Recalling Queen Mary’s Maiden Arrival in New York

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When Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 sails into New York harbour on Saturday 1 June, at the conclusion of her current Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton, she will arrive on the 77th anniversary of the maiden call of the original Queen Mary in New York in 1936.

Queen Mary’s Maiden Voyage began in Southampton on 27 May 1936 when she departed to the sounds of gleeful bands and ecstatic crowds. On board were the famous bandleader, Henry Hall, scheduled to give a series of live radio broadcasts during the Crossing; the virtuoso harmonica player, Larry Adler; and well-known singer, Frances Day, who performed a song written especially for Queen Mary by Henry Hall. Interestingly, Miss Day was doubtful of the ship’s ability to provide fresh eggs throughout the voyage, and so brought along her own chickens.

Seventy-seven years later, flagship Queen Mary 2 left Southampton last Saturday, 25 May, for New York. On board to speak is Jeffrey Weinberg, adviser to seven U.S. Presidents; and passengers still enjoy Cunard’s renowned on board entertainment, including presentations from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Today, the eggs – all 45,000 of them – are fresh and plentiful, and the Line’s legendary Transatlantic Crossings live on.

“During her nearly 10 years in service, Queen Mary 2 has proudly continued the Transatlantic legacy of elegance and glamour that Queen Mary so beautifully exemplified during her long reign of service,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line.

“On this special anniversary, we are also pleased to continue to call New York our U.S. homeport, a city which has embraced our ships throughout the decades and played a prominent role in many Cunard milestones,” Shanks added.

Queen Mary in New York in 1936 Photo courtesy of Cunard
Queen Mary in New York in 1936 Photo courtesy of Cunard

Queen Mary would cross the Atlantic another 1,000 times during her 31-year career before being retired in 1967. Queen Mary 2 will sail her 200th Crossing on 6 July – from New York – during this, her ninth year on the Atlantic.

For more information about Cunard, and to book a voyage aboard Queen Mary 2, contact your Travel Agent, call Cunard toll-free at 1-800-728-6273, or go to www.cunard.com.

Royal Caribbean announces it’s Holiday Season cruises

Royal Caribbean International announced new Caribbean cruises for Explorer of the Seas from November 2014 through early January 2015. After eight consecutive years dedicated to the New York metropolitan area with year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., Explorer of the Seas will redeploy to Port Canaveral, Fla., to offer a range of four- to nine-night Bahamas, and Western and Southern Caribbean vacations. Throughout the short season, Explorer of the Seas will join Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas at Port Canaveral to offer the most ships and itinerary options to The Bahamas and the Caribbean from Central Florida’s Space Coast. Guests aboard each ship will enjoy a Caribbean-holiday vacation that only Royal Caribbean can deliver, with the cruise line’s award-winning family programming, industry-leading entertainment and world-renowned friendly and engaging GOLD Anchor Service. Explorer of the Seas’ 2014 holiday season cruises from Port Canaveral are now open for sale.

Explorer of the Seas will sail four Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Port Canaveral through Jan. 4, 2015. On these five-night itineraries, guests call at Cozumel, Mexico, and Nassau, The Bahamas, or CocoCay and Cozumel. Vacationers also can choose two Southern Caribbean sailings on a nine-night itinerary that call at each of the ABC Islands and Labadee.

Additionally, a five-night Bahamas cruise, departing Dec. 13, 2014, will call at Nassau, Grand Bahamas Island and CocoCay. Guests on a special four-night sailing, departing Dec. 23, will call at Labadee on Christmas Day. The following eight-night Caribbean itinerary will herald in the New Year in St. Maarten, as well as call at San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and Labadee. Vacationers also can choose an extended 14-night Southern Caribbean itinerary, departing Nov. 1, 2014, which repositions Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Port Canaveral via the Southern Caribbean.

From Port Canaveral, vacationers also have Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas from which to choose. Freedom of the Seas, with its iconic FlowRider surf simulator, will continue to alternate seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries and Enchantment of the Seas will offer three- and four-night Bahamas getaways.

For More information contact your travel agent or go to RoyalCaribbean.com

Disney Cruise Line announces it’s holiday festivities

Disney Cruise  Lines
Beginning in early November, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship, through the new year, with traditional “Turkey Day” fanfare, Christmas feasts, “snow flurries,” New Year’s Eve galas and Disney characters dressed for the occasion.

Special holiday events include a nightly tree lighting in the atrium lobby, visits from Santa Claus and his elves, traditional holiday feasts, family holiday crafts, holiday storytellers and more. When the ships stop during the holidays at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday island music.

