Follow us onboard Holland America’s Eurodam

eurodam
Passengers enjoy a bird’s eye view from Holland America’s Eurodam, Saturday at sunset, as the ship departed Fort Lauderdale. Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas is in the background. The 2,104-passenger Eurodam has just begun a seven-night Caribbean voyage to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship this week.
Photo by Michael Coleman

Onboard: Regatta wows passengers during crossing

Oceania Regatta’s two-level staircase connects guests to the reception area on Deck 4 and the ship’s elegant Upper Hall on Deck 5. Photo by Michael Coleman
Oceania Regatta’s two-level staircase connects guests to the reception area on Deck 4 and the ship’s elegant Upper Hall on Deck 5. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman was aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she made her way from Europe to North America. Here’s his latest dispatch:

THE BAHAMAS, Nov. 27, 2009 — It may have been the stand-out Jacques Pepin-inspired cuisine or a Canyon Ranch Spa Club massage. Perhaps it was the personable service or the elegant, country-club ambiance.

Maybe it was the Trans-Atlantic itinerary from Barcelona to Miami — lazy days at sea anyone? — or the port calls themselves in Morocco, Madeira and Bermuda.

Or, it may have been glimpsing Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip as they were escorted through Bermuda’s narrow streets in celebration of that island’s 400th anniversary.

Whatever “it’’ was, passengers concluding a 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami have a host of memorable experiences to reflect upon when they disembark the vessel tomorrow.

The 684-passenger, 30,277-ton Regatta has been consistently creating wow moments for passengers since debuting in 2003 (her maiden voyage was in 1998 as a ship in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet).

And while Regatta and parent company Oceania Cruises bills itself as the word’s first upper premium cruise line, it was abundantly clear to guests on this crossing that she could easily give a number of luxury lines a run for their money.

She features a county-club atmosphere of warmth and elegance complete with many of the amenities one would expect to find at the luxury cruise travel level: excellent service, high-end bedding, open seating dining and multiple, no-charge specialty restaurants.

Heady port calls, most of which are off limits to larger cruise vessels, are also a big part of the Regatta cruise experience.

The ship just recently added Canyon Ranch Spa to the fold, complete with a state-of-the-art fitness center. Look for a special spa culinary menu to debut in 2010.

There are four gourmet restaurants onboard — Polo Grill (steak house), Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room – under the culinary auspices of master chef Pepin. Look for roasted quail stuffed with black truffle mousseline; grilled Ahi tuna garnished with tomato chutney; or even a King’s Cut, 32-ounce bone-in Prime Rib. A vast onboard collection of vintages from around the world complement Pepin’s varied offerings.

Guests have also enjoyed the ship’s cozy nine bars/lounges. Horizons offers the most sweeping of views on Deck 10 forward and Polo Bar features premium, single malt scotch and full-grain whiskeys.

The ship features a casino, boutiques, library and Internet center.

The pool deck, meanwhile, includes the pool, two whirlpools, a grill and even a milkshake station. Pepin’s freshly-prepared rolls make the choice for a standard hamburger or hot dog a gourmet affair.

Among Regatta’s appealing other amenities: in-suite movies and DVDs are complimentary. Her best kept secret? Lounge chairs on the teak deck off Deck 5 are hardly ever used.

Cocktails in Martini Lounge with Maciek Flont on the piano or an extraordinary show with comedian/magician Harry Maurer, were clearly among the other “it’’ moments during Regatta’s crossing.

Later this week: Regatta and her sisters, Insignia and Nautica, will soon welcome a new ship into their fold.

Silversea unveils 2011 itineraries

The 382-guest Silver Shadow will be offering a 30-day circumnavigation of Australia in 2011. The ship’s parent, Silversea Cruises, has just unveiled itineraries for 2011 aboard Shadow, Cloud, Spirit, Whisper and Wind. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 382-guest Silver Shadow will be offering a 30-day circumnavigation of Australia in 2011. The ship’s parent, Silversea Cruises, has just unveiled itineraries for 2011 aboard Shadow, Cloud, Spirit, Whisper and Wind. Photo by Michael Coleman

Silversea Cruises’ quintet of elegant all-suite ships – Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and the new Silver Spirit – will offer 170 diverse itineraries, visiting over 335 ports in more than 100 countries and island destinations in 2011.

Highlights include Silver Spirit’s 119-day inaugural World Cruise and seven new Silversea destinations: Brindisi, Italy; San Sebastian on the Canary Island of La Gomera; Ballycastle, Northern Ireland; St. Helier on the British Isle of Jersey; Matarani, Peru; Cooktown in Queensland, Australia; and South Australia’s Port Lincoln.

