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.

Cruising offers the ultimate in romance

Whether your idea of romance is a nice dinner, playing games in the casino or relaxing on a beach, a cruise offers it all. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.

By Matt Roseboom

With breakfast in bed, dining under the stars and dancing until dawn, you can’t get much more romantic than a cruise. If you haven’t already made plans for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, surprise them with a romantic cruise.

Here’s a sampling of Valentine’s Day-inspired offers, programs and activities:

Carnival Cruise Line

In addition to a huge number of balcony staterooms on its ships, Carnival offers tables for two in the main dining rooms. Try a couples massage in the spa.

Costa Cruises

Costa makes it affordable at $75 per day, or up to 60 percent off regular fares. An authentic Italian style of service sets the perfect backdrop for a romantic cruise.

Crystal Cruises

From special dinner requests to “Crystal Private Adventures” shore excursions to renewal ceremonies, couples can arrange pretty much anything they’d like for a romance package. In penthouse accommodations, guests can request dinner for two to be served by their personal butler on the verandah.

Cunard

Where better to follow in the footsteps of such starry-eyed couples as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, than aboard a Cunard ocean liner? Luxurious couples massages, ballroom dancing and elegant dining add to the intimate appeal.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney offers romantic dining experiences specifically for adults. High atop both ships, Palo, Disney’s signature restaurant at sea, treats adults to sweeping ocean views and northern Italian specialties.

Holland America

Some of the special romance packages offered include breakfast in bed, champagne and caviar, cuddly stuffed bears proclaiming “I Love You” and the Valentine’s Red and White Ball in the Crow’s Nest.

MSC Cruises

From elegant Italian ambiance to evenings filled with dancing and live entertainment throughout the ship, MSC sets the mood. They also offer a seven-course gourmet dinner and breakfast served on your private veranda.

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL offers several “Romance” packages such as intimate dinners for two, customized “dream dates” ashore and couples massages.

Princess Cruises

Princess will be holding its first ever Romance Summit aboard Crown Princess during the Valentine’s week cruise, Feb. 13 to 20. Passengers will be treated to romance-themed events and activities, including a renewal of vows ceremony and a gala Valentine’s Ball.

Seaborne

A Seabourn yacht cruise offers gourmet dining, whether in the ship’s elegant restaurant or at a private candlelit table on your suite balcony.

Silversea

Silversea’s intimate ultra-luxury ships provide a uniquely appealing option for those seeking a truly indulgent, romantic getaway. Couples are welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne and then escorted to their richly appointed suite.

Windstar

Windstar offers unique romantic adventures in the Caribbean this winter – seven day voyages from Barbados or Saint Maarten  and seven-day explorations of Costa Rica. A variety of romance, honeymoon and wedding vow renewal packages are also available.

Cruise Guide: Festive holiday voyages in vogue

By Mike Coleman

A dazzling variety of festive holiday voyages are only a few weeks away for cruise ship travelers. Discovering the great Christmas markets of Europe, waltzing to Strauss in Vienna or enjoying a champagne toast on an elegant beach in St. Barts, awaits the few lucky souls who will celebrate Christmas, Chanukah or New Year’s Eve on the high seas.

The mass market lines – Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Holland America, NCL, Princess and Royal Caribbean – each features elaborate Christmas trees, wreaths and other traditional touches, along with special entertainment and programming created specifically for the season.

Ultra-luxury lines – Crystal, Regent, Seabourn, Seadream and Silversea – will offer extravagant holiday meals and festive onboard camaraderie from some of the world’s most alluring destinations.

The biggest holiday splash will in all likelihood occur aboard the shiny, new Queen Victoria, Cunard Line’s latest vessel. The ship’s 10-day maiden “Christmas Markets” voyage begins Dec. 11, followed by her 16-day maiden “Canary Islands Festive Celebration.” Both itineraries sail roundtrip from Southampton. Other Cunard liners, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2, will each be spending holiday time in the Caribbean.

