Enter Carnival’s contest for a cause and win a trip on their newest ship

The Carnival Magic launches in about a month and you can win a trip on her by building a model of a Carnival ship. Photo courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

By Jackie Roseboom

Kids and kids at heart can put their artistic skills to good use and build a ship for a good cause.

Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a “Build a Ship” contest that invites anyone 13 years or older to build a model of a Carnival ship out of everyday items and submit a photo of it to win a free cruise. The contest, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is the latest in a series of contests and other activities in anticipation of the May 1 launch of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Magic.

Participants are encouraged to be creative and use whatever they can think of to build a cruise ship. There are no limits on what household materials can be utilized.

Once the ship model is complete, entrants are asked to snap a photo of their creation and upload it to www.carnivalmagic.com with a title and a brief description of the materials used. Photos will be displayed in an online gallery on the Carnival Magic website.

The deadline for submissions is April 6. The winner will be chosen by an online vote open to the public and will be announced on April 26. A selection of five finalists will be chosen for the public vote. The grand prize winner will receive a seven-day Carnival Magic Caribbean cruise for four from Galveston, Texas, in an ocean view stateroom. The four finalists will receive a prize pack containing a digital camera and various Carnival logo items. Carnival will donate $1 to St. Jude, up to $10,000, for each entry and vote, as well as for each Facebook fan who “likes” the contest.

The Carnival Magic is set to debut in Europe with a series of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises operating May 1 to Oct. 16. Following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Magic will launch seven-day Caribbean service from Galveston, Texas, on Nov. 14, becoming the port’s largest year-round cruise ship.
The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic will introduce a host of exciting innovations, including the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub; Cucina del Capitano, a family-style Italian restaurant that brings Carnival’s Italian heritage to the table; and SportSquare, an action-packed top-deck recreation area featuring cruising’s first ropes course and outdoor fitness area. Other features include Serenity, a relaxing adults-only retreat; The Lanai, a wraparound outdoor promenade with whirlpools that extend over the ship’s sides; and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live music venue. The ship will also have more than 19,000 square feet dedicated to children and families. That will consist of Camp Carnival (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), a two-level miniature golf course, Carnival WaterWorks aqua park with water slides and attractions, an arcade and more.

Details and contest rules can be found on Carnival Magic’s website at carnivalmagic.com/contest.

Be sure and follow Cruise News Weekly on Facebook and Twitter as we sail on the Carnival Magic in early May, and look for a future review on these pages.

– Jackie Roseboom is a regular contributor to Cruise Guide, “Orlando Attractions Magazine” and CruiseNewsWeekly.com.

Carnival bolsters Canaveral sailings

Carnival will soon deploy three ships on a series of itineraries from Port Canaveral, Florida. In late fall look for Ecstasy, pictured here, to join Sensation and Dream. Image courtesy Carnival

By Michael Coleman

Carnival is poised to add another ship, year round, at Port Canaveral.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will operate four- and five-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast beginning Nov. 7, 2011. The move further bolsters Carnival’s position as Port Canaveral’s largest cruise operator with three, year-round ships scheduled to carry some 600,000 guests annually.



“In addition to offering a convenient departure point for millions of consumers in the southeastern U.S., along with attractive port facilities and excellent flight options into nearby Orlando, Port Canaveral is an extremely popular homeport and we’re excited to provide our guests with some fantastic new cruise choices from Central Florida,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. 
 


On the Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule, two different four-day itineraries will be offered along with two different five-day itineraries. 
 


Ecstasy will depart Thursdays on four-day ‘long weekend’ cruises visiting Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport. Five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West. 
 


From Port Canaveral, the line offers year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises aboard Carnival Sensation and seven-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages on Carnival Dream.

Prior to its repositioning, Ecstasy will continue to operate from Galveston, Texas through September 8, 2011 and then from New Orleans September 22 through November 5, 2011, as previously scheduled. 
 


Meanwhile, the company said this week Carnival Elation will reposition from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans to operate year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises beginning Nov. 5, 2011. On this route, four-day cruises will depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel, one of the Caribbean’s most popular ports, while five-day voyages will call at both Cozumel and Progreso.
 


Carnival Elation’s new schedule from New Orleans replaces the previously announced program from that port on the Carnival Ecstasy. 
 


