Battle of the Bands to be Held by Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines, New Orleans’ most popular cruise line, and local television station WDSU-TV have launched a search to find the most spirited high school marching band in the Big Easy. “The Battle of the High School Marching Bands” competition celebrates local spirit and skill, and will ultimately award the winning band a $10,000 cash prize from Carnival and chance to perform aboard Carnival Sunshine, the line’s latest ship to call New Orleans home when it arrives there for its North American debut this November.

Area schools have three weeks to record a three-minute video of their band performing their school fight song. In the performance, the bands also must identify their school and the name of the contest, “The Battle of the High School Marching Bands.” To enter, high schools must upload their video to YouTube by Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 6pm CST, and email a link to the video to a dedicated email address [email protected]WDSU.com. A special judging panel will select the top five finalists.

Beginning on October 22, the five finalists will be posted to the WDSU-TV website (www.wdsu.com/carnival-cruise-lines) for schools, families and members of the community to get in on the musical fun and rally around their favorite band. Voting will run through Friday, November 1. Fans can vote once per day for the duration of the voting period.

The winning band will be announced in November and receive $10,000 for their school’s music program courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines, along with the opportunity to perform aboard Carnival Sunshine during its U.S. debut celebration at the Port of New Orleans on Sunday, November 17. Each of the four additional band finalists will receive a $1,000 cash prize from Carnival.

“As we prepare for the U.S. arrival of Carnival Sunshine to New Orleans, we want to do something truly special to celebrate that is in the spirit of New Orleans and its rich music history,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s chief marketing officer. “This contest provides an opportunity for us to help foster musical development in the next generation of talented performing artists and is a great way to partner with the community to celebrate the November arrival of Carnival Sunshine,” Berra added.

“WDSU is thrilled to partner with Carnival Cruise Lines in celebration of the U.S. arrival of Carnival Sunshine,” said Joel Vilmenay, WDSU’s president and general manager. “Along with this state of the art vessel, Carnival’s generous gift of $10,000 to a deserving school is big bow on a wonderful present to the Crescent City.”

Beginning November 18, 2013, the 3006-passenger Carnival Sunshine will offer seven-day cruises to the Bahamas and the Western Caribbean from New Orleans. Earlier this year, the ship underwent an unprecedented 75-day, $155 million transformation, incorporating all of the line’s “Fun Ship 2.0” dining, bar and entertainment features, as well as a variety of exciting innovations unique to the vessel and 182 new staterooms.

Carnival has a long history with New Orleans, launching the cruise industry’s first year-round program in 1994. Over the years, Carnival has dramatically increased its presence in New Orleans and carries more passengers from there than any other cruise line. With the addition of Carnival Sunshine in November, the line expects to host more than 330,000 passengers annually from the Crescent City.

For more information about the Battle of the High School Marching Bands, visit www.wdsu.com/carnival-cruise-lines.

Royal Caribbean Adds a Second Ship to Sail from Tampa

The Tampa Port Authority and Royal Caribbean International are pleased to announce that the cruise line will be deploying a second ship at the Port of Tampa beginning in the fall of 2014. Royal Caribbean International has been operating one ship at the Port of Tampa, during winter cruise seasons, since January 2002. Brilliance of the Seas, which will sail seasonally four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises, will now be joined by a second Royal Caribbean ship, Vision of the Seas, which will offer seven-night Western Caribbean cruises, sailing from Tampa throughout winter 2014-15. Vision of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas’ winter 2014-15 cruises from Tampa are now open for sale.

Vision of the Seas will sail a nine-night Southern Caribbean itinerary from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on November 6, 2014, to Tampa, with calls at Aruba, Curacao, Grand Cayman and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise on the north coast of Haiti. Beginning November 15, Vision of the Seas will sail every Saturday from Tampa to destinations in the Western Caribbean, including Grand Cayman, Cozumel (MX), Costa Maya (MX), Roatan (Honduras) or Belize. The 915-foot ship has a capacity of 2,000 guest, double occupancy, and a crew of 742. Previously announced, Brilliance of the Seas also will sail from Tampa in winter 2013-14 and 2014-15 on four-night cruises to Cozumel, and five-night Cozumel itineraries, which additionally call at Grand Cayman or Key West.

“We look forward to having two of our most recently revitalized ships, Brilliance of the Seas and Vision of the Seas sail from Tampa in 2014,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “The Port of Tampa has been a great partner for more than a decade and we look forward to continued growth with the Tampa Port Authority in the future.”

There will now be six cruise ships that homeport in Tampa. The projected passenger throughput with the sixth ship will be just over 1 million passengers, the largest throughput in the port’s 31-year history as a cruise port. Port officials are excited to welcome an additional ship to Tampa, which has been home port to Royal Caribbean ships since the first ship, Rhapsody of the Seas, called in January 2002.

