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.

The Royal Princess is Ready for her Inaugural Celebration

Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises
Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

A musical salute provided a spectacular welcome for Royal Princess to Southampton as the new cruise ship arrived to begin a week-long series of special inaugural events. British actor, director and writer Simon Callow orchestrated the Southampton University Brass Band to serenade the new Princess Cruises ship with a rendition of “God Save The Queen” as the vessel sailed into the harbor. Royal Princess will be officially named in Southampton on Thursday. June 13 by The Duchess of Cambridge.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge
Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises

The unprecedented musical welcome, conducted by Callow, was answered back by Royal Princess with its own special horn that plays the first notes of the theme song from the TV show “The Love Boat.”

“What an extraordinary welcome Royal Princess received for her arrival in Southampton,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Starting the week off with this amazing musical orchestra offered the perfect way to tune up for a naming ceremony that will celebrate with many special musical performances.”

The June 13 naming event will feature not only the christening by The Duchess, but also star-studded musical entertainment including British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield singing her hit “Unwritten,” as well as a performance by British actress and “the first lady of London’s West End,” Kerry Ellis. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and The Pipe Band of 1st Battalion Irish Guards will open the event with the pomp and ceremony of British ship-naming traditions.

Viewers around the world can also watch the celebrations as Princess Cruises will be streaming the ceremony live online at www.princess.com, so everyone can share in the spectacular event, which will formally welcome the new ship into the company’s fleet.

The live streaming will begin at 11:15 am local time in Southampton, which will be 6:15 am EDT in the U.S. and 3:15 am PDT. Viewers can also choose to play back a recording of the ceremony soon after the event for viewing at their leisure. Social conversation on Twitter will also be featured with a direct feed on the naming page, and viewers can join in as they watch by using the #RoyalPrincess hashtag.

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship. Among the special features found on board is a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship offering a host of dining and entertainment options; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the new Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

The Royal Princess will be sailing her maiden voyage from the port of Southampton. The ship will be cruising in the Mediterranean for the rest of the Summer. She will make her way to Fort Lauderdale to start cruising the Caribbean in October 2013.

To book a cruise on the Royal Princess call you travel agent or go to www.princess.com/royalprincess.

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.

Follow us aboard the Disney Fantasy and Silver Spirit

We’re back and headed to two different ships this next week. This weekend we’ll be previewing Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Fantasy. And over the next week we’ll be posting updates from SilverSea’s Silver Spirit.

We’ll have our full reviews and posts here, but to follow us live from the ship, you’ll want to follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page.

You can find us on Twitter at Twitter.com/CruiseGuide

You can like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CruiseNews

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

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

By Jackie Roseboom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information go to Carnival.com/funship2.

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

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.

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.

Celebrity Silhouette indulges the soul – ‘The Alcoves’ generating a buzz

The City of Hamburg, Germany, provided the backdrop this week for the launch of Celebrity Cruises’ latest vessel, the 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette. It’s the fourth new ship launch for Celebrity in as many years. Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises

By Michael Coleman

HAMBURG, GERMANY, Friday, July 22, 2011 — Among the host of soul-stirring indulgences afforded passengers aboard the new Celebrity Silhouette, few compare to the luxurious cabana setting unveiled aboard the vessel here this week.

The ship, like her sisters Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse, oozes sophistication and warmth, no easy task when building a 2,886-passenger vessel.

The Lawn Club aboard Celebrity Silhouette features a number of eye-popping amenities, among them: real grass, a grill, plus eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves”. Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises
And, while she boasts a series of nuances not found on her sisters – a Lawn Club Grill; The Porch, a casual outdoor dining locale; The Hideaway, a relaxation area with seating reminiscent of a childhood tree house; and even an Art Studio where passengers can participate in hands-on courses — it’s the eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves” situated on real grass high above the sea, no less, which is generating a buzz.

Designed to allow for relaxation and seclusion within a hip ambience, just steps from the lively vibe of the Lawn Club and Lawn Club Grill, the chic cabanas comfortably accommodate two to four guests each.

Just steps from the Lawn Club, perched high atop Deck 15, is the Lawn Club Grill aboard Celebrity Silhouette. Passengers can select and grill their own meats side-by-side with Celebrity’s chefs — a cruise line first at sea - or have them cooked to order. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
Alcove guests enjoy views of the lawn and sea; ambient mood lighting for cozy, romantic evenings; complimentary amenities including a fresh fruit plate, hand-held fans, chilled towels, four bottles of water, and all-day use of an iPad loaded with a variety of music, movies, games and magazines.

Additionally, fresh, themed picnic baskets with selections from Silhouette’s three specialty restaurants, as well as a la carte beverages, are available for an additional charge, and just a phone call away via the ship’s dedicated Alcove attendant. Wine and cheese evenings under the stars can also be arranged.

