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Archive for June, 2015

No need for a bigger Love Boat! ‘Shark Week’ goes cruising on Princess

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 19 - 2015

As part of the recently announced Discovery at Sea program, in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications, Princess Cruises is bringing guests closer than ever to the entertainment phenomenon of Shark Week with premiere television content, onboard parties, trivia games, giveaways and even shark-themed culinary bites and beverages.

Shark Week at Sea will challenge adults and kids alike with activities designed to surprise, amuse, educate and create an appreciation for these tremendously misunderstood denizens of the deep.

“We know how wildly popular Shark Week is worldwide and we’re excited to bring even more fun, education and entertainment to our guests,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Through our Discovery at Sea partnership, we offer our guests exclusive themed activities and TV content we know they will enjoy.”

Princess guests fleetwide can enjoy Shark Week year round with the following onboard activities:

Fish Stories About Sharks – Guests will learn amazing and interesting facts about sharks through a quiz-style participative activity, hosted by the Cruise Staff. The theme will be fun and humor separating truth from “fish tales.”

Swim with the Sharks – An interactive competition will have guests taking part in various fun, active and hilarious challenges. At the end of five rounds the contestant or team who has won the most challenges ultimately wins the game.

Guess the Number of Shark Teeth in the Jar – A strategically located jar filled with “faux” shark teeth along with entry slips allow guests to participate anytime during the cruise for a chance to guesstimate the correct number.

Premiere TV Content – Before Shark Week airs, July 5-12 on Discovery Channel, Princess guests will get a sneak peek at select trailers and promotional spots, as well as a first look at “Ninja Sharks,” a new special exploring six sharks with unique adaptations that have evolved over millions of years making them the most lethal of their kind.

Additionally, each year Princess Cruises will offer select cruises with enhanced Shark Week experiences, giveaway items and culinary bites and beverages. To kick off Shark Week at Sea in 2015, guests aboard four voyages – Golden Princess departing San Francisco on June 21 and July 1 and Ruby Princess departing Seattle on June 28 and July 5 – will not only enjoy the sights of their Alaska cruise and the Discovery at Sea activities, they will also be treated to the following limited-time only Shark Week offerings:

Décor & Giveaways – One elevator on each ship will be wrapped to appear as though guests are inside a shark cage and public restrooms will feature themed mirror decals. Families traveling with kids 3-12 years old will receive a rubber shark toy at turndown and special prizes for Shark Week activities including shark fin hats. Kids will also be treated to special shark-themed activities including crafts, t-shirt decorating, temporary tattoos and face painting.

Shark Week Premiere Party – Each cruise ship will host premiere parties to live stream Shark Week content and roll out the blue carpet, complete with a Shark Week themed backdrop for photos. Guests will also enjoy themed table top decals, trivia games and giveaways.

Bites & Beverages – Shark cakes created by Princess pastry chefs, as well as ice and fruit carvings will be on display in the atrium for guests to enjoy. Shark cookies will also be offered in the International Café and during daily Atrium milk and cookie hour, as well as specialty shark-themed cocktails and custom drink koozies.

Entertainment – Even onboard comedians will keep guests in stitches with shark-themed humor, while casino lovers can test their luck at blackjack and craps tables wrapped with shark-themed images. Costumed sharks will make appearances around the ship and special photo borders and green screens will be available for the ultimate photo opportunities and selfies.

About Discovery at Sea:
The Discovery at Sea partnership, which debuted in 2015, creates new memorable vacation experiences for the whole family. From Stargazing to activities featuring Discovery hit shows such as MythBusters, Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush to immersive Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions, Princess guests will come back with a story to tell.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel consultant, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews, What's New?

Avoid this on your next cruise

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 18 - 2015

What’s the worst place on a cruise ship? If you ask regular cruisers, they might tell you to avoid the cigar bar or the Lido Pool area. But for me, it’s the art auction area.

Why? Quite frankly, I think art auctions are a misuse of space on cruise ships — not to mention a complete waste of time and money.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate fine art. It’s just that most of the so-called art displayed for cruise ship galleries and auctions isn’t so fine and borders on tacky.

