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.

Cunard gives North American Military Personnel a great deal on cruises

Cunard announced a new benefit for those who serve in the armed forces in North America. The new programme grants On Board Credits of up to $250 per person to members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves, and the Canadian National Defense. Military personnel who are active, retired or disabled veterans are eligible with proper documentation.

The credits apply to all published voyages aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth and are combinable with other On Board Credit offers. The amount of each credit varies with cruise length: $50 per person for a cruise of six days or less; $100 per person for cruises of seven to 14 days; or $250 per person for those 14 days or longer.

Under the terms of the programme, retired status applies to enlisted personnel or officers with a minimum of 20 years of service, medical retirees and the 100 percent disabled. Veterans with an honourable discharge and a length of service that meets certain minimums also are eligible to apply. Military status must be confirmed prior to embarking on the voyage to be eligible for credits.

Cunard has a distinguished history with the military. During World War II, the Queen Mary served as a British Royal Mail Ship and, along with the original Queen Elizabeth, as a troopship. In addition, Winston Churchill credited Cunard with ending the war one year early because of the troop transfer services that both ships provided.

For more information go to Cunard.com

Royal Caribbean Announced their 2014 European Cruises

Royal Caribbean International announced that in 2014, they are adding Scandinavia and Baltic cruises from Hamburg, Germany, aboard Legend of the Seas, one of nine Royal Caribbean ships to sail European waters in 2014. Also announced new 2014 Europe Cruisetours, which combine a cruise with an exclusive land tour program that explores some of Europe’s most popular cities and interior regions such as Madrid, Florence, Rome and more.

Legend of the Seas’ 2014 Scandinavia and Baltic cruises from Hamburg opened for sale on April 11, 2013, and the 2014 Europe Cruisetours are available for booking immediately.

“There is no better way for families and adventurous vacationers to experience Europe than with Royal Caribbean,” said Lisa Bauer, executive vice president of Global Sales and Marketing for Royal Caribbean International. “Whether it’s aboard our world’s most innovative and award-winning ships or on one of our fascinating cruisetours, vacationers will be WOW’ed by a Europe vacation that can only be found with Royal Caribbean. Most of our ships have been recently revitalized and offer guests our newest exciting entertainment and the most contemporary onboard amenities, which together make for a most unforgettable Europe vacation.”

Legend of the Seas is the latest ship in the cruise line’s fleet to undergo extensive revitalization to make every ship Royal Caribbean’s best ship, and now offers guests more dining options, exciting entertainment and innovative amenities. All staterooms and bathrooms were completely refreshed and a new Family Suite has been added to provide family vacationers more room for the whole clan. Legend of the Seas’ guests enjoy eight restaurants, including the new Chops Grille, Izumi Asian Cuisine, Park Café, and the exclusive Chef’s Table experience for 16 guests. Furthermore, in addition to Broadway-style musical revues in the main theater, guests also will be WOW’ed by the new aerial-acrobatic entertainment spectacular, which spans throughout the four-story Centrum.

Through the cruise line’s ongoing fleetwide revitalization program, most ships now feature some of the top concepts that were introduced aboard the ground-breaking Oasis-class ships, such as new digital signage, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service, flat-panel televisions in every stateroom, an oversized LCD movie screen overlooking the main pool, Concierge and Diamond Lounges for suite and Crown & Anchor Society member guests, and the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for guests six to 36 months old.

For the 2014 Hamburg sailings, Legend of the Seas will reposition from Stockholm to Hamburg on July 27, 2014, sailing an intriguing 14-night itinerary throughout the Baltic Sea that features a three-day call at St. Petersburg, Russia; a maiden call for the cruise line at Fredericia, Denmark; and a return to Klaipeda, Lithuania –last called in 2008. Throughout Aug. 2014, Legend of the Seas will sail every Sunday on a seven-night, roundtrip itinerary from Hamburg, calling at Oslo, Stavanger, Geiranger and Ǻlesund, before departing on Sept. 7 for a 16-night trans-Atlantic sailing to Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. Alternatively, vacationers also can embark in Oslo for the seven-night, roundtrip Norway itinerary, or for the ship’s trans-Atlantic crossing. Legend of the Seas will be joined by Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Independence of the Seas Adventure of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, and Splendour of the Seas in European waters in 2014.

