Ship Review: Polished Pearl pleases passengers

Above the dive-friendly, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, a playground of another kind beckons.
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl is a world unto itself, epitomizing Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where passengers enjoy a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules, dining times or even dress codes to adhere to.

Click Here for the full review.

Our top 10 most read cruise stories of 2009

As we end our first year of Cruise News Weekly online, I thought it’d be a good time to go back and look at which of our online stories had the most views. Here are our top 10 most read cruise stories for 2009 – counting down to number one.

Number 10

Guests to christen Seabourn Odyssey
A new ultra-luxurious yacht, set to debut in June 2009, will be christened by each of its guests prior to its maiden voyage.
Full Story


Number 9

New cruise ships poised for debut
The cruise industrys top players will be positioning five of their latest ships in Fort Lauderdale this winter.
Full Story


Number 8

Fairy tale romance aboard Ruby Princess
This is a tale about the Ruby Princess. She is large but beautiful, always ready for fun and romance, and she’s all about great food. No this isn’t a fairy tale, it’s life aboard Princess Cruises’ newest ship.
Full Story


Number 7

Carnival Alaskan cruises to sail round-trip from Seattle in 2010
For the first time ever, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate a schedule of seven-day Alaska cruises round-trip from Seattle beginning in May 2010.
Full Story


Number 6

Detailed model of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas
One of the busiest booths at this week’s Seatrade Cruise Shipping Miami conference (besides Mexico’s when they were giving out free beer) was that of STX Europe, the builder of Royal Caribbean’s upcoming newest ship.
Full Story


Number 5

Music’s top stars on board for One Splendid Evening
Carnival Cruise Lines and Mayercraft Carrier 2 will present “One Splendid Evening,” a special concert event to benefit the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The one night only event will take place the evening of March 26.
Full Story


Number 4

Carnival Dream to offer on-board social networking
The new Carnival Dream, debuting Sept. 21, will take seagoing technology to a new level with the introduction of the FunHub, a comprehensive shipboard intranet portal featuring the cruise industry’s first on-board social network, along with access to a wide variety of information on the ship’s services, facilities and daily activities.
Full Story


Number 3

See rendering, video of Carnival Dream’s water slide
Carnival has released a new artist’s rendering and a test video of The DrainPipe, a unique water slide that will be on the new Carnival Dream when it launches Sept. 21.
Full Story


Number 2

Win prizes in Royal Caribbean’s new online game
Royal Caribbean International is offering vacationers the opportunity to discover the cruise line’s experience without leaving shore. Royal Caribbean’s “Clues to the Cruise” promotion is challenging adventurers of all ages to explore the new Nation of Why Not and the many ‘why not’ moments guests can enjoy on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Full Story


Number 1

Oasis, Allure poised for debuts
The largest cruise ship ever constructed will debut in just seven months but the company launching Oasis of the Seas is hard at work preparing for the unveiling of an equally mammoth sister-ship.
Full Story

Ship Review: Eurodam offers various amenities, dining choices

The 2,104-passenger Eurodam, the newest vessel in Holland America’s 14-ship fleet, offers an array of onboard events and activities and some of cruise travel’s more appealing dining options. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 2,104-passenger Eurodam, the newest vessel in Holland America’s 14-ship fleet, offers an array of onboard events and activities and some of cruise travel’s more appealing dining options. Photo by Michael Coleman

The question facing passengers during seven-night Caribbean cruises aboard Holland America’s Eurodam this winter isn’t what to do onboard but whether there’s enough time to enjoy all that’s being offered.

The 2,104-passenger, 86,000-ton ship features a host of events and activities in some 31 public rooms.

Click Here to read the full review.

Ship Review: Escaping the daily grind aboard Carnival Liberty

The 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty features a host of onboard and shore-side events and activities for passengers to enjoy year-round in the Caribbean. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty features a host of onboard and shore-side events and activities for passengers to enjoy year-round in the Caribbean. Photo by Michael Coleman

The cares of the world seem to disappear aboard Carnival Liberty.