With Brilliance of the Seas having just undergone an extensive revitalization in May 2013 and Vision of the Seas to also be revitalized in September 2013, guests will enjoy more dining options, exciting entertainment and innovative amenities for which Royal Caribbean is known. In addition to Broadway-style musical revues in the main theater, guests also will be WOW’ed by the new aerial-acrobatic entertainment production, which spans throughout both ships’ multi-story Centrum. All staterooms and bathrooms will be completely refreshed and new Royal Family Suites will offer another stateroom choice to cater to every member of the adventurous family. Vision of the Seas’ guests will enjoy eight restaurants, including new Park Café gourmet deli, which is complimentary, and Chops Grille, Izumi Asian Cuisine, and the exclusive Chef’s Table experience for 16 guests, which include an additional charge. Brilliance of the Seas’ guests also have choices of Rita’s Cantina and Vintages Wine and Tapas Bar, as well as the King and Country Pub, for an additional charge.

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

For more information call your travel agent or go to RoyalCaribbean.com

Carnival offers new four- and five-day cruises from Port Canaveral

The Carnival Ecstasy is now offering some great deals for cruises out of Port Canaveral. Photo courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines.

By Jackie Roseboom

Carnival Cruise Lines will launch the cruise industry’s only four- and five-day Caribbean trips from Port Canaveral with the Carnival Ecstasy. She departed Nov. 7 on a five-day sold-out cruise to Nassau, Freeport and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay — the first of 78 annual cruises from the Space Coast.

Carnival Ecstasy’s one-of-a-kind schedule includes two different four-day itineraries, along with two different five-day choices. Four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport, while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays, calling at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West. Great rates include non-refundable Early Saver rates starting at $329 per person for four-day voyages and $349 per person for five-day departures.

Combined with Carnival Sensation’s three- and four-day Bahamas cruises and Carnival Dream’s seven-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages, the line offers a variety of itineraries, cruise lengths, and departure days from Port Canaveral.

“The growth of Port Canaveral as a cruise departure point is truly extraordinary and millions of consumers have discovered the benefits of sailing from this convenient and centrally located homeport,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.  “The Canaveral Port Authority is an outstanding business partner and deploying a third year-round ship is a testament to our relationship with the port and our confidence in its continued success.”

Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne said, “The Carnival Ecstasy’s arrival comes only a few days after we shattered our record for cruise passengers at Port Canaveral.”

Carnival Ecstasy received a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2009 that added a new facilities and features, including a WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot-long spiral water slide, a tropical-themed resort-style main pool area and the Serenity adults-only retreat. Ninety-eight balconies were added to existing staterooms, as well. These new features are complimented by the ship’s onboard amenities such as a renovated 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health club, three restaurants, complimentary programs for children, a 24-hour pizzeria, a jogging track and 12 lounges, bars and nightspots.

Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule continues the line’s longstanding relationship with Port Canaveral, that began in 1990 with a 950-passenger ship carrying approximately 100,000 passengers annually. Over the past 21 years, Carnival has dramatically expanded its presence at the port, adding newer and larger ships along with new schedules and itineraries.

For additional information on Carnival’s “Fun Ship” cruises go to carnival.com or contact your favorite travel agent.

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

Regent unveils 2013 itineraries

The 700-guest, ultra-luxurious Seven Seas Voyager is one of three ships in the Regent fleet expected to span the globe in 2013. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The ultra-luxurious Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet — Voyager, Mariner and Navigator — is poised to offer new port calls, five Grand Voyages and a circle South America sailing as part of the line’s just released 2012-2013 winter collection itineraries.

Look for the Grand Voyages to feature exclusive amenities, a new Western Australia cruise, and business class air upgrades from just $999 each way. Widely recognized as the world’s most inclusive luxury line, Regent sailings feature all-suite accommodations, gourmet cuisine, premium spirits and fine wines, free shore excursions, gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, at no additional cost.

“When you couple the new itineraries with our luxurious suites, personalized service, superb cuisine and all-inclusive pricing, Regent Seven Seas is the best value in luxury cruising,” said Regent president Mark Conroy.

Beginning October 2012, Voyager will offer five Grand Voyages departing Rome, Bali, Auckland and Beijing. Ranging from 54 to 143 nights, Grand Voyages include exclusive amenities such as free Business Class air, a special pre-cruise overnight and dinner, exclusive event, free Visas, internet access and more.

From December 2012 through April 2013, the ship visits Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, India, China and Japan, including maiden calls at Hiroshima and Huangpu (Canton), China. Many of the Asian itineraries offer free land programs or multi-night hotel packages in Angkor Wat, Sydney, Bali, Auckland, Hong Kong, Beijing, Chiang Mai, Safaga (Luxor) and to the Taj Mahal.

