New Carnival Breeze to feature Bonsai Sushi and Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ – Facebook contest launched

Dining is a highlight of any cruise and the 130,000-ton Carnival Breeze will feature a huge array of culinary choices when it enters service June 3. Two new offerings will include Bonsai Sushi, the line’s first full-service sushi restaurant, and an open-air barbecue venue called Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ.

To celebrate Carnival Breeze’s variety of dining choices, today Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a sweepstakes on its Facebook fan page tied to another of the ship’s dining spots, the Mexican-themed BlueIguana Cantina. The sweepstakes asks fans to choose their favorite burrito or taco toppings available at the casual dining venue for a chance to win a Caribbean cruise for two on the new 130,000-ton “Fun Ship,” along with round-trip air transportation.

Here’s a look at the Carnival Breeze’s many different tantalizing dining choices:

Bonsai Sushi – Carnival’s first full-service sushi restaurant, Bonsai Sushi offers a wide variety of Asian-inspired delicacies with a contemporary decor featuring artwork by world-renowned graffiti artist Erni Vales, colorful koi kites flown during impromptu celebrations, and, of course, several Bonsai trees. Located along Promenade Deck, Bonsai Sushi includes a number of varieties of sushi, sashimi, and rolls along with bento boxes and the venue’s own interpretation of a sushi boat – in this case, a sushi “ship” – with prices ranging from $1 for appetizer-sized portions to $15 for a sushi ship for two.

Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ – Reminiscent of a backyard barbecue, this complimentary open-air dining venue located on Promenade Deck offers a mouth-watering array of grilled favorites, including barbecued chicken breast, kielbasa, Italian sausage, and Fat Jimmy’s signature item, pulled pork sandwiches, along with traditional sides like baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mini-corn muffins.

Guy’s Burger Joint – fresh-made burgers, hand-cut fries and innovative toppings created in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri.

BlueIguana Cantina – offering authentic tacos and burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar.
The Punchliner Comedy Brunch presented by George Lopez – featuring hilarious comedic performances and an extensive menu of brunch-time favorites.

Fahrenheit 555 – a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and other gourmet fare with impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet).

Cucina del Capitano – a family-style restaurant reminiscent of a cozy Italian home with dishes such as Piatto della Nonna, inspired by the grandma of Carnival Breeze Captain Vincenzo Alcaras with penne pasta, crispy shrimp and prosciutto in a vodka cream sauce (venue will serve as a free lunch-time pasta bar during the day with a nominal charge for dinner).

Lido Marketplace – a casual poolside eatery offering an array of international favorites, from paninis and 24-hour pizza to Indian Tandoori and a Mongolian Wok station and just about everything in between.

“The Comfort Kitchen” – new venue located within Lido Marketplace offering American-style “comfort food.”

Ocean Plaza – an indoor/outdoor café serving cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos as well as pastries and other confections.

RedFrog Pub – an island-themed pub where guests can nosh on Caribbean-inspired fare while soaking up the distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West ambiance.

Serenity – salads, sandwiches, wraps and other light fare available at the ship’s exclusive adults-only retreat.

The Taste Bar – complimentary bite-size offerings inspired by popular Carnival dining venues, along with a signature cocktail tied to that eatery’s particular theme available for purchase.

Sea Dogs – a hot dog-shaped cart within the SportSquare outdoor recreation area offering all-beef franks and traditional toppings (debuts on Carnival Breeze in November).

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, the “BlueIguana Cantina Fight for Your Appetite” sweepstakes runs through May 10 on Carnival’s Facebook fan page. Fans are asked to choose their favorite taco and burrito toppings in a series of head-to-head competitions pitting such options as guacamole vs. sour cream or breakfast burritos vs. traditional tacos. All participants who vote are entered into a drawing for a Carnival Breeze Caribbean cruise for two, as well as round-trip air transportation, that will be awarded on May 17.

In a fun twist, the sweepstakes includes a unique feature in which fans can digitally throw images of burrito and taco toppings and other BlueIguana Cantina food items at their fellow Facebook enthusiasts’ pages.

Exciting European, Caribbean Itineraries
Following an inaugural 12-day cruise from Venice departing June 3, 2012, Carnival Breeze will operate a series of 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona through Oct. 25, 2012. After its trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Breeze will sail year-round from Miami beginning Nov. 24, 2012, offering port-intensive six- and eight-day cruises that showcase the best the Caribbean has to offer.

