Ship Review: World’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas makes her debut

You can really tell the size of Allure of the Seas when you're on the pool deck. Central Park area runs down the middle of the ship. Photos by Matt Roseboom

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship has launched. The Allure of the Seas is being dubbed an “Entertainment Ship”. There are so many things to do onboard, it’s hard to know where to start.

Click Here to read the full review.

Demand for luxury cruises on the rise

Consumer demand for luxury cruise travel and river boat cruising is on the rise according to a nation-wide survey of travel agents.
Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Despite lingering economic woes and belt-tightening across the nation, demand for luxury and river cruises is actually growing according to a recent survey of travel agents.

Conducted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – North America’s largest cruise industry organization representing 25 member lines and 16,000 travel agencies — the survey reveals that agents are observing an upswing in luxury and river cruise travel.

Some 36.5 percent report increasing demand for river cruises (34 percent say the demand is unchanged) while 64 percent indicate increased awareness for river cruising among their clients. Almost a quarter of agents, 22.2 percent, report a move toward luxury.

Travel agents agree that destination is a top motivator: 86.9 percent rank destination and itinerary at the top of the list for river cruisers, followed by authentic experiences in small towns and destinations; incorporated land programs and sightseeing; shipboard service and lifestyle, the all-inclusivity of the product and perceived value. For luxury cruisers, shipboard service and lifestyle and destination (78.3 percent and 58.3 percent respectively) are the prime motivators.

Among popular destinations, agents agree that Europe currently stands alone. Of those responding, 97.8 percent of river cruise sellers rank Europe at the top, followed by China, Russia. Europe and the Mediterranean. World cruises, Europe, the South Pacific and Asia rank highest in interest among a long list of choices for luxury cruisers.

Agents identify couples and affinity or social groups as growing markets for both river and luxury cruising (with the “retired/senior” maintaining the Number One position).

Why do clients choose to cruise over other types of vacations? In order of importance, according to agents surveyed, river cruise customers choose: authentic experiences in smaller towns and villages, smaller ships and intimate ambience, travel to multiple destinations, convenience, product inclusivity, shore excursions and value. Luxury cruisers cite quality of service, cuisine, smaller ships, value, destinations, and inclusivity.

In the survey, luxury cruises stacked up positively against the best restaurants in the world (75 percent similar to much better); the best hospitality service standards (94 percent); the most luxurious accommodations (75 percent); the most upscale spas (86 percent); and the most exciting cultural/enrichment/entertainment activities available (86 percent).

The survey also revealed that pre-and post-cruise programs are especially popular with the majority of river cruisers, with over 70 percent most likely to add a land stay on to their river voyage; the most popular length of luxury and river cruises is eight to 14 days, followed by seven day cruises; luxury cruisers also are demanding greater value and are more price sensitive, with higher expectations for quality of service; consumer incentives and promotions have made luxury cruising more affordable

Whatever their affluence status, both luxury cruisers and river cruise enthusiasts respond to “deals”: 85.7 percent of agents say river cruise clients are somewhat or much more apt to make a purchase with a special offer; 79.6 percent say luxury clients are similarly motivated.

On the web: cruising.org

Special deals offered for ‘World’s Largest Cruise Night’

Most cruise lines are offering some sort of special deal for the World's Largest Cruise Night on Oct. 13. Some offers are only good for deals booked that day and some last a bit longer. Pick your ship, see what sort of deal you can get and plan your next getaway. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Jackie Roseboom

The Cruise Lines International Association is holding a special World’s Largest Cruise Night this Oct. 13. Travel agents across North America will be hosting a special events in partnership with several cruise lines. Some amazing deals are being offered. As the event gets closer, more deals will be offered. Here are the ones already showing up:

Carnival is enticing vacationers with cruise upgrades on virtually all “Fun Ship” departures through December 2011. To sweeten the deal, Carnival will offer up to a $200 onboard credit per stateroom for all Carnival Magic Europe voyages booked on Oct. 13. The Carnival Magic Europe offer includes best available upgrades and a $100 onboard credit per stateroom for seven-day Europe sailings and a $200 onboard credit per stateroom for nine- and 12-day sailings.

Celebrity is hosting a three-day sale beginning Oct. 13 for sailings departing April through December 2011 for select seven- to 14-night sailings. Look for onboard credits of $50 per stateroom for oceanview accommodations; $100 per stateroom for veranda accommodations; and $150 per stateroom for AquaClass (only on Solstice-class ships), suites, and Concierge Class.

