Fleet wide improvements for the Carnival Corporation

Carnival Cruise Lines is conducting a fleet wide $300 million plan to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, introducing a new fire safety technology system and improving the level of operating redundancies.

The improvement plan is the result of a comprehensive operational review, overseen by parent company Carnival Corporation & plc, initiated immediately after the Carnival Triumph fire in February 2013.

“All of Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships operate safely today. Each vessel already has effective systems in place to prevent, detect and respond to emergency situations, and we meet or exceed all regulatory requirements,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. “However, by applying lessons learned through our fleet-wide operational review after the Carnival Triumph fire and by taking advantage of new technologies, we have identified areas for enhancement across our operations. These initiatives reflect our commitment to safe and reliable operations and an enjoyable cruising experience for the nearly 4.5 million guests who sail with Carnival Cruise Lines each year.”

The work is already underway and will not affect scheduled itineraries. Upon completion of the initial phase, the line will install a second permanent back-up power system on each ship to provide an even greater level of hotel and guest services if main power is lost. These additional services will include expanded cooking facilities and cold food storage, as well as internet and telephone communications.

The company has also announced the formation of a Safety & Reliability Review Board that will include experts with significant expertise in marine and occupational safety, reliability and maintenance, marine regulatory compliance and quality control/assurance.

The parent company Carnival Corporation & plc previously announced a corporate-wide operational review of all 10 of its brands and 101 ships. The review process will include learnings from the recent incidents that can be applied across the corporation’s fleet. Carnival Corporation & plc has confirmed that, based on the results of the ongoing review, the latest versions of technologies and enhancements will also be implemented on the remainder of the fleet where they are not already present. The overall program of enhancements across the corporation’s 101-ship fleet, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America; P&O Cruises and Cunard in the United Kingdom; AIDA Cruises in Germany; Costa Cruises in Southern Europe; Iberocruceros in Spain; and P&O Cruises in Australia , is expected to cost between $600 and $700 million.

“Our fleet already operates at a high standard of reliability. The investments announced today for Carnival Cruise Lines, and those we will continue to make, will reinforce our ability to consistently deliver the customer experience that 10 million people every year have come to expect from us across our fleet of 101 ships. Absolutely nothing is more important than the safety and comfort of our guests and crew, and we will use the full resources of our company to meet that commitment,” said Micky Arison, Chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc.

Initial implementation of the upgrades to the Carnival Corporation & plc fleet will take place during the next several months. Each class of ship is different and often systems differ on ships within a class, so the enhancements will be tailored to each vessel.

These fleet wide improvements will most likely help the cruise consumers regain their faith in Carnival Lines after the recent unfortunate events.

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.

Real Housewives of New Jersey sail on the new Costa Deliziosa

On this week’s episode of Bravo’s popular The Real Housewives of New Jersey series, the stars of the show said “ciao” to the Garden State and “buongiorno” to Italy aboard Costa’s newest ship, the Costa Deliziosa. Last February, the famous Italian American housewives were among the first guests to sail on the Italian ship as she set sail on her maiden voyage.

Housewives Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita and Caroline Manzo took a well-deserved getaway from the drama of the series’ second season by cruising with Costa from Venice to Naples. The ladies boarded the ship just two days after it was delivered. Giudice was joined by her husband, daughters, parents and in-laws. Laurita and her husband, who is also Manzo’s brother, brought their two children and Jacqueline’s parents. Manzo was joined by her husband and parents.

“We were thrilled to welcome the housewives of New Jersey and their families as some of the first guests to sail aboard the Costa Deliziosa,” said Maurice Zarmati, president and ceo of Costa North America. “They really made the most of the vacation experience by taking in the sights of Venice while ashore and relaxing onboard with spa treatments, Blackjack games in the casino and dancing in the disco. You could tell they were all very close and family oriented.”

The Costa Deliziosa is Costa Cruises’ flagship, offering the most exclusive and innovative elements in the fleet designed for Costa’s most discerning clientele. These innovations include the ship’s avant-garde design and the use of premium materials, such as various type of marbles, granite, mother-of-pearl and Murano glass and other decorative interior finishes. The atrium features fine works of art, including “Sphere” by famous Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. In addition, there are a variety of entertainment options onboard including a 4D cinema; a roller skating track; a golf simulator with an outdoor putting green, a Grand Prix race car driving simulator; the award-winning 20,000 square-foot Samsara Spa; a PlayStation World area dedicated exclusively to PlayStation3, as well as the PlayStation “on demand” in cabins.

