Royal Caribbean announces it’s Holiday Season cruises

Royal Caribbean International announced new Caribbean cruises for Explorer of the Seas from November 2014 through early January 2015. After eight consecutive years dedicated to the New York metropolitan area with year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., Explorer of the Seas will redeploy to Port Canaveral, Fla., to offer a range of four- to nine-night Bahamas, and Western and Southern Caribbean vacations. Throughout the short season, Explorer of the Seas will join Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas at Port Canaveral to offer the most ships and itinerary options to The Bahamas and the Caribbean from Central Florida’s Space Coast. Guests aboard each ship will enjoy a Caribbean-holiday vacation that only Royal Caribbean can deliver, with the cruise line’s award-winning family programming, industry-leading entertainment and world-renowned friendly and engaging GOLD Anchor Service. Explorer of the Seas’ 2014 holiday season cruises from Port Canaveral are now open for sale.

Explorer of the Seas will sail four Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Port Canaveral through Jan. 4, 2015. On these five-night itineraries, guests call at Cozumel, Mexico, and Nassau, The Bahamas, or CocoCay and Cozumel. Vacationers also can choose two Southern Caribbean sailings on a nine-night itinerary that call at each of the ABC Islands and Labadee.

Additionally, a five-night Bahamas cruise, departing Dec. 13, 2014, will call at Nassau, Grand Bahamas Island and CocoCay. Guests on a special four-night sailing, departing Dec. 23, will call at Labadee on Christmas Day. The following eight-night Caribbean itinerary will herald in the New Year in St. Maarten, as well as call at San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and Labadee. Vacationers also can choose an extended 14-night Southern Caribbean itinerary, departing Nov. 1, 2014, which repositions Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Port Canaveral via the Southern Caribbean.

From Port Canaveral, vacationers also have Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas from which to choose. Freedom of the Seas, with its iconic FlowRider surf simulator, will continue to alternate seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries and Enchantment of the Seas will offer three- and four-night Bahamas getaways.

For More information contact your travel agent or go to RoyalCaribbean.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

Regent unveils 2013 itineraries

The 700-guest, ultra-luxurious Seven Seas Voyager is one of three ships in the Regent fleet expected to span the globe in 2013. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The ultra-luxurious Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet — Voyager, Mariner and Navigator — is poised to offer new port calls, five Grand Voyages and a circle South America sailing as part of the line’s just released 2012-2013 winter collection itineraries.

Look for the Grand Voyages to feature exclusive amenities, a new Western Australia cruise, and business class air upgrades from just $999 each way. Widely recognized as the world’s most inclusive luxury line, Regent sailings feature all-suite accommodations, gourmet cuisine, premium spirits and fine wines, free shore excursions, gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, at no additional cost.

“When you couple the new itineraries with our luxurious suites, personalized service, superb cuisine and all-inclusive pricing, Regent Seven Seas is the best value in luxury cruising,” said Regent president Mark Conroy.

Beginning October 2012, Voyager will offer five Grand Voyages departing Rome, Bali, Auckland and Beijing. Ranging from 54 to 143 nights, Grand Voyages include exclusive amenities such as free Business Class air, a special pre-cruise overnight and dinner, exclusive event, free Visas, internet access and more.

From December 2012 through April 2013, the ship visits Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, India, China and Japan, including maiden calls at Hiroshima and Huangpu (Canton), China. Many of the Asian itineraries offer free land programs or multi-night hotel packages in Angkor Wat, Sydney, Bali, Auckland, Hong Kong, Beijing, Chiang Mai, Safaga (Luxor) and to the Taj Mahal.

A new 21-night Western Australia cruise, departing Dec. 19, 2012, features maiden calls at Exmouth, Fremantle (Perth), Geraldton and Kangaroo Island.

Mariner’s circle South America, meanwhile, will explore many of the continent’s most popular ports-of-call with a 72-night voyage, roundtrip from Miami departing January 7, 2013. The 700-guest vessel will offer exclusive amenities include free First Class air, special pre-cruise overnight and dinner in Miami, an exclusive event, free private transfers to and from the port of Miami, free roundtrip luggage delivery service, Internet access and Visas. Four shorter South America voyages ranging from 12 to 24 nights focus on the Panama Canal, Chilean Fjords, Brazil, Argentina and the Amazon.