Travelers can choose among four Royal Caribbean Cruisetours that combine one of five ships with a three- to five-night land program that offers the best value to explore the many inland metropolises and attractions, as well as the coastal ones. Royal Caribbean takes care of all the planning for immersive Europe land tours, each featuring expert Adventure Specialists who act as guides, historians and concierges; carefully selected accommodations in the heart of each incredible city; premium baggage handling service throughout; transfers between cities, airport and ship; and built-in free time for guests to create their own one-of-a-kind adventure.

Two Royal Caribbean Cruisetour programs combine a Mediterranean cruise aboard Serenade of the Seas or Splendour of the Seas with either a four-night Madrid & Barcelona or a three-night Italian Lakes, Como & Venice land tour. On the latter itinerary, guest spend two nights in Como of the famed Lake Como and visit the quaint Italian town of Bellagio. Another immersive Italy cruisetour combines a Navigator of the Seas sailing with a five-night itinerary that includes all the must-see attractions of Venice, Florence & Rome. Furthermore, the Paris & London cruisetour combines a sailing aboard Adventure of the Seas or Brilliance of the Seas with a four-night itinerary that showcases Paris and London’s top, iconic landmarks.

Silversea buys the Galapagos Explorer II, will be refurbished and renamed

The Silversea Group has purchased Canodros S.A., the premier Ecuadorian tourism company that operates in the Galapagos Islands, and their upmarket expedition ship, Galapagos Explorer II.

Silversea plans to add Galapagos Explorer II to its ultra-luxury fleet of six ships next year, after the all-suite, 100-guest vessel undergoes a major refurbishment in September 2013 and is given a new name, steps that will ensure consistency with the standards of the Silversea fleet.

Until that time, Galapagos Explorer II will continue on its planned schedule of cruises and will continue to be operated by Canodros, which is based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Canodros will also continue handling reservations for Galapagos Explorer II, as well as sales and marketing through its established network of travel companies and tour operators.

Its existing expedition ship, Silver Explorer, is regularly deployed in the polar regions, and the addition of a second vessel, offering year-round unique luxury expedition cruises in the Galapagos archipelago, means Silversea will have the opportunity to offer the adventure traveler a broader portfolio of itineraries, encompassing some of the world’s most desired and least explored regions.

The 4077-ton Galapagos Explorer II offers the stylish elegance of a mega-yacht, attentive onboard service and an enriching naturalist education program. All of its 50 spacious suites feature ocean views and 24 include private balconies. Public spaces include a restaurant, piano bar, library and Internet station, main lounge, outdoor bar, two outdoor whirlpools, and a marine observation deck.

Guests sailing aboard Galapagos Explorer II will continue to enjoy the same exciting itineraries, luxury accommodations, shipboard amenities, informative lectures and sustainable tourism for which Canodros is known.

Potential guests and travel agents interested in booking a Galapagos Explorer II voyage should visit galapagosexplorer.com for more information.

Guests currently booked on Galapagos Explorer II, and travel agents or tour operators with clients booked on the ship, should continue to liaise through their normal channels with Canodros for any needed assistance with their reservation.

In the coming months, Silversea will announce more details concerning plans for the ship after it is renovated and renamed.

Silversea captures Spirit of Caribbean

Guests aboard the ultra-luxurious Silver Spirit – gleaming white ship is docked in the background - have been enjoying the best the Caribbean has to offer, this time heading out on a snorkeling adventure off the coast of Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos. Photos by Michael Coleman.

