Cruise Guide: Luxurious Silver Wind transformed

New carpets, drapes, bed coverings and furniture give the Veranda Suite an inviting,¨updated look aboard the newly-transformed, 298-guest Silver Wind. Fleet mate Silver Cloud will undergo a similar, multi-million-dollar makeover in May, 2009.


By Mike Coleman

Ultra-luxurious Silversea Cruises is ringing in the New Year with a refurbished ship and a promising outlook for 2009.

Over the past month the lines 298-guest Silver Wind was transformed in Genoa, Italy, where an Observation Lounge, an expansive new spa, beauty salon and fitness center and eight new Silver Suites were added. 

The refurbishment also included the addition of a fresh decor embodying a warm and sophisticated contemporary style with touches of natural cherry wood, russet and golden tones throughout the ship.

Silver Winds 149 ocean-view suites range in size from 240 to 1,314 square feet, 80 percent of which now feature a private veranda. Suite modifications include the addition of an Owner’s Suite complete with a connecting second-bedroom suite (Deck 7) plus a new Medallion Suite and Vista Suite on Deck 7.

Fixed queen beds in larger suites have been replaced with convertible twin-to-queen beds. Look also for custom-built TV cabinets added to all Vista and Veranda Suites; new flat screen TVs, new sofa, armchair, desk, vanity, night tables and headboards plus new carpets, drapes and bed coverings. Bathrooms received updated fixtures and bathtubs including new marble countertops, walls and flooring.

The expanded spa, which encompasses the beauty salon and fitness center, features a reception area, four massage rooms, one body treatment room, one dry sauna and one steam sauna. The new fitness center includes a body-building room and separate aerobics room, both offering panoramic ocean views.

Other ship enhancements include new upholstery, curtains, wall treatments, carpets and/or flooring in the restaurants, public lounges, lobbies, stairs and corridors.

These are busy times at Silversea. The pioneering ultra-luxury operator since 1994 will be spending millions on a May, 2009 makeover to Silver Cloud and by the end of the year will be introducing the new, 540-guest Silver Spirit, the sixth and largest member of its fleet.

Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and the expedition ship, Prince Albert II, round out the Silversea fleet. The company features itineraries of varying length to all seven continents.

Cruise Guide: Costa celebrates Italian-style cruising milestone


By Mike Coleman

The arrival this month of Costa Cruises Fortuna to Port Everglades marks the lines 50th consecutive year of bringing a piece of Italy to the Tropics.

Costa became the first cruise line to offer regularly scheduled Caribbean voyages from Fort Lauderdale aboard the elegant Franca C in 1959, setting the stage for the modern-day cruise vacation experience that millions enjoy today.

Our modern, state-of-the-art ships may differ from the smaller vessels that set sail in these waters 50 years ago, but one thing remains the same our warm, authentic and genuine Italian hospitality, said Maurice Zarmati, Costas North American president and CEO.

The convivial onboard atmosphere aboard the Franca C was marked by Italians and Americans mixing and mingling against a glamorous tropical backdrop. The 552 berth ship featured sleek, elegant interiors designed by Nino Zoncada and accommodations featured bathrooms and air conditioning, heralding a new era of pleasure cruises. Guests sipped cocktails and played cards on the lido deck while sailing from one sun-drenched Caribbean locale to the next.

Today, guests still enjoy Costas signature style of love, laughter and la dolce vita. Fortuna has begun her second season from Port Everglades, offering seven-night cruises on rotating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries through March. 

Drawing inspiration from the grand Italian liners of yesteryear that provided regular passenger service between Italy and the Americas, the 2,720-passenger, 105,000-ton ship combines nostalgia and a refined atmosphere into a stunning modern framework. She features 1,359 cabins – 857 ocean view and 458 with verandas. The ship features 11 bars, four restaurants, a theater extending over three decks, three swimming pools, a casino, disco, ballroom and a gym.

From homemade pastas and desserts, to Italian greetings including buon giorno in the morning and buona sera in the evening, the amore of the old world is brought to life daily. Look for festive onboard activities to include on-deck bocce ball games, tarantella dancing under the stars and Italian cooking lessons during Festa Italiana. The ship also hosts a Roman Bacchanal soiree, where guests don tasteful togas and celebrate as the Romans did centuries ago.

Costas modern 12-ship fleet look for the line to add five new vessels by 2012 – sails to 250 destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East, the Indian Ocean and, of course, the Caribbean.

Cruise Guide: Holland America to unveil onboard retreat

By Mike Coleman

Premium cruise operator Holland America Line will be spending $200 million over the next two years to transform five of its venerable vessels.

Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam, Veendam and Rotterdam will each receive an extensive makeover highlighted by the transformation of each pool area into an upscale retreat. 

The Retreat is a totally new approach for us to this area of the ship, said the lines Richard D. Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. 

Were creating an area where guests can relax outside in a sophisticated environment, and were adding other fun and convenient features such as a whirlpool, band and DJ stand and even a pizzeria.

The Retreats pool will be divided into three main sections separated by low, curving walls running the length of the pool. The middle section is 16 inches deep so guests can sit on built-in benches in the water. The two side sections feature lounge chairs in eight inches of water ideal for cooling off on a hot day. Water falls and spouts enhance the decor. A hot tub will be located at the aft end of the pool.

Slice, an upscale pizzeria, will be incorporated into the area, serving signature pizzas, whole pies and slices to order. Look also for tables and comfortable, padded chairs under a sunscreen where guests can dine al fresco. A large LED screen and sound system will be integrated into the ship’s superstructure, above The Retreat, providing movies and video to guests lounging in the area.

Veendam will be the first ship to receive the makeover in spring 2009. Maasdam, meanwhile, will be the last, in early 2011. 

A new bar concept will be added. Dubbed Mix, look for separate locales Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales within The Retreat.

Enhancements will also be made to existing staterooms. Additional staterooms will also be added to each vessel. 

The ships will feature 38 lanai staterooms (39 on Rotterdam) with direct access to the Lower Promenade deck. New spa staterooms near the Greenhouse Spa and Salon will offer special in-room spa amenities.

There are 14 ships in the lines fleet offering some 500 cruises to 320 ports in more than 100 countries. Two- to 108-day itineraries visit all seven continents.

A 15th ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2010.

Holland America vessels feature Culinary Arts Centers – state-of-the-art onboard show kitchens where more than 60 celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes – presented by Food & Wine magazine; Explorations Cafe powered by The New York Times; teens-only activity areas and all new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top beds.

Cruise Guide: Crystal tees up golf, culinary packages

By Michael Coleman

Golf may not be at the top of ones agenda when traveling in Asia but Crystal Cruises is providing guests with a rare opportunity to tee it up at renowned links in Thailand and Vietnam.

Its the first time that Crystal has expanded its golf theme cruises to the continent. 

The lines 940-guest Crystal Symphony will depart on an 11-day itinerary from Hong Kong to Singapore beginning April 20. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy a host of onboard lectures, clinics, contests and events including the chance to win a free cruise.

Meanwhile, Crystal will also be expanding its 2009 Wine & Food sailings to include cocktail and mixology curriculum in addition to its wine and food focus.


Asian Links

The line has made arrangements for guests to play at four Asian clubs, including:  

Vietnam Golf & Country Club, Ho Chi Minh City The countrys first 36-hole golf club, widely regarded as the premier club in Vietnam.

Burapha Golf, Bangkok A 36-hole championship course set amid lakes, hills and tropical vegetation. 

Laem Chabang International Country Club, Bangkok Three distinct nines: The Lakes, Mountain and Valley courses, each offering respective challenges.

Montgomerie Links, Da Nang, Vietnam Asia’s first “Montgomerie” branded golf links set against the Marble Mountains and China Beach coast.

Look also for guests to be able to sharpen their skills on board and ashore with instruction from a guest celebrity golfer and PGA golf pro.

Every detail of the program will be arranged in typical Crystal six-star fashion, from onboard practice with TaylorMade equipment to caddy, cart service and cocktails at each club. Complimentary cleaning and storage of golf clubs and golf shoes will be offered after each round.

Whether one is an avid golfer looking to conquer some of the worlds finest golf courses, or simply sharpen ones short game with tips from our onboard PGA golf instructors, there is great attention to detail at every level said John Stoll, Crystals director of land programs. 

Even non-golfing guests traveling with golfers will have a wide selection of onboard and shoreside activities that suit most interests.

Crystal even offers a Luggage Concierge service where guests can ship their clubs in advance of the sailing.

The line will be offering golf-themed itineraries in the British Isles and Northern Europe, plus Canada/New England in 2009.

Food & Wine

On the food and wine front, look for two dozen of the worlds most intriguing and topical names on the culinary, wine and cocktail scenes to offer insights and instruction during voyages through the Panama Canal, Asia, Northern and Western Europe and the Caribbean aboard Crystal Symphony and the 1,080-guest Crystal Serenity.

One of the hallmarks of a Crystal vacation is the extraordinary onboard culinary experience, said Toni Neumeister, Crystals vice president, food and beverage operations. Were excited to pair our chefs with the highest caliber of experts to offer guests an unparalleled wine and food vacation.