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Archive for July, 2013


Princess launches ‘Fall Savings Spectacular’ – savings up to 55 percent

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 31 - 2013

Princess Cruises is gearing up for fall with a special “Fall Savings Spectacular” sale on autumn cruise departures. Offering fall cruise deals with savings of up to 55 percent, the July 31 to August 20 event also features up to $100 free onboard spending money.

More than 100 cruise departures are featured in the sale, including popular cruise destinations such as the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Tahiti & the South Pacific, Europe, Canada & New England, Asia, the California Coast, and Mexico. Princess’ new three- and four-day Getaway cruises are also included for convenient roundtrip sailings from Los Angeles.

In addition to special fares, passengers booking balcony staterooms or above will receive an onboard credit of $100 (for cruises 10 days or longer), $50 (seven- to nine-day cruises), or $30 (one- to six-day cruises); and those booking interior or oceanview staterooms can get credits of $50 (cruises 10 days or longer), $25 (seven- to nine-day cruises) or $15 (one- to six-day cruises). More information about Princess’ fall cruise sale and pricing can be found at princess.com/sale.

Examples of cruise deals include:

• Caribbean cruise – 7 days: $449 interior (was $599); $699 balcony (was $949)

• California Coastal cruise – 7 days: $499 interior (was $799); $799 balcony (was $1,149)

• Panama Canal cruise – 11 days: $799 interior (was $1,299); $1,199 balcony (was $1,799)

• Mediterranean cruise – 12 days: $799 interior (was $1,799); $1,199 balcony (was $2,799)

• Hawaii cruise – 15 days: $999 interior (was $1,799); $1,599 balcony (was $2,699)

All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy. The Fall Savings Spectacular begins at 12:01 a.m. PDT on July 31 and runs through 11:59 p.m. PDT on August 20, 2013 and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.

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

Filled Under cruise sales

Cruising without clothes – a cautionary tale of lost luggage

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 26 - 2013

Erin and Sean Spital last saw their luggage after checking in at New York’s JFK airport, shortly before they boarded their flight to Barcelona on Iberia Airlines. The couple waited until the last bags made their rounds on the luggage carousel, their bags never arrived. Left with only the clothes on their backs, and with their 7-day Norwegian Cruise Line cruise about to depart, the Spitals did the only thing they could do: They filed a claim with Iberia and went out to buy new clothes.

Naked truth

Lost airline luggage — it’s a problem all cruise lines are dealing with more often these days, especially on European cruises. I’ve been on a number of Mediterranean cruises where dozens of passenger’s bags never made it to the ships for embarkation. Most bags turn up during various ports of call, but not all of them make it. Like the Spitals, their owners just had to make do.

“Many people don’t realize it, but most cruise ships have a small supply of clothing on board that guests can borrow, and there is even formal attire for men and women to rent,” says John Heald, Carnival Cruise Lines senior cruise director. These reserves can usually tide people over, but sometimes passengers become desperate because their bags are truly lost and they can’t find replacement clothes in the ship’s supply or even in port. On those occasions, Heald puts in a “shout out” request for clothes during his live “Morning Show” on the shipboard TV. He once put out a call for a pair of extra-large women’s underwear, and got back seven pairs from sympathetic passengers. “Cruising can really bring the best out in people,” Heald says.

The Spitals received help from their cruise line, too. As Heald duly noted sometimes the best in people does come out. For Sean Spital, who is well over six feet tall, finding clothes was difficult. Thankfully a sympathetic Norwegian crew member of the same height was kind enough to loan some pants during the sailing. The cruise line also helped Erin Spital with clothing and arranged for the couple to keep in constant contact with Iberia. Despite all the help, the Spitals racked up a substantial credit card bill at various ports buying new clothes.

Sadly, the Spitals bags never showed up during their week-long cruise. “We paid more than 400 euros for basics like underwear, shoes, tops, and since it was December some sweaters,” Erin says. The Spitals kept their receipts and filed a claim with Iberia for the cost of their replacement clothing, which came to almost $1,500.

After returning from their cruise, Sean Spital kept calling Iberia daily to find out where their luggage was. Unfortunately, communication was difficult due to language barriers and changing stories. “They didn’t have updated information on the bags or their system was down. Sometimes I just couldn’t understand them and they couldn’t understand me.”

