Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celebrity Upgrades Millennium Class Ships

While Royal Caribbean has been busy with their Royal Advantage initiative, (passing on Oasis-class innovations to other ships within the fleet), sister company Celebrity Cruise Line is continuing to “solsticize”, that is bring popular Solstice-class amenities to their other ships.

Three Millennium-class ships, the Millennium, Infinity, and Summit are scheduled to receive some of these exciting upgrades between now and the spring of 2012. One big change will be the addition of the extremely popular Aqua Class balcony cabins. Booking this cabin gives you upgraded bathroom amenities, complimentary bottled water and complimentary access to the Persian Gardens in the spa area.

Guests will look forward to welcoming Qsine, the most creative restaurant at sea, to these ships.  The menu at Qsine consists of familiar dishes and comfort food artfully and whimsically presented. For example, Chitinis are Chinese savories served in a martini glass! And ordering is more fun when you do it on an iPad!

Other favorite eateries finding their way to these ships are Bistro on Five and Café al Bacio & Gelateria. Bistro serves paninis and fabulous crepes. The pistachio and nutella crepes and the banana crepes are very yummy, but you can also opt to build your own concoction! Creamy gelato, fresh pastries, and gourmet coffee selections are available at the Cafe al Bacio.

A lively place to hang out in the evening will be the Martini Bar where you can choose from 26 varieties of this classic drink. Adjacent to the Martini Bar is Crush, an intimate alcove that offers spectacular vodka and caviar on an ice-filled table.

Expect renovations to be complete on the Infinity by December 2011, on the Summit by January 2012 and the Millennium by may 2012."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NCL Shares Details on Project Breakaway

Project Breakaway” is the name given to the new build of the two 4,000-passenger NCL ships. According to Kevin Sheehan, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, the name “Breakaway” was taken from the vacation home his family would visit in order to escape the pressures of work, school…everyday life.  It also implies how NCL has broken away from the company they once were.

So, what do we know about “Project Breakaway?”  Mr. Sheehan said the new ships would take the best of the best from the line’s ship builds over the past 10 years, culminating with the Norwegian Epic that debuted a year ago.  He good-naturedly joked, “And now for the big news.  These ships will have fully enclosed bathrooms,” (referring to the controversial bathrooms on the Epic).

The same UK firm that designed the Epic’s award winning studio cabins will design the staterooms of the new ships. “Modern boutique hotel meets the sea,” said Mr. Sheehan in describing the new cabins. He continued by saying they would be “warm and inviting and have a very contemporary feel with clean modern lines.”

The reveal of the standard balcony cabins and mini-suites showed a product in which form meets function, aimed at maximizing space throughout. The design included a king-size bed (which can be separated) with a padded leather headboard, above that a recessed storage area for books or magazines, sofa bed with drawers below, built in flat screen TV that can tilt to face the bed or sofa and a roomy desk/vanity area with lots of storage.

The enclosed bathroom is lovely with glass-enclosed shower, generous size sink with easy to use faucet and again, lots of storage.  The mini-suite bathroom was spacious with double vanities, glass tile and a spa shower with rain head, jets and hand-held sprayer.

“Project Breakaway” ships will debut April of 2013 and April of 2014, respectively. Embarkation port and itinerary were not yet announced, although more details will be released next month."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Radiance of the Seas and the Royal Advantage

I am in the process of renovating my master bedroom and bath.  Moving a wall, adding a shower and a closet, some crown moulding, a paint job and new furniture.   The job has been going on for 11 months…yes, you heard me right, 11 months! The contractor is busy, the tile is backordered, the plumbing was done incorrectly, the ceiling needed patching, and I can’t decide on a color scheme or furniture style.  Yet in a mere 21 days dry docked at the Victoria Shipyard in British Columbia, Canada, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas has emerged looking well…radiant! As part of the Royal Advantage program, Royal Caribbean has begun adding some of the best aspects of the Oasis class ships to others vessels in their fleet, and the Radiance is the latest recipient.

The Radiance of the Seas, built in 2001, is one of the cruise line’s most beautiful ships. Her décor is sophisticated and elegant with warm, dark woods, polished marble and rich, luxurious jewel tones. Her trademark feature, an abundance of exterior glass, which includes glass elevators that look out onto the sea, keeps her interiors saturated in natural light. So, what exactly was done to make her even better?

