China, Asia-Pacific region beckon Voyager of the Seas

Voyager of the Seas, one of the world’s largest and amenity-filled cruise ships, is spending time this summer in the Mediterranean (shown here docked this week in Dubrovnik, Croatia) but it’s on to China and the emerging Asia-Pacific market next summer.

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, Italy — July 30, 2011 – The largest cruise ship in the world, just a decade ago, is set to make a big splash in the world’s largest market.

Voyager of the Seas, the globe’s most innovative cruise ship when it was launched in Nov. 1999 and which spawned the large cruise ship building boom in the 2000s, is presently in the midst of a series of Mediterranean cruises.

In June 2012, however, the 3,114-passenger vessel will arrive in Shanghai to offer four-to 10-night itineraries to a huge new market and while the ship’s iconic rock climbing wall and onboard ice skating rink will remain — Voyager was the first vessel of any kind to introduce such amenities at sea — look for Royal Caribbean to customize shipboard products and services for the new market, including more Chinese language services, authentic Chinese food and culturally appropriate recreational activities and duty-free items.

The move, according to company officials, is designed to offer not only exciting new cruise experiences to Chinese vacationers but to also attract cruise guests from around the world to visit China and Asia.

Spanning 14 passenger decks and with some 1,557 staterooms, the 137,276 ton vessel will sail to Shanghai from Europe and offer a variety of port calls in China, Japan and Korea until August, including Fukuoka and Kobe in Japan, and Busan and Jeju in Korea.

The ship will introduce several unique concepts never before seen at sea in Asia, among them: The Royal Promenade, an indoor “main street” stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship, lined with places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained; “Studio B” Ice Rink, an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a cozy, 700-seat venue for ice show productions with world-class figure skaters; 11 dining venues include specialty restaurant “Portofino” for classic Italian fine dining, 50’s inspired American diner “Johnny Rockets”, plus Voyager’s most stunning eatery, its grand, three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room.

The ship will depart Singapore for Sydney, Australia, in late October 2012 for a series of Down Under voyages before returning to Singapore and the Asian market in March, 2013.

The move is a part of Royal Caribbean’s growing, global marketing strategy. Royal Caribbean owns/operates over 40 ships under respective Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara Club Cruises and other European banners and expects to host some 5 million passengers worldwide in 2012.

Voyager of the Seas dazzles a decade later

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, Italy, July 29, 2011 – Voyager of the Seas, a marvel of engineering, foresight and ingenuity, still shines bright just over a decade after her launch.

Among 11 dining venues onboard, none matches the grandeur of Voyager of the Seas’ 1,919-seat main dining room. Image Courtesy Royal Caribbean
Once the world’s largest cruise ship — it took three years and some 10 million man hours to build before it debuted in Nov. 1999 — the amenity-filled vessel which first introduced a rock climbing wall and ice skating rink at sea remains a timeless vacation haven.

It spawned an unprecedented building boom in new, large cruise ship construction — five other Royal Caribbean fleet mates alone are larger today — but the 3,114-pasenger, 137,276 ton ship was ultimately the blueprint for which others followed.

Spanning 14 passenger decks and with some 1,557 staterooms, the large ship still features plenty of charm and there’s no shortage of things to keep passengers occupied from dawn to dusk.

There’s the Royal Promenade, an indoor “main street” stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship, lined with places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained; “Studio B” Ice Rink, an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a cozy, 700-seat venue for ice show productions with world-class figure skaters; and 11 dining venues including specialty restaurant “Portofino” for classic Italian fine dining, a 50’s inspired American diner “Johnny Rockets”, plus Voyager’s most stunning eatery, its grand, three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room.

Portofino’s aboard Voyager of the Seas offers fine Italian dining. Image Courtesy Michael Coleman

Sports facilities onboard include the line’s signature rock-climbing wall, an inline skating track, a nine-hole mini golf course, a golf simulator, a sports court, three swimming pools and six whirlpools.

Royal Caribbean’s iconic rock climbing wall was first introduced aboard Voyager of the Seas. Image Courtesy Royal Caribbean

Passengers aboard her Mediterranean voyages this summer are also enjoying the cruise line’s signature Viking Crown Lounge, the Schooner Bar, Casino Royale, a 1,400-square meter Voyager Day Spa & Fitness Center and in the evenings they are treated to Royal Caribbean Productions’ award-winning Broadway-style musical revues.

Younger guests, meanwhile, are being entertained and enlightened in the cruise line’s award-winning Adventure Ocean and teen programs, with scheduled activities led by college-graduate counselors beginning from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Careful kids, Mum and Dad might still be awake!

