Royal Caribbean ships set for makeovers

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, pictured here, and her sister Liberty of the Seas will soon feature a number of amenities presently found on the line’s newest ship - Oasis of the Seas. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Michael Coleman

A series of new onboard amenities and experiences, having successfully been launched aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas last fall, will soon debut on Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Rolling out in early 2011, passengers will soon enjoy new dining opportunities, entertainment, children’s programming and other enhancements.

The line is set to introduce an-as-yet named Broadway production on Liberty. Announcement of the show’s title will soon be made. A family musical geared for children, such as the one playing in the Adventure Ocean Theater aboard Oasis will debut in the main theaters of both Freedom and Liberty.

A big hit aboard Oasis — the world’s largest cruise ship – Royal Babies and Tots Nursery will now be available for Freedom and Liberty passengers. The nursery care program for babies and tots ages six through 36 months old offers parents a safe, fun and interactive vacation environment for their toddler too. Look for various playgroups and activities developed exclusively for Royal Caribbean with partners Fisher Price and Crayola.

Oversized outdoor video screens similar to those wowing guests on Oasis will make their debut aboard Freedom and Liberty. The large 18.5-foot video screen aboard each ship will overlook the main family pool area and will feature movies and entertainment programs throughout the cruise for families, friends and couples to enjoy, morning, noon or night.

Navigating the two ships will also be easier, thanks to the line’s groundbreaking “wayfinding system’’ which was launched on Oasis. Onboard activities, real time updates, customized directions and routing, as well as ship factoids will be at passengers’ fingertips with new plasma and LCD touch screen signs that will be prominently placed throughout each of the ships.

Need a sugar fix? Oasis’s specialty bakery boutique, Cupcake Cupboard, will soon charm passengers aboard Freedom and Liberty. The new locale will feature an array of fresh gourmet cupcakes á la carte, and will also offer hands-on decorating classes plus include a separate space for guests looking to celebrate special events from birthdays and anniversaries to reunions.

Wine aficionados rejoice. The Vintages lounge aboard Freedom and Liberty will soon feature a new trendier décor and offer guests a range of fine wines. Guests also can enjoy self-pour opportunities from a selection of notable wines, thanks to the line’s new Enomatic serving system.

Guests, meanwhile, aboard Oasis will have the groundbreaking opportunity, literally, to participate in a new shore excursion opportunity. As part of a new series of “voluntourism” activities, “Voluntourism: The Mexican Red Cross Landscaping Project” offers passengers the opportunity to contribute to the local community of Cozumel, thanks to a partnership with the Mexican Chapter of the Red Cross.

As part of a beautification project, passengers will be outfitted with materials and tools for this four-hour excursion that will allow them to assist with the planting of trees and shrubs at the local chapter’s new facility.

On the

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.

Princess eyes Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific

The 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess is but one of several Princess Cruises’ ships headed to Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific voyages in 2011 and 2012. Image courtesy Princess Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Princess Cruises has just unveiled a series of 2011-2012 itineraries to Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific.

Sun, sand, swaying palm trees, the scent of topical flowers in the air and breathtaking island scenery set the stage as the line offers 43 sailings of 10 itineraries to 33 ports. Voyages run from September 2011 through May 2012.

Cruise passengers will find that each of these island destinations has its own charms. In Hawaii they’ll enjoy the spirit of Aloha throughout the island chain, while Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia showcase a unique mix of South Seas appeal and French culture.

Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu each offer their own style and island allure, and all feature the stunning vistas found throughout the South Pacific.
Travelers interested in the convenience of a roundtrip voyage from Los Angeles can choose to sail aboard Golden Princess or Sapphire Princess to the Hawaiian Islands or on a new 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti & South Pacific cruise aboard Sapphire Princess.

Cruisers to Tahiti will enjoy the small ship ambiance of Ocean Princess on several itineraries, and Princess’ Aussie-style sailings from Down Under feature Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess sailing roundtrip from Sydney or Brisbane.
The Hawaiian Islands each have their own personality. On Oahu, the state capital of Honolulu offers a wealth of historic, cultural and scenic attractions, including famous Waikiki Beach, America’s only royal residence the Iolani Palace, and Pearl Harbor. The Big Island, the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands, has the most varied in landscape — with striking black sand beaches, tropical rain forests, and the famed Volcanoes National Park, home to three volcanoes, including the actively erupting Kilauea.
Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai offers lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and geological wonders, such as the dramatic Nã Pali Coastline, and spectacular Waimea Canyon. The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui boasts some of the world’s most superb beaches and dramatic mountain landscapes. Visitors can also explore the port town of Lahaina which was once King Kamehameha’s capital. 
Made up of more than 130 islands, French Polynesia includes some of the most dreamed about South Seas islands, such as Tahiti and Bora Bora. This is the South Pacific of Melville, Gauguin and Michener. Particularly immortalized by Gauguin’s paintings, Tahiti evokes exotic island images and the South Seas state of mind. Nearby Moorea boast precipitous mountains that reach for the sky, creating picture postcard views. And, no name captures the imagination of paradise as well as Bora Bora.  Perhaps the most stunning island in the South Pacific, its majestic landscape was sculpted by ancient volcanoes, showcasing a shimmering lagoon and barrier reef. Passengers on Ocean Princess’ 10-day Tahiti & Polynesia itinerary will enjoy a two-day experience in Bora Bora with extra time to enjoy the island’s charms.
The two islands of Huahine are surrounded by a deep lagoon encircled by a coral necklace. Connected by a bridge, both islands boast white-sand beaches, vanilla and banana plantations, and some of Polynesia’s most significant cultural sites. The largest atoll in French Polynesia, divers from all over the world flock to Rangiroa, to explore the undersea world of its 42-mile aquamarine lagoon filled with unique marine life and magnificent underwater scenery.
Samoa and American Samoa lie at the heart of the South Pacific. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, the southernmost territory of the United States. Here abundant rain creates a lush green landscape marked by ancient volcanoes and thriving coral atolls.  Apia, the main township of Samoa, personifies the fa’a Samoa (the Samoan Way), and conjures up images of the perfect South Seas island town.
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