Jade’s varied culinary mix a hit with passengers

Norwegian Jade will be plying Mediterranean waters through December before embarking on a series of Canary Island voyages roundtrip from Barcelona. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, ITALY, August 6, 2011 — World class dining venues abound on Norwegian Jade.

That might seem surprising to some — great dining is traditionally the domain of the luxury cruise sector and not necessarily what one expects to find on a 2,402-passenger mass market vessel.

Jade, however, delivers. There are some 14 dining options and passengers would be hard-pressed to find comparable décor, quality and service at even their favorite land-based locales.

From U.S. steak and seafood (Cagney’s), plus Tex-Mex (Paniolo Tapas & Salsa), to French (Le Bistro) and Italian (Papa’s Kitchen) offerings, the ship is alive at dinner hour. Most notably, Jasmine Garden is the culinary hub. The Asian restaurant complex, located on Deck 7 mid-ship, features made-to-order sushi and sashimi, a Sake Bar and a Teppanyaki grill and is clearly a runaway favorite with passengers.

Look for Cagney’s, a classical steakhouse from the 1930s and the ship’s signature restaurant, to serve a 32-ounce porterhouse for two; at Paniolo their zesty signature dish — lobster tacos — is a must; and both Le Bistro and Papa’s offer classical French and Italian fare respectively.

And, while all of the aforementioned specialty restaurants require nominal fees ranging from $10-25 per person, Jade still packs a punch with quality food and choice in its no additional charge main dining rooms – Grand Pacific and Alizar — plus Garden Café where enticing buffet spreads are offered including specialty dishes from ports which the ship has just visited. Following a port call this week to Izmir, Turkey for instance, the culinary team featured Turkish bread with chicken plus assorted kebabs.

A Norwegian Jade chef prepares Turkish bread with chicken in the Garden Café. The ship’s buffet, one of 14 dining venues onboard, often features local culinary options from the very ports the ship has visited. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Dining options are a big factor today within the cruise industry as more ships than ever before offer alternative onboard venues for their passengers to enjoy. At Norwegian Cruise Line, however, it’s the very premise of their “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where one is offered a host of outstanding dining choices, relaxed dress codes, and the freedom to dine with whom they want, when they want at a locale that’s right for them on the evening of their choosing. As such, all restaurants aboard Jade feature open seating and flexible, extended dining hours.

Norwegian Jade began her seafaring career in 2006 as Pride of Hawaii. She’s now year-round in the Mediterranean but the Hawaiian motif and bright island colors remain front and center throughout the ship giving it added vibrancy, as is the case here in the Aloha Bar located in the Atrium on Deck 7. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Specialty restaurant reservations can be made in respective locales just minutes before dining although, to avoid disappointment, advance reservations are recommended.

Still hungry? Jade offers 24-hour room service. The new and expanded menu includes soup, salads, pizza, assorted sandwiches and desserts. There’s also a kid’s menu plus a special occasion menu that includes a jumbo shrimp platter, a collection of international cheeses and Caspian sea Sevruga caviar.

Norwegian Jade epitomizes “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept

The 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade, at anchor this week in Dubrovnik, Croatia, boasts 14 dining options, a host of bars/lounges and shipboard amenities worthy of its international passenger make-up. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

EN ROUTE TO SPLIT, CROATIA, August 4, 2011 – The “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept is playing out brilliantly aboard Norwegian Jade here in the Mediterranean this summer.

NCL pioneered the model over a decade ago — regimented onboard routines and set dining times would not be thrust on their passengers. It’s their vacation, after all.

Instead, passengers are enjoying a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules or even dress codes to adhere to. Add open seating dining and flexible restaurant hours to the mix and it’s a big hit with passengers.

Cagney’s Steakhouse is but one of 14 dining options aboard Norwegian Jade. Some specialty restaurants, like Cagney’s, offer a nominal surcharge. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Feel like sushi tonight? Perhaps a thick steak? Maybe a lite snack from the salad bar? Jade offers no fewer than 14 dining options spread throughout the ship. Some are part of your cruise fare others, however, feature a nominal fee between $15-25 per person but well worth it among Japanese, French, Italian or U.S. steakhouse/seafood fare.

Whether paying additional surcharges, or not, the culinary options are among the most varied at sea. We’ll take a closer look at the choices later this week.

