Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils Features for Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship, which has been designed for the ultimate cruising experience and will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera beginning in June 2018. Custom-built for the spectacular, Norwegian Bliss will boast many firsts at sea for the global market including the largest competitive race track at sea and an open-air laser tag course. The ship’s exciting new features will join the brand’s signature elements of freedom and flexibility that Norwegian is known for across the globe including a myriad of dining options and a vibrant onboard atmosphere fueled by dynamic intimate spaces and a multitude of bars and lounges, award-winning youth programs and more.

Norwegian Bliss will no doubt be our most incredible ship to date,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer. “We have elevated Norwegian Bliss’s onboard experience to new heights, bringing the best features from across our fleet plus exciting new first-at-sea activities like the largest race track and new dining concepts to create the ultimate cruising experience.”

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss is currently being constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018.

Imagine Exhilaration
Norwegian Bliss will boast excitement around every corner and delight guests with thrills, with activities spanning the entirety of the ship’s top deck. Following overwhelming popularity aboard Norwegian Bliss’ sister ship in China, Norwegian Joy, guests will be able to put the pedal to the metal for the first time aboard a North American-based cruise ship with a two level electric-car race track. The competitive track, the longest at sea at nearly 1,000 feet, will rev up the hearts of all who race around her many twists and turns with four speed settings accommodating novice, intermediate and advanced drivers, reaching up to 30 miles per hourwith a special “turbo boost” available on each lap. The electric cars run silent so as to not disturb those seeking to enjoy the serene environment. But guests will have the full racing experience while they channel their inner Andretti, as the sounds of a race car engine are piped in through speakers located in the car’s headrest. After burning rubber at the race track, guests can test their agility at the open-air laser tag course. Themed as an abandoned space station, the course comes to life both day and night as guests go into stealth-mode and compete against family and friends with state-of-the art laser guns.

After working up a sweat, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can cool down at the ship’s expansive pool and sundeck featuring two spacious pools and six infinity hot tubs that scale the side of the ship. The ship’s Aqua Park also includes two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Ocean Loops free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and a second see-through loop that stretches down to the deck below, sure to offer a wet and wild ride. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet, with a translucent section that provides stunning ocean views as guests twist and turn to the finish line.

Junior cruisers can splish, splash and have a blast at the Kids’ Aqua Park, a watery wonderland of splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and slides. The little ones will also have a blast at Splash Academy, the fleet’s award-winning complimentary youth program. Centrally-located on Deck 5, Splash Academy will offer age-appropriate supervised activities for children aged three to 12 with fun and energetic programming including games with the conservation-minded Officer Snook, a circus spectacular celebration, jungle-themed nights and more. Teens aged 13 through 17 will enjoy their own space aboard Norwegian Bliss on deck 5, Entourage, adjacent to the ship’s arcade. The exclusive teen space features plush lounge furniture, gaming stations, foosball, air hockey and a dancefloor with neon lighting, as the space transitions to the hottest teen nightclub at sea in the evening hours. Even tiny cruisers, ages six months to just under three years old, will have an dedicated space to enjoy aboard Norwegian Bliss with the fleet’s largest Guppies playroom, where Early Years Coordinators will host sensory-play activities for parents and babies including messy play, exploration, music and movement. In line with its youth programming across the fleet, Norwegian Bliss will offer a wide range of family-friendly activities for guests to enjoy including family balloon twisting, interactive games and the Family Glow Party.

Imagine Delectable
Foodies and cocktail connoisseurs will be able to dine, sip and savor to their heart’s delight with a breadth of dining and bar options aboard Norwegian Bliss, including signature Norwegian favorites as well as exclusive new concepts that will debut aboard the line’s newest ship.

Modern décor and premium ingredients will meet southern flavors at the all-new Texas Smokehouse, Q, where guests will be able to tap their boots to the beat of live contemporary pop country music each night as they indulge in authentic Texas barbeque in a sleek urban setting. The new à la carte specialty restaurant will infuse an explosion of flavors in every bite with a selection brisket, ribs, chicken and sausages and more freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods. Q will offer generous portions of sides and starters including deviled eggs with natural air cured ham, pickled jalapeños, fresh cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac-n-cheese, baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon and more. Guests can round out their meal at Q with a mason jar of fresh banana pudding or indulge in bread pudding in whiskey sauce.

The flavors aboard Norwegian Bliss will travel south-of-the-border with Los Lobos, an outpost of the brand’s new restaurant serving elevated Mexican cuisine that made its debut in 2016 aboard Norwegian Dawn during her extensive dry dock enhancement under the Norwegian Edge, the brand’s investment program that encompasses the entire guest experience. Los Lobos will offer an upscale, modern take on traditional favorites like fresh guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole, handcrafted margaritas featuring private-label Patron Barrel Select, Norwegian's own tequila blend, and more. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating located on deck 8 aft, Los Lobos will be adjacent to Cagney’s Steakhouse, Norwegian’s popular signature American-style steakhouse that serves up choice cuts of Hartley Ranch Premium Black Angus Beef including the larger-than-life 20 oz. Porterhouse, an incredibly tender 8 oz. filet mignon, and signature ribeye. Between Los Lobos and Cagney’s Steakhouse, The A-List Bar, named for Norwegian President & CEO and 30-year veteran Andy Stuart, will serve handcrafted cocktails, wines and premium spirits.

Sweets and treats will be served up day and night at Coco’s, a completely new à la carte dessert venue located on deck 6 in the heart of the ship, 678 Ocean Place, where liquid chocolate in an enclosed oversized chocolate fountain will adorn its entranceway, delighting kids and kids at heart. The chocolate-themed dessert restaurant will feature handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other decadent treats paired with fine coffees and teas.

In a nod to the ship’s homeport of Seattle, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can warm up for their glacier walk with a Caramel Macchiato or grab a Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade to sip on while lounging on a pristine Caribbean beach with a full service Starbucks® store on board. Guests can start their day with Starbucks® coffees, teas and bites available à la carte.

Norwegian will bring together the best of its specialty dining experiences aboard Norwegian Bliss with signature à la carte restaurants including French cuisine at Le Bistro; the tastes of Tuscany at La Cucina; the finest fresh seafood at Ocean Blue; global fusion cuisine featuring sushi, dumplings, handhelds and more at Food Republic; Cheeseburgers in Paradise® at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville® at Sea; and handmade cupcakes and macarons at The Bake Shop. Teppanyaki, the brand’s family-favorite Japanese hibachi steakhouse will also be onboard at cover charge pricing.

Norwegian Bliss will serve up premium quality cuisine with fresh ingredients in all complimentary dining venues with rotating menus curated by the brand’s coveted culinary team. In a new complimentary dining concept, The Local will offer guests pub fare in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere 24 hours a day.

Norwegian’s original beverage concepts will round out the ship’s culinary offerings. The District Brew House will serve 24 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers, along with bites from the adjacent Food Republic. Local favorites on tap at The District will include craft beers from Red Hook Brewery and Elysian Brewery in Seattle as well as Wynwood Brewery and M.I.A. Beer Company in Miami. The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar will offer a curated wine list featuring 35 grape varietals including top selections from Washington-area vineyards, Tuscany and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate, as well as light bites from La Cucina. Wine will come to life at The Cellars with interactive educational seminars and tastings daily. Paying homage to her homeport cities, Norwegian Bliss’ beverage program will also feature a selection of local craft cocktails developed by Seattle-based celebrity mixologist and chef Kathy Casey as well as Miami-based Gabe Orta, one of the master curator’s behind the city’s ultra-popular BarLab concepts.

Imagine Tranquility
After glacier trekking in Alaska or discovering hidden caves and sea pools at the Baths of Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean, Norwegian Bliss guests will be able to revive, refresh and recharge at the ship’s Mandara Spa. Located on deck 16 aft, the Mandara Spa will offer the ultimate pampering experience with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon and barber shop, fitness center and thermal suite. The Fitness Center will offer latest state-of-the-art TechnoGym® cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as personal training and group fitness classes including TRX, Norwegian Fight Club, RYDE Cycle and more. The ship’s expansive thermal suite will be an exclusive enclave of relaxation where guests can soothe aching joints in the vitality pool and heated whirlpool; rinse off and clear mind and spirit in special experience showers; reduce inflammation and improve respiratory functions in the salt room; cleanse the body in the steam room or sauna; cool down in the snow room; or catch up on their latest reading on one of the 17 heated stone loungers. Passes to the exclusive enclave of relaxation will be available for purchase for a limited number of guests each sailing. In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will be able to unwind in two private lounge spaces while cruising aboard Norwegian Bliss at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O.

