A More Extensive List of Ships with Special Needs Accessibility is Coming Soon

Special Needs Group (SNG) is adding all accessible ships in the fleets of three Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. family members (Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises) to its Web portal/accessibility content resource. This includes accessibility information for Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to begin sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. in November 2014.

The one-stop portal is available to both travel professionals and consumers. It consist of an extensive list of ships’ accessibility features available in the cruise industry. It provides helpful information including:

Number of accessible staterooms
Accessible stateroom features
Food & Beverage venues accessibility
Recreational facilities accessibility
Much more

SNG will launch Royal Caribbean International on the portal on Monday, July 15; Celebrity Cruises on Monday, July 22 and Azamara Club Cruises on Monday, July 29. On Monday, Aug. 5, SNG will launch Holland America Line® on the portal. It will continue to add one cruise line per month through the end of 2013, and until all ships with accessible features utilized by the North American market have been included.

All ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line® fleet were launched on the portal in April 2013.

SNG President and CEO Andrew Garnett said, “By continuing to add ships/cruise lines to our accessibility content resource, we’re reinforcing our corporate responsibility to help educate travel professionals, as well as the traveling public, that individuals with special needs have the ability to travel now more than ever before. The content that we create and provide is mainly informational as opposed to commercially-driven, allowing individuals with special needs to choose the most appropriate ship/cruise for them.”

Earlier in 2013, SNG also introduced three collateral assets – Ship Accessibility Checklist™, Mobility Scooter/Power Chair Etiquette™, and Scooter/Power Chair Do’s and Don’ts™ – to better assist professional travel agents to serve Americans with disabilities and special needs. Special Needs Group is the only mobility and oxygen equipment supplier that is approved to deliver to all major cruise lines.

For more information about the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate program, SNG Travel Agent Affiliate Program and the SNG Resource Center, please call 1-800-513-4515 or visit www.specialneedsgroup.com/agents.

Siverseas Cruises Announces 2015 World Cruise

Silver Whisper Photo Courtesy of Siverseas Cruises
Silver Whisper photo courtesy of Siverseas Cruises

Siverseas cruises announced their 2015 World Cruise starting on January 5, 2015, when the elegant, all-suite Silver Whisper is set to embark on a 115-day epic voyage, encircling the world and embracing the cultures of five continents, 30 countries and 50 unique destinations.

Departing Los Angeles with no more than 382 guests on board, Silver Whisper will sail the warm waters of the South Pacific to explore the idyllic isles of French Polynesia, then head west to the scenic wonders of Australia, and north to the marvels of the South China Sea. From there, the journey continues to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and across the Indian Ocean to the glistening sands of the Seychelles. Silver Whisper then traces a course to some of Africa’s most intriguing destinations, including Mombasa, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Walvis Bay and Dakar. The voyage concludes with a leisurely Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale, highlighted by stopovers in the sunny Caribbean islands of St. Lucia, St. Bart’s and Puerto Rico.

World Cruise 2015 offers travelers the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in local culture with late-night departures in eight ports, plus overnight calls in Papeete, Sydney, Fremantle, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Singapore, Mombasa, and Cape Town.

“This exceptional voyage has been crafted to appeal to luxury travel’s most discerning clientele,” said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea’s president of the Americas. “Our World Cruise guests will visit the most exotic places and fascinating cultures on Earth — all while enjoying the pampering luxury of Silver Whisper.”

Silversea is offering guests the option to extend their World Cruise by adding a pre-cruise Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles (17 days), or continue on board from Fort Lauderdale to New York (3 days) or Southampton (15 days).

Full World Cruise guests will enjoy a variety of special amenities, including a gala Bon Voyage reception, dinner and overnight stay at a luxury hotel, baggage valet service, complimentary Business Class air (or air credit) and transfers (between home, airport, and Silver Whisper), a $4,000 onboard spending credit (per suite), complimentary laundry service, Internet package and commemorative gifts.

