Carnival offers new four- and five-day cruises from Port Canaveral

The Carnival Ecstasy is now offering some great deals for cruises out of Port Canaveral. Photo courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines.

By Jackie Roseboom

Carnival Cruise Lines will launch the cruise industry’s only four- and five-day Caribbean trips from Port Canaveral with the Carnival Ecstasy. She departed Nov. 7 on a five-day sold-out cruise to Nassau, Freeport and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay — the first of 78 annual cruises from the Space Coast.

Carnival Ecstasy’s one-of-a-kind schedule includes two different four-day itineraries, along with two different five-day choices. Four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport, while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays, calling at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West. Great rates include non-refundable Early Saver rates starting at $329 per person for four-day voyages and $349 per person for five-day departures.

Combined with Carnival Sensation’s three- and four-day Bahamas cruises and Carnival Dream’s seven-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages, the line offers a variety of itineraries, cruise lengths, and departure days from Port Canaveral.

“The growth of Port Canaveral as a cruise departure point is truly extraordinary and millions of consumers have discovered the benefits of sailing from this convenient and centrally located homeport,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.  “The Canaveral Port Authority is an outstanding business partner and deploying a third year-round ship is a testament to our relationship with the port and our confidence in its continued success.”

Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne said, “The Carnival Ecstasy’s arrival comes only a few days after we shattered our record for cruise passengers at Port Canaveral.”

Carnival Ecstasy received a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2009 that added a new facilities and features, including a WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot-long spiral water slide, a tropical-themed resort-style main pool area and the Serenity adults-only retreat. Ninety-eight balconies were added to existing staterooms, as well. These new features are complimented by the ship’s onboard amenities such as a renovated 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health club, three restaurants, complimentary programs for children, a 24-hour pizzeria, a jogging track and 12 lounges, bars and nightspots.

Carnival Ecstasy’s new schedule continues the line’s longstanding relationship with Port Canaveral, that began in 1990 with a 950-passenger ship carrying approximately 100,000 passengers annually. Over the past 21 years, Carnival has dramatically expanded its presence at the port, adding newer and larger ships along with new schedules and itineraries.

For additional information on Carnival’s “Fun Ship” cruises go to carnival.com or contact your favorite travel agent.

– Jackie Roseboom is a regular contributor to Cruise Guide, “Orlando Attractions Magazine” and CruiseNewsWeekly.com.

Regent unveils 2013 itineraries

The 700-guest, ultra-luxurious Seven Seas Voyager is one of three ships in the Regent fleet expected to span the globe in 2013. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The ultra-luxurious Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet — Voyager, Mariner and Navigator — is poised to offer new port calls, five Grand Voyages and a circle South America sailing as part of the line’s just released 2012-2013 winter collection itineraries.

Look for the Grand Voyages to feature exclusive amenities, a new Western Australia cruise, and business class air upgrades from just $999 each way. Widely recognized as the world’s most inclusive luxury line, Regent sailings feature all-suite accommodations, gourmet cuisine, premium spirits and fine wines, free shore excursions, gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, at no additional cost.

“When you couple the new itineraries with our luxurious suites, personalized service, superb cuisine and all-inclusive pricing, Regent Seven Seas is the best value in luxury cruising,” said Regent president Mark Conroy.

Beginning October 2012, Voyager will offer five Grand Voyages departing Rome, Bali, Auckland and Beijing. Ranging from 54 to 143 nights, Grand Voyages include exclusive amenities such as free Business Class air, a special pre-cruise overnight and dinner, exclusive event, free Visas, internet access and more.

From December 2012 through April 2013, the ship visits Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, India, China and Japan, including maiden calls at Hiroshima and Huangpu (Canton), China. Many of the Asian itineraries offer free land programs or multi-night hotel packages in Angkor Wat, Sydney, Bali, Auckland, Hong Kong, Beijing, Chiang Mai, Safaga (Luxor) and to the Taj Mahal.

A new 21-night Western Australia cruise, departing Dec. 19, 2012, features maiden calls at Exmouth, Fremantle (Perth), Geraldton and Kangaroo Island.

Mariner’s circle South America, meanwhile, will explore many of the continent’s most popular ports-of-call with a 72-night voyage, roundtrip from Miami departing January 7, 2013. The 700-guest vessel will offer exclusive amenities include free First Class air, special pre-cruise overnight and dinner in Miami, an exclusive event, free private transfers to and from the port of Miami, free roundtrip luggage delivery service, Internet access and Visas. Four shorter South America voyages ranging from 12 to 24 nights focus on the Panama Canal, Chilean Fjords, Brazil, Argentina and the Amazon.

The 492-guest Navigator will feature voyages to the tropics now operating roundtrip from Miami — one of the line’s newest ports — beginning November 2012 through April 2013, with 16 departures to the eastern and western Caribbean. The ship then departs Miami for an 18-night voyage to San Francisco to begin its highly-popular cruises to Alaska.