They were told due to the heavy snow storms in Europe and the U.S. in December many bags became displaced. Three weeks after they returned home the Spitals received one bag, which had been pilfered of many items including an expensive shaver, Gucci loafers, and cashmere sweaters. The airline has yet to find the other bag.

Bags of shame

Unfortunately for the Spitals Iberia is ranked the worst airline in Europe for lost luggage. A report in the London Telegraph stated the Spanish carrier lost 19.2 bags for every 1,000 people who boarded its planes during the winter months. Additionally, the carrier was ranked the worst performer in a survey carried out by the Association of European Airlines.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, your luggage has a fairly good chance of taking a different trip than you do. The department’s latest Air Travel Consumer Report shows 155,224 reports of “mishandled” bags in February this year, up from 136,066 in February 2009. While the numbers are still high the airlines have improved their baggage handling within the past two years as the number of mishandled baggage claims has declined.

Airlines do their best to find your luggage before declaring it lost. On average, it takes more than a week; in difficult cases, it can take as long as a month. According to the Air Travel Consumer Report, about 2 percent of all missing bags remain lost. So, what do you do when an airline loses your luggage on your cruise vacation? Here are some tips.

  • If your luggage is lost, report it to the airline immediately. The Department of Transportation strongly suggests you fill out a form with the airline the day your baggage turns up missing. If you flew on more than one carrier, the airline you last flew is usually the one responsible for processing your claim — even if the other carrier lost the bag.
  • If your baggage is declared lost, make an itemized list of everything in your suitcase. Assign a value to each item, including the suitcase itself, using the price you paid, but understand that airlines won’t pay full replacement value; they will pay a depreciated value. The maximum claim the airlines are required to pay is $2,800 for baggage lost on a domestic flight and approximately $1,500 for baggage lost on an international flight. The maximum award for international flights changes daily based on that day’s value of “Special Drawing Rights” (SDR) per passenger. The daily value of SDR can be found at the International Monetary Fund’s exchange rate Web site. Additional information on SDR can be found in every airline’s contract of carriage.
  • A similar claims process is involved when luggage is damaged. Open your suitcase right away to check for damaged contents or stolen items. Any damage or lost or stolen items should be reported immediately to the airlines. The same limits apply for damaged luggage as to lost luggage.
  • Tell the cruise line staff that your airline lost your luggage. They can help you keep in touch with the airline regarding the status of your luggage and they can help you get clothing and personal care items.

The Department of Transportation estimates that it takes an airline anywhere from six weeks to three months to pay you for your lost luggage. As for the Spitals, after three months they finally received a check from Iberia for $900, far from their original claim. They are glad it’s over and have vowed to never fly Iberia again.

Reported by Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)
Please note this article first appeared on June 2, 2009.

Filled Under Ombudsman

Iron Chef goes out to sea on Norwegian Breakaway

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 25 - 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian will host a number of special activities on board Norwegian Breakaway during two of the ship’s upcoming sailings: November 3 and December 1, 2013. These sailings will feature an exclusive opportunity to meet and interact with the Iron Chef in his on-board restaurant, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian.

Jeffrey Zakarian NCL Breakaway

While sailing on board Norwegian Breakaway from November 7 through 10 and December 5 through December 8, Zakarian will offer Norwegian guests a variety of unique and interactive opportunities. He will host an exciting meet and greet session, giving guests the chance to take a photo with their favorite Iron Chef and a dynamic cooking demonstration, followed by a personalized book signing of his latest cookbook. The special event of each cruise will be the opportunity to attend an intimate dining experience* where a limited number of guests will enjoy a specially-curated Ocean Blue tasting menu served by the Iron Chef himself.

Geoffrey Zakarian recently launched three brand new seafood-centric restaurants on Norwegian’s New York City-inspired ship, Norwegian Breakaway: Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, an elegant seafood dining experience that focuses on premium ingredients and expert culinary techniques; The Raw Bar, an adjacent bar that highlights crustaceans, crudos, cocktails and wines by the glass; and Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, a more casual dining option that serves fun and easy fare. All three of these unique venues utilize the freshest ingredients and finest techniques that Zakarian employs in his land-based restaurants, truly bringing the best of New York City dining experiences to sea on board Norwegian Breakaway. Showcasing his eye for details, Zakarian also orchestrated every element of the restaurant from menus, to uniforms, to glassware and utensils.