A new 21-night Western Australia cruise, departing Dec. 19, 2012, features maiden calls at Exmouth, Fremantle (Perth), Geraldton and Kangaroo Island.

Mariner’s circle South America, meanwhile, will explore many of the continent’s most popular ports-of-call with a 72-night voyage, roundtrip from Miami departing January 7, 2013. The 700-guest vessel will offer exclusive amenities include free First Class air, special pre-cruise overnight and dinner in Miami, an exclusive event, free private transfers to and from the port of Miami, free roundtrip luggage delivery service, Internet access and Visas. Four shorter South America voyages ranging from 12 to 24 nights focus on the Panama Canal, Chilean Fjords, Brazil, Argentina and the Amazon.

The 492-guest Navigator will feature voyages to the tropics now operating roundtrip from Miami — one of the line’s newest ports — beginning November 2012 through April 2013, with 16 departures to the eastern and western Caribbean. The ship then departs Miami for an 18-night voyage to San Francisco to begin its highly-popular cruises to Alaska.

The spacious pool-deck aboard Regent Seven Seas Voyager received a recent face-lift as part of a multi-million-dollar, ship-wide refurbishment. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The line was recently rated the “World’s Best Cruise Line” by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine and was recognized as the “Best Luxury Cruise Experience” by Virtuoso, the leading luxury travel network.

The Regent fleet visits some 300 global destinations each year.

Holland America returns to Australia and South Pacific

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

China, Asia-Pacific region beckon Voyager of the Seas

Voyager of the Seas, one of the world’s largest and amenity-filled cruise ships, is spending time this summer in the Mediterranean (shown here docked this week in Dubrovnik, Croatia) but it’s on to China and the emerging Asia-Pacific market next summer.

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, Italy — July 30, 2011 – The largest cruise ship in the world, just a decade ago, is set to make a big splash in the world’s largest market.

Voyager of the Seas, the globe’s most innovative cruise ship when it was launched in Nov. 1999 and which spawned the large cruise ship building boom in the 2000s, is presently in the midst of a series of Mediterranean cruises.

In June 2012, however, the 3,114-passenger vessel will arrive in Shanghai to offer four-to 10-night itineraries to a huge new market and while the ship’s iconic rock climbing wall and onboard ice skating rink will remain — Voyager was the first vessel of any kind to introduce such amenities at sea — look for Royal Caribbean to customize shipboard products and services for the new market, including more Chinese language services, authentic Chinese food and culturally appropriate recreational activities and duty-free items.

The move, according to company officials, is designed to offer not only exciting new cruise experiences to Chinese vacationers but to also attract cruise guests from around the world to visit China and Asia.

Spanning 14 passenger decks and with some 1,557 staterooms, the 137,276 ton vessel will sail to Shanghai from Europe and offer a variety of port calls in China, Japan and Korea until August, including Fukuoka and Kobe in Japan, and Busan and Jeju in Korea.

The ship will introduce several unique concepts never before seen at sea in Asia, among them: The Royal Promenade, an indoor “main street” stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship, lined with places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained; “Studio B” Ice Rink, an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a cozy, 700-seat venue for ice show productions with world-class figure skaters; 11 dining venues include specialty restaurant “Portofino” for classic Italian fine dining, 50’s inspired American diner “Johnny Rockets”, plus Voyager’s most stunning eatery, its grand, three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room.

The ship will depart Singapore for Sydney, Australia, in late October 2012 for a series of Down Under voyages before returning to Singapore and the Asian market in March, 2013.

The move is a part of Royal Caribbean’s growing, global marketing strategy. Royal Caribbean owns/operates over 40 ships under respective Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara Club Cruises and other European banners and expects to host some 5 million passengers worldwide in 2012.

Gauguin offers 20-night South Pacific hotel/cruise package

Image courtesy Paul Gauguin — The intimate, 332-guest Paul Gauguin, a leader in luxury cruise travel in the South Pacific since 1998, is offering a 20-night hotel/cruise package in January, 2012.

By Michael Coleman

The intimate 332-guest Paul Gauguin, fresh from a $25 million makeover, is offering a 20-night hotel/cruise package January 23, 2012 featuring nine distinctive islands in five South Pacific archipelagos.

The line’s “South Pacific Discovery’’ cruise will call on Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Cook and Society Islands.

Guests will enjoy three days at leisure in Sydney, Australia’s oldest and largest city, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Guests will then fly to Brisbane to board the Gauguin en route to New Caledonia, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga, ending in French Polynesia. The line is offering complimentary air from Los Angeles.