While CNN and other news channels (beamed to the ship via satellite) remind us of a sagging economy, a nation at war, and the titillating trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods, passengers aboard this mega-ship can enjoy a week-long respite from it all, year-round, in the Caribbean.

There’s a host of resort-style amenities — 22 bars/lounges, four pools, a 214-foot-long corkscrew water slide, four dining venues, 13,300-square foot spa, a 4,200-square foot kid’s play area and high energy Vegas-style revues, nightly.

Click Here to read the full ship review

Pearl offers stunning array of restaurant venues

Chefs in Teppanyaki, one of 12 restaurants aboard Norwegian Pearl, treat guests to both a culinary show and excellent fare. Photos by Michael Coleman
Chefs in Teppanyaki, one of 12 restaurants aboard Norwegian Pearl, treat guests to both a culinary show and excellent fare. Photos by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The biggest culinary fan aboard Norwegian Pearl may also be the most disappointed passenger on disembarkation day.

With 12 restaurants and 11 bars and lounges to choose from, it’s next to impossible to sample all of the ship’s culinary venues on a typical, seven-day Caribbean voyage.

The 2,394-passenger ship features locales which run the gamut from complimentary (as part of your cruise fare) to reservations-only, nominal fee, specialty restaurants from among French inspired cuisine in Le Bistro, steak and seafood in Cagney’s, and even a Japanese/Thai/Chinese complex complete with a teppanyaki dining area.

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 NCL, 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 you want, when you want at a locale that’s right for you on the evening of your choosing.

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl operates weekly Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami but with so many onboard events and activities to choose from, including some 12 restaurants and 11 bars/lounges, Pearl begs guests to return.
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl operates weekly Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami but with so many onboard events and activities to choose from, including some 12 restaurants and 11 bars/lounges, Pearl begs guests to return.
Aboard Pearl, the operation is virtually flawless.

The ship, of course, still offers casual buffet fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner in both the Garden Café/The Great Outdoors venue on Deck 12. Look for omelets, waffles, fruit, soups, ethnic specialties, salads, pasta and carving stations.

The best meals occur nightly, however, primarily in four dining venues.

Le Bistro, on Deck 6, is a warm, art nouveau restaurant reflecting all things French. Wine displays surround the entrance and the artwork celebrates famous icons throughout French history. It’s also the scene for jazz brunch, hosted once each cruise.

The Lotus Garden Asian Restaurant, on Deck 7, is the ship’s Japanese/Thai/Chinese restaurant complex featuring sushi, sashimi and a Teppanyaki room where chefs treat passengers to both a culinary show and excellent fare.

Cagney’s Steakhouse on Deck 13, meanwhile, is a traditional steakhouse albeit with a 1930s ambiance. Look for a choice of beef, lobster, veal, lamb, seafood and grilled chicken.

La Cucina Italian Restaurant, on Deck 12, is Pearl’s casual Italian eatery reflecting a village Trattoria or traditional farmhouse kitchen.

Pearl features a central area, next to reception, for passengers to conveniently book their dining reservations. Look also for a number of electronic dining boards erected throughout the ship advising guests – in real time – as to how busy their favorite venue is expected to be later in the evening.

For your pre or post dining experience, look for any one of Pearl’s bars/lounges to help set the mood.

Bar Central, on Deck 6, may be the nicest way to start or end your evening as it features a martini bar, a champagne and wine bar, and a beer and whisky pub all within a few feet of each other.

Onboard: Passengers embracing polished Pearl

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl, docked today in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, features cruise travel’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Photos by Michael Coleman
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl, docked today in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, features cruise travel’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Photos by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard the NCL Pearl this week. Here’s his latest update:

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Dec. 16, 2009 – Above the dive-friendly, turquoise waters here a playground of another kind beckons.

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl is a world unto itself, epitomizing Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where passengers enjoy a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules, dining times or even dress codes to adhere to.

As such, during this seven-night Eastern Caribbean swing port calls to the Dominican Republic, neighboring U.S. Virgin islands and even this idyllic British outpost where the local airport is too small to accommodate large jets, seem almost secondary.