Meanwhile, as passengers settled into their 7-night, roundtrip Venice voyage (port calls have included Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens, Greece and Izmir, Turkey) what they found was a 2,402-passenger ship which never sleeps.
The multi-national passenger mix here onboard can wake to fitness center activities and aerobics, two golf driving nets, shuffleboard, oversized chess, volleyball/basketball court and paddle tennis.

Norwegian Jade’s spacious pool deck. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The pool deck features two swimming pools (one, adults-only), a water slide and four hot tubs. Jade also features a full-service spa and salon, a 7,000-square foot boutique, art gallery, Internet center, library, casino and for evening entertainment, a three-deck theater plays host to a variety of performances.

Jade offers a supervised facility for children featuring a play gym, movie theatre with kid’s movies, computer center, and an arts and crafts area. There’s also a club for teens and a video arcade.
In keeping with the “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept, Jade stateroom accommodations run the gamut. There’s even a suite complex at the top of the ship complete with two luxurious 5,000 square-foot garden villas, a deluxe owner’s suite, three owner’s suites and 10 courtyard villas, eight of which have a separate children’s bedroom.

It’s all about choices aboard Norwegian Jade . . . lots of them.

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

Summit pegged for stylish makeover

By Michael Coleman

Celebrity Cruises’ 2,034-passenger Summit will begin 2012 with a bold new look having incorporated some of the most popular attributes found on the line’s newer ships.

Since 2008 the Celebrity fleet has expanded to 10 vessels with the addition of the much-heralded Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox. Now, fleet-mates like the 2001-built Summit will receive Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox-inspired makeovers.

Among the highlights: the coveted AquaClass, Celebrity’s soothing, spa-inspired veranda-category accommodations paired with the chic, Mediterranean-themed specialty restaurant “Blu’’; plus the addition of Qsine specialty restaurant and the hip Celebrity iLounge.

Celebrity has just completed a similar makeover on Constellation and will do so on Infinity later this year.

 “Based on the phenomenal response we’ve had from guests who have sailed on the Constellation, we’re eager to introduce the same new features — ranging from the Cellarmasters wine bar to our signature icy Martini Bar to our cool Café al Bacio and Gelateria,’’ said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

“We recognize that consumers’ vacation time is precious, which inspires us to do everything we can to make their vacation with Celebrity Cruises something that is truly different and better than anything they’ve experienced before.”
            


A Celebrity exclusive, Qsine, the novel restaurant introduced on Eclipse last year, and set to debut on Infinity, will be added to Summit. It’s the first restaurant at sea to present a menu and wine list on an iPad. Qsine features a selection of savory tapas and mezze served individually in custom-made frames, a trio of chilled soups delivered shot-style, and spring rolls served in springs. All are described in detail on the iPad-housed menu and wine list, which offers a full scan of wine labels, an interactive cocktail menu, and the ability for guests to enter tasting notes and e-mail their favorite wine selections.

Look for Summit to feature the Celebrity iLounge, the cruise industry’s first authorized Apple reseller, where guests can participate in Celebrity’s “iLearn” enrichment series; a new creperie, Bistro on Five; new verandas added to the ship’s spacious, luxurious Celebrity Suites.

The ship will receive new furniture, flat-screen TVs, upholstery, bedding and carpeting; look also for new oceanview and inside staterooms and an expanded collection of original, contemporary art.

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.

Two new innovative ships, Silhouette in July 2011, and Reflection in fall 2012, will round out the fleet.

Menu set for Silversea’s culinary arts voyages

Silversea Cruises, known for its exotic worldwide itineraries, luxurious all-suite accommodations, gracious service and gourmet cuisine, has taken the wraps off a new collection of 10 Culinary Arts theme cruises to be offered this year - featuring some of the world's most celebrated chefs and rising stars. Image courtesy Silversea Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Silversea Cruises has unveiled a new collection of 10 culinary arts theme cruises for 2011 featuring some of the world’s top chefs and rising stars. 



The cruises will showcase the artistry of award-winning chefs of top dining establishments from around the world, including the internationally acclaimed chefs of Relais & Châteaux, the distinguished international association of 500 of the finest hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries.



Two of these famed chefs will soon team up to host Silver Shadow’s 30-day circumnavigation of Australia. Departing from Sydney later this month the ship will follow a counterclockwise course around the vast island continent before returning to Sydney on February 18. Joining an expansive enrichment program on this special voyage are George Francisco, executive chef of Jonah’s, one of Australia’s oldest and most iconic establishments and a Relais & Châteaux member property and Mathew Macartney, executive chef of the Yarra Valley’s famed Chateau Yering and a Relais & Châteaux member property.