Imagine a New Scene
During her inaugural summer season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly 7-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, where she will be the largest and most innovative ship to ever seasonally homeport on the West Coast. Unlike any other ship sailing the West coast, Norwegian Bliss will feature the brand’s most celebrated elements of freedom and flexibility including 678 Ocean Place, a three-deck central hub where the pulse of the ship’s action takes place with restaurants, shops, entertainment and guest services all conveniently located in one area. Also a first for a ship on the West coast will be The Waterfront (pictured here), a popular feature that debuted on Norwegian Breakaway in 2013; the outdoor promenade is designed to enhance guests’ connection to the ocean with al fresco dining, bars and lounge spaces and offer spectacular views of Alaska’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife or the Caribbean’s stunning turquoise waters.

Norwegian’s vibrant nightlife scene will be taken to the next level aboard Norwegian Bliss with live entertainment, electrifying deck parties at Spice H2O and an expansive casino featuring hundreds of slot machines and table games to suit the likes of novice and pro gamblers alike. In a first for Norwegian, the casino will now offer a smoking and a non-smoking casino to cater to all guest preferences.

Norwegian Bliss’ custom design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodations including luxurious suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms for solo travelers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families traveling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature an incredible lineup of entertainment offerings including the Tony-Award winner for “Best Musical” Jersey Boys and two observation lounges, including the exclusive Horizon Lounge for guests of The Haven®, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean, and more. Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ship’s hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line has commissioned Wyland, one of the world’s premier marine life artists, to design the hull art for Norwegian Bliss.

The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising. Norwegian Bliss will sail her inaugural Winter season beginning in November 2018, sailing 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami, featuring calls in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Images Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess Christened

American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess was christened this week in New Orleans on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. The 166-guest riverboat, the first all-suite paddlewheeler on America’s rivers, officially joins the company’s fleet with the Memphis-based American Queen and the American Empress, based in the Pacific Northwest. Marissa Applegate, daughter of Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, is the godmother of the American Duchess and broke a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon on the boat’s hull culminating the ceremonial festivities.

“I could not be more appreciative of all the hard work from every person involved in making the American Duchess dream come true; it’s times like these that I am reminded just how incredible this team and family is,” shared American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “Thank you for being here to witness this special celebration with our entire crew and myself. We are thrilled to welcome the American Duchess to our fleet.”

During the ceremony remarks were made by executives and dignitaries including John Waggoner, American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO; Ted Sykes, American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO; Wayne Arguin, New Orleans Port Captain at the U.S. Coast Guard and Bill Samuels, Jr., Chairman of Maker’s Mark. Joy Manthey of Seaman’s Church blessed the American Duchess and the ceremony concluded with a bourbon presentation by Maker’s Mark to celebrate the line’s partnership with American Queen Steamboat Company.

“The American Duchess is a culmination of our company’s core values and finest attributes, poised to deliver our trademark level of gracious service, first-class entertainment, superlative fine dining and award-winning shore excursions,” described American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “With the first Loft Suites on U.S. rivers, she is an innovation that will no doubt set new standards for excellence within the industry.”

Before christening the American Duchess, Marissa Applegate shared what it meant to join the elite club of ship godmothers including Princess Kate Middleton, Sophia Loren, American Queen Godmother Priscilla Presley and American Empress Godmother Claudette Waggoner. “In addition to the pride I take being the godmother of the American Duchess today, it has been such a joy to stand by my father and watch him grow this company from the ground up,” she said. “Thank you to everyone for bestowing this honor on me and letting me be a part of this special day.”

The American Duchess features a generous space ratio showcased by three 550 sq. ft. Owner’s Suites, four 550 sq. ft. Loft Suites, a U.S. riverboat first; and spacious Veranda Suites with sliding glass doors to private balconies and Interior Suites. The new vessel incorporates the highest standards of service, entertainment and shore excursions customers have come to expect from the American Queen Steamboat Company. Featuring open seating with two dining venues, The Grand Dining Room and The River Club and Terrace offer regionally inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen.

After the christening, the American Duchess departed on her maiden voyage up the Mississippi River with stops in Natchez, Ms., Vicksburg, Ms., Memphis, Tn., Paducah, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., and other charming ports before arriving in her disembarkation city of Red Wing, Mn. near the northern terminus of the river. This 23-day voyage spans the length of the mighty Mississippi and will provide guests with an unforgettable vantage point of America’s heartland.

A variety of voyage lengths, ranging from six days and up, offers exceptional value and convenience, with little or no flying required. Pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, all bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner, and complimentary shore adventures are included in each port of call. For additional information, visit

Image Courtesy American Queen Steamboat Company

Crystal Christens Crystal Skye, Names Veteran Travel Expert Matthew D. Upchurch Godfather Of Custom B777

Crystal AirCruises' fully custom, gorgeously appointed Boeing 777, was christened Crystal Skye at an event last week at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. Presiding over the christening of this groundbreaking vessel alongside Chairman and Chief Executive of Genting Hong Kong Tan Sri Kok Thay Lim and Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, was Crystal Skye's godfather, Matthew D. Upchurch. Upchurch has long been renowned as a visionary in travel, spending much of his esteemed career specializing in the luxury realm. In his role as chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, one of the world's leading luxury travel networks, Upchurch has collaborated closely with Crystal and its partners to deliver exclusive travel experiences throughout the world.

The ceremony reached far beyond the guests attending, as Crystal livestreamed the occasion via its Facebook Live feed, effectively welcoming travelers from all over the globe to witness Crystal Skye's debut. Rodriguez and Upchurch both expressed sentiments of appreciation for the massive collaboration executed by all teams involved in the creation of the groundbreaking aircraft, as well the outlook for Crystal Skye's significance to the travel industry overall. Following their remarks and the breaking of champagne against the aircraft's hull, Rodriguez welcomed guests aboard Crystal Skye to see the signature design touches and luxurious space first hand.

"As Crystal continues to innovate new experiences that appeal to a growing audience of luxury travelers around the world, we are proud to support the vision and ambition shared by Edie Rodriguez and all the experts at Crystal, and we celebrate the milestone of Crystal Skye's introduction to the world," says Chairman Tan Sri KT Lim.

"It is tremendously rewarding to officially welcome Crystal Skye to the Crystal fleet, as she represents a bold new venture for our company, effectively creating an entirely new category of luxury travel in the industry," says Rodriguez. "Beyond Crystal's own award-winning fleet and internationally acclaimed brand of luxury, this aircraft pushes the boundaries of bespoke chartered aviation industry-wide." She continues, "It is fitting that such a revered leader in luxury travel would christen a vessel that will set an entirely new standard in the industry; and even more so that her godfather would be a member of the travel professional community. We're delighted to collaborate with Matthew for this milestone occasion, and to continue collaborating with all of our travel agent partners when Crystal Skye takes to the skies."

"It is an incredible honor to be named godfather of Crystal Skye, an aircraft that carries forward Crystal's longstanding commitment to excellence," says Upchurch. "Virtuoso has enjoyed a strong partnership with Crystal Cruises since the launch of its first ship, and the company has been named a favorite amongst our advisors for the service and experience our clients enjoy with Crystal. As Crystal diversifies its offerings, we look forward to supporting their efforts, just as they continue to support the travel advisor community and Virtuoso."

With a spacious design for up to 88 guests, Crystal Skye is appointed with features rarely found in even the most luxurious private jets. She has the highest crew to passenger ratio of any twin-aisle aircraft and a non-stop range of 19.5 hours, allowing travelers to explore the far reaches of the earth while enjoying the personalized service for which Crystal is renowned worldwide. Bespoke Crystal Exclusive Class seats are designed for maximum personal space and ergonomic comfort, and convert to 180-degree lie-flat beds. The expansive social lounge with stand-up bar fosters friendly camaraderie among luxury travelers. Cuisine will be prepared by an executive chef, in two state-of-the-art galleys and paired with an elegant premium wine list from the Crystal SkyeCellar.

Boeing 777 Crystal Skye is operated for Crystal AirCruises by Comlux Aruba NV. For charter inquirers in the U.S., call 855-207-2778.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Announces New 2019-20 Deployment

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has unveiled its new 2019-20 voyages season, comprising 118 new sailings, departing from March 2019 through June 2020 aboard four of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships, Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Voyager, and Seven Seas Navigator.

Travelers can choose among new, enriching and immersive itineraries that range from seven to 131 nights in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, Alaska, Canada & New England, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Australia and the South Pacific. A leader in luxury cruising, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ fares include all-suite accommodations and exquisite dining, free roundtrip, business-class air on all intercontinental flights originating in the U.S. and Canada, and roundtrip air on domestic flights, free unlimited shore excursions, free unlimited Wifi, unlimited beverages—including fine wines and premium spirits, specialty dining, prepaid gratuities, and transfers between airport and ship. Guests in Concierge-level suites and higher also enjoy a free one-night, pre-cruise hotel stay before embarking their ship. The new 2019-20 voyages collection will open for general booking on August 16, 2017.

