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Archive for March, 2017


Cruise-onomics: 12 money-saving tips

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 31 - 2017

Cruising is one of the best vacation values going. The all-inclusive fare includes accommodations, meals and entertainment. But did you know that cruise lines get most of their revenue from the things passengers buy aboard ship? Yep. That’s why they aggressively peddle their photos, spa services, art auctions, shore excursions, jewelry, casino and drinks of the day.

Do you really need that faux-gold-by-the-inch jewelry or another souvenir cocktail glass? If you’re not careful, you can easily spend more for onboard extras than you did on the cruise fare. The key to avoiding a bank-breaking bill is knowing what to expect.

Tipping. Except on a few luxury cruise ships, which have no tipping required policies, you are expected to tip your cabin steward, dining room waiter and assistant waiter. Don’t fight it. These crew members work very hard for low wages, and your tips are necessary to their livelihood. Many lines recommend that each passenger tip on average about $13 per day, as follows: cabin steward, $5.50; dining room waiter and assistant waiter, $6.50 (shared); bistro service waiter and cooks, $1. Bar bills are automatically charged a 15 percent gratuity for the bartender. Special service personnel such as the maitre ‘d, deck stewards and bellmen should be tipped as service is rendered; for other crew tips, payment at the end of the cruise is customary.

Airport transfers. The cost of a round-trip airport transfer purchased through the cruise line is often $60 per person or more. A better (and often faster) way to get to and from the ship is by local taxi or Uber or Lyft. The fare is usually around $30 for a cab and less for Uber and Lyft.  Best of all you can take up to four people.

Photo opps. It starts before you even set foot on the ship, with the obligatory pose by the S.S. Life Preserver. Ship photographers are everywhere — in the dining room, on the pool deck, in the showroom. You’ll feel like you are being stalked by paparazzi before you sit down to your first dinner. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to have your picture taken and you don’t have to buy any photo taken of you. Considering that prices range from $20 to $30 for each picture, you can certainly save a lot of money by bringing your own camera and asking fellow passengers to snap photos for you. On the other hand, professional portraits do make nice souvenirs, especially when you’re all gussied up for the formal night of the cruise.

Art auctions. Shipboard art auctions can be a lot of fun, and they do offer free champagne and that’s the problem. If you’re not careful with the cheap bubbly, you could end up owning a picture that resembles four dogs playing poker. I’ve seen this happen a number of times, and I’ve seen the remorseful bidder go home hundreds of dollars poorer. 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 art galleries.

Bar bill. Soft drinks, bottled water and alcoholic drinks can really add up. These refreshments are seldom included in the cruise fare, except on luxury cruises, so you have to think ahead. Find out if your ship offers a soda package — a deal that offers unlimited sodas for $44,  a real boon for people traveling with kids. Cruise lines prefer that you buy alcoholic drinks directly from them, but you can bring your own wine aboard to be served to you at dinner. The catch is that you will be charged a corkage fee usually around $10 per bottle. (Do not try to bring bottles of liquor aboard; the cruise line will confiscate them, though they will return them to you at the end of the cruise; however, you might get away with a flask.) One of the easiest ways to save beverage money is to bring a water bottle or coffee mug on board and fill it up in the self-serve buffet. Instead of plopping down $2 for a bottle of water, I fill up a few of my own.

Specialty restaurants. Many mainstream and premium cruise lines now have onboard alternative restaurants, which offer specialty menus with prices ranging from $15 to $75 per person. Sure, the food is interesting, but is it any better than what’s served in the ship’s dining room for free? It depends on your taste and what the cruise line is offering. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of excellent alternative dining choices, including an amazing teppanyaki table experience at a reasonable cost of $25.

Internet access. Most ships have Internet access, but they often charge a fee. Some cruise lines like Viking River and Viking Ocean offer unlimited internet access whereas most offer package deals for a set fee. You can save a lot of money by visiting an Internet facility in port. Ask a crew member where to find an Internet cafe on shore, or check out the local public library, where you can sometimes check your e-mail for free.

Gambling. Shipboard casinos are getting bigger and bigger, which means that more and more money is being lost at sea. If you decide to roll the dice, set a limit on how much you are willing to risk, then leave as soon as you lose it.

