Battle of the Bands to be Held by Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines, New Orleans’ most popular cruise line, and local television station WDSU-TV have launched a search to find the most spirited high school marching band in the Big Easy. “The Battle of the High School Marching Bands” competition celebrates local spirit and skill, and will ultimately award the winning band a $10,000 cash prize from Carnival and chance to perform aboard Carnival Sunshine, the line’s latest ship to call New Orleans home when it arrives there for its North American debut this November.

Area schools have three weeks to record a three-minute video of their band performing their school fight song. In the performance, the bands also must identify their school and the name of the contest, “The Battle of the High School Marching Bands.” To enter, high schools must upload their video to YouTube by Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 6pm CST, and email a link to the video to a dedicated email address [email protected]. A special judging panel will select the top five finalists.

Beginning on October 22, the five finalists will be posted to the WDSU-TV website (www.wdsu.com/carnival-cruise-lines) for schools, families and members of the community to get in on the musical fun and rally around their favorite band. Voting will run through Friday, November 1. Fans can vote once per day for the duration of the voting period.

The winning band will be announced in November and receive $10,000 for their school’s music program courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines, along with the opportunity to perform aboard Carnival Sunshine during its U.S. debut celebration at the Port of New Orleans on Sunday, November 17. Each of the four additional band finalists will receive a $1,000 cash prize from Carnival.

“As we prepare for the U.S. arrival of Carnival Sunshine to New Orleans, we want to do something truly special to celebrate that is in the spirit of New Orleans and its rich music history,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s chief marketing officer. “This contest provides an opportunity for us to help foster musical development in the next generation of talented performing artists and is a great way to partner with the community to celebrate the November arrival of Carnival Sunshine,” Berra added.

“WDSU is thrilled to partner with Carnival Cruise Lines in celebration of the U.S. arrival of Carnival Sunshine,” said Joel Vilmenay, WDSU’s president and general manager. “Along with this state of the art vessel, Carnival’s generous gift of $10,000 to a deserving school is big bow on a wonderful present to the Crescent City.”

Beginning November 18, 2013, the 3006-passenger Carnival Sunshine will offer seven-day cruises to the Bahamas and the Western Caribbean from New Orleans. Earlier this year, the ship underwent an unprecedented 75-day, $155 million transformation, incorporating all of the line’s “Fun Ship 2.0” dining, bar and entertainment features, as well as a variety of exciting innovations unique to the vessel and 182 new staterooms.

Carnival has a long history with New Orleans, launching the cruise industry’s first year-round program in 1994. Over the years, Carnival has dramatically increased its presence in New Orleans and carries more passengers from there than any other cruise line. With the addition of Carnival Sunshine in November, the line expects to host more than 330,000 passengers annually from the Crescent City.

For more information about the Battle of the High School Marching Bands, visit www.wdsu.com/carnival-cruise-lines.

Silver Seas Presents “Music Under the Stars”

Silverseas is know for offering unique entertainment and according to travel industry experts, Vicky Garcia, Pat Ford and Catherine Adde, Silversea Cruise Lines, “hit it out of the park” with their inaugural newly released, fall 2013 “Music under the Stars” itineraries on Silversea Spirit.

Headlined by two-time Grammy® winner Paul Brown from December 13-23, 2013, for the Caribbean round trip Ft. Lauderdale voyage, as well as Smooth Jazz Awards’ “International Artist of the Year” Marc Antoine on November 2-9, 2013 from Rome to Barcelona, these two Smooth Jazz guitarists bring that stunning wow factor to the line’s first music themed voyages.

Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners-American Express Travel, a Florida-based, national franchise company of over 900 professional travel advisors across the country, really knows her cruises. While her business model is full service travel planning, 70% of their bookings involve cruises.

“Brown and Antoine with their chart-topping music and personal style, attract the perfect demographic for these voyages,” reflected Garcia, those who love fine jazz, fine dining and fine wines in an intimate and sophisticated, yet informal environment. Silversea provides the ‘best of the best’ in truly all-inclusive vacations, down to the tipping and every beverage across the ship. All our clients have come back happy and raring to rebook on Silversea.”