Zakarian’s taste, style and passion for fine cuisine have defined his career, which has spanned more than 25 years. An accomplished chef who has presided over some of the country’s top kitchens, he currently has two popular restaurants in New York City – The Lambs Club and The National; one in Atlantic City – The Water Club at Borgata; and a highly acclaimed cookbook “Geoffrey Zakarian’s Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table.” Zakarian emerged victorious in the recent fourth season of Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs. He appears regularly on Iron Chef America, demonstrating a razor-sharp knowledge of culinary techniques in this fast-paced cooking competition. When he’s not battling in kitchen stadium, Zakarian stays busy filming CHOPPED, where he is featured as a recurring judge, and highlights his favorite dishes on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

For more information on the incredible features and accommodations on Norwegian Breakaway, visit www.breakaway.ncl.com. To book a cruise on Norwegian Breakaway, with fares starting at $599**, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 800-327-7030 or visit www.ncl.com.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under cruisenews, gallery

Today Christine Duffy, the President and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), released a statement she delivered to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in connection with the panel’s hearing on the cruise line industry, held in Washington today. “As a result of the cruise industry’s relentless focus on passenger safety, comfort and care, cruising is one of the safest, most affordable, and enjoyable vacation experiences available today,” Duffy said.

In her statement, Duffy outlined a number of proactive measures that CLIA’s members have taken in the areas of safety, self-regulation and training, including:

  • Conducting the 2012 Global Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review, which resulted in 10 industry-wide safety policies, each of which exceeded current international regulatory requirements upon its announcement.
  • Launching the ongoing industry-wide Preparedness Risk Assessment Initiative to improve redundancies and preparedness regarding main and emergency power.
  • Holding a three-day training and joint contingency planning exercise in April 2013 with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and other key parties to test emergency response and evacuation procedures involving cruise ships, medical treatment operations, and land-based passenger care facilities.
  • Adopting the Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights in May 2013 which details CLIA members’ commitment to the safety, comfort and care of guests in a number of important areas.

“Today’s hearing provided an opportunity to have a dialogue on important issues and the industry appreciated the chance to detail the proactive initiatives that we have undertaken to enhance safety and shipboard operations in many critical areas,” said Duffy. “Our commitment to the well-being of passengers and crew is unwavering.”

Duffy’s full statement to the Committee is available at http://www.cruising.org/sites/default/files/regulatory/pdf/CLIA-Statement-for-the-Record07-24-2013.pdf.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under cruiseregulation

Marry like a Norwegian

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 23 - 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today three new, customizable destination wedding experiences for guests wishing to celebrate their nuptials on one of Norwegian’s ships or in one of the line’s spectacular destinations. In partnership with Vancouver-based Royal Ocean Events, Norwegian offers couples the opportunity to have the wedding of a lifetime during their cruise, whether they choose to tie the knot overlooking the sparkling ocean, atop a majestic glacier in Alaska, or under a canopy of palm trees on an exotic Caribbean beach.

Couples planning their dream destination wedding with Norwegian can choose from three wedding ceremony options: “Symbolic,” performed on board while at sea; “Harborside,” performed on board while the ship is docked in select ports of call; or “Destination,” performed on shore in select ports of call. Ceremonies are available in a wide range of ports — including Norwegian’s domestic embarkation ports, as well as beautiful destinations in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. From a romantic, intimate ceremony in Santorini, Greece to an elaborate portside affair with hundreds of guests, brides and grooms sailing with Norwegian can commemorate the most important day of their life as they’ve always imagined it.

Norwegian Cruise Line Weddings article on ExpertCruiser.com

With packages starting at $1600, Royal Ocean Events offers everything that couples need for their perfect celebration. The happy couple can relax, as an experienced wedding coordinator will assist them every step of the way during the planning process and, once on board, they will enjoy their big day stress free, as Norwegian’s on-site wedding coordinators handle all of the day’s details. All packages include an officiant or ship officer to perform the ceremony, on-site wedding coordinator, private ceremony location, ceremony vows, bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, prerecorded ceremony music, a bottle of sparkling wine, keepsake wedding certificate and wedding cake.

