Days-at-sea voyages in vogue

Cunard Line is the only company that offers regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings, most often aboard the Queen Mary 2. Transocean voyages are in vogue among today’s cruise travelers. Image courtesy Cunard

By Michael Coleman

Transocean cruise travel opportunities are gaining in popularity as luxury, premium and mass market operators offer longer haul, sea-going choices than ever before.

As cruise ships large and small are seasonally repositioned from one cruising destination to another, travelers have dozens of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s most memorable and unique experiences — a voyage by ship from one continent to another.

The Cunard Line, for decades, was literally built via the transatlantic voyages offered aboard her ships and today is the only company that offers regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2 from April to November.

But, in this highly-competitive global industry that is cruise travel, more and more lines are offering a host of transocean opportunities as well.

In this the first of a two-part series, we’ll look at the transocean voyages being offered by the world’s best luxury cruise lines, each a member of the Cruise Lines International Association.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the transocean voyages being offered by the world’s top mass market and premium cruise lines.

CUNARD LINE Queen Mary 2 — Twenty-one transatlantic crossings, April-November, including classic six-day voyages between New York and Southampton, plus a seven-day option as well as eight- and nine-day crossings to Cherbourg and Hamburg,

CRYSTAL CRUISESCrystal Symphony — From Dubai to Athens, departing May 12; from London to New York, departing September 5; from New York to Los Angeles, departing November 2; Crystal Serenity — From Dubai to Athens (part of the 2010 World Cruise), departing March 15; from Rome to Barcelona, departing October 19.

REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISESSeven Seas Mariner — 16 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo departing March 22; Seven Seas Navigator — 20 nights from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco departing May 6; 18 nights from Seward to Tianjin (Beijing) departing September 15; Seven Seas Voyager — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Reykjavik departing May 12; 15 nights from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing November 8.

SEABOURN CRUISE LINESeabourn Spirit — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon departing March 19; Seabourn Legend — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon departing April 8; Seabourn Legend — 13 days from Malaga to Fort Lauderdale departing November 20; Seabourn Odyssey — 13 days from Nice to Fort Lauderdale departing December 6.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUBSeaDream I — 13 days from San Juan to Malaga departing April 30; 12 days from Malaga to San Juan departing October 14; SeaDream II — 12 days from Barbados to Malaga departing April 25; 2 days from Barbados to Malaga departing November 8.

SILVERSEA CRUISESSilver Spirit — 14 days from New York to Southampton departing April 23; Silver Cloud — 15 Days from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Barcelona, Spain, departing April 14; Silver Whisper — 12 Days from Southampton, U.K. to New York City, New York, departing September 2; Silver Shadow — 16 Days from Vancouver, British Columbia to Tokyo, Japan, departing Sept. 12.

Princess to allow you to show off your ship to friends and family

Princess Cruises’ new Bon Voyage Experience brings back the tradition of allowing non-cruising guests onboard. The experience includes a four-course lunch. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Matt Roseboom

In the late ‘70 and early ‘80s, when “The Love Boat” was a hit show on television, cruising was popular, but not nearly as popular as it is today. So many first-time cruisers’ expectations came from watching the TV show. Many were probably not too happy when they compared the size of their cabins with those on the show. But even before they got to their rooms, they may have been surprised to find out their non-sailing friends and family members weren’t allowed on the ship.

Being able to give your guests a tour of the ship you’re about to sail on is a tradition from the early days of cruising. Now, the same line that hosted “The Love Boat”, Princess Cruises, is bringing the tradition back, for a small fee.

They’re calling it the Bon Voyage Experience — a new twist on the departure celebration of bygone days, complete with lunch in the dining room and tour of the ship.
 
Now unique in the cruise industry, the Bon Voyage Experience will enable passengers to extend an invitation to their guests to join them onboard during sailing day for a four-course dining room lunch with wine, a ship tour and a souvenir photo. Passengers and their guests will enjoy priority embarkation and will be able to spend approximately four hours together on the ship before it sets sail. The cost for the program is $39 per person, but it can be applied toward a future Princess cruise.
 
The program will debut in March in the ports of Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, and then roll out to New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
 
“Long-time cruisers will recall the fun of the bon voyage send-off with their family and friends, and we’re excited to re-introduce a new, modern version of this experience,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president.
 
After you’ve booked, you will be notified about the program through pre-cruise e-mails as your cruise date approaches. In-port guests can be booked from 120 days, up to six days before the sailing date. Once registered, guests will be able to input their security information through the line’s Cruise Personalizer.
 
But there’s reason to hurry and register if you’re interested. The number of guests who will be able to participate in the Bon Voyage Experience on any given embarkation day is approximately 50.
 
The roll-out schedule for the launch of the Bon Voyage Experience is:

– Sapphire Princess — March 6 in Los Angeles
– Crown Princess — March 6 in Fort Lauderdale
– Coral Princess — March 7 in Los Angeles
– Emerald Princess — March 7 in Fort Lauderdale
– Island Princess — March 10 in Los Angeles
– Ruby Princess — March 10 in Fort Lauderdale
– Golden Princess — March 14 in Los Angeles
– Royal Princess — March 27 in Fort Lauderdale
– Star Princess — April 10 in Fort Lauderdale
– Caribbean Princess — May 18 in New York
– Sea Princess — June 1 in San Francisco

During the Alaska season, Sapphire Princess, Golden Princess and Royal Princess will offer the program in Seattle, beginning in May.

Princess to get two new ships – their largest ever

The Carnival Corporation & plc has signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of two 3,600-passenger cruise ships for its Princess Cruises brand.

The new ships — which will have an all-in cost of approximately €155,000 per lower berth — are scheduled to enter service in spring 2013 and spring 2014. At 139,000 tons each, the as-yet-unnamed ships will be the largest in the Princess Cruises fleet.

The agreement is subject to execution of a definitive contract, financing and other customary closing conditions. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

Carnival Corporation & plc is the largest cruise vacation group in the world, with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe and Australia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Ibero Cruises, Ocean Village, P&O Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia.

Together, these brands operate 95 ships totaling more than 184,000 lower berths with 11 new ships scheduled to be delivered between March 2010 and May 2012. Carnival Corporation & plc also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour company in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon.

MSC Poesia helps in rescue of capsized boaters

The MSC Poesia was the first point of contact in assisting the U.S. Coast Guard with the rescue of four passengers from a small, capsized boat over the weekend off the coast of Miami.

Poesia was headed for the Western Caribbean after departing Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6. A few hours later at 9 p.m., a small boat was spotted.

Capt. Giacomo Romano notified the Coast Guard, and for the next 30-minutes, rescue efforts were underway. All four people survived 12-hours in the choppy and cold waters, and were safely taken onboard the Coast Guard vessel.

Then, Poesia continued her voyage without any delays to Key West, her next port-of- call on the seven-night cruise.

One of the survivors expressed his gratitude for the rescue. “It was challenging to stay positive. The MSC Poesia was one of our last chances for survival. Our families owe you our lives,” said Michael Colon.

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.