Carlo’s Bake Shop to be on the Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Master Baker Buddy Valastro, star of the popular TLC television series “Cake Boss” and “Next Great Baker,” will open his second Carlo’s Bake Shop at sea on the new Norwegian Getaway, coming to Miami in February.

Valastro first partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line when he opened Carlo’s Bake Shop on Norwegian Breakaway, which began sailing from New York City in May 2013. Norwegian Getaway will be the second ship in the fleet to feature Carlo’s Bake Shop.

“Because of our guests’ exceptional reviews of Carlo’s Bake Shop on Norwegian Breakaway, we wanted to offer more Norwegian guests a chance to enjoy Buddy’s delicious baked goods,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer.

Featuring all of the delicious treats and confections that the original bakery is known for, on Norwegian Getaway will also give guests the opportunity to pre-order custom specialty cakes for celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries. For a challenging and fun experience, Carlo’s will offer cupcake decorating classes, where guests can learn some of Valastro’s tricks of the trade.

Carlo’s Bake Shop will be located on Deck 8 and his pastries will also be featured in the Atrium’s coffee shop. Signature menu items will include freshly baked cookies, cakes and pies, such as Buddy’s famous Oreo, Dark Chocolate Mousse and Purple Groovy Fondant cakes; Italian butter cookies; biscottis; and an assortment of cupcakes. Luscious chocolate and vanilla cannolis, cream-filled lobster tails, and individual treats such as strawberry cheesecake, chocolate truffle and tiramisu round out the menu. The delectable goodies will be available for purchase à la carte.
For more information or to book a cruise ask your favorite travel agent or visit www.getaway.ncl.com

Cunard Line Celebrates 175th Anniversary Year in 2015 with Special Cruises

Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2 in Sydney, Australia.  In 2015, she will meet sister ship Queen Victoria Down Under in Sydney to celebrate the company’s 175 years of service.  Photo Courtesy of Cunard Cruises
Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2 in Sydney, Australia. In 2015, she will meet sister ship Queen Victoria Down Under
in Sydney to celebrate the company’s 175 years of service. Photo Courtesy of Cunard Cruises

In 2015, Cunard will commemorate the 175th year of the company’s founding, and the global voyages will celebrate this significant milestone in style. This festive time will include several Cunard Royal Rendezvous events during the World Voyage itineraries: Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth will depart Southampton together on 10 January; on 12 March, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will meet in Sydney; and on 3 May, all three Queens will return from their World Voyages to Southampton.

Cunard’s 2015 World Voyages and Exotic Cruises Programme will feature voyages from eight days to 127 days aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Plus, passengers will have the option to combine itineraries into and out of Sydney, Australia across two ocean liners to create customised World Voyage options with a land portion in between. Passengers have the opportunity to visit South Africa or the South Pacific, to circumnavigate Australia, and to discover Japan and Southeast Asia. Together, the ships will visit 82 unique destinations in 46 countries, from major cities to less visited locations.

The programme opens for pre-registration today and opens for sale on 5 September at 5:00am PT.

“Cunard continues its tradition of being the world voyage leader,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “We have completed more circumnavigations and taken more passengers on this incredible journey than any other cruise line. And no other ships are welcomed around the world as warmly as the Cunard fleet. Our ships’ arrivals into port attract well-wishers in the thousands – on the water and ashore – it is part of the magic of the Cunard world voyage experience.”

Queen Mary 2
With four maiden calls and an enhanced East-West loop including New Zealand, flagship Queen Mary 2 kicks off her exciting 113-night World Voyage from Southampton and will visit 38 ports of call in 21 countries.

Destination highlights will include celebrating Chinese New Year in Sanya, China; travelling through the Suez Canal; extensive cruising of New Zealand’s Fjordland and iconic city waterfronts; Sydney Harbour; and an East-West loop that includes Auckland, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Maiden calls will include Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), Bitung (Indonesia), Sanya (China) and Sihanoukville (Cambodia).

Overnight calls will include Sokhna, Dubai, Hong Kong, Auckland and Cape Town.

