Sunday, July 31, 2011

Online Booking of Shore Excursions and Specialty Dining on NCL

Norwegian Cruise Line has recently announced that they have upgraded their reservation system. Great, but what exactly does that mean for NCL cruisers?  Two things, and both are advantages for those cruisers (myself included) that like to pre-plan.

The first enhancement has to do with shore excursions.  In the past guests could reserve shore excursions before their cruise, but they were not charged for them until they were onboard. Now the guest is charged when they reserve it.  You’re probably thinking how I can possibly see paying the cruise line in advance of the cruise, as something positive. On port intensive itineraries like Alaska or the Mediterranean, the price of shore excursions can add up very quickly and some may find it to be unaffordable if it were necessary to pay for them all at once.  However, if you book your cruise far in advance you then have the opportunity to spread out the purchase of shore excursions over time.  It can be easier on the vacation budget that way.

The second enhancement allows guests booked on the Norwegian Epic to pre-purchase their specialty dining, including tickets to “Cirque Dreams and Dinner” as well as The Second City’s “Presumed Murdered” murder mystery show.  Look for an announcement in the near future for the ability to pre-purchase specialty dining fleet-wide.  Again, how nice to be able to pre-plan if you so desire.

Of course, Norwegian Cruise Line is all about “Freestyle Cruising” and giving guests endless choices.  Nobody is required to book anything in advance. Shore excursions and specialty dining can still be arranged once onboard the ship.  But isn’t it great having options?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Azamara Club Golf Cruises

Imagine a vacation that lets you combine your love of travel with your passion for golf.  Through collaboration between Azamara Club Cruises and PerryGolf, a luxury golf tour operator, the ultimate package is now available.  Guests that purchase this exclusive program will have the opportunity to golf at renowned courses escorted by a PerryGolf tour manager. Imagine playing at Portmarnock, Ireland; Mission Hills, China or Montgomerie Links in Vietnam, depending on itinerary.

Packages have been assembled taking into account what the most discriminating golfers desire in a golf vacation, allowing them to do nothing more then concentrate on their game. Programs begin with a pre-cruise stay in a luxury hotel as well as a meet and greet dinner. During the cruise guests will play at four or five of the best courses in the world. In addition, guests can look forward to golf shoe shining, green fees, golf cart rental, luxury ground transportation and golf bag delivery to the first tee and return to hotel or ship and storage after the round.  Casual tournaments with awards and prizes are part of the fun. There are scheduled golfer socials, cocktail parties, and two group dinners, one in a specialty restaurant.

Onboard, guests can expect a cruise experience of exceptional quality. Azamara provides guests with impeccable service, sumptuous dining, supreme entertainment, and incredible itineraries. To plan your Azamara cruise and PerryGolf package contact Direct Line Cruises."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Haven

The Haven” is the new name for the elite suite complex on all the Norwegian Cruise Line Jewel-class ships, the Epic and the two new Project Breakaway ships. This ship within a ship area has the most luxurious, well-appointed and spacious accommodations at sea.

These suites have exclusive access to the Haven Courtyard, which includes a private pool, sundeck, hot tub, and fitness center. A private restaurant and lounge is available on the Epic and the new Breakaway ships.

Suites within the area have espresso / cappuccino machines and gourmet snacks delivered each evening. Pillow top mattresses, fine linens, plush bathrobes and slippers are all part of the pampering guests will experience.

Amenities have been upgraded, and include 24-hour butler service, concierge, courtyard valet and white tablecloth in-suite dining. Guests will enjoy priority embarkation and disembarkation, priority tender boarding, a platinum key card, and if needed, a complimentary limo to the airport.

I’d imagine it would be very easy to get accustomed to cruising like this!"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Celebrity Cruise Line Wine and Dine Packages

Guest’s like to pre-plan many aspects of their vacation.  At least that’s what Celebrity Cruise Line was thinking when they developed their new specialty dining packages.

