MSC Divina is afloat and ready to be primped for her 2012 debut

MSC Divina, floating out of dry dock B of the STX Europe shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France on September 3, 2011. Image courtesy of MSC

By Jackie Roseboom

MSC Divina, the third and latest addition to the MSC Cruises’ flagship Fantasia class, was ceremoniously floated out of dry dock on Sept. 3. She was transferred to a different dock at the STX Europe shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France for final fitting and furnishing ahead of her christening in May 2012. The occasion was witnessed by a select group of guests who gathered to applaud the ship which will become the 12th and most magnificent of the MSC Cruses fleet. It was a major milestone in the build of the new 140,000 ton, 4,363 passenger MSC cruise ship.

As the most advanced of the trio of Fantasia Class cruise ships, cutting edge technical changes on MSC Divina include more powerful propulsion motors (rated at 21.8 MW each. That’s 1.8 more than the motor on the MSC Splendida), brand new alternators and a state-of-the-art air-conditioning system. The ship will also feature a new reverse osmosis system for fresh water production that requires 40 percent less power, therefore assuring less environmental impact.
Construction of MSC Divina started over a year ago. A complement of 74 mega-blocks, each consisting of a set of large pre-fabricated hull components were used in assembling the ship. Work on the keel is nearly completed. Fifty percent of the fitting out has been done which includes completion of the electrical networking, plumbing and public areas. Work has also already started on 400 of the 1,751 cabins. That’s one hundred more than her sister ships.

She is named in honor of Sophia Loren, modern day Italian film legend and patron of the MSC Cruises fleet. MSC Divina will be appropriately themed as a divine goddess.

The ship’s 18 decks (13 of them for passengers) will be named after the gods of Ancient Greece; among them are Urano, Afrodite, Aurora, Giunone, Artemide, Zeus, Mercurio, Cupido, Iride, Minerva, Apollo, Saturno and Elios.
The aft Garden Pool will enhance the “sent from the gods” feel of the ship. It’s being designed and decorated as a heavenly upscale area for a quiet retreat. It will provide a great place to watch the sunset or to star gaze at night.

Regular mediterranean cruises start in June 2012. For more information contact MSC at msccruisesusa.com or call a travel professional.

Norwegian Jewel to play host to Blake Shelton and Friends cruise

The Norwegian Jewel will sail to the Caribbean from Miami next fall for the inaugural Blake Shelton and Friends cruise.
~ Photo courtesy of NCL

By Jackie Roseboom

Country music fans may want to make plans now for the inaugural Blake Shelton and Friends cruise. In just about a year, on Oct. 14, 2012, the Norwegian Jewel will sail from Miami to the Caribbean on a seven day country music cruise. Fans of Shelton’s will be able to enjoy a week at sea with intimate concerts, surprise unplugged performances and more.
Shelton will perform two live concerts in the Stardust Theater. In addition, there will be live music every night in at least three different venues around the ship by various country artists (to be announced soon).

Country music star and judge on "The Voice", Blake Shelton, will perform two concerts aboard the NCL Jewel next fall.
~Photo courtesy of NCL

In addition to the concert, there will be other opportunities for country music fans:
– Song writer workshops
– A custom version of “The Voice” with a karaoke contest judged by professionals
– Surprise unplugged performances and jam sessions
– Question and answer sessions
– Opportunities to get up close and personal with musical guests
– Late night dance parties with radio station DJs

Shelton is the current CMA (Country Music Award) Male Vocalist of the Year as well as one of the judges on the hit NBC show, “The Voice.” Shelton has had many singles hit number one on the Billboard charts across all genres. His single “Austin” debut in 2001 and began his rise to fame. His versatility ranges from his heart-felt ballads like “Home” and “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” to toe-tapping, get up and dance songs such as “All About Tonight” and “Hillbilly Bone.” His latest single, “Honey Bee,” spent four weeks as the number one single, and holds the record for the fastest-selling digital platinum single for a male country solo artist.

The Blake Shelton and Friends Cruise starts in Miami and will call on San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. Guests will be able to enjoy three relaxing days at sea to experience Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising. Freestyle Cruising means guests can choose when and what they want to do, such as dining, and are not stuck to a fixed schedule.

The ship has 16 dining options, some with an extra charge, and 13 bars and nightclubs. Dining reservations are recommended. Broadway-style shows and kids programs are among many other fun activities onboard. Of course there is also a casino and an arcade too.