Passengers aboard Norwegian Pearl are enjoying a myriad of high-energy events and activities plus quiet time, pool-side.
Passengers aboard Norwegian Pearl are enjoying a myriad of high-energy events and activities plus quiet time, pool-side.
Pearl features 12 restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, a spa, fitness center, sports court (basketball, volleyball and tennis), four hot tubs, two swimming pools, a kid’s pool, internet café, casino, library, card room, jogging/walking track, shuffleboard court and movie theater.

The biggest onboard wow factor — clearly — is Bliss, a sports bar by day and a high-energy lounge at night complete with the industry’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Look for multiple flat screen televisions featuring sports events and arcade games during the day and music videos at night. There’s even a spacious dance floor, full bar and mood-lit bowling in the evening.

When not playing under these Caribbean waters, or above them, guests are also enjoying a ship that is relaxing. Pearl features 10 accommodation categories.

There are 360 balcony staterooms — each a comfortable 205 square feet — complete with two lower beds and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony. Look also for a sitting area, rich cherry wood finishes, flat screen televisions, mini-bars, tea and coffee makers and internet connection and bathroom.

Mini suites, 134 in all, measure 284 square feet and include floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony, two lower beds that convert to a queen size bed, sitting area with convertible double sofa, bathroom with shower and bathtub, plus balcony stateroom amenities.

There are 416 inside staterooms, each 143 square feet, and 243 ocean view staterooms each 161 square feet.

For passengers seeking larger accommodations Pearl, too, is a treat.

Look for 24 penthouse suites (572 square feet); 10 courtyard villas (572 square feet); four owner’s suites (823 square feet); two deluxe owner’s suites (928 square feet); four romance suites (460 square feet); and two, 5,000-square foot Garden Villas offering panoramic views of the ocean.

Each villa features a roof terrace and private garden, three separate bedrooms with king- or queen-size bed and private luxury bath, multiple TVs with CD/DVD players, open-air dining, whirlpool, steam room and private sunning/relaxation areas plus a living room with a piano, state-of-the-art BOSE entertainment center with CD/DVD library, computer access with internet connection and WiFi. There’s a refrigerator, wet bar, tea and espresso/cappuccino coffee maker, butler and concierge services plus access to a private concierge lounge.

Passengers will enjoy a sea day tomorrow en route to NCL’s private island — Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas — Friday.

Later this week: We’ll look at Pearl’s amazing array of culinary options.

Onboard: Norwegian Pearl Eastern Caribbean voyage

ncl pearl, dec. 14, 2009

Norwegian Pearl at anchor off Samana, Dominican Republic, Monday Dec. 14, 2009. The 2,394-passenger vessel is in the midst of a seven-night Eastern Caribbean voyage and will also be calling on St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; Tortola, B.V.I.; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship this week.

Onboard: Liberty features endless array of culinary options

The food choices aboard Carnival Liberty are virtually endless but the most popular venue — the ship’s Mongolian Wok featuring made-to-order fresh vegetables, noodles and choice of salmon, beef, pork, shrimp or chicken — is by far a passenger favorite. Photo by Michael Coleman.
The food choices aboard Carnival Liberty are virtually endless but the most popular venue — the ship’s Mongolian Wok featuring made-to-order fresh vegetables, noodles and choice of salmon, beef, pork, shrimp or chicken — is by far a passenger favorite. Photo by Michael Coleman.

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Carnival Liberty on a Western Caribbean itinerary this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

AT SEA, en route to Miami – Dec. 11, 2009 — The monumental task of serving eight meals plus snacks per day for some 3,000-passengers runs like clockwork aboard Carnival Liberty.

Passengers aboard the 110,000-ton vessel will have consumed 45,300 eggs, 23,750 shrimp, 7,350 hamburgers, 6,950 bananas, 6,480 pounds of chicken, 5,400 pizzas and 3,200 steaks when their Western Caribbean voyage concludes tomorrow.

Obviously, culinary choices aboard Liberty abound.