Regional Voyages provide passengers the opportunity to enjoy Cunard’s exclusive World Voyage experience in a shorter time frame, ranging from eight to 24 days with fares starting from $1,599, and will include:

20-day Southampton to Dubai – includes an overnight in Sokhna and Dubai
14-day Dubai to Singapore
8-day Singapore to Hong Kong
19-day Hong Kong to Sydney – includes an overnight stay in Hong Kong
13-day Sydney to Sydney – includes an overnight stay in Auckland
24-day Sydney to Cape Town – includes an overnight stay in Cape Town
15-day Cape Town to Southampton
Full World Voyage fares for Queen Mary 2 start from $16,399.

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria’s 103-night Pacific Exploration itinerary will visit 33 ports in 21 countries, including two Panama Canal transits and two Transatlantic Crossings. Additional options include a South Pacific cruise starting in Los Angeles or San Francisco, visiting Sydney, and then returning to Los Angeles. Guests will also have the chance to view other city waterfronts such as New York, Sydney Harbour and Auckland with one overnight call in Sydney.

Queen Victoria will make five maiden calls during her World Voyage: Akaroa (New Zealand), Bora Bora, Puerto Limón (Costa Rica), Rarotonga (Cook Islands) and San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua).

Exotic Cruises range from eight to 27 days, with fares starting from $1,499, and will include:

13-day Southampton to Fort Lauderdale
17-day Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco
15-day Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles
21-day Los Angeles to Sydney
19-day San Francisco to Sydney
27-day Sydney to Los Angeles – includes an overnight stay in Sydney
19-day Los Angeles to New York
15-day Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale
12-day Fort Lauderdale to Southampton
8-day New York to Southampton
Full World Voyage fares for Queen Victoria start from $12,699.

Queen Elizabeth
In 2015, Queen Elizabeth will sail a 112-night Western Circumnavigation itinerary that will visit 38 ports in 26 countries, including her sail past Gallipoli on 24 April 2015 to commemorate ANZAC Day and the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign of World War One.

In addition, passengers will travel through the Panama Canal and Suez Canal and under the Golden Gate Bridge, and visit the iconic city waterfronts of New York, San Francisco, Sydney Harbour, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Overnight calls include San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong and Instanbul.

Queen Elizabeth will make one maiden call to Yorkeys Knob (Queensland).

Regional Voyages range from 8 to 22 days with fares starting from $1,499, and will include:

11-day Southampton to Fort Lauderdale
8-day Southampton to New York
21-day New York to San Francisco – includes an overnight stay in San Francisco
18-day New York to Los Angeles
18-day Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco – includes an overnight stay in San Francisco
15-day Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles
22-day San Francisco to Sydney
15-day Sydney to Yokohama – includes an overnight stay in Sydney
16-day Yokohama to Singapore
10-day Singapore to Dubai
20-day Dubai to Southampton – includes an overnight stay in Instanbul
Queen Elizabeth will make one maiden call to Yorkeys Knob (Queensland).

Regional Voyages range from 8 to 22 days with fares starting from $1,499, and will include:

11-day Southampton to Fort Lauderdale
8-day Southampton to New York
21-day New York to San Francisco – includes an overnight stay in San Francisco
18-day New York to Los Angeles
18-day Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco – includes an overnight stay in San Francisco
15-day Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles
22-day San Francisco to Sydney
15-day Sydney to Yokohama – includes an overnight stay in Sydney
16-day Yokohama to Singapore
10-day Singapore to Dubai
20-day Dubai to Southampton – includes an overnight stay in Instanbul
Full World Voyage fares for Queen Elizabeth start from $15,499.

All fares quoted are per person, based on double occupancy.