Pat Ford, a longtime certified CLIA (Cruise Line Industry Association) Luxury Cruise Specialist (LCS), represents Montrose Travel, a Travel Weekly “Power List National Top 50 Agency”. She is always confident to recommend Silversea. “The well-traveled elite client has already been on the mass market, premium and river cruises,” she pointed out. “They’re looking for something new and unusual to add to their bucket list.”

Ford’s ultra luxury clients want to be “engaged with interesting, high quality entertainment, experiences and fun when at sea. They definitely don’t want to be bored!” She continued, “This Music under the Stars” concept provides that extraordinary opportunity to not only hear fabulous music, but to mingle with the artists in a way that only a small cruise ship can provide.”

Catherine Adde, CTC, brings a strong cruise line background, with experience on both the management and travel planner sides of the table, and is affiliated with employee-owned Travelstore, California’s largest award winning travel agency. Adde spent ten years as district sales manager for three cruise lines, and holds a master’s degree in Tourism Management from London.

Adde, who also hosts a weekly radio talk show called Our Travel Affair, enthusiastically covered the release of these voyages on her show, and has booked Paul Brown for a September guest segment. “For the luxury client who wants an over the top vacation and an intimate experience, it’s an enticement in itself to have two world renowned artists headlining the voyages.” She added, “I get goose bumps imagining their sailaway concerts out on deck as the city lights sparkle on the water and the ship glides to its next port of call.”

“Seasoned travelers love it when a well known lecturer or soloist is performing just for them. Joining Brown and Antoine on Silversea’s ‘Music under the Stars’ will be like sitting with friends in the living room at home, and having them play for you. You can’t get much better than that!” Cruise industry sales veteran Karen Crisci from Crisci Cruises in Arcadia, CA welcomes music lovers to book early since these special Silversea voyages will sell out.

For more information, and to connect with Garcia’s, Ford’s, Crisci’s or Addé’s agencies about this cruise, visit www.cruising2013.com/Silversea powered by The Destination Group, a Travel Weekly Magellan GOLD winner.

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.

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

Celebrity Cruises announces partnership with 54 Below

Broadway loving cruisers will might be eager to visit one of the nation’s hottest new entertainment spots should pack their bags for a modern luxury cruise to Bermuda. That’s because Celebrity Cruises today announced an exclusive partnership with Manhattan’s noted “54 Below,” which will bring guests on Celebrity’s newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Summit the industry’s most comprehensive, direct-from-Broadway entertainment experience while sailing to the pink-sand paradise of Bermuda.

54 Below – ensconced in a cool, cozy cellar space beneath the legendary, disco-era “Studio 54” – has been dubbed “a throwback to the heyday of authentic New York nightlife,” and “the hot new stage attracting Broadway’s brightest stars.” Now, those stars will light up the stage of Celebrity Summit during its Bermuda vacation season from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), NJ, from this Sunday, May 5, through October 2013.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with 54 Below, offering our guests a unique theatrical experience featuring world-class Broadway talent in cabaret style performances,” said Celebrity’s Director of Entertainment Eric Bohus. “This is another outstanding addition to the Celebrity entertainment lineup and perfectly complements our other new offerings announced this year, including late-night Las Vegas style entertainment with Sin City Comedy and engaging music activities through our partnership with Billboard.”

Among the top-notch talent slated to appear on Celebrity Summit through 54 Below are Faith Prince, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys & Dolls; Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical in A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie; Anthony Rapp, best known for originating the role of “Mark Cohen” in Rent; Jarrod Spector, who starred as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys; Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for Next to Normal, and also has appeared in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard; star of the hit TV show Glee (“Wes”) Telly Leung, whose Broadway credits include Rent and Godspell; the original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle, who went on to also star in Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Beauty & The Beast; three-time Tony Award nominee Christine Andreas, recognized for her roles in Oklahoma and On Your Toes; Elizabeth Stanley of Company, Cry Baby, Million Dollar Quartet;Shoshana Bean, whose credits include Hairspray and Wicked; Darius DeHaas of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rent and Carousel; Tom Wopat of TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, City of Angels, 42nd St., Guys & Dolls, Chicago and Sondheim on Sondheim; Brent Barrett, whose credits include West Side Story and Chicago; Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony-nominated for her role in Swing; Liz Callaway, nominated for a Tony for her role in Baby, and who also performed in Cats and Miss Saigon; Gregg Edelman, a four-time Tony nominee, including nods for Best Actor in a Musical for City of Angels; three-time Tony Award nominee for her roles in Passion, Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate, Marin Mazzie; Karen Mason, who has appeared in Mamma Mia and Hairspray and is best known for her portrayal of “Norma Desmond” in Sunset Boulevard; and Emily Skinner, whose credits include The Full Monty and Billy Elliot. Additional acts yet to be announced will also appear on Celebrity Summit this season through Celebrity’s unique partnership with 54 Below.

