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Greetings to the many thousands of readers the past month from across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as well as Russia, France, Germany, Japan, China, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam and Australia.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Caring, sharing while on cruise shore excursions



   Out to Sea for Aug. 29/15
 
   By Jim and Barb Fox

   The well-publicized plans of sailing to Cuba on a new Carnival Corporation brand ship won’t be your usual fun-in-the-sun cruise.
   These and others are part of a growing trend of “social impact experiences” while at sea as a way of giving back to help out where the ships visit.
   Cruisers learn how to rescue a dolphin and aid marine life in Barcelona, Spain on Crystal Cruises. (Crystal Cruises)
   Others, surprisingly – along with Cuba and the Dominican Republic – Victoria, Halifax and St. John make the list with Crystal Cruises “You Care, We Care” program.
   Carnival Corporation has launched “fathom,” its new “purpose-travel” brand, to begin week-long sailings to Cuba next May, along with seven-day cruises starting a month earlier to the Dominican Republic.
   The company has been granted approval from the U.S. to operate direct U.S.-to-Cuba travel to provide a cultural exchange, said Roger Frizzell, Carnival’s chief communications officer.
   “We continue to have positive dialogue with Cuban officials and remain very optimistic that we will be granted approval as we continue to target May 2016 as our launch date,” he added.
   Carnival’s fathom would be the first U.S. cruise company to visit Cuba since the start in 1962 of a U.S. embargo barring Americans from visiting the Caribbean island nation.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Crystal Cruises to expand luxury travel in ocean, river, yacht and . . . air

Luxury line announces unprecedented plans to become first and only hospitality brand to offer luxurious explorations and adventures for ocean, expedition, river, yacht and air 

     LOS ANGELES – Exactly 25 years after Crystal Cruises set its course as a leader in luxury cruising with the launch of the first of three ships, the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line is charting a new, much more vast, route.

     Aboard the line’s annual President’s Cruise on Crystal Serenity and Chairman’s Cruise on Crystal Symphony respectively, Crystal’s president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez and Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay announced Crystal’s plans for the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality.  Over the next three years, Crystal Cruises will introduce new ships – effectively establishing three brand new classes of cruising – as well as its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. 

     In their special address to guests, Rodriguez and Tan Sri Lim made clear of new parent company, Genting Hong Kong’s investment in maintaining Crystal’s award-winning reputation and writing a new chapter in the continuing story of Crystal Cruises. The Chairman stated, “Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world’s premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come.”

Holland America Line’s ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ Final Champions Cruise to feature fan favorites from the hit ABC show

   Finalists taking part in the 2014 Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Champions Cruise on the Westerdam. (Jim Fox photo)
Pro Tony Dovolani joins Kym Johnson, Carson Kressley and Florence Hendersen; last chance to join special theme cruises

Seattle, Wash., Aug. 5, 2015 -- Holland America Line has added the talents of professional dancers and Mirrorball Trophy winners Tony Dovolani and Kym Johnson, along with celebrity personality Carson Kressley and America’s favorite TV mom Florence Henderson to the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champions Cruise.

It departs Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Jan. 10, 2016, and to the Jan. 3, 2016, theme cruise the week prior. These voyages mark the final chances to experience “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming before the partnership concludes.

When ms Nieuw Amsterdam sets sail for the Caribbean on two seven-day voyages, guests will be able to watch these four fan favorites take the stage to perform routines from the ABC’s hit television show as well as exciting new choreographed dances. Additional events on these cruises include dance lessons with the ship’s professional dancers; a special fashion show featuring glamorous show costumes from the TV show; and a chance to meet the stars, ask questions and take photos with them.

Un-Cruise Adventures becomes first cruise line to partner with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch


Commits to Serving Only Ocean-Friendly Seafood


Seattle, WA -- Un-Cruise Adventures has announced a formal partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, committing to serve only seafood caught or farmed in ocean-friendly ways. This is the first cruise line to partner with the nationally respected consumer education initiative.



“We’re committed to serving sustainable seafood across our fleet of yachts and small ships,” said Dan Blanchard, CEO of Un-Cruise Adventures. “It’s the right thing to do, and we believe our guests will agree.”



Seafood Watch empowers consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans. Using science-based, peer reviewed methods, Seafood Watch assesses how wild-caught and farmed seafood affect the environment and provides recommendations indicating which items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones to “Avoid.”