The Norwegian Jewel features various types of cabins and suites, the largest are the two-bedroom, 572-square-foot Family Villas and 440-square-foot Courtyard Penthouses, around a private courtyard with its own small swimming pool, hot tub, and plush sun beds. The ship also has an impressive resort pool deck: a row of palm tree-shaped street lamps frame two pools, several hot tubs and a fun water slide. On the same deck is the ship’s spa with multiple treatment rooms, saunas and steam rooms, a beauty salon and a calming relaxation room with its own aquatherapy pool. The fitness center is next door and there’s a jogging track and a basketball/volleyball court outside.

The cruise prices start at $1,099 based on double occupancy. Guests can take advantage of an early-booking discount with rates as low as $899 per person when they book before Aug. 26. To book the Blake Shelton and Friends Cruise, visit www.blakesheltoncruise.com or contact Flying Dutchmen Travel at 800-248-7471. To learn more about Norwegian Cruise Line, visit www.ncl.com or call a travel professional.

Cruise lines celebrating the royal wedding at sea

Royal Caribbean is offering royal wedding packages so you can feel like a prince or princess. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

By Jackie Roseboom

Many businesses are celebrating the Royal Wedding by offering their guests a viewing party and special offerings, and the cruise industry is no exception. From small viewing areas to lavish parties, it will all be available at sea.

Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean is celebrating the upcoming British royal wedding by offering an exclusive Royal Caribbean wedding package for couples looking to tie the knot at sea.

“Royal Caribbean’s full fleet of ships around the world will broadcast the royal wedding live so that guests may join in the ceremony’s excitement,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing. “Inspired by the pending royal nuptials, the Royal Wedding package and honeymoon registry offers guests the royal treatment on their special day and honeymoon cruise.”

The Royal wedding packages include an onboard symbolic wedding ceremony (due to the varying international legal restrictions). Royal Romance Wedding Coordinators will handle every detail so the couples’ special day is a truly regal experience including any legal requirements pre-departure.

Cunard

Cunard’s Royal Court Theatre is very fitting for watching Prince William marry Kate. Photo courtesy of Cunard
Guests onboard Cunard’s three ships — Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth need have no fear of missing one second of the historic union of the future King and Kate Middleton.

Queen Mary 2’s Royal Court Theatre seats over 1,000 guests, who will be able to watch events unfold in plush cinema comfort as the ship sails between New York and Southampton, on a seven-night Transatlantic Crossing (April 26 to May 2).
The Royal Court Theatres on the smaller Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria seat more than 800 passengers, and they too will be used to screen the Royal nuptials live. At the time Queen Elizabeth will be at sea heading for Southampton, and Queen Victoria will be at sea in the Mediterranean.

The day will also be one of celebration on all three Cunard ships, with that evening’s dinner featuring a commemorative menu and a champagne toast.

MSC
With the exception of MSC Sinfonia and Opera, which will not be sailing in European waters, the Royal Wedding will be broadcast in English across the MSC fleet. Bars on board will be serving a great selection of champagnes and prosecco together with a special commemorative Royal Cocktail (sparkling wine, cognac and grand marnier). Guests will be able to raise a glass – or two – to the happy couple.

NCL
The highly-anticipated event will be broadcast across Norwegian’s fleet of ships, with the exception of Norwegian Sky in the Bahamas. Guests will be able to watch the magic of the royal wedding on two-story big screens on Norwegian Pearl, Jewel, Jade, Gem and Epic, as well as in any of the line’s bars and lounges.
After the royal couple say their “I do’s,” guests can raise a toast to the newlyweds with champagne, gin and tonic or a pitcher of Pimm’s and attend street parties held in true British style, complete with music playing tribute to the Beatles. Special dining events will be held throughout the sailing including the Prince and Princess Brunch and an afternoon Royal High Tea.

Princess Cruise Line
Princess ships will be airing the Royal Wedding on the Movies Under the Stars giant screens. Passengers will be able to follow along with full coverage of the pomp and majesty of the historic wedding through BBC World’s broadcast of the event. The onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

Princess Cruise Line’s first Royal Princess cruise ship debuted in 1984 and was christened by HRH Princess Diana. The ship left the fleet in 2005, the name was passed to one of Princess’ small ships in 2007. This vessel is being transferred to a sister company at the end of April. The new Royal Princess cruise ship will be debuting in spring of 2013. We’ll be waiting in anticipation to see if Princess Kate will also christen the Royal Princess, as the beloved Princess Diana did.