Carnival Elation will join the Carnival Conquest in New Orleans, marking the first time Carnival has operated two ships from New Orleans in six years. Carnival will be the only cruise line with two ships based year-round in New Orleans, carrying more than 350,000 passengers annually. 
 


As a result of these deployment changes, Carnival will no longer be offering cruises from Mobile, Ala.

Student Center Opens

It was also a big week on the home front for Carnival. In Miami, the new Carnival Student Center opened at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Located adjacent to the campus’ bayside terrace, the modern facility encompasses more than 2,600 square feet and has been completely renovated and repurposed to create an attractive and inviting gathering place for students. 
 


With an advising center, reading room, computer workstations and fully-equipped conference rooms, a variety of groups and organizations, from students to industry executives scouting prospective interns and employees, can utilize the new multi-functional space. 
 


The Carnival Student Center was made possible by a gift to FIU which also includes an endowment for scholarships.

Carnival’s 22 ships operate three- to 16-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. The line currently has two new 130,000-ton ships on order — Carnival Magic, set to debut in Europe May 1, 2011, and Carnival Breeze, scheduled to enter service in spring 2012.

On the web: carnival.com

Princess honors MacLeod, preps for Royal Wedding

Television’s favorite captain, Gavin MacLeod, celebrated his 80th birthday aboard Golden Princess this week. The line made famous by the hit television show “The Love Boat’’, Princess Cruises will now wow a new generation of viewers April 29 when each ship in its fleet will broadcast live the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Image courtesy Princess Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Princess Cruises honored television’s most beloved captain, Gavin MacLeod, with a special 80th birthday party aboard Golden Princess this week in Los Angeles.

Crew members, along with his friends and family, sang “Happy Birthday” and presented him with a massive cake — a 5-foot-long, 3D replica of the original “Love Boat,” Pacific Princess.

MacLeod is perhaps best known for his role as “Captain Merrill Stubing” in the popular television series, The Love Boat. One of the longest running television shows in history, The Love Boat cruised through 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986 and is still in syndication in 92 countries worldwide. This year also marks MacLeod’s 25th anniversary serving as Princess Cruises’ spokesperson.

MacLeod’s impressive career spans television, theater and film. He spent seven years on the award-winning television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show as “Murray Slaughter,” the acid-tongued news writer. His other well-known television roles include “Happy” on McHale’s Navy and “Big Chicken” on Hawaii Five-O, and he has also appeared in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hogan’s Heroes, The Big Valley, Ironside, To Catch a Thief, Run For Your Life, Hotel and Murder She Wrote.

MacLeod’s film debut was in 1958 with Susan Hayward in the Oscar-winning film I Want to Live. His subsequent 35 film credits include Compulsion with Orson Welles, Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant, High Time with Bing Crosby, The Party with Peter Sellers, The Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen and Kelly’s Heroes with Clint Eastwood.

A Royal Onboard Affair

Meanwhile, the highly anticipated Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will be televised live on all Princess ships on April 29. Passengers will be able to follow along with full coverage of the pomp and majesty of the historic wedding through BBC World’s broadcast of the event.

Not only can passengers follow along as the future princess walks down the aisle, but they’ll enjoy viewing parties on board as they watch this royal event. BBC is the official wedding broadcaster and has exclusive access inside Westminster Abbey during the ceremony.

The onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

“As this is the first British royal wedding in years we know there will be wide interest among our passengers,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “We at Princess also feel a connection with Prince William because his mother, Princess Diana, christened our original Royal Princess back in 1984.”

Royal Wedding broadcasts are planned for all ships in the Princess fleet, subject to satellite availability. In some time zones the broadcast may be delayed for viewing at a convenient hour.

The Royal Wedding is one of several special events shown on the line’s Movies Under the Stars giant outdoor screens, including the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. The LED screens are more than 300 square feet in size with a 69,000-watt sound system and have sufficient lighting power to be seen clearly at mid-day and heard even while the ship is moving at full speed.

On the web: www.princess.com

Silver Whisper pegged for 2012 world cruise

The ultra-luxurious and recently refurbished 382-guest Silver Whisper will host Silversea Cruises world cruise in 2012. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard the luxurious 382-guest Silver Whisper this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

SPANISH TOWN, VIRGIN GORDA, B.V.I, March 10, 2011 — It should come as no surprise that the 382-guest Silver Whisper has been pegged by its owners to host their 2012 world cruise.

