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Archive for March, 2010


Dubai sizzles as the new cruise hot spot

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 19 - 2010

Dubai has had some significant financial turmoil the past few months, but that has not deterred cruise vacationers to the embattled emirate as it is quickly becoming a must-see port of call. More cruise lines are placing ships in Dubai for the winter season, but no cruise line has dedicated more ships in the region than Costa Cruises.

Dubai loves ships

Cruise travel is the fastest growing segment of tourism in Dubai. The timing couldn’t have come at a better time for the emirate as tourism declined 6 percent last year, whereas, the burgeoning cruise industry grew 40 percent.

Costa Cruises, a Carnival Corporation brand, further solidified its commitment to Dubai when it named its newest ship the 2,286-passenger Costa Deliziosa there last month. Even more significant the event marked the first time that a cruise ship was named in a Middle Eastern country. Even the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum turned out to welcome Costa’s newest ship.

Costa Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said that by christening and placing the line’s newest ships in Dubai it showed the line’s ongoing commitment. In 2006 the company was first cruise line to ever base a ship in the region because they clearly saw the value of Dubai as a cruise destination.

It’s easy to see why Costa was so enamored with the emirate. With its fabulous cityscapes, prehistoric sandscapes and endless beaches, Dubai is an amazing destination in every way. The city boasts stunning sights and attractions, including the world’s largest water park, and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa—the magnificent centerpiece of downtown Dubai. Cruise travelers can indulge in excursions that range from “dune bashing,” camel rides, shopping the souks to even skiing on sand or on real snow at the indoor Ski Dubai Alpine slopes.

Costa currently has three vessels based in Dubai for the winter season. Including the line’s newest ships – the aforementioned Deliziosa, its sister ship Costa Luminosa, and the 1,494-passenger Costa Europa. Seeing the growth in the region other cruise lines like Aida Cruises and Royal Caribbean International have also chosen to base ships there.

Will Americans flock to this far and exotic part of the world? Maurice Zarmati, the president of Costa Cruises USA, is optimistic that there will be interest in the company’s Dubai sailings. Currently, most of Costa’s onboard guests for these sailings hail from Europe, but the number of American passengers are increasing each year he said. “We find that the Dubai itineraries appeal to Americans who are more travel savvy,” said Zarmati. Additionally, he touted the value of a 7-night Costa Dubai cruise, which visits Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and also includes two overnights in Dubai that would appeal to those savvy American travelers. “When you look at the cost for a hotel in Dubai over two nights, factor that into the cruise price, and add on all of the destinations, the value is incredible.”

Rapid growth

In 2009, Dubai drew 100 cruise ship visits and around 260,000 tourists, up 37 percent on the previous year. This year growth is expected to be around 40 percent with Costa’s three ships alone bringing in an expected 140,000 passengers. The rapid growth continues as the emirate expects the numbers to double in 2015 to 195 ships and over 575,000 passengers.

The christening of the Deliziosa wasn’t the only thing to celebrate; Dubai opened the new Port Rashid Dubai Cruise Terminal as well. The terminal, which is more than 37,000 square feet in size, can handle four ships simultaneously and is outfitted with services to make the lives of travelers easier, such as money exchange, ATMs, a post office, duty free shops, and a business center with free Wi-Fi.

Foschi praised the Dubai government for its vision in opening a terminal back in 2001 even when there wasn’t a sign that cruising was possible here. “That foresight has been rewarded by Costa,” said Foschi.

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www.expertcruiser.com readers sound off! Would you cruise Dubai? Share your thoughts below.

Watch the christening of Costa Cruise Lines’ newest ship, Costa Deliziosa. The event took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Filled Under Cruise Videos

Preview Norweigan Epic’s new Cirque Dreams show live on Twitter

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 17 - 2010

EpicTent

Here is the transcript and photos from our live Twitter feed from Wednesday afternoon (March 17) as we watched a special preview of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic Cirque Dreams dinner show.

Cirque Dreams is a theatrical dining experience that will be launched with the Epic. The show is an eccentric entertainment extravaganza presented with an array of world class talent, Broadway acrobatics, a touch of whimsy and tasteful participation.