I am not alone. I’ve heard the groans amongst my fellow passengers upon encountering art displays around the ship. These art roadblocks force cruisers into a weaving obstacle course just to get from one part of the ship to another.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there was something interesting to look at. I mean, how many paintings and prints of cottages should one be inundated with? Even worse, the neon-colored glossy fliers heaped upon guests in their staterooms touting the auctions and free champagne are offensive, not to mention far from being a green-friendly practice.

Offensive or not, art auctions and galleries on cruise ships generate revenue and that’s music to most cruise executives’ ears. Still, off the record, many cruise line managers admit they aren’t big fans of the practice. Nevertheless, in the age of shrinking corporate balance sheets, any revenue source is a bright spot.

What’s not so bright is deceptive practices heaped upon some cruise passengers.

Art job

While on a recent cruise I decided to do a pre-dinner stroll of the art gallery and came upon a Picasso “painting.” I use the term “painting” because that’s exactly how several art gallery personnel described it.

They were using this “painting” for a contest. Guests had to estimate its value. The passenger who guessed closest to the actual price would win hundreds of dollars in credit to use towards an art purchase.

The Picasso in question was a man holding a cat. I knew it wasn’t a painting, but a print. I decided to play dumb and asked a lot of silly questions just to see what would happen.

I asked one of the gallery workers if this was a real Picasso painting worth millions why wasn’t it guarded? The worker laughed and said in a heavy Eastern European accent that there were plenty of them watching the “painting.”

I asked why this expensive “painting” was on a ship? Then I got the Park West Gallery spiel that they were the largest art gallery in the world with an extensive original art collection and had the most expertise on selling art at sea.

Indeed, Park West Gallery is the largest player in the high-seas art stakes. The Southfield, Mich., company has galleries onboard Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Carnival, Disney, Holland America, Regent and Oceania vessels. When Park West makes a sale, the cruise line takes a percentage of that sale.

I walked out of the gallery shaking my head, wondering how many gullible passengers would fall into this art trap and wishing the cruise lines would give this whole concept the heave-ho.

So, it was no surprise when I read that some passengers shared my misgivings about these art auctions in general and Park West in particular.

In one example, a passenger paid $19,468 for three Dali prints, only to come home and have them appraised from $850 to $1,000. Another passenger went to a German art fraud detective with his purchases and was informed that they were photomechanical reproductions and not lithographs. The German detective referred to the pieces as “poster art.”

Beware of buyer’s remorse

Shipboard art auctions can be a lot of fun, and they do offer free champagne. And that’s the problem.

Lured by the secure environment onboard the ship, many passengers are more likely to believe the value claims made by the art auctioneers. If you’re not careful with the cheap bubbly, you could end up owning a painting of four dogs playing poker.

I’ve seen this happen a number of times, and I’ve seen the remorseful bidder go home hundreds and thousands of dollars poorer.

Case in point: John and Helen Finch of Pittsburgh took their first cruise several years ago, a seven-day Alaska Inside Passage cruise on Princess. Seeing attractive art every day on the ship, Helen decided to attend one of the onboard art auctions. Before she knew it, she’d paid $800 for two lithographs — not something she had planned for. Even worse, the sale was final – the Finch’s were stuck.

My advice, if you see something you really like, take a picture of it and see if a local art gallery can find it or something like it for you. You usually get better art deals on land, where you can play the competition among galleries.

Better yet, take a photo of a beautiful landscape on your cruise and frame it. That will be a far better value and a terrific memory that will always remain priceless.

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

Filled Under Advice, Blog, Ombudsman

Silversea introduces free Wi-Fi for all guests!

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 18 - 2015

Starting with voyages departing in January 2016, Silversea guests will enjoy the most comprehensive Wi-Fi package ever offered by an ultra-luxury cruise line: free Wi-Fi to all guests, throughout the ship, including all suites and public spaces, on all cruises, including expedition cruises.

