/12/10 and receive up to $250.00 in FREE onboard credits. Here are the details:
  • Balcony & Mini-Suites Receive a FREE $100 Onboard Credit per stateroom

  • Suites Receive a FREE $200 Onboard Credit per stateroom

  • Garden Villas Receive a FREE $250 Onboard Credit per stateroom

For complete details regarding this NCL Cruise promotion, CLICK HERE.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Royal Caribbean 1-Week Cruise Sale

Don't miss out on our Royal Caribbean 1-week cruise SALE. Book a Royal Caribbean cruise between March 15 and March 21, 2010 and receive a 50% reduced deposit per person. In addition, book now and receive a FREE onboard savings booklet (valued at up to $200.00) plus FREE travel insurance on cruises 5-nights or longer.

Want more? Book a select Fall or Winter 2010 Royal Caribbean cruise and receive up to $100.00 in FREE onboard credits.

For complete details regarding this promotion, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Spa Vacation at Sea

Cruising is one of the most relaxing vacations you can take. Out at sea you’re far removed from the stresses of everyday life. There is something so naturally relaxing about staring into the horizon and seeing only turquoise water or being lulled to sleep by the undulating motion of the sea. And what better place to encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit then world renowned spas such as Mandara or Steiner of London…at sea!

A visit to the ship’s spa is the perfect place to unwind and get pampered. From lavish treatment rooms with ocean views to luxurious therapies inspired by exotic cultures, a few hours spent here is pure indulgence. Treat your body to a lime and ginger salt exfoliation ritual or a Thai herbal poultice massage and feel pent up stress melt away. You can return home looking a years younger after a Brazilian rain forest propolis treatment or a tri-enzyme resurfacing facial. The spas aboard cruise ships are every bit as high- tech and high- end as their land based counterparts. Several relatively new services available are acupuncture and teeth whitening. The most popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure on land, Botox, was rolled out last year on several Norwegian Cruise Line ships. The menu of spa treatments is vast, and no longer caters to only women. There is a diversity of therapies that are designed for men and some ships now provide special treatments for teens.

Newer ships are now moving away from “day spa” a la carte treatments and reinventing themselves as more of a destination spa. They have come to realize that a spa vacation is no longer a luxury niche. Comparable to land based resort spas, (the Canyon Ranch comes to mind) the goal is to facilitate health and well-being. The Celebrity Solstice Class ships for example, provide a comprehensive program that includes not only spa services but also physical fitness activities, wellness education, and healthful cuisine. A new category of balcony cabins called AquaClass provides guests with unlimited access to the AquaSpa relaxation room and the Persian Garden, an exotic aromatherapy and steam room. Guests may also enjoy an exclusive restaurant, Blu, which serves healthy fare in a sophisticated and soothing atmosphere.

The soon to sail Norwegian Epic is also addressing the desire of guests that are looking for a spa getaway. It will have a spa stateroom complex, (a mix of balcony cabins, deluxe balcony cabins, and suites), which offer private key-card entry to the enclave surrounding the Epic’s spa and fitness center. Guests will enjoy complimentary use of thermal suites with heated tile lounge chairs, saunas, hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools and herbal steam rooms. This is a complete spa retreat for anyone yearning for serenity, pampering and privacy. The eight spa suites each have their own in-room whirlpool with ocean views!

With onboard spas being just as good if not better than those on land a cruise is a wonderful way to combine two different types of vacations! This can be especially obliging if part of a traveling party wants to spend their time reveling in luxurious spa treatments while the other would rather do other things. So, whether it’s a sumptuous massage to melt away stress or a splendid body wrap to melt away inches, a visit to a spa at sea will beat a land based resort spa every time!