Costa is offering a $50 onboard credit per stateroom on any sailing. The offer is valid only on Oct. 13.

Crystal Cruises is offering a $100 per person additional savings incentive on most 2010-2011 departures for new bookings made from Oct. 1 to 31.

Cunard is offering an onboard credit (per stateroom) of up to $300 for Queens & Princess Grill accommodation; up to $200 for Balcony staterooms; and up to $100 for Oceanview/Inside staterooms, depending on length of voyage. Bookings made during the Cruise Sale will receive a waiver of the deposit on the second guest.

Holland America Line is offering shipboard credits that can be combined with group amenities or cruise night offers. Plus deposits are only $100 per person for cruises of seven to 36 days.

For booking between Oct. 13 to 27, MSC will offer exclusive shipboard credits, such as $25 per passenger for inside cabin/oceanview bookings; $50 per passenger for standard balcony/superior balcony accommodations; and $100 per passenger for suites bookings.

Oceania Cruises is celebrating its maiden season in Alaska with two-for-one cruise fares, plus free round-trip air and bonus savings up to $1,000 per stateroom.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a $100 per person ($200 per suite) shipboard credit booking incentive. This offer is valid for any new reservation on a 2010 or 2011 departure of seven nights or longer booked between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15.

Silversea Cruises is offering a $100 per guest ($200 per suite) savings on any 2010, 2011 or 2012 cruise booked during the month of October.

Windstar is offering a $100 per person shipboard credit on any Wind Spirit, Wind Star or Wind Surf sailing in the Caribbean or Costa Rica between Jan. 2 and April 2, 2011. The offer is valid for new bookings made between Oct. 13 and Nov. 15, and the credits may be combined with all nationwide offers including two-for-one offers.

On the Web: visit cruising.org for more information or check with a CLIA-member travel agent.

New Florida Lottery Scratch-Off game offers a chance to sail on Oasis or Allure

The Florida Lottery today announced a new Royal Caribbean themed Scratch-Off game: Cruise for Cash. With ticket sales beginning today, the $5 game offers Lottery players the chance to win up to $200,000 instantly. And, a second chance promotion on the Lottery’s website offers players the chance to win a seven-night Caribbean cruise vacation for two aboard one of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas. The new game is available at Florida Lottery retailers statewide.

“Tourism is a vital part of Florida’s economy, and this partnership between the Florida Lottery and Royal Caribbean International is a unique opportunity to bring together Florida’s public and private sectors to promote one of the state’s greatest tourist industries – cruising,” said Florida Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno.

Florida is home to the top three cruise ports in the country: Port of Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the North American cruise industry generated $35.1 billion in 2009, with Florida port embarkations growing by nearly three percent – making up 59 percent of the U.S. total.

“We are pleased to be working with the Florida Lottery on the Cruise for Cash game, which helps raise additional funds for education,” said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President Sales and Trade Support & Services, Royal Caribbean International.

“We expect Cruise for Cash to have a wide appeal among Floridians and visitors to our great state, helping us maximize sales for the enhancement of public education,” added Secretary DiBenigno.

In addition to four $200,000 top prizes, Cruise for Cash also features more than 1.6 million cash prizes ranging from $5 to $2,500. The game’s overall odds of winning are one in 3.87. The game is the latest themed Scratch-Off in the Lottery’s game portfolio, offering players instant cash prizes and additional chances to win via a second chance promotion on the Lottery’s Web site.

Beginning today, players may enter their non-winning Cruise for Cash tickets in five Royal Caribbean International Cruise Package Second Chance drawings to be held from Oct. 6 to Dec. 15, 2010. Each cruise packages include seven nights aboard the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas or another Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing select itineraries. Winners of the second chance drawings will tour their respective Caribbean destinations in a balcony stateroom, with an ocean view for two. Cruise winners also will receive $1,000 in ship credit and premium accommodations for two at a deluxe hotel prior to departure. There will be a total of 112 cruise packages awarded with this game.

The Florida Lottery offers more than 50 Scratch-Off games at any given time through instant ticket vending machines (ITVMs) or on-counter displays at more than 13,000 retailers statewide. Scratch-Off games are an important part of the Lottery’s portfolio of games, making up approximately 53 percent of ticket sales and generating more than $396 million for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) in fiscal year 2009-10.