“For well over 20 years, Silversea has set the course in defining the all-inclusive, ultra-luxury cruise experience. By offering truly free Wi-Fi to all guests regardless of the suite reserved, Silversea is once again setting the standard for all-inclusive luxury,” said Kristian Anderson, Silversea’s senior vice president of sales and general manager for the Americas. “Because we know how important it is for travelers to stay informed and connected, we’re delighted to enhance the all-inclusive Silversea experience with this new benefit.”

Silversea’s offer is unprecedented in the industry. Every guest will enjoy at least one hour of free Wi-Fi per day. Unlimited free Wi-Fi will be available to guests sailing in the Owner’s, Grand, Royal, Silver and Medallion suites on the line’s ocean ships, and as follows for expedition ships:

Silver Explorer: Owner’s, Grand, Silver, Medallion, and Expedition suites

Silver Galapagos: Silver, Deluxe Veranda, and Veranda suites

Silver Discoverer: Medallion, Veranda, and Vista suites

Silversea’s all-suite ships feature stem-to-stern Wi-Fi, in port and at sea, enabling guests to conveniently access the Internet on their personal devices in public spaces and suites, or on the computers in the Internet cafés available on all ocean ships and the Silver Explorer.

For all-inclusive at its most inclusive, Silversea Cruises is leading the way. The 2016 free Wi-Fi service will join an array of included amenities that already features: open-seating gourmet dining; butler service for all suites; Champagne, select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks; in-suite bar stocked with guests’ preferences; in-suite dining and 24-hour dining service (from a formal dinner ordered from The Restaurant menu and served in-suite, to lighter fare served in attended lounges); lecture and enrichment programs; roundtrip transportation into town (in most ports); and onboard gratuities (exclusive of spa treatments).

About Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises, which is chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, is recognized as an innovator in the ultra-luxury cruise line industry, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit – all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the inclusion of the expedition ships Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos, and Silver Discoverer, Silversea Cruises’ itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, both polar regions and over 800 fascinating destinations in between.

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

There is great value in “Value Season” vacations: Those escapes that occur during the winter months, versus the height of the summer travel season.  Now, the Globus family of brands is unveiling nearly three dozen river cruises, tours and independent vacation packages that showcase winter wonderlands, Christmas markets, the smallest crowds and best value all year.

According to the team at the Globus family of brands, there are five (5) reasons to go to Europe this winter:

  1. Mosey Up to Mona.

Fewer travelers in winter mean fewer crowds.  Enjoy more space in museums, among the ruins and down cobblestone streets. 

  1. More Bang for Your Euro.

Everything looks a little different in Europe during the winter, including the prices.  From transportation and dining to shopping and sightseeing, enjoy plenty of discounts and deals. 

  1. To Market, to Market.

Centuries-old Christmas markets offer unique crafts, toys and goodies to bring home, eliminating any reason to visit the dreaded mall. 

  1. Meet Beppe. Not Bob.

While traveling during this time of year, the locals typically aren’t.  This means there’s more time to get to know them and their beloved traditions. 

  1. Glühwein!

If the snow-dusted castles and cathedrals of Europe don’t warm a traveler’s heart, this German-spiced mulled wine will.

“November or December is a great time to make Europe travel dreams come true,” said Steve Born, vice president of marketing for the Globus family of brands.  “From holiday cruises on the Main, Rhine, and Danube Rivers and tours across the continent ranging from seven (7) to 31 days to all-in-one premium vacation packages in Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Venice and even Iceland, the Globus family of brands is giving travelers a reason to look forward to winter.”

 Vacation Highlights:

AVALON WATERWAYS (river cruises):

Romantic Rhine (8 days), priced from $2,398

Chrismastime on the Danube (9 days), priced from $2,369

Magnificent Europe (15 days), priced from $4,299 

MONOGRAMS (independent vacation packages)

Paris & London (7 days), priced from $1,477

Rome, Florence & Venice (10 days), priced from $2,177

Reykjavik (3 days), priced from $730

GLOBUS (guided tours):

European Sampler (9 days from $2,149)

The Best of Spain (9 days), priced from $1,849

Italian Treasures (11 days), priced from $2,899

Imperial Splendors (10 days), priced from $2,169 

COSMOS (guided tours):

European Jewels (12 days), priced from $1,949

Prague, Vienna & Budapest (9 days), priced from $999

 For details about the Globus family of brands’ winter vacation offerings and to download a free, e-brochure, click here.

