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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

NCL to offer pizza delivery 24/7

Passengers aboard any one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 11 ships will soon be able to order pizza 24/7.

By Michael Coleman

You’ll have to book a cruise to enjoy it but Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week it will now offer pizza delivery service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fleet-wide.

Presently offered only aboard the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Epic, “Pizza 24/7’’ is scheduled to roll out to the eight ships departing from U.S. ports throughout July and then in Europe to Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun in August.

“Our guests have deemed the 24-hour pizza delivery onboard Norwegian Epic a popular addition to our innovative freestyle dining options,” said Michael Flesch, Norwegian’s senior vice president of hotel operations.

“We wanted to make it easy and convenient for our guests to enjoy a delicious pizza any time on our ships, whether it’s during a game of bowling, watching a movie in the Atrium or in the comfort of their stateroom.”

The tasty, 16-inch handmade, stone-baked pizzas are $5 each and are available with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce; pepperoni; or vegetarian with roasted peppers, mushrooms, red onions and mozzarella cheese.

NCL has also just rolled out Epic’s room service menu across the fleet with popular breakfast items, assorted soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and kid’s menu items. Room service is complimentary throughout the day except from midnight to 5 a.m. when an overnight surcharge of $3.95 is charged per order. Guests who order only beverages or pizza delivery will not be assessed the fee.

Epic debuted in June 2010. The Company has two 4,000-passenger vessels on order for delivery in spring 2013 and spring 2014.

NCL is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, appearing for the first time at sea on Epic, as well as the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, Gibson Guitar, and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids. Cirque Dreams & Dinner is also featured aboard Epic as the first show of its kind at sea under a big top.

On the web: www.ncl.com

Silver Whisper pegged for 2012 world cruise

The ultra-luxurious and recently refurbished 382-guest Silver Whisper will host Silversea Cruises world cruise in 2012. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard the luxurious 382-guest Silver Whisper this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

SPANISH TOWN, VIRGIN GORDA, B.V.I, March 10, 2011 — It should come as no surprise that the 382-guest Silver Whisper has been pegged by its owners to host their 2012 world cruise.

The Black Rock Grill, a convivial dining concept which enables guests to cook their preferences on heated lava rocks tableside under the stars on the pool deck, is but one culinary option aboard Silver Whisper. Image courtesy Silversea
Silversea Cruises’ intimate vessel, anchored here today in the midst of a 7-night Caribbean voyage, is aglow following a recent stem to stern makeover and may be more inviting than at any time in its 10-year-history of seamless, luxury globetrotting.

Guests will embark on the 115-night, Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo odyssey Jan. 16, 2012 discovering hidden jewels ranging from the Amazon and Africa to Asia and Arabia en route.

This is a cozy vessel oozing European charm and ambience and the onboard atmosphere here is relaxed and unpretentious.

Open bars, ocean view suites (most feature private teak deck verandas) complete with double vanities in the bathroom, walk-in wardrobe closets and separate sitting areas for entertaining or in-suite dining, will easily make for comfortable passage.

Butler service will be offered in every suite.

While the company’s six ships feature some 200 voyages to 450 destinations in more than 100 countries next year, across seven continents, it is Silver Whisper that has been pegged for the world adventure.

She will visit 45 ports in 27 countries stretching from the Caribbean and South America to Africa, the Far East, Arabia and Europe. Along the way guests will enjoy 13 overnight visits in various ports — look for such longer dalliances in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hong Kong; Shanghai; Bangkok; and Mumbai, India.

Silver Whisper’s cosmopolitan ambience and charm might best be reflected at La Terrazza, where breakfast, lunch and reservations-only dinner is served. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
While traversing the globe in pampered style, the ship’s culinary team will offer a host of choices in a number of venues to whet anyone’s gastronomic fancy. Dining options include The Restaurant, the ship’s main dining room (breakfast, lunch and dinner); La Terrazza (breakfast and lunch buffet, reservations-only Italian fare in the evening) and the reservation’s only Le Champagne, a specialty restaurant where dishes are expertly prepared and exclusive wines, paired with each course, flow freely.

Look for Silver Whisper to also offer a unique, under the stars dining experience on the pool deck. The Black Rock Grill, a convivial dining concept which enables guests to cook their preferences on heated lava rocks tableside, is perhaps the ship’s most casual and guiltiest of pleasures.

Rounding out the culinary component is grilled fare served daily on the pool deck, an elegant afternoon tea at 4 pm, and 24 hour room service.

Silver Whisper will spend the summer in Northern Europe and the fall foliage season in Canada and New England. In late fall she’ll return to the Caribbean and South America before ringing in the New Year with the commencement of her global journey.

Among the cozy bars aboard Silver Whisper, The Bar, is the place to see and be seen especially for pre-dinner cocktails.

Living the good life aboard Silver Whisper

Guests aboard Silver Whisper, presently in the midst of a week-long Caribbean journey, are enjoying the spoils of ultra-luxury travel at sea.
Images courtesy Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard the luxurious 382-guest Silver Whisper this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA, March 8, 2011 — The pampering began immediately.

Weary travelers boarding the 382-guest Silver Whisper, just a few short days ago in Barbados, were greeted by a smiling, receptive crew and a glass of perfectly-chilled champagne.

It’s been all uphill ever since.

Despite a visit yesterday to jet-set-friendly St. Bart’s, the gem of the Caribbean, it’s almost a wonder why anyone would even consider debarking Silver Whisper in the first place.