Ship Review: NCL’s newest ship offers fun in Epic proportions

Many people pick a vacation city based on how much it has to offer. Big names like Nickelodeon and Blue Man Group that could have only been seen in places like Las Vegas and Orlando are now cruising the high seas. With all the innovations on the brand new Norwegian (NCL) Epic, it’s like you’re in a city with ever changing views.

Click Here to continue reading the NCL Epic ship review.

Carnival Legend lives up to her Fun Ship name

The Carnival Legend looks spectacular all lit-up at night, as most ships do. Photo by Matt Roseboom

The museum quality artwork on the Carnival Legend depicts legendary stories through the years, hence the ship’s name. The ship’s activities and ports will definitely keep you as busy as you want to be. Continue reading “Carnival Legend lives up to her Fun Ship name”

Repositioning voyages a big hit with travelers

In June, cruise travelers will have the chance to sail across the Atlantic, from Europe to America, on the maiden voyage of the world’s second largest ship, Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic. Artist rendering courtesy NCL

By Michael Coleman

Transocean and transatlantic voyages are in vogue among today’s cruise ship travelers.

In Part 2 of our look at such voyages, we profile the mass-and-premium market cruise lines.

Some companies, like Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line have numerous ships crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific this spring, from ports in North and South America.

AZAMARA CLUB CRUISESAzamara Journey — From Miami to Barcelona, departing April 11; from Rome to Miami, departing November 15.

CELEBRITY CRUISESCelebrity Century — 14 nights from Miami to Barcelona departing May 20; 14 nights from Barcelona to Miami departing October 25; Celebrity Equinox — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Rome departing April 19; from Rome to Fort Lauderdale sailing October 31; Celebrity Constellation — 14 nights from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing November 6; Celebrity Eclipse — 13 nights from Southampton to Miami departing October 31.

COSTA CRUISESCosta Atlantica — 17 nights from New York City to Copenhagen departing May 5.

DISNEY CRUISE LINEDisney Magic — 14 nights from Port Canaveral to Barcelona departing April 10; 14 nights from Barcelona to Port Canaveral, sailing September 18.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINEEurodam — 16 days from Fort Lauderdale to Rome departing April 3; Noordam — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona departing May 14.

MSC CRUISESMSC Poesia — 18 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Hamburg departing April 27; 18 nights from Kiel to New York departing September 4.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINENorwegian Epic — Seven day transatlantic crossing, a maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York departing June 24.

OCEANIA CRUISESInsignia — 15 nights from Rio de Janeiro to Barcelona departing April 3; 15 nights from Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro departing December 6; Nautica — 24 nights from Bangkok to Beijing departing March 1; 35 nights from Cape Town to Singapore departing December 11; Regatta — 14 nights from Miami to Barcelona departing March 21; 14 nights from Barcelona to Miami departing November 13.

PRINCESS CRUISESCrown Princess — 14 days from Fort Lauderdale to Rome departing May; 14 days from London on to New York departing September 3; Grand Princess — 15 days from Fort Lauderdale to London departing April 9; 16 days from London to Ft. Lauderdale departing September 25; Ruby Princess — 16 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona departing April 19; 16 days from Venice to Fort Lauderdale departing October 8; Star Princess — 18 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Copenhagen departing April 24.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONALNavigator of the Seas — 14 nights from Miami to Rome departing April 10; 14 nights from Rome to Fort Lauderdale departing October 23; Independence of the Seas — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton departing April 11; Voyager of the Seas — 14 nights from Galveston to Barcelona departing April 18; 14 nights from Barcelona to Galveston departing November 7; Adventure of the Seas — 13 nights from San Juan to Barcelona departing May 2; 14 nights from Barcelona to San Juan departing November 28; Jewel of the Seas — 13 nights from Miami to Harwich departing May 6; 14 nights from Harwich to Boston departing September 4.

Silversea christens Silver Spirit at Port Everglades

Cruise travel’s latest luxury vessel, the 540-guest, all-suite Silver Spirit, was christened today at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. She offers 270 suites that range in size from 312 to 1,668 square feet, boasts six restaurants and the brand’s largest spa at 8,300 square feet. Photo courtesy Silversea Cruises

By Michael Coleman

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL., Jan. 21, 2010 — Silver Spirit, Silversea Cruises’ elegant new vessel, was formally christened here today before 450 guests and dignitaries at Port Everglades.

The ship’s godmother, Silvia Lefebvre, sister of Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre, presided over the festivities. 



