Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category


Windstar Cruises acquires three Seabourn ships, doubles fleet

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 19 - 2013

Windstar Cruises announced today that its owner, Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, has reached an agreement with Seabourn, a cruise company that operates six luxury cruise ships, to purchase three of their ships: Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend, and Seabourn Spirit. Under the project name Global Windstar, the expansion will double the size of  Windstar’s recently renovated, three luxury sailing yacht fleet, making the company the market leader in small-ship cruising with 300 or fewer passengers, with a total of 1,230 berths. The purchase on February 15, 2013, is one of several recent Xanterra Parks & Resorts® acquisitions, including VBT, an adventure travel company, and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, AZ, adjoining the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

“Windstar Cruises has experienced four straight years of revenue growth. This expansion is the perfect way to build on the momentum following our recent fleet-wide renovation, providing us with the much needed capacity to match the accelerating demand for our intimate style of yacht cruising,” said Andy Todd, chief executive officer of  Xanterra Parks & Resorts, owner of Windstar Cruises. “Global Windstar enables us to extend our unique small-ship experience throughout the world.”

The delivery of the three 104 all-suite ships, which hold 208 passengers each, will take place over the next two years in the Mediterranean. The Seabourn Pride will be the first ship to enter into Windstar’s luxury fleet in April of 2014.  Following a Windstar branded renovation, which will give the ship a new name and casually elegant look, the Pride with set sail a month later in May 2014; voyages are expected to go on sale in May of this year. Windstar Cruises will take possession ofSeabourn Legend in April 2015 and Seabourn Spirit in May 2015. These two yachts are scheduled to start sailing in May of 2015 following their dry-dock period.

“Windstar is proud of its heritage in sailing, but what our guests are most enthusiastic about is our intimate, yacht style of cruising. This style is the core of our brand experience and the new ships are a perfect fit to build on that foundation,” added Hans Birkholz, chief executive officer of Windstar Cruises.

The fleet expansion will provide Windstar Cruises access to new destinations such as Asia and South America, in addition to the fifty countries the company already sails to. Known for visiting hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world, Windstar will continue to focus on the unique destinations that large ships cannot call on.  The opportunities of Global Windstar are already evident with the recent announcement of  Windstar’s return to Tahiti in May of 2014. Tahiti has been one of the top destinations requested by Windstar guests and travel partners.

Windstar’s shoreside operations will continue to run out of the company’s Seattle, WA headquarters. Additional details, including itineraries, onboard experiences, and renovation details will be released in the coming months. For the most up-to-date information, please visit WindstarCruises.com, Windstar’s Facebook page, and blog.

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Windstar Cruises is returning to Tahiti

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On January - 29 - 2013

Windstar Cruises announced today that they will return to the South Pacific in the summer of 2014. Beginning May 2, 2014, Wind Spirit, the line’s recently renovated 148-passenger sailing yacht, will sail seven-day voyages from Papeete, Tahiti. Wind Spirit will sail 28 voyages in Tahiti, with the last voyage on November 7, 2014, before returning to Panama and Costa Rica for the winter season. The line’s return to the French Polynesia Islands marks the first time Windstar has had a ship sailing in Tahiti since 2002.

“Windstar’s return to Tahiti has always been the number one request from our guests and travel partners, even more than a decade later,” said Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises’ chief executive officer. “We’ve listened and made the decision that now is the perfect time to come back to the beautiful islands of French Polynesia.”

The week-long voyage will begin in Papeete, Tahiti – the world’s definition of paradise. Wind Spirit will sail to the following islands:

• Moorea – the beauty of this unforgettable island of love lies in drama and adventure.
• Taha’a – this fragrant island is known for its abundance of vanilla and offers a glimpse of the traditional tranquil life of the Tahitians.
• Raiatea – recognized throughout Tahiti as the ‘Sacred Island,’ it also serves as the cultural heart of French Polynesia.
• Huahine – known as the Garden of Eden, with lush forests, untamed landscape and quaint villages.
• Bora Bora – an island paradise in the South Pacific and known worldwide for its natural beauty.

This will be the first time the recently renovated Wind Spirit will sail the South Pacific. With six sails that cover 21,500 square feet, the French-built sailing yacht is ideal for cruising in the French Polynesia Islands under the power of warm breezes and tall billowing sails. Guests can enjoy the aqua blue water of the South Pacific Ocean at the back of the yacht with Wind Spirit’s watersports platform, which offers paddle boards, kayaks, water skiing, wind surfing, snorkeling equipment and more.

Guests will delight in the immersion of the South Pacific culture, brought to life in Windstar style. Local entertainment, such as traditional Tahitian dancers, will come on board for a magical evening to remember. Regional dishes will be incorporated into Windstar’s signature deck barbecue, held under the sails and stars one night per cruise. Shore excursions will be tailored to give guests experiential and romantic options delivered in true French Polynesian style.
“We’ve looked at what was popular with our guests in the past and we blended it with our luxury small-ship experience today to deliver the best product possible,” said Birkholz. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to return to Tahiti.”