Harry’s, Carnival Liberty’s intimate reservations-only steakhouse, is complemented by a fine selection of wines. Photo by Michael Coleman.
Harry’s, Carnival Liberty’s intimate reservations-only steakhouse, is complemented by a fine selection of wines. Photo by Michael Coleman.
There are two main dining rooms (Silver and Golden). Each feature diverse menus with six appetizers, two salads, six entrees and four desserts offered nightly. Look for a broiled lobster tail to be served once during the voyage. Dinner menus also include vegetarian selections and Spa Carnival Fare, guilt-free items that are lower in fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories.

An extensive wine and after-dinner drinks list is available.

The pool deck venue, Emile’s, features breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. The 1,250-seat eatery includes carving stations, a Mexican burrito locale, Mongolian Wok, fish ‘n chips counter, poolside grill, New York-style deli, dessert station and 24/7 pizzeria and ice cream. The pool deck grill, meanwhile, serves hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and other casual fare.

Plan your day accordingly. Lines for the deli (hot country roll with turkey and Swiss cheese is a favorite) and Mongolian Wok (choose your own made-to-order noodles, vegetables, meats and sauces) grow longer as the week progresses but whether it’s your first day aboard Liberty or last the wait is worth it.

For those seeking a more intimate dining experience there’s Harry’s, the ship’s reservations-only supper club. Modeled after upscale steakhouses ashore, the venue offers fine hand-cut, dry-aged U.S.D.A. prime beef including a nine-ounce filet mignon, 14-ounce strip loin, and a 24-ounce porterhouse, along with traditional accompaniments such as creamed spinach, wasabi mashed potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms.

The restaurant’s extensive menu also features items such as double-cut lamb chops, broiled lobster tail, veal chops, and Chilean sea bass. Look for impeccable, leisurely paced service, elegant surroundings, nightly entertainment, and an excellent choice of wines. The $30 per person fee pales in comparison to a comparable dining experience on land.

Rounding out Liberty’s dining choices are a patisserie offering specialty coffees and sweets, a sushi bar, and 24-hour stateroom service.

Still hungry? The ship also features late-night buffets, along with a more elaborate Gala Midnight Buffet and Chocolate Extravaganza offering a variety of all-chocolate desserts once each cruise.

Liberty also features one of Carnival’s largest spa/gymnasiums at sea to work off the calories before enjoying your next culinary experience.

The two-deck Golden Olympian Dining Room features 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. service for passengers aboard Carnival Liberty. Passengers may also opt for “Your Time Dining’’ where they may dine when and with whom they choose between 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. Photo courtesy CCL.
The two-deck Golden Olympian Dining Room features 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. service for passengers aboard Carnival Liberty. Passengers may also opt for “Your Time Dining’’ where they may dine when and with whom they choose between 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. Photo courtesy CCL.

In Port Today: Carnival Liberty in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

ocho rios, jamaica

Passenger’s enjoying a seven-night Western Caribbean voyage aboard Carnival Liberty had 33 shore excursion opportunities to choose from in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, yesterday (Dec. 10, 2009). Many, however, opted for fun in the sun on Ocho Rios Bay Beach. Carnival offered more than 100 shore excursions to guests during the week which included port calls in Cozumel, Mexico; Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island; and Ocho Rios. Passengers will enjoy a sea day tomorrow before returning to Miami on Saturday.
Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise Guide: Regatta offers country club ambiance at sea

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta wowed passengers at every turn during a recent, 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami. The ship is in the midst of a series of Caribbean itineraries through April from Miami. She then re-positions to Europe for a host of summer/fall sailings. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta wowed passengers at every turn during a recent, 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami. The ship is in the midst of a series of Caribbean itineraries through April from Miami. She then re-positions to Europe for a host of summer/fall sailings. Photo by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

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 or the port calls themselves in Morocco, Madeira and Bermuda.

Whatever “it’’ was, passengers recently concluding a 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami aboard Oceania Regatta have a host of memorable experiences to reflect upon.

Click Here to read the full review.