“It’s always our goal to provide unique and enriching travel experiences,” said Kenneth Watson, Silversea’s chief operating officer. “Our 2011 schedule has been carefully designed to offer a broad range of travel choices, including multiple-day calls and overnight stays showcasing traditional must-see destinations, as well as myriad opportunities to explore the world’s most exotic regions.”

Among the highlights:

Silver Cloud – The 296-guest Silver Cloud starts the year with a series of Caribbean voyages and two crossings of the Panama Canal before spending a month in the Mediterranean. Silver Cloud then travels northward to summer in Iceland, Scandinavia, Britain and Ireland. An overnight visit to remote Archangel, Russia, is one of the season’s highlights. Autumn in the Mediterranean precedes a stylish return to the warm Caribbean waters and explorations in the Amazon.

Silver Wind – 2011 itineraries aboard the 298-guest Silver Wind begin in Dubai, visit India and exotic Oman, slip into the seductive Seychelles and trace Africa’s coastline from Mombasa to Cape Town to Morocco. Mediterranean destinations, including the Holy Land, and a Black Sea cruise fill the idyllic days of spring and summer, followed by two more cruises to the Holy Land and an encore of Arabian ports and Seychelles islands to close out the year.

Silver Shadow – As the 382-guest Silver Shadow opens the year with explorations of Oceania, spectacular New Zealand fjords and a first-ever, 30-day circumnavigation of Australia are among the season’s highlights followed by Far East voyages during spring. Alaska cruises fill the entire summer season before a return to China, Japan and Vietnam. Popular holiday sailings in Australia and New Zealand are again on the calendar for 2011.

Silver Whisper – Aboard the 382-guest Silver Whisper, 2011 arrives in the majestic Chilean fjords, setting the tone for a year of spectacular experiences in South America, the Caribbean and Northern Europe. Itineraries include three days in St. Petersburg, Norwegian fjord cruising, and fall foliage season in Canada and New England. The year concludes as it began with Caribbean and South America voyages.

Silver Spirit – For the 540-guest Silver Spirit, debuting in December, 2011 features a 119-day inaugural World Cruise spanning from Los Angeles to Southampton. This epic journey takes in the tranquility of French Polynesia, Australia’s untamed landscapes, the unique customs and cultures of Asia, Egyptian wonders and favorite Mediterranean ports from Italy and Monaco to Spain and Portugal. Throughout summer, special Mediterranean sailings focus on the Greek isles or the flavors of Italy. Look also for an overnight in Monte Carlo during the Grand Prix. Late autumn months are celebrated beneath the warmth of a Caribbean sun.

Complete day-by-day itineraries are available at silversea.com. In the next few weeks, itineraries will be unveiled for the line’s expedition ship, Prince Albert II.

Silversea offers guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels. Each ship offers an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. Company itineraries encompass all seven continents.

Onboard: Videos from day one on the Oasis

Cruise News Weekly Publisher Matt Roseboom is aboard a two-night preview cruise of the new Oasis of the Seas. Here are some of the videos he’s posted from day one. Check the Twitter account at twitter.com/cruiseguide for the most recent updates, or become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/cruisenews.

Onboard: Pepin-inspired cuisine a big hit with Regatta passengers

By Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she makes her way from Europe to North America. Here’s the second in a series of dispatches.

The Grand Dining Room aboard Oceania Regatta was the scene today for Sunday Brunch. The ship’s largest dining venue plus Polo Grill, Toscana, and Tapas on the Terrace, are under the culinary direction of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Photo by Michael Coleman
The Grand Dining Room aboard Oceania Regatta was the scene today for Sunday Brunch. The ship’s largest dining venue plus Polo Grill, Toscana, and Tapas on the Terrace, are under the culinary direction of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Photo by Michael Coleman
ATLANTIC OCEAN, En Route to Bermuda, Nov. 22, 2009 — When passengers boarded Oceania Regatta a few days ago for their 14-night Barcelona-Miami voyage they did so lured by the promise of long, lazy days at sea.

Such is the joy of Trans-Atlantic travel especially on a luxurious modern cruise ship with its cozy country club ambience and the creature comforts of home.

The days and nights are indeed a bit slower and time, here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the Portuguese island of Madeira and Bermuda, seemingly does stand still.

This isn’t exactly a Columbus crossing to the New World, however. Instead, it’s one which traces somewhat romantically in his path and for those cruise aficionados who yearn to be at sea for such long stretches at a time — while being pampered in the process – the Regatta experience is Nirvana.

Culinary Choices
It doesn’t hurt either during our lazy days at sea to be offered spectacular cuisine in a host of nearby dining venues.

Regatta features four no additional-charge gourmet restaurants — the reservations-only Polo Grill (steak house), reservations-only Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room — under the culinary direction of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Each is outstanding.