For guests sailing the full 115 days, there will also be two complimentary Silversea Experiences, including one in Walvis Bay, offering the rare opportunity to dine under the stars in the Namib Desert, plus three exclusive complimentary World Cruise shoreside events. These include an elegant cocktail reception and evening performance at Sydney’s famous Opera House, and a scenic journey by vintage train in Sri Lanka to explore the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, renowned for its conservancy work. Plus, guests will be treated to a tour of Cape Town’s magnificent Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, followed by a visit to the historic Résidence de France for a sumptuous lunch set in its beautiful garden, with Table Mountain providing a stunning backdrop.

Guests will also have the chance to meet and mingle with distinguished destination experts, academics, journalists, diplomats and other specialists. Local entertainment, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and regional specialties will provide further immersion in each global destination.

Fares for World Cruise 2015 start at $58,950 per person, based on double occupancy. For more information contact your travel agent or go to http://www.silversea.com

Princess Cruises Announces it’s Second Cruise for a Cause

Following the positive response to their inaugural Cruising for a Cause sailing, Princess Cuise lines pleased to announce our 2nd charity cruise — Cruising for a Cause: Princess Has Heart. This 5-day Western Caribbean cruise departing February 10, 2014 from Ft. Lauderdale will raise funds exclusively for the American Heart Association in support of its mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Princess is a company with heart. We care about the health and well-being of our employees, passengers and their families. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, with one in every three deaths attributable to heart disease and stroke.

It’s simple! Book this very special sailing and a tax-deductible portion of your cruise fare, ranging from $100 to $300* per person depending on stateroom category, will be donated on your behalf to the American Heart Association. Princess Cruises will match every dollar of these donations, up to $500,000, and will provide you with a written acknowledgment of your charitable contribution.

To book this charity cruise, simply contact your travel agent, call 1-800-PRINCESS or visit princess.com/cruisewithheart today.

Brilliance of the Seas ready to wow after emerging from drydock

A favorite ship among cruisers, Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas has reemerged from a $30 million drydock ready to wow guests. The 2,100 guest ship will now offer cruisers signature Royal Caribbean amenities first introduced aboard Oasis-class ships including five new dining concepts, an exhilarating aerial entertainment experience and technology advancements allowing guests to stay more connected than ever before. Brilliance of the Seas will debut her newest innovations this summer as she sails from Harwich, England, offering Northern European itineraries that visit some of the Baltics’s most sought after destinations such as Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland.

Doubling her dining options, Brilliance of the Seas now offers guests a wide variety of culinary experiences from family-style festivity at the Italian trattoria, Giovanni’s Table, to the intimate and exclusive multi-course Chef’s Table. Guests can expand their palettes at a multitude of other dining venues including Royal Caribbean’s signature Izumi Asian Cuisine, Park Café and Rita’s Cantina.

In addition, the five-story Centrum – which is the focal point of the ship – has been transformed into a spectacular new space featuring the Centrum experience, which includes the addition of the 60’s-inspired R Bar as well as a multitude of entertainment experiences including enriching daytime activities, dazzling nighttime entertainment and a new high-flying entertainment experience where aerialists glide through the vertical space of the atrium.

The ship also features a new locatin for the Concierge Club for suite guests, a Diamond Club for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program members, a new English pub and the popular Royal Babies and Tots Nursery giving parents more opportunities to enjoy the ship’s amenities with peace of mind that their babies are being tended to by qualified care givers. Guests also will find that staying connected at sea will be easier with Wi-Fi access throughout the ship and enjoy a host of technology enhancements that include flat-panel televisions in all staterooms, an outdoor LED movie screen on the pool deck, as well as an interactive digital way-finding system. Old favorites such as the self-leveling pool tables, the adults-only Solarium and the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center can still be found onboard and are sure to delight guests of all ages.

Beginning today, Brilliance of the Seas’ Northern Europe season includes eight sailings that offer the best of the North and Baltic seas, calling at Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Talinn, Estonia; Gothenburg, Sweden; and offering an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. An 11-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland itinerary, sailing July 27, will call at Bergen and Geiranger, Norway; Lerwick/Shetland, Scotland; Klaksvik, Faroe Islands; with an overnight in Reykjavik, Iceland. Brilliance of the Seas departs for Boston, Mass. on August 31 on a 15-night itinerary, calling at Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France; Portland, Dorset, UK; Cork (Cobh) and Dublin, Ireland; Klaksvik; with an overnight at Reykjavik.