Guests will enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving Day feast, with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. On Christmas Eve, guests can leave milk and cookies for Santa when he visits the ship at midnight. Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and Hanukkah services will be held each day, Nov. 28-Dec. 5. To celebrate the new year, voyages include a special New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2014, complete with music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes and a midnight countdown with balloon drops.

If you are interested, you will want to book as soon as possible. They do book up fast for their holiday cruises.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact a travel agent.

Brilliance of the Seas ready to wow after emerging from drydock

A favorite ship among cruisers, Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas has reemerged from a $30 million drydock ready to wow guests. The 2,100 guest ship will now offer cruisers signature Royal Caribbean amenities first introduced aboard Oasis-class ships including five new dining concepts, an exhilarating aerial entertainment experience and technology advancements allowing guests to stay more connected than ever before. Brilliance of the Seas will debut her newest innovations this summer as she sails from Harwich, England, offering Northern European itineraries that visit some of the Baltics’s most sought after destinations such as Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland.

Doubling her dining options, Brilliance of the Seas now offers guests a wide variety of culinary experiences from family-style festivity at the Italian trattoria, Giovanni’s Table, to the intimate and exclusive multi-course Chef’s Table. Guests can expand their palettes at a multitude of other dining venues including Royal Caribbean’s signature Izumi Asian Cuisine, Park Café and Rita’s Cantina.

In addition, the five-story Centrum – which is the focal point of the ship – has been transformed into a spectacular new space featuring the Centrum experience, which includes the addition of the 60’s-inspired R Bar as well as a multitude of entertainment experiences including enriching daytime activities, dazzling nighttime entertainment and a new high-flying entertainment experience where aerialists glide through the vertical space of the atrium.

The ship also features a new locatin for the Concierge Club for suite guests, a Diamond Club for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program members, a new English pub and the popular Royal Babies and Tots Nursery giving parents more opportunities to enjoy the ship’s amenities with peace of mind that their babies are being tended to by qualified care givers. Guests also will find that staying connected at sea will be easier with Wi-Fi access throughout the ship and enjoy a host of technology enhancements that include flat-panel televisions in all staterooms, an outdoor LED movie screen on the pool deck, as well as an interactive digital way-finding system. Old favorites such as the self-leveling pool tables, the adults-only Solarium and the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center can still be found onboard and are sure to delight guests of all ages.

Beginning today, Brilliance of the Seas’ Northern Europe season includes eight sailings that offer the best of the North and Baltic seas, calling at Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Talinn, Estonia; Gothenburg, Sweden; and offering an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. An 11-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland itinerary, sailing July 27, will call at Bergen and Geiranger, Norway; Lerwick/Shetland, Scotland; Klaksvik, Faroe Islands; with an overnight in Reykjavik, Iceland. Brilliance of the Seas departs for Boston, Mass. on August 31 on a 15-night itinerary, calling at Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France; Portland, Dorset, UK; Cork (Cobh) and Dublin, Ireland; Klaksvik; with an overnight at Reykjavik.

For more information contact your travel agent or RoyalCaribbean.com

Carnival Triumph is headed for her makeover!

Carnival Triumph is scheduled to depart Mobile, Ala., this afternoon under its own power bound for Freeport, Bahamas, to enter a dry dock facility where final repairs and shipboard operating enhancements will be completed. The ship is expected to arrive at Grand Bahama Shipyard on Saturday, May 11. Following the dry dock, Carnival Triumph is slated to re-enter regular service from Galveston, Texas, June 13, 2013.

“With the ship temporarily out of service for repairs, we decided to take the opportunity to add a host of new dining and bar venues that are part of our tremendously popular fleetwide Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement program,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Fun Ship 2.0 is a $500 million product-enhancement initiative being gradually rolled out across the Carnival fleet.
New features being added to Carnival Triumph during its dry dock include:

*Guy’s Burger Joint, a complimentary poolside venue serving fresh-made burgers and hand-cut fries created by Food Network personality and chef Guy Fieri.

*BlueIguana Cantina, a free-of-charge Mexican cantina with custom-made tacos and burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar.

*Alchemy Bar, a cocktail “pharmacy” where highly trained mixologists create custom cocktails using interesting flavors and ingredients.

*EA SPORTS Bar, an interactive sports-themed lounge where patrons can view live action, play popular EA SPORTS video games and keep up with the latest scores.

*RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside Caribbean-themed watering hole offering a variety of the region’s top rums and beers in a laid-back island-infused atmosphere.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a lively and engaging poolside bar serving frozen cocktails and Mexican beers in a fun and festive environment.

In addition to installation of the Fun Ship 2.0 features and other repairs, as part of a $300 million fleetwide program announced in April, Carnival Triumph is being outfitted with new systems to improve operating reliability to further prevent a potential loss of primary power, an upgrade in fire detection and suppression systems, and, in the rare event of a loss of main power, additional emergency backup power to provide core hotel services to ensure guest comfort.

When Carnival Triumph resumes year-round service from Galveston June 13, the ship will sail four-day cruises to Cozumel, Mexico, and five-day cruises to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.

For additional information and reservations on any of Carnival’s “Fun Ship” vacations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

Cunard gives North American Military Personnel a great deal on cruises

Cunard announced a new benefit for those who serve in the armed forces in North America. The new programme grants On Board Credits of up to $250 per person to members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves, and the Canadian National Defense. Military personnel who are active, retired or disabled veterans are eligible with proper documentation.

The credits apply to all published voyages aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth and are combinable with other On Board Credit offers. The amount of each credit varies with cruise length: $50 per person for a cruise of six days or less; $100 per person for cruises of seven to 14 days; or $250 per person for those 14 days or longer.

Under the terms of the programme, retired status applies to enlisted personnel or officers with a minimum of 20 years of service, medical retirees and the 100 percent disabled. Veterans with an honourable discharge and a length of service that meets certain minimums also are eligible to apply. Military status must be confirmed prior to embarking on the voyage to be eligible for credits.

Cunard has a distinguished history with the military. During World War II, the Queen Mary served as a British Royal Mail Ship and, along with the original Queen Elizabeth, as a troopship. In addition, Winston Churchill credited Cunard with ending the war one year early because of the troop transfer services that both ships provided.

For more information go to Cunard.com

Celebrity Cruises announced today that they will be offering Xbox Games

Celebrity Cruises has joined forces with Microsoft’s Xbox to integrate the leading destination of video game entertainment into guests’ modern luxury vacations. Slated to introduce one of the industry’s largest Xbox experiences at sea, Celebrity’s alliance boasts entertaining Xbox-themed spaces across its fleet, offering families interactive Xbox Games experiences for all ages.

Guests can anticipate enhancements to existing venues and onboard programming as soon as this summer, with the inclusion of Xbox-featured activities and gaming areas in the youth program’s Fun Factory and X-Club facilities. For youth who have been registered to participate by their parents, the Celebrity Xbox experience will offer exciting age-appropriate games and themed nights ranging from sports and dance to adventure and racing on Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360.

Adults also have the opportunity to connect and enjoy the Xbox experience through free play and at scheduled themed events, including Zumba® parties and sports tournaments, available on traveling Kinect for Xbox 360 consoles in different venues throughout the ships.

“As a premium vacation brand, Celebrity is dedicated to providing guests with what they want while on vacation, whether relaxation, entertainment or staying connected – it’s readily available,” said Greg Purdy, Celebrity Cruises’ SVP of Operations. “Joining existing offerings like the Celebrity iLounge, a hip approach to the standard Internet lounge and the first Authorized Apple® Specialist at sea, the Celebrity Xbox experience expands our technology offering with even more engaging ways for the whole family to enjoy a modern luxury vacation.”

To celebrate the launch, one lucky family of four will win a seven-night cruise onboard the Celebrity ship of their choice, with the exception of Celebrity Xpedition, and an Xbox 360 prize pack as the grand prize of the Celebrity & Xbox Experience Sweepstakes. For a chance to win, guests enter online through June 18, 2013 at www.celebritycruises.com/xboxsweeps. Participants also can win four Xbox 360 prize packs, each including an Xbox 360 with Kinect and a month of Xbox Live Gold membership.

“The Celebrity Xbox voyage is unlike any journey Xbox has embarked on,” said Grover Holtzclaw, US Xbox Director. “With Xbox’s first exclusive experience at sea, two great brands have come together to develop the ultimate family vacation: the best gaming entertainment combined with the modern luxury Celebrity provides its guests.”

The newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Constellation is the first of Celebrity’s ten ships to introduce the complete onboard Xbox experience when it re-entered service on May 5, 2013, after completing its scheduled drydock – just in time for families planning their summer vacations. The remaining Celebrity ships will offer Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360 this summer, and will unfold the full Xbox experience by the end of 2013.