The spacious pool-deck aboard Regent Seven Seas Voyager received a recent face-lift as part of a multi-million-dollar, ship-wide refurbishment. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The line was recently rated the “World’s Best Cruise Line” by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine and was recognized as the “Best Luxury Cruise Experience” by Virtuoso, the leading luxury travel network.

The Regent fleet visits some 300 global destinations each year.

Holland America returns to Australia and South Pacific

The ms Oosterdam, along with the ms Volendam, will sail a series of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises, visiting more than 50 ports. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line.
Starting in winter 2012 and spring 2013 two Holland America Line ships ——ms Oosterdam and ms Volendam —— will sail a series of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises, visiting more than 50 ports where guests can indulge in the cosmopolitan cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, and explore the exotic landscapes of Vanuatu and Fiji in the South Pacific. The series of sailings ranges from 10 to 58 days and features one of the line’s larger Vista-class ships, ms Oosterdam.

“Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands are among the top travel destinations in the world and we’ve developed our itineraries to showcase the best of what they offer from secluded ports to popular favorites,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, for Holland America Line. “Holland America Line’s cruises highlight the region’s incredible wildlife on land and sea, including the legendary Outback, world-famous Great Barrier Reef and the opportunity of a lifetime to witness a solar eclipse while at sea.”

Guests can choose from a variety of departures ranging from 10 to 14 days sailing roundtrip from Sydney or Auckland, between October 2012 and March 2013. New Zealand itineraries give guests a chance to experience some of the most breathtaking scenery, including the beautiful and dramatic Fiordland National Park and Bay of Plenty, known for its beaches. These itineraries also visit the North and South Islands of New Zealand with calls at popular ports of Wellington, Napier and Tauranga.

Volendam and Oosterdam sail a total of five 14-day Australia and New Zealand cruises. Four 14-day New Zealand Discovery voyages sail roundtrip from Sydney on Oosterdam Oct. 24, Nov. 21 and Dec. 19, 2012 (holiday cruise) and Jan. 12, 2013. One 14-day Solar Eclipse voyage departs Nov. 7, and includes port calls at Brisbane, Hamilton Island and Townsville, Australia; Ile des Pins and Noumea, New Caledonia, and a total of six days in the Tasman and Coral Sea.

Four additional sailings to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific include the 10-, 11- and 13-day Pacific Treasures cruises roundtrip from Sydney and feature more exotic and lesser-known tropical ports in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji. Cruise fares begin at $1,299 per person.

The Holland America Line offers several unique longer itineraries throughout the season, including Volendam’s 34-day Australia Circumnavigation. That voyage sails roundtrip from Sydney Oct. 21, 2012 and boasts 18 ports of call and scenic cruising in the remote Ribbon Reef and Far North Regions, which include: Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Perth, Melbourne and Cairns, Australia; Hobart, Tasmania; Komodo Island, Indonesia; sunrise at Lizard Island and sunset at Booby Island, to name a few. The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, is also included. Cruise fares begin at $5,499 per person.

The 1,380-passenger ms Amsterdam sails a 75-day Grand Asia and Australia Voyage, departing Seattle, Wash., Sept. 21, 2012. Ports of call during this extended voyage include Darwin, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Waitangi (Bay of Islands) and Auckland, New Zealand; Lautoka, Fiji, and Apia, Samoa Islands. Disembarking takes place in San Diego, Calif. Cruise fares begin at $10,999 per person.

South Pacific repositioning cruises provide an opportunity to visit regions with desired ports of call and more relaxing days at sea. Oosterdam’s 22- or 23-day trans-Pacific Crossing departs Seattle, Wash., or Vancouver, B.C., for Sydney Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2012. Oosterdam returns on a 22- or 23-day South Pacific Crossing from Sydney to Seattle or Vancouver departing April 13, 2013. Cruise fares for the South Pacific and trans-Pacific sailings begin at $2,399 per person.

Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Collectors’ Voyages on Oosterdam and Volendam range from 25- to 58-days. Combining two back-to-back itineraries. During the Australia cruise season, Holland America Line sails a total of 11 Collectors’ Voyages. Cruise fares begin at $3,049 per person.
For more information on Holland America Line’s cruises and cruisetours, consult a professional travel seller or visit hollandamerica.com.

– Jackie Roseboom is a regular contributor to Cruise Guide, “Orlando Attractions Magazine” and CruiseNewsWeekly.com.

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.

Gauguin offers 20-night South Pacific hotel/cruise package

Image courtesy Paul Gauguin — The intimate, 332-guest Paul Gauguin, a leader in luxury cruise travel in the South Pacific since 1998, is offering a 20-night hotel/cruise package in January, 2012.