Cruising offers the ultimate in romance

Whether your idea of romance is a nice dinner, playing games in the casino or relaxing on a beach, a cruise offers it all. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.

By Matt Roseboom

With breakfast in bed, dining under the stars and dancing until dawn, you can’t get much more romantic than a cruise. If you haven’t already made plans for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, surprise them with a romantic cruise.

Here’s a sampling of Valentine’s Day-inspired offers, programs and activities:

Carnival Cruise Line

In addition to a huge number of balcony staterooms on its ships, Carnival offers tables for two in the main dining rooms. Try a couples massage in the spa.

Costa Cruises

Costa makes it affordable at $75 per day, or up to 60 percent off regular fares. An authentic Italian style of service sets the perfect backdrop for a romantic cruise.

Crystal Cruises

From special dinner requests to “Crystal Private Adventures” shore excursions to renewal ceremonies, couples can arrange pretty much anything they’d like for a romance package. In penthouse accommodations, guests can request dinner for two to be served by their personal butler on the verandah.

Cunard

Where better to follow in the footsteps of such starry-eyed couples as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, than aboard a Cunard ocean liner? Luxurious couples massages, ballroom dancing and elegant dining add to the intimate appeal.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney offers romantic dining experiences specifically for adults. High atop both ships, Palo, Disney’s signature restaurant at sea, treats adults to sweeping ocean views and northern Italian specialties.

Holland America

Some of the special romance packages offered include breakfast in bed, champagne and caviar, cuddly stuffed bears proclaiming “I Love You” and the Valentine’s Red and White Ball in the Crow’s Nest.

MSC Cruises

From elegant Italian ambiance to evenings filled with dancing and live entertainment throughout the ship, MSC sets the mood. They also offer a seven-course gourmet dinner and breakfast served on your private veranda.

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL offers several “Romance” packages such as intimate dinners for two, customized “dream dates” ashore and couples massages.

Princess Cruises

Princess will be holding its first ever Romance Summit aboard Crown Princess during the Valentine’s week cruise, Feb. 13 to 20. Passengers will be treated to romance-themed events and activities, including a renewal of vows ceremony and a gala Valentine’s Ball.

Seaborne

A Seabourn yacht cruise offers gourmet dining, whether in the ship’s elegant restaurant or at a private candlelit table on your suite balcony.

Silversea

Silversea’s intimate ultra-luxury ships provide a uniquely appealing option for those seeking a truly indulgent, romantic getaway. Couples are welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne and then escorted to their richly appointed suite.

Windstar

Windstar offers unique romantic adventures in the Caribbean this winter – seven day voyages from Barbados or Saint Maarten  and seven-day explorations of Costa Rica. A variety of romance, honeymoon and wedding vow renewal packages are also available.

Onboard: ‘La dolce vita’ aboard Costa Atlantica

The 2,114-passenger Costa Atlantica docked today in Nassau, Bahamas. Atlantica offers a taste of Italy in the Tropics, roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, through April. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Costa Atlantica this week as she sails a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Here’s his latest dispatch:

NASSAU, Bahamas, Friday Jan. 8, 2010 — Passengers aboard an Italian cruise ship bid the pastel pink colors of this sunny Bahamian capital and their bustling straw markets arrivederci this afternoon.

Costa Atlantica and her 2,114 guests are nearing the end of a seven-night, three-port Eastern Caribbean itinerary which concludes tomorrow morning in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s been nothing but Italian style and revelry since boarding the vessel one short week ago, from pasta and more pasta to classical music, on stage performances and toga parties.

St. Thomas, San Juan and Nassau, like the plethora of onboard culinary choices, may now be gone but not soon forgotten. Atlantica passengers were treated to more dining and varied menu options than one could possibly enjoy in just a week.

Standard pool-side offerings – burgers, hot dogs, Tex Mex — gave way to carving and buffet stations throughout the day and night.

