Monday, July 30, 2012

Celebrity Reflection Shows Off It’s Cantilevered Shower

Not long ago I remodeled my master bath, adding a shower that included a rain head and four body sprays.  I thought that was innovative…and then I saw what Celebrity Cruise Line is adding to the Celebrity Reflection suite! In your widest dreams, could you have imagined this?  Its a cantilevered shower featuring see-through glass on its floor and ceiling as well as its sides, that is coated with a reflective material that Celebrity promises will keep outsiders from looking in during the day. How’s that for maximizing the stunning views of the sea?

Celebrity's Senior VP of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo explains how the brand will preserve the privacy of guests using the unique glass shower: ""We made a big investment in ensuring our guests can enjoy the shower entirely free of any concerns of being seen,"" said Lutoff-Perlo. ""They can enjoy breathtaking sea views while discreetly showering, courtesy of the shower's special reflective glass. But, if they seek even further privacy, the shower also features 'smart glass.' At the flick of a switch, guests can activate an electrochromatic technology which instantly transforms the glass from transparent to translucent. We even went so far as to install a special sensor, so if guests prefer, the glass can be automatically transformed for them. It's yet another example of the modern luxury experience that only Celebrity delivers.""

The Reflection Suite will be the first suite on a Celebrity ship with two bedrooms.  The 194 square foot wrap around balcony is larger than some basic cabins on the vessel!  Lutoff-Perlo says there's growing demand from Celebrity's customers for elaborate suites, even at high prices, and the line has realized it needs more of them.

The Celebrity Reflection enters service Oct. 12 with a nine-night sailing from Amsterdam to Barcelona followed by two more Europe sailings and a trans-Atlantic voyage from Europe to the States. It then will spend the coming winter sailing to the Caribbean out of Miami before heading to the Mediterranean for the summer of 2013."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Travel Apps For Your Next Cruise

I often wonder how I kept my life running smoothly before the invention of the “smart phone.” I can now read the paper, check the weather, set my DVR, turn on my porch light, check baseball scores, calculate gratuities & divide them up for a party of 7, rent a movie, download a book, and do my holiday shopping, as long as I have my phone with me. It has also been a tremendous help whenever I travel.  Below are a few of my “can’t live without” travel apps. I hope you find them as useful as I do.

Packing Pro:  This app has countless pre-populated, travel-specific checklist items to choose from but is completely customizable and allows travelers to build checklists from the existing catalog. I have separate packing lists for weekend trips, Caribbean cruises, Mediterranean cruise, and road trips. Make a list once and it’s always there for reference.

TripIt:  This app organizes all my travel plans into an itinerary that stores every detail in one place.  I enter flights, hotel info, cruise details, daily shore excursion, and car rental data, which is then automatically formatted into a day by day itinerary that I can access from my iPad or phone. It’s comforting to have every necessary phone number and confirmation number with me at all times.

XE Currency:  This app lets me track live exchange rates for every world currency.  OK, maybe my only concern was the Euro on my Mediterranean cruise, but I still liked checking what I was actually spending in all those wonderful shops so I would not die of sticker shock when the bill came in!

Google Translator:  I love being able to say a few polite words in the native language of all the countries I visit on a cruise. Or being able to look up words found on a menu (I hate having to eat at a restaurant that caters to tourists, and has pictures on the menu). And being able to ask for directions can be a lifesaver!  With this app you can translate words and phrases between more than 60 languages and for most languages, you can speak your phrases and hear the corresponding translations.

City Maps 2 Go: Actually, this app covers not just cities, but the tiniest towns in just about every country you can think of. Google maps are great, but you must have access to Wi-Fi, which is super inconvenient when touring most places in the world. Once you have purchased this app for $1.99, you can download an unlimited number of maps, and use them to navigate according to street address or name. I loved it on my last cruise.  It worked perfect in Venice and in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona.  If you don’t find the map you are looking for, you can send an e-mail to the app developers, and they promise to have the map available for download within 24 hours."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Royal Caribbean Introduces the Freestyle Coke Machine

Where can you find the Coke machine of the future? Try looking for it on your next Royal Caribbean cruise! Instead of levers for different sodas, the Freestyle Coke Machine has a touch screen, slick as an iPad. It presents the user with 20 different options at the press of a button: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Powerade, etc.  But wait, there's more... Maybe you’d like to try Vanilla Coke, Peach Fanta Zero, or Grape Sprite. Coke flavors that don't even exist in bottles are available from this machine!

