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View of the top deck as the Star Princess sails through Alaska's Inside Passage
This year, Princess Cruises is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its first sail. The occasion is certainly bringing its fair share of on-board celebrations along with it, making it an ideal time to shove off on one of its ships and take a look at what's happening. In June, this contributor sailed on the Star Princess from Anchorage to Vancouver as part of the Voyage of the Glaciers southbound route. Read on to take a walk through the ship, explore its new offerings, and discover a few things I learned about Alaskan cruising from my experience.
Virgin Cruises / Sir Richard Branson / Cruise Travel / Cruise News / Cruises / Travel News / → All Tags
We knew it was coming but today, Captain Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Cruises have announced Port Miami as the home for their very first Virgin Cruise Ship, which will set sail in 2020. Yeah, you'll have to wait five years before you can take this Virgin out to the high seas.
Straight from the Virgin.com blog, here's what Virgin Cruises is planning:
Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020 and has signed a binding letter of intent with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.
Virgin Cruises’ three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tons each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There will also be 1,150 crew on board to look after the guests and deliver the Virgin service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.
Now that Carnival Cruises is brewing its own beer, they want to crack down on passengers smuggling in booze. And that means saying "Hell to the No" to passengers bringing their own bottled water on board.
TravelWeekly reports that beginning on July 9, passengers will no longer be able to bring bottled beverages on board, save for a "single bottle of fine wine or champagne." Other canned or boxed beverages are allowed, however, in restricted quantities of 12 or less. Additionally, the size of coolers brought on ship are being restricted to 12 x 12 x 12.
Thinking about cruising in 2015? Then say hello to our cruise specialist, MaidenVoyage. As a travel agent who spends day in and day out booking cruises for curious travelers, she knows cruise lines and ships like the back of a muster drill script. Got a question about cruises? Even a stupid one? MaidenVoyage has heard and seen it all, so don't be shy. Send your cruise question to her!
We received the following cruise question from a reader named Stefano:
My family is considering going to the Disney Dream Cruise, the three day trip to [the] Bahamas. I'm skeptical of whether four adults would enjoy since I'm 23 and my sister is 26, [and] my parents would be going too. My sister is the one who wants to go but based on looking at the videos online the activities seem more catered to kids. I would like to go to the Bahamas though. Would the Disney Dream be an enjoyable choice?
Keep reading to see what MaidenVoyage has to say.
UPDATE: After so much outrage from passengers, Norwegian Cruises has been forced to rescind their ban on "To Go" food.
Be very careful sneaking back that midnight snack to your stateroom on the lido deck, as there’s one cruise line that wants you to eat in one place and one place only—the dining room.
According to USA Today, Norwegian Cruise Line has a new rule — or policy, or whatever you want to call it — and it has to do with taking food from the buffet or restaurant and chowing down elsewhere. In a word — don’t. They’re spinning it to sound like they want to keep the ships all neat and tidy, and that plates of food left about is not really appetizing.
Officials do a solid by being somewhat reasonable with things, as they mentioned that grabbing a little cereal for later is fine and dandy. Same with a piece of fruit or something like that. It’s the whole plates of food that’s a no-no, so we guess the shorter take is: just don’t be that guy.
It’s probably a safe bet that the last time you went on a cruise you gained some weight. We’re hardly judging, and we’d likely do the same. Between all the buffets, umbrella drinks, and relaxing, it's easy to pack on some pounds. But now there’s a cruise that might help you lose a few instead: Royal Caribbean is teaming up with Zumba.
Pack your parachute pants (or whatever they’re called) and hit the high seas with the inaugural Zumba Cruise, set to depart Fort Lauderdale on January 25, 2016. They’re promising the fittest and most fun cruise ever, but we’ll believe it when we see it — because even just thinking about all that exercise kind of tires us out.
Cruise Travel / Mediterranean Travel / MSC Cruises / Cruise Technology / Cruise News / Cruises / → All Tags
If you’re looking to cruise around the Mediterranean in high-tech style, get your wallets ready because starting this summer travelers can start booking the next generation of MSC Cruises.
A 4,500 guest, 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017 and open for bookings starting in June — will be named MSC Meraviglia. She will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.
And tech-y cruisers take note: MSC Meraviglia will feature a range of technological advancements, like "Near Field Communication" technology, enabling guests to make onboard payments, access their staterooms or geo-locate children by using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone.
Another feature will be a 5,167 square foot LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship’s interior promenade. Like a digital sky, this LED image vault will beam out images and vistas day and night – including scheduled visual events – creating a variety of atmospheres at all times.
Cruise Travel / British Virgin Islands Travel / Tortola Travel / Cruises / Cruise Ports / Caribbean Travel / → All Tags
The British Virgin Islands’ cruise pier expansion project in Tortola will soon be completed with an official opening and celebration on April 29.