Spa services. While pampering should be part of every cruise vacation, frequenting the ship’s spa can be costly. A massage can range anywhere from $80 to $180 per hour not to mention the 18 percent tip. You can save money on spa treatments by looking for discounted spa specials, which are usually offered when the ship is in port. Keep in mind that the spa staff works on commission; this means you will often get a sales pitch for their products after your treatments. Unless you really like the products, don’t feel obliged to purchase them. Many shipboard spas feature products by Steiner Leisure. If you like them, check out the prices on TimeToSpa.com; you can often get a better deal there than on the ship.

Shore excursions. Shore excursions can be pricey, especially on such destination-intensive itineraries as Alaska, Europe and Hawaii. In most cases, it’s easy to arrange your own excursions and save money. Visit the port’s official tourism Web site for up-to-date information on tour operators and pricing. You can find a comprehensive list of worldwide tourism sites at JohnnyJet.com.

Companies that specialize in planning tours for cruise passengers include Viator and Shore Trips. Both allow you to book your shore excursions before you leave home, and the savings can be significant.  If you are going to Alaska, try to get your hands on Alaska TourSaver.  You can order the book or download the App, both offer coupons for free admissions, two-for-one tours, flight-seeing, whale watching, free car rentals, second night free hotels and much more.

Despite the cost, there is one very good reason to purchase your shore excursions through the cruise line: If your excursion runs late, the ship will not leave port without you. Anytime you schedule an independent trip, you lose that safety net, so be sure to leave enough time to get back to the ship before departure because, believe me, the ship will leave without you.

Laundry. Laundry and dry cleaning charges on a cruise can be exorbitant. For example, a T-shirt can cost $4 to wash and a pair of underwear $2. Check to see if there is a self-service launderette. That will be much cheaper typically $3 to $5 per load. If you don’t feel like doing your own laundry and need some clean clothes, don’t despair. Most cruise lines set aside one day on each voyage when they will wash a bag of laundry for a set fee, usually $15 to $25 per bag (the cruise line provides the bag).

Film and sundries. Buy plenty of film and other camera supplies at home, because once on board, the price doubles.  The same can be said for pain relievers, sunscreen and many other small, personal-use items.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating spending nothing aboard ship, just that you stay the course within your allotted budget. If you don’t, your next hard-earned cruise vacation could be at risk.

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

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

Filled Under Advice, gallery, What's New?

Princess Cruises takes delivery of Majestic Princess

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 30 - 2017

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s leading cruise vacation company, today took delivery of Majestic Princess, from shipbuilder Fincantieri at an official handover ceremony at the shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The cruise line’s first international luxury ship tailored for the China market, will start her inaugural season in Europe until May and then embark on a repositioning cruise themed the Silk Road Sea Route journey to her new homeport in Shanghai where she will begin her first homeport season in July.

 

The ceremony was attended by the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni; executives from Carnival Corporation & plc including Micky Arison, Chairman; Arnold Donald, Chief Executive Officer; Stein Kruse, Chief Executive Officer of Holland America Group; Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia; Anthony Kaufman, Executive Vice President International Operations of Princess Cruises, and Cherry Wang, Vice President and General Manager of the Princess Cruises’ brand offices in China. Fincantieri was represented by Giuseppe Bono, Chief Executive Officer, and Giampiero Massolo, Chairman.

  

“Majestic Princess has arrived and we are thrilled to add this new jewel to our crown representing the newest, most stylish and most luxurious flagship in fleet and ready to deliver an exceptional international cruise vacation experience to our guests,” said Jan Swartz Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia group president.

 

“Fincantieri proudly delivers Majestic Princess today to our long-term partner, Princess Cruises” said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri’s Chief Executive Officer and SEVP Merchant Ships Business Unit ad interim, “The collaboration between Fincantieri, Carnival Corporation & plc and Princess Cruises to tailor Majestic Princess for China makes her special for us. We are proud to deliver this stunningly beautiful luxury cruise liner and highly value the partnership we have with Princess Cruises dating back to the 1980’s. We will continue to deliver increasingly sophisticated ships in the future that serve the needs of our partners and their treasured guests.”

 

After the successful handover from Fincantieri, Majestic Princess sets sail on a preview cruise (March 31 to April 4) that will include loyal Princess guests, international media, travel agent partners and brand partners from around the world, including many guests from China.