For more information contact your travel agent or RoyalCaribbean.com

Carnival Triumph is headed for her makeover!

Carnival Triumph is scheduled to depart Mobile, Ala., this afternoon under its own power bound for Freeport, Bahamas, to enter a dry dock facility where final repairs and shipboard operating enhancements will be completed. The ship is expected to arrive at Grand Bahama Shipyard on Saturday, May 11. Following the dry dock, Carnival Triumph is slated to re-enter regular service from Galveston, Texas, June 13, 2013.

“With the ship temporarily out of service for repairs, we decided to take the opportunity to add a host of new dining and bar venues that are part of our tremendously popular fleetwide Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement program,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Fun Ship 2.0 is a $500 million product-enhancement initiative being gradually rolled out across the Carnival fleet.
New features being added to Carnival Triumph during its dry dock include:

*Guy’s Burger Joint, a complimentary poolside venue serving fresh-made burgers and hand-cut fries created by Food Network personality and chef Guy Fieri.

*BlueIguana Cantina, a free-of-charge Mexican cantina with custom-made tacos and burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar.

*Alchemy Bar, a cocktail “pharmacy” where highly trained mixologists create custom cocktails using interesting flavors and ingredients.

*EA SPORTS Bar, an interactive sports-themed lounge where patrons can view live action, play popular EA SPORTS video games and keep up with the latest scores.

*RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside Caribbean-themed watering hole offering a variety of the region’s top rums and beers in a laid-back island-infused atmosphere.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a lively and engaging poolside bar serving frozen cocktails and Mexican beers in a fun and festive environment.

In addition to installation of the Fun Ship 2.0 features and other repairs, as part of a $300 million fleetwide program announced in April, Carnival Triumph is being outfitted with new systems to improve operating reliability to further prevent a potential loss of primary power, an upgrade in fire detection and suppression systems, and, in the rare event of a loss of main power, additional emergency backup power to provide core hotel services to ensure guest comfort.

When Carnival Triumph resumes year-round service from Galveston June 13, the ship will sail four-day cruises to Cozumel, Mexico, and five-day cruises to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.

For additional information and reservations on any of Carnival’s “Fun Ship” vacations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

Celebrity Cruises announced today that they will be offering Xbox Games

Celebrity Cruises has joined forces with Microsoft’s Xbox to integrate the leading destination of video game entertainment into guests’ modern luxury vacations. Slated to introduce one of the industry’s largest Xbox experiences at sea, Celebrity’s alliance boasts entertaining Xbox-themed spaces across its fleet, offering families interactive Xbox Games experiences for all ages.

Guests can anticipate enhancements to existing venues and onboard programming as soon as this summer, with the inclusion of Xbox-featured activities and gaming areas in the youth program’s Fun Factory and X-Club facilities. For youth who have been registered to participate by their parents, the Celebrity Xbox experience will offer exciting age-appropriate games and themed nights ranging from sports and dance to adventure and racing on Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360.

Adults also have the opportunity to connect and enjoy the Xbox experience through free play and at scheduled themed events, including Zumba® parties and sports tournaments, available on traveling Kinect for Xbox 360 consoles in different venues throughout the ships.

“As a premium vacation brand, Celebrity is dedicated to providing guests with what they want while on vacation, whether relaxation, entertainment or staying connected – it’s readily available,” said Greg Purdy, Celebrity Cruises’ SVP of Operations. “Joining existing offerings like the Celebrity iLounge, a hip approach to the standard Internet lounge and the first Authorized Apple® Specialist at sea, the Celebrity Xbox experience expands our technology offering with even more engaging ways for the whole family to enjoy a modern luxury vacation.”

To celebrate the launch, one lucky family of four will win a seven-night cruise onboard the Celebrity ship of their choice, with the exception of Celebrity Xpedition, and an Xbox 360 prize pack as the grand prize of the Celebrity & Xbox Experience Sweepstakes. For a chance to win, guests enter online through June 18, 2013 at www.celebritycruises.com/xboxsweeps. Participants also can win four Xbox 360 prize packs, each including an Xbox 360 with Kinect and a month of Xbox Live Gold membership.