Polo, among a host of choices, features a King’s Cut, 32-ounce bone-in Prime Rib but lesser mortals opt for a host of USDA Prime steaks (dry-aged a minimum of 28 days) or seafood offerings. Look for whole Maine lobster or Pepin’s signature dish: a herb-roasted rotisserie free range chicken. Starters include shrimp, oysters, escargot, crab or warm Foie Gras followed by soups and salads. Pepin desserts are not to be missed.

In Toscana, look for more menu choices than in any of Regatta’s restaurants. Fresh pastas, veal, steaks and Maine lobster are prepared with an Italian flare and purpose.

Tapas, meanwhile, features sushi, salads, pastas and carving stations, nightly. Guests can opt to dine inside or on the aft veranda.

The Grand Dining Room, meanwhile, features an ever-changing menu although steak, salmon and chicken can be ordered, nightly.

Rounding out the culinary journey aboard Regatta is 24-hour room service, a pool grill with standard American fare, and a busy pool-side milkshake station. Tea is served promptly at 4 p.m., daily.

Today, guests enjoyed an additional culinary experience. Sunday Brunch in the Grand Dining Room featured a host of traditional favorites, albeit with Pepin’s flare, plus Champagne and Mimosa’s as a live string quartet performed during the three-and-a-half-hour time frame in which it was offered.

– Later this week: A closer look at the 684-passenger, 30,277-ton Regatta.

Videos and photos coming live from Oasis of the Seas

18176-17 Oasis Of The Seas copy

Follow Cruise News Weekly Publisher Matt Roseboom as he reports live from Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Oasis of the Seas, this Sunday and Monday (Nov. 22 and 23, 2009). You can follow along with his updates, photos and videos on Twitter (twitter.com/cruiseguide) and Facebook (facebook.com/cruisenews).

Oasis of the Seas is the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world. She spans 16 decks, encompasses 225,282 gross registered tons, carries 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,700 staterooms. Oasis of the Seas is the first ship to tout the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which includes Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Additional information is available at www.oasisoftheseas.com.

Cruise Guide: Carnival Dream Review, Photos and Videos

The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, Carnival Cruise Lines'€™ largest ship, will be sailing from Port Canaveral year-round. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines/HO
The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, Carnival Cruise Lines'€™ largest ship, will be sailing from Port Canaveral year-round. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines/HO

The Carnival Dream recently made her North American debut. The 130,000-ton ship is the first of a new class of ships for Carnival Cruise Lines and their largest yet. It’s 1,004 feet long and holds up to 3,646 passengers. The Dream offers many firsts for Carnival and cruise lines in general.

Click here to read the full review, and view our photo gallery and videos from the ship.

New guide helps you find hidden Mickeys at sea

DSC00528

hms cover low resWhile Mickey Mouse has grown to be one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable icons, it is often forgotten that the first appearance of the character was at the helm of a riverboat in Steamboat Willie. So it’s not surprising that Mickey has stowed away on the Disney Cruise ships — in over one hundred places.

Steve Barrett, the author of the popular Hidden Mickeys series of books, has taken his quest for the mischievous mouse out to sea: Yes, it appears that Disney’s ships are nearly as packed with images of Mickey as Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. Barrett’s newest book, “Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea: A Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line’s Best Kept Secrets” (The Intrepid Traveler, $6.95), leads cruise passengers to the hiding places.

“I believe that most of the Hidden Mickeys on the Disney cruise ships were present from the initial ship construction,” said Barrett. “Some of these images are probably accidental, especially some of the classic, three-circle images, but others (such as the large classic Mickey on the bow of each ship) are purposeful. Disney often adds new images when ship areas are refurbished.”

“Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea” is Barrett’s third field guide to the phenomenon. The first, “Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets,” came out in 2003. Barrett followed it with “Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys” in 2007 and both guides have just come out in new editions.

The cruise ships are a different sort of experience from the theme parks, and this difference also applies to the experience of looking for Hidden Mickeys. Barrett notes, “One difference that’s helpful to the Hidden Mickey hunter is that the scavenger hunts on the ships and Castaway Cay can be accomplished leisurely. The cruise ship Hidden Mickeys can be located at the guest’s personal pace. Take as much time as you want on the ships and the island; there’s no rush to find Mickey! You’re not in line or on a ride.”

While Barrett may be the best known expert on Hidden Mickeys, he doesn’t do his work alone. The book, like the others in the series, acknowledges everyone who contributed their shipboard findings to his Web site, HiddenMickeysGuide.com.

“Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea” is available in bookstores nationwide, from online bookstores, or by visiting IntrepidTraveler.com. Disney is expected to also have them available for purchase in the cruise ship gift shops.