The 492-guest Navigator will feature voyages to the tropics now operating roundtrip from Miami — one of the line’s newest ports — beginning November 2012 through April 2013, with 16 departures to the eastern and western Caribbean. The ship then departs Miami for an 18-night voyage to San Francisco to begin its highly-popular cruises to Alaska.

The spacious pool-deck aboard Regent Seven Seas Voyager received a recent face-lift as part of a multi-million-dollar, ship-wide refurbishment. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The line was recently rated the “World’s Best Cruise Line” by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine and was recognized as the “Best Luxury Cruise Experience” by Virtuoso, the leading luxury travel network.

The Regent fleet visits some 300 global destinations each year.

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.

Carnival bolsters Canaveral sailings

Carnival will soon deploy three ships on a series of itineraries from Port Canaveral, Florida. In late fall look for Ecstasy, pictured here, to join Sensation and Dream. Image courtesy Carnival

By Michael Coleman

Carnival is poised to add another ship, year round, at Port Canaveral.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will operate four- and five-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast beginning Nov. 7, 2011. The move further bolsters Carnival’s position as Port Canaveral’s largest cruise operator with three, year-round ships scheduled to carry some 600,000 guests annually.



“In addition to offering a convenient departure point for millions of consumers in the southeastern U.S., along with attractive port facilities and excellent flight options into nearby Orlando, Port Canaveral is an extremely popular homeport and we’re excited to provide our guests with some fantastic new cruise choices from Central Florida,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. 
 


On the Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule, two different four-day itineraries will be offered along with two different five-day itineraries. 
 


Ecstasy will depart Thursdays on four-day ‘long weekend’ cruises visiting Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport. Five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West. 
 


From Port Canaveral, the line offers year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises aboard Carnival Sensation and seven-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages on Carnival Dream.

Prior to its repositioning, Ecstasy will continue to operate from Galveston, Texas through September 8, 2011 and then from New Orleans September 22 through November 5, 2011, as previously scheduled. 
 


Meanwhile, the company said this week Carnival Elation will reposition from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans to operate year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises beginning Nov. 5, 2011. On this route, four-day cruises will depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel, one of the Caribbean’s most popular ports, while five-day voyages will call at both Cozumel and Progreso.
 


Carnival Elation’s new schedule from New Orleans replaces the previously announced program from that port on the Carnival Ecstasy. 
 


Carnival Elation will join the Carnival Conquest in New Orleans, marking the first time Carnival has operated two ships from New Orleans in six years. Carnival will be the only cruise line with two ships based year-round in New Orleans, carrying more than 350,000 passengers annually. 
 


As a result of these deployment changes, Carnival will no longer be offering cruises from Mobile, Ala.

Student Center Opens

It was also a big week on the home front for Carnival. In Miami, the new Carnival Student Center opened at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Located adjacent to the campus’ bayside terrace, the modern facility encompasses more than 2,600 square feet and has been completely renovated and repurposed to create an attractive and inviting gathering place for students. 
 


With an advising center, reading room, computer workstations and fully-equipped conference rooms, a variety of groups and organizations, from students to industry executives scouting prospective interns and employees, can utilize the new multi-functional space. 
 


The Carnival Student Center was made possible by a gift to FIU which also includes an endowment for scholarships.

Carnival’s 22 ships operate three- to 16-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. The line currently has two new 130,000-ton ships on order — Carnival Magic, set to debut in Europe May 1, 2011, and Carnival Breeze, scheduled to enter service in spring 2012.

On the web: carnival.com

Princess honors MacLeod, preps for Royal Wedding

Television’s favorite captain, Gavin MacLeod, celebrated his 80th birthday aboard Golden Princess this week. The line made famous by the hit television show “The Love Boat’’, Princess Cruises will now wow a new generation of viewers April 29 when each ship in its fleet will broadcast live the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Image courtesy Princess Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Princess Cruises honored television’s most beloved captain, Gavin MacLeod, with a special 80th birthday party aboard Golden Princess this week in Los Angeles.