For more information or to book a cruise go to celebritycruise.com

Celebrity Cruises announces partnership with 54 Below

Broadway loving cruisers will might be eager to visit one of the nation’s hottest new entertainment spots should pack their bags for a modern luxury cruise to Bermuda. That’s because Celebrity Cruises today announced an exclusive partnership with Manhattan’s noted “54 Below,” which will bring guests on Celebrity’s newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Summit the industry’s most comprehensive, direct-from-Broadway entertainment experience while sailing to the pink-sand paradise of Bermuda.

54 Below – ensconced in a cool, cozy cellar space beneath the legendary, disco-era “Studio 54” – has been dubbed “a throwback to the heyday of authentic New York nightlife,” and “the hot new stage attracting Broadway’s brightest stars.” Now, those stars will light up the stage of Celebrity Summit during its Bermuda vacation season from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), NJ, from this Sunday, May 5, through October 2013.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with 54 Below, offering our guests a unique theatrical experience featuring world-class Broadway talent in cabaret style performances,” said Celebrity’s Director of Entertainment Eric Bohus. “This is another outstanding addition to the Celebrity entertainment lineup and perfectly complements our other new offerings announced this year, including late-night Las Vegas style entertainment with Sin City Comedy and engaging music activities through our partnership with Billboard.”

Among the top-notch talent slated to appear on Celebrity Summit through 54 Below are Faith Prince, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys & Dolls; Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical in A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie; Anthony Rapp, best known for originating the role of “Mark Cohen” in Rent; Jarrod Spector, who starred as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys; Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for Next to Normal, and also has appeared in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard; star of the hit TV show Glee (“Wes”) Telly Leung, whose Broadway credits include Rent and Godspell; the original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle, who went on to also star in Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Beauty & The Beast; three-time Tony Award nominee Christine Andreas, recognized for her roles in Oklahoma and On Your Toes; Elizabeth Stanley of Company, Cry Baby, Million Dollar Quartet;Shoshana Bean, whose credits include Hairspray and Wicked; Darius DeHaas of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rent and Carousel; Tom Wopat of TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, City of Angels, 42nd St., Guys & Dolls, Chicago and Sondheim on Sondheim; Brent Barrett, whose credits include West Side Story and Chicago; Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony-nominated for her role in Swing; Liz Callaway, nominated for a Tony for her role in Baby, and who also performed in Cats and Miss Saigon; Gregg Edelman, a four-time Tony nominee, including nods for Best Actor in a Musical for City of Angels; three-time Tony Award nominee for her roles in Passion, Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate, Marin Mazzie; Karen Mason, who has appeared in Mamma Mia and Hairspray and is best known for her portrayal of “Norma Desmond” in Sunset Boulevard; and Emily Skinner, whose credits include The Full Monty and Billy Elliot. Additional acts yet to be announced will also appear on Celebrity Summit this season through Celebrity’s unique partnership with 54 Below.

For more information check out www.celebritycruises.com

Royal Caribbean’s limited time offers

Those of you looking to get a little more for your money when you are booking your cruises, now is the time. Royal Caribbean is offering two thing to tempt you for a limited time, Kids Tour Free in Europe and Fall Upgrade Offer.

“Royal Caribbean offers families and friends an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones while enjoying unmatched amenities such as the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery in the cruise line’s award-winning Adventure Ocean kids’ program,” said Lisa Bauer, executive vice president Global Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “By offering guests of every age even more choices aboard our fleet of innovative ships the whole family can create unforgettable memories together, be it during a rock-wall challenge or exploring a fascinating Europe or Caribbean destination on a cruise vacation.”

Kids Tour Free in Europe
Royal Caribbean Europe cruise vacation can deliver a memorable way to explore the old world, its history, charm and sights. Families with children 12 and under who book a 2013 Europe cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas or Serenade of the Seas can enjoy free shore excursion tours for children when two adults in their stateroom purchase the same tour during May 2013. For more information, please visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com/KidsTourFree.

Fall Upgrade Offer
Families looking to get away before the busy holiday season can book Royal Caribbean cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda or the Caribbean, between May 1 through June 10, 2013, and enjoy a multitude of amenities found only on Royal Caribbean, as well as an opportunity to sail with an upgraded view on ships. Guests may book a balcony stateroom for the same price as an ocean view stateroom, or an ocean view stateroom for the price of an interior stateroom on sailings departing September 1 through December 15, 2013. For more information, please visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com/FreeUpgrades.