Follow us on the Carnival Magic during her inaugural cruise, May 1-10

Cruise News Weekly staff will be boarding the newest ship at sea next week and you can follow along on our social media sites.

We’ll be boarding the brand new Carnival Magic in Venice, Italy on Sunday, May 1 for a 9-night European cruise. Port stops include Messina, Civitavecchia/Rome, Livorno, Dubrovnik, Naples and Monaco. The cruise ends in Barcelona.

We’ll be posting live photos, information and videos (Internet connection willing) right from the ship throughout the cruise. Look for a full review in the coming weeks.

Here’s where you can find our updates.
Twitter: Twitter.com/cruiseguide
Facebook: Facebook.com/cruisenews

In addition to our coverage of the Magic, you can watch Carnival’s official videos of the christening and around the ship on their Facebook page. You can can also participate in a Facebook quiz based on their videos for a chance to win a seven-day Carnival Magic cruise for four to the Caribbean.

Watch Carnival Magic’s launch videos and enter to win a free cruise

Carnival Cruise Lines is inviting their Facebook fans to experience the excitement of Carnival Magic’s May 1 launch from Venice, Italy, with a series of videos that showcase the ship’s inaugural activities along with its many unique features. Then fans can participate in a Facebook quiz based on the videos for a chance to win a seven-day Carnival Magic cruise for four to the Caribbean.

A series of 11 videos will be posted every half hour between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time) on Sunday, May 1. The videos take viewers on a journey as they enjoy a front-row seat at the Carnival Magic’s naming ceremony, tour the ship’s bridge, and learn more about the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, WaterWorks aqua park, and Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant, with insight from company executives who helped create these exciting new spaces.

The videos also offer an in-depth look at the ship’s European ports of call and a recap of the day’s events, including a chat with the ship’s godmother, Lindsey Wilkerson, a former patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who now serves as an employee and an ambassador of the organization. Carnival Magic’s Senior Cruise Director John Heald will also answer questions submitted by Facebook fans as part of an informative “Ask John” segment.

“Only a handful of people get to witness a ship launch in person so by using Facebook we’re enabling fans from all over the world to be right there with us as we welcome Carnival Magic into the fleet,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s chief marketing officer. “Those who are not already among our 725,000 and growing Facebook fans can visit us at facebook.com/carnival and simply hit the “like” button.”

Fans can also follow Cruise News Weekly staff as they attend the inaugural activities and first sailing. Just visit Facebook.com/CruiseNews and click the “Like” button. You can also follow even more updates from May 1-10 on their Twitter account at Twitter.com/CruiseGuide.

The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic will spend its inaugural season in Europe with a series of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises operating May 1 through October 16, 2011. Following a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Magic will begin seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Galveston, Texas, on November 14, 2011, becoming the port’s largest year-round ship.

Carnival takes delivery of their Magic – All Carnival brands to celebrate on Friday

Carnival Corporation & plc added its 100th cruise ship to its fleet today with the delivery of the Carnival Magic. This photo illustration depicts the new vessel along with the company’s first ship, Mardi Gras which began service in 1972. At 130,000 gross tons, the Carnival Magic is almost five times the size of the Mardi Gras’ 27,250 tons.

Carnival Cruise Lines took delivery of the corporation’s 100th ship, the Carnival Magic, during a ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy today, where the vessel was built.

In recognition of this achievement, on April 29 all guests sailing aboard Carnival Corporation & plc’s 100 ships will enjoy a complimentary champagne toast at dinner to commemorate this historic and unprecedented milestone. All told, more than 227,000 guests across the company’s 10 cruise brands will participate in the toast, believed to be the largest celebration of its kind at sea.

Following the traditional maritime handover ceremony in Italy, Carnival Magic will debut on May 1 with a nine-day Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Barcelona. Prior to the departure of its inaugural voyage, the 130,000-ton vessel will be named by its godmother, Lindsey Wilkerson, a former patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who now serves as an employee and ambassador of the organization. The choice of Wilkerson as godmother is a tribute to Carnival’s ongoing partnership with St. Jude, one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

As the line’s newest ship, Carnival Magic will introduce a host of innovations, including the RedFrog Pub, a colorful Caribbean-inspired watering hole featuring its own private label draught beer; Cucina del Capitano, a family-style Italian restaurant that brings the heritage of Carnival’s captains to the table; and SportSquare, an expansive open-air recreation complex with the first ropes course and outdoor fitness area at sea.

