Saturday, April 28, 2012

Norwegian Breakaway Reveals

Exciting features were revealed today regarding the Norwegian Breakaway, set to sail from New York City in the spring of 2013.  While last month’s announcements focused on the Waterfront area, this month’s reveals were more “action packed”. The Norwegian Breakaway will feature a three-story Sports Complex and multiple water features that the entire family can enjoy.  The only question is, will seven days be long enough to experience it all?

 It starts with the largest ropes course at sea.  Thrill-seekers of all ages can navigate a challenging maze of beams, swinging ropes and ladders.  The truly brave at heart can try walking The Plank, a beam that extends 8 feet over the side of the ship! Neither climbing techniques nor physical fitness experience is necessary to experience the 40 elements of this multi-level structure.  And yes, guests must be tethered to a safety harness!

 Then there’s the Spider Web, a 24-foot tall enclosed climbing cage, complete with a spiral slide.  This is probably a great way for little ones to practice before tackling the ropes course!

 If you think a backyard trampoline is fun, wait till you try a bungee trampoline!  Participants wear a harness that is hooked to several bungee cords.  This allows higher jumps, and the ability to do flips and other maneuvers that would otherwise be impossible on a regular trampoline.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olympic Games to be Shown on Celebrity Cruise Line Ships

Wow, has it been four years since the last summer Olympic games?  On July 27th the torch of the XXX Olympiad, carried from Olympia, Greece, will reach the final destination of its relay when the Olympic cauldron is ignited in London, England. The event will be broadcast worldwide.  Among those that will be able to view the extravagant opening ceremonies, the dazzling closing ceremonies, and everything in between, will be guests aboard the ships of Celebrity Cruise Line. Viewing will be available in both the comfort of the guest’s stateroom, or in one of the bars or lounges onboard. Sounds like lots of fun to me!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Tour of the Azamara Journey

Last Wednesday the Azamara Journey pulled into New York City for an overnight stay, before heading out for a transatlantic voyage. A small group of travel agents, myself included, were invited aboard for a ship tour followed by dinner in one of the specialty restaurants. What follows is a review of our visit, with pictures courtesy of my co-worker, Leslie.

I cruise often, always on large contemporary vessels that resemble floating cities. Walking onto the Azamara Journey was a totally different experience. Dubbed as a boutique cruise line, the Journey carries 694 guests and is a mere 30,277 tons. There was no multi-storied atrium, no wide sweeping staircase, and no mega-sized chandelier tossing the light off it's crystal facets from above. Instead, I immediately felt embraced by her cozy ambience, much like an intimate European hotel.  Warm and welcoming, I was charmed by her relaxed atmosphere.

The public rooms are all decorated in a chic but conservative style, and you could say the décor is a bit of a throwback to ship decor of the ocean liners of the 1920s and ’30s. I boarded the ship at the entrance of the Mosaic Café, a quaint spot serving coffee or alcoholic beverages depending on the time of day. My eyes were immediately drawn to the glass jars of cookies on the bar and the large, multi-tiered cart filled with small ""tapas""-style plates of delicious savory and sweet items. A piano player was performing in the corner.  I could envision myself sitting at one of the small tables enjoying a pastry, while checking email on my iPad (I should mention the ship is fully wi-fi), before heading out for the day. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where will the Norwegian Getaway Call Home?

Those of us in the Northeast were jumping for joy when we received the news that the soon to sail Norwegian Breakaway (debuting in May 2013) would call New York City her year-round home.  So, that left us questioning where her sister, the Norwegian Getaway (arriving in 2014) would cruise from. Today it was announced that the 144,000-ton, 4,000-passenger Norwegian Getaway will homeport year-round in Miami!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dining at the Chef's Table

If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience while on your next cruise, consider booking the Chef’s Table.  On this special evening you can look forward to a multi-course gourmet meal, not offered anywhere else on the ship, prepared by the master chef.  Each course is accompanied by an explanation of ingredients, preparation methods, and tasting suggestions.  The menu might focus on regional cuisine to highlight indigenous ingredients from a recent port, or may just be a specialty created by the chef himself. The meal generally includes wines expertly paired by the Master Sommelier.