Andy Stuart poses with the @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams cast #cruise #travel Andy Stuart poses with the @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams cast #cruise #travel http://tweetphoto.com/14751228

12:26 PM Mar 17th via UberTwitter Andy Stuart says @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams show will change the face of #cruise entertainment #travel http://tweetphoto.com/14750617

12:20 PM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams has contingency plans in case of rough seas – seas are part of show #cruise http://tweetphoto.com/14749864

12:14 PM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic – Andy Stuart talks about Cirque Dreams #cruise #travel http://tweetphoto.com/14749118

12:07 PM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams Attila the Fun is amazing. The 2 hour show will be nonstop fun. #cruise #tra http://tweetphoto.com/14748387

12:00 PM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque
Dreams Attila the Fun #cruise #travel http://tweetphoto.com/14747889

11:55 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams show will have a high wire act #cruise #travel http://myloc.me/4VnSj

11:51 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams show cupcake sisters – yes we were served cupcakes!! #cruise #travel http://tweetphoto.com/14746574

11:43 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams strong man performers. You can almost reach out and touch them #cruise http://tweetphoto.com/14745882

11:37 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter @NCLFreestyle Epic Cirque Dreams show is right over our heads!!! Cool! http://tweetphoto.com/14744991

11:29 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter Neil Goldberg of Cirque Productions for the @NCLFreestyle Epic #cruise http://tweetphoto.com/14743601

11:16 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter Costume at Cirque Productions for the @NCLFreestyle Epic #cruise http://tweetphoto.com/14743444

11:15 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter #cruise Performer at Cirque Productions for the @NCLFreestyle Epic http://tweetphoto.com/14742877

11:10 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter #cruise Cirque Productions practice studio for the @NCLFreestyle. Epic will be able to acommodate 247 guests http://tweetphoto.com/14742148

11:04 AM Mar 17th via UberTwitter We’ve arrived at Cirque Productions for the @NCLFreestyle Epic http://tweetphoto.com/14741826

Filled Under Blog, gallery

Norwegian to upgrade Great Stirrup Cay private island experience

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 17 - 2010

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today at Cruise Shipping Miami that it will make major enhancements to its private island, Great Stirrup Cay, located 120 miles east of Ft. Lauderdale in the Berry Island chain of the Bahamas. The 250-acre island will undergo a two-phase renovation, totaling in excess of $20 million, spanning 22 months and scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011.

“We have one of the best private islands, particularly for swimming and snorkeling. With these improvements, we can provide an even more enjoyable island experience for the more than 9,000 guests who visit Great Stirrup Cay weekly during the height of the season,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Highlights of the enhancements include an expanded beach front, exciting island excursions, additional dining facilities, private beachside cabanas and a new kid’s area.”

The first phase of improvements to Great Stirrup Cay is already underway. This includes the excavation and formation of a new entrance channel for tenders, marina basin and arrival area with welcome pavilion that will be the site for new tender landings and docks. Once this is complete, the island’s current beach front will be expanded significantly to accommodate more guests.

New infrastructure and landscaping to enhance the guest experience is planned in the second phase including new dining and bar facilities; several comfort stations; a band stand; cruise program activity area; private beachfront cabanas; a kid’s play area; straw market; and beach volleyball courts. Several new island activities and shore excursions will be added including wave runners, a floating Aqua Park with a variety of water toys, kayak tours through man-made rivers within the island, an eco-cruise, and a stingray encounter experience. These are in addition to the existing snorkeling; floats; inflatable hippo slide; and parasailing that are currently offered.

Norwegian has owned the island since 1977 when it became the first cruise line to offer an uninhabited tropical island experience exclusively for its guests. Great Stirrup Cay offers magnificent white sand beaches, majestic palms and calm, pristine waters where an abundance of colorful marine life inhabits the surrounding coral reefs.
Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Pearl regularly call on Great Stirrup Cay throughout the year.

Filled Under Blog

Norwegian Epic to feature largest spa at sea

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 17 - 2010

EpicSpaNorwegian Cruise Line today announced that Norwegian Epic, its most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date, will feature the largest spa facility and fitness center at sea, totaling more than 31,000 square feet.

The ship’s luxurious Mandara Spa will feature 24 treatment rooms, two private couple’s villas, two exotic steam Rasul rooms, a DIY Scrub Experience, Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite, full-service salon, fitness center and barber shop.