Departing April 4, 2017, the 143,000-ton Majestic Princess will sail on her inaugural voyage, a five-day Adriatic Sea cruise roundtrip from Rome with stops in Kotor and Corfu. Following her maiden cruise, Majestic Princess will tour Europe, offering guests a chance to experience the ship on 7-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises departing from Rome, Barcelona or Athens.

On May 21, Majestic Princess will embark on the “Silk Road Sea Route” a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai. During the voyage she will visit a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang and Xiamen before arriving in Shanghai, her new homeport in China. Majestic Princess will begin her first cruise from China on July 11 carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of cruise destinations.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews, gallery

Casinos At Sea rewards program expands to recognize players aboard 24 ships

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 30 - 2017

Casino players now have the upper hand with the enhanced and expanded Casinos At Sea rewards program aboard Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  Casinos At Sea now offers members the opportunity to play and earn rewards across the three brands in 24 casinos, which offer a range of exciting atmospheres, from intimate, high-roller parlors to grand gaming palaces that, together, offer more than 4,000 games across the fleet. Players can elevate their status and redeem benefits across all three cruise lines, including stateroom and suite discounts, free play, special birthday and promotional offers, ship-to-ship point transfer, and onboard credit.

“We are glad to relaunch the Casinos At Sea program, making it the first multi-branded casino rewards program at sea,” said Jim Abbas, Senior Vice President of Casino Operations, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “Casinos At Sea members can now play aboard all 24 ships under the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, offering an expansive range of innovative onboard amenities, worldwide itineraries, exquisite onboard dining and unrivaled luxury. No matter which ship they sail with, members will be recognized, and earn points and rewards as they play.”

Casinos At Sea members each will receive a new, personalized and sleek Players Card, with which they can claim benefits and rewards whenever they play in the casinos of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Joining Casinos at Sea is easy. Guests can sign up for their complimentary Players Card on board at the Players Club desk, and start playing their way to complimentary amenities and extras when they use their Players Card, while playing favorite slot machines and table games. Members also earn status just by playing, and progress through tiers named Jade, Pearl, Sapphire, Ruby and Elite, which qualify them for up to nearly 20 benefits and rewards, depending on the cruise line.

For more information on the Casinos at Sea program, including tier-levels and rewards, , please visit www.ncl.com/why-cruise-norwegian/casino-cruise.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews

Heywood Hill to curate Bespoke Library on the new Silver Muse

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 28 - 2017

Ultra-luxury cruise line, Silversea, has today announced a partnership with literary institution Heywood Hill, which will create a bespoke library for its new flagship, Silver Muse.

Over Heywood Hill’s illustrious 80-year history, the London-based bookshop has become renowned for curating collections of new, old, and antiquarian books for private libraries. Marked by old-fashioned courtesy and humor, Heywood Hill’s literary services have been awarded the Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen, among other accolades.

The bespoke library will be housed within Silver Muse’s all new Arts Café, nestled cozily on deck 8. Hosting varied and constantly evolving exhibitions, the Arts Café will also showcase paintings and sculptures from a range of artisans from around the world. Heywood Hill will also select books to be placed in some of Silver Muse’s top suites.

A place for relaxation and inspiration by day, the distinctively designed Arts Café will turn into a lively lounge come evening. The Arts Café is also a great venue to enjoy a bite to eat or a tipple, with a café and deli-bar offering daytime cuisine and mouth-watering cocktails as the sun sets.

Barbara Muckermann, Chief Marketing Officer at Silversea Cruises, said: “Like Silversea, the Heywood Hill brand stands for quality, expertise, and personalization, so we are thrilled to have them curate Silver Muse’s library. We’re excited to offer guests the all-new Arts Café, which promises to be the ideal space for kicking back with a book, enjoying a cocktail or catching up with friends over a coffee.”

Nicky Dunne, Chairman of Heywood Hill, said: “We are delighted to be working with Silversea Cruises. A library is a sanctuary from which to explore the world in comfort, just like a world class cruise ship. The brief was to choose books that Silversea’s guests will really enjoy and that will only add to the quality of their experience onboard. We have taken a lot of trouble in selecting titles for the Arts Café and we can’t wait to hear what the passengers think of our choices.”