For more information check out www.celebritycruises.com

Royal Caribbean announces its next leap forward with Quantum of the Seas

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Royal Caribbean International boast 40 years of innovative and creative design expierience, today they unveiled first details of the next generation of cruise vacations – Quantum cruising.

The much anticipated details were unveiled by stage, television and film star, Kristin Chenoweth – Godmother of Quantum of the Seas – at an exclusive event for media and special guests in New York City this morning.

“This new generation of ships gave us an opportunity to make another leap in vessel design. Innovation has always been part of our DNA and we have taken advantage of all that creativity to design Quantum cruising,” stated Richard D. Fain, chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. “The unique features on Quantum will boggle our guests’ minds, but the real strength of the design is how our people have integrated all these diverse components to create a comfortable and exciting experience.”

Unprecedented “Firsts At Sea”

Having led the industry by introducing incredible signature offerings such as the Rock Climbing Wall, ice-skating rink, FlowRider surf simulator, Central Park and AquaTheater, Royal Caribbean will advance the onboard experience even further by delivering a groundbreaking lineup of “firsts at sea” on Quantum-class ships. New features exclusive to Royal Caribbean include:low_1365713986_RCI-RipCordPass2-5K

• RipCord by iFly, the first skydiving experience at sea which allows everyone from first-time flyers to seasoned skydivers to enjoy the sheer thrill and exhilaration of skydiving in a safe, controlled, and simulated environment.

low_1365714000_RCI-NorthStar-Exterior-5K-No-Antenna• North Star, an engineering marvel, takes guests to new heights – literally – with a jewel-shaped, glass capsule, transporting them on a spectacular journey more than 300 feet above the ocean and over the sides of the ship to deliver awe-inspiring 360-degree views.“We are excited to be introducing major advancements in ship design and offerings on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas,” said Adam Goldstein, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The innovative spirit of our brand is alive and well, and with Quantum class, we will deliver more unexpected activities in the most extraordinary spaces. Our guests should prepare to be wowed.”

Royal Caribbean marries new innovations with significant architectural design elements to introduce spectacular spaces. On Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas guests will find endless possibilities with three new signature venues.

• A revolutionary concept, Two70° is a multi-level great room that is sure to become one of the most iconic venues onboard Quantum class. The space is aptly named for its magnificent 270-degree panoramic sea views through vast, floor-to-ceiling glass walls spanning almost three decks at the stern of the ship. Two70° seamlessly fuses entertainment and technology to create a transformative journey from day to night. The perfect setting to connect with the sea during the day, Two70° provides a modern and comfortable living room space for guests to sit back and relax. As the sun sets and the lights go down, the dazzling space gradually reveals its evening persona, delighting guests with spectacular, mysterious and unexpected entertainment at night. Unparalleled technology means every show at Two70° is multidimensional and immerses the audience through a combination of live performers, including aerialists, as well as breathtaking video and digital scenery.

low_1365713929_RCI-SeaPlex-BumperCars-5K• The largest indoor active space at sea, SeaPlex is a distinctive and flexible sporting and entertainment venue with thrilling new features that will inspire guests of all ages to let loose and connect with their playful sides. Delivering more first at sea experiences, guests can experience a circus school with flying trapeze, or play basketball on a full-size regulation basketball court. By night, the first-ever bumper car and roller skating offerings deliver fun and excitement. Or, guests can dance to music orchestrated from a floating DJ booth which hovers above the activity below.

• A performance hall and the hottest live music venue on Quantum class, Music Hall is the place for guests to enjoy intimate and exclusive access to live performances, DJs, theme night parties, billiards and more. Rebellious and edgy, Music Hall’s two-story design is inspired by the spirit of rock and roll.