World Voyage Land Tours include:

The Wonders of Middle Earth: Three nights in New Zealand visiting the glow-worm caves of Waitomo and The Hobbit movie set

Cape Town & Safari: Two nights including game drives in the Aquila Game reserve

Hong Kong and a Taste of China: Three nights including a tour of The Peak and a glimpse of the Terracotta Warriors at Shennzhen

San Francisco: Two nights including a Redwood tour, a visit to the artist district in Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge

Traditional Singapore: Three nights including a city tour and afternoon tea at the Raffles Hotel

Sydney – Tall ships and Beaches: Three nights including an 1850s tall ship harbor cruise and a wildlife park visit

Enhanced Benefits Programme
Passengers who book their 2015 World Voyages and Exotic Cruises adventure before 28 February 2014 will receive an On Board Credit of up to $3,000 per stateroom on Full World and Liner Voyages, and will also receive a reduced deposit.

In addition to On Board Credit, World Club members will receive additional savings of up to $2,000 per person for bookings made before 28 February 2014.

White Star Premier Package
Cunard introduces the White Star Premier Package for Full World Voyage guests and offers roundtrip Economy airfare credit, pre-cruise hotel, transfers, White Star Luggage service, additional On Board Credit, Internet and pre-cruise World Concierge Services. Princess Grill and Queens Grill Suite guests who purchase the White Star Premiere Package will be upgraded to Business Class airfare credit and executive car transfers. The White Star Premiere Package starts from $4,300 per person.

For more information and to book a 2015 Cunard World Voyage and Exotic Cruise aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth, call Cunard toll-free at 1-800-728-6273 or visit www.cunard.com.

Fun Entertainment Lined Up for Holland America

When ms Amsterdam departs on its 75-day Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage Sept. 20, 2013, it’s going to feature a whole lot more than beautiful ports, tantalizing cuisine and award-winning service. Holland America Line has added four guest chefs, eight guest speakers and local entertainment in several ports as part of the line’s new On Location activity program. Shorter voyage segments of 21 – 43 days are still available.

The Culinary Arts Center — presented by Food & Wine magazine — will host four chefs on different segments of the voyage who will whip up their favorite dishes with a local flair reflecting the region where they are sailing. Guests will enjoy cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, question-and-answer sessions and hands-on cooking classes with the chefs in the ship’s full show kitchen. Scheduled to join the voyage are:

·Joseph Caputo (Sept. 20-29), culinary educator, author and chef/owner at Zuppa del Giorno and Catering by Joseph in Scranton, Pa.

·George Geary (Oct. 10-23), former pastry chef at Disney Corp., culinary journalist, author and educator

·Paulette Mitchell (Nov. 3-23), ethnic cuisine instructor and food markets of the world specialist

·Naomi Kakiuchi (Oct. 24-Nov. 2), sushi expert, Asian cuisine specialist and president of NuCulinary

Guests wanting to enrich their minds and expand their knowledge can attend lectures by eight guest speakers who will give presentations throughout the voyage:

·Dr. John Palmisano (Sept. 20-29) holds a Ph.D. in marine biology and has studied sea otter ecology in Alaska and the decline of wild Pacific salmon.

·David Smith (Sept. 20-29) is a professional photographer and travel writer who has published the “Digital and Travel Photography Tutorial” CD and “Travel Photography — Tips and Techniques” DVD.

·Joseph Kess (Sept. 29-Oct. 14) is the retired emeritus chair in Japan and Asia-Pacific Relations of the Center for Asia-Pacific Initiatives at Canada’s University of Victoria. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was inducted into the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government.

·Architectural historian Sandra Millikin (Sept. 29-Oct. 23) was assistant curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects Drawings Collection, which is now housed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. She also was a lecturer at Open University.

·Professor Roberta Sloan (Oct. 14-Nov. 17) has produced, directed and acted in more than 200 productions. She has taught at Marymount College, Huntingdon College, University of Oklahoma and University of Central Oklahoma, and received a Kennedy Center Medal.

·Stephen Sloan (Oct. 14-Nov. 17) is professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma. He is a pioneer in research and teaching on terrorism, and his book “Simulating Terrorism” has been used to conduct exercises internationally. Sloan is the author of 13 books and consults for the U.S. government and internationally.

·Melvyn Foster (Oct. 23-Nov. 17) has lectured extensively as a destination, wildlife and maritime speaker. He has an interest in maritime history and commerce, particularly the Atlantic and Pacific liners, and has personally logged more than 75 Atlantic and Pacific crossings.

