Disney’s Fantasy to live up to its name

Animator's Palate on the Disney Fantasy brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room with a new show. The dinner show allows families to create and participate in a whole new way. Guests‚ drawings are magically animated to skip, skate and dance side-by-side with Disney characters. Image courtesy Disney Cruise Line

By Michael Coleman

Disney Fantasy, the new Disney Cruise Line ship set to debut next spring, will bring to life many of the innovative features guests have been enjoying aboard the recently launched Disney Dream including AquaDuck – the world’s first shipboard water coaster.

New design elements and guest experiences, however, will give the Fantasy an identity all its own.

Fantasy is the second of two newly-designed Disney Cruise Line ships that take the family cruise experience to new heights. Sister ship to the Dream, which entered service in January 2011, the 4,000-passenger Fantasy will sail week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral with its maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.

Animation Magic
Animator’s Palate on the Fantasy brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room with a new show called “Animation Magic.” The dinner show celebrates the magic of Disney animation and allows families to create and participate in a whole new way.

Nighttime Fun
On the Fantasy, adult guests step into a world that’s all their own at Europa — a nighttime entertainment district exclusively for guests 18 and older that features sophisticated bars and trendy lounges inspired by the very best in European travel.

Aladdin Debuts at Sea
A new ship means new main stage entertainment at the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. New to Disney Cruise Line, “Disney’s Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular” takes the stage on Fantasy. During this Broadway-style production, guests laugh along with the wise-cracking Genie and the cast from the classic animated Disney film, “Aladdin.”

Fairy Tales Alive
At Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the Fantasy, aspiring young princesses and pirates receive the full fairy tale treatment with pixie-dusted and piratical makeovers at this very special salon.

On the web: www.disneycruise.com

Carnival Magic makes her debut in Europe

Little kids and big kids alike will love the Waterworks area. Get dumped on by hundreds of gallons of water, then go down one of three large slides. Carnival Magic has their longest twister waterslide of any ship.



By Jackie Roseboom

Living up to her name, the christening of the brand new Carnival Magic was indeed magical.

The ceremony took place onboard while in port in Venice, Italy. Carnival’s CEO appeared out of nowhere on stage in a helicopter to start the festivities. The sailing away party, with breathtaking views of Venice was a perfect way to start off a first cruise on a brand new ship.

The ship’s Godmother, Lindsey Wilkerson, was diagnosed with cancer as a child. She credits her survival to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is dedicated to raising funds for St. Jude to ensure more children are helped the way she was. Carnival has taken a pledge to raise three million dollars in three years for St. Jude. On each cruise there is a “Groove for St. Jude” dance party/fundraiser.

In addition to the parties, there are so many fun activities onboard. On Carnival’s new fun ship you can climb high and mighty on the new Sky Course. The views from this rope course on the top deck are amazing as you test your tightrope walking skills (while being tethered to a safety line). The Sports Square features a miniature golf course, a billiards table, foosball, ping-pong and outdoor workout equipment. There is also an area up top to play basketball and many other sports. The oversize board games are also a big hit.

The full service Cloud 9 Spa supplies everything you will possibly need to relax and rejuvenate. The gym classes and equipment are top notch and the spas’ thermal suites are not to be missed. They consist of heated lounge chairs, different kinds of steam rooms and a large, wonderful hot tub with a view! Here’s a little hint: to add to experience, get the custom scrub while you are in the steam room. It will leave your skin baby soft and it’s only about $9 extra. It’s the perfect thing to add to your spa treatment.

There is no shortage of dining options and nightlife on the Carnival Magic. Of course, there’s the “always aimed to please” the main dining rooms, but the Lido deck has many different options to choose from, including tandoori, sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs, pizza, a burrito bar, Mongolian wok and so much more. The new Cucina Del Capitano is an extra fee Italian restaurant by night and a free made to order pasta bar by day. The Prime Steakhouse also has an extra fee, but it is so worth it due to the mouth-watering steaks.

The fun new hangout onboard is the RedFrog Pub. It’s Carnival’s first ever pub. It has a comfortable neighborhood bar feel with a Caribbean flair. There’s an extra cost of $3.33 for each of the yummy things on the menu. You’ll probably want to try the Thirsty Frog Red. This house brew is made just for the pub and isn’t available anywhere else. It sold out on the first cruise and they had to ship some more in. There’s live music nightly and a fun outside area. In addition to the Red Frog for nightlife, there are also lounges, a piano bar, karaoke with a live band and dancing. Of course the shows in the Showtime Theater are something to see and don’t forget the big-screen movie on the pool deck. Kids, and kids-at-heart will love the three water slides and large water dump bucket and splash play area. With all this, you’ll have a hard time being bored, but if that’s what you’re looking for, the Serenity deck is perfect place to unwind with its soft lounge chairs and inviting hammocks.