Other features include a WaterWorks aqua park with a 312-foot-long spiral water slide and other attractions; The Lanai, a wraparound promenade with an outdoor barbeque area and whirlpools that extend out over the ship’s sides; and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue.

“With a combination of exciting new features such as the RedFrog Pub, SportSquare and Cucina del Capitano and other popular ‘Fun Ship’ amenities, Carnival Magic epitomizes our company’s continued commitment to providing our guests with fun, memorable vacations at an incredible value,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival Cruise Lines’ president and CEO.

Added Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation & plc’s chairman and CEO, “The delivery of a new cruise ship to one of our brands is always a proud and exciting moment,” said Arison. “It is particularly meaningful that delivery of Carnival Corporation & plc’s 100th ship is for the Carnival Cruise Lines brand, which provided the foundation upon which Carnival Corporation & plc was established and, ultimately, grew into the largest cruise operator in the world with 10 global brands.”

Following the May 1 inaugural voyage from Venice, Carnival Magic will sail a series of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean departures from Barcelona through Oct. 16, then reposition to Galveston, Texas, for year-round seven-day Caribbean departures beginning Nov. 14, becoming the largest ship ever based at the port year-round.

– Be sure to follow Cruise News Weekly from May 1-10 aboard the Carnival Magic. Updates will be posted on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Twitter.com/CruiseGuide
Facebook.com/CruiseNews

Enjoy culinary arts classes with celebrity chefs on Holland America

The Culinary Arts Center on Holland America ships offers cooking and beverage demos and hands on classes in the state-of-the-art show kitchens. For many sailings, celebrity chefs lead the demonstrations. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line.

By Jackie Roseboom

Michelle Bernstein, award-winning chef, restaurateur and culinary author, is scheduled to participate in the guest-enrichment program on the June 3, Mediterranean Romance Voyage aboard Holland America’s newest ship, ms Nieuw Amsterdam.

Bernstein sails on the 12-day voyage departing from Venice, Italy, to Barcelona, Spain. The ship will call at Catania, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kerkira (Corfu), Argostoli and Thira (Santorini), Greece. The voyage also features scenic cruising through the Strait of Messina, a narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria, Italy.

During the cruise, Chef Bernstein will perform cooking demonstrations for guests in the ship’s state-of-the-art show kitchen and participate in question and answer sessions.

The Culinary Arts Center and guest enrichment program are part of Holland America Line’s innovative and leading culinary initiatives, which also include a partnership with “Food & Wine” magazine, Le Cirque to present “An Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill” and a Culinary Council, comprised of renowned international chefs Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacques Torres, Charlie Trotter and the line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin. For a full list of guest chefs and more information about Holland America’s Culinary Arts Center program visit hollandamerica.com 

Chef Bernstein, a Miami native, was professional ballerina before realizing her true passion for cooking after taking a class on nutrition. She later enrolled in Johnson and Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts. After graduating, Bernstein trained under iconic French Chef Jean-Louis Palladin and began working with renowned chefs at several premier restaurants including Red Fish Grill, The Strand and Tantra in Miami Beach. Bernstein later served as lead chef at Azul, the Mandarin Oriental’s signature restaurant in Miami, where she became a force in the city’s burgeoning culinary movement. She later became a household name after serving as a judge on Bravo’s acclaimed “Top Chef” series. She also hosted the PBS series, “Check, Please!”

Bernstein co-hosted The Food Network’s “Melting Pot,” a show that presented the traditions, stories and recipes of her Latin background. She also was a competitor and winner on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” series. She has been featured in both “The New York Times” and “Bon Appétit” magazine for one of the “50 Best Dishes in the World” and in “Gourmet” and “Food & Wine” magazines, for one of the best hotel restaurants in the country. Her restaurant ventures include Michy’s and Sra. Martinez in Miami, MB in Cancun, Mexico, and Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy in Palm Beach, Fla.

Holland America Line’s Culinary Arts Center is featured on each of the line’s 15 ships. Each facility features a theater-style venue with two large plasma video screens and a large cooking display counter. For cruises that do not have a celebrity chef on board, classes and demonstrations are conducted by Holland America Line’s own expert chefs.

Note: Be sure to follow your Cruise Guide columnists as we report live from Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Magic, from May 1 to 10 in Europe. We’ll be reporting on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Visit CruiseNewsWeekly.com for links.