On Carnival Cruise Line, the Chef’s Table is limited to 12 guests.  Depending on the ship, the meal may take place in an intimate, non-dining venue such as the ship’s library, conference room, or inside the galley itself.  The evening starts with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a galley tour. Then, one of the master chefs hosts a sumptuous multi-course dinner served with wine pairings.  The cost is $75 per person, is available fleet-wide, but only offered once per voyage.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a two-and-a-half hour experience that begins with a champagne reception. Guests have the opportunity to mingle with the ship’s executive chef as well as the food and beverage manager, restaurant manager, assistant maitre d’ and head wine steward. A multi-course meal follows, with wines selected by the Master Sommelier. The Chef’s Table is limited to 12 guests and is only offered once per voyage. The $75 per person charge includes gratuities, a behind the scenes galley tour, and two photos to commemorate the evening. The experience is available fleet-wide.

On select Royal Caribbean ships, 12-16 guests will enjoy a five-course menu of gourmet selections specially prepared and personally presented by the Chef de Cuisine.  Every course is accompanied by wine pairings chosen to enhance the enjoyment of each dish.  The cost of $95 per person includes gratuities.  The Chef’s Table is featured on Oasis class ships, Radiance of the Seas, and Splendour of the Seas.

Although there is an extra fee for booking the Chef’s Table, that certainly does not deter guests wanting to experience this gastronomical event. If this is something you would like to try on your next cruise, be sure to book it pre-cruise if the cruise line allows you to do so, or immediately book it upon boarding.  Bon Appetite!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cruising With Baby

Vacationing with a baby can be a challenge. However, choosing a cruise is often a smart choice, because your accommodations, restaurants and entertainment are all in one general spot, like a floating resort!  Here are some tips from the cruising moms at Direct Line Cruises that will hopefully, make your cruise vacation even easier and more carefree...

If you will need a crib in your stateroom be sure to let your cruise consultant know in advance so that it can requested well in advance. You don't have to reserve high chairs ahead of time.

Bringing that much loved “blankie” from home is always a good idea. Same goes for a favorite bedtime story and stuffed animal.  Nothing can replace familiarity and routine.

You will have to pack baby food, formula, diapers, and wipes, however if you’re cruising with Royal Caribbean, you have the option of ordering these items on their website and they’ll be waiting for you in your cabin.

Along those same lines; if you packed diapers, food and formula be sure to have an ample supply in your carry-on bag.  Luggage is sometimes not delivered until the early evening.

Generally, staterooms have showers only.  If you prefer to bathe little ones in a tub, on many cruise lines that may mean upgrading to a suite.

Don’t forget your umbrella stroller.  It’s so handy to have both on and off the ship! You can wheel a sleeping baby into the theater so you can watch the show, or into a lounge while you enjoy a glass of wine.

Many cruise lines offer private babysitting, but make sure you confirm availability in advance.

Ask your cruise consultant if the ship you’re booking has an age appropriate children’s program.  Not every cruise line has nursery facilities or programs for children that are not yet potty trained.

All ships provide laundry service for a price, but ships with self-service facilities are not the norm.

In accordance with Center for Disease Control's sanitary codes, not all cruise lines allow swim diapers in their pools. Check with your cruise consultant for ships with splash zones for little ones.

Consider booking a balcony cabin.  While your child is napping in the cabin you can sit in the fresh sea air with a good book and a glass of iced tea! Now that’s what cruising with baby is all about!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

“Love for Sail”

Set you DVR’s for the April 10th premier of the new dating reality series “Love for Sail” (10pm E.T. Lifetime channel).  The show features three Norwegian Cruise Line ships- Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Star.

In each episode, four women will set sail hoping to meet “Mr. Right” onboard. The singles will participate in a variety of mixer parties to begin the matchmaking process. Romantic dates and excursions in exotic Caribbean ports of call follow.

The women participants are hosted in the luxurious Haven suite complex, giving viewers a glimpse of this ritzy, exclusive area, as well as other venues onboard. Look for scenes filmed in the Mandara Spa, Posh, Bliss Ultra Lounge, Spice H2O and the various incredible restaurants.

While “The Love Boat”, the romantic comedy series popular in the late 70’s / early 80’s, usually had an idyllic ending, reality does not always guarantee such a happily ever after. Whether it does or it doesn’t, viewers will enjoy the fun and drama taking place aboard these NCL ships."

Monday, April 02, 2012

There's An App For That!

If you’re a techie you’ll appreciate this! Norwegian Cruise Line has created an app that enables iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows7 users to connect with Norwegian Epic’s onboard guest information and service system during their cruise. It also enables passengers to communicate with each other via voice and text messaging. The app is free, although there is a fee to use the calling / messaging feature while on board. At this time the introductory rate of $7.95 covers unlimited calls and messaging for the entire sailing. Fleet-wide expansion is expected in the future. This sure beats carrying walkie-talkies and trying to find an open channel!"