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

NCL Plans to Develop an Eco-Friendly Destination in Belize

Artist representation of the proposed destination. Provided by Norwegian Cruise Line
Artist representation of the proposed destination. Provided by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it has purchased approximately 75 acres in Southern Belize for the planned development of an eco-friendly cruise destination. The land, called Harvest Caye, is made up of two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts that had previously been approved for a resort development with an air strip. Norwegian plans to invest $50 million in the project.

“As our fleet continues to grow to 15 ships by 2017, we expect that we will double the number of guests sailing on our Western Caribbean itineraries and, once this new destination is complete, bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and CEO. “In our quest to continuously look for new and exciting destinations for our guests, we plan to develop a cruise destination focused on sustainable design and eco-friendly principles that will retain the natural beauty and local culture of this tropical paradise.”

Norwegian has retained IDEA Inc. of Orlando, Fla. to design the destination and bring the project to fruition. IDEA is an industry leading designer of branded ports of call and branded destinations for the hospitality, entertainment and tourism industries. IDEA has worked with private developers, government ministries, and independent agencies to create branded destinations in Alaska; Florida; St. Lucia; St. Maarten; Mexico; St. Kitts; Honduras; Bahamas; and Jamaica.

“This project will set a new standard in the development of an eco-friendly destination. Rather than an imposed plan, we are focused on a design approach that is determined by the local environment to ensure that the unique surroundings and features of the area will be protected and showcased for all to enjoy,” said Hugh Darley, president of IDEA, Inc.

“At Norwegian, we have a strong commitment to the environment through our Eco-Smart Cruising philosophy. We will continue that commitment as we develop the Belize project and ensure that we are socially responsible in everything we do,” said Colin Murphy, vice president, destination and strategic development for Norwegian Cruise Line.

While the master plan for the 75 acres is still under development, the vision is to create a world-class cruise destination, consisting of two locations: an island destination with docking/tendering facilities and a mainland connection point for inland tours. Major components of the project are anticipated to include a floating pier, island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, marina, transportation hub for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a relaxing beach area. The goal is to design an authentic experience grounded in the storyline of nature, ancient culture, art, adventure and music that celebrates Belizean, Mayan and Garifuna history and culture.

The Government of Belize and Norwegian have signed a memorandum of understanding on the development that calls for adherence to Belize’s environmental standards, creation of jobs for Belizeans, as well as significant economic impact, among other items.

Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said that Belize needs to decentralize cruise tourism in an effort to reduce overcrowding and improve the visitor experience. Prime Minister Barrow also expressed confidence in Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to responsible development that will have a positive economic impact while maintaining the integrity of natural resources.

The new destination is expected to benefit Belize directly with significantly increased head tax revenues, and at a local level with up to 1,000 new jobs. The creation of the new destination will also help relieve cruise tourism pressures in Belize City which has been called for in Belize’s National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.

Norwegian plans to employ a majority of Belizeans in the construction and operation of the destination in Belize. The company has also created a hiring program specifically for

Belizeans who want to work in the immediate future on its vessels while the project is under development. Once the destination is ready to open, those Belizeans will have priority preference for the numerous staff positions needed to run the day-to-day operations.

To learn more about the project, visit the Belize tab on the company’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/norwegiancruiseline.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Loves Weddings at Sea

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line announced three new, customizable destination wedding experiences for guests wishing to celebrate their nuptials on one of Norwegian’s ships or in one of the line’s spectacular destinations. In partnership with Vancouver-based Royal Ocean Events, Norwegian offers couples the opportunity to have the wedding of a lifetime during their cruise, whether they choose to tie the knot overlooking the sparkling ocean, atop a majestic glacier in Alaska, or under a canopy of palm trees on an exotic Caribbean beach.

Couples planning their dream destination wedding with Norwegian can choose from three wedding ceremony options: “Symbolic,” performed on board while at sea; “Harborside,” performed on board while the ship is docked in select ports of call; or “Destination,” performed on shore in select ports of call.

Ceremonies are available in a wide range of ports — including Norwegian’s domestic embarkation ports, as well as beautiful destinations in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. From a romantic, intimate ceremony in Santorini, Greece to an elaborate portside affair with hundreds of guests, brides and grooms sailing with Norwegian can commemorate the most important day of their life as they’ve always imagined it.

With packages starting at $1600, Royal Ocean Events offers everything that couples need for their perfect celebration. The happy couple can relax, as an experienced wedding coordinator will assist them every step of the way during the planning process and, once on board, they will enjoy their big day stress free, as Norwegian’s on-site wedding coordinators handle all of the day’s details.

All packages include an officiant or ship officer to perform the ceremony, on-site wedding coordinator, private ceremony location, ceremony vows, bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, prerecorded ceremony music, a bottle of sparkling wine, keepsake wedding certificate and wedding cake.