“The Celebrity Xbox voyage is unlike any journey Xbox has embarked on,” said Grover Holtzclaw, US Xbox Director. “With Xbox’s first exclusive experience at sea, two great brands have come together to develop the ultimate family vacation: the best gaming entertainment combined with the modern luxury Celebrity provides its guests.”

The newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Constellation is the first of Celebrity’s ten ships to introduce the complete onboard Xbox experience when it re-entered service on May 5, 2013, after completing its scheduled drydock – just in time for families planning their summer vacations. The remaining Celebrity ships will offer Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360 this summer, and will unfold the full Xbox experience by the end of 2013.

For more information or to book a cruise go to celebritycruise.com

Some New Magic will be added to the Disney Magic

Disney Magic Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Lines

There will be even more magic on the Disney Magic, when the Disney Cruise Line vessel relaunches with new spaces, reimagined areas and exciting additions for the whole family. Guests will experience new adventures throughout their journey on the cruise ship that set the standard for Disney’s family fun at sea.

From a new grand atrium lobby and a children’s area of “super hero” proportions to a three-story water thrill slide and a spa to stimulate the “Senses,” there are plenty of new and magical surprises in store for cruise guests. The ship features fun new experiences with Marvel characters – the first time Super Hero icons from the Marvel Universe have been introduced on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

“We have always been committed to reinvesting in our fleet and continuously making shipboard enhancements that elevate the guest experience,” said Karl L. Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line. “What we’re doing with the Disney Magic is yet another step forward in our commitment to delivering the absolute best family vacations at sea.”

“Storytelling is at the heart of everything we do,” says Joe Lanzisero, senior creative vice president for Walt Disney Imagineering. “Walt Disney was a master storyteller and knew how to engage people’s emotions into stories. Our job is to take what we learned from Walt and apply it to the experiences on board our ships.”

Here are some highlights of new “magic” in store for guests aboard the Disney Magic after the “reimagineering” transformation of the ship that takes place during dry dock Sept. 7-Oct. 10, 2013 in Cadiz, Spain:

A Grand First Impression

When guests board the Disney Magic, they enter the grand atrium lobby that is redesigned to be “elegant art deco, inspired by elements of the sea,” according to Lanzisero.“Filmmaking is the history of our company and in film the ‘establishing shot’ sets the scene,” he says. “This is the same with the atrium, as we begin telling our story.”

 Disney Magic's Atrium Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

The spectacular three-deck lobby features hand-tufted, custom-made carpet that dazzles in a palette of vibrant coral, blue and aquamarine seashell-inspired designs. The art deco atrium chandelier is inspired by rays of the sun and the glisten of the surface of the ocean. Opulent furnishings, a grand piano and giant portholes recall the days of early 20th century ocean liners.

The lobby’s centerpiece is a cold-cast bronze statue of “Helmsman Mickey,” ever-smiling and keeping watch as guests stroll past. The famed statue, which has stood in the atrium since the ship was launched, will receive a special makeover bringing new luster to its golden hue.

Disney, Disney-Pixar & Marvel Characters Join the Fun

Disney’s Oceaneer Club, open to 3- to 12-year-old children, is a completely re-imagined area that transports children to the magical realms of brave super heroes, adventuresome toys, fanciful fairies and Mickey Mouse’s club for creativity and fun.

With Marvel now a part of the Walt Disney Company family, this will mark the first time the Super Hero icons of Marvel have been introduced on a Disney Cruise Line ship. Marvel and Walt Disney Imagineers have created a new space for children to enter into the Marvel Universe.

 Marvel’s Avengers Academy Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Marvel’s The Avengers will make their presence known in an epic way aboard the Disney Magic, with Marvel’s Avengers Academy calling Disney’s Oceaneer Club its new seaward home. Young crime-fighters will be transported to a high-tech command post used by The Avengers for special missions and operations training.

Throughout the base, displays featuring some of the equipment that helps to make The Avengers the earth’s mightiest heroes – Iron Man’s suit of armor, Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer — inspire super hero “recruits” through their academy missions. Avengers Academy is a multi-day, immersive entertainment experience where children interact with Marvel characters and unleash their inner super heroes.

Adjacent to Marvel’s Avengers Academy is Andy’s Room, where stars of the Disney-Pixar “Toy Story” trilogy come to life in a multi-level space. Stocked with all of Andy’s favorite toys, the room features a larger-than-life Mr. Potato Head, a giant version of the lovable piggy bank, Hamm, and a Slinky Dog slide.