The Black Rock Grill, a convivial dining concept which enables guests to cook their preferences on heated lava rocks tableside under the stars on the pool deck, is but one culinary option aboard Silver Whisper. Image courtesy Silversea
Silversea Cruises’ intimate vessel, anchored here today in the midst of a 7-night Caribbean voyage, is aglow following a recent stem to stern makeover and may be more inviting than at any time in its 10-year-history of seamless, luxury globetrotting.

Guests will embark on the 115-night, Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo odyssey Jan. 16, 2012 discovering hidden jewels ranging from the Amazon and Africa to Asia and Arabia en route.

This is a cozy vessel oozing European charm and ambience and the onboard atmosphere here is relaxed and unpretentious.

Open bars, ocean view suites (most feature private teak deck verandas) complete with double vanities in the bathroom, walk-in wardrobe closets and separate sitting areas for entertaining or in-suite dining, will easily make for comfortable passage.

Butler service will be offered in every suite.

While the company’s six ships feature some 200 voyages to 450 destinations in more than 100 countries next year, across seven continents, it is Silver Whisper that has been pegged for the world adventure.

She will visit 45 ports in 27 countries stretching from the Caribbean and South America to Africa, the Far East, Arabia and Europe. Along the way guests will enjoy 13 overnight visits in various ports — look for such longer dalliances in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hong Kong; Shanghai; Bangkok; and Mumbai, India.

Silver Whisper’s cosmopolitan ambience and charm might best be reflected at La Terrazza, where breakfast, lunch and reservations-only dinner is served. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
While traversing the globe in pampered style, the ship’s culinary team will offer a host of choices in a number of venues to whet anyone’s gastronomic fancy. Dining options include The Restaurant, the ship’s main dining room (breakfast, lunch and dinner); La Terrazza (breakfast and lunch buffet, reservations-only Italian fare in the evening) and the reservation’s only Le Champagne, a specialty restaurant where dishes are expertly prepared and exclusive wines, paired with each course, flow freely.

Look for Silver Whisper to also offer a unique, under the stars dining experience on the pool deck. The Black Rock Grill, a convivial dining concept which enables guests to cook their preferences on heated lava rocks tableside, is perhaps the ship’s most casual and guiltiest of pleasures.

Rounding out the culinary component is grilled fare served daily on the pool deck, an elegant afternoon tea at 4 pm, and 24 hour room service.

Silver Whisper will spend the summer in Northern Europe and the fall foliage season in Canada and New England. In late fall she’ll return to the Caribbean and South America before ringing in the New Year with the commencement of her global journey.

Among the cozy bars aboard Silver Whisper, The Bar, is the place to see and be seen especially for pre-dinner cocktails.

Living the good life aboard Silver Whisper

Guests aboard Silver Whisper, presently in the midst of a week-long Caribbean journey, are enjoying the spoils of ultra-luxury travel at sea.
Images courtesy Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard the luxurious 382-guest Silver Whisper this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA, March 8, 2011 — The pampering began immediately.

Weary travelers boarding the 382-guest Silver Whisper, just a few short days ago in Barbados, were greeted by a smiling, receptive crew and a glass of perfectly-chilled champagne.

It’s been all uphill ever since.

Despite a visit yesterday to jet-set-friendly St. Bart’s, the gem of the Caribbean, it’s almost a wonder why anyone would even consider debarking Silver Whisper in the first place.

All 382 guests aboard the luxurious Silver Whisper enjoy butler service.
Each and every guest enjoys the spoils of butler service. I knew mine would be particularly efficient – and pleasant — the very moment we met given the fact his name is “Sunny’’. Breakfast served on a sun-drenched balcony, daily, is just one of many butler-assisted perks as is the prompt delivery of late afternoon canapés with a setting Caribbean sun as a backdrop.

And there’s more. Much more for those enjoying the spoils of this ship. From comfortable, spacious suites to world-class cuisine, Silver Whisper has been wowing guests first since 2001 and now since a recent, sparkling refurbishment.

There are 194 ocean-view suites ranging in size from 287 to 1,435 square feet and some 80 percent of all suites feature private teak balconies. Suites include twin-to-queen-sized beds, walk-in wardrobe closets, sitting areas with writing desks, dressing tables with hair dryers and plush robes and slippers. Italian marble bathrooms, complete with double basin vanities, feature choice of Salvatore Ferragamo, Bvlgari or Neutrogena bath amenities. Suites also include full baths and separate showers, refrigerators and cocktail bars, remote-controlled flat screen televisions with DVD and satellite reception, a personal safe, fresh fruit and flowers.