“There is no better way to explore the world than with Regent Seven Seas Cruises,” said Jason Montague, President and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “With these latest 2019-20 voyages, travelers have four years of fascinating itineraries from which to choose an unforgettable and in-depth luxurious experience. Whether it’s your first time with Regent Seven Seas Cruises or your fortieth, our exceptional staff and crew will make every guest feel instantly at home with our highly personalized signature service from the moment they step aboard.”

Travelers also can choose among two new exciting Grand Voyages, which provide guests a regionally immersive and extended experience with no repeating ports. The 77-night, Grand Arctic Quest, sailing from London to New York aboard Seven Seas Navigator, will take guests throughout the British Isles, Iceland, Scandinavia, Greenland and New England. The 66-night, Circle South America itinerary will sail roundtrip from Miami aboard Seven Seas Mariner and circumnavigate South America and cruise up the Amazon River. Guests aboard a Grand Voyage or World Cruise enjoy even more included, bespoke amenities, such as free first-class air, exclusive shoreside events, unlimited laundry—including dry cleaning and pressing, a commemorative gift, and phone time per suite, among others.

Fascinating Itineraries aboard the World’s Most Luxurious Ships
Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious ship ever built, will sail Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries from April through November 2019, and cruise the Caribbean from December 2019 through February 2020. Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) will be a maiden port on Christmas Eve 2019.The ship also will offer a westward and an eastward trans-Panama Canal voyage in March 2020 before returning to Europe in April.

Travelers can choose the best value on an Alaska cruise aboard Seven Seas Mariner, which returns to the region from May through September 2019. The ship will cruise the Caribbean in October—making a maiden call on Acujulta (El Salvador)—before embarking on the 66-night South America circumnavigation voyage. After a Panama Canal transit from Miami, the 2020 world cruise begins on January 24 from San Francisco for an epic 131-night, roundtrip itinerary.

Seven Seas Voyager will return to the Mediterranean from April through October 2019, and then sail Asia and the South Pacific from November 2019 through March 2020. Travelers also can choose one of two Australia and New Zealand itineraries in January. Maiden ports include Kos (Greece), Calvi (Corsica, France), Miyazaki (Aburatsu, Japan), and Nelson (New Zealand).

For its part, Seven Seas Navigator will ply Northern European waters in June and July 2019 and make maiden port calls on Cherbourg (France), Fishguard (Wales), Galway (Ireland), Kollafjord (Faroe Islands), Patreksfjordur and Husavik (Iceland), and Molde (Norway). The ship will sail Bermuda, Canada and New England itineraries from August through October 2019, and then reposition to sail Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries through March 2020. While in the South Pacific, Isle of Pines (New Caledonia), Phllip Island (Australia), and Adamstown (Pitcairn Islands) will also be maiden ports of call.

Enjoy More & Explore More
On select Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator sailings in Asia and the South Pacific, guests in all suite categories enjoy a free three-night, pre- or post-cruise land program to delve deeper into the cultures and experiences of destinations such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, Sydney, New Zealand, and Dubai and the Emirates. Additionally, guests can choose optional one- to three-night, overland programs that take them to visit cultural landmarks only found inland, such as India’s Taj Mahal mausoleum, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, and the Egyptian city of Luxor. Overland Programs start at $999 per guest.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world's most inclusive luxury experience with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 425 destinations around the world. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is currently undergoing a $125 million fleetwide refurbishment that will elevate the level of elegance found throughout the fleet to the standard set by Seven Seas Explorer. For more information about world’s most inclusive luxury experience, visit

Seven Seas Navigator Image Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Windstar Debuts New Land Tours, Added Itineraries & Adventurous Shore Excursions in Asia

Travelers looking for the perfect mix of casual comfort and outright adventure should look no further than upscale cruise line Windstar Cruises. The 212-guest Star Legend will ply the ancient waterways of Asia in the way only small ships can. The line just announced five new cruise dates in fall 2018 running September to November and has added to already diverse offerings in Asia for 2017 and 2018 on 18 different itineraries with 25 different departure dates spanning 7 to 34 days.

Visiting both well-known ports and hidden harbors across Southeast and East Asia vacation options include a President’s Cruise to the Philippines and Borneo, fresh land tour options, recently added itineraries, and fascinating shore excursions that show off the region in the line’s “180 degrees from ordinary” style of cruising.

“Windstar’s Asia Collection now offers larger-than-life adventures and exceptional experiences only possible on a small ship,” says Windstar President John Delaney. “Reaching dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and bringing guests in contact with some of Asia’s less frequented landmarks. Windstar will also proudly sail straight into the heart of must-see Asian cities where larger ships typically dock on the outskirts. I’m really looking forward to hosting our guests and visiting some extraordinary locations on the President’s Cruise, along with Star Legend Godmother and legendary travel professional Gloria Bohan.”

After two intriguing itineraries in Arabia, Windstar’s Asia cruise season begins in December of 2017 and sails through May of 2018, when the ship navigates to Alaska for the summer season. The itinerary offerings are exceedingly diverse with port calls to small exotic harbors where cruise ships rarely call to epic visits at the icons of Asia including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo (Yokohama), Singapore and Bangkok.

Windstar guests will embark upon a journey that allows them to enjoy a wider range of locales on land with four new pre- and post-cruise tours, while also getting to spend a lengthier time at sea with the addition of five longer itineraries via Windstar’s new Star Collector Voyages. Aboard the sophisticated Star Legend accommodating an intimate 212 guests, the casually elegant ship will provide access to distinctive cultural, historical, and culinary experiences, tantalizing all the senses and making for an unforgettable holiday.

The new itineraries and land tours cover architectural favorites and geological splendors like the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, and Mount Fuji, as well as the chance to sail across the Pacific from Anchorage to Yokohama. (Newly added for the fall of 2018, visitors will delve into the magnificent and rustic Alaskan wilderness before soaking up all that Japan has to offer.)

A highlight of 2018 in Asia is Windstar's President's Cruise, setting sail on The Best of the Philippines & Borneo itinerary January 6 with Windstar President John Delaney and Star Legend Godmother Gloria Bohan. The cruise is made even more special because many of Windstar's crew is from the Philippines, so it's a homecoming of sorts. As such, this cruise is an incredible way to explore the culture and country alongside those who love and know it best; Filipino crew will join guests on shore excursions to visit their native landmarks and will share tips on their favorite activities and beloved locations in their homeland.

There are a variety of special events planned on board the 14-day cruise, including time getting to know the president and godmother of the small ship cruise line, and an itinerary chock-full of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world like Palawan and Boracay. The voyage features an overnight in Manila and a stop at the oft-overlooked (and rarely visited by cruises) Hundred Islands National Park. A visit to Brunei takes guests inside one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, affording a look at some of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Asia.

“Being godmother of Star Legend is one of the greatest highlights of my career,” says Bohan, who is founder and president of Omega World Travel. “I have grown to love her staff and crew, who now feel like family each time I board. The President's Cruise will introduce the homelands of many of the crew and will let us experience a unique adventure to many exotic islands and ports, something Star Legend excels at.”

Additionally, Asia shore excursions are now “live” on Windstar’s website and able to be booked by guests. With so many new and noteworthy offerings from culinary adventures to must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, advance reservations are recommended particularly with the more popular and unique experiences like Ko Kut Treepod Dining. Offered by Windstar aboard the Icons of Southeast Asia cruise, this one-of-a-kind dining affair, inspired by the free-spirited nature of childhood, involves climbing up high to a leafy canopy where guests are comfortably seated in a bamboo pod. They are then gently hoisted high up onto tropical foliage of Ko Kut’s ancient rainforest, taking in the shoreline views as a gourmet feast is delivered to them via the zipline acrobatics of a personal waiter.

Uniting land and sea is the Angkor Wat Land Tour to/from Bangkok with four pre- and post- cruise options on Windstar. Over the course of three days on land, guests will have the chance to marvel over the impressive architecture of religious temples, predominantly Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here guests, who wish, will be driven in the wee hours of the morning to witness a breath-taking sunrise over this Seventh Wonder of the World. A visit to Wat Atvea Pagoda, located in the Angkor Archeological Park, is also included where there will be an opportunity to meet monks and receive a traditional Khmer Water Blessing from them. Similarly, Windstar is offering the Angkor Wat Land Tour to/from Singapore with pre- and post- cruise options on eleven different sail dates/itineraries.

