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Archive for January, 2011

Will Remy be the first restaurant at sea to be awarded a Michelin Star?

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 23 - 2011

The top-of-the-ship views are spectacular, the interior exquisite, and the ambiance totally French – but it is the cuisine and service that make the Disney Dream’s new French restaurant Remy authentic. Remy1The idea for Remy was spun off the popular Disney movie Ratatouille and Remy is without question a Parisian experience at sea.

Dressed in long white aprons, black jackets and bow ties the pedigreed service staff has worked at the finest restaurants in Paris from Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V to Le Bristol. The gourmet cuisine is by award-winning chefs, Chef Arnaud Lallement from l’Assiette Champenoise, a Michelin two-star restaurant just outside Reims, France, and Chef Scott Hunnel from award-winning Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World Resort. RemyChefsTableBoth chefs have collaborated to create a French-inspired menu featuring superior products and seasonal ingredients sourced from around the world. However, it will be French-trained Chef Patrick Albert who will be the executive chef for Remy and will provide diners with epicurean excellence each day aboard the ship.

Dinner at Remy is a lavish and leisurely affair. Tables are elegantly set with Frette linens, Riedel glassware, Christofle silverware and china made exclusively for Remy, with gracious accents such as purse stools for women’s handbags. There is also a private Chef’s Table dining room, Chez Gusteau that seats eight. RemyFoodThe intimate room is furnished with rich décor inspired by the film – bold, red carpet, chairs and drapes with touches of gold, opulent chandeliers, and scenes of Paris on the walls. Chez Gusteau has its own entrance to the kitchen to allow the chefs easy access. Guests also may be seated in the glass-walled wine room amid more than 900 bottles of wine.

Diners will start off with a signature chilled Taittinger Champagne cocktail made tableside. There are two tastings menus to choose from that include wine pairings, or order a la carte from the menu. RemyChefsThe menu is complemented by a stellar wine list. The restaurant offers two wine lists: a special French list with 200 vintages from most every region in France, and Remy’s Vault, a separate and exclusive wine list with rare wines from all over the world. Select wines from the French list also are available by the glass. From Remy’s Vault, 22 wines are selected as the best of the best. The list includes a 1947 Château Cheval Blanc, a single bottle retails for $25,000. Yes, there are $25,000 bottles of wine on a cruise ship! If that’s too much you can always pay $13,000 for a 1961 Château LaTour.

RemyVaultArtistry comes from the kitchen with focused tastes such as smoked bison with fennel salad and blood oranges; lobster with vanilla, bisque and lobster roe foam; wild loup de mer; Australian Wagyu; a tomato tart with Parmesan espuma; coastal turbot with vin jaune sauce and gnocchi, and young pigeon pie with foie gras, spinach and tomato. Simple sweet endings like a vanilla-poached pear or a dark chocolate praline with cocoa sherbet pair beautifully with post-prandial coffee service including French press and grand crème.

An additional charge of $75 per person is required to dine at Remy, in addition to the cost of wine and alcoholic beverages. Wine pairings selected from the French list are an additional $99. If you love French cuisine this is an experience not to be missed as Remy may possibly end up being the first restaurant as sea to be awarded a Michelin star. Time will tell.

By Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, gallery, Reviews

Disney Dream’s Believe show bestows magical life lesson

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 21 - 2011

Just as designing the Disney Dream was an intensive project so too is the entertainment that goes onboard. Last October, I was one of a handful of journalists to attend an exclusive preview of Disney Believe, the ship’s new Broadway-style show in Toronto. Disney Cruise Line maintains facilities there to workshop new entertainment, train actors, and recruit talent.

Believe1The Disney Believe show has been more than two years in the making. The line partnered with renowned Broadway director Gordon Greenberg, along with choreographer Patti Columbo and writer Kirsten Childs, to create an original production that is unlike any other show at sea. A master illusionist was brought in to help with thrilling character moments and to create stage magic the producers worked with 3D modeling, design, and animation to create the sets, costumes, and even the special effects that will be used. “We had to up the ante with Dream,” said David Duffy, the line’s Creative Director, Entertainment and Port Adventures. Indeed they have. Duffy states that the show will play in the state of the art theater on Dream that rivals those on Broadway and London’s West End. Greenberg added that the technology used in the show will be ground breaking with things that have never been used on Broadway like front and rear projection.

