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Follow ExpertCruiser onboard Windstar Cruises Star Pride

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 21 - 2017

For the next eight days follow my Twitter and Instagram feed from Windstar Cruises Star Pride as she sails from Lisbon to Barcelona. Have a question? Tweet me or post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer as quickly as possible.

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


Norwegian Joy to feature Ferrari branded race track

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 17 - 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced a partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches as a part of the entertainment and activities on board Norwegian Joy, its soon to-be-unveiled 3,850 passenger vessel. Norwegian Joy will be Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built ship for the Chinese market, designed to deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy ‘First Class at Sea’ experiences. Norwegian Joy will home port in Shanghai and Tianjin, following a grand inaugural port tour leading up to a christening ceremony on June 27, led by her Godfather, ‘King of Chinese Pop’ Wang Leehom.

The two-level Ferrari branded competitive racetrack will be located on the top deck of the ship, where guests may take a thrilling ride in electric go-carts. Up to ten drivers at a time will be able to race each other on the course and have photos taken at the finish line to share with friends and family back home. Guests of Norwegian Joy’s The Haven and Concierge class will enjoy a number of complimentary rides as part of the amenities and benefits of their suites and staterooms.

Ferrari represents fun, passion, and competitive spirit, and this partnership will bring the spirit of the brand to Norwegian Joy’s guests.  This is the first time Ferrari Watches has partnered on a branded go-kart track and Scuderia Ferrari Watches will be featured in a retail store adjacent to the racetrack.

Norwegian Joy will officially be delivered on April 27 in Bremerhaven, Germany. The ship will then set 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.

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


Carnival and Long Beach start cruise terminal renovations

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 13 - 2017

Carnival Cruise Line marked the beginning of a multimillion-dollar renovation of its Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships and enhance terminal operations. A “FUNstruction” groundbreaking ceremony today included remarks by City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, President and CEO of Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Steve Goodling and Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Strategic and Commercial Port Development Carlos Torres de Navarra among others.

Carnival unveiled its design plans for the terminal during the celebration. The renovation will increase the space Carnival currently occupies in the terminal facility from approximately 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet. The expansion and new design will allow for a dramatically enhanced passenger experience and operational flow within the terminal. In addition, the project includes the expansion of portside “cold-ironing” to enable larger ships to plug into the local electric grid to reduce exhaust emissions while docked. Further enhancements to the area surrounding the geodesic dome which houses the cruise terminal and the adjacent Queen Mary attraction are also planned.

“The start of construction on this project further cements our commitment to the City of Long Beach and the outstanding relationships we have built with the leaders and people of this community,” said Carnival’s Torres de Navarra. “Our operations bring tremendous economic benefit to this area and expose hundreds of thousands of people a year to this great city. These new terminal enhancements will further grow that positive impact,” he added.

Carnival has run the Long Beach Cruise Terminal — the United States’ only privately operated cruise terminal — since 2003. It is one of the busiest terminals in North America, with ships docking at the facility five days per week resulting in a more than 70% utilization rate. Carnival has used just a portion of the geodesic dome that housed Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” museum attraction for customs and guest check-in activities. The renovation will make 100 percent of the dome available for Carnival’s cruise operations.

“The expansion of the Carnival Cruise terminal is great news for Long Beach and great news for visitors to our city,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “The added capacity will bring more tourism and economic activity to Long Beach, and we’re pleased to continue working with Carnival for many years to come.”

Currently, Carnival operates three ships from the Long Beach Cruise Terminal — Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination, which offer three- and four-day Baja cruises, and Carnival Miracle which operates week-long Mexican Riviera voyages along with 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska.  In 2018 when the larger Carnival Splendor replaces Carnival Miracle, the line will carry more than 700,000 guests annually from Southern California, operating nearly 250 three- to 14-day cruises a year.

In addition to marking the start of the renovation of the cruise terminal, Torres de Navarra announced a donation of $25,000 to the Mayor’s Fund for Education. The donation, made jointly by Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Foundation, is part of Carnival Corporation’s ongoing support for nonprofit educational and charitable organizations in the homeport communities where its brands operate.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit www.carnival.com. For reservations, contact any travel agent or call 1-800-CARNIVAL.

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

Filled Under Blog, News, What's New?

Silversea Cruises previews new design for Silver Explorer

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 12 - 2017

Silversea’s luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer will welcome guests to a stylishly elevated onboard experience starting with her May 20 voyage, sailing from Lisbon to Honfleur.