Crew members, along with his friends and family, sang “Happy Birthday” and presented him with a massive cake — a 5-foot-long, 3D replica of the original “Love Boat,” Pacific Princess.

MacLeod is perhaps best known for his role as “Captain Merrill Stubing” in the popular television series, The Love Boat. One of the longest running television shows in history, The Love Boat cruised through 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986 and is still in syndication in 92 countries worldwide. This year also marks MacLeod’s 25th anniversary serving as Princess Cruises’ spokesperson.

MacLeod’s impressive career spans television, theater and film. He spent seven years on the award-winning television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show as “Murray Slaughter,” the acid-tongued news writer. His other well-known television roles include “Happy” on McHale’s Navy and “Big Chicken” on Hawaii Five-O, and he has also appeared in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hogan’s Heroes, The Big Valley, Ironside, To Catch a Thief, Run For Your Life, Hotel and Murder She Wrote.

MacLeod’s film debut was in 1958 with Susan Hayward in the Oscar-winning film I Want to Live. His subsequent 35 film credits include Compulsion with Orson Welles, Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant, High Time with Bing Crosby, The Party with Peter Sellers, The Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen and Kelly’s Heroes with Clint Eastwood.

A Royal Onboard Affair

Meanwhile, the highly anticipated Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will be televised live on all Princess ships on April 29. Passengers will be able to follow along with full coverage of the pomp and majesty of the historic wedding through BBC World’s broadcast of the event.

Not only can passengers follow along as the future princess walks down the aisle, but they’ll enjoy viewing parties on board as they watch this royal event. BBC is the official wedding broadcaster and has exclusive access inside Westminster Abbey during the ceremony.

The onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

“As this is the first British royal wedding in years we know there will be wide interest among our passengers,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “We at Princess also feel a connection with Prince William because his mother, Princess Diana, christened our original Royal Princess back in 1984.”

Royal Wedding broadcasts are planned for all ships in the Princess fleet, subject to satellite availability. In some time zones the broadcast may be delayed for viewing at a convenient hour.

The Royal Wedding is one of several special events shown on the line’s Movies Under the Stars giant outdoor screens, including the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. The LED screens are more than 300 square feet in size with a 69,000-watt sound system and have sufficient lighting power to be seen clearly at mid-day and heard even while the ship is moving at full speed.

On the web: www.princess.com

Crystal Serenity to receive face-lift

By Michael Coleman

One of cruise travel’s most luxurious vessels is scheduled for a face-lift.
Crystal Cruises will be spending more than $25 million this spring to keep its largest ship, Crystal Serenity, on the cutting edge of luxury style.

Some 400 expert technicians flown from around the world, working round the clock for just 14 days, are scheduled for the massive redesign of her 531 deluxe staterooms, penthouses and penthouses suites; retail centers; expansive outdoor pool deck and other design projects during a May 8-22 dry dock at Hamburg’s Blohm + Voss shipyard.

“In the past two years, we have invested well over $50 million in our ships,” says Gregg Michel, president, Crystal Cruises.  The line also operates the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony.

“Our guests can look forward to dazzling new spaces, which will serve as a stunning  backdrop to the incomparable service and choices that always characterizes a Crystal vacation.”     

Interior designer, Keith Rushbrook, principal at the Toronto-based II BY IV Design Associates, summarized the vision: “We wanted modern classic elegance.  We wanted Fifth Avenue — crème de la crème New York-inspired living and retail spaces that people love and look forward to spending time in.”

All of the ship’s deluxe outside staterooms, penthouses, and penthouse suites will sport new, floor-to-ceiling tufted headboards, bedside cabinets, wallpaper, sofas, curtains, pillows, and custom carpets in contemporary lines and classic stone, silk, velvet, leather, and crisp linen textures.  New modern lighting features and electronic “do not disturb” and doorbell system will allow guests greater personalization of their home-away-from-home. 

