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Archive for March, 2009

Los Angeles is about to get some ‘Wonder’-ful Disney news

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 30 - 2009

According to cruise industry publication Seatrade Insider, Disney Cruise Line is set to announce that it will place the Disney Wonder in Los Angeles starting in 2011. This news comes as Disney is introducing two new ships — Disney Dream in 2011 and Disney Fantasy in 2012.

According to Seatrade, the Port of Los Angeles board is expected to meet and consider an agreement for the vessel that could be for an initial two-year period, from January 2011 through 2012, with three one-year options that could see Disney operating from Los Angeles until 2016.

Previously, Disney Cruise Line deployed the Disney Magic from Los Angeles during the summers of 2005 and 2008 to sail Mexican Riviera cruises.

Filled Under Blog

Royal Caribbean CEO blogs about Oasis of the Seas

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 29 - 2009

Royal Caribbean International is entering the bloggesphere with blogs about it’s newest and biggest vessel to come – Oasis of the Seas. The blog kicked off with an entry by the line’s chairman and CEO Richard Fain.

“The idea of doing a blog scares the hell out of me. But, even this old sea-dog can learn new tricks,” Fain wrote.

The Oasis of the Seas blog starts as the line prepares for to take delivery of Oasis in December. Royal Caribbean says posts will appear every Tuesday and will have other contributors including Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Adam Goldstein, and corporate executive vice president of maritime operations, Harri Kulovaara.

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Brocation cruises: where dudes bond on bounding waves

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 27 - 2009

What’s a brocation cruise? It’s a vacation cruise that gathers a number of male friends for some manly bonding time at sea. It’s also a cruise that dudes can appreciate as it doesn’t leave the testosterone at the dock, and there are more of them than you might think. Look past the spa treatments and the umbrella drinks, and you’ll find that some cruises offer plenty of opportunities to celebrate such traditionally male pursuits as golf, baseball, wine guzzling, fishing, swimming with big fishes, round-the-clock eating and — alas — gawking at bikini-clad women.

Here is a list of brocation cruises and cruise lines that offer some activities for the flock of dudes at sea.

Want to swim with the really big fishes? Then jump in a Zodiac and hang out with some gray whales. You can do that when you take a small-ship cruise to Baja California, Mexico’s wild side, with Lindblad Expeditions, the world leader in adventure cruising. Not feeling quite that manly? Then you can do your whale watching from the ship. Other activities include hiking along miles of uninhabited beaches and desert sands, kayaking in pristine waters, snorkeling among reef fish and sunset beach barbecues.

You can’t practice your drives off the back of the ship anymore, but many cruise lines are adding many more golf opportunities to their itineraries. For example, golfers can play a variety of beautiful and challenging courses throughout the Caribbean, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico and Europe on select cruises offered by Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines.

A number of cruises also offer the services of a certified golf professional, who conducts private lessons, specialty golf clinics and putting contests; accompanies golfers on golf excursions; and organizes golf tournaments. Some ships offer “V1 Digital Coaching System”, a swing-analysis software that captures the golfer’s swing and puts it up on a split screen for analysis and comparison with legendary golfers and the hotshots on tour. Additionally most cruise lines offer rentals of equipment — everything from clubs to shoes.

It’s as close to a pirate’s life as you are likely to get: standing in the crow’s nest 50 feet above deck. And Captain Jack Sparrow would be mighty envious of the 420-foot Royal Clipper, the biggest of the world’s tall ships and the largest vessel in Star Clipper’s fleet. The ship carries just 227 passengers, and the best news is that it’s a hands-on experience. Passengers can help hoist the sails, steer the ship — even clamber up the rigging to the crow’s nest. For connoisseurs of sail cruising, the Royal Clipper offers the ultimate seagoing experience.

Baseball fans can step up to the plate on MSC Cruises Poesia’s sports-themed itineraries in the Caribbean. In fact, they can rub elbows with some of the greatest players to have ever taken the field on cruises that depart in late 2009 and into 2010. Each baseball-themed cruise includes free interactive activities with the players, including a player-hosted trivia game in which passengers test their baseball knowledge, question-and-answer sessions with the players, and a bull session where players talk freely about themselves, other players, and the game. Players will also host pitching, hitting and defensive strategy clinics for guests. Perhaps the most popular activity is the free autograph session at the end of the cruise.

OK, me hearties, the spa may not seem like the manliest place on the ship, but look at it this way: Chicks dig soft and kissable skin. Luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises has designed a “Time for Men” therapy menu exclusively for men, offering a masculine focus on what was once primarily feminine territory. Treatments include a pro-collagen shave, frangipani hair conditioning, skin IQ facial and aroma stone therapy massage. What? You don’t know what that means? Well, pluck up your courage, man! Go find out.

This fall Cruise West offers an unusual wine experience, taking its 138-passenger Spirit of Yorktown from San Francisco on three- and five-day cruises up the Napa River and Sacramento Delta for a great Napa Valley wine experience. Activities include winery tours, hot air balloon rides, local history and wine seminars, as well as expert wine-tasting tips. I think we can all drink to that.

There’s just something about guys bonding over fish stories. Virtually every cruise to Alaska, the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera offers fishing excursions. In Alaska, there are fishing trips in every port with opportunities to catch king salmon, coho salmon, and Halibut. In the Caribbean, (depending upon the island) fish for bonefish, sailfish, wahoo, grouper, snapper, and tuna. In the Mexican Riviera port stops of Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan manly guests have opportunities to seek out deep water fishing for big game fish like marlin.