By Michael Coleman

Snorkeling the turquoise waters is but one of many Caribbean shore excursion opportunities offered aboard the 540-guest Silver Spirit.
AT SEA, Eastern Caribbean, Sunday April 1, 2012 – Island hopping under sunny skies may have been the norm for cruise passengers here in the Caribbean this past winter but guests presently aboard Silver Spirit have been in the midst of a 10-night journey not commonly enjoyed in these parts.

Silversea Cruises’ flagship, the 540-guest Spirit, oozes unpretentious luxury and features a warm, sophisticated décor in its public spaces where the overriding onboard ambience has clearly been created by its 1930s Art Deco feel.

The Suite Life

Guests are living comfortably, too. There are 270 ocean view suites in seven categories ranging in size from 312 to 1,668 square feet, 95 percent of which feature private teak balconies plus all suites enjoy the services of a butler.

Guests can enjoy seven suite categories aboard Silver Spirit including the 742-square-foot Silver Suite featuring a spacious, 118-square-foot veranda.
Food is never far from reach and choices aboard the intimate vessel abound. Guests have been enjoying six restaurants – The Grill, a casual, outdoor steak and seafood venue under the stars; La Terrazza (Italian); Seishin (Asian); and Le Champagne (fine dining) are among the runaway favorites – plus there’s an 8,300-square-foot spa, fitness center and resort-style pool to keep the calories in check.

Spirit shore excursion opportunities have made the most of this sun-drenched region – sailing and snorkeling to beach breaks and horse back riding were big hits – as guests enjoyed port calls on Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; Gustavia, St. Bart’s, St. John’s, Antigua; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and Road Town, British Virgin Islands.

Today, however, is where Spirit and its cosmopolitan clientele shine brightest. It’s the first of two lazy, back-to-back sea days where shipboard ambience and memorable port tales collide for enlightening banter around the pool deck.

Later this week – We’ll take a closer look at Silver Spirit.

Iconic Gustavia, St. Bart’s, was one of five port calls this week for the cosmopolitan guests aboard Silver Spirit.

Silver Spirit charts Eastern Caribbean course

Silversea Cruises unveiled the ultra-luxurious, 540-guest Silver Spirit just two years ago amidst much praise and fanfare. It was, after all, the line’s first newly-constructed vessel since 2001. This week, ship guests like this gentleman outside the vessel’s Observation Lounge, are in the midst of a 10-night Eastern Caribbean voyage and Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard. Look for Coleman’s ship dispatches here later this week.

Photo by Michael Coleman

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.

Holland America returns to Australia and South Pacific

The ms Oosterdam, along with the ms Volendam, will sail a series of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises, visiting more than 50 ports. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line.
Starting in winter 2012 and spring 2013 two Holland America Line ships ——ms Oosterdam and ms Volendam —— will sail a series of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises, visiting more than 50 ports where guests can indulge in the cosmopolitan cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, and explore the exotic landscapes of Vanuatu and Fiji in the South Pacific. The series of sailings ranges from 10 to 58 days and features one of the line’s larger Vista-class ships, ms Oosterdam.

“Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands are among the top travel destinations in the world and we’ve developed our itineraries to showcase the best of what they offer from secluded ports to popular favorites,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, for Holland America Line. “Holland America Line’s cruises highlight the region’s incredible wildlife on land and sea, including the legendary Outback, world-famous Great Barrier Reef and the opportunity of a lifetime to witness a solar eclipse while at sea.”

Guests can choose from a variety of departures ranging from 10 to 14 days sailing roundtrip from Sydney or Auckland, between October 2012 and March 2013. New Zealand itineraries give guests a chance to experience some of the most breathtaking scenery, including the beautiful and dramatic Fiordland National Park and Bay of Plenty, known for its beaches. These itineraries also visit the North and South Islands of New Zealand with calls at popular ports of Wellington, Napier and Tauranga.