Serenity’s retail shops will receive a similar, sophisticated metamorphosis.  The Facets fine jewelry store will mirror a jewelry box, with mother-of-pearl feature wall, beveled chrome vitrines, and new, private sales area.  The Apropos boutique will become three-shops-in-one, with a flagship Christian Dior cosmetic/skincare area showcased amongst rich Zebrano wood and herringbone rosewood, arresting black-plum-magenta carpeting, and tufted leather seating.

Inspired by Symphony’s recent transformation, the Seahorse Pool teak deck will be refashioned with circular pod beds, plush sofa groups, and lounge chairs in a kaleidoscope of lime green, azure, and mango.

The corridors throughout the ship will be transformed with new, custom carpeting, inspiring artwork, and mood lighting.  Dramatic new lighting will also be installed in the Crystal Dining Room, as will new furniture on all stateroom verandahs.

Following the dry dock, Serenity will embark on a series of Baltic, North Cape and British Isles cruises before heading to the Mediterranean for late summer and fall.

Summit pegged for stylish makeover

By Michael Coleman

Celebrity Cruises’ 2,034-passenger Summit will begin 2012 with a bold new look having incorporated some of the most popular attributes found on the line’s newer ships.

Since 2008 the Celebrity fleet has expanded to 10 vessels with the addition of the much-heralded Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox. Now, fleet-mates like the 2001-built Summit will receive Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox-inspired makeovers.

Among the highlights: the coveted AquaClass, Celebrity’s soothing, spa-inspired veranda-category accommodations paired with the chic, Mediterranean-themed specialty restaurant “Blu’’; plus the addition of Qsine specialty restaurant and the hip Celebrity iLounge.

Celebrity has just completed a similar makeover on Constellation and will do so on Infinity later this year.

 “Based on the phenomenal response we’ve had from guests who have sailed on the Constellation, we’re eager to introduce the same new features — ranging from the Cellarmasters wine bar to our signature icy Martini Bar to our cool Café al Bacio and Gelateria,’’ said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

“We recognize that consumers’ vacation time is precious, which inspires us to do everything we can to make their vacation with Celebrity Cruises something that is truly different and better than anything they’ve experienced before.”
            


A Celebrity exclusive, Qsine, the novel restaurant introduced on Eclipse last year, and set to debut on Infinity, will be added to Summit. It’s the first restaurant at sea to present a menu and wine list on an iPad. Qsine features a selection of savory tapas and mezze served individually in custom-made frames, a trio of chilled soups delivered shot-style, and spring rolls served in springs. All are described in detail on the iPad-housed menu and wine list, which offers a full scan of wine labels, an interactive cocktail menu, and the ability for guests to enter tasting notes and e-mail their favorite wine selections.

Look for Summit to feature the Celebrity iLounge, the cruise industry’s first authorized Apple reseller, where guests can participate in Celebrity’s “iLearn” enrichment series; a new creperie, Bistro on Five; new verandas added to the ship’s spacious, luxurious Celebrity Suites.

The ship will receive new furniture, flat-screen TVs, upholstery, bedding and carpeting; look also for new oceanview and inside staterooms and an expanded collection of original, contemporary art.

Celebrity sails to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Galapagos Islands. The line also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America.

Two new innovative ships, Silhouette in July 2011, and Reflection in fall 2012, will round out the fleet.

Oceania Cruises unveils stately Marina

The stately 1,250-passenger Oceania Marina, the fourth ship in Oceania Cruises’ fleet, debuted this week in Miami. Image courtesy Oceania Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Oceania Cruises christened Marina this week during a lavish ceremony in Miami.

The unveiling brings the vision of Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises and chairman & CEO of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings, to reality with the line’s first newly-built ship measuring 66,000 tons and accommodating 1,250 guests.

“The saying goes, ‘good things come to those who wait’ although Marina’s arrival has been long awaited she’s more than just good,” said Del Rio at the christening ceremony. “She’s the most beautiful, sophisticated and stylish ship launched in the modern era of cruising — a span of some 50 years.”

Marina is a ship of firsts featuring the first Bon Appétit Culinary Center; Master Chef Jacques Pépin’s first namesake restaurant at sea; Ralph Lauren Home-furnished Owner’s Suites; luxurious accommodations by Dakota Jackson; a Wine Spectator wine program and a Lalique grand stairway.