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

Carnival Cruise Line today announced deployment changes designed to enhance its leadership position in two key homeports – Galveston and  Port Canaveral, Fla., – while providing exciting “Fun Ship” itinerary choices in time for next summer’s cruise season.

Carnival Breeze will reposition to Galveston in May 2016 and Carnival Magic to Port Canaveral in April 2016, several months earlier than previously announced.  Carnival Breeze will assume Carnival Magic’s year-round schedule of seven-day day Galveston cruises beginning May 8, 2016. Carnival Magic will take over Carnival Valor’s current seven-day day Port Canaveral cruise program April 23, 2016.

In turn, Carnival Splendor will assume Carnival Breeze’s six- and eight-day Caribbean schedule from Miami May 1, 2016.  Carnival Valor will offer a new series of five- and eight-day departures from Port Canaveral beginning June 4, 2016 instead of October 2016 as previously announced.

“Galveston and Port Canaveral are two important markets for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising and these deployment changes provide our guests and travel agent partners with exciting new options featuring a variety of on-board innovations and visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Bahamas and Florida,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

Carnival Breeze to Launch Year-Round Service from Galveston in May 2016

Carnival Breeze will kick off its new Galveston-based cruise program May 8, 2016, departing every Sunday on three different week-long itineraries:  western Caribbean cruises calling at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, and a seven-day Bahamas/Florida route with stops in Nassau, Freeport, and Key West.

The line’s newest ship, Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, the Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks, an aqua park that includes a 312-foot-long slide, a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, the DrainPipe funnel-style attraction and a splash area for younger cruisers.

Carnival Breeze, originally scheduled to reposition to Galveston in December 2016, replaces Carnival Magic which will reposition to Port Canaveral in April 2016.

Carnival Magic to Sail Seven-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in April 2016

Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral to operate seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning April 23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.  Prior to launching its new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special three-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic was the first cruise ship to feature a suspended ropes course, part of an expansive open-air recreation area called SportSquare, as well as the Cucina del Capitano Italian family-style restaurant and the RedFrog Pub, a Caribbean-inspired watering hole serving the line’s private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

Carnival Magic’s previously announced schedule from Port Canaveral was scheduled to begin in December 2016.

Carnival Splendor to Offer Six- and Eight-Day Cruises from Miami in May 2016

Carnival Splendor will launch six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami May 1, 2016, departing alternating Saturdays and Sundays.

The schedule, which runs through December 2016, includes eight-day southern Caribbean cruises featuring Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curaçao, and Aruba, along with eight-day eastern Caribbean departures visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten.  Carnival Splendor will also offer a three-port, six-day option featuring Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Ocho Rios.

Carnival Splendor will offer a nine-day Carnival Journeys cruise round-trip from Miami departing May 26, 2016, and featuring an overnight call in King’s Wharf, Bermuda, as well as visits to Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) and Grand Turk. A number of special on-board activities and programming are planned, as well.

The 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor boasts on-board features like a 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa featuring a thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, a retractable dome covering the mid-ship pool, and a classic American steakhouse serving prime steaks and other gourmet cuisine. 

Carnival Valor to Offer Three- to Eight-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in May 2016

Carnival Valor will offer a new short cruise schedule from the Space Coast in May 2016 before launching year-round five- and eight-day departures in June 2016.

Three- to five-day sailings will take place throughout May and visit such popular ports as Grand Turk, Nassau, Freeport, and Amber Cove. The ship will also offer a one-time six-day cruise departing May 15 and featuring Nassau, Amber Cove and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor’s year-round five- to eight-day voyages begin June 4, 2016.  Five-day cruises will visit Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport.  Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten; while eight-day southern Caribbean sailings will include Curaçao or Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor is currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in spring 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations.