Parents will be pleased to see the inclusion of the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a special area for children aged 6 to 36 months old. There’s a new Concierge Lounge for suite guests and a Diamond Lounge for elite Crown and Anchor members. Technological changes made to the Radiance of the Seas include ship-wide Wi-Fi and flat screen televisions in all staterooms. Overlooking the main pool is the newly installed outdoor LED video wall, perfect for movies under the stars, or the screening of major sporting events.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Carnival Miracle to Cruise Year Round from NYC

Start spreading the new, she’s leaving today…. And beginning in 2012 the Carnival Miracle will leave year round from New York City, offering three different 8-night itineraries!  The Carnival Miracle is no stranger to New York cruisers.  She’s been cruising out of Manhattan seasonally for years.

Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO, said “New York is one of the highest-rated homeports for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising. Carnival Miracle’s new year-round eight-day departures offer consumers the best of both worlds — a choice of three attractive year-round Caribbean and Bahamas itinerary options with the opportunity to depart from one of the world’s great cities.”  I couldn’t agree more!

From April through October the Miracle will rotate an Eastern Caribbean itinerary (San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk) with a Bahamas itinerary (Grand Turk, Nassau, and the beautiful private island, Half Moon Cay). November through April the ship follows a Bahamas / Florida itinerary (Port Canaveral, Nassau, and Freeport)."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dual Embarkation Ports For Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that they have added the option of a second embarkation port on 2012 Mediterranean sailings on the Epic. Barcelona will once again be the primary embarkation port, however Norwegian is giving a limited amount of guests the flexibility of embarking three days later in Rome (Civitavecchia). Regardless of where you get on board, both itineraries will visit the same ports of call.

Having the choice of an embarkation port can be a wonderful thing! As you shop for airfare for your cruise, you might find the rates to be more favorable flying into one city as opposed to the other! I would guess flying mid-week instead of a weekend might also be a better deal. Having these different choices to examine can make a big difference in your overall costs, and that’s always a good thing!

In addition, if you would like to take a few days pre-cruise to explore the embarkation city, you can choose the city! If you want a few extra days to stroll Las Ramblas, seek out the quirky architecture of Gaudi or even take a side trip to Madrid, then a cruise from Barcelona makes sense.  On the other hand, maybe having that extra time in Rome excites you! A few additional days not only assure you of seeing all the highlights of the city but gives you time to venture a bit further.  Tivoli, Hadrian’s Villa, or a beach day at Ostia Lido would be lovely options to think about!

Norwegian Cruise Line now gives guests the convenience of selecting an embarkation port that works best for their vacation aboard the Norwegian Epic Mediterranean itineraries. Options, Flexibility, Choice.  Freestyle….it’s what Norwegian Cruise Line is all about!"

Monday, June 06, 2011

Norwegian Dawn Gets a Facelift

The Norwegian Dawn cruised into her new seasonal homeport of Boston last week sporting a new look!  A multi-million dollar refurbishment has left her shiny new with lots of great enhancements. Things were shifted around quite a bit; so much so that there was room to add 58 additional suites and staterooms! It’s always nice to see more family staterooms that will hold up to six guests and the Dawn will now have 24 and 10 of those will have balconies.

All staterooms were upgraded with flat screen televisions, which saves a bit a space and gives the room a cleaner look.  I was impressed that they did the same for the crew!

For those of you fortunate enough to have already cruised the Norwegian Epic, you may remember the Brazilian steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria.  Guests loved this restaurant so much that it is being added to ships when they go into dry dock and its now a dining option on the Dawn!  Passadors serve skewers of all kinds of meat tableside, and the large self-serve salad bar contains sides and fixin’s.

The casino, probably one of the busiest spots on the ship was totally redone.  A more functional layout, new furniture and new carpet were part of the renovation.

Both the Kid’s Crew area and Teen Club got a new look.  It’s so important to have a segregated and age appropriate look to a child’s space!  It’s hard to get teens to hang out in a spot that’s not as “cool” as they are!  New game systems were also added. A room dedicated to little cruisers, The Under 2 Zoo, was added.  Here parents and their children have a special place to play together.

So, lucky you if you have an upcoming cruise on the Norwegian Dawn!  I thought she was a pretty special ship before her upgrades, but now she’s even better!"