All 382 guests aboard the luxurious Silver Whisper enjoy butler service.
Each and every guest enjoys the spoils of butler service. I knew mine would be particularly efficient – and pleasant — the very moment we met given the fact his name is “Sunny’’. Breakfast served on a sun-drenched balcony, daily, is just one of many butler-assisted perks as is the prompt delivery of late afternoon canapés with a setting Caribbean sun as a backdrop.

And there’s more. Much more for those enjoying the spoils of this ship. From comfortable, spacious suites to world-class cuisine, Silver Whisper has been wowing guests first since 2001 and now since a recent, sparkling refurbishment.

There are 194 ocean-view suites ranging in size from 287 to 1,435 square feet and some 80 percent of all suites feature private teak balconies. Suites include twin-to-queen-sized beds, walk-in wardrobe closets, sitting areas with writing desks, dressing tables with hair dryers and plush robes and slippers. Italian marble bathrooms, complete with double basin vanities, feature choice of Salvatore Ferragamo, Bvlgari or Neutrogena bath amenities. Suites also include full baths and separate showers, refrigerators and cocktail bars, remote-controlled flat screen televisions with DVD and satellite reception, a personal safe, fresh fruit and flowers.

Idyllic St. Bart’s was one of several port calls this week aboard Silver Whisper. Guests are set to enjoy St. John’s, Antigua, today followed by calls on Marigot Bay, St. Martin; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
If one does venture away from his/her butler and the friendly confines of well-appointed suites, Silver Whisper will still pamper the mind, body and soul.

The Spa at Silversea, operated by Steiner, offers massages, facials, aroma stone therapy, teeth whitening and for those truly inclined a 150-minute anti-arthritic healing ceremony. Later, the ship’s sommelier might offer any number of complimentary wine selections pairing the best of the vine with a host of culinary options.

Taste buds, meanwhile, will not be ignored in the aptly-named The Restaurant, the ship’s main dining room, or in reservations-only La Terrazza (Italian fare) or Le Champagne, a specialty restaurant where one might indulge in a Relais & Chateaux lobster spectacle.

Guests have also been enjoying onboard boutique shopping, a beauty salon, fitness centre and sauna, production shows, casino, an Internet Café and WiFi service from stem to stern.

Lounging on comfortable pool-side chairs, where wait staff remember your name and perhaps more importantly your drink preference, has for years been a Silversea staple. As is the open bar concept, an essential component when island hopping under sunny skies here in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean makes major changes to its Crown & Anchor program

Royal Caribbean International has made some changes to its Crown & Anchor Society guest loyalty program. Instead of getting credit for each cruise, guests will get a Cruise Point for each night onboard. They’ve also added two new membership tiers and enhanced the member’s website.

The new system to earn tier status when sailing with Royal Caribbean is based on one cruise point for every night spent aboard one of the cruise line’s ships. Additionally, Crown & Anchor Society members can earn double points when they pay for suite accommodation.

The two new status levels being introduced are Emerald, between the current Platinum and Diamond status levels, and Pinnacle Club, the new top tier. The new progression of Crown & Anchor Society member status is Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club. The new Emerald status level will provide all the Platinum level benefits in addition to some new benefits on their way to Diamond status, such as higher member savings for balcony and suite category staterooms and a personalized welcome gift on every cruise.

Pinnacle Club members will be further recognized with all the benefits of the entire program and complimentary cruises at certain cruise-points milestones. Guests who have a minimum of 100 cruise credits before Jan. 21, 2011, will be the first to be invited to join the new top Crown & Anchor Society member tier. Moving forward, Pinnacle Club status can be achieved with 700 Cruise Points, equivalent to 100 seven-night cruises.

“These latest enhancements to the Crown & Anchor Society will further help recognize our loyal guests when they sail with us,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing. “We continuously listen and respond to our members’ feedback and have updated our loyalty program to provide a more equitable way for our members to advance to the next level. It’s important to understand that Crown & Anchor Society members will continue to enjoy all of their current program benefits and status, plus having the opportunity now to advance to the next tier even faster than before. For this one-time conversion, we have grandfathered everyone’s status in the program.”

The enhancements to the Crown & Anchor Society take effect for sailings on or after Jan. 21. Member guests will continue to enjoy the many Crown & Anchor Society benefits, such as the exclusive privilege to book their next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard and enjoy an Onboard Booking Bonus of up to $200 onboard credit.

The Crown & Anchor Society website is being re-launched to offer greater personalization. Members can now easily keep abreast of the latest news and offers that are available to them according to their status level and messages that are exclusively for them. Additionally, members can establish custom settings for items such as automatic upgrades for when a higher category stateroom becomes available. Emerald- and higher-level members with a booked sailing also can use the new member site to select new program benefits, such as a choice of beverages as part of their new Welcome Aboard gift basket.

To celebrate the incredible loyalty of program members, Royal Caribbean is introducing a limited time offer: ‘Bring a Friend’ and receive $25 to spend onboard. Members will be rewarded for introducing new guests to Royal Caribbean for new bookings made between Jan. 12 and April 30, 2011. The promotion will offer a $25 onboard credit per stateroom to Crown & Anchor Society members when sailing with their ‘first to Royal’ friends or family, for up to five staterooms per sailing, depending on the length of their cruise. Full details, terms and conditions and registration for promotion can be found online at RoyalCaribbean.com/BringaFriend.