On the Culinary Arts enrichment voyages, celebrity chefs will display their talents during informative cooking demonstrations where guests can taste and learn firsthand the secrets of enticing signature dishes.

These voyages also feature escorted provisioning trips to international markets (when the itinerary permits), food and wine pairings, creative regional dishes, and a five-course grand gourmet dinner. Throughout these special sailings, the featured guest chef and Silversea’s executive chef are on hand to share their culinary expertise and answer any questions. 



Aboard Silver Shadow, December 6-21, 2011 Singapore to Sydney, Silversea guests will have the chance to sample the Korean cuisine specialties of Anna Kim, a celebrity chef judge of the LG ‘Life Tastes Good’ global cooking competition. She apprenticed at world-renowned chef Joël Robuchon’s restaurant in Paris and held esteemed positions at Nobu, Gordon Ramsay and the Four Seasons Hotel in the U.S. 



And Emanuele Vallini, executive chef of La Carabaccia restaurant, Pisa, Italy, will showcase the slow food concept in a culinary program for guests aboard Silver Spirit later this month during the ship’s world cruise segment), Los Angeles to Papeete. 



Further highlighting the roster of Culinary Arts voyages are the following distinguished chefs affiliated with Relais & Châteaux properties from around the globe:



Alois Vanlangenaeker, Il San Pietro hotel, Positano, Italy 
Silver Whisper, February 5-23, Santiago to Fort Lauderdale



Jutamas Theantae, The Eugenia hotel, Bangkok, Thailand 
Silver Spirit (World Cruise), March 11-22, Darwin to Hong Kong



Alec Lomas, The Pavilions resort, Phuket, Thailand 
Silver Spirit (World Cruise), March 22-April 3, Hong Kong to Singapore 



Deepak Kumar Rai, Neeleshwar Hermitage retreat hotel, Kerala, India 
Silver Spirit (World Cruise), April 3-18, Singapore to Dubai



Yannick Upravan, Satri House hotel, Luang Prabang, Laos 
Silver Shadow, May 7-17, Shanghai to Tokyo 



Two additional voyages in 2011 will bring together an array of yet-to-be-named Relais & Châteaux chefs to host culinary festivals at sea: Silver Whisper, May 17-31, New York to Southampton; Silver Shadow, October 17-31, Tokyo to Singapore



Silversea offers guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit. With the inclusion of the line’s expedition ship, Prince Albert II, Silversea itineraries encompass all seven continents.

On the web: silversea.com

Video: A look at what’s new on Disney’s private Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas, has received a number of enhancements this year. They’ve added more water-based family-fun and additional conveniences such as another dining location in anticipation of the larger Disney Dream launching next year.

Here’s a video outlining all the enhancements.

Alluring restaurants to debut at sea

Allure of the Seas, presently under construction, will debut in December. An architectural marvel, the 225,282 ton ship will span 16 decks, carry 5,400 passengers at double occupancy in some 2,700 staterooms. She will also feature 24 onboard dining opportunities morning, noon and night. The vessel will offer Caribbean sailings from her home port in Fort Lauderdale. Image courtesy Royal Caribbean

By Michael Coleman

Royal Caribbean’s latest ship — Allure of the Seas — will debut in December complete with 24 onboard dining venues to cater to any craving.

A sister ship to Oasis of the Seas, both vessels tip the scales as the largest and perhaps most innovative cruise ships afloat. And while each ship has a host of similarities, even in the dining arena, Allure is poised to roll out some added culinary options.

From a Brazilian steakhouse and a Mexican beach bar to a hot dog stand, the choices abound.
The Brazilian steakhouse will be a destination restaurant that comes to life for dinner service in the Solarium, featuring authentic Brazilian-style meats and seafood dishes, from Picanha cut sirloin steak to Atlantic salmon marinated with sea salt and garlic, served table-side and sliced straight off the skewer.

“As churrascaria concept restaurants gain popularity on land, Royal Caribbean is taking advantage of having a new ship to introduce a Brazilian steakhouse and bring a new dynamic and colorful nightlife ambiance for adults in the Solarium,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International.

“Guests onboard Allure of the Seas will have a new arrangement of dining experiences throughout the ship, from the Adagio Main Dining Room to new venues on the Boardwalk and Royal Promenade.”