By Michael Coleman

The intimate 332-guest Paul Gauguin, fresh from a $25 million makeover, is offering a 20-night hotel/cruise package January 23, 2012 featuring nine distinctive islands in five South Pacific archipelagos.

The line’s “South Pacific Discovery’’ cruise will call on Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Cook and Society Islands.

Guests will enjoy three days at leisure in Sydney, Australia’s oldest and largest city, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Guests will then fly to Brisbane to board the Gauguin en route to New Caledonia, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga, ending in French Polynesia. The line is offering complimentary air from Los Angeles.

Among the voyage highlights:
Noumea, New Caledonia: This capital city has been named the “Paris of the Pacific” due to its French ambience, heritage and culture; Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji: The largest of the island chain is comprised of high mountains, lush vegetation, plus pristine white-sand beaches; Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji:

Once a bustling trading port, this Fijian village is now known for its geothermal hot springs; Vava’u Tonga: Never colonized by Europeans, this South Pacific nation maintains a strong Polynesian culture. Crystal clear waters and high mountain tops offer unparalleled views of the Tonga islands; Aitutaki, Cook Islands: Consisting of three volcanoes and 12 coral islets, this island offers beautiful coral reefs and a pristine lagoon. Aitutaki is nearly flat, affording ocean views from virtually any point on the island.

The ship will also sail to Taha’a where guests will visit Motu Mahana, Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private island featuring white-sand beaches with swaying palms, crystal-clear waters and gentle breezes. A Polynesian barbeque lunch and local entertainment will be offered; Bora Bora: Guests will have the opportunity to view the famous marine life or relax on a beautiful, private beach off the coast; Moorea: The lush scenery features green vegetation, an abundance of fresh fruit and flowers, spectacular mountain peaks and palm-fringed beaches.

Aboard Gauguin, guests enjoy a relaxed and elegant setting in which to enjoy the amenities of the award-winning, newly refurbished ship. Look for onboard lectures, SCUBA diving lessons, local entertainment and excellent cuisine.

The Gauguin has completed more than 570 South Pacific cruises and has served more than 155,000 guests, including more than 14,000 honeymooners, since its inaugural sailing in 1998.

On the web: www.pgcruises.com

Cruise Guide: Royal Caribbean unveils getaways

Royal Caribbean has unveiled a series of short Caribbean cruise getaways in 2010 and 2011 from four Florida ports. Radiance of the Seas, pictured here, will be deployed from Tampa. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
Royal Caribbean has unveiled a series of short Caribbean cruise getaways in 2010 and 2011 from four Florida ports. Radiance of the Seas, pictured here, will be deployed from Tampa. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

cruiseguideheadersmallRoyal Caribbean has unveiled a host of three, four and five-day Caribbean cruise getaways for 2010 and 2011.

Look for some 331 sailings, 20 itineraries and 15 ports of call all from a Florida port near you.

The cruise line will enhance and expand its deployment in Tampa with Radiance of the Seas from autumn 2010 through spring 2011, while Majesty of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas will continue their year-round Bahamas getaway sailings from their respective homeports of Miami and Port Canaveral. Continue reading “Cruise Guide: Royal Caribbean unveils getaways”

Princess offering new itineraries and ports for Europe in 2010

The iconic wonders of the ancient world, the continent’s bustling cities and the majestic beauty found along dramatic coastlines will be showcased with Princess Cruises’ just-announced 2010 Europe program. Continue reading “Princess offering new itineraries and ports for Europe in 2010”

Cruise Guide: Azamara unveils 2010 European itineraries

The two-ship, Azamara Cruises fleet will be offering a host of European port calls in 2010. <em/>Azamara Quest is seen here at anchor in Sinop, Turkey. Image courtesy Michael Coleman” title=”azamara-quest-docked-in-turkey” width=”500″ height=”310″ class=”size-full wp-image-1787″ /><figcaption id=The two-ship, Azamara Cruises fleet will be offering a host of European port calls in 2010. Azamara Quest is seen here at anchor in Sinop, Turkey. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

cruiseguideheadersmallAzamara Cruises, the deluxe smaller-ship, exotic-destination cruise line, will send its fleet to Europe for the third consecutive summer when the 694-guest Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest sail in the region in 2010. Continue reading “Cruise Guide: Azamara unveils 2010 European itineraries”

Follow us on the Ruby Princess this week

We’re onboard the Ruby Princess through Saturday and you can follow our updates on our Twitter page.

Twitter is a service which lets users post short messages with links to photos. But you don’t need to sign up to check out our updates. Just visit twitter.com/cruiseguide to see what we’ve been up to and click on the links in the comments to see our posted pictures. We also post all of our headlines on Twitter, so you may want to sign up to stay up-to-date with Cruise News Weekly. Also look for an upcoming Cruise Guide Ship Review of the Ruby Princess.