Volendam and Oosterdam sail a total of five 14-day Australia and New Zealand cruises. Four 14-day New Zealand Discovery voyages sail roundtrip from Sydney on Oosterdam Oct. 24, Nov. 21 and Dec. 19, 2012 (holiday cruise) and Jan. 12, 2013. One 14-day Solar Eclipse voyage departs Nov. 7, and includes port calls at Brisbane, Hamilton Island and Townsville, Australia; Ile des Pins and Noumea, New Caledonia, and a total of six days in the Tasman and Coral Sea.

Four additional sailings to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific include the 10-, 11- and 13-day Pacific Treasures cruises roundtrip from Sydney and feature more exotic and lesser-known tropical ports in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji. Cruise fares begin at $1,299 per person.

The Holland America Line offers several unique longer itineraries throughout the season, including Volendam’s 34-day Australia Circumnavigation. That voyage sails roundtrip from Sydney Oct. 21, 2012 and boasts 18 ports of call and scenic cruising in the remote Ribbon Reef and Far North Regions, which include: Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Perth, Melbourne and Cairns, Australia; Hobart, Tasmania; Komodo Island, Indonesia; sunrise at Lizard Island and sunset at Booby Island, to name a few. The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, is also included. Cruise fares begin at $5,499 per person.

The 1,380-passenger ms Amsterdam sails a 75-day Grand Asia and Australia Voyage, departing Seattle, Wash., Sept. 21, 2012. Ports of call during this extended voyage include Darwin, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Waitangi (Bay of Islands) and Auckland, New Zealand; Lautoka, Fiji, and Apia, Samoa Islands. Disembarking takes place in San Diego, Calif. Cruise fares begin at $10,999 per person.

South Pacific repositioning cruises provide an opportunity to visit regions with desired ports of call and more relaxing days at sea. Oosterdam’s 22- or 23-day trans-Pacific Crossing departs Seattle, Wash., or Vancouver, B.C., for Sydney Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2012. Oosterdam returns on a 22- or 23-day South Pacific Crossing from Sydney to Seattle or Vancouver departing April 13, 2013. Cruise fares for the South Pacific and trans-Pacific sailings begin at $2,399 per person.

Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Collectors’ Voyages on Oosterdam and Volendam range from 25- to 58-days. Combining two back-to-back itineraries. During the Australia cruise season, Holland America Line sails a total of 11 Collectors’ Voyages. Cruise fares begin at $3,049 per person.
For more information on Holland America Line’s cruises and cruisetours, consult a professional travel seller or visit hollandamerica.com.

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

All-inclusive Regent sets sights on longer itineraries

Image courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises - The 700-guest Regent Seven Seas Voyager will be featuring an all-encompassing, 29-night itinerary from London to Stockholm in June, 2012. The line’s other 700-guest vessel, Mariner, will be offering an equally immersive 27-night itinerary from Monte Carlo to Buenos Aires in November, 2012.

By Michael Coleman

Intrepid luxury cruise travelers seeking more of Europe and South America in 2012 have been eyeing new, longer itineraries recently unveiled by Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The line’s “Grand Voyages’’ — London to Stockholm, 29 nights in June, 2012; or Monte Carlo to Buenos Aires, 27 nights in November, 2012 — were announced according to company officials in response to past guest requests and heightened demand for extended sailings in Europe and South America.

“A great number of our loyal guests are perennial travelers and seek out voyages which offer a wide range of unique experiences,’’ said Regent president Mark Conroy. “Our new 2012 Grand Voyages offer an abundance of opportunities for exploration and are certain to create life-long memories.’’

Among the highlights:

– Northern Odyssey, 29 nights, London to Stockholm, departs June 3, 2012. Travelers visit the most alluring ports aboard the 700-guest Voyager in the British Isles, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Baltic. Along the way, guests will be treated to the region’s must-see star ports such as Dublin, Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, along with lesser-explored locales in Scotland, Norway and Iceland and overnight calls in Reykjavik, Oslo and St. Petersburg.