Among the voyage highlights:
Noumea, New Caledonia: This capital city has been named the “Paris of the Pacific” due to its French ambience, heritage and culture; Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji: The largest of the island chain is comprised of high mountains, lush vegetation, plus pristine white-sand beaches; Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji:

Once a bustling trading port, this Fijian village is now known for its geothermal hot springs; Vava’u Tonga: Never colonized by Europeans, this South Pacific nation maintains a strong Polynesian culture. Crystal clear waters and high mountain tops offer unparalleled views of the Tonga islands; Aitutaki, Cook Islands: Consisting of three volcanoes and 12 coral islets, this island offers beautiful coral reefs and a pristine lagoon. Aitutaki is nearly flat, affording ocean views from virtually any point on the island.

The ship will also sail to Taha’a where guests will visit Motu Mahana, Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private island featuring white-sand beaches with swaying palms, crystal-clear waters and gentle breezes. A Polynesian barbeque lunch and local entertainment will be offered; Bora Bora: Guests will have the opportunity to view the famous marine life or relax on a beautiful, private beach off the coast; Moorea: The lush scenery features green vegetation, an abundance of fresh fruit and flowers, spectacular mountain peaks and palm-fringed beaches.

Aboard Gauguin, guests enjoy a relaxed and elegant setting in which to enjoy the amenities of the award-winning, newly refurbished ship. Look for onboard lectures, SCUBA diving lessons, local entertainment and excellent cuisine.

The Gauguin has completed more than 570 South Pacific cruises and has served more than 155,000 guests, including more than 14,000 honeymooners, since its inaugural sailing in 1998.

On the web: www.pgcruises.com

Carnival bolsters Canaveral sailings

Carnival will soon deploy three ships on a series of itineraries from Port Canaveral, Florida. In late fall look for Ecstasy, pictured here, to join Sensation and Dream. Image courtesy Carnival

By Michael Coleman

Carnival is poised to add another ship, year round, at Port Canaveral.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will operate four- and five-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast beginning Nov. 7, 2011. The move further bolsters Carnival’s position as Port Canaveral’s largest cruise operator with three, year-round ships scheduled to carry some 600,000 guests annually.



“In addition to offering a convenient departure point for millions of consumers in the southeastern U.S., along with attractive port facilities and excellent flight options into nearby Orlando, Port Canaveral is an extremely popular homeport and we’re excited to provide our guests with some fantastic new cruise choices from Central Florida,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. 
 


On the Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule, two different four-day itineraries will be offered along with two different five-day itineraries. 
 


Ecstasy will depart Thursdays on four-day ‘long weekend’ cruises visiting Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport. Five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West. 
 


From Port Canaveral, the line offers year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises aboard Carnival Sensation and seven-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages on Carnival Dream.

Prior to its repositioning, Ecstasy will continue to operate from Galveston, Texas through September 8, 2011 and then from New Orleans September 22 through November 5, 2011, as previously scheduled. 
 


Meanwhile, the company said this week Carnival Elation will reposition from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans to operate year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises beginning Nov. 5, 2011. On this route, four-day cruises will depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel, one of the Caribbean’s most popular ports, while five-day voyages will call at both Cozumel and Progreso.
 


Carnival Elation’s new schedule from New Orleans replaces the previously announced program from that port on the Carnival Ecstasy. 
 


Carnival Elation will join the Carnival Conquest in New Orleans, marking the first time Carnival has operated two ships from New Orleans in six years. Carnival will be the only cruise line with two ships based year-round in New Orleans, carrying more than 350,000 passengers annually. 
 


As a result of these deployment changes, Carnival will no longer be offering cruises from Mobile, Ala.

Student Center Opens

It was also a big week on the home front for Carnival. In Miami, the new Carnival Student Center opened at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Located adjacent to the campus’ bayside terrace, the modern facility encompasses more than 2,600 square feet and has been completely renovated and repurposed to create an attractive and inviting gathering place for students. 
 


With an advising center, reading room, computer workstations and fully-equipped conference rooms, a variety of groups and organizations, from students to industry executives scouting prospective interns and employees, can utilize the new multi-functional space. 
 


The Carnival Student Center was made possible by a gift to FIU which also includes an endowment for scholarships.

Carnival’s 22 ships operate three- to 16-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. The line currently has two new 130,000-ton ships on order — Carnival Magic, set to debut in Europe May 1, 2011, and Carnival Breeze, scheduled to enter service in spring 2012.

On the web: carnival.com

Disney’s newest cruise ship arrives at Port Canaveral with fireworks

Photos and video by Joe Moschinger

The newest Disney Cruise Line ship, the Disney Dream, sailed into her homeport of Port Canaveral this morning after a 16-night trans-Atlantic voyage from Germany, where it has been under construction for nearly two years. Beginning with a maiden voyage on Jan. 26, the Disney Dream will sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas, calling Port Canaveral home. Continue reading “Disney’s newest cruise ship arrives at Port Canaveral with fireworks”