Norwegian also offers a wide selection of enhancements and services that couples can choose from to further personalize their celebration, including spa and beauty treatments, flowers (including custom orders), décor and ceremony enhancements, live music, photography and videography, transportation to and from the ship or wedding location, priority check-in, and a variety of wedding reception options, ranging from an elegant cocktail reception with gourmet selections and open bar to a four-course sit-down luncheon with wine service.

For couples who wish to re-confirm their love while at sea, Norwegian’s “Vow Renewal” package offers married couples the opportunity to celebrate their love all over again with a group vow renewal ceremony performed by a crew member. The package starts at $299 and includes a bottle of private-selection sparkling wine, a celebration cake for two, a commemorative vow renewal certificate, dinner for two in the line’s very romantic signature French Restaurant, Le Bistro, an 8×10 professional portrait, sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to their stateroom and a bouquet of flowers or $50 on board credit to use towards photo prints. Those couples who want a more personal experience can select the “Deluxe Vow Renewal,” offering a private ceremony by the ship’s Captain, an invitation from the Captain to tour the bridge while the ship is in port, plus all of the amenities included in the Vow Renewal package.

For those looking to “pop the question” while at sea, Norwegian and Royal Ocean Weddings can arrange the ultimate proposal. The “Engagement” package includes an ideal proposal setting onboard, a bouquet of classic red roses, sparkling wine and strawberries waiting for the couple in their stateroom, two 25-minute half-body Swedish massages, in-room tea service, breakfast-in-bed for two, and dinner for two in Le Bistro, with pricing starting at $399.

For more details on weddings with Norwegian, visit www.nclweddings.com.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under cruiseweddings, gallery

Windstar Cruises offers the ultimate Monaco Grand Prix experience

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 22 - 2013

Windstar Cruises combines its distinctive yacht style cruising with the glamour and excitement of the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix to offer guests a VIP experience during this world famous Formula One event. Guests have two voyage options to choose from: a complete Grand Prix themed cruise on the May 21, 2014 Grand Prix of Monaco voyage onboard Windstar’s newest yacht Star Pride; or a Grand Prix excursion package on the May 20, 2014 Yachting the Riviera cruise onboard Wind Surf, the largest of Windstar’s three sailing yachts.

“Windstar’s Grand Prix of Monaco packages offer the ideal opportunity for guests to cruise through all the pleasures of the Riviera combined with a chance to take part in one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world,” said Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises’ chief executive officer. “These experiences are just another way Windstar is able to bring its guests closer to the local flavor of each region we sail to.”

The Grand Prix themed cruise onboard Star Pride will be hosted by John Bisignano, a former Formula One pit reporter and includes the chance for guests to cheer on their favorite driver from Grand Stand seats during the qualifying races on Saturday, May 24, 2014, and the finals on Sunday, May 25, 2014; as well as delighting in a post-race cocktail reception at the luxurious Hotel de Paris in the heart of Monte Carlo. Before arriving along the French Riviera, guests will also enjoy a special cocktail reception and Grand Prix dinner in addition to other onboard surprises including a Grand Prix gift package. Star Pride’s seven-day Grand Prix of Monaco voyage sails round-trip from Rome/Civitavecchia, Italy on May 21, 2014, and visits Portoferraio, Portofino and Portovenere, Italy; Cannes, France; and Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Guests onboard the 310-guest flagship Wind Surf Yachting the Riviera voyage also have the opportunity to attend these unforgettable races with Windstar’s Grand Prix excursion package, which includes Grand Stand seats for the qualifying races and finals, as well as an exclusive onboard cocktail reception and a Grand Prix gift package. Wind Surf’s seven-day Yachting the Riviera voyage sails from Rome/Civitavecchia, Italy on May 20, 2014, to Nice, France and visits Portoferraio, Portofino and Portovenere, Italy; Nice, France; and Monte Carlo, Monaco.

For more information about Windstar Cruises’ Grand Prix of Monaco experiences and to book, contact a travel professional, call Windstar at 800-258-7245 or visit www.WindstarCruises.com.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Destinations