In another first for the line, Norwegian Epic features 39 spa suites, deluxe balcony and balcony staterooms, which are accessed via private key-card and offer complimentary access to the enclave surrounding Norwegian Epic’s luxurious Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite and state-of-the-art fitness center. For an added indulgence, eight spa suites each feature an in-room whirlpool.

“As with our world-class entertainment, dining and innovative stateroom categories on Norwegian Epic, our spa facilities will take cruising to an entirely new level,” said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “The Mandara Spa on Norwegian Epic is a relaxing retreat with unique treatments, innovative fitness training, a stand-alone barber shop, spa staterooms with in-room whirlpools and an expanded Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite facilities.”

The spa features more than 50 treatments for both men and women including Elemis facials, massages, body therapies, bliss® face and body treatments, and acupuncture along with cosmetic medical treatments performed by a licensed doctor. The salon features hair, nail and waxing services. In addition, kids and teens can choose from a selection of kid-friendly spa services.

Among the two dozen treatment rooms are two new couple’s villas for the ultimate in togetherness massages with the opportunity to soak in a private, outdoor whirlpool. Two solo villas also have outdoor whirlpools, and six treatment rooms have balconies with chaise lounges where guests can relax privately outdoors before or after their treatment.

Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite –

Expanding on the popular Thermal Suite on board the line’s Jewel class ships, Norwegian Epic’s adults-only Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite features separate men’s and women’s areas equipped with sauna, aromatherapy steam, experience showers and heated ceramic loungers. In addition, the Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal Suite features a tropical garden communal setting, chaise lounge seating, a pool with massaging jets and waterfalls, a whirlpool and an outdoor relaxation deck.

Exotic Steam Rasul Rooms

Guests looking for a unique body renewing experience should indulge in one of the two Rasul rooms. This is a purpose-built steam room that soothes and detoxifies the body, while guests are provided with organic muds, exfoliants and oils to purify and nourish the body. To complete the ritual, a warm tropical rain pours down from the dome of the rasul to wash away tension.

DIY Scrub Experience

Epic’s onboard spa mixologist creates personalized sugar or salt exfoliating scrubs using herbal blends to use during treatments or within the Rasul rooms. Each flavorful blend soothes sore muscles, removes dead skin and reveals a smoother, more polished glow.

Epic Signature Spa Treatments

Among the new spa treatments and services that will be introduced on board Norwegian Epic is the signature Epic 24 Karat Gold Facial. This luxurious facial includes a blend of medicinal plants, rose quartz and a pure 24 karat gold leaf mask that brings about miraculous results speeding up cell renewal while evoking a brighter and more clarified skin texture and complexion.

Norwegian Epic will also feature two bliss® services: the bliss® triple oxygen treatment and the bliss® fatgirlslim. The bliss® triple oxygen treatment is an all-around complexion reviver that includes a cleansing and exfoliating fruit acid wash, an oxygen wrap, a calming oxygen and milk mask, a hydrating enzyme pack and a vitaminized oxygen spray. The bliss® fatgirlslim is a detoxifying, circulation-stimulating, body-toning treatment that includes dry brushing, a firming grapefruit essential oil, a trouble-spot-targeting seaweed mask, a heated wrap and a rubdown.

Norwegian Epic will also offer three new massages:

The Thai Herbal Poultice Massage, the Bamboo Massage and the Freestyle™ Massage.
•Thai Herbal Poultice Massage: This energizing, rhythmic massage utilizes scented herbal poultices that are heated and applied to the body at pressure points to relax the muscles and release tension. The therapist then follows with an array of Eastern and Western massage techniques and acupressure movements combined with essential oils that take the body on an exotic journey of total renewal.
•Bamboo Massage: A warm, soothing massage using bamboo shoots of various sizes soaked in essential oil which then roll, slide and massage muscles. This indulgent massage revives the senses in a new and innovative way, inspiring the most relaxed state. Customized to the guest’s preference, the therapist uses deep tissue techniques or gentle strokes to melt away tension and soothe muscles.
• Freestyle™ Massage: A customized massage that lets the guest choose what areas to focus on during the treatment.