Note: Be sure to follow your Cruise News Weekly columnists as we report live from Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Magic, from May 1 to 10 in Europe. We’ll be reporting from our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Special deals offered for ‘World’s Largest Cruise Night’

Most cruise lines are offering some sort of special deal for the World's Largest Cruise Night on Oct. 13. Some offers are only good for deals booked that day and some last a bit longer. Pick your ship, see what sort of deal you can get and plan your next getaway. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Jackie Roseboom

The Cruise Lines International Association is holding a special World’s Largest Cruise Night this Oct. 13. Travel agents across North America will be hosting a special events in partnership with several cruise lines. Some amazing deals are being offered. As the event gets closer, more deals will be offered. Here are the ones already showing up:

Carnival is enticing vacationers with cruise upgrades on virtually all “Fun Ship” departures through December 2011. To sweeten the deal, Carnival will offer up to a $200 onboard credit per stateroom for all Carnival Magic Europe voyages booked on Oct. 13. The Carnival Magic Europe offer includes best available upgrades and a $100 onboard credit per stateroom for seven-day Europe sailings and a $200 onboard credit per stateroom for nine- and 12-day sailings.

Celebrity is hosting a three-day sale beginning Oct. 13 for sailings departing April through December 2011 for select seven- to 14-night sailings. Look for onboard credits of $50 per stateroom for oceanview accommodations; $100 per stateroom for veranda accommodations; and $150 per stateroom for AquaClass (only on Solstice-class ships), suites, and Concierge Class.

Costa is offering a $50 onboard credit per stateroom on any sailing. The offer is valid only on Oct. 13.

Crystal Cruises is offering a $100 per person additional savings incentive on most 2010-2011 departures for new bookings made from Oct. 1 to 31.

Cunard is offering an onboard credit (per stateroom) of up to $300 for Queens & Princess Grill accommodation; up to $200 for Balcony staterooms; and up to $100 for Oceanview/Inside staterooms, depending on length of voyage. Bookings made during the Cruise Sale will receive a waiver of the deposit on the second guest.

Holland America Line is offering shipboard credits that can be combined with group amenities or cruise night offers. Plus deposits are only $100 per person for cruises of seven to 36 days.

For booking between Oct. 13 to 27, MSC will offer exclusive shipboard credits, such as $25 per passenger for inside cabin/oceanview bookings; $50 per passenger for standard balcony/superior balcony accommodations; and $100 per passenger for suites bookings.

Oceania Cruises is celebrating its maiden season in Alaska with two-for-one cruise fares, plus free round-trip air and bonus savings up to $1,000 per stateroom.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a $100 per person ($200 per suite) shipboard credit booking incentive. This offer is valid for any new reservation on a 2010 or 2011 departure of seven nights or longer booked between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15.

Silversea Cruises is offering a $100 per guest ($200 per suite) savings on any 2010, 2011 or 2012 cruise booked during the month of October.

Windstar is offering a $100 per person shipboard credit on any Wind Spirit, Wind Star or Wind Surf sailing in the Caribbean or Costa Rica between Jan. 2 and April 2, 2011. The offer is valid for new bookings made between Oct. 13 and Nov. 15, and the credits may be combined with all nationwide offers including two-for-one offers.

On the Web: visit cruising.org for more information or check with a CLIA-member travel agent.

Ship Review: Beauty and entertainment highlight MSC Poesia

MSC Poesia sails the Caribbean in winter and spring, then heads to Europe for the summer. Before heading back to Florida next winter, she’ll sail to Canada and the New England states out of New York this fall. Photo by Matt Roseboom

The MSC Poesia is a very modern ship with all the creature comforts. Its Italian feel may be a little different than what most Americans are used to, but it doesn’t take away from a great cruising experience.

Click Through to continue reading about the MSC Poesia – including a photo gallery and video.

In Port Today: Five ships in Nassau, Bahamas

Five ships are lined up in Nassau, Bahamas today, March 12, 2010. From left are the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, Carnival Destiny, Disney Wonder, Carnival Sensation and MSC Poesia.

Follow us on the MSC Poesia in the Caribbean this week

We’ll be onboard and updating live via Twitter and Facebook from the MSC Poesia from Saturday, March 6 to Saturday, March 13, 2010.

Here’s our schedule:
Saturday: Leave from Ft. Lauderdale
Sunday: At sea
Monday: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tuesday: Philipsburg (St. Maarten)
Wednesday: Roadtown (Tortola)
Thursday: At sea
Friday: Nassau (Bahamas)
Saturday: Return to Ft. Lauderdale

This is also a Baseball Greats Cruise. We’re scheduled to be sailing with Amos Otis, Stan Bahnsen, Rennie Stennet, Gary Peters, Vida Blue and Rico Petrocelli. Click Here to check out all of MSC’s themed cruises.

As the Internet connection allows, we’ll be updating our Twitter and Facebook status with photos and/or video at least once per day. We’ll also try our best to answer any questions you may have about the ship.

Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CruiseGuide
Become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/CruiseNews