The Beijing and Xian Land Tour can be experienced as a pre- or post-cruise option on three of Windstar’s Asia cruises, with a three-day land journey that begins in Beijing at the Temple of Heaven, providing an authentic look into local city life. From there, the “Forbidden City” will present visitors with some of the best-preserved pieces of classical Chinese architecture before they head to Tiananmen Square, home to Chairman Mao’s remains. No holiday in China is complete without sampling the flavorful, local cuisine, so guests will be taken to a famous Peking duck restaurant in Beijing. Guests will also experience the Great Wall before flying to Xian to encounter the Terracotta Warriors and visit the old city.

The Kyoto/Osaka Land Tour is a three-day option pre- or post-cruise on Windstar’s Grand Japan. Highlights include Osaka Castle, the UNESCO Site of Nijo Castle and Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion and aptly named because the walls and eaves are covered in shimmering gold leaf.

There are five new sailings in the Asia Collection open for bookings in fall 2018 and five new Star Collector Voyages in Asia, which combine some of Windstar’s itineraries in the region for a more in-depth exploration. Free daily laundry is also included. These sailings range from 14-34 days, below are a few highlights.

Singapore & Siam Holiday presents an exotic and stress-free alternative to celebrating the holidays over seven glorious days. Let the festivities begin with an overnight stay in Singapore before sailing to Malaysia to Penang’s UNESCO World Heritage Site in Colonial George Town and then ascend on the Langkawi Gondola to get a bird’s-eye-view of the rainforest wonders. Upon arriving in Ko Yao Noi, sea lovers can swim with the colorful butterfly fish in the aquamarine waters of this Thai island paradise or venture inland to scope out the quaint rural villages. An overnight stay in picturesque Phuket tops off this unparalleled holiday escape.

What better way to ring in the New Year than with a Taste of Siam & Singapore New Year’s Eve cruise? Guests will spend seven days sailing from Phuket (Patong Bay), Thailand to Singapore, stopping in Malaysia along the way. This exhilarating voyage commences in Phuket, famous for its pristine beaches. It continues onto Ko Phi Phi, made popular by the 2000 film The Beach, where party-goers can pop open their bubbly to celebrate the arrival of 2018. After a day at sea, create iconic memories in Ipoh, the fourth-largest city in Malaysia, where evidence of a British colonial past remain, and then take in the 360-degree views from the top of one of the world’s highest towers in Kuala Lumur. The trip concludes with a visit to the UNESCO city of Malacca and an overnight stay in bustling Singapore.

Aleutians & North Pacific Crossing will create an extraordinary passage between Seward, Alaska and Tokyo, Japan over the course of 16 days in fall 2018. A cruise that emphasizes the less-frequented ports of call will retrace the route of Russian-America fur trade, island-hopping along the Aleutian Archipelago. Visitors can live out their wildest adventures as they sportfish in Kodiak—possibly spotting one of their famous bears—or kayak in the remote waters of Sand Point catching glimpses of bison. Fans of “The Deadliest Catch” will get the chance to visit Dutch Harbor which was featured on this TV Show for being the only deep-water port in the Aleutians and main delivery port for king crab. This awe-inspiring excursion continues in Japan with Kushiro, home to Japan’s largest marshland and endangered Japanese cranes, and Miyako, a city slowly recovering from the devastating 2011 tsunami and whose Jodogahama Beach has been nationally dubbed a “Place of Scenic Beauty.”

While Windstar’s 10-day Grand Japan itinerary was originally announced solely for the spring of 2018, Windstar has now added two new fall 2018 sailings on this already wildly popular itinerary. Fall colors promise to be spectacular, along with fewer crowds during this less-visited but no less gorgeous time to explore Japan and South Korea.

For another take on Japan with a taste of Korean and Chinese culture, Pop Culture Kings of Asia offers 11 days of uncovering over 17 UNESCO sites, as well as the birthplace of J-Pop and Harajuku culture, in fall 2018. Beginning in Tokyo and ending in Beijing, cruise dwellers can choose to immerse themselves in retail heaven in the largest underground mall in Seoul or meditate in the serenity of Kyoto, Japan’s Bamboo Forest. Other highlights of the trip include Shimizu, home to Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, the nearby 65-foot Shiraito Waterfall, and the unforgettable Tamano (Uno), a location where very few vessels are able to pass through. Of course, stopping in Hiroshima to sample the Okonomiyaki savory pancakes cannot be overlooked before sailing over to South Korea where the dormant Hallasan Volcano and the world’s longest lava tunnels are also a must-see.

Comprehensive China Exploration is just that—an 11-day experience highlighting the best of China and Taiwan and featuring overnights in Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong in fall 2018. This is a foodie’s dream come true with opportunities to taste the umami of oyster pancakes found in the night markets of Taiwan, sample authentic dim sum in Hong Kong, and sip the local brewed beer in Qingdao. Senses will be tantalized in Shanghai, the “Pearl of the Orient,” from the maze of shops and vendors in Old Shanghai to the colorful tall buildings dotting the impressive skyline. In Zhoushan, the “Venice of China” sightseers can explore the 36 bridges connecting the city or the nearby island of Putuoshan, home to 80 Buddhist monasteries and gardens.

For additional information on yacht-style cruising with Windstar, visit

Image Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Princess Cruises Eighth Annual Relaxation Report Reveals Half of Americans Don’t Get the Sleep They Need

Dr Breus & Candice Olson
Leading up to today's National Relaxation Day, Princess Cruises has released the results of its eighth annual Relaxation Report, which revealed that when it comes to relaxation and sleep, many Americans are in need of a wakeup call. According to results of the survey by Wakefield Research for Princess Cruises, Americans aren’t carving out enough time in their days for sleep or relaxation, with approximately half (49%) reporting they aren’t getting the sleep they need and 78% saying they don’t set aside time to relax each day.

Relaxation and sleep go hand-in-hand, and the lack of both appears to be catching up with Americans. Rather than getting the most enjoyment out of their vacation, working adults take an average of four days off per year just to catch up on sleep. Whether it’s a full vacation or even just a few minutes of downtime, learning how to carve out more “me” time is clearly becoming a necessity. Even going on vacation doesn’t guarantee better rest, according to the survey, which found that 63% of Americans frequently struggle to get a good night’s sleep while on vacation.

As one of the world’s largest international premium cruise brand, Princess Cruises, is committed to ensuring its guests come back from vacation feeling refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated. As part of its Come Back New Promise, Princess Cruises partnered with leading experts in both the science and beauty of sleep to develop the Princess Luxury Bed. Together with board-certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and designer Candice Olson, Princess Cruises now delivers its guests the ultimate night of sleep at sea.

“The number one advice I give people is that sleep is a sensory experience and all five of your senses must be prepared for slumber in order for you to fall asleep easily and stay asleep all night long,” said Dr. Breus. “I’m thrilled to have partnered with Princess Cruises and believe we have come up with a bed that will allow guests to achieve the ultimate in rest and relaxation.”

The Relaxation Report revealed factors that Dr. Breus notes are causes for Americans to not get the sleep and relaxation they need, including:
● Consuming caffeine too late in the day: Caffeine can linger in the system for up to eight hours, and yet 44% of Americans admit to drinking caffeine at 2 p.m. or later
● Indulging in a nightcap: Even though alcohol can prevent people from getting quality sleep, more than half (53%) of Americans age 21 or older admit to having had a drink within three hours of going to sleep in the past last two weeks
● Stress over current events: For 67% of Americans, today’s political climate has made it harder for them to relax. Taking a break from the 24/7 political news cycle may be the prescription for more relaxation and better sleep
● Not sticking to a schedule: One in four Americans (25%) don’t go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Setting a consistent alarm is an easy way to get more satisfying sleep
● The urban grind: The hustle and bustle of the city can take its toll on the body. Working city-dwellers are significantly more likely to take five or more days off per year just to catch up on sleep (45%) compared to just 25% of those who live in the suburbs and 24% of those who live in rural areas
● Not using time off: Among working Americans, about 1 in 3 (31%) didn’t use all the time available to them. Among Americans who didn’t use all of their paid time off, the top reason is they had too much work to get done (37%)
The Princess Luxury Bed is rolling out to more than 44,000 staterooms through 2019. The bed features a plush, two-inch thick pillow top, a nine-inch, single-sided medium firm mattress for enhanced support, individually wrapped coils for less partner disturbance, a European-inspired duvet and 100% luxurious Jacquard-woven cotton linens.

To prepare guests for the ultimate night of sleep at sea, Princess Cruises and Dr. Breus optimized the staterooms for a sleep-friendly sensory experience. As an extension to the sensory stateroom offerings, we offer a SLEEP by Princess Kit which includes additional sleep-inducing items such as eye shades, earplugs, aromatherapy scents, Dr. Breus' Good Night™ app and more.