Disney Magic's Andy's Room Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Disney Magic’s Andy’s Room Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Pixie Hollow Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Pixie Hollow Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Next door is Pixie Hollow, the enchanted land of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends. In this magical forest setting, Tinker Bell’s teapot house serves as a costume closet and children can make crafts while sitting on stools shaped like mushrooms and acorns.

Mickey Mouse Club Courtesy of  Disney Cruise Line
Mickey Mouse Club Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

In Disney’s Oceaneer Club guests will find the Mickey Mouse Club, another new children’s area. Inside a room splashed with Mickey’s signature colors of red, yellow and black, kids can create crafts and play games on ear-shaped tables. The club also features Goofy Gears, an oversized activity where kids play with wacky, magnetic spinning gears.

But the kid-sized fun doesn’t stop there!

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab takes 3-to-12-year-old children on a journey of discovery, exploration and adventures. At this new pirate-themed area, children are encouraged to create, play and explore. An animator’s studio, a pirate workshop and lab lets kids get hands-on to create experiments and art projects, and Navigator Simulators let young buccaneers steer a ship through the mysterious waters of The Caribbean.

 Its a Small World Nursery Photo Courtesy Of Disney Cruise Line
Its a Small World Nursery Photo Courtesy Of Disney Cruise Line

For the youngest cruisers — ages three months to three years — is the new It’s a Small World Nursery. Inspired by the style of Disney Legend Mary Blair, this whimsical world is a place of age-specific fun and discovery, with trained counselors.

H2…OH!

The upper ship decks of the Disney Magic have been redesigned for plenty of splashtacular fun, with waterful adventures that include a three-story water slide for thrill-seekers and a Huey, Dewey and Louie-themed toddler splash zone for smaller ducklings.

“From small children to teens to adults, everyone will have a space to have fun in the sun and water. We added more water play areas, dynamic slides, interactive elements for the kids, and more shade,” says Lanzisero.

Water thrills are found on the AquaDunk, a three-story body slide that begins with a surprise launch. Riders step inside a translucent tube and await the near-vertical launch that takes place when the floor beneath them opens like a trap door. The drop sends guests on an exhilarating, swift and splashy ride in a translucent tube that extends 20 feet over the side of the ship. Guests taller than 48 inches can enjoy the AquaDunk.

AquaLab Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
AquaLab Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Guests can also soak in the sun and the water fun with AquaLab, an interactive water playground open to kids ages 3 and up. In the AquaLab, families can frolic among pop jets, geysers and bubblers in this fun and fanciful 1,800-square-foot space, while the Twist n’ Spout water slide gets them delightfully drenched with more than 250 feet of sliding fun of loops and turns. Twist n’ Spout is for guests between 38 and 64 inches tall.

Tots up to age 3 can play in the new Nephews’ Splash Zone, a splash-a-second area dedicated to interactive fun and starring Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie. The area features water play with pop jets, squirting figures of Donald Duck’s nephews and plenty of high seas hijinks.

Disney Dining With an Extra Dash of Pixie Dust

New restaurants and new technology are on the menu for the restaurants aboard Disney Magic.

Animator’s Palate, one of the most popular restaurants on the Disney ships, is updated with all-new, animation-adorned walls and larger high-definition flat-screens to provide the best views of the animation magic that takes place all around.

Animator's Palate Courtesy of Disney Cruise LIne
Animator’s Palate Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

A heaping helping of entertainment is served up during the brand-new “Drawn to Magic” experience at Animator’s Palate. Throughout this deliciously fresh take on Disney Cruise Line’s much beloved classic dinner celebration, the restaurant’s black and white “blank canvas” explodes into full color as favorite Disney and Disney-Pixar characters, such as Rapunzel from “Tangled” and Remy from “Ratatouille,” come to life right before guests’ eyes.

Animator's Palate courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Animator’s Palate courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

On every Disney Magic cruise, guests will have an opportunity to experience the tremendously popular “Animation Magic” dinner show that celebrates the magic of Disney animation and allows families to create and participate in an innovative way. First unveiled on the Disney Fantasy, “Animation Magic” invites guests to create their own characters that magically spring to life, become fully animated and join the show onscreen.