·Elizabeth Foggin (Nov. 17-Dec. 4) holds a Ph.D. in Applied Social Sciences from Université de Montréal. Her research and thesis explored the experience of leisure and tourism of people with reduced physical abilities. She is co-author of a study and report commissioned by United Nations’ Asia Pacific office concerning “Barrier-Free Tourism in the Asia Pacific Region.”

As part of the On Location program, Amsterdam guests can participate in activities such as lei making, ukulele lessons, hula classes and Hawaiian language classes. In Honolulu, Hawaii; Kobe (Osaka), Japan; Shanghai and Hong Kong, China, and Papeete, Tahiti, local performers will entertain guests during special evening performances in the ship’s main show lounge. The itinerary sets the theme for guests to indulge in localized experiences that make time onboard as enriching as visiting the ports of call.

Guests also can fill their time onboard with other activities or simply relax and catch up on personal time with amenities such as the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, Explorations Café powered by the New York Times or Digital Workshop powered by Windows®.

Amsterdam embarks on its 75-day Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage from Vancouver, B.C., or Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 20 or 23, 2013, respectively, and returns to Los Angeles. The itinerary features an in-depth exploration of Hawaii, Micronesia, China, Japan, the Philippines and French Polynesia, as well as maiden calls at the exotic ports of Majuro, Marshall Islands, and Pohnpei, Micronesia. With overnights at Hong Kong and Shanghai; Kobe (Osaka), Japan, and Singapore, guests have more time to experience the culture and atmosphere of the region.

Rates start at $9,999 per person, double occupancy, for Amsterdam’s 75-day Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage departing Sept. 20. Segments ranging from 21- to 43-day sailings also are available starting at $2,499 per person, double occupancy.

For more information, contact your travel agent or visit www.hollandamerica.com.

Disney Cruise Line announces it’s holiday festivities

Disney Cruise  Lines
Beginning in early November, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship, through the new year, with traditional “Turkey Day” fanfare, Christmas feasts, “snow flurries,” New Year’s Eve galas and Disney characters dressed for the occasion.

Special holiday events include a nightly tree lighting in the atrium lobby, visits from Santa Claus and his elves, traditional holiday feasts, family holiday crafts, holiday storytellers and more. When the ships stop during the holidays at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday island music.

Guests will enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving Day feast, with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. On Christmas Eve, guests can leave milk and cookies for Santa when he visits the ship at midnight. Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and Hanukkah services will be held each day, Nov. 28-Dec. 5. To celebrate the new year, voyages include a special New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2014, complete with music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes and a midnight countdown with balloon drops.

If you are interested, you will want to book as soon as possible. They do book up fast for their holiday cruises.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact a travel agent.

New Carnival Breeze to feature Bonsai Sushi and Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ – Facebook contest launched

Dining is a highlight of any cruise and the 130,000-ton Carnival Breeze will feature a huge array of culinary choices when it enters service June 3. Two new offerings will include Bonsai Sushi, the line’s first full-service sushi restaurant, and an open-air barbecue venue called Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ.

To celebrate Carnival Breeze’s variety of dining choices, today Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a sweepstakes on its Facebook fan page tied to another of the ship’s dining spots, the Mexican-themed BlueIguana Cantina. The sweepstakes asks fans to choose their favorite burrito or taco toppings available at the casual dining venue for a chance to win a Caribbean cruise for two on the new 130,000-ton “Fun Ship,” along with round-trip air transportation.

Here’s a look at the Carnival Breeze’s many different tantalizing dining choices:

Bonsai Sushi – Carnival’s first full-service sushi restaurant, Bonsai Sushi offers a wide variety of Asian-inspired delicacies with a contemporary decor featuring artwork by world-renowned graffiti artist Erni Vales, colorful koi kites flown during impromptu celebrations, and, of course, several Bonsai trees. Located along Promenade Deck, Bonsai Sushi includes a number of varieties of sushi, sashimi, and rolls along with bento boxes and the venue’s own interpretation of a sushi boat – in this case, a sushi “ship” – with prices ranging from $1 for appetizer-sized portions to $15 for a sushi ship for two.

Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ – Reminiscent of a backyard barbecue, this complimentary open-air dining venue located on Promenade Deck offers a mouth-watering array of grilled favorites, including barbecued chicken breast, kielbasa, Italian sausage, and Fat Jimmy’s signature item, pulled pork sandwiches, along with traditional sides like baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mini-corn muffins.

Guy’s Burger Joint – fresh-made burgers, hand-cut fries and innovative toppings created in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri.

BlueIguana Cantina – offering authentic tacos and burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar.
The Punchliner Comedy Brunch presented by George Lopez – featuring hilarious comedic performances and an extensive menu of brunch-time favorites.

Fahrenheit 555 – a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and other gourmet fare with impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet).

Cucina del Capitano – a family-style restaurant reminiscent of a cozy Italian home with dishes such as Piatto della Nonna, inspired by the grandma of Carnival Breeze Captain Vincenzo Alcaras with penne pasta, crispy shrimp and prosciutto in a vodka cream sauce (venue will serve as a free lunch-time pasta bar during the day with a nominal charge for dinner).

Lido Marketplace – a casual poolside eatery offering an array of international favorites, from paninis and 24-hour pizza to Indian Tandoori and a Mongolian Wok station and just about everything in between.

“The Comfort Kitchen” – new venue located within Lido Marketplace offering American-style “comfort food.”

Ocean Plaza – an indoor/outdoor café serving cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos as well as pastries and other confections.

RedFrog Pub – an island-themed pub where guests can nosh on Caribbean-inspired fare while soaking up the distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West ambiance.

Serenity – salads, sandwiches, wraps and other light fare available at the ship’s exclusive adults-only retreat.

The Taste Bar – complimentary bite-size offerings inspired by popular Carnival dining venues, along with a signature cocktail tied to that eatery’s particular theme available for purchase.

Sea Dogs – a hot dog-shaped cart within the SportSquare outdoor recreation area offering all-beef franks and traditional toppings (debuts on Carnival Breeze in November).

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, the “BlueIguana Cantina Fight for Your Appetite” sweepstakes runs through May 10 on Carnival’s Facebook fan page. Fans are asked to choose their favorite taco and burrito toppings in a series of head-to-head competitions pitting such options as guacamole vs. sour cream or breakfast burritos vs. traditional tacos. All participants who vote are entered into a drawing for a Carnival Breeze Caribbean cruise for two, as well as round-trip air transportation, that will be awarded on May 17.

In a fun twist, the sweepstakes includes a unique feature in which fans can digitally throw images of burrito and taco toppings and other BlueIguana Cantina food items at their fellow Facebook enthusiasts’ pages.

Exciting European, Caribbean Itineraries
Following an inaugural 12-day cruise from Venice departing June 3, 2012, Carnival Breeze will operate a series of 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona through Oct. 25, 2012. After its trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Breeze will sail year-round from Miami beginning Nov. 24, 2012, offering port-intensive six- and eight-day cruises that showcase the best the Caribbean has to offer.

Carnival launching Fun Ship 2.0, a $500 million dollar fleet-wide transformation

Carnival Cruise Lines has started an initiative they're calling Fun Ship 2.0, which includes new dining and entertainment options, many of which enhance guests' poolside experience.

By Jackie Roseboom

Carnival Cruise Lines has unveiled what they are calling Fun Ship 2.0. Guests will be able to enjoy new dining choices, bars and lounges, and entertainment options through partnerships and new branded spaces. In the first phase alone, which extends through the end of 2015, Carnival will invest more than $500 million across its fleet of cruise ships.

– Punchliner Comedy Club Presented by George Lopez will be coming to Carnival Liberty this month and fleet-wide next year.  Lopez will act as a consultant on the hiring of comedians and will advise on décor, lighting, music and more to enhance the comedy club experience. Lopez will pre-recorded his voice and video messages to welcome guests, and a new Punchliner Comedy Brunch will keep diners laughing with live comedy in the main dining rooms.

