Royal Caribbean announces it’s Holiday Season cruises

Royal Caribbean International announced new Caribbean cruises for Explorer of the Seas from November 2014 through early January 2015. After eight consecutive years dedicated to the New York metropolitan area with year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., Explorer of the Seas will redeploy to Port Canaveral, Fla., to offer a range of four- to nine-night Bahamas, and Western and Southern Caribbean vacations. Throughout the short season, Explorer of the Seas will join Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas at Port Canaveral to offer the most ships and itinerary options to The Bahamas and the Caribbean from Central Florida’s Space Coast. Guests aboard each ship will enjoy a Caribbean-holiday vacation that only Royal Caribbean can deliver, with the cruise line’s award-winning family programming, industry-leading entertainment and world-renowned friendly and engaging GOLD Anchor Service. Explorer of the Seas’ 2014 holiday season cruises from Port Canaveral are now open for sale.

Explorer of the Seas will sail four Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Port Canaveral through Jan. 4, 2015. On these five-night itineraries, guests call at Cozumel, Mexico, and Nassau, The Bahamas, or CocoCay and Cozumel. Vacationers also can choose two Southern Caribbean sailings on a nine-night itinerary that call at each of the ABC Islands and Labadee.

Additionally, a five-night Bahamas cruise, departing Dec. 13, 2014, will call at Nassau, Grand Bahamas Island and CocoCay. Guests on a special four-night sailing, departing Dec. 23, will call at Labadee on Christmas Day. The following eight-night Caribbean itinerary will herald in the New Year in St. Maarten, as well as call at San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and Labadee. Vacationers also can choose an extended 14-night Southern Caribbean itinerary, departing Nov. 1, 2014, which repositions Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Port Canaveral via the Southern Caribbean.

From Port Canaveral, vacationers also have Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas from which to choose. Freedom of the Seas, with its iconic FlowRider surf simulator, will continue to alternate seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries and Enchantment of the Seas will offer three- and four-night Bahamas getaways.

For More information contact your travel agent or go to RoyalCaribbean.com

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.

Silver Spirit charts Eastern Caribbean course

Silversea Cruises unveiled the ultra-luxurious, 540-guest Silver Spirit just two years ago amidst much praise and fanfare. It was, after all, the line’s first newly-constructed vessel since 2001. This week, ship guests like this gentleman outside the vessel’s Observation Lounge, are in the midst of a 10-night Eastern Caribbean voyage and Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard. Look for Coleman’s ship dispatches here later this week.

Photo by Michael Coleman

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

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.

Cruise lines played Santa to underprivileged Caribbean and Latin American children

By Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong

Fourteen cruise lines teamed up with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association to bring a merrier Christmas to underprivileged children in the Caribbean and Latin America. For the 15th year, The Holiday Gift Project treated underprivileged children with gifts delivered by crew members from the FCCA member cruise lines.

The participating FCCA member cruise lines were Aida Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., Norwegian Cruise Line, P & O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Seabourn Cruise Line.

Underprivileged children in the following communities received holiday gifts through The Holiday Gift Project program:
Acapulco, Mexico
Antigua
Aruba
Bonaire
Belize
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cartagena, Colombia
Colon, Panama
Costa Maya, Mexico
Cozumel, Mexico
Curacao
Dominica
Eluthera, Bahamas
Ensenada, Mexico
Freeport, Bahamas
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands
Grenada
Guatemala
Mazatlan, Mexico
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Nassau, Bahamas
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Progreso, Mexico
Rotan, Honduras
Samana, Dominican Republic
San Juan, Puerto Rico
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
St. Vincent
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Underprivileged children from Caribbean and Latin American foster homes and other care institutions were invited onboard the participating cruise ships for a holiday party in their honor.

More than 7,000 children were expected to receive gifts through The Holiday Gift Project, but gifts are not all that was offered to help underpriviliged kids – in 2008, Captain Hempstead of Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas presented checks valued at $2,000 each to the Rainbow Children’s Home, Youth Empowerment Foundation Project, and the Eslyn Henley Richez Learning Centre in Tortla, B.V.I.

Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong can be reached at of FloridaCruiseAndTravelersMagazine.com

17th Annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Conference opens in Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic's Director of Tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia Fernandez cuts ribbon to open ceremonies at FCCA Conference and Trade Show while NCL President Kevin Sheehan looks on.
Photo by Thomas Routzong

The 17th Annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Conference and Trade Show opened in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Monday, Oct. 25, 2010 with cruise line CEO’s and representatives, Caribbean tourism representatives, travel agents, tour operators, port agents, vendors and press from all around the world.

Leonel Fernandez, President of the Dominican Republic, attended the opening ceremonies on Tuesday evening at the Jaragua Hotel and Casino.

“The FCCA’s mandate is to foster a better understanding of the cruise industry and to develop cooperative relationships with our destination partners,” said FCCA President Michele Paige.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism is offering event tours highlighting local attractions and cruise facilities including the San Souci Terminal which has undergone major upgrades as part of a $1 billion planned tourist-friendly hotel and shopping district.

The Dominican Republic is often referred to as “the cradle of American civilization” or “the Athens of the Americas” because it is thought to be Christopher Columbus’ first discovery of the New World.

Article by Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong of FloridaCruiseAndTravelersMagazine.com.

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

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

By Jackie Roseboom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live updates from the Carnival Legend

We’re sailing out of Tampa, Fla. for a seven night cruise starting Sunday, June 20 and you can follow along via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Each day during the cruise, (when Internet access is available) we’ll be posting live photos, videos and information right from the ship and ports.

We’ll be visiting Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Belize City, Belize.

Here’s where you can find our updates.
Twitter: Twitter.com/CruiseGuide
Facebook: Facebook.com/CruiseNews