Images Courtesy Princess Cruises

Acapulco Registers a 78 Percent Increase in Cruise Ship Arrivals During 2017

Acapulco announces a massive increase in the number of new cruise ship arrivals throughout 2017. The city’s port is expected to welcome 32 ships this year, versus 18 for 2016, a 78 percent increase. Currently, the following nine cruise lines operate in the city: Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, V-Ships, Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Global, Saga, and Hapag Lloyd. Acapulco will continue to promote and supervise its port’s operations to attract more ships, in collaboration with international cruise lines.

“Acapulco is experiencing a major renaissance in its cruise ship arrivals for 2017, with 14 more ships arriving this year over 2016,” says Ernesto Rodríguez Escalona, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Guerrero. “This significant increase is a testament to our commitment to growth supported by new projects and investments from both the public and private sectors.”

Earlier this year in March, a delegation headed by the Acapulco Tourism Board and integrated by the directive of the Integral Port Administration (API) of Acapulco, executives of the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office and several tour operators were present at the international convention, Seatrade Cruise Global, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The delegation met with the major shipping companies. Similarly, a firsthand report on the operation of cruise ships at the destination is distributed monthly to the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

Additionally, Acapulco recently announced that it will be the port of origin for the 1,400 passenger Magellan cruise of Cruise and Maritime Voyages, starting in the winter of 2018. The roundtrip cruise will depart from Acapulco and make stops in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas, before returning to port.

Acapulco is a destination that attracts both national and international travelers year-round to enjoy the destination’s beaches, nightlife, natural attractions and the local people’s warmth and hospitality. New attractions in Acapulco like XTASEA, the world’s largest over water zip-line, spanning over a mile and crossing the Bay of Puerto Marqués, along with long time favorites like the La Quebrada diving cliff are major draws for cruise line passengers to Acapulco.

Cruise operations in the Port of Acapulco are assisted by the Center for Tourist Attention and Protection (CAPTA), an innovative organization recognized worldwide for tourism assistance and safety implemented for the first time in Mexico. The federal, state and municipal authorities reiterate their commitment to the successful operation of the cruise ships in Acapulco and will continue collaborating with the international cruise lines, resolving their concerns while continually attracting tourists, as well as providing the necessary conditions for their visit.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line To Sail from Mobile, Alabama Through December 2018

Visit Mobile shares the exciting news of Carnival Cruise Line extending their contract with the City of Mobile through December 2018. Based on surveys from passengers, the Carnival Fantasy is ranked number one in friendliness and hospitality within the Carnival fleet. On a normal day, 150 employees assist 5,200 passengers disembarking and embarking the ship handling luggage, parking vehicles and receiving trailer loads of food and supplies.

“We are excited and proud that Carnival Cruise Line has extended their contract for another year with Mobile—it shows their commitment to our city and to over 190,000 cruisers choosing Mobile as their port of preference,” says David Clark, President/CEO, Visit Mobile. “Carnival Cruise Line has ten brands and accounts for almost 50% of the global cruise market. We are excited to continue celebrating the Carnival Fantasy cruising from Mobile!”

Cruisers have seen a significant growth in Downtown Mobile with over a dozen new restaurants, shops, and entertainment options that are open daily for them to enjoy before or after their cruise.

Visit Mobile continues to spearhead initiatives that improve the overall visitor experience. In partnership with area hotels who are offering Park and Cruise Packages, Visit Mobile has created a ‘Very Important Cruiser’ (VIC) program which includes welcome packets for hotel guests staying on the package and additional discounts to almost twenty attractions throughout Mobile, redeemable by showing their boarding passes.

Visit Mobile continues to manage a Facebook page that serves as a direct communication tool to incoming cruisers. With a steadily growing audience, “Cruising From Mobile” has become a resource for cruisers to get local information and learn all about the activities they can do while they are in Mobile. As an alternative way to encourage cruisers to spend some time in Mobile, Visit Mobile has a team in place at the Alabama Cruise Terminal each time the cruise ship is docked. The team is there to answer any questions cruisers have and to hand out goody bags that has Mardi Gras beads, coupons, and Visit Mobile’s Destination Guides.

Since the Carnival Fantasy’s first cruise departed last year, the City of Mobile Cruise Terminal has generated over $4.7 M in gross revenue. Over the course of the full calendar year, the terminal's gross revenue is expected to exceed $6.4 M, over 190,000 cruisers will spend more than $18 M in Mobile and the overall direct impact is expected to exceed $35 M.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin Awarded Third Annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage & Creativity

The Third Annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity was awarded last week to Former Prime Minister Paul Martin on board Cunard’s flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2. The ship was docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of the company’s founder, Sir Samuel Cunard.

Martin was joined by Captain Stephen Howarth, Master of Queen Mary 2, along with local dignitaries, port officials, and key members of the community including The Honorable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of the Government of Canada; Karen Casey, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance and the Treasury Board of the Province of Nova Scotia; Senator Jim Cowan; last year’s prize recipient John Risley; and John Young and Allan Shaw, Co-Chairs, Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation.

The award was inaugurated in 2015 to celebrate the company’s 175th Anniversary in the ancestral home of its founder Sir Samuel Cunard. Created in partnership with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Cunard, the award acknowledges an extraordinary individual who demonstrates the qualities exemplified by Samuel Cunard throughout his life.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, Queen Mary 2 executed a rare sail away spectacle for residents of Halifax by performing a counter clockwise turn in the harbor to acknowledge the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic while escorted by Theodore Tugboat, The Spitfire, and HMCS Summerside. A naval artillery salute took place shore side from the wharf of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic with music provided by the Naval Reserve Band. As part of the activities, noted Cunard historian, John Langley, was honored at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic as he donated his extensive Cunard collection to the museum.

For more information about Cunard, visit

Image Courtesy Cunard Line

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary and Author Tim Storey to Headline the Nov. 29th “O, The Oprah Magazine ” Adventure of Your Life Caribbean Cruise

Guests on the Nov. 29, 2017, O, The Oprah Magazine Adventure of Your Life Cruise aboard Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam will be joined by SuperSoul 100 members and thought leaders including clinical psychologist, best-selling author and international speaker Dr. Shefali Tsabary and author, speaker and life coach Tim Storey. O, The Oprah Magazine books editor Leigh Haber also will be on board the 11-day Caribbean cruise leading O’s Reading Room, a book club discussing a book to be named in advance of the sailing.

The November departure is the first of four special Adventure of Your Life cruises with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine. The three additional sailings—which will also feature to-be-announced SuperSoul 100 members—depart March 3, 2018, seven-day Tropical Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam; Aug. 11, 2018, seven-day Alaskan Explorer cruise aboard ms Eurodam; and Oct. 28, 2018, seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

“Our Adventure of Your Life cruises with O, The Oprah Magazine are designed to inspire and encourage a deeper emotional connection from within, and it’s a privilege to have renowned talent like Dr. Tsabary, Tim Storey and Leigh Haber join us,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “In addition to learning from thought leaders of this high caliber, guests may take part in special onboard programming inspired by O, The Oprah Magazine, providing them an exceptional opportunity to enjoy a unique and uplifting cruise experience.”

Special programming during the Nov. 29 cruise will allow guests to gain insight and knowledge from the two visionaries and learn from their expertise.

Clinical Psychologist, Best-selling Author & Speaker Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Dr. Tsabary’s mission is to help set our children free, and she believes that the only way to do this is if we, as parents, shift the parenting paradigm and revolutionize it. Dr. Tsabary has devoted her life’s work to ending the obsession with “fixing” the child and focusing instead on our own “raising” as parents. Through our own transformation, she believes, we will allow our children to emerge into their most authentic and awakened selves.

Dr. Tsabary is a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Born in India, she integrates Eastern mindfulness and Western psychology in her work with families. She has a private practice in New York City, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She is the author of three books: The Conscious Parent, Out of Control and her latest tour de force, The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting.

Author, Speaker & Life Coach Tim Storey
Tim Storey is a gifted speaker and top-selling author, well known for inspiring and motivating people of all walks of life. Known as the Life Coach to the Stars, he has shared his insight to diverse crowds in more than 70 countries. His most recent book, Comeback & Beyond, has been praised by some of the world’s most influential leaders.

In addition to a rigorous speaking calendar and private life-coaching sessions, Storey engages audiences monthly at the spiritually motivated gatherings in Hollywood, Calif., called The Study and teaches weekly at his church, The Congregation in Yorba Linda, Calif. A SuperSoul 100 member, he was interviewed on OWN’s SuperSoul Sunday and was a featured speaker at SuperSoul Sessions. He has been featured on Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Success Conference, PTTOW, Grant Cardone's 10XConference, Paul Mitchell’s The Gathering, Mastermind Conference, Emerge Miami and many other forums.