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Royal Caribbean debuts the most spacious and luxurious accommodations ever, introducing rooms that on average are nine percent larger than those of Oasis class ships.  Boasting Royal Caribbean’s new smart design concept, each stateroom features contemporary designs with easy-to-use customizable layouts and  larger storage solutions.

Now every room on Quantum of the Seas has a view, with the exciting introduction of VirtualBalcony staterooms. This design concept brings virtual balconies to interior staterooms offering expansive real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations.

For multi-generational families, Family-Connected staterooms deliver more flexibility, using three different stateroom categories which connect to form a special layout that provides separate bedrooms and bathrooms for all. These accommodations allow families and groups of friends traveling together to enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to together and alone time.

With Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean introduces the largest variety of state room categories, including new Studio staterooms, some with balconies for single travelers, three Junior Suite categories and larger Loft Suites.

The adults-only Solarium, along with an outdoor pool, a new indoor pool with operable roof and a H2O Zone kids’ aqua park, will be featured on the top deck. Signature Royal Caribbean venues and experiences popular with families such as the Rock Climbing Wall; FlowRider surf simulator; the award-winning Adventure Ocean children’s program; the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery; and the DreamWorks entertainment and events featuring the characters from animated movies: Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar; will all be back on Quantum class.

Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas also will make a quantum leap forward in its culinary offerings providing the most flexible dining options and more specialty restaurants than ever before. Additional details about dining, entertainment and other unexpected features and amenities on Quantum of the Seas will be unveiled in the coming months.

Quantum class will debut in fall 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by her sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015. Quantum ships span 18 decks, encompass 167,800 gross registered tons, carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,090 staterooms.

Quantum of the Seas will sail out of the New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty on 7- to 12-night itineraries during the winter 2014/15 season. Bookings will be available to Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program members starting May 27, 2013 before opening to the general public on June 4. More information on Quantum of the Seas is available at RoyalCaribbean.com/Quantum.

Royal Caribbean contest offers a chance to sail with Madagascar

In conjunction with the arrival of DreamWorks Animation’s 3D feature film Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted in theatres this week, Royal Caribbean International is offering a chance to sail with Alex, Gloria, King Julien and the Penguins on select ships featuring the DreamWorks Experience offered exclusively on Royal Caribbean.

Consumers can visit Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean through June 20 to enter the “Madagascar at Sea” sweepstakes for a chance to win one of two grand prizes of either a seven-night cruise for four to Europe or the Caribbean, while one daily winner will earn a $25 gift card for correctly answering trivia about the cruise line and the “Madagascar” franchise.

To celebrate the release of “Madagascar 3” Royal Caribbean ships featuring the DreamWorks Experience, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, will host special screenings of the movie in 3D throughout the summer, plus offer exclusive content – including movie trailers and behind the scenes videos – as well as the chance to win prizes, such as movie posters, DVDs, character photos and more during daily trivia and other onboard activities.

The DreamWorks Experience – which offers cruisers exclusive character breakfasts, meet and greets, photo opportunities, parades, live and filmed entertainment and more – first debuted onboard Allure of the Seas in 2010 and was subsequently introduced on Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas in 2011, highlighted by the star-studded at-sea premiere of Puss in Boots onboard Allure of the Seas. The partnership also will expand to Voyager of the Seas later this year.

Guests interested in sailing with the gang from “Madagascar” can join Liberty of the Seas this summer as she sails Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona, Spain or Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas offering 7-night Caribbean itineraries from Ft. Lauderdale and Port Canaveral, FL. For more information on itineraries please visit royalcaribbean.com.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.

For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit RoyalCaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.

Holland America’s ms Amsterdam played host to composer Marvin Hamlisch and the Seattle Symphony

Marvin Hamlisch, seated, aboard ms Amsterdam at the Amstel Cafe piano bar. Pictured with him are John Delaney, senior vice president, Seabourn (far left); Stein Kruse, president and CEO, Holland America Line (left of Hamlisch); and Ashley Brown, vocalist and broadway performer (far right).

Holland America Line welcomed the Seattle Symphony and special guest, acclaimed composer Marvin Hamlisch, on board ms Amsterdam last Friday, June 1, 2012, in Seattle for the organization’s annual spring recital. This is the second time the line has hosted this event. Continue reading “Holland America’s ms Amsterdam played host to composer Marvin Hamlisch and the Seattle Symphony”