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

Cruise lines celebrating the royal wedding at sea

Royal Caribbean is offering royal wedding packages so you can feel like a prince or princess. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

By Jackie Roseboom

Many businesses are celebrating the Royal Wedding by offering their guests a viewing party and special offerings, and the cruise industry is no exception. From small viewing areas to lavish parties, it will all be available at sea.

Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean is celebrating the upcoming British royal wedding by offering an exclusive Royal Caribbean wedding package for couples looking to tie the knot at sea.

“Royal Caribbean’s full fleet of ships around the world will broadcast the royal wedding live so that guests may join in the ceremony’s excitement,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing. “Inspired by the pending royal nuptials, the Royal Wedding package and honeymoon registry offers guests the royal treatment on their special day and honeymoon cruise.”

The Royal wedding packages include an onboard symbolic wedding ceremony (due to the varying international legal restrictions). Royal Romance Wedding Coordinators will handle every detail so the couples’ special day is a truly regal experience including any legal requirements pre-departure.

Cunard

Cunard’s Royal Court Theatre is very fitting for watching Prince William marry Kate. Photo courtesy of Cunard
Guests onboard Cunard’s three ships — Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth need have no fear of missing one second of the historic union of the future King and Kate Middleton.

Queen Mary 2’s Royal Court Theatre seats over 1,000 guests, who will be able to watch events unfold in plush cinema comfort as the ship sails between New York and Southampton, on a seven-night Transatlantic Crossing (April 26 to May 2).
The Royal Court Theatres on the smaller Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria seat more than 800 passengers, and they too will be used to screen the Royal nuptials live. At the time Queen Elizabeth will be at sea heading for Southampton, and Queen Victoria will be at sea in the Mediterranean.

The day will also be one of celebration on all three Cunard ships, with that evening’s dinner featuring a commemorative menu and a champagne toast.

MSC
With the exception of MSC Sinfonia and Opera, which will not be sailing in European waters, the Royal Wedding will be broadcast in English across the MSC fleet. Bars on board will be serving a great selection of champagnes and prosecco together with a special commemorative Royal Cocktail (sparkling wine, cognac and grand marnier). Guests will be able to raise a glass – or two – to the happy couple.

NCL
The highly-anticipated event will be broadcast across Norwegian’s fleet of ships, with the exception of Norwegian Sky in the Bahamas. Guests will be able to watch the magic of the royal wedding on two-story big screens on Norwegian Pearl, Jewel, Jade, Gem and Epic, as well as in any of the line’s bars and lounges.
After the royal couple say their “I do’s,” guests can raise a toast to the newlyweds with champagne, gin and tonic or a pitcher of Pimm’s and attend street parties held in true British style, complete with music playing tribute to the Beatles. Special dining events will be held throughout the sailing including the Prince and Princess Brunch and an afternoon Royal High Tea.

Princess Cruise Line
Princess ships will be airing the Royal Wedding on the Movies Under the Stars giant screens. 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. 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.

Princess Cruise Line’s first Royal Princess cruise ship debuted in 1984 and was christened by HRH Princess Diana. The ship left the fleet in 2005, the name was passed to one of Princess’ small ships in 2007. This vessel is being transferred to a sister company at the end of April. The new Royal Princess cruise ship will be debuting in spring of 2013. We’ll be waiting in anticipation to see if Princess Kate will also christen the Royal Princess, as the beloved Princess Diana did.

Note: Be sure to follow your Cruise News Weekly columnists as we report live from Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Magic, from May 1 to 10 in Europe. We’ll be reporting from our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Disney Cruise Line unveils far-reaching 2012 itineraries

Image courtesy Disney Cruise Line — Disney Dream is shown at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island oasis in the Bahamas. With the commissioning of Dream in January 2011 and Disney Fantasy in spring 2012, Disney Cruise Line is doubling its fleet, increasing capacity to two-and-a-half times that of Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, and expanding itineraries to include Alaska, Europe, the Mexican Riviera and multiple stops at Castaway Cay.

By Michael Coleman

Disney’s pixie dust is spreading.

Disney Cruise Line has unveiled new itineraries and will set sail from three new ports in 2012 — New York, Seattle and Galveston — making the Disney family cruise vacation experience more accessible to potential passengers than ever before.

In Florida, sister-ships Disney Fantasy (to debut in March, 2012) and Disney Dream (unveiled earlier this year) will sail a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian itineraries departing from Port Canaveral.