Voyager of the Seas fun family diner and a great place to grab a burger. Image Courtesy Michael Coleman

Follow us in the Mediterranean aboard Voyager of the Seas

By Michael Coleman

Royal Caribbean’s 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas is in the midst of a 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean journey from Venice, Italy, this week. Just over a decade ago it was the largest cruise ship in the world. Today, five other ships within the Royal Caribbean fleet alone are larger, but Voyager at 137,276 tons revolutionized the cruise industry, paved the way for today’s mammoth vessels, and she is poised to once again make history.

Celebrity Silhouette indulges the soul – ‘The Alcoves’ generating a buzz

The City of Hamburg, Germany, provided the backdrop this week for the launch of Celebrity Cruises’ latest vessel, the 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette. It’s the fourth new ship launch for Celebrity in as many years. Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises

By Michael Coleman

HAMBURG, GERMANY, Friday, July 22, 2011 — Among the host of soul-stirring indulgences afforded passengers aboard the new Celebrity Silhouette, few compare to the luxurious cabana setting unveiled aboard the vessel here this week.

The ship, like her sisters Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse, oozes sophistication and warmth, no easy task when building a 2,886-passenger vessel.

The Lawn Club aboard Celebrity Silhouette features a number of eye-popping amenities, among them: real grass, a grill, plus eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves”. Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises
And, while she boasts a series of nuances not found on her sisters – a Lawn Club Grill; The Porch, a casual outdoor dining locale; The Hideaway, a relaxation area with seating reminiscent of a childhood tree house; and even an Art Studio where passengers can participate in hands-on courses — it’s the eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves” situated on real grass high above the sea, no less, which is generating a buzz.

Designed to allow for relaxation and seclusion within a hip ambience, just steps from the lively vibe of the Lawn Club and Lawn Club Grill, the chic cabanas comfortably accommodate two to four guests each.

Just steps from the Lawn Club, perched high atop Deck 15, is the Lawn Club Grill aboard Celebrity Silhouette. Passengers can select and grill their own meats side-by-side with Celebrity’s chefs — a cruise line first at sea - or have them cooked to order. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
Alcove guests enjoy views of the lawn and sea; ambient mood lighting for cozy, romantic evenings; complimentary amenities including a fresh fruit plate, hand-held fans, chilled towels, four bottles of water, and all-day use of an iPad loaded with a variety of music, movies, games and magazines.

Additionally, fresh, themed picnic baskets with selections from Silhouette’s three specialty restaurants, as well as a la carte beverages, are available for an additional charge, and just a phone call away via the ship’s dedicated Alcove attendant. Wine and cheese evenings under the stars can also be arranged.

The Alcoves can even be booked online via Celebrity’s website either for full-day — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. – or entire voyage rentals. Rates are $99 per Alcove per day on days in port, and $149 per day on days at sea. Special values are available for guests who book one of The Alcoves for several days or for an entire cruise.

Adjacent to The Alcoves, guests will find eight inviting hammocks and two whimsical, oversized Adirondack chairs, each offering complimentary, additional opportunities to relax amidst the atmosphere of the lawn and sea.

In addition to her innovative new venues and experiences, Silhouette also offers many of the attributes found on each of her sisters:
– The hip “Celebrity iLounge” that made Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first Authorized Apple Reseller

High-tech and food-as-theater combine for a memorable culinary experience in Qsine aboard Celebrity Silhouette. It’s the first restaurant at sea to feature a menu and wine list on an iPad. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
– Uniquely unordinary “Qsine,” the first seagoing restaurant to feature a menu and wine list on an iPad, plus an engaging food-as-theater dining experience
– Ten unrivaled restaurants – in addition to the Lawn Club Grill and The Porch
– Modern, stylish interiors
– Trendy nightclubs and lounges, including CellarMasters, complete with the industry’s first installation of the innovative Enomatic wine serving system
– A broad wine selection served by one of the world’s largest staffs of certified sommeliers
– One of the world’s largest permanent collections of original contemporary art, and the industry’s first self-guided art tours to be presented on an iPad
– Top-tier entertainment, including custom aerial production shows and live music
Silhouette, which will spend the summer here in Europe, begins Caribbean voyages from New York/New Jersey in the fall.

The paint is barely dry aboard the vessel yet company officials are already gearing up for the launch of yet another sister-ship, Celebrity Reflection, set to debut in fall 2012.