The Alcoves can even be booked online via Celebrity’s website either for full-day — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. – or entire voyage rentals. Rates are $99 per Alcove per day on days in port, and $149 per day on days at sea. Special values are available for guests who book one of The Alcoves for several days or for an entire cruise.

Adjacent to The Alcoves, guests will find eight inviting hammocks and two whimsical, oversized Adirondack chairs, each offering complimentary, additional opportunities to relax amidst the atmosphere of the lawn and sea.

In addition to her innovative new venues and experiences, Silhouette also offers many of the attributes found on each of her sisters:
– The hip “Celebrity iLounge” that made Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first Authorized Apple Reseller

High-tech and food-as-theater combine for a memorable culinary experience in Qsine aboard Celebrity Silhouette. It’s the first restaurant at sea to feature a menu and wine list on an iPad. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
– Uniquely unordinary “Qsine,” the first seagoing restaurant to feature a menu and wine list on an iPad, plus an engaging food-as-theater dining experience
– Ten unrivaled restaurants – in addition to the Lawn Club Grill and The Porch
– Modern, stylish interiors
– Trendy nightclubs and lounges, including CellarMasters, complete with the industry’s first installation of the innovative Enomatic wine serving system
– A broad wine selection served by one of the world’s largest staffs of certified sommeliers
– One of the world’s largest permanent collections of original contemporary art, and the industry’s first self-guided art tours to be presented on an iPad
– Top-tier entertainment, including custom aerial production shows and live music
Silhouette, which will spend the summer here in Europe, begins Caribbean voyages from New York/New Jersey in the fall.

The paint is barely dry aboard the vessel yet company officials are already gearing up for the launch of yet another sister-ship, Celebrity Reflection, set to debut in fall 2012.

On the web: celebritycruises.com

Celebrity Silhouette features a host of new amenities compared to her sisters - Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse — including a Lawn Club Grill; eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves”; “The Porch,” a casual outdoor dining locale; “The Hideaway”, a relaxation area with seating reminiscent of a childhood tree house; and a new Art Studio where passengers can participate in hands-on courses in beading, sculpting, painting and more led by professional artists. Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises

New Ship Launch: Chic Silhouette sparkles

The 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette debuted today in Hamburg, Germany. The outdoor Lawn Club Grill on Deck 15, just steps from the real grass growing beneath your toes, is sure to be a hit with passengers. Photos by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

HAMBURG, GERMANY: Thursday, July 21, 2011 — It may very well be Celebrity Cruises’ finest hour.

Today, here in this industrial port city, the chic 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette debuted, slightly overshadowing her impressive sisters — Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse – each launched in successive years since 2008.

The new ship sparkles with the best features from her sisters plus trendy changes to Celebrity’s iconic Lawn Club, a Deck 15 refuge complete with real grass under your toes where one can celebrate the flavorful joys of outdoor grilling or unwind in a cabana-style haven.

The Alcoves, one of eight cabana-styled havens aboard Celebrity Silhouette, is situated front and center on Deck 15’s Lawn Club.
Passengers at the interactive Lawn Club Grill can select and grill their own meats side-by-side with Celebrity’s chefs — a cruise line first at sea – or have them cooked to order. New, too, are eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves” for the ultimate in at-sea relaxation plus, steps away, look for the “The Porch,” a breezy, casual dining spot offering sandwiches, coffees and captivating views during breakfast and lunch hours.

Inside Silhouette you might want to take a culinary adventure in Qsine, one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, where you order food and wine from an iPad menu; enjoy an intimate, quiet space – “The Hideaway” – reminiscent of a childhood tree house; or taste some 50 beers from around the world in “Michael’s Club.”

Celebrity Silhouette’s Lawn Club features, among a host of outdoor delights, these oversized chairs.
There’s even a new “Art Studio” onboard where passengers can bring out their inner artist by participating in hands on courses in beading, sculpting, painting and more led by professional artists.

Tonight, Michelle Morgan, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, will officially christen Silhouette as the ship’s Godmother.

Following today’s unveiling, Silhouette will set sail from Hamburg, Saturday, on a seven-night cruise to Civitavecchia (Rome), where the ship will then feature roundtrip 12-night Mediterranean/Holy Land sailings until November when she will offer Caribbean cruises from the New York/New Jersey market.

On the web: celebritycruises.com

– Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman will take a closer look at Celebrity’s new masterpiece here in this space tomorrow.

The spacious Celebrity Silhouette pool deck features plenty of room to enjoy a dip or relaxing time in one of four hot tubs.

Royal Caribbean planing a fleet wide ship revitalization

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

By Jackie Roseboom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information visit royalcaribbean.com