The message is clear: Dude, don’t miss the brocation boat!

Filled Under Reviews, Tripblog, What's New?

Roatan Port Coxen HoleRoatan, Honduras is the way the Caribbean used to be. Sure it’s technically Central America, but this island is wild, wonderful and is blessed with citizens who are happy to show you the best the area has to offer. Sadly it’s close to getting too popular as both Royal Caribbean and Carnival are building large cruise ship docks with the usual ‘tacketry’ of trinket shops and bongo slapping natives. The key is to get beyond the port to see the real Roatan.

My husband and I opted to skip the SCUBA diving this trip for more active pursuits. We picked Norwegian Pearl’s West Bay kayak, snorkel and hiking tour. After a 20-minute drive from the port of Coxen Hole to West End we were dropped off at a restaurant/bar named Cannibals where the motto is “everyone is welcome for dinner”. Located directly across the street from the beach this was our base to get our gear and have a little lunch.

Roatan West End CannibalsThe snorkeling in Half Moon Bay was excellent as the reef was home to hundreds of colorful fish and eels. The snorkel was quite lengthy and difficult as there was a lot of wind kicking up the seas. Kayaking was harder and a number of couples had difficulty paddling the wind-whipped seas – one kayak overturned. I was surprised NCL had this tour down for 5-years on up. This tour was way too hard on the 7-year-old boy who was with us – he ended up riding with the guide. In my opinion, this tour is best for 12-years on up.

After the kayak we had the option of hanging out on the beach or taking a hike up to a banana plantation. I stayed on the beach as the water was pure heaven. My husband took the 45-minute hike around the banana plantation where he learned about the flora and fauna of the island.

One thing to beware of in Roatan – sand fleas. We learned the hard way last year after a visit. We had hundreds of bites after a day at Tabyana Beach. This time we brought bug spray with us and did not get bit. We shared the spray with our guests who escaped unscathed. Unfortunately, one German newlywed couple didn’t understand what we were telling them about sand fleas and passed on the bug spray. At the end of the day they looked like they had measles.

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Blogging from Norwegian Pearl

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 24 - 2009

Norwegian Pearl PoolIt’s my second full day onboard the Norwegian Pearl and I have to say I am blown away by the Freestyle 2.0 upgrades. It’s so nice to board a ship and be welcomed with a flute of champagne. The ship is as cheery as I remember from three years ago when I was here for the christening with godmother Rosie O’Donnell.

The Dale Chihuly sculputure in the atrium is one of my favorite art pieces on any ship and just fits with the Pearl’s ambiance. The atriums giant screen is a magnet when the Wii games are played.

Dining the first evening was pure joy – I opted to get a reservation in the Teppanyaki restaurant. This is something that needs to be booked the day you board as this venue always books up quickly. We were given quite a show and the food was spectacular and perfectly prepared.

Pearl TeppanyakiA sea day after embarkation is always a welcome treat. It gives guests time to explore the ship and to truly settle in and relax. Stay tuned for reports from Roatan, Belize City, Cozumel, and more…

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Puttin’ on the Ritz in Miami’s South Beach

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 22 - 2009

Ritz-Carlton South Beach LobbySouth Beach, Miami offers a lot of glitz and glamour for sure. It has been luring visitors to its white sands and magnificent blue waters since it first burst onto the social scene in the 1920’s. Directly on the beach and featuring an architectural style that hearkens back to the Art Moderne style of the early 1950’s, the 375 guestroom, Ritz-Carlton, South Beach welcomes visitors with a dynamic sense of style and unparalleled elegance.

The hotel is a landmark property as it was originally designed by legendary Miami architect Morris Lapidus. This is hotel is more feng shui than foo foo. The modern Deco lines and understated interior décor is the perfect setting for an amazing $10 million art collection consisting of original works by famed Latin American and European artists. The art is on permanent loan to the hotel from Diana Lowenstein Fine Art, which happens to have a gallery in the hotel (Mrs. Lowenstein is one of the owners of The Ritz-Carlton South Beach).

Ritz Carlton South Beach PoolThe hotel’s 375 rooms are typical Ritz-Carlton – spacious with comfortable furnishings, Frette linens, goose-down pillows, luxury bath amenities. The hotel boasts the only VIP Club Rooms on South Beach with access to a lounge area that offers cocktails, wine, and amazing food items throughout the day. Service is impeccable in every area of the hotel from the desk staff, concierge, to the hotel’s three bars and three restaurants. Dining choices abound here, including restaurants that feature Caribbean, New American and Floridian cuisine served in a variety of elegant and informal settings. There’s also the only ocean-front restaurant in South Beach, DiLido. That’s where you’ll find TV’s Top Chef Jeff McInnis!

The centerpiece of the resort is the world-class 16,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with signature treatments from Carita and Prada. Do not miss the opportunity to try one of the spa’s signature treatments – the Astro-Balance massage. Massage therapist Jeff Wallace bases the treatment on astrology and it combines all the senses and numerous massage techniques to ease tensions. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

Ritz Carlton South Beach Room
The hotel has a vast stretch of sand with fantastic beach club offering extensive watersports and an oceanfront Ritz Kids pavilion. The pool scene is one of South Beach’s liveliest with a pool that offers unobstructed views of the Atlantic. There’s one thing here you won’t find anywhere else in the world – a tanning butler who will spritz you with Evian and slather you in sunscreen whenever you want.

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