The vibrancy of Rio de Janeiro creates an energetic atmosphere in Carioca’s, a new restaurant named after Donald Duck’s parrot pal in “The Three Caballeros,” Jose Carioca. Festooned with lighted lanterns, the restaurant is designed to be “fun by day, elegant by night,” says Lanzisero.

During the day, there’s a festival theme and, when night falls, the atmosphere transforms into an after-hours scene of Rio de Janiero, with city-side windows softly illuminated and lanterns flickering overhead. Carioca’s replaces Parrot Cay restaurant, currently on the Disney Magic.

Another new restaurant to the Disney Magic is Cabanas, a casual dining experience with food and beverage stations during daytime hours and a table-service restaurant during dinner. The Australian setting of the Disney-Pixar animated classic “Finding Nemo” inspires the décor with hints of the film’s fishy and feathered friends throughout the restaurant.

 Cabanas Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Cabanas Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Cabanas, which replaces the current Topsider Buffet, also is expanding. More inside space is being added, increasing the total square-footage of air-conditioned area by nearly 3,400 square feet to more than 9,460 square feet and a total of 455 seats.

Disney Cruise Line’s popular Palo restaurant for adults receives a makeover with stylish fixtures, glass artwork and new stone floors. Red and white striped poles reminiscent of those found throughout the canals in Venice are a design feature.

The Fun’s Just Begun When Nighttime Comes

After a day of frolicking on the decks and out and about the ship, Disney Magic offers big city-style fun in After Hours, the nighttime adult entertainment district. An all-new lineup of clubs includes venues for dancing, comedy, music and variety shows. After Hours replaces Beat Street, currently on the Disney Magic.

“It’s our goal to create a sleek and sophisticated adult experience in After Hours” says Lanzisero. “Each of the three clubs has a different feel that complements the others.”

Fathoms Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Fathoms Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Fathoms night club is a celebration of the sea that utilizes special effects, lighting and sound to create different atmospheres from early evening to night.

“The ocean can sometimes be very calm and sometimes have some big excitement,” Lanzisero says. “That’s what we wanted to create with Fathoms.”

Piano Bar Courtsey of Disney Cruise LIne
Piano Bar Courtsey of Disney Cruise LIne

For guests seeking a more low-key nighttime experience, there is Keys piano bar and lounge. Whether guests want to relax with a cocktail and the soft sounds of a piano or “wind down” after an evening of dancing and revelry, Keys provides a refined retreat.

O'Gills Courtesy of Diseny Cruise Line
O’Gills Courtesy of Diseny Cruise Line

Pub days of olde are recalled in O’Gills, an Irish pub and sports bar designed with traditional decor. Live televised athletic events are on tap for sports-lovers.

Open Up, and Say “Spa”

For the ultimate in relaxation and pampering, the enhanced Senses Spa & Salon offers many indulgences. Redesigned with a sleek and contemporary style, this haven of personal harmony provides an unmatched ocean-view environment. The size of the spa is being expanded by 725 square feet, to a total size of nearly 11,500 square feet.

 Senses Spa-Salon Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Senses Spa-Salon Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

A new Smile Spa offers teeth whitening services, a new barbershop offers services for the gentlemen and the new Chill Spa provides treatments especially for teens 13 to 17 years of age.

Family Fun in the D Lounge

Another reimagined area, D Lounge, offers a variety of family-friendly games, shows, dances and activities designed for all ages. Colorful and contemporary, this space encourages creative and kinetic fun. Families can enjoy entertainment, game shows and activities together in D Lounge which replaces Studio Sea, currently on the Disney Magic.

Putting more “room” in staterooms

Disney Cruise Line knows that traveling families always need more space, so features are included in each room to provide more usable space. Bed frames are elevated to provide storage space underneath. The bathrooms include the split-bath feature that Disney introduced to the cruise industry — providing even greater convenience to guests.

For more information or to make a reservation visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact a travel agent.