Two dinner seatings — 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. in Tiziano Restaurant — in turn gave way to additional servings of late night pasta and desserts served both in the lobby and on the pool deck under the Caribbean stars.

The Club Atlantica Tuscan Steak House, Costa Atlantica’s reservations-only, $30 per-person specialty restaurant, features a merging of Italian and international flavors. Photo by Michael Coleman
The ship’s reservations-only specialty restaurant, Club Atlantica Tuscan Steak House, features excellent wines and the merging of Italian and international flavors for an additional $30 per person. Choosing from among a host of homemade pastas and sauces, meat and fish, clearly made this venue worthy of a second visit.

Passengers seeking a more relaxed dining venue could do so nightly in the Botticelli Restaurant on Deck 9. Pasta offerings and salads are common fare.

And, as one might expect from a cruise line with a deep Italian heritage, Pizzeria Napoli on Deck 9 is a big hit. Four no-charge specialty pizzas are offered from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Servers draped in aprons and bow ties featuring the colors of the Italian flag — red, green and white — were quite busy each evening in this popular venue.

For those keeping close tabs on their diet/calories, Atlantica also features a Wellness Restaurant, next to the main dining room on Deck 2.

The varied gastronomic offerings also reflect Costa Atlantica’s international passenger base. Italian, French, German, English and Spanish guests leave tomorrow having lived, albeit briefly, Costa’s “love, laughter and la dolce vita (sweet life).’’

A Venetian atmosphere permeates throughout Costa Atlantica thanks to design elements featuring Carrara marble, Murano-glass accents and in-laid mosaic tile. An impressive replica of Venice's famed, three-centuries-old Caffe Florian in St. Mark’s Square, is located on Deck 3 and is a popular onboard venue for tea, pre-and post-dinner cocktails. Photo by Michael Coleman

Onboard: Italy meets the Tropics aboard Costa Atlantica

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Costa Atlantica this week as she sails an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Here’s his latest dispatch:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Wednesday Jan. 6, 2010 — A storied Italian cruise line has brought a mega-sized old-world party to a region renowned for celebrations.

The 2,114-passenger Costa Atlantica is in the midst of a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Guests today are enjoying the beaches, shopping and history in this, the second oldest city in the Americas.

The reunion of primarily Italian onboard revelers of all ages with their Spanish brethren is hardly a new one. Costa was the first cruise line to sail the Caribbean and has been plying the world’s oceans for more than 60 years.

But when passengers return to Atlantica later today, it’s all Italy all the time in style, hospitality and cuisine through the wee morning hours.

The ship’s 12 passenger decks, each named after movies created by the famous Italian director Federico Fellini, are decorated with prominently displayed paparazzi photos of movie stars.

A Venetian atmosphere permeates throughout the ship thanks to design elements featuring Carrara marble, Murano-glass accents and in-laid mosaic tile.

Look for an impressive replica of Venice’s Caffe Florian plus a massive, eight-deck atrium where passengers mingle and enjoy pre-and post-meal cocktails to soothing live music.

Atlantica features three pools, a spa and gym (complete with 44-spa cabins), sports court and jogging track, two main dining rooms, a reservations-only Tuscan steak house ($30 per person), a casino, show lounge, card room, Internet center and a host of bars and lounges. Kids (3-12 years) and teens (13-17 years) enjoy their own supervised activities and events.

Passengers have been partaking in a series of dance classes and cooking lessons and are eagerly awaiting the ship’s famed Roman toga party tonight.

There are two dinner seatings aboard Atlantica — 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. — and in keeping with the ship’s “love, laughter and la dolce vita’’ theme, look for early, late and even later performances by the ship’s singers, dancers and guest entertainers for night owls seeking to prolong their vacation day.

Guests familiar with the layout of many of Carnival Cruise Lines’ newer ships will feel right at home aboard Atlantica. Carnival is Costa’s parent company.

Later this week: We’ll take a closer look at the culinary journey afforded guests aboard Costa Atlantica.

Names chosen for Costa’s two new 2011 and 2012 ships

After more than 16,000 suggestions from more than 40,000 travel agents and fans around the world, the names of the 16th and 17th ships in the Costa fleet have been selected. The two sister ships, set to debut in 2011 and 2012, will be named the Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa.