– Playlist Performances will have guests singing along and dancing in their seats during 30 minute hit-packed shows such as “Motor City” which celebrates the R&B Motown sound of the 1960s and ‘70s, and “Divas” which combines music, dance and fashion to feature tunes from iconic female entertainers. “Latin Nights” offers a fusion of Latin culture, rhythmic music and choreography while “The Brits!”” features tunes from the UK’s most famous artists of all time. The new shows will premiere on Carnival Breeze when it enters service next summer, followed by other vessels.

– Award-winning DJ Irie was named the official DJ of Carnival Cruise Lines.  In this new role, he will create and lead “DJ Irie’s Spin’iversity” to train and develop the musical skills and personalities of on-board DJs to boost the overall music experience for guests of all ages.

An artist's rendering of celebrity chef Guy Fieri's new onboard restaurant, Guy’s Burger Joint.

– Carnival has partnered with celebrity chef Guy Fieri to offer a free shipboard dining venue called “Guy’s Burger Joint”, featuring the Food Network star’s hand-crafted burgers, fresh-cut fries and special recipes created exclusively for Carnival. This laid-back, poolside dining venue will be modeled after a road-side burger.

– “Hasbro, The Game Show” is a new series of larger-than-life productions and entertainment activities based on the popular Family Game Night television show on The Hub. The games include: “Sorry Sliders” which involves a giant shuffleboard court; “Simon Flash” where two teams of four guests wear giant light-up color boxes and must shuffle themselves quickly to repeat a color sequence; “Yahtzee Bowling” with a giant ball and larger-than-life-sized bowling pins; “Operation” which is set up like a skee-ball board where contestants try to get the balls into different slots on the patient’s body; and “Connect-4 Basketball” which uses a basketball setup rather than the traditional checkers.

– EA Sports and Carnival have configured an exciting new sports bar concept. Designed to be the ultimate hangout for sports fanatics, guests can play their favorite EA Sports video games, watch live sports on a massive video wall, and keep up with real-time sports scores 24/7 live on a ticker. Guest can enter the daily trivia contests, compete in EA Sports video game tournaments. Other new bar concepts include: RedFrog Rum Bar offers guests the Caribbean vacation vibe with a pool-side version of the popular Caribbean themed RedFrog Pub, which debuted on the Carnival Magic; The Library Bar is a new intimate cocktail lounge featuring bar service and automatic wine dispensers,ideal for guests seeking a quiet venue; The BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a Mexican-themed atmosphere with tequila-based frozen drinks and Mexican beers and complimentary poolside dining.

For more information go to Carnival.com/funship2.

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

Jade’s varied culinary mix a hit with passengers

Norwegian Jade will be plying Mediterranean waters through December before embarking on a series of Canary Island voyages roundtrip from Barcelona. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, ITALY, August 6, 2011 — World class dining venues abound on Norwegian Jade.

That might seem surprising to some — great dining is traditionally the domain of the luxury cruise sector and not necessarily what one expects to find on a 2,402-passenger mass market vessel.

Jade, however, delivers. There are some 14 dining options and passengers would be hard-pressed to find comparable décor, quality and service at even their favorite land-based locales.

From U.S. steak and seafood (Cagney’s), plus Tex-Mex (Paniolo Tapas & Salsa), to French (Le Bistro) and Italian (Papa’s Kitchen) offerings, the ship is alive at dinner hour. Most notably, Jasmine Garden is the culinary hub. The Asian restaurant complex, located on Deck 7 mid-ship, features made-to-order sushi and sashimi, a Sake Bar and a Teppanyaki grill and is clearly a runaway favorite with passengers.

Look for Cagney’s, a classical steakhouse from the 1930s and the ship’s signature restaurant, to serve a 32-ounce porterhouse for two; at Paniolo their zesty signature dish — lobster tacos — is a must; and both Le Bistro and Papa’s offer classical French and Italian fare respectively.

And, while all of the aforementioned specialty restaurants require nominal fees ranging from $10-25 per person, Jade still packs a punch with quality food and choice in its no additional charge main dining rooms – Grand Pacific and Alizar — plus Garden Café where enticing buffet spreads are offered including specialty dishes from ports which the ship has just visited. Following a port call this week to Izmir, Turkey for instance, the culinary team featured Turkish bread with chicken plus assorted kebabs.