Survey Said: Cruise industry enjoyed stellar 2010

Despite tough economic times and a sluggish economy the cruise industry performed admirably in 2010, according to a recent survey. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The cruise industry contributes significantly to the U.S. economy and Americans are not only increasingly aware of cruise vacations but strongly interested in either a repeat cruise or trying one for the first time, according to a recent survey.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a non-profit umbrella organization representing the interests of 26 of the world’s top cruise lines, commissioned the independent study.

They found that the industry generated 329,943 jobs that contributed a $15.2 billion wage impact on the U.S. economy in 2010, a 5.1 percent increase in employment and a 7.0 percent rise in wages over 2009. The total cruise industry economic impact in the U.S. in 2010 was $37.85 billion of gross output, a 7.8 percent increase over last year.

State by state, the cruise industry’s economic impact varied according to the scope of cruise line operations, with the major benefactors being those states with ports of embarkation.

In Florida, which accounts for 60 percent of all U.S. embarkations, the industry generated $6.3 billion in direct spending which helped create 123,255 jobs paying $5.4 billion in income. California, with 10 percent of the cruise industry’s direct expenditures, was the beneficiary of $1.8 billion in spending and 41,697 jobs. New York, with a 32 percent increase in passengers and crew visits in 2010, accounted for 6.7 percent of direct expenditures, with the industry generating $1.2 billion in spending and creating 14,833 jobs. Texas, with a 31 percent increase for last year, generated $1.1 billion in spending and 16,457 jobs.

Florida’s pre-eminent position is largely due to its five cruise ports: Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Florida led a list of 15 ports of embarkation that account for 90.7 percent of total U.S. embarkations. In order, according to the survey, the top 10 ports are Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, New York, Seattle, Galveston, Long Beach, Tampa, Los Angeles, New Orleans. There were 9,694,000 U.S. embarkations during 2010.

Florida’s five cruise ports handled 5.8 million embarkations, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all U.S. cruise embarkations. The state also led the country in resident cruise passengers: 2.9 million Florida residents, 29 per cent of all U.S. resident passengers, took a cruise last year from one of its ports.

The study revealed that CLIA member lines carried a grand total of 14.8 million U.S. and non-U.S. passengers in 2010, an increase of 10.3 percent, the largest year-over-year jump since 2003.
CLIA also reported that 73 million Americans have cruised before and that 36 million Americans (25 years+, $40K+ income) have an intention to cruise in the next three years, up from 33 million in the 2008 study and 31 million in 2006.

Seventy-seven percent of past cruise vacationers expressed interest in a cruise vacation in the next three years and 50 percent of non-cruise vacationers expressed an interest in taking their first cruise within the next three years.

Consistent with previous years’ studies, CLIA found that a significant majority of consumers — 94 percent – rate cruising as a satisfying vacation experience with 45 percent rating a cruise as “extremely satisfying,” making a cruise vacation a satisfaction leader among vacation choices.

The survey also revealed where consumers plan to take their next cruise. The Caribbean, Alaska, Bahamas, Hawaii, Bermuda, Mediterranean/Greek Isles, Europe, Panama Canal, Canada/New England and Mexico are among the top 10 cruise destinations in the world.

Disney Cruise Line unveils far-reaching 2012 itineraries

Image courtesy Disney Cruise Line — Disney Dream is shown at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island oasis in the Bahamas. With the commissioning of Dream in January 2011 and Disney Fantasy in spring 2012, Disney Cruise Line is doubling its fleet, increasing capacity to two-and-a-half times that of Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, and expanding itineraries to include Alaska, Europe, the Mexican Riviera and multiple stops at Castaway Cay.

By Michael Coleman

Disney’s pixie dust is spreading.

Disney Cruise Line has unveiled new itineraries and will set sail from three new ports in 2012 — New York, Seattle and Galveston — making the Disney family cruise vacation experience more accessible to potential passengers than ever before.

In Florida, sister-ships Disney Fantasy (to debut in March, 2012) and Disney Dream (unveiled earlier this year) will sail a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian itineraries departing from Port Canaveral.

The 4,000-passenger Fantasy will depart on her maiden voyage March 31, 2012, and will sail out of Port Canaveral on seven-night Caribbean itineraries — alternating eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings in November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All Disney Fantasy itineraries include a visit at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. The 4,000-passenger Dream, meanwhile, will sail three-, four- and five-night cruises from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay while five-night itineraries include two stops at Castaway Cay.