Books Editor Leigh Haber
For the past five years, Haber has been books editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and a coordinator of Oprah’s Book Club. She began her career in book publishing as a news aide for the Washington Post’s Book World. For years she was a publicity director for various publishing houses, and thereafter held senior editorial positions at Scribner, Hyperion and Rodale. Over the years she has worked with numerous authors, among them Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Steve Martin, Al Gore, Terry Gross, Lou Reed and others.

Holland America Line & O, The Oprah Magazine Partnership
Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine’s exclusive partnership unites the soul-stirring power of travel with O Magazine's deep commitment to connection and personal growth. In addition to the four Adventure of Your Life Cruises with SuperSoul 100 members and special guests from the magazine, more than 300 Holland America Line cruises sailing from North America from August 2017 through 2018 will offer a variety of engaging activities developed with the magazine’s editors and designed to nourish body and soul.
Four unique programs will be featured:
• Just Breathe!, offering meaningful meditation and movement.
• O’s Reading Room, allowing guests to discover new authors and stories.
• Love That!, delivering a workshop on style advice and the essential pieces every woman needs for travel.
• Let’s Eat!, providing tips on indulging in good food without guilt and learning a lifetime of healthy habits.
For additional information, visit

Friday, August 11, 2017

Guests Sailing to Havana Aboard Carnival Paradise Enjoy a Wide Variety of Cuban-Themed Activities on Board

Carnival Paradise inaugurated Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever voyages to Havana, Cuba, in late June—the first of 12 voyages that feature the historic Cuban capital.

In addition to the opportunity to experience and explore this fascinating and previously off-limits destination, guests sailing aboard these 4- and 5-day voyages are enjoying a wide variety of Cuban-themed activities and entertainment, highlighted by Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance, a dazzling high-energy show that showcases both classic and contemporary Latin hits.

Part of the line’s popular Playlist Productions shows, Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance features a sizzling four-piece Cuban band and a talented eight-member cast who have audiences singing and dancing in the aisles as they perform songs by top Latin artists, including Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz and Pitbull, amid a tropics-inspired backdrop of Cuba and Miami. The show leads into the Havana Nights Deck Party pictured above, a Cuban-themed soiree where Amor Cubano cast members are joined by a DJ to keep guests dancing on Lido Deck into the wee hours.

During Carnival Paradise’s cruises to Havana, guests can also participate in Cuban-themed games and hone their dance moves with salsa lessons led by the Playlist Productions team. There’s also a lecturer on board who discusses the country’s rich history and culture.

Carnival Paradise will operate ten 4- and 5-day cruises to Cuba between now and May 2018. Upcoming 4-day cruises depart Aug. 14, Sept. 7 and 21, and Oct. 5 and 19, 2017, as well as May 3, 2018, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages depart Aug. 14 and 28, Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, 2017, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Viking Cruises Celebrates Summer Of Culture With New Partnerships

Viking Cruises has announced it has expanded its portfolio of partnerships with premier cultural institutions, with a summer season of events around the country. Viking has signed on to sponsor the United States tour of the acclaimed English boys choir, LIBERA, and the Ballet Sun Valley international festival this summer. The company has also extended its sponsorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl for the fifth consecutive season.

These new partnerships build on Viking's commitment to drive cultural insight and personal enrichment, with current partners that include National Geographic's "Genius," PBS' MASTERPIECE, TED, The Metropolitan Opera, BBC, Highclere Castle, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Oslo's Munch Museum, St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, among others.

"Viking's commitment to cultural exploration extends far beyond the walls of our ships," said Karine Hagen, Senior Vice President of Viking Cruises. "One of the best ways to explore a destination—whether at home or abroad—is through its music and cultural institutions. We are proud to support world renowned organizations, such as the Libera Boys Choir, Ballet Sun Valley and The Los Angeles Philharmonic, that align with our goal to create special connections between travelers and the cultures of the world."

Celebrating 20 years of innovation and growth in 2017, Viking's summer of cultural programming arrives on the heels of high acclaim for its immersive destination-focused offerings. Continuing its commitment to cultural exploration both onboard and off board, Viking's summer sponsorships include:
LIBERA Boys Choir U.S. Tour: In celebration of their new album Hope, the acclaimed English boys choir that participated in the 2016 christening of Viking Sea in London, is currently on a Viking-sponsored five-city U.S. tour. Three-time Classical BRIT nominees, LIBERA is among the top selling classical artists worldwide in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, and their work holds a place alongside major artists such as Bocelli.
Ballet Sun Valley Summer Festival, featuring Xander Parish: Viking is the lead sponsor of the Ballet Sun Valley international festival, which runs August 21-24 and features dancers from six of the world's leading ballet companies, including the American Ballet Theatre and London's Royal Ballet. This unique festival was curated by Sun Valley-native and American Ballet Theatre dancer, Isabella Boylston, and will showcase a world premiere by emerging choreographer Gemma Bond, whose piece was inspired by the solar eclipse happening the day before the first performance. The one-night only world premiere on August 24 will feature video design by Kate Duhamel and a live orchestra under the direction of Maestro Martin West. Xander Parish, a close friend to Viking—and the first Briton to be promoted to principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet—will be performing in several "Mixed Repertoire" performances during Ballet Sun Valley. The historic Mariinsky Theatre, upon whose stages have debuted the masterpieces of such great composers as Peter Tchaikovsky, is home to the world-renowned Mariinsky Ballet, Opera and Orchestra. Guests on Viking's river cruises through Russia have for years enjoyed onboard performances by Mariinsky singers through Viking's Privileged Access program—and now many of Viking's ocean cruises also feature similar performances.
Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl: For the fifth consecutive year, Viking is sponsoring six Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts at their historic summer home, The Hollywood Bowl. The Viking concert series, beginning August 10, features music by European composers whose home countries are destinations on many of Viking's river and ocean cruise itineraries, including Antonio Vivaldi (Italy), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Russia), Wolfgang Mozart (Austria), Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany), and Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).
Designed for discerning travelers with interests in history, art, music and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests the "thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking difference provides guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that facilitate engagement with other guests and with the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destinations, with more time in port and more overnights. Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. With the most al fresco dining on the rivers and at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking's guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

In addition, Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience and no nickel-and-diming—with every cruise fare including an exterior stateroom, a complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; and coffee, tea and bottled water available 24 hours a day. Viking's ocean guests also enjoy additional complimentary amenities, including: dining in alternative restaurants, self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service.

Image Courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Early-Season Storms One Indicator of Active Atlantic Hurricane Season Ahead

Yesterday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) issued the scheduled update for its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season, and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes.

The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010. This is not good news for anyone who has a cruise planned between now and the end of the season on November 30. But take heart—the cruise industry generally has your back. They want you to get on board. After two decades of covering the cruise industry and more than a hundred personal sailings, a hurricane finally caught up to us several years ago. Our voyage on what we began to call the Hurricane Sandy Cruise began with a bus trip up I-95 from Fort Lauderdale—where we were scheduled to embark—to Jacksonville, Florida to board Holland America Line’s Eurodam for our sailing. We hadn't given hurricane season a thought because it had been a light storm year hurricane-wise and the official season was nearly over. We were well taken care of by Holland America Line in terms of getting us on board and enjoying our cruise; however, the weather is certainly something to think about. Hurricane Sandy could have sunk our trip.

Forecasters now say there is a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season (compared to the May prediction of 45 percent chance), with 14-19 named storms (increased from the May predicted range of 11-17) and 2-5 major hurricanes (increased from the May predicted range of 2-4). A prediction for 5-9 hurricanes remains unchanged from the intial May outlook.

“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season. This is in part because the chance of an El Nino forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May.”

Bell noted other factors that point to an above-normal season include warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models. In just the first nine weeks of this season there have been six named storms, which is half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August. An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-November 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

“Today’s updated outlook underscores the need for everyone to know their true vulnerabilities to storms and storm surge,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “As we enter the height of hurricane season, it’s important for everyone to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update their insurance and have a preparedness plan.”

The updated outlook is based on the current and evolving atmospheric and oceanic conditions, the most recent model predictions, and pre-and early-season storm activity. The numbers announced today include the season activity to-date. The Atlantic basin has seen six named storms (Arlene in April; Bret and Cindy in June; Don and Emily in July; and Franklin in August). Two of these storms, Cindy and Emily, struck the United States. Cindy made landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and caused heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Florida. Franklin is predicted to make landfall in Mexico overnight as a hurricane.