A Norwegian Jade chef prepares Turkish bread with chicken in the Garden Café. The ship’s buffet, one of 14 dining venues onboard, often features local culinary options from the very ports the ship has visited. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Dining options are a big factor today within the cruise industry as more ships than ever before offer alternative onboard venues for their passengers to enjoy. At Norwegian Cruise Line, however, it’s the very premise of their “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where one is offered a host of outstanding dining choices, relaxed dress codes, and the freedom to dine with whom they want, when they want at a locale that’s right for them on the evening of their choosing. As such, all restaurants aboard Jade feature open seating and flexible, extended dining hours.

Norwegian Jade began her seafaring career in 2006 as Pride of Hawaii. She’s now year-round in the Mediterranean but the Hawaiian motif and bright island colors remain front and center throughout the ship giving it added vibrancy, as is the case here in the Aloha Bar located in the Atrium on Deck 7. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Specialty restaurant reservations can be made in respective locales just minutes before dining although, to avoid disappointment, advance reservations are recommended.

Still hungry? Jade offers 24-hour room service. The new and expanded menu includes soup, salads, pizza, assorted sandwiches and desserts. There’s also a kid’s menu plus a special occasion menu that includes a jumbo shrimp platter, a collection of international cheeses and Caspian sea Sevruga caviar.

Norwegian Jade epitomizes “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept

The 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade, at anchor this week in Dubrovnik, Croatia, boasts 14 dining options, a host of bars/lounges and shipboard amenities worthy of its international passenger make-up. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

EN ROUTE TO SPLIT, CROATIA, August 4, 2011 – The “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept is playing out brilliantly aboard Norwegian Jade here in the Mediterranean this summer.

NCL pioneered the model over a decade ago — regimented onboard routines and set dining times would not be thrust on their passengers. It’s their vacation, after all.

Instead, passengers are enjoying a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules or even dress codes to adhere to. Add open seating dining and flexible restaurant hours to the mix and it’s a big hit with passengers.

Cagney’s Steakhouse is but one of 14 dining options aboard Norwegian Jade. Some specialty restaurants, like Cagney’s, offer a nominal surcharge. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Feel like sushi tonight? Perhaps a thick steak? Maybe a lite snack from the salad bar? Jade offers no fewer than 14 dining options spread throughout the ship. Some are part of your cruise fare others, however, feature a nominal fee between $15-25 per person but well worth it among Japanese, French, Italian or U.S. steakhouse/seafood fare.

Whether paying additional surcharges, or not, the culinary options are among the most varied at sea. We’ll take a closer look at the choices later this week.

Meanwhile, as passengers settled into their 7-night, roundtrip Venice voyage (port calls have included Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens, Greece and Izmir, Turkey) what they found was a 2,402-passenger ship which never sleeps.
The multi-national passenger mix here onboard can wake to fitness center activities and aerobics, two golf driving nets, shuffleboard, oversized chess, volleyball/basketball court and paddle tennis.

Norwegian Jade’s spacious pool deck. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The pool deck features two swimming pools (one, adults-only), a water slide and four hot tubs. Jade also features a full-service spa and salon, a 7,000-square foot boutique, art gallery, Internet center, library, casino and for evening entertainment, a three-deck theater plays host to a variety of performances.

Jade offers a supervised facility for children featuring a play gym, movie theatre with kid’s movies, computer center, and an arts and crafts area. There’s also a club for teens and a video arcade.
In keeping with the “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept, Jade stateroom accommodations run the gamut. There’s even a suite complex at the top of the ship complete with two luxurious 5,000 square-foot garden villas, a deluxe owner’s suite, three owner’s suites and 10 courtyard villas, eight of which have a separate children’s bedroom.

It’s all about choices aboard Norwegian Jade . . . lots of them.