Arts Café is one of several new public spaces on Silver Muse, which launches next month. Calling at 34 countries and 130 ports in 2017 alone, Silver Muse will redefine ocean travel, enhancing the small-ship intimacy with spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience. The addition of Silver Muse will expand Silversea’s fleet to nine ships and will, once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews, new ships

Norwegian Joy sails off to her China homeport

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 28 - 2017

Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first custom-designed ship for the Chinese cruise market, began her journey to her home port of Shanghai, China this week, as she departed the MEYER WERFT shipyard in Papenburg, Germany on Sunday, March 26 for her approximately 14-hour long conveyance along the Ems River.

Norwegian Joy’s river conveyance marks another key milestone in the ship’s highly anticipated delivery. Measuring 1,094 feet long and 136 feet wide, the ship is the second in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class and the first that was purpose-built for China.

“We are thrilled Norwegian Joy has officially begun her journey to China,” said David Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. “As the first custom-built ship for the Chinese cruise market, she will offer a First Class at Sea experience for our guests and we cannot wait to officially welcome her to the fleet this June.”

The 168,800–gross-ton Norwegian Joy departed MEYER WERFT at approximately 9:00 pm local time, making a narrow passage in reverse through the shipyard’s locks, passing the structure with just 1.2 meters separating the ship from the “bumpers” installed along the locks. The ship’s navigation team, led by experienced yard captains and River Ems pilots, included several navigation officers in charge of overseeing the bow maneuvers and others overseeing the movement of the stern. Several local authorities and other partners were also involved in supporting this precise maneuver.

After passing through the sea lock in Papenburg, Norwegian Joy continued along the river, stern first. Due to the strong propulsion in the aft section of the vessel, traveling stern first helps with maneuverability, which is a key component when navigating the vessel through such narrow passages.

Before reaching her final destination in Eemshaven, Netherlands on Monday evening, March 27, Norwegian Joy passed through additional narrow passages including a railway Bridge in Weener; Jann-Berghaus Bridge in Leer and Ems-Barrier in Gandersum. Upon arrival in the Dutch port of Eemshaven, Norwegian Joy will take on additional provisions and further crew members, before heading toward the North Sea for sea trials later this month.

Following her delivery on April 27, Norwegian Joy sets sail for China, where she will be showcased through a grand inaugural port tour featuring one-day events at the ports of Qingdao, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s home-ports of Shanghai and Tianjin. This unique showcase tour will give travel agents and valued partners across the region the special opportunity to experience all that Norwegian Joy has to offer leading up to the ship’s christening ceremony on June 27, led by her Godfather, ‘King of Chinese Pop’, Wang Leehom. The spectacular inaugural celebration in Shanghai will include an exclusive concert and overnight cruise for honored guests.

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

As travelers get ready to cruise this year, Holland America Line is launching its popular Ready Set Sail promotion featuring pre-paid gratuities and up to $500 onboard spending money per stateroom. Guests who book a Holland America Line cruise by June 1, 2017, will be eligible to receive the offer, and guests who book a suite also will receive an additional $100 internet credit.

All cruises between June 1, 2017, and March 30, 2018, excluding Grand Voyages and Grand Voyage segments, are eligible for the Ready Set Sail promotion. Depending on stateroom category, guests will receive onboard spending money ranging from $100 up to $500 per stateroom.

“As we head into spring the weather is getting nicer and travelers are starting to think about their next vacation, so our Ready Set Sail promotion comes at the right time and features some exceptional values,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Covering gratuities represents nice savings for our guests, and the onboard spending money makes it possible for them to take advantage of many of our shipboard venues and experiences that will enhance their overall cruise vacation.”

Indulge with Onboard Spending Money  
In addition to pre-paid gratuities for the entire cruise valued at up to $27 per stateroom per day, guests receive onboard spending money that can be used to enjoy a variety of shipboard experiences and amenities. Extras that the credit can be applied to include treatments at the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, gift shop purchases, Journeys Ashore tours, beverages or dinner at one of the specialty restaurants such as Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer, Canaletto or Tamarind, depending on the ship.

By booking with Ready Set Sail, guests can cruise all over the world while taking advantage of the promotion. Eligible Holland America Line destinations include Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Bermuda, Mexico, South America, the Panama Canal, the Far East, the South Pacific, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel professional, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.

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

Filled Under Blog, cruise sales, cruisenews