“Marina is not just another ship, she is special in so many ways,” said Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises’ president. “When we set out to design and build our first new ship, we wanted it to set new standards for comfort, service and culinary excellence.”

The ship’s godmother, Entertainment Tonight anchor Mary Hart, helped host the christening ceremonies.

Marina arrived in Miami last week following her maiden voyage from Barcelona. The ship has been purposefully designed to carry guests to the world’s most alluring ports in elegance and style. Marina is full of rich woods, marble and granite, fine wool carpets and lustrous leathers which adorn public rooms.

Facilities include 10 dining venues — six of which are open-seating gourmet restaurants, an array of bars and lounges, a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness center, swimming pool and hot tubs.

She will soon depart on the first of two 18-day Panama Canal transits that visit San Francisco and San Diego, both new ports for Oceania Cruises. Marina then operates a 12-day Caribbean cruise, round-trip from Miami, departing March 16, before sailing along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and on to Europe to begin her inaugural Mediterranean season.

Marina is the fourth vessel in the Oceania Cruises’ fleet consisting of Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, each carrying 684 passengers, to locales around the world since 2002. Her sister ship, Riviera, will be christened in April 2012.

The line bills itself as an “upper-premium’’ brand offering “gourmet cuisine, gracious service and award-winning itineraries at an exceptional value’’.

On the web: oceaniacruises.com

Entertainment is a big Allure to Royal Caribbean’s newest ship

By Jackie Roseboom

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas is nicknamed the entertainment ship for good reasons. There’s so much to see and do, you’ll have a hard time seeing it all – even on a seven day cruise. But you’ll have fun trying.

While its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, has “Hairspray,” the musical “Chicago” was brought to the Allure. It’s essentially the same performance as seen on Broadway. The huge ship affords a large stage, which allows plenty of room for the performances, including the full Chicago orchestra performing on stage, just like in the original version. The story of fame, fortune and heartbreak is located in the Amber Theater on select nights of each cruise. If you know “Chicago,” you know it’s a little risqué and not recommended for children.

Blue Planet is an environmental experience on the Amber Theater stage. It transports you to all different parts of the Earth with music, dance and impressive set designs. Prepare to be wowed by heart-felt songs, energetic dances and things that may not be what they seem.

Oceanaria is billed as a mystical under-the-sea adventure. So it’s fitting for it to be performed in the AquaTheater, making full use of the pool, diving boards, trampoline and more. You’ll see aerialist, dancers and divers all choreographed to music. It’s a great show with a wonderful setting as you sit under a ceiling of stars. There are many performances throughout the cruise so you shouldn’t have to miss it.

Ice games is a one of two ice skating shows. This one brings the beloved game of Monopoly to life, mixing in scenes from the ship. As with the other ice show, it features world class skaters and can only be seen on the Allure of the Seas. You’ll join Hiccup and the gang in the adventure of “How to Train Your Dragon” on Ice. The mythical creatures are brought to life in a shortened version of the DreamWorks family movie.

The Dreamworks characters from “Madagascar” come to life. Let You Entertain Me has Alex and Gloria trying to return the water to their jungle.
Let You Entertain Me is a fun and energetic show located in the AquaTheater. It stars the characters from the Dreamworks family movie “Madagascar”. Alex, Gloria, and Mort need the audience’s help in bringing water back to the jungle. If you’re traveling with kids, make sure they see this production as well as the Move it! Move it! parade that happens right down the center of the Royal Promenade. This your chance to see all of the DreamWorks characters dancing, hooting and hollering down the street. Photo ops with the characters are also available most days.

In addition to the productions listed above, there are various other club shows and bands available, including the very popular Comedy Club. Be sure and check your Daily Planner for all the fun onboard activities.

It’s suggested you go online and reserve the shows you really want to see before your cruise. I would suggest you do so for shore excursions and specialty restaurants as well. The more popular ones tend to book up before the ship sails. But don’t worry, even without reservations, with a little patients, you can still get into the sold-out shows. At 10 minutes before showtime, they open up the doors for those standing by.

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas sails out of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale on seven night Caribbean cruises.