“Our guests tell us that packages offer not only convenience, but also added value,” said Scott Steenrod, Associate Vice President, Food and Beverage Operations. “We realize our guests’ vacation time is precious, and we want nothing more than to make it easy for them to enjoy their vacation. Our specialty dining packages are one more way that we make their planning effortless.”

Offerings vary by ship but here’s some general information.
  • Individual Dining Packages: Single, per-person pricing for a package of three or five specialty restaurant visits. No wine included.
  • Savor Package: Includes three dining reservations per couple and three bottles of wine.
  • Gourmand Package: Includes five dining reservations per couple and three bottles of wine.
  • Bacchus Package:  Includes five dining reservations per couple and five bottles of wine.
A collection of over 20 premium wines that guests may choose from was pre-selected by Celebrity wine connoisseurs."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Royal Caribbean Considering El Salvador as a Port of Call

El Salvador’s tourism ministry is keeping their fingers crossed hoping that Royal Caribbean will consider the Central American country as a future port of call. If negotiations turn out favorably for them, the cruise line could begin featuring port days in Acajutla beginning as early as 2012. The Port of Acajutla is El Salvador’s main port and located on the country’s northwestern Pacific coast. While there is no doubt that the influx of cruise passengers would be a boon for the country, what about for the cruise passengers?

Somewhat of a bypass on the tourist trail, travelers are missing out on El Salvador’s vast natural beauty, forests, beaches and archaeological sites. Acajutla gives access to the Mayan ruins of Tazumal. The site was constructed over a period of 750 years but mostly from 600 to 900AD. Another amazing site is Joya de CerĂ©n, a UNESCO World Heritage. This pre-Columbian Maya farming village has been preserved remarkably intact after it was destroyed by volcanic ash around 600 AD (similar to Pompeii). Montecristo Cloud Forest is another perfect location for an exploration.  With a great diversity of flora including ferns, orchids and mosses and wildlife like spider monkeys and anteaters, there is plenty to fascinate you here. El Salvador also boasts some of the best surf in Central America with surfers coming from all over the world to ride some serious waves!"

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Celebrity Silhouettes Lawn Club Grill

When a cruise line builds a class of multiple vessels it is not unusual for the design to be modified a bit from ship to ship.  Thus is the case of the Celebrity Silhouette, the fourth ship in the lovely Solstice class. One significant change will be an update to the underutilized Lawn Club. With the goal being to extend the frequency and length of visits to the area, new dining venues and experiences are being introduced.  The “Lawn Club Grill” is one such place.

During the day this area will host fun, interactive demos and classes. Scheduled activities may include hands on pizza making or chef-led demonstrations such as “Marinade 101”.  By night “The Lawn Club Grill”, as the name suggests, celebrates the passion of grilling!  Gleaming stainless steel grills, an open kitchen, and a large glass door fridge where you can choose your own meat help to make this a highly social and interactive experience.

“People tend to associate grilling with the relaxing, carefree mood of summer-exactly what a Celebrity vacation is all about,” said Jacques Van Staden, Vice President, Culinary Operations.  He continues, “What can be better than experiencing something that’s popular among so many cultures around the world, while relaxing near a lawn of growing grass, surrounded by an endless view of the sea?”

One guest per party is given the opportunity of being paired with a Celebrity Cruise’s chef and together serve as the groups “Grill Master,” taking on the responsibility of preparing the meal.  What a great way to learn proper grilling techniques and other barbecue secrets! (We have a good friend nicknamed “The Burner”…maybe I should book him on the Silhouette!).  Grill Masters will receive a free chef’s apron as a souvenir of the experience.

The Lawn Club Grill will be open 5-10 pm nightly and from 12-2 pm one sea day per cruise.  A fee of $30 per person is required and booked passengers can now make their reservation online.

The Celebrity Silhouette will begin sailing out of Cape Liberty, NJ in November 2011."