Norwegian also offers a wide selection of enhancements and services that couples can choose from to further personalize their celebration, including spa and beauty treatments, flowers (including custom orders), décor and ceremony enhancements, live music, photography and videography, transportation to and from the ship or wedding location, priority check-in, and a variety of wedding reception options, ranging from an elegant cocktail reception with gourmet selections and open bar to a four-course sit-down luncheon with wine service.

For couples who wish to re-confirm their love while at sea, Norwegian’s “Vow Renewal” package offers married couples the opportunity to celebrate their love all over again with a group vow renewal ceremony performed by a crew member. The package starts at $299 and includes a bottle of private-selection sparkling wine, a celebration cake for two, a commemorative vow renewal certificate, dinner for two in the line’s very romantic signature French Restaurant, Le Bistro, an 8×10 professional portrait, sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to their stateroom and a bouquet of flowers or $50 on board credit to use towards photo prints. Those couples who want a more personal experience can select the “Deluxe Vow Renewal,” offering a private ceremony by the ship’s Captain, an invitation from the Captain to tour the bridge while the ship is in port, plus all of the amenities included in the Vow Renewal package.

For those looking to “pop the question” while at sea, Norwegian and Royal Ocean Weddings can arrange the ultimate proposal. The “Engagement” package includes an ideal proposal setting onboard, a bouquet of classic red roses, sparkling wine and strawberries waiting for the couple in their stateroom, two 25-minute half-body Swedish massages, in-room tea service, breakfast-in-bed for two, and dinner for two in Le Bistro, with pricing starting at $399.

Honeymooners, too, can take advantage of all that Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising has to offer including romantic dinners for two in the line’s signature restaurants; pampering couples spa treatments in Norwegian’s award-winning Mandara Spas; and adventurous excursions in exciting ports of call.

For more details on weddings with Norwegian, visit www.nclweddings.com.

Second Breakaway Ship Announced

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it has confirmed an order for a second “Breakaway Plus” cruise ship with MEYER WERFT GMBH of Papenburg, Germany for delivery in spring 2017. Along with the first Breakaway Plus ship, which is scheduled for delivery in October 2015, these two new vessels will be the largest in the line’s fleet at approximately 163,000 gross tons and 4,200 passenger berths each and will be similar in design and innovation to the line’s current Breakaway class, the first of which, Norwegian Breakaway, launched in New York in early May.

The combined contract cost of the two Breakaway Plus class ships is approximately €1.4 billion. The company has export credit financing in place that provides financing for 80 percent of the contract price.

“The incredible response we’ve received from guests, travel agents and media regarding Norwegian Breakaway only reinforced our decision to add a second Breakaway Plus vessel to our fleet,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “With groundbreaking elements, yet to be announced, and an additional deck to incorporate further innovations, our two Breakaway Plus ships will provide guests even more ways to experience all that the new Norwegian has to offer.”

MEYER WERFT delivered Norwegian Breakaway, the first of Norwegian’s two new 146,600 gross ton, 4,000-passenger Breakaway class vessels on April 25, 2013; and will deliver Norwegian Getaway, in mid-January 2014.

“We’re very pleased to build all these innovative ships for Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of MEYER WERFT.

Prior to the Breakaway class ships, MEYER WERFT built Norwegian’s four Jewel-class ships – Norwegian Gem delivered in 2007, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jade delivered in 2006, and Norwegian Jewel delivered in 2005. These two new Breakaway Plus vessels on order will be the tenth and eleventh that the Company will build with MEYER WERFT.

For more information contact your travel agent or go to breakaway.ncl.com

A More Extensive List of Ships with Special Needs Accessibility is Coming Soon

Special Needs Group (SNG) is adding all accessible ships in the fleets of three Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. family members (Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises) to its Web portal/accessibility content resource. This includes accessibility information for Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to begin sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. in November 2014.

The one-stop portal is available to both travel professionals and consumers. It consist of an extensive list of ships’ accessibility features available in the cruise industry. It provides helpful information including:

Number of accessible staterooms
Accessible stateroom features
Food & Beverage venues accessibility
Recreational facilities accessibility
Much more

SNG will launch Royal Caribbean International on the portal on Monday, July 15; Celebrity Cruises on Monday, July 22 and Azamara Club Cruises on Monday, July 29. On Monday, Aug. 5, SNG will launch Holland America Line® on the portal. It will continue to add one cruise line per month through the end of 2013, and until all ships with accessible features utilized by the North American market have been included.

All ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line® fleet were launched on the portal in April 2013.

SNG President and CEO Andrew Garnett said, “By continuing to add ships/cruise lines to our accessibility content resource, we’re reinforcing our corporate responsibility to help educate travel professionals, as well as the traveling public, that individuals with special needs have the ability to travel now more than ever before. The content that we create and provide is mainly informational as opposed to commercially-driven, allowing individuals with special needs to choose the most appropriate ship/cruise for them.”

Earlier in 2013, SNG also introduced three collateral assets – Ship Accessibility Checklist™, Mobility Scooter/Power Chair Etiquette™, and Scooter/Power Chair Do’s and Don’ts™ – to better assist professional travel agents to serve Americans with disabilities and special needs. Special Needs Group is the only mobility and oxygen equipment supplier that is approved to deliver to all major cruise lines.