Today’s update also decreases the chance of a near-normal season from 35 percent to 30 percent, and a below-normal season from 20 percent to only 10 percent from the initial outlook issued in May. As we move into the peak of hurricane season, when hurricanes are most frequent and at their strongest, NOAA urges coastal residents to make sure they have their hurricane preparedness plans in place and to monitor the latest forecasts.

Cruise Diva takes an in-depth look at what’s in store if your vacation plans find you Cruising Into Hurricane Season.

Image Courtesy NOAA

On Cruise Vacations, Wine Is A Popular Pastime

Cruise vacations are an increasingly popular way to relax, unwind and recharge. And while at sea, there's opportunity for guests to embrace some of life's most enjoyable pleasures—with wine-tasting and learning about wines an area of interest for many. Whether guests are curious beginners or connoisseurs, shipboard wine collections are carefully curated to excite the senses with both classic and new tastes.
The efforts that go into the wine collections at sea are being recognized by wine experts as being extraordinary.

Carnival Cruise Line recently earned a prestigious 2017 Wine Spectator Award. The world's largest cruise line was applauded for its handpicked selections, chosen to complement the cuisine at the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouses aboard Carnival Vista, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Sunshine.

On cruise ships, wine-loving guests may choose a bottle from wine lists or purchase a valued-priced, multi-bottle wine package from a menu. Main dining rooms, specialty restaurants and wine bars also offer selections by the glass, allowing for experimentation.

Oenophile-focused shore excursions at select ports take you right to the vineyards for discussion about winemaking with vintners—in places such as Italy, France, New Zealand and Australia. On its Pacific Wine Country itineraries, Princess Cruises offers guests opportunity to tour wineries including in California's Sonoma County. Onboard wine seminars provide guests opportunity to chat with experienced sommeliers and sample different varietals.

"A cruise vacation is a great time to try something new, and when it comes to wine, that is very much encouraged by the sommeliers onboard," said Jo Poelmans, senior manager, restaurant and bar operations for ultra-luxury line Seabourn. "Wine is fashionable and also entertaining onboard ships," added Csaba Imre Szentpaly-Toth, Cellar Master on the Holland America Line's ms Zaandam. "Guests have opportunity on a concentrated basis to open their eyes to the secret world of winemaking, sommeliers, the art of food and wine pairing and the exciting history of wine-producing regions and people. We can lift the veil and introduce guests to new tastes and the rediscovery of old favorites."

Cruise lines select bottles from vintners around the world. Carnival Cruise Line alone orders hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine each year. Each of the line's 25 ships carries about 5,000 bottles of wine at any one time, with the stocks constantly being replenished. Carnival Cruise Line's bestselling wines include Layer Cake Cabernet, Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, said Eddie Allen, vice president of beverage operations for Carnival Cruise Line. In main dining rooms, the wine menu features more than 100 wines available by the bottle and some 30 selections available by the glass. For a quiet sip, visit The Library Bar on the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Sunshine, or Carnival Vista (and coming next year on the new Carnival Horizon). In the relaxing, library-themed oasis, you can pour your own tastes from state-of-the-art self-serve wine dispensers.

Italy's wine heritage is at the forefront on Italian line Costa Cruises. The line recently partnered with The Wine Bank in Pollenzo, Italy (a cooperative founded by Carlo Petrini of International Slow Food Movement fame), on a sustainable and organic wine list—which features more than 100 labels from Italy and around the world. The line's traditional wine list also has iconic selections from Italy and elsewhere. The most popular wine on Costa Cruises ships is a sparkling Demi-Sec from the Ferrari collection, said Marco Serra, a Costa Cruises corporate sommelier. "Ferrari winery is an important piece of Italian wine history and on our ships you may find the entire Ferrari collection," Serra said. "The Trento Doc Ferrari Demi-Sec is obtained from Chardonnay grapes that are grown on the steep slopes of the mountains of Trentino."

The venerable Cunard line shows its passion for wine in a collection that encompasses labels from the world's most famous Old World vineyards, tempting New World wines and carefully selected examples from smaller boutique vineyards. Expert sommeliers onboard the three Cunard ocean liners assist guests with making their selections from an impressive, 48-page wine list. There's also a handy tasting guide rating white wines on a scale of very dry to luscious and red wines from light to full bodied. Rare wines are available by the bottle or by the glass, via Cunard's groundbreaking Coravin system—which allows pours without removing the original cork. Among the precious tastes is a Château Lafite Rothschild. Guests might also choose a First Growth Wine Flight, featuring the five Premiers Crus of the Médoc, complete with an explanation of their common theme and differences.

Cunard's wine list also includes the line's own private label of four varietals made from grapes from France's upper Minervois—there's a wonderfully complex chardonnay/viognier, cabernet sauvignon, Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre and a Grenache/Syrah Rosé. For those serious about pursuing wine education, Cunard partners with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the world's largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications, for courses offered shipboard.

In the Princess Cruises fleet, the Royal Princess and Regal Princess boast the largest at-sea collections of Super Tuscans—representing most of the brands available worldwide. Selections are showcased at the Tuscan-inspired specialty restaurant Sabatini's. To try a variety, sign up for the Super Tuscan Wine Tasting.

At the Vines Wine Bar, in a charming corner of the Piazza atrium on all of Princess Cruises' Grand- and Royal-class ships, there's opportunity to sample a selection of dozens of vintage wines and sparking wines. The menu includes wine flights and a selection of wines by the glass, served with complimentary gourmet nibbles. A new experience with Napa's Silverado Vineyards provides guests opportunity to try their hand at wine blending. Wine connoisseurs on Regal Princess might consider booking a Wine Maker's Dinner, a unique, intimate dining experience held in a private space inspired by a wine cellar. The menus are developed in conjunction with noted winemakers and paired with matching wines.

Guests on Seabourn enjoy carefully chosen complimentary wines and champagne from a list of more than 40 varietals, while connoisseurs may choose additional options from a premium wine menu featuring more than 160 wine and 18 champagne labels. Particularly impressive on Seabourn are selections from some small, family-operated vineyards in Napa—some are arranged via the cruise line's connection with culinary partner Thomas Keller, arguably America's greatest chef.

"We are honored to offer wines from Colgin Cellers and Lail Vineyards, for example, allowing our guests to try these extraordinary vintages," said the line's Poelmans. "We also carry some of the most exclusive French wines onboard such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. At the end of the day, we're Seabourn and we strive to deliver the best."

Holland America Line guests can choose from some 200 labels available at any one time, said the Zaandam's Szentpaly-Toth. The wine list changes by itinerary and destination, with separate lists for the main dining room and specialty restaurants. "Our American guests are immensely interested in the European chic of wine history and sampling those vintages from France and Italy," Szentpaly-Toth said. "Our European crowd would try almost anything they can from California to Washington State."

The best sellers onboard Holland America Line ships include non-oak, barrel-aged whites, Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs from New Zealand and Super Tuscans. Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, has his name on a private label Super Tuscan that has resonated well with guests, Szentpaly-Toth said.

On the ms Koningsdam, there is also opportunity for guests to create their own wine at BLEND, a wine-blending experience offered in cooperation with Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington State's oldest winery. Cellar masters on each of the Holland America Line ships sample wines, visit vineyards and are attentive to guests, both at tasting events and seminars and one-on-one. "I find our guests falling in love with our wine team and taking their suggestions," Szentpaly-Toth said.

Here are five tips from shipboard sommeliers:
1. Let your wine steward know what you plan to order for your meal. He or she might suggest you order a powerful, fruity wine with your rack of lamb, for instance.
2. Try wine with dessert. Sweet wine, such as a Moscato, pairs well with the bitterness of chocolate.
3. Consider ordering wine based on the countries you are visiting. You might go for a Spanish wine in the Mediterranean or a Chilean wine in South America.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Shipboard sommeliers and wine experts are there to help take your wine experience to the next level.
5. Ask about the history and origin or the wines you order. There are stories behind the creations.

Image Courtesy Carnival Corporation

Book Winter Cruise Travel Now: Top Seven Holiday Highlights

Summer is coming to an end and it’s not too early to start thinking about winter travel. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, has revealed the top seven highlights of winter travel and why cruisers should book a holiday getaway now.