On the web: celebritycruises.com

Celebrity Silhouette features a host of new amenities compared to her sisters - Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse — including a Lawn Club Grill; eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves”; “The Porch,” a casual outdoor dining locale; “The Hideaway”, a relaxation area with seating reminiscent of a childhood tree house; and a new Art Studio where passengers can participate in hands-on courses in beading, sculpting, painting and more led by professional artists. Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises

New Ship Launch: Chic Silhouette sparkles

The 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette debuted today in Hamburg, Germany. The outdoor Lawn Club Grill on Deck 15, just steps from the real grass growing beneath your toes, is sure to be a hit with passengers. Photos by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

HAMBURG, GERMANY: Thursday, July 21, 2011 — It may very well be Celebrity Cruises’ finest hour.

Today, here in this industrial port city, the chic 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette debuted, slightly overshadowing her impressive sisters — Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse – each launched in successive years since 2008.

The new ship sparkles with the best features from her sisters plus trendy changes to Celebrity’s iconic Lawn Club, a Deck 15 refuge complete with real grass under your toes where one can celebrate the flavorful joys of outdoor grilling or unwind in a cabana-style haven.

The Alcoves, one of eight cabana-styled havens aboard Celebrity Silhouette, is situated front and center on Deck 15’s Lawn Club.
Passengers at the interactive Lawn Club Grill can select and grill their own meats side-by-side with Celebrity’s chefs — a cruise line first at sea – or have them cooked to order. New, too, are eight, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas dubbed “The Alcoves” for the ultimate in at-sea relaxation plus, steps away, look for the “The Porch,” a breezy, casual dining spot offering sandwiches, coffees and captivating views during breakfast and lunch hours.

Inside Silhouette you might want to take a culinary adventure in Qsine, one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, where you order food and wine from an iPad menu; enjoy an intimate, quiet space – “The Hideaway” – reminiscent of a childhood tree house; or taste some 50 beers from around the world in “Michael’s Club.”

Celebrity Silhouette’s Lawn Club features, among a host of outdoor delights, these oversized chairs.
There’s even a new “Art Studio” onboard where passengers can bring out their inner artist by participating in hands on courses in beading, sculpting, painting and more led by professional artists.

Tonight, Michelle Morgan, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, will officially christen Silhouette as the ship’s Godmother.

Following today’s unveiling, Silhouette will set sail from Hamburg, Saturday, on a seven-night cruise to Civitavecchia (Rome), where the ship will then feature roundtrip 12-night Mediterranean/Holy Land sailings until November when she will offer Caribbean cruises from the New York/New Jersey market.

On the web: celebritycruises.com

– Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman will take a closer look at Celebrity’s new masterpiece here in this space tomorrow.

The spacious Celebrity Silhouette pool deck features plenty of room to enjoy a dip or relaxing time in one of four hot tubs.

Royal Caribbean planing a fleet wide ship revitalization

Some of the best features in dining, technology, staterooms and more on the Oasis-class ships will be added to Royal Caribbean's whole fleet of ships over the next couple of years. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Jackie Roseboom

Royal Caribbean has announced it will bring the latest innovations to all their ships and introduce the highest guest-rated programs from its Oasis-class ships. Coming soon at are a variety of new onboard dining and entertainment options, pervasive Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations and more.

“The Royal Advantage revitalizations takes many of the best features that we have created in recent years and introduces them across our fleet, offering our guests enhanced vacation choices around the world,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “We never stop trying to make the experience even better, and no other cruise line can offer the same high quality vacation experience with such an array of choices that cater to every guest.”

The Royal Advantage revitalizations began with Radiance of the Seas in May, and will be followed by Splendour of the Seas in November. In 2012, revitalizations are scheduled for Vision-class ships including Rhapsody of the Seas (March 2012) and Grandeur of the Seas (May 2012) as well as Radiance-class Serenade of the Seas (November 2012).

The revitalized Grandeur will offer vacationers seven-night Western Mediterranean or 10- and 11-night Greece and Turkey itineraries from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Venice, respectively, in summer 2012. Moreover, the newly revitalized Rhapsody and Radiance will offer vacationers additional dining and entertainment options for a cruise in Alaska in summer 2012 or Australia and New Zealand in winter 2012-13.

Among the revitalizations and enhancements to the Vision-, Voyager- and Radiance-class ships throughout the next three years, will be:

– New Technology: Guests will enjoy pervasive Wi-Fi, interactive flat-panel televisions in staterooms and electronic mustering.

– Digital Wayfinding Systems:  Onboard activities, real time updates, customized directions and routing, as well as ship factoids will all be at guests’ fingertips with new touch screen signs prominently placed throughout each of the ships.

– Outdoor Video Walls: Oversized video screens will be installed on the pool decks to liven up outdoor entertainment and programming.

– Royal Babies and Tots Nursery: Fun, safe and interactive vacation environments for babies and tots ages six through 36 months will be available in nurseries designed just for them.

– New Staterooms: New levels of accommodations will be added.