The pier has been widened to 60 feet and lengthened to 1,039 feet, according to a statement from the BVI Ports Authority. That includes the addition of mooring “dolphins” adding 273 feet for a total of 1,312 feet of berthing space. The BVI has signed agreements with Disney and Norwegian Cruise Lines to bring more than 425,000 annual cruise visitors to the territory.
So what to do if you take a cruise that ports in Tortola? Well, we’ve been there several times and if you only have one day to spend on the island here’s our advice: Head directly to Cane Garden Bay, the prettiest beach on Tortola, lined with seaside eateries and fun beach bars like Quito’s Gazebo and Myetts.
Skip Roadtown – there’s not a whole lot to see and it’s not the quaint little Caribbean village one might expect. Surfing enthusiasts might want to check out Apple Bay to either try the waves themselves or sit with a cocktail in hand from the Bomba Shack watching others wipe out.
[Photos: BVI Ports Authority; BVI Tourism Bureau]
When setting sail on your next cruise you might want to skip the umbrella drink, as now there’s something a little bit better brewing aboard one ship.
Carnival Cruise Lines is adding an at-sea brewpub, and with it they’ll be brewing lagers and ales far from shore. The kegs and kettles will be loaded onto one of the newest ships in the fleet—Carnival Vista—that is scheduled to start doing its thing next year.
Right now it sounds like they’re still trying to figure out all the details, so no word on exactly what will be offered. However, we do know that things will be served up onboard within their RedFrog Pub, and we’re pretty sure that they will not be utilizing saltwater in any of their recipes.
[Photo: Frank Morales R]
[Photo: Frank Morales R]
Safety Videos / Condor Ferries / YouTube / Cruises / Cruise Travel / Ferry Travel / UK Travel / Travel Ads / → All Tags
It seems airlines and cruises continually compete for the coolest safety videos. Air New Zealand created a hobbit-themed epic, even going so far as convincing Elijah Wood to recreate his role.
But British cruiser Condor Ferries, who operate between mainland England, France and the Channel Islands, has gone a different route with a two-and-a-half-minute cringe-worthy rap, complete with British-accented gangsterisms.
Set to the tune of Sugarhill Gang’s "Rapper’s Delight," the video stars three "staffers" from the ferry firm, with the trio showcasing their hip-hop candor while busting dance moves only ever used by that weird uncle at family weddings.
The safety video quickly sets the tone—deafly—in the first line, “I’m the C-A-P-T to the A-I-N”—because we weren’t sure how to spell captain. From there, the instructions only get
sexist better with the captain, later, urging, “now, ladies, hey ladies, sharp objects can’t go on our slides, so leave those heels behind,” and the safety inspector female telling passengers not to “act the fool” in her delightfully posh accent.
Cruise News / Cruises / Cruise Travel / Celebrity Cruises / Celebrity Reflection / Cruise Bars / Molecular Bar / → All Tags
Thinking about cruising in 2015 or 2016? Then say hello to our cruise specialist, MaidenVoyage. As a travel agent who spends day in and day out booking cruises for curious travelers, she knows cruise lines and ships like the back of a muster drill script. Got a question about cruises? Even a stupid one? MaidenVoyage has heard and seen it all, so don't be shy. Send your cruise question to her!
I hate bad news. Last week, as I was trying to digest the information given to me and figure out why it was happening, Jaunted posted Janice's story about the Molecular Bar on the Celebrity Reflection. We must've been vibing.
It just so happens that the bad news I received (which TravelHopsGirl also mentioned in the comments section) is that the Molecular Bar is going bye-bye. I think I gasped in horror and shed a tear when I was told. Deep down in my heart I was hoping that Celebrity would put this gem on ALL of its ships, not just their Solstice Class. I was way wrong.
Cruise Travel / Cruises / Celebrity Cruises / Royal Caribbean / Ships / Bars / Caribbean Travel / → All Tags
Most bars on cruise ships are pretty decent – you tend to have your champagne bar, martini bar, the big lounge with the live performers, and the nightclub, which is usually pretty empty but at least you can get some dance music every once in a while thrown in amongst the 60s nights.
But Celebrity Cruises has definitely upped the cool factor with a couple of bars that can be found on all Solstice class ships: yes, there’s the Martini Bar, but this one has an actual ice-top bar with ice-blue mood lighting, and there’s the Molecular Bar specializing in fancy foams and complex cocktails by award-winning mixologist Junior Merino. And then, unique to Celebrity Reflection, is the au courant pop-up nightclub concept.
Alexander Yepremian, the Reflection’s Cruise Director, had the brainiac idea to start a nightclub that would dock in a different bar each night at 10:30 p.m., with killer names like “Liquid” and “Indulgence.” On one particular night, this writer was having a glass of Pinot Noir at the club chair-rich Cellar Masters wine bar when crew started to move in carrying lights, sound equipment and cages large enough for cage dancers to shake their booty in. By the time I left, about an hour-and-a-half later, the DJ was throwing out some sweet sounds, the crowd was swaying and imbibing, and people were lined up outside on the red carpet waiting to get in.