“The 2017 winter season has many opportunities to create a memorable cruise holiday,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “Cruise lines continue to offer special holiday itineraries, destinations and onboard celebrations enticing travelers to set sail this winter and the 2017 season will prove to be full of unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”

Top Seven Highlights of 2017 Holiday Travel:

1.) Celebrate in the Sunshine: Be it the beach or a storybook village in Europe, cruise travel in winter offers guests a chance to celebrate the holidays in unique ways.
• Looking to celebrate the season on an island getaway? In December, Paul Gauguin offers a 7-night Tahiti & Society Islands Voyage on which cruisers can explore the best of the South Pacific, with stops in lush Huahine, beautiful Bora Bora and postcard-perfect Moorea. Cruisers can spend a relaxing day on Motu Mahana, the line’s private islet, complete with white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, a barbecue lunch, drinks served in coconuts and a floating lagoon bar—a tropical alternative to a white Christmas.
• Holiday vacationers can celebrate close to nature on the Silversea Cruises Silver Galapagos cruise. Nature lovers can skip chilly winter days at home to snorkel with sea lions and hike along lava tunnels and back to the beginning of time. Cruisers can experience tropical beauty and unbelievable wildlife—a perfect way to ring in the New Year.
• Travelers aboard Crystal Cruises can celebrate the holidays in a variety of far and away destinations including the West Indies, Vienna, Bora Bora, and more complete with multi-faith celebrations onboard. The line’s 16-day South African Holidays cruise sails round-trip from Cape Town, marking Crystal’s first-ever holiday voyage in Africa. Cruisers can enjoy Big Five safaris in South Africa and Mozambique, while authentic village feasts and visits highlight the rich culture of the region.
• MSC Cruises brand new next-generation smart ship, MSC Seaside, will be christened in Miami in December 2017 and offer winter cruisers a unique Caribbean experience. The ship will feature a beach condo design, connect guests to the sea like never before with a 360-dgree outdoor promenade, two glass-floor catwalks extending off the side of the ship and glass elevators with a panoramic ocean view—not a bad way to spend a winter day.
2.) Special Seaside Celebrations: Winter on the water is bustling with special celebrations and holiday cheer. Cruise lines offer special holiday celebrations, decorations and holiday-themed destinations, so travelers boarding a ship in the winter need not leave holiday cheer stateside.
• Over the holiday season, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection offers travelers a variety of festive journeys. A celebration of traditions and culture, Uniworld’s special Holiday Season Cruises allow guests to travel to multiple cities and countries during the most magical time of year. Beginning in late November, Uniworld offers seven holiday-themed cruises that travel through Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and France, including a Rhine Holiday Markets tour that includes stops to see Strasbourg’s famous Marche de Noel, the oldest Christmas market in France and Rudesheim’s life-sized Nativity scene, one of the largest in Germany.
• Disney Cruise Line celebrates the holiday season each year during Very Merrytime Cruises starting in early November aboard all four of the line’s ships. During these select voyages, events include: “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” in the atrium lobby featuring Disney characters in their winterbest, “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus and a grand celebration of favorite holiday tunes with an appearance by Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” as well as holiday activities, carolers, holiday crafts and a special “Deck the Deck Holiday Party.” Special holiday décor adorns each ship from bow to stern, anchored by a three-deck-tall tree in the atrium lobby as well as “snow flurries,” holiday island music and a decked-out Christmas tree at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
• Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers guests a chance to ring in the New Year far from home. On the line’s Seven Seas Voyager, guests can herald in the New Year 12-hours ahead of New York on the December 29, 2017 holiday voyage from Beijing (Tianjin) to Singapore on a renewed ship after a recent bow-to-stern refurbishment. This special 19-night holiday voyage will overnight in Shanghai on New Year’s Eve, so guests can join in the celebration in one of the largest cities in the world.
• Azamara Club Cruises brings guests to the other side of the world for the holidays with a sailing from Western to Southern Australia aboard the Azamara Quest. Guests indulge in a celebratory Christmas feast at sea followed by a New Year’s Eve air show and magical Harbour of Light Parade in Sydney Harbour. Once the clock strikes midnight, fireworks explode over the bridge and Sydney Opera House for a once-in-a-lifetime memory.
3.) Christmas Market Magic: Europe is home to some of the most famous Christmas markets in the world, complete with ornaments, handmade gifts and plenty of holiday cheer. Cruise travelers looking to fully engulf themselves in the holiday spirit can cruise to these markets and sip traditional mulled wine along the way.
• Cruisers onboard Tauck’s Christmas Markets Along the Rhine cruise will experience holiday magic from Cologne, Germany to Basel, Switzerland in an intimate setting with a maximum capacity of 130 guests. Travelers can enjoy guided visits to traditional Christmas markets, walking tours of market towns, visits to Old Town Heidelberg and Heidelberg Castle, a traditional German lunch in Heidelberg, cookie-baking demonstration in Rudesheim and a traditional storytelling demo in Strasbourg.
• Avalon Waterways offers a Christmastime on the Danube itinerary in which travelers can enjoy the sights and wonder of some of Europe’s finest Christmas markets to peruse an array of Christmas tree ornaments, wooden toys and Czech handicrafts. On this journey, cruisers can also explore Nuremberg, the thousand-year-old city with its medieval fortifications and gothic churches and later the famed Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Town.
• Cruisers looking for a shorter trip to the markets can hop onboard Cunard Line’s Bruges Short Break Getaway on the line’s Queen Elizabeth for a 3-day winter holiday. Travelers can explore Bruges and its famous Christmas market filled with traditional gifts, chocolates and the scent of waffles. Cruisers can also take advantage of the wooden chalets that surround an ice rink on the cobbles of Grote Market for a unique holiday experience.
4.) Conversations & Special Guests Winter travel offers a unique chance to explore the world and cultures, but travelers can also heat up their minds in the chilly winter months with educational onboard lectures and seminars from renowned thought leaders in a variety of areas including: health and fitness; food and wine; technology; music; entrepreneurism and more.
• Seabourn Cruise Line offers a variety of special guests and speakers onboard their cruise ships headed to many different destinations with their Seabourn Conversations series. For example, Steve Wozniak—designer of the hardware, circuit board designs and operating system for the Apple I personal computer—will be hosting a conversation onboard the Seabourn Quest in December 2017 for tech-loving travelers. Fashion-loving cruise travelers can enjoy a December evening with celebrity stylist and TV personality Brad Goreski on Seabourn Sojourn while those looking to learn a bit about etiquette can listen in on a conversation with Grant Harrold, Britain’s Official Etiquette Expert, “Royal Butler,” and leader of The Royal School of Etiquette and Butlers.
5.) Holiday Fun for Families: Cruise travelers looking to fully embrace the winter and holiday season with the whole family can feel at home on a cruise vacation. Family cruise travelers looking to enchant their younger travel partners with holiday cheer can find special kid-friendly holiday cruise itineraries and even special visits from Santa Claus himself. Families of all ages can enjoy traditional holiday feasts and activities, as well.
• Carnival Cruise Line which, onboard holiday cruises, are decked out in holiday décor and feature Santa Claus toting a bag of gifts for children, as well as Midnight Mass and a special Christmas Day menu featuring Roast Tom Turkey and pecan pie. Looking for a unique special guest? For Carnival’s holiday sailings, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the Grinch will make special onboard appearances for photos, in the holiday show and themed kids camp activities.
• Whether traveling for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, many lines including Costa Cruises offer itineraries that celebrate both. On Costa Cruises’ Costa Deliziosa cruisers can enjoy a seven-course Christmas dinner featuring Italian specialties will be served on Christmas Eve, and a mass will be held onboard in addition to Christmas caroling and holiday arts and crafts as well as a visit from Santa. Their New Year’s cruise includes New Year's Eve celebrations kicked off with a lavish six-course dinner followed by a holiday party with live music, DJ and a countdown clock. The festivities carry on after midnight with a special midnight buffet and dancing in the disco until the early morning.
6.) Experts at the Helm: Cruising offers a chance to see beautiful corners of the world alongside crew and guides that love the land and can offer great insight as to what to see, do and eat in each destination. Having knowledgeable experts at their sides, travelers can experience once-in-a-lifetime trips full of amazing memories.
• In January of 2018, cruisers onboard Windstar Cruises’ President’s Cruise to The Best of the Philippines and Borneo with Windstar President John Delaney, will enjoy a bit of a homecoming for much of the ship’s Philippines-born crew. As such, cruisers will have the chance to explore the culture and country alongside those who love and know it best with a chance to also spend time with Windstar’s President. Cruisers will visit islands and beaches like Palawan and Boracay, as well as Hundred Islands National Park. A visit to Brunei will take guests inside one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, affording a look at some of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Asia.
7.) Deals & Discounts: The holidays can be a great time for finding deals and discounts on cruise travel, especially when working with a cruise-certified travel agent who can help navigate the waters of vacation planning. Even for travelers looking on their own, many lines offer discounts on holiday voyages.
• To help travelers experience the holiday season for less, AmaWaterways is currently offering up to $1,500 off per stateroom now through September 30 for select Christmas Markets departure dates. These discounted sailings include trips to the Christmas markets on the Rhine or Danube, voyages from Budapest to Amsterdam, and more.