Windstar’s voyages from Tahiti go on sale to the public in mid-March 2013. To book a cruise, contact a travel professional, call Windstar at 800-258-7245 or visit WindstarCruises.com.

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Cunard offers week long sale to amazing destinations

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 18 - 2012

If the Norwegian Fjords or the ancient ruins of Seville call to your sense of adventure, then The Cunard Sale may offer the perfect opportunity to book your luxury cruise vacation.

Starting 22 October, this week-long sale will offer a Reduced Deposit, On Board Credit of up to $300 per stateroom, and Complimentary Balcony Upgrades on 30 select voyages, including Cunard’s signature Transatlantic Crossings aboard flagship Queen Mary 2.

The Cunard Sale voyages aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth include:

  • Iberian Highlights, 19 April 2013 – 12 days aboard Queen Elizabeth; Balcony fares from $2,599
  • St. Petersburg & Baltic Explorer, 1 May 2013 – 14 days aboard Queen Elizabeth; Balcony fares from $3,599
  • Transatlantic Crossing (Westbound), 26 April 2013 – 7 days aboard Queen Mary 2; Balcony fares from $1,345
  • Fjords & Waterfalls, 19 May 2013 – 7 days aboard Queen Elizabeth; Balcony fares from $1,799
  • Mediterranean Delights, 7 July 2013 – 13 days aboard Queen Victoria; Balcony fares from $3,499

All fares and promotions are per person, based on double occupancy.  The Cunard Sale runs through 29 October.

Guests sailing a luxury cruise vacation aboard Cunard Line delight in the experience of the voyage itself, not just the destination.  By day, guests enjoy voluminous libraries, world class spas, white-gloved afternoon tea service and engaging award-winning Cunard Insights guest enrichment programmes; and by night are entertained by Royal Nights themed balls, West End-style productions and Veuve Clicquot champagne cocktails.

For more information about Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, or to book a voyage, consult your Travel Agent, call Cunard toll-free 1-800-728-6273 or go to www.cunard.com.

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Royal Caribbean expands popular culinary offerings to more ships

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On September - 17 - 2012

Royal Caribbean International continues to provide its guests with the ultimate vacation experience by enhancing its onboard dining options with the addition of Oasis-class amenities to even more ships. Next in line is Serenade of the Seas, which is scheduled for an extensive revitalization this fall.

Serenade of the Seas will wow guests in December when she re-emerges from her dry dock with a new lineup of specialty restaurants, which will include Giovanni’s Table Italian restaurant, Izumi Asian cuisine and the intimate Chef’s Table dining experience, as well as dining packages for guests to enjoy all of them at incredible value. Guests will have the option of choosing the Royal Choice Dining Package, which includes dinner at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Izumi for $55 per guest, or the Chef’s Table Dining Package for $130 per guest, which includes all of the specialty restaurants as well as the Chef’s Table.

Serenade of the Seas also will offer additional dining deals at Giovanni’s Table. Groups of four or more can take advantage of the Celebration Dining Deal, which is valid for the first two nights of each sailing and allows groups of four or more to enjoy a delicious meal plus a $30 beverage credit at a cost of $20 per person. Groups of eight or more can opt for the Set Sail Dining Deal which includes dinner on the first night of their cruise for $14 per guest.

Further enhancing its onboard culinary offerings Royal Caribbean is expanding its partnership with renowned wine producer Domaines Barons de Rothschild by offering the exclusive Lafite Wine Tasting Experience onboard. Available for $23 to $25 per person, depending upon ship and itinerary, the experience, which was first introduced onboard Allure of the Seas, offers guests a unique tasting showcasing the renowned vintages from France’s Bordeaux region.

Developed in conjunction with Château Lafite Rothschild, the premier estate under the Rothschild name, and Master Sommelier John Blazon, the Lafite Wine Experience aims to expand guests’ understanding of growing regions within Bordeaux. A Royal Caribbean cellar master leads the tasting, sharing details about the wines and the winemakers and the history and suggestions for food pairings. A souvenir packet allows guests to take a piece of the experience home with winemakers’ notes, recipes and more.
The Lafite Wine Tasting Experience is now available for pre-booking on select ships, including Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas.
Guests can book the Serenade of the Seas dining packages or the Lafite Wine Tasting Experience online at www.RoyalCaribbean.com.

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5 things you absolutely must consider before cruising

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On August - 31 - 2012

It’s a blissful thought: sailing off into the sunset on a cruise vacation. Cruising can be an exciting and affordable vacation option. Of course, it’s important to find the right cruise at the right price for your getaway. After all, there are more than 160 ships in the fleets of the 24 major cruise lines and thousands of itineraries worldwide.

Here’s what to consider when selecting your cruise.