Royal Caribbean planing a fleet wide ship revitalization

Some of the best features in dining, technology, staterooms and more on the Oasis-class ships will be added to Royal Caribbean's whole fleet of ships over the next couple of years. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Jackie Roseboom

Royal Caribbean has announced it will bring the latest innovations to all their ships and introduce the highest guest-rated programs from its Oasis-class ships. Coming soon at are a variety of new onboard dining and entertainment options, pervasive Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations and more.

“The Royal Advantage revitalizations takes many of the best features that we have created in recent years and introduces them across our fleet, offering our guests enhanced vacation choices around the world,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “We never stop trying to make the experience even better, and no other cruise line can offer the same high quality vacation experience with such an array of choices that cater to every guest.”

The Royal Advantage revitalizations began with Radiance of the Seas in May, and will be followed by Splendour of the Seas in November. In 2012, revitalizations are scheduled for Vision-class ships including Rhapsody of the Seas (March 2012) and Grandeur of the Seas (May 2012) as well as Radiance-class Serenade of the Seas (November 2012).

The revitalized Grandeur will offer vacationers seven-night Western Mediterranean or 10- and 11-night Greece and Turkey itineraries from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Venice, respectively, in summer 2012. Moreover, the newly revitalized Rhapsody and Radiance will offer vacationers additional dining and entertainment options for a cruise in Alaska in summer 2012 or Australia and New Zealand in winter 2012-13.

Among the revitalizations and enhancements to the Vision-, Voyager- and Radiance-class ships throughout the next three years, will be:

– New Technology: Guests will enjoy pervasive Wi-Fi, interactive flat-panel televisions in staterooms and electronic mustering.

– Digital Wayfinding Systems:  Onboard activities, real time updates, customized directions and routing, as well as ship factoids will all be at guests’ fingertips with new touch screen signs prominently placed throughout each of the ships.

– Outdoor Video Walls: Oversized video screens will be installed on the pool decks to liven up outdoor entertainment and programming.

– Royal Babies and Tots Nursery: Fun, safe and interactive vacation environments for babies and tots ages six through 36 months will be available in nurseries designed just for them.

– New Staterooms: New levels of accommodations will be added.

– Various Dining Options: Dining options from the extravagant Chef Table to the fun casual Boardwalk Doghouse (hot dogs stand) and many more.

Each ship will enter dry dock for approximately a month and re- emerge as better versions of the ships that guests love, complete with new dining venues, entertainment options, technology enhancements and more.

For more information visit royalcaribbean.com

NCL to offer pizza delivery 24/7

Passengers aboard any one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 11 ships will soon be able to order pizza 24/7.

By Michael Coleman

You’ll have to book a cruise to enjoy it but Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week it will now offer pizza delivery service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fleet-wide.

Presently offered only aboard the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Epic, “Pizza 24/7’’ is scheduled to roll out to the eight ships departing from U.S. ports throughout July and then in Europe to Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun in August.

“Our guests have deemed the 24-hour pizza delivery onboard Norwegian Epic a popular addition to our innovative freestyle dining options,” said Michael Flesch, Norwegian’s senior vice president of hotel operations.

“We wanted to make it easy and convenient for our guests to enjoy a delicious pizza any time on our ships, whether it’s during a game of bowling, watching a movie in the Atrium or in the comfort of their stateroom.”

The tasty, 16-inch handmade, stone-baked pizzas are $5 each and are available with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce; pepperoni; or vegetarian with roasted peppers, mushrooms, red onions and mozzarella cheese.

NCL has also just rolled out Epic’s room service menu across the fleet with popular breakfast items, assorted soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and kid’s menu items. Room service is complimentary throughout the day except from midnight to 5 a.m. when an overnight surcharge of $3.95 is charged per order. Guests who order only beverages or pizza delivery will not be assessed the fee.

Epic debuted in June 2010. The Company has two 4,000-passenger vessels on order for delivery in spring 2013 and spring 2014.

NCL is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, appearing for the first time at sea on Epic, as well as the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, Gibson Guitar, and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids. Cirque Dreams & Dinner is also featured aboard Epic as the first show of its kind at sea under a big top.

On the web: www.ncl.com