Combining the best of classic Mexican beach bars and Southern California’s famed taquerias, Rita’s Cantina will be a vibrant new restaurant in the Boardwalk neighborhood. Adults and kids alike will enjoy some of their favorite Mexican fare, such as shrimp ceviche tostadas, warm tortilla chips with salsa and fiesta guacamole, as well as entrées such as fajitas, fish tacos and Chipotle-style flautas. The more casual setting will likely be a favorite lunch, snack or dinner spot for passengers seeking a flavorful fiesta onboard.

Rita’s also will boast some of the widest selection of margaritas at sea, offering both authentic and signature concoctions mixed with a choice from the extensive list of quality tequilas, served on the rocks or frozen in a variety of fruit-flavor combinations. In addition, the restaurant will introduce new nightlife to Boardwalk with live guitar music, drinks and dancing. 

Also new to Boardwalk’s engaging scene aboard Allure of the Seas will be The Boardwalk Dog House, an outdoor hot-dog specialty counter located where passengers can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats and sausages.

Like its sister, Allure will feature Johnny Rockets, a ‘50’s-style diner with server-entertainers; 150 Central Park, a trendy, upscale and intimate restaurant with a tasting menu and customized wine pairings; Giovanni’s Table, an Italian trattoria with both indoor and alfresco seating featuring Italian classics served family-style; Park Café, an indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and fudge; Vintages, a wine bar with pre-dinner tapas and cheeses along with a robust selection of fine wines and, among a host of other palate pleasing onboard locales, Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse.

On the web: royalcaribbean.com

Onboard: ‘La dolce vita’ aboard Costa Atlantica

The 2,114-passenger Costa Atlantica docked today in Nassau, Bahamas. Atlantica offers a taste of Italy in the Tropics, roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, through April. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Costa Atlantica this week as she sails a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Here’s his latest dispatch:

NASSAU, Bahamas, Friday Jan. 8, 2010 — Passengers aboard an Italian cruise ship bid the pastel pink colors of this sunny Bahamian capital and their bustling straw markets arrivederci this afternoon.

Costa Atlantica and her 2,114 guests are nearing the end of a seven-night, three-port Eastern Caribbean itinerary which concludes tomorrow morning in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s been nothing but Italian style and revelry since boarding the vessel one short week ago, from pasta and more pasta to classical music, on stage performances and toga parties.

St. Thomas, San Juan and Nassau, like the plethora of onboard culinary choices, may now be gone but not soon forgotten. Atlantica passengers were treated to more dining and varied menu options than one could possibly enjoy in just a week.

Standard pool-side offerings – burgers, hot dogs, Tex Mex — gave way to carving and buffet stations throughout the day and night.

Two dinner seatings — 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. in Tiziano Restaurant — in turn gave way to additional servings of late night pasta and desserts served both in the lobby and on the pool deck under the Caribbean stars.

The Club Atlantica Tuscan Steak House, Costa Atlantica’s reservations-only, $30 per-person specialty restaurant, features a merging of Italian and international flavors. Photo by Michael Coleman
The ship’s reservations-only specialty restaurant, Club Atlantica Tuscan Steak House, features excellent wines and the merging of Italian and international flavors for an additional $30 per person. Choosing from among a host of homemade pastas and sauces, meat and fish, clearly made this venue worthy of a second visit.

Passengers seeking a more relaxed dining venue could do so nightly in the Botticelli Restaurant on Deck 9. Pasta offerings and salads are common fare.

And, as one might expect from a cruise line with a deep Italian heritage, Pizzeria Napoli on Deck 9 is a big hit. Four no-charge specialty pizzas are offered from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Servers draped in aprons and bow ties featuring the colors of the Italian flag — red, green and white — were quite busy each evening in this popular venue.

For those keeping close tabs on their diet/calories, Atlantica also features a Wellness Restaurant, next to the main dining room on Deck 2.

The varied gastronomic offerings also reflect Costa Atlantica’s international passenger base. Italian, French, German, English and Spanish guests leave tomorrow having lived, albeit briefly, Costa’s “love, laughter and la dolce vita (sweet life).’’

A Venetian atmosphere permeates throughout Costa Atlantica thanks to design elements featuring Carrara marble, Murano-glass accents and in-laid mosaic tile. An impressive replica of Venice's famed, three-centuries-old Caffe Florian in St. Mark’s Square, is located on Deck 3 and is a popular onboard venue for tea, pre-and post-dinner cocktails. Photo by Michael Coleman