For more information about the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate program, SNG Travel Agent Affiliate Program and the SNG Resource Center, please call 1-800-513-4515 or visit www.specialneedsgroup.com/agents.

NCL now offers Certified Angus Beef Steaks

 Norwegian, Steak in Cagney’s and Le Bistro restaurants Photo courtesy of NCL
Norwegian, Steak in Cagney’s and Le Bistro restaurants
Photo courtesy of NCL

Norwegian Cruise Line announced it is now the only cruise line to serve Certified Angus Beef brand steaks, the world’s leading Angus brand and consumers’ top choice for premium beef. Certified Angus Beef brand steaks are rated above USDA Prime, Choice and Select, and are known for their superior flavor, juiciness and tenderness. These steaks are currently available in Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro French restaurant on ten Norwegian ships, including the new Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Spirit will begin serving these steaks by August.

“With the addition of Certified Angus Beef in our steakhouse and French restaurant, we’ve taken an already great meal and made it outstanding,” said Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “There is no better steak available and, as a New Yorker who knows a good steak, it was an obvious choice to bring these high quality selections to Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro.”

Previously available only at shore-side steakhouses and leading retailers, these exceptional cuts feature 10 quality specifications, including marbling, maturity and consistency, and are aged 28 days for the finest flavor and tenderness.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of premium cuts, ranging from a 14-ounce dry-aged center-cut strip loin to an 18-ounce bone-in ribeye. Additional offerings include an eight-ounce center-cut filet and a 16-ounce boneless ribeye. Guests can also customize their Certified Angus Beef steak with an array of seasonings and signature sauces including garlic butter, gorgonzola-crusted, chimichurri, green peppercorn and more. Cagney’s Steakhouse serves all of the selected cuts, while Le Bistro offers the eight-ounce center-cut filet.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is at the forefront of cuisine at sea, and the ranchers and farmers behind the Certified Angus Beef brand are pleased to be a part of this culinary evolution,” says John Stika, the beef brand’s president. “Guests will appreciate knowing their steak experience matches some of the finest steakhouses in New York and beyond.”

The steaks were first introduced on the Norwegian Breakaway.

To book a cruise on board any of Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit www.ncl.com.

NCL looking to Breakaway with two new ships

A rendering of The Haven courtyard on the Norwegian Breakaway, with private pool, sun deck, hot tub and fitness area.

By Jackie Roseboom

On Sept. 21, the first piece of steel was cut at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany for the construction of Norwegian Breakaway, the first of two new ships for Norwegian Cruise Line. The Breakaway is set for delivery in April 2013.

“Today’s steel cutting marks the start of construction for Norwegian Breakaway, our next generation Freestyle Cruising ship, that will captivate and amaze our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer. “We are extremely pleased with the progress we have made so far in planning this incredible vessel. We now look to the capable and talented team at Meyer Werft to bring this ship to life.”

The Breakaway class ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will each be 144,017 gross tons and will carry approximately 4,000 passengers. These mega ships represent an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to “break away” from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true bliss at sea. While massive, they have many intimate spots to make your own. The new ships will take the best of the best from Norwegian’s existing ships. The ships’ names were chosen from 230,000 entries received in “Norwegian’s Cruising for Names” contest held in conjunction with USA Today.

To date, the company has revealed details on all of the ships’ staterooms which combine the form and function of the line’s Jewel class ships’ staterooms with the modern and contemporary design touches of Norwegian Epic. A wonderful selection of staterooms will be available starting with the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers, the re-introduction of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites, along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa. The ship also features The Haven by Norwegian, which consist of 42 suites at the top of the ship and 18 additional suites located throughout the ship. The Haven includes plush amenities that include: 24-hour butler service, poolside valet, special platinum-colored keycards, white tablecloth in-suite dining, exclusive access to The Haven courtyard with private pool, sun deck, hot tub and fitness area, and priority reservations.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a 44-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising. Most notable was the introduction of Freestyle Cruising, which has revolutionized cruising by allowing guests more freedom and flexibility to make their vacation their own.

Norwegian made a splash with its Norwegian Epic in 2010 as it collaborated with Blue Man Group, Howl at the Moon, Gibson Guitar, Nickelodeon and Cirque Dreams. The announcement of the two new ships have cruise fans excited to hear what innovations they will add this time.

In addition to the new Breakaway class ships, Norwegian Cruise Line is committed to keeping their existing fleet up to date. Both Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Sun received major enhancements earlier this year. Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Jade are finishing up their dry dock enhancements soon.  

For more information go to ncl.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.

Follow us this week in the Mediterranean aboard Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade (formerly Pride of Hawaii) embarked on a 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean journey from Venice, Italy, this past weekend. One of 11 ships in the NCL fleet, this European-based vessel will be unveiling a series of 9-day cruises from Barcelona to the Canary Islands beginning in December. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship in this space over the next week. Image courtesy Michael Coleman