The cabins onboard the Carnival Magic are very comfortable and available for most sizes and budgets. The Carnival Magic will be sailing the Mediterranean for the summer and in the Caribbean, sailing out of Galveston for the winter. The Magic’s sister ships are the Dream, which debut in 2010, and the Breeze, which launches in 2012.

For more information go to carnival.com

Here’s video of the naming ceremony:

Media darling, Grand Princess, transformed

Image courtesy Princess Cruises — Grand Princess, formerly the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuted in 1998, has just received a masterful facelift.

By Michael Coleman

A Princess cruise ship, formerly the largest cruise ship in the world, has a new distinction.

Following the most extensive drydock in Princess Cruises history, Grand Princess has emerged from a 24-day, transformational drydock.

The vessel even became a media star as the line posted daily video updates on the work in progress which attracted more than a half million views. The Grand Princess Drydock Journal captured the dramatic process with 26 video updates plus more than 300 photos of the daily progress during the effort in a Bahamian shipyard, including the removal of Skywalkers nightclub from the ship’s stern and the complete demolition and rebuilding of the atrium to create the new Piazza. Hosted by Grand Princess Cruise Director Martyn Moss, the video series delved behind the scenes with reports on all aspects of the drydock process.

The video journal also offered different perspectives on the project with interviews of key players in the revitalization, including the ship’s Captain Tony Herriott and Chief Technical Officer Gilberto Vinci, plus Senior Vice President of Technical Services John Gunner and Project Manager Steve Storey, who explained what it takes to coordinate 1,400 contractors working around the clock. The videos also shared such tidbits as the time it took to cut Skywalkers from the ship (10 hours) and the amount of new carpeting installed (about 50 square miles).

“This drydock has been a monumental effort, and we’re very proud of the teamwork by everyone involved to create this sparkling ‘new’ ship ready to start a season of Europe sailings,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “We know our passengers will appreciate the updated décor, fresh new feel, and especially all the wonderful added features.”

Now that the ship has been transformed, passengers will find a completely new Piazza atrium, several new eateries — including Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the Crown Grill — and the line’s first specialty tea lounge called Leaves. Also included in the renovation were seven new window suites; remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner’s Martini Lounge. A new nightclub, The One5, replaced Skywalkers.

The drydock video journal covered nearly every area involved in the refurbishment project, including work on the underside of the ship, upholstery work, engine control room, new shore power connection, lifeboat updates, new speakers for Movies Under the Stars, mural painting, theater renovations, and a report from the executive chef who was responsible for feeding all the contractors.

Grand Princess debuted in 1998 as the then-largest cruise ship in the world. She will homeport this summer in Southampton, England, offering a series of European voyages.

Princess, one of the best-known names in cruising, operates a fleet of 16 ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities. The line carries some 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from seven to 107 days.

On the web: www.princess.com

Silversea renames expedition ship

Image courtesy Silversea Cruises — The Prince Albert II expedition ship is being renamed the Silver Explorer by parent company, luxury operator Silversea Cruises.

By Michael Coleman

Silversea Cruises is renaming its globetrotting expedition ship.

The ultra-luxury cruise operator is changing the name of its Prince Albert II expedition vessel to Silver Explorer.

The change will occur later this month while the vessel is in dry dock at the Lisnave shipyard in Setubal, Portugal, undergoing routine maintenance prior to commencing a summer program of Northern Europe and Arctic voyages.

“Our expansion into adventure travel has turned out quite successful and we have to prepare for the possibility of adding more ships,” said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea’s chairman. “To reinforce the Silversea luxury brand image for the expedition segment, we decided to change the name of our first expedition ship to Silver Explorer and anticipate any future expedition ships will bear similar names that evoke a sense of luxurious adventure.”

Lefebvre added, “It has been an absolute privilege to have a ship in our fleet named in tribute to His Serene Highness Prince Albert II. We will continue to honor his legacy of exploration and environmental conservation through our support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and look forward to hosting future onboard fundraising events to benefit the Foundation’s projects.”

The company is committed to raising awareness of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection of the global environment. Its focus is on three major challenges: climate change and developing renewable energies; the loss of biodiversity; improving universal access to clean water and fighting desertification. For more information, visit www.fpa2.com.

Silver Explorer offers full-scale exploring from an ultra-luxury base at sea, in true Silversea style. With the largest average size accommodations of any expedition ship, guests enjoy spacious, ocean-view accommodations (many with French balconies or large private verandas), butler service, gourmet cuisine, warm hospitality and personalized service (with a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly one to one).

Look also for Silversea’s generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary beverages, bottled water, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, 24-hour room service, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet and all gratuities.

The Lloyd’s Register 1A ice-rated vessel explores the world from top to bottom, including Central and South America and Africa.

The company also operates five other intimate, all-suite vessels. Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit. Company itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, both polar regions and some 450 destinations in between.

On the web: www.silversea.com