The 4,000-passenger Fantasy will depart on her maiden voyage March 31, 2012, and will sail out of Port Canaveral on seven-night Caribbean itineraries — alternating eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings in November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All Disney Fantasy itineraries include a visit at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. The 4,000-passenger Dream, meanwhile, will sail three-, four- and five-night cruises from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay while five-night itineraries include two stops at Castaway Cay.

Beginning May 25, 2012, the 2,700-passenger Disney Magic will sail a total of 20 cruises from New York — including eight-night cruises to the Bahamas and five-night cruises up the New England coast to Canada plus three, two-night quick-getaway cruises (June 15, July 13, August 10). The eight Bahamas cruises will include a day at Castaway Cay and a stop at Port Canaveral, giving guests an opportunity to visit the nearby Walt Disney World Resort. As part of this itinerary, each guest will receive one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and roundtrip transportation between their Disney ship and the resort. The nine five-night New England/Canada cruises will call at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick. In these popular Canadian ports, guests can soak in splendid natural vistas, explore historic sites, visit quaint cafes and charming shops, and browse Canada’s oldest farmer’s market.

Beginning Sept. 22, 2012, Magic will sail 12 seven-night cruises from the Port of Galveston to the Western Caribbean. Ports of call include Grand Cayman and Mexico’s Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Meanwhile, beginning May 28, 2012, the 2,700-passenger Disney Wonder is Alaska-bound as she will sail a total of 14 seven-night cruises from the Port of Seattle to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. She will then sail seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from the Port of Los Angeles for the majority of the year — throughout winter, spring and fall. Look also for Wonder to sail four seven-night Pacific Coast cruises from Los Angeles (Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7), calling on San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.

And, for the first time, Wonder will offer a special 15-night voyage to Hawaii from Los Angeles, calling on Hilo; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili, Kauai and Ensenada, Mexico. The Hawaiian departure begins April 29, 2012.

On the web: www.disneycruise.com

Gauguin offers 20-night South Pacific hotel/cruise package

Image courtesy Paul Gauguin — The intimate, 332-guest Paul Gauguin, a leader in luxury cruise travel in the South Pacific since 1998, is offering a 20-night hotel/cruise package in January, 2012.

By Michael Coleman

The intimate 332-guest Paul Gauguin, fresh from a $25 million makeover, is offering a 20-night hotel/cruise package January 23, 2012 featuring nine distinctive islands in five South Pacific archipelagos.

The line’s “South Pacific Discovery’’ cruise will call on Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Cook and Society Islands.

Guests will enjoy three days at leisure in Sydney, Australia’s oldest and largest city, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Guests will then fly to Brisbane to board the Gauguin en route to New Caledonia, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga, ending in French Polynesia. The line is offering complimentary air from Los Angeles.

Among the voyage highlights:
Noumea, New Caledonia: This capital city has been named the “Paris of the Pacific” due to its French ambience, heritage and culture; Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji: The largest of the island chain is comprised of high mountains, lush vegetation, plus pristine white-sand beaches; Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji:

Once a bustling trading port, this Fijian village is now known for its geothermal hot springs; Vava’u Tonga: Never colonized by Europeans, this South Pacific nation maintains a strong Polynesian culture. Crystal clear waters and high mountain tops offer unparalleled views of the Tonga islands; Aitutaki, Cook Islands: Consisting of three volcanoes and 12 coral islets, this island offers beautiful coral reefs and a pristine lagoon. Aitutaki is nearly flat, affording ocean views from virtually any point on the island.

The ship will also sail to Taha’a where guests will visit Motu Mahana, Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private island featuring white-sand beaches with swaying palms, crystal-clear waters and gentle breezes. A Polynesian barbeque lunch and local entertainment will be offered; Bora Bora: Guests will have the opportunity to view the famous marine life or relax on a beautiful, private beach off the coast; Moorea: The lush scenery features green vegetation, an abundance of fresh fruit and flowers, spectacular mountain peaks and palm-fringed beaches.

Aboard Gauguin, guests enjoy a relaxed and elegant setting in which to enjoy the amenities of the award-winning, newly refurbished ship. Look for onboard lectures, SCUBA diving lessons, local entertainment and excellent cuisine.

The Gauguin has completed more than 570 South Pacific cruises and has served more than 155,000 guests, including more than 14,000 honeymooners, since its inaugural sailing in 1998.

On the web: www.pgcruises.com