In the Medi-Spa, guests can have their teeth whitened or try acupuncture. A licensed medi-spa doctor is also onboard to provide BOTOX® Cosmetic, Dysport™, Restylane® and Perlane® treatments.
In keeping with the extensive family and kid-friendly facilities on board Norwegian Epic, the spa offers several treatments for younger cruisers.

The signature ME! Bath® Ice Cream Manicure and Pedicure gives kids and teens the inside scoop on their beauty regimen. The ME! Bath® Ice Cream Social is a fun group activity that will have kids all screaming for ice cream. The Mother-Daughter Paradise Massage and the Father-Son Chill Out Massage allow for the ultimate in relaxation and bonding time for both parent and child.

Fitness Center

Fitness enthusiasts won’t need to put their workout routines on hold while vacationing on Norwegian Epic. The ship has many firsts that take sports and fitness to a new level: the first rappelling wall at sea and the only U.S. rated climbing wall afloat.

The fitness center features an unprecedented 37 treadmills and 18 cross trainers, extensive weight equipment and free weight areas, stretching areas and four distinct aerobic studios. For those who enjoy group settings, Norwegian Epic has more diverse fitness classes than any other ship at sea, including TRX and kettlebell training; yoga; pilates; Activio® group cycling; Gravity® reformer; and body sculpting boot camp classes. Personal training sessions will also be available, along with nutritional consultation and metabolism testing.

Filled Under Blog

21 Dining venues on Norwegian Epic

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 17 - 2010

EpicManhattanNorwegian Cruise Line announced today that its largest, most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date, Norwegian Epic, will feature an extensive number of complimentary Freestyle dining options – 11 out of 21 total – that are included in the cruise fare. The additional 10 dining options will have a nominal cover charge.

Guests on board Norwegian Epic can select from a variety of cuisines, dining styles and atmospheres on board with a total of 21 dining options. Those that will be free of charge are:

• Taste, the atrium restaurant serving traditional and contemporary cuisine;
• Manhattan Room, reminiscent of an elegant supper club complete with music, dancing and entertainment;
• O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, serving American favorites and comfort food, 24 hours;
• Garden Café, Norwegian’s signature action station casual restaurant;
• Great Outdoors, the pool-side grill;
• Spice H20, serving Latin and Asian-influenced cuisine in the adults-only complex;
• Atrium Cafe and Wine Bar;
• Studio Lounge, serving snacks and light fare;
• Epic Club, the elegant, exclusive eatery available to Norwegian Epic’s Suite and Villa guests;
• Courtyard Grill, the more casual, outdoor area of the Epic Grill, open for breakfast and lunch; and
• 24-hour room service.

“It’s important for our guests to know that Freestyle Cruising on Norwegian Epic will offer the ultimate in freedom and flexibility, especially when it comes to dining,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “With that flexibility comes a wide-range of complimentary dining venues and options.”
In addition, Norwegian also announced the cover charges for Norwegian Epic’s specialty dining/entertainment venues:

• La Cucina, Tuscan-style eatery serving regional Italian specialties, $10 per person;
• Cirque Dreams & Dinner, two shows nightly including a three-course meal, $15 for general seating/$20 per person for preferred seating;
• Shanghai’s, Norwegian Epic’s new Chinese restaurant serving a delicious mix of Chinese dishes and noodle bar specialties, $15 per person;
• Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, a la carte pricing;
• Wasabi, expansive sushi and sake bar, a la carte pricing;
• Le Bistro, Norwegian’s elegant bistro serving classic French cuisine with an American flair, $20 per person;
• Moderno Churrascaria, expansive salad bar and choice of a variety of meats served by tableside passadors, $18 per person;
• Cagney’s Steakhouse, the line’s signature American steakhouse, $25 per person;
• Teppanyaki, the largest signature Japanese experiential restaurant at sea, $25 per person; and
• Pizza delivery, $5, available 24 hours around the ship.

“With our specialty restaurants, some guests may choose to dine in one of these venues just once or twice during their cruise to celebrate a special occasion,” added Kevin Sheehan. “At the same time, others may want to sample a different specialty restaurant each evening to experience a new type of cuisine. That’s the great thing about Freestyle Cruising – the choice is up to our guests to decide how they want to customize their trip.”

Filled Under Blog