Beginning May 25, 2012, the 2,700-passenger Disney Magic will sail a total of 20 cruises from New York — including eight-night cruises to the Bahamas and five-night cruises up the New England coast to Canada plus three, two-night quick-getaway cruises (June 15, July 13, August 10). The eight Bahamas cruises will include a day at Castaway Cay and a stop at Port Canaveral, giving guests an opportunity to visit the nearby Walt Disney World Resort. As part of this itinerary, each guest will receive one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and roundtrip transportation between their Disney ship and the resort. The nine five-night New England/Canada cruises will call at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick. In these popular Canadian ports, guests can soak in splendid natural vistas, explore historic sites, visit quaint cafes and charming shops, and browse Canada’s oldest farmer’s market.

Beginning Sept. 22, 2012, Magic will sail 12 seven-night cruises from the Port of Galveston to the Western Caribbean. Ports of call include Grand Cayman and Mexico’s Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Meanwhile, beginning May 28, 2012, the 2,700-passenger Disney Wonder is Alaska-bound as she will sail a total of 14 seven-night cruises from the Port of Seattle to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. She will then sail seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from the Port of Los Angeles for the majority of the year — throughout winter, spring and fall. Look also for Wonder to sail four seven-night Pacific Coast cruises from Los Angeles (Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7), calling on San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.

And, for the first time, Wonder will offer a special 15-night voyage to Hawaii from Los Angeles, calling on Hilo; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili, Kauai and Ensenada, Mexico. The Hawaiian departure begins April 29, 2012.

On the web: www.disneycruise.com

Enter Carnival’s contest for a cause and win a trip on their newest ship

The Carnival Magic launches in about a month and you can win a trip on her by building a model of a Carnival ship. Photo courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

By Jackie Roseboom

Kids and kids at heart can put their artistic skills to good use and build a ship for a good cause.

Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a “Build a Ship” contest that invites anyone 13 years or older to build a model of a Carnival ship out of everyday items and submit a photo of it to win a free cruise. The contest, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is the latest in a series of contests and other activities in anticipation of the May 1 launch of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Magic.

Participants are encouraged to be creative and use whatever they can think of to build a cruise ship. There are no limits on what household materials can be utilized.

Once the ship model is complete, entrants are asked to snap a photo of their creation and upload it to www.carnivalmagic.com with a title and a brief description of the materials used. Photos will be displayed in an online gallery on the Carnival Magic website.

The deadline for submissions is April 6. The winner will be chosen by an online vote open to the public and will be announced on April 26. A selection of five finalists will be chosen for the public vote. The grand prize winner will receive a seven-day Carnival Magic Caribbean cruise for four from Galveston, Texas, in an ocean view stateroom. The four finalists will receive a prize pack containing a digital camera and various Carnival logo items. Carnival will donate $1 to St. Jude, up to $10,000, for each entry and vote, as well as for each Facebook fan who “likes” the contest.

The Carnival Magic is set to debut in Europe with a series of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises operating May 1 to Oct. 16. Following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Magic will launch seven-day Caribbean service from Galveston, Texas, on Nov. 14, becoming the port’s largest year-round cruise ship.
The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic will introduce a host of exciting innovations, including the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub; Cucina del Capitano, a family-style Italian restaurant that brings Carnival’s Italian heritage to the table; and SportSquare, an action-packed top-deck recreation area featuring cruising’s first ropes course and outdoor fitness area. Other features include Serenity, a relaxing adults-only retreat; The Lanai, a wraparound outdoor promenade with whirlpools that extend over the ship’s sides; and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live music venue. The ship will also have more than 19,000 square feet dedicated to children and families. That will consist of Camp Carnival (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), a two-level miniature golf course, Carnival WaterWorks aqua park with water slides and attractions, an arcade and more.

Details and contest rules can be found on Carnival Magic’s website at carnivalmagic.com/contest.

Be sure and follow Cruise News Weekly on Facebook and Twitter as we sail on the Carnival Magic in early May, and look for a future review on these pages.

– Jackie Roseboom is a regular contributor to Cruise Guide, “Orlando Attractions Magazine” and CruiseNewsWeekly.com.