“Today is a proud day for Silversea as we celebrate the christening of our new ship and what is the culmination of much effort and planning,” said Amerigo Perasso, Silversea’s president and chief executive officer.

“From her sophisticated Art Deco interior design and extra-spacious suites to a host of new amenities and services, Silver Spirit embodies the innovative spirit of our company and is a dramatic step forward for our award-winning concept of ultra-luxury cruising.” 



Silversea’s chief operating officer, Kenneth W. Watson, acknowledged the recent earthquake tragedy in Haiti, and announced that the company had made a charitable donation to the American Red Cross on behalf of guests departing on tonight’s Grand Inaugural Voyage.

Silversea officials and local dignitaries participated in today’s launch of Silver Spirit. The 36,000 ton, 12-Deck vessel is Silversea’s largest ship to date. Photo by Michael Coleman.
Godmother Lefebvre christened the ship with a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne. A replica of the champagne bottle will be auctioned off as a memento during Silver Spirit’s Grand Inaugural Voyage to benefit the Maruzza Lefebvre d’Ovidio Foundation, a non-profit organization spearheaded by Ms. Lefebvre. A major part of its energy and resources is dedicated to the diffusion of palliative care for children, babies and adolescents affected by incurable disease.

At 36,000 tons, and accommodating 540 guests, Silver Spirit features the largest suites in the Silversea fleet, 95 percent of which feature a private veranda. The onboard decor lends a sophisticated 1930s Art Deco ambiance to the public spaces, highlights of which include an indoor/outdoor spa measuring more than 8,300 square feet, a resort-style pool and a choice of six dining venues including Seishin, showcasing Asian-fusion cuisine, and the innovative Stars Supper Club, offering trendsetting menus and all-night entertainment. 


Tonight, the ship departs on her 91-day Grand Inaugural Voyage exploring over 20 countries and 45 ports throughout the Americas. Silver Spirit will then spend the summer in the Mediterranean before repositioning to the Caribbean for fall and winter cruises. 



One of cruise travel’s leading luxury operators, the line offers many large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and now Silver Spirit. With the inclusion of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II, launched in 2008, the company’s itineraries encompass all seven continents.

Tomorrow: We’ll take a closer look at this new, luxurious vessel.

Silver Spirit is the first newly-constructed cruise ship for Silversea Cruises since 2001, bringing the Silversea fleet to a total of six vessels. The 5,414 square-foot pool deck features three Jacuzzis and a grill. Photo by Michael Coleman.

Carnival Corp. and affiliated brands donating $5 million to help Haiti

Carnival Corporation & plc and its affiliated cruise brands are donating at least $5 million toward relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The funds will be forwarded to several different international organizations coordinating relief efforts within the country.

“We are saddened by this tragedy, one of the worst natural disasters of our lifetime and we are deeply concerned for the people of Haiti and hope that this donation will help provide much-needed assistance,” said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by this catastrophe,” he added.

Carnival Corporation & plc’s donation has been earmarked for the following relief organizations: UNICEF, the University of Miami’s Project Medishare, American Red Cross, and Save the Children. The $5 million donation includes a large corporate contribution along with monies raised from a variety of fundraising efforts coordinated by Carnival Corporation & plc’s cruise brands, both in their offices in North America, Europe and Australia and throughout the fleet.

The company is also working with the Miami Heat on a coordinated relief effort for collecting various emergency supplies that are being shipped and distributed to Haiti by the University of Miami’s Project Medishare.

Carnival Corporation & plc is the largest cruise vacation group in the world, with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe and Australia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Ibero Cruises, Ocean Village, P&O Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia.

Together, these brands operate 93 ships totaling more than 180,000 lower berths with 13 new ships scheduled to be delivered between January 2010 and spring 2012. Carnival Corporation & plc also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour company in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon.

Cruise Guide: Carnival Dream Review, Photos and Videos

The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, Carnival Cruise Lines'€™ largest ship, will be sailing from Port Canaveral year-round. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines/HO
The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, Carnival Cruise Lines'€™ largest ship, will be sailing from Port Canaveral year-round. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines/HO

The Carnival Dream recently made her North American debut. The 130,000-ton ship is the first of a new class of ships for Carnival Cruise Lines and their largest yet. It’s 1,004 feet long and holds up to 3,646 passengers. The Dream offers many firsts for Carnival and cruise lines in general.

Click here to read the full review, and view our photo gallery and videos from the ship.