The selections were chosen as a result of Costa’s “Send Us a Sea of Names” project whereby travel agents and fans sent in name suggestions for the two ships. The final selections were chosen based on their definition of the all-encompassing magic, glamour, emotion and passion reflected on all of Costa’s ships.

The Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, (114,500 gross tons with a double occupancy of 3,000 each) will be delivered in summer 2011 and spring 2012 respectively. The two new sister ships, built by Fincantieri at its Marghera shipyard, are part of a major fleet expansion plan for Costa with five new ships due for delivery between 2009 and 2012. This plan includes the launch of the Costa Luminosa the Costa Pacifica (June 2009) and the Costa Deliziosa (set to debut in January 2010) for a total investment worth 2.4 billion Euros. The Costa Favolosa will be the first of the two new vessels to enter service. The laying of the first “building block” is set to take place on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard.

The choice of names was guided by 40,000 travel agents in over 40 countries who submitted more than 16,000 pairs of names as part of the “Send Us a Sea of Names” project. The initiative encouraged travel agents, customers and Web users all over the world to take part in the search for the names for the two new Costa flagships. The submissions were summarized in a list of 25 pairs of names posted on www.worldofcosta.com. All Web site visitors were invited to choose their favorite pairing. More than 42,000 votes were received.

Cruise Guide: Caribbean voyages in vogue

The world’s top cruise ships will soon be ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. The Caribbean is the top cruise ship destination in the world. Photo by Michael Coleman.
The world’s top cruise ships will soon be ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. The Caribbean is the top cruise ship destination in the world. Photo by Michael Coleman.

By Michael Coleman

The cruise industry is just a few weeks away from ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. If picture-perfect tropical islands, sun-drenched beaches and boundless shopping opportunities float your boat, a Caribbean cruise on one of the following mass-market lines may be for you.

Carnival – The largest Carnival ship ever constructed, the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream launches year-round Caribbean service from Port Canaveral in December. Carnival also is increasing its capacity from Mobile, Alabama by 42 percent with the deployment of the Carnival Fantasy in November (to be replaced by Carnival Elation in May 2010) and by 34 percent from New Orleans when Carnival Triumph begins new Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises in November. And, beginning in May 2010, Carnival Fantasy will launch the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston.

Costa Cruises – With sailings from Fort Lauderdale, Costa Atlantica returns to the Caribbean with new, exclusive spa accommodations that feature personalized wellness consultations, complimentary spa treatments, fitness or meditation classes, complimentary access to the Wellness Restaurant and more. Guests on Costa Atlantica and Costa Fortuna can also take advantage of “Italy in the Tropics” with a “Free Upgrade” promotion and the popular “Kids Sail Free” program.

Norwegian Cruise Line – Next year marks the arrival of Norwegian Epic, Norwegian’s largest and most innovative ship, which will begin her inaugural Caribbean season in July with alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries available as seven-day individual sailings or 14-day combined sailings and offered through April 2011. Norwegian will also seasonally homeport the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun in Port Canaveral beginning October 2010 for seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

Princess Cruises – Princess will sail six ships on 13 Caribbean itineraries ranging from seven to 14 days this winter, with 129 departures visiting more than 25 ports. Ruby Princess will take over the line’s 10-day eastern and southern Caribbean itineraries, offering some of the less-visited ports in the region. Crown Princess’s western Caribbean itinerary will feature Roatan, Honduras. Grand Princess returns with an extensive 14-day Caribbean Collection route and Sea Princess will again sail on 14-day voyages from Barbados.

Royal Caribbean — The line will welcome the largest ship in the world, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, to Fort Lauderdale in November when the ship begins year-round Caribbean cruises. Looking ahead, sister ship Allure of the Seas joins the company’s Caribbean fleet for the 2010-11 Caribbean season, which will feature year-round voyages from such ports as Port Everglades, Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and San Juan, Puerto Rico; seasonal voyages from ports ranging from Cape Liberty to Galveston; and over 20 short itineraries to 15 ports in the Caribbean.

Next week, we’ll look at what the premium and luxury cruise lines have in store for their passengers as they also head into the tropics.