– Various Dining Options: Dining options from the extravagant Chef Table to the fun casual Boardwalk Doghouse (hot dogs stand) and many more.

Each ship will enter dry dock for approximately a month and re- emerge as better versions of the ships that guests love, complete with new dining venues, entertainment options, technology enhancements and more.

For more information visit royalcaribbean.com

NCL to offer pizza delivery 24/7

Passengers aboard any one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 11 ships will soon be able to order pizza 24/7.

By Michael Coleman

You’ll have to book a cruise to enjoy it but Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week it will now offer pizza delivery service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fleet-wide.

Presently offered only aboard the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Epic, “Pizza 24/7’’ is scheduled to roll out to the eight ships departing from U.S. ports throughout July and then in Europe to Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun in August.

“Our guests have deemed the 24-hour pizza delivery onboard Norwegian Epic a popular addition to our innovative freestyle dining options,” said Michael Flesch, Norwegian’s senior vice president of hotel operations.

“We wanted to make it easy and convenient for our guests to enjoy a delicious pizza any time on our ships, whether it’s during a game of bowling, watching a movie in the Atrium or in the comfort of their stateroom.”

The tasty, 16-inch handmade, stone-baked pizzas are $5 each and are available with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce; pepperoni; or vegetarian with roasted peppers, mushrooms, red onions and mozzarella cheese.

NCL has also just rolled out Epic’s room service menu across the fleet with popular breakfast items, assorted soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and kid’s menu items. Room service is complimentary throughout the day except from midnight to 5 a.m. when an overnight surcharge of $3.95 is charged per order. Guests who order only beverages or pizza delivery will not be assessed the fee.

Epic debuted in June 2010. The Company has two 4,000-passenger vessels on order for delivery in spring 2013 and spring 2014.

NCL is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, appearing for the first time at sea on Epic, as well as the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, Gibson Guitar, and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids. Cirque Dreams & Dinner is also featured aboard Epic as the first show of its kind at sea under a big top.

On the web: www.ncl.com

Celebrity Silhouette completes tight squeeze

Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises — Celebrity Silhouette has just completed what will likely be her toughest voyage. The new, 2,886-passenger, multi-million dollar vessel departed for open seas earlier this week from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany but first had to complete a 26-mile navigation of the River Ems where, in some cases, she had less than five feet of room to maneuver. Adding to the marvel of modern technology, the vessel’s captain guided Silhouette along the river in reverse.

By Michael Coleman

The shiny new Celebrity Silhouette will welcome passengers for the first time later this month in Germany but that’s the easy part for one of the world’s premium cruise lines.

Silhouette departed the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany for open seas this week but not before completing a 26-mile navigation of the River Ems where she had less than five feet of room to maneuver at certain points.

Adding to the drama as the multi-million-dollar vessel inched its way along the river: Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis guided the ship in reverse.

Preparations for the journey — termed a ‘Conveyance’— included the removal of power lines and railway tracks that normally pass over the river to allow the ship to traverse through. The journey was also precisely timed to take place at high tide to ensure ample depth beneath the hull and when weather conditions were calm enough to avert the possibility of wind causing the ship to run aground.

The route along the River Ems included various locks and other tight squeezes, even traveling on an aqueduct over an autobahn. The vessel cruised at less than four miles per hour.

After finishing work is completed in Emshaven, the Netherlands, the 2,886-passenger Silhouette will sail to Hamburg where it will be named during formal ceremonies on July 21.

The vessel is the fourth of five stylish Solstice-Class ships from Celebrity — Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse preceded her – and she boasts a number of exclusive new features, including the Lawn Club Grill, the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill; The Hideaway, a high-tech location reminiscent of a childhood tree house for guests to relax inside; The Alcoves, luxurious, private cabanas overlooking the ship’s lawn on the top deck amidst spectacular views of the sea; and the Art Studio, a space where experienced and aspiring artists can participate in hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, beading, sculpting and painting.

The ship will also feature top-tier designer boutiques, exclusive restaurants and the hip Celebrity iLounge, offering guests classes on the use of iPads and iPhones, among other products, which also are available for sale onboard.

When the christening ceremonies are completed, Silhouette will sail from Hamburg to Rome where she will offer 12-night roundtrip cruises to the Holy Land through the summer. Look for 12-night Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Cape Liberty, NJ, beginning in November.

One of the world’s top premium cruise lines, Celebrity sails to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Galapagos Islands. The line also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America.

One of the fastest-growing major cruise lines in the world, Celebrity’s fleet consists of nine ships, with one additional Solstice-Class ship (Celebrity Reflection) scheduled to sail in the fall of 2012.

On the web: www.celebritycruises.com