– Latin Sojourn, 27 nights, Monte Carlo to Buenos Aires, departs Nov. 9, 2012. A nearly four-week journey aboard the 700-guest Mariner visiting some of the Costa del Sol’s treasures — Barcelona, Cartagena and Granada — before calling on the golden shores of North Africa and the Canary Islands. Relaxing days crossing the Atlantic are the perfect prelude to one of the most comprehensive explorations of South America’s east coast, where bustling metropolises are perfectly blended with Old World colonial charm and breathtaking nature preserves.

Recently rated “world’s best cruise line” by Condé Nast Traveler readers, Regent operates the all-suite Voyager, Mariner and Navigator on seven- to 119-night voyages to more than 300 destinations world-wide, including Alaska, the Mediterranean, Greek Islands and Holy Lands before venturing to Egypt, India, Australia, New Zealand, the Far East, South America and the Caribbean for the winter.

The line has just completed a $100 million enhancement of all three vessels. Almost every area of the ships was refurbished, with public rooms being substantially redesigned. The updates resulted in a new look that is fresh, elegant and luxurious yet retains the familial warmth and charm for which Regent is lauded.

Beginning with the 2012 summer season, guests in concierge-level suites and higher will enjoy a range of benefits from priority online shore excursion and restaurant reservations to upgrades and complimentary amenities. Enhancing the culinary experience, menus in the Compass Rose and La Veranda restaurants will be expanded with a greater emphasis placed on showcasing specialties from the regions visited.

The company is widely recognized as the world’s most inclusive cruise line because airfare, all-suite accommodations, award-winning cuisine, open bars, nightly entertainment, sightseeing tours and excursions, gratuities and taxes, and a free, pre-cruise luxury hotel package are included in the cruise fare.

On the web: www.rssc.com

Three’s A Charm: Seabourn Quest Debuts

Image courtesy Seabourn - Seabourn Quest, the third 450-guest ship to debut in three years for ultra-luxury small-ship operator Seabourn, completes the line’s ambitious expansion in the small-ship luxury segment.

By Michael Coleman

Ultra-luxury small-ship operator Seabourn unveiled its third new ship in three years when the 450-guest Seabourn Quest debuted this week.

“She is a beautiful vessel, and I have no doubt she will earn as much praise from the experts, and as much affection from our guests as her two sister-ships,’’ said Richard Meadows, Seabourn’s President. “Her officers, staff and crew are ready to welcome travelers on board to experience Seabourn-style cruising on our newest ship.”

Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Blythe Danner will serve as godmother and name the ship during a sunset ceremony at the port of Barcelona on June 20. The ship will then depart on a 14-day maiden voyage to Athens, stopping at the charming seaside towns in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey that are a hallmark of the Seabourn cruise experience.

Seabourn Quest’s maiden season includes seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises, operating alternately between Athens and Istanbul, and Venice and Athens, as well as a seven-day Black Sea voyage. In the fall, the ship will cruise across the Atlantic Ocean from Malaga, Spain, to Fort Lauderdale from where it will sail on a series of round trip voyages in the Caribbean.

On January 5, 2012, the ship will begin a 109-day maiden world cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice on a unique eastbound course via South America, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

Among a host of onboard amenities, dining takes center stage. Under the guidance of celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, Quest offers a variety of dining options from the main dining venue, The Restaurant, serving multi-course breakfasts, luncheons and dinners in an open-seating style amid a refined setting of gleaming white linens, polished alabaster walls, flowing sheer draperies and crystal chandeliers, to the Colonnade, a more casual, indoor/outdoor option serving lavish station-style buffet breakfasts and lunches. Dinners in the Colonnade are regionally-themed menus prepared in the open kitchen and served at table.

Restaurant 2 is an intimate setting where guests can enjoy innovative small-plates tasting menus nightly by reservation. The Patio Grill is a casual alternative offering poolside dining for luncheons and dinners, as well as freshly baked pizzas from its on-site oven all afternoon.
Quest is the third iteration of the sleek and widely-admired design that first appeared as Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009. The second sister-ship, Seabourn Sojourn, entered service this time last year.

On the web: www.seabourn.com