The “Freestyle Coke Machine” is about the same size of a standard vending machine, yet it is able to create 125 different soft drink combos! Royal Caribbean guests can purchase a beverage package that includes a souvenir cup with an imbedded RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip in it, allowing the guests to serve themselves for the duration of their cruise.

The first Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine “at sea” was recently installed on Majesty of the Seas (although it made a trial run on several Allure of the Seas inaugural sailings).  Freestyle Machines are scheduled to be installed on other Royal Caribbean ships later this year, and throughout 2013.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's Brewing at Carnival's Alchemy Bar?

Alchemy is a medieval chemical science whose ambition, amongst other equally benevolent intentions, was the discovery of a universal cure for diseases, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life. So knowing this, who wouldn’t be lured into discovering what potions await at the Alchemy Bar aboard the Carnival Liberty?

The Alchemy Bar resembles an antique pharmacy shop, complete with wooden cabinets, marble counters and bottles of enticing colorful fluids sitting on top, with the staff dressed in lab coats and taking orders on prescription pads. The menu, displayed inside leather bound notebooks that light up when you open them, hold the promise that a concoction mixed here, could be a panacea for nearly everything!

A variety of remedies are available, including “Relief for What Ails”, “Passion Potions”,  “The Medicine Cabinet”, “Cocktail Therapy”, “Energizing Elixirs”, and “Fountain of Youth”. They may be on to something here. After all, who wouldn’t be prone to acting young and foolish after kicking back a few “Youthful and Bold Berritinis” (buck the currents of time with Finlandia cranberry vodka and St. Germain elderflower liqueur, strawberries, fresh lime juice and a splash of soda complete this martini to enliven the throes of youth)?

Look for the Alchemy Bar on the Carnival Conquest (October 2012), Carnival Glory (November 2012) and the Carnival Sunshine (April 2013)."

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Norwegian Breakaway's Ocean Blue

Geoffrey Zakarian, an accomplished chef who has presided over some of the country's top kitchens, was chosen to create and oversee the hottest seafood dining experience at sea…Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian.  The restaurant, which will open on the Norwegian Breakaway when the ship launches in May, will utilize all of the same ingredients and techniques that Zakarian would employ in any of his renowned land based establishments.

Zakarian’s taste, style and passion for fine cuisine will be reflected in the dining room of Ocean Blue, as well as The Raw Bar, an adjacent bar highlighting crustaceans and wines by the glass. A more casual area, Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, will serve a simple, unfussy fare.  Zakarian will take charge not only the menus, but also every aspect of his dining areas, from the uniforms to the glassware. On select sailings, Zakarian will also host meet-and-greets with Norwegian Breakaway guests, along with in-person cooking demonstrations and intimate cooking experiences for smaller groups.

“It is an unbelievably exciting prospect to create a concept for such a groundbreaking ship. I am nostalgic at heart, so the thought of making a modern experience that harkens to the age of steamship travel is just terrific,” said Geoffrey Zakarian.  “I am planning, preparing and recruiting for this restaurant the same as if I were opening on land, and truly, I have been humbled and inspired by Norwegian's vision to elevate hospitality on the seas.”

For those of you that may be unfamiliar with Zakarian, his rise to culinary prominence began at Le Cirque, some 30 years ago, where he took his first job in the kitchen. Since those early days, Zakarian’s name has been linked to legendary restaurants around the world. Recently, he emerged victorious in the 4th season of Food Network’s  “The Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs”. He now appears regularly on “Iron Chef America”, demonstrating a razor-sharp knowledge of culinary techniques in this fast-paced cooking competition. The Norwegian Breakaway will be the largest ship ever to homeport in New York City. The 4,000 passenger vessel will debut in early May 2013, when she will begin weekly summer seven-day cruises to Bermuda."