Idyllic St. Bart’s was one of several port calls this week aboard Silver Whisper. Guests are set to enjoy St. John’s, Antigua, today followed by calls on Marigot Bay, St. Martin; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
If one does venture away from his/her butler and the friendly confines of well-appointed suites, Silver Whisper will still pamper the mind, body and soul.

The Spa at Silversea, operated by Steiner, offers massages, facials, aroma stone therapy, teeth whitening and for those truly inclined a 150-minute anti-arthritic healing ceremony. Later, the ship’s sommelier might offer any number of complimentary wine selections pairing the best of the vine with a host of culinary options.

Taste buds, meanwhile, will not be ignored in the aptly-named The Restaurant, the ship’s main dining room, or in reservations-only La Terrazza (Italian fare) or Le Champagne, a specialty restaurant where one might indulge in a Relais & Chateaux lobster spectacle.

Guests have also been enjoying onboard boutique shopping, a beauty salon, fitness centre and sauna, production shows, casino, an Internet Café and WiFi service from stem to stern.

Lounging on comfortable pool-side chairs, where wait staff remember your name and perhaps more importantly your drink preference, has for years been a Silversea staple. As is the open bar concept, an essential component when island hopping under sunny skies here in the Caribbean.

In Port Today: Silver Whisper docked at sunset in Bridgetown, Barbados

Silversea’s Silver Whisper docked at sunset in Bridgetown, Barbados, Friday, March 4, 2011.

The 382-guest, ultra-luxurious vessel is in the midst of a seven-night Caribbean voyage. She calls on Castries, St. Lucia; Gustavia, St. Bart’s; St. John’s, Antigua; Marigot Bay, St. Martin; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship beginning next week.

Photo by Michael Coleman

Crystal Serenity to receive face-lift

By Michael Coleman

One of cruise travel’s most luxurious vessels is scheduled for a face-lift.
Crystal Cruises will be spending more than $25 million this spring to keep its largest ship, Crystal Serenity, on the cutting edge of luxury style.

Some 400 expert technicians flown from around the world, working round the clock for just 14 days, are scheduled for the massive redesign of her 531 deluxe staterooms, penthouses and penthouses suites; retail centers; expansive outdoor pool deck and other design projects during a May 8-22 dry dock at Hamburg’s Blohm + Voss shipyard.

“In the past two years, we have invested well over $50 million in our ships,” says Gregg Michel, president, Crystal Cruises.  The line also operates the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony.

“Our guests can look forward to dazzling new spaces, which will serve as a stunning  backdrop to the incomparable service and choices that always characterizes a Crystal vacation.”     

Interior designer, Keith Rushbrook, principal at the Toronto-based II BY IV Design Associates, summarized the vision: “We wanted modern classic elegance.  We wanted Fifth Avenue — crème de la crème New York-inspired living and retail spaces that people love and look forward to spending time in.”

All of the ship’s deluxe outside staterooms, penthouses, and penthouse suites will sport new, floor-to-ceiling tufted headboards, bedside cabinets, wallpaper, sofas, curtains, pillows, and custom carpets in contemporary lines and classic stone, silk, velvet, leather, and crisp linen textures.  New modern lighting features and electronic “do not disturb” and doorbell system will allow guests greater personalization of their home-away-from-home. 

Serenity’s retail shops will receive a similar, sophisticated metamorphosis.  The Facets fine jewelry store will mirror a jewelry box, with mother-of-pearl feature wall, beveled chrome vitrines, and new, private sales area.  The Apropos boutique will become three-shops-in-one, with a flagship Christian Dior cosmetic/skincare area showcased amongst rich Zebrano wood and herringbone rosewood, arresting black-plum-magenta carpeting, and tufted leather seating.

Inspired by Symphony’s recent transformation, the Seahorse Pool teak deck will be refashioned with circular pod beds, plush sofa groups, and lounge chairs in a kaleidoscope of lime green, azure, and mango.

The corridors throughout the ship will be transformed with new, custom carpeting, inspiring artwork, and mood lighting.  Dramatic new lighting will also be installed in the Crystal Dining Room, as will new furniture on all stateroom verandahs.

Following the dry dock, Serenity will embark on a series of Baltic, North Cape and British Isles cruises before heading to the Mediterranean for late summer and fall.