A comprehensive stem-to-stern refurbishment is scheduled for the end of April and will take place during a nearly three-week dry dock in Las Palmas. Plans call for a complete renovation of Silver Explorer’s interior decoration, creating a revitalized atmosphere throughout the ship. As part of its $170 million fleet-wide refurbishment program, the company is making a significant investment to ensure that guests enjoy a renewed sense of luxury and comfort when sailing aboard Silver Explorer.

Highlights of the renovation include:

 Refreshed Public Spaces: The ship’s overall color scheme will shift to an elegant new palette of blue and beige tones, which guests will first notice in the remodeled reception area. The rich new look will be carried throughout the ship with the installation of attractive new carpets and wall treatments in the corridors, staircases and all public spaces.

In addition to new carpets and wall treatments, the Observation Lounge, Panorama Lounge and Connoisseur’s Corner will be updated with all-new furniture. The restaurant’s buffet counters, ceiling and walls will get a makeover and the furniture will be refashioned with new upholstery. The theater’s bar will be completely redesigned and its banquette seats refreshed with new upholstery. A new boutique will be built in the space previously occupied by the library, while the reference and entertainment materials from the library will be moved to the Observation Lounge. Also set for a spruce-up are the spa and fitness center, which will double in size by taking over the area occupied by the original boutique. Plus, the Outdoor Grill will be enhanced with a new awning.

 Elevated New Décor for Suites: The ship’s all-suite accommodations will be completely renovated with new carpets, wall treatments, curtains, and furniture, including mattresses, headboards, wardrobes, bedside tables, vanity desks, sofa beds, armchairs, flatscreen TVs and lighting fixtures. In all but the largest suites (i.e., Medallion Suites and higher), the bathrooms will be enhanced with new flooring, granite appointments and rainforest showers (replacing tub-and-shower combinations). Suites with verandas will be outfitted with new veranda furniture. And the eight Expedition Suites on Decks 3 and 4 will be converted into 16 Vista and View Suites, with most featuring a connecting door for the convenience of families and friends traveling together.

The remodeled Silver Explorer will accommodate 144 guests in all-inclusive luxury as she sails to the world’s most remote destinations — from the Arctic, Antarctica and Africa to the Americas, French Polynesia and the Russian Far East. Guests will enjoy sumptuous cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of shipboard amenities included in the fare, such as complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and at least one free hour of Wi-Fi per guest, per day.

In true Silversea Expeditions style, guests will be enriched by an onboard program of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. Exploratory Zodiac excursions and interactive walks ashore, led by experts in their field — marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists, are complimentary.

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

Filled Under Blog, News, What's New?

Silversea Cruises Silver Muse unveils amazing Owner’s Suite

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 6 - 2017

Ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea, has revealed details of Silver Muse’s Balsorano Owner’s Suite, a unique space which reflects the taste and Italian tradition of chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio.

Named Balsorano, the suite draws inspiration from the chairman’s full name, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio di Balsorano de Clunieres. Balsorano is also a castle in Italy.

At more than 1000 square feet in size, the Balsorano Suite contains a specially curated selection of Mr Lefebvre’s personal items including books, sculptures, works of art and family photographs. Among the items chosen are a chesterfield chair and ottoman and an additional chair from Mr. Lefebvre’s former family residence in Rome, and photos of Mr. Antonio Lefebvre, Mr. Lefebvre’s father and mentor.

The bookshelf in the Balsorano Suite is adorned with Mr. Lefebvre’s favorite titles, including The Great Navigators of the Eighteenth Century by Jules Verne, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia, and After the Victorians: The World Our Parents Knew by A.N. Wilson.

The Balsorano Suite will also be stocked with vintage port, each variety having been specially selected by Mr. Lefebvre himself.

 Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Silversea Chairman, said: “I am incredibly proud to present the Balsorano Suite, a space which superbly encapsulates my family’s Italian heritage and taste. I hope that guests will, like me, find the Balsorano Suite a spectacular home away from home aboard Silver Muse.”

Barbara Muckermann, Chief Marketing Officer at Silversea Cruises, said: “Owned and operated by one family – the Lefebvres of Rome – Italian tradition is firmly ingrained in the Silversea brand. As is reflected across the entire ship, much passion and pride has gone into the creation of the Balsorano Suite, the most luxurious suite on Silver Muse.”

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.

For information on Silversea’s recently launched flagship, Silver Muse, click here

To discover Silversea’s unrivalled list of destinations and itineraries, click here

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


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?