With the story, design, and casting all in place the 24-member cast spent 10 weeks rehearsing in Toronto and six weeks onboard the Dream while under construction in Germany. As I watched the rehearsal of several high-energy scenes it’s very clear the performers are the cream of the crop from around the globe. There’s no lip-syncing at Disney its live vocal performances at their best.

Disney Believe tells the story of a workaholic father who, through the power of Disney magic, reconnects with his daughter and learns a valuable lesson about what is important in life. The show takes guests to the garden of Dr. Cornelius Greenaway, a brilliant botanist obsessed with cultivating his precious plants. Dr. Greenaway is so preoccupied with his garden that he overlooks the birthday of his daughter, Sophia. Saddened, Sophia makes a special birthday wish and the impossible happens: Genie from Disney’s “Aladdin” appears to make her wish come true. Joined by a host of characters, Genie takes Dr. Greenaway on a journey where he learns that magic is real and is embodied in his beloved daughter. More than 20 of Disney’s most beloved characters take the stage during Disney Believe, including Cinderella, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Belle (“Beauty and The Beast”), Rafiki (“The Lion King”) and Princess Tiana (“The Princess and the Frog”).

I couldn’t wait to so see the show when I boarded the Disney Dream for its christening on January 19. David Duffy was right; the Walt Disney Theater where the show is held is impressive. Spanning three decks with orchestra and balcony seating, the 1,340-seat theater is resplendent with art deco styling recalling luxurious show places of a bygone time, best of all there are no obstructed views. At the same time, it is equipped with theatrical technology that Gordon Greenberg noted making it one of the most advanced venues on land or sea thus allowing stories to be experienced in a whole new way.

Disney Believe turned out to be better and more colorful that I had imagined. John Massey, the Disney performer who plays Genie, stole the show with his silly wise cracks and dancing. The music and costumes were spectacular; however, it was the story line that made the most impact. I noted a lot of teary eyes and smiles leaving the theater. But the best sight was seeing all the fathers holding their precious children a little bit tighter.

By Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, gallery, Reviews, Tripblog

Disney Dream Photo Tour

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 19 - 2011

Disney’s newest ship Disney Dream was christened in a lavish spectacle that only Disney could pull off. Featuring every Disney character imaginable the christening included a helicopter lifting a gigantic bottle of champagne to break on the bow, elaborate fireworks, and Oscar-winner and the Dream’s godmother Jennifer Hudson singing at the ceremony.

The much-awaited, 130,000-ton, 2,500-passenger vessel features a lot more bells and whistles than its sister ships and offers the cruise industry’s first AquaCoaster at sea. The ship also boasts virtual portholes in inside staterooms and new entertainment options.

ExpertCruiser is onboard for all the festivities and will be blogging live from the ship. Here are some photos from today’s events and tour of the ship. Tomorrow we visit Castaway Cay and will include much more information about Dream’s amazing dining options.

By Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, gallery, Reviews

Carnival Spirit goes Down Under

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 12 - 2011

Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that it will base one of its ‘Fun Ships’ full time in Australia. The 88,500-ton Carnival Spirit will be the largest cruise ship ever to sail year round from sydneyshipAustralia when she arrives in Sydney in October 2012 to operate a schedule of 8-12 day voyages to the Pacific Islands. The move represents the first time Carnival Cruise Lines has ever ventured into Australian waters and reflects growing confidence in cruising in the region.

Carrying 2,667 passengers, Carnival Spirit will be the first ship to be based in Sydney year round that is too tall to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Rising nearly 53 metres above the waterline, Carnival Spirit is more than three metres taller than the specified clearance height for ships passing under the Bridge. Because of its height, Carnival Spirit will be based at the only cruise facility east of the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Carnival Spirit will offer a year round schedule of 8 to 12-day cruises to the Pacific Islands and a selection of 13-day sailings to New Zealand beginning October 25, 2012, with the program expected to go on sale by the middle of this year. The shipboard experience will be tailored to the Australian market with onboard spending in Australian dollars and no tipping required.