Style of ship and cruise line

Cruise lines have their own distinct personalities and ships that reflect them. The size of a ship really does matter. Large ship cruise lines Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International provide a party atmosphere with glitz and high energy. Small ship operators like Silversea Cruises and Seabourn focus on quiet luxury and a more refined experience.

To make sure a line’s usual clientele and ship size is a good match for you, check over the line’s brochures and site. It also doesn’t hurt to visit the bustling online message boards at Cruise Critic and Cruisemates – member postings can offer valuable insight regarding a particular ship and cruise line.

Where to go

Cruise ships can take you almost anywhere on the planet, from the Caribbean or Europe to Asia or Antarctica, so explore a range of possibilities before settling on a preferred route. When you’ve found a trip you love, go over the schedule carefully. If traveling internationally make sure you have valid passports, visas, and any required immunizations.

If you need to fly to your cruise port make sure you allow enough time to get to the ship. Ideally you should try to get to the port at least a day in advance; this added buffer allows you to start off your hard-earned cruise vacation with less stress.

When to go

The holidays, spring break and summer are high season and that usually means higher prices. The shoulder seasons of mid-fall and early spring offer great cruise deals, and may be even more appealing than high season. An Alaska, European or Caribbean cruise in May or September, when the kids are in school, translates into fewer people in port.

Just before and after shoulder season, cruise lines move their ships from one home port to another in a strategic fleet movement that’s called “repositioning.” Of course, those ships don’t move around empty; instead, what you get is a “repositioning cruise” (or “repo cruise”) — a unique, one-way itinerary that is available only once a year. Repositioning cruises are often highly discounted meaning they are a great value.

Lastly, some of the cheapest cruises come during the Caribbean’s hurricane season, particularly in September and October. The price can come at a cost though — your itinerary may be changed and your cruise could be shortened or prolonged.

Pick a stateroom

Consider your itinerary when reserving a stateroom. If you can afford to splurge, a balcony stateroom provides you a private space to relax and get away from the crowded decks. Still, not all cruises are ideal for balconies. A trans-Atlantic crossing doesn’t make a lot of sense for a balcony since the ship is at sea for days and the weather is often cold or too windy to enjoy the space. On the other hand, the appeal of a balcony on an Alaska, Caribbean, European or South American cruise offers amazing scenery that should not be missed. Smaller inside staterooms are adequate for budget-minded cruisers who seem more likely to spend most of their time utilizing the ship’s public spaces.

A great cabin can make or break your cruise. If you’re on a romantic getaway don’t assume you’ll get a bed for two. Check with the cruise line to make sure you reserve a stateroom that offers a queen or king bed option, not fixed twins or pull-down pullman beds.

Lastly, study the ship’s deck plan. Passengers with disabilities might want to book near elevators. Watch out for staterooms with obstructed views – usually the lifeboat deck and those with close proximity to noisy areas like lounges, discos, theaters, pool areas, room service and steward service areas. Staterooms midship on lower decks are best for those prone to seasickness.

Getting the best price

Cruise lines offer travelers a host of discounts, so consider every source when looking for a deal. Check out your credit card as many offer discounts or points towards cruises. Look at all the clubs you belong to, from AAA, airline frequent flier programs and college alumni associations, to union memberships — see if they offer any deals or special rates for members. Also, if you’ve previously cruised with a cruise line you may be in for a repeat cruiser discount.

The majority of cruises are booked by travel agents. Big online agencies like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz along with large cruise-only agencies offer competitive prices on a number of cruises. Still, many cruisers prefer to use a local travel agent, but make sure you shop around. Visit Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) at Cruising.org and search by ZIP code. When you talk to an agent, ask about last minute specials and if they are holding any group space on various cruises. But keep in mind for popular itineraries the best prices are often booked months in advance.

Lastly, watch your spending once onboard. Cruise lines do not make the bulk of their profits from the actual cruise fare – they make it from onboard spending options like bar tabs, spa services, shore excursions, and boutique purchases.

Don’t be vexed when choosing a cruise vacation. If you do a little research on options and pricing you can board the ship without a care in the world. And that’s the only way to cruise.

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Bon voyage!


Hairy chest contest contestant sues Carnival over… hot feet?

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On August - 30 - 2012

Call it a case of not so happy feet for a passenger on a Carnival Cruise Lines cruise. According to a story in the Miami New Times, Kurt Gies is suing the cruise line claiming that his feet

Hairy Chest Contest on Carnival Breeze June 2012

Hairy Chest Contest on Carnival Breeze June 2012

were “burned” from the ship’s deck while participating in the line’s infamous passenger participation spectacle — the ‘Hair Chest Contest’. Gies injuries were received during a September 2011 sailing onboard the Carnival Legend where he states he visited the ship’s medical center for treatment. However, a Carnival spokesperson states there is no record of Gies seeking treatment from the Legend’s medical center. Additionally, Carnival says a video review of the contest does not show Mr. Gies in distress of any kind. Gies is seeking damages for “serious and permanent scarring, disfigurement, and embarrassment,” in his lawsuit.

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