Seven godmothers chosen for Oasis of the Seas’ seven neighborhoods

When Royal Caribbean officially names its newest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009, the cruise line will continue its tradition of innovation by putting a new twist on one of maritime’s longest standing traditions.

While normally bestowing the honor of godmother on one special person, Royal Caribbean has chosen seven extraordinary godmothers to represent the seven neighborhoods onboard Oasis of the Seas. Each of the seven godmothers was chosen because they personify strength of character, exemplify the spirit of giving, and are role models for men, women and children alike.

The godmothers include:
Gloria Estefan, world-renowned singer, songwriter, actor and author, who was godmother of Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas
Michelle Kwan, the Olympic Games medalist is an all-time great and the most decorated figure skater in United States history, and is also an American Public Diplomacy envoy promoting education, positive health practices and respect for diversity
Jane Seymore, a multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor, as well as an Officer of the British Empire, who remains actively involved in the J and J Foundation benefiting children in need. Based on her philosophy that keeping an open heart despite adversity can bring a wealth of love, hope and inspiration into life, she founded the website www.KeepAnOpenHeart.com, a community where people can share stories and engage in a dialogue about living with an open heart.
Dara Torres, twelve-time Olympic medalist and oldest female swimmer to compete in a record five Olympic games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008)
Keshia Knight Pulliam, film and television actress is well-known for her role as Rudy Huxtable on the classic sitcom “The Cosby Show.” The youngest actress ever nominated for an Emmy Award when she was only 6 years old, she presently stars on the TBS television comedy “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and was most recently seen starring in the hit motion picture “Madea Goes To Jail.”
Shawn Johnson, four-time medalist at the 2008 Olympic games for women’s gymnastics and cancer philanthropist, who in addition to serving as a godmother for Oasis of the Seas, will be granting wishes onboard as part of her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Daisy Fuentes, international television personality and producer, beauty and fitness expert, and recognized role model for Latin-American women in the United States, who is committed to improving children’s health and treatments through St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Starlight Children’s Foundation and the March of Dimes.

“It is a humbling and equally exciting privilege to have these seven exemplary women take on the responsibility of being godmothers of Oasis of the Seas,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises. “We felt it only fitting that our most revolutionary ship be named by an outstanding group of women who embody the same excellence in their respective fields.”

The seven women will take their posts to officially name the ship at a ceremony during a one-night inaugural celebration-fundraiser onboard Oasis of the Seas to benefit the non-profit Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime event begin at $500 per person.

Guests who wish to continue their adventure onboard will receive an exclusive discount price, beginning at $650 per person, on a four-night cruise package sailing to the cruise line’s private beach destination, Labadee, departing the morning following the event on Tuesday, Dec. 1 (rates based on double-occupancy and stateroom package).

For reservations to this exclusive event combined with the four-night sailing, contact Cynthia Paez, Royal Caribbean International, at (877) 202-1520, ext. 12751, or [email protected]

Onboard: Pampered Regatta guests primed for trans-Atlantic crossing

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta departs Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Wednesday en route across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta departs Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Wednesday en route across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she makes her way from Europe to North America. Here’s the first in a series of dispatches.

FUNCHAL, Madeira, Nov. 18, 2009 — Guests aboard the 684-passenger Oceania Regatta left this dramatic, sun-drenched Portuguese island outpost today primed to begin a Trans-Atlantic voyage to Miami.

Few cruise travelers, even in this modern era, ever get a chance to enjoy such a feat. Fewer still are afforded the opportunity on such an elegant vessel.

Guests aboard the 30,277-ton Regatta, this week and next, will accomplish both all the while enjoying the ship’s relaxed, country club ambiance. She will now spend the next six nights at sea en route to the pink-sand shores of Bermuda.

Since departing Barcelona, Saturday, guests have been busy exploring the ship’s nine-passenger decks, sizing up its nine bars/lounges or participating in a host of daily activities.

There are four gourmet restaurants onboard — Polo Grill (steak house), Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room – under the culinary auspices of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Each is outstanding.

The ship also features a Canyon Ranch Spa, complete with salon, gym and weight room. The pool deck includes a pool, two whirlpools, a grill and the ship’s guiltiest of pleasures: a milkshake station.

Also onboard: a casino, boutiques, library and Internet center. In-suite movies and DVDs are complimentary.

Regatta’s parent, Oceania Cruises, touts itself as a “premium’’ cruise line — a step or two above mass market and one below luxury — but it’s abundantly clear to all onboard that Regatta easily could give a host of luxury lines a run for their money . . . Trans-Atlantic crossing or otherwise.

Later this week: A closer look at Pepin’s mouth-watering cuisine.