The big question is: Will they serve vegemite sandwiches in the Lido Grill?

By Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, gallery

Disney Dream arrives in Port Canaveral

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 4 - 2011

Disney’s newest and largest cruise ship, the Disney Dream, arrived in grand style Tuesday morning at Port Canaveral. The 130,000-ton ship took center stage when it arrived in port with a show that included fireworks. The arrival of the Disney Dream in Florida marks the end of the ship’s nearly two-year construction journey and the start of an exciting new era for Disney Cruise Line.

disneydreamArrival Building on the success of its other two ships the Magic and Wonder, Disney decided to go even bigger, constructing the Dream, a ship that stands five decks taller and about half a football field longer than its predecessors. The Disney Dream is not a typical cruise ship. Disney has added unique touches that include a high atop the ship water coaster called the Aqua-Duck, which takes passengers down a four-deck drop and out over the edge of the ship. Additionally, every stateroom has a view or at least a virtual one. Passengers with interior cabins that might not be able to see the world go by will be able to see out of the ship through virtual portholes. Disney Dream will carry 4,000 passengers to vacations to the Bahamas. Stay tuned for more coverage on the Disney Dream at www.expertcruiser.com.

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, gallery

Oh baby! Cruise takes a pregnant pause

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 2 - 2011

Rene and Amy Rydberg were looking forward to their Royal Caribbean spring cruise to Bermuda. The New Jersey couple was excited and ready to celebrate, since hey were expecting their first child that summer.

Rene had booked the voyage through Travelocity and everything seemed perfect until eight days later when he received the cruise line’s final documents. There in bold print was a clause about pregnancy, which stated a woman pregnant by 24 weeks or more may not travel. Amy would be 27 weeks into her pregnancy at the time of the cruise. The couple was confused and heartbroken.

Lost in translation
The Rydbergs immediately called Royal Caribbean and the company confirmed that Amy was unable to sail and that they would have to contact their booking agent, Travelocity to make changes. Travelocity informed the couple that they would be receiving a refund of the $1,756 purchase price, less $200 (cancellation fee) and $120 for the travel insurance.

Rene Rydberg thought this was unreasonable, since there was no information regarding pregnancy during the time he utilized Travelocity’s booking engine. Travelocity stated the pregnancy restriction was written into the ‘Terms and Conditions’ that the Web site displays before a transaction is completed. Rydberg disagrees. “I read those terms and conditions myself and found no such restriction.”

Rydberg was incensed and felt that burying a restriction in fine print before the transaction and then displaying it prominently in large bold print after the transaction was completed is a predatory selling practice. After getting nowhere with Travelocity Rydberg contacted ExpertCruiser for help.

Travelocity responds
I contacted Travelocity on the Rydberg’s behalf. “Cruise lines do not permit women who are 24 weeks pregnant or more to board — even with permission from a physician,” said Joel Frey, spokesperson for Travelocity. “We have recently updated our terms and conditions to note the number of weeks specifically and we refunded the penalty, travel insurance and booking in full for the Rydbergs because they will be unable to enjoy their trip as planned.”

I commend Travelocity for doing right by the Rydbergs and for updating their terms and conditions to be more upfront with specific information regarding pregnancy.

Baby on board
In the world of cruising, pregnancy is regarded as a medical condition, and the cruise line may require a medical certificate establishing the passenger’s due date and fitness to travel. Many cruise lines will not permit passengers who are more than 24 weeks into pregnancy to sail, so try to schedule your cruise sometime between the morning sickness and the midway mark.

The Internet can be a powerful tool for researching travel, but be aware that online travel sites usually make you pay the full amount on a credit card at the time you book, and you may face a cancellation fee or not be able to get a refund at all if you cancel at the last minute. Always read the travel operator’s fine print and the Web site’s policies before deciding to book.

As for the Rydbergs, they are happy with Travelocity doing right by them and they are hopeful to get on a Royal Caribbean cruise someday – maybe with the new baby in tow.

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Ombudsman, Tripblog, What's New?