Additional Information and Reservations

Reservations are being accepted for all of these new itineraries for Carnival Breeze, Carnival Magic, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Valor.

For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line’s travel agent Internet portal, GoCCL.com.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews

Seabourn announces World-Class Line-Up for Seabourn Conversations

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 16 - 2015

Seabourn has announced a new line-up of accomplished lecturers for Seabourn Conversations, the award-winning cruise line’s onboard enrichment and special guest entertainment program. Prominent speakers scheduled to sail late 2015 and early 2016 include Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, Forbes Media Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes, and legendary American journalist Dan Rather.

The ultra-luxury line’s onboard enrichment program continues to feature outstanding adventurers, artists, historians and the business elite sharing tales of success and personal insights. On Seabourn’s intimate ships, distinguished speakers not only provide skilled presentations of their expertise for guests to enjoy, but just as importantly, they may share meals, adventures ashore and casual chats with guests throughout the voyage.

“We always seek the most engaging speakers to participate in our Seabourn Conversations program on Seabourn vessels around the world,” said John Delaney, Seabourn’s senior vice president, marketing and sales. “With global perspectives drawn from personal experiences in the realms of culture, history, innovation, adventure and art, we’re very excited to welcome the line-up of distinguished speakers for our guests.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000, will participate in the Seabourn Conversations program on Seabourn Odyssey‘s 20-day Holiday Panama Canal cruise, which departs Fort Lauderdale on December 15, 2015, and arrives in Los Angeles on January 4, 2016.

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, who retired in 2005 as the longest-serving anchor on a nightly newscast in American broadcast history after 24 years at helm of CBS Evening News, will join Seabourn Conversations aboard Seabourn Odyssey‘s 20-day Panama Canal cruise from March 21-24, 2016. Renowned in the industry and country for his compelling reporting, he is one of the most famous television news journalists and an author of several best-selling books including his autobiography Rather Outspoken.

The rest of the conversationalists will sail on the 77-day Pacific Realm Exploration of Seabourn Odyssey, which will depart Los Angeles on January 4, 2016, bound for Sydney, Australia and return to L.A. on March 21, 2016.

Featured speakers in Seabourn Odyssey‘s Seabourn Conversations program include:

  • Royal portrait painter Richard Stone, who painted the British Royal Family for four decades, as well as luminaries such as Luciano Pavarotti, Margaret Thatcher, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. (January 4-16, 2016)
  • Australian cultural historian, author and filmmaker Warren Fahey has been awarded the Order of Australia, the Prime Minister’s Centennial Medal, and the Banks Music Award for lifetime contribution to the arts. (January 4-20, 2016)
  • Globetrotting adventurer Paul Deegan has climbed Mount Everest and most mountainous regions on five continents. A highly sought-after speaker on the corporate circuit, Deegan has also been featured on TED Talks and has appeared on BBC, CBS and Sky News. (January 16-27, 2016)
  • One of Australia’s few true titled “Master and Commanders,” Captain Peter Martin is a maritime historian and foreign affairs expert. Martin has piloted the Barrier Reef and navigated the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. (February 6-19, 2016)
  • Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media Steve Forbes is an engaging speaker with unique perspectives on business, technology, the economy, and politics through personal experience in the Republican presidential primaries of 1996 and 2000. (February 15-19, 2016)
  • Discussing the world beneath the ship’s keel, George Losey is a Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Biology and Zoology at the University of Hawaii. (February 26-March 11, 2016)
  • The former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry and Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Digby Jones was knighted in 2005 and has been a member of the House of Lords since 2007. He is currently Business Ambassador at UK Trade & Investment, Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles, and Corporate Ambassador for Jaguar Cars. (February 28-March 21, 2016)

View the full list of scheduled guest speakers for Seabourn Conversations here.

For reservations or more details, please contact a travel professional; call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews, News