The holidays on Disney Cruise Line, meanwhile, come with an extra dose of pixie dust, snow flurries on a tropical island and more. Offering the option of a seven-day Caribbean cruise or a four-night Bahamian itinerary, the voyages are highlighted by Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, which will be transformed into a Magical Wonderland, complete with snow, Christmas trees, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman in tropical attire, and a sleigh full of presents. Other festive touches onboard include a three-deck-tall tree, snow flurries, caroling, family gingerbread making, traditional feasts and ship-wide parties to ring in 2008.

God Jul is Norwegian for “Merry Christmas,” and it will be heard frequently aboard Hurtigruten (formerly Norwegian Coastal Voyage) during the line’s “Discover Winter Norway” cruise tours. Look for six- to eight-day holiday voyages, departing from Bergen and Tromso, between Dec. 19 and 26, featuring Norwegian yuletide festivities with local holiday delicacies, a Christmas Eve feast with an extravagant Scandinavian smorgasbord, caroling, Christmas trees, and a visit from Santa Claus himself. For New Year’s Eve, there will be a gala dinner, dancing and midnight champagne toasts. The seven-day Bergen-Tromso sailing can be extended to include the traditional Christmas market in Oslo.

Uniworld Grand River Cruises is also enticing travelers to Europe this upcoming season. The line is offering “two-for-one” special fares on seven- and nine-day voyages departing Dec. 19. Featuring the Rhine, Danube and Main rivers, itineraries include Nuremberg to Vienna and Cologne to Nuremberg. Many of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets in cities like Rudesheim, Mainz, Wertheim, and Bamberg, will no doubt prove to be a shopper’s delight.

Cruise Guide: Holiday merriment . . . at sea

By Michael Coleman

Holiday cheer and merriment may best be enjoyed this season aboard a cruise ship of your choice. 

“Cruises provide travelers with a chance to thoroughly revel in the holidays, leaving the hassles of everyday life behind,” said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the chief marketing organization for 20 leading cruise lines and nearly 17,000 North American travel agencies.

“Best of all, there’s a joyful energy on board that will captivate everyone – from grandparents to toddlers.” 

Whether it’s a luxury line (Crystal, Cunard, Regent, Seabourn or Silversea), premium brand (Celebrity, Holland America, Oceania or Windstar), mass-market (Carnival, Costa, Disney, MSC, Norwegian, Princess or Royal Caribbean) or smaller fleet (American, Norwegian Coastal Voyages), there’s a holiday voyage to fit any budget.

Look for ships of all sizes to be decked out in style, from twinkling lights, menorahs and mistletoe to wreaths, holly and other decorations.

Santa Claus himself often makes a guest appearance, and regardless of whether passengers celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, look for the major cruise lines to offer a wide range of holiday shows, films and gala dinners.

Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, for instance, will offer two unique shows by London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: A Christmas Carol and Happy Hanukkah, Mr. Scrooge, a piece specially commissioned for the line.

Disney Cruise Line’s 1,000-acre Bahamian island, Castaway Cay, will be transformed into a “snowy” holiday hideaway, with carolers, sleighs full of presents and visits from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The atrium lobbies onboard Disney Magic and Disney Wonder will host tree-lighting ceremonies, complete with “snow” flurries and a three-deck-tall Christmas tree festooned with decorations as their centerpieces.

Holland America Line, meanwhile, invites travelers to celebrate the season on one of 19 holiday escapes, which include Christmas itineraries to popular Caribbean and Mexican ports, an expedition to Antarctica and Patagonia, and a New Year’s cruise in Australia.

Princess Cruises’ fleet offers a wide range of Christmas and New Year’s cruises that also span the globe, while Royal Caribbean’s fleet of 20 ships transforms into winter wonderlands, with caroling, eggnog parties, gingerbread displays and Christmas trees on holiday sailings to the Caribbean, Mexico and Panama Canal.

The CLIA-member lines feature innovative onboard facilities, amenities and services and an array of elegant public rooms, balcony cabins, gourmet and casual dining options, live nightly entertainment, state-of-the-art spas and fitness centers, casinos, video arcades and more.

In most cases, passengers this holiday season will also be afforded the opportunity to enjoy exercise classes, golf instruction, art auctions, cooking demonstrations, enrichment lectures and computer learning workshops.

Best of all, however, guests will be able to leave the time-intensive tasks of party planning, meal preparation and the dreaded holiday clean-up behind.