Say “I do” to weddings at sea on Norwegian Cruise Line

Couples on the line’s newest ships can exchange vows at sea in a ceremony performed by the captain
MIAMI – Engaged couples dreaming of exchanging vows while sailing into the sunset can now do so, as Norwegian Cruise Line announced that the line will begin offering legally recognized weddings at sea performed by the ship’s captain now on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, and on Norwegian Escape when she launches this fall.

Norwegian’s Wedding At Sea package includes everything couples need to celebrate their nuptials, including a bridal bouquet and matching boutonniere, champagne toast, wedding cake and more, plus an experienced wedding coordinator to assist them every step of the way during the planning process.

Once on board, they will enjoy their big day stress free, as on-site wedding coordinators handle all of the day’s details so the happy couple can relax and enjoy their special day. The onboard ceremonies will be performed by the ship’s Captain, with the couple’s marriage license issued by the Bahamas.

Princess Cruises unveils 2016 Japan cruise program

Cruise Line’s Fourth Season Features Diamond Princess
Sailing From Kobe and Tokyo to New Ports and Features
UNESCO World Heritage Sites and National Cultural Festivals


Princess Cruises, the only international cruise line to sail a full season of voyages in Japan, will visit
Japan’s cultural jewels and extend ports of call for fireworks display and festivals on its 2016 Japan itineraries.
 SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Carnival Corporation & plc announced today that its Princess Cruises brand, the top North American cruise line in Japan, will offer an array of Japan voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2016 that circumnavigate the country, visiting the top-rated ports with two new ports of call on the island of Kyushu, along with visits to Korea, Taiwan and Russia.

The voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan’s largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, new Land and Sea Vacation packages will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto and Tokyo.
 
The variety of voyages offered on Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 20 nights, include the whole of Japan on Circle Japan voyages; northern Japan on Circle Hokkaido Island voyages, with a visit to Korsakov, Russia; and southern Japan on Kyushu Island voyages featuring maiden ports of call in the beautiful southern beach port of Miyazaki and the famous castle ruins of Yatushiro, and voyages to Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands.

 Grand Japan voyages ranging from 14- to 20- nights offer the greatest variety of ports and experiences; while four- and five-night getaway cruises provide a sampling of some of Japan’s not-to-be-missed destination highlights.

Carnival Pride to return to Tampa to operate series of voyages in Jan. and Feb. 2017

MIAMI (August 26, 2015) – Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride will return to the Port of Tampa to operate a series of five- to 14-day voyages in January and February 2017, providing consumers with an exciting variety of “Fun Ship” vacation choices from this popular Florida port. 
Carnival Pride in Grand Turk (Jim Fox photo)
Carnival Pride has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation that added consumer favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network Star Guy Fieri, the full-service Bonsai Sushi, and BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican fare, along with innovative beverage concepts like the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, and the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. A massive WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest water slide at sea, was added, as well.

            “Tampa is a popular port for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising and we’re thrilled that the Carnival Pride is returning to the port to operate this series of five- to 14-day cruises which feature visits to top destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “These cruises also provide our valued travel agent partners with exciting new vacation choices to market to their clients,” she added.
 
Five- to Seven-Day Cruises From Tampa
Carnival Pride will operate a series of seven-day cruises from Tampa departing Jan. 15, 22 and 29, and Feb. 19, 2017, visiting some of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, including Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; and George Town, Grand Cayman.  Carnival Pride will also offer a five-day cruise round-trip from Tampa February 14-19, 2017, calling at Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  Each of these destinations are world-renowned for their beautiful beaches, wide range of sightseeing choices and excellent water sports opportunities. 
 
Special 13- and 14-Day Carnival Journeys Cruises From Baltimore and Tampa
Prior to its deployment to Tampa, Carnival Pride will operate a 13-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing Baltimore Jan. 2 and arriving in Tampa Jan. 15, 2017. Ports of call include Grand Turk, B.W.I.; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama (including optional excursions to the Panama Canal); Limon, Costa Rica; Mahogany Bay; Cozumel and the Caribbean’s newest destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, which serves as the gateway to one of the world’s most breathtaking cruising regions.    

A 14-day Carnival Journeys voyage will depart Tampa Feb. 26, visiting Cozumel, Limon, Colon, Aruba, Bonaire, and St. Maarten before arriving in Baltimore March 12, 2017.  Following this voyage, Carnival Pride will resume its year-round schedule of seven-day cruises from Baltimore beginning March 12, 2017.

Carnival Journeys is a unique collection of longer length voyages featuring spectacular ports of call and unique on-board activities created especially for this one-of-a-kind cruise program. In addition to experiencing and exploring ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America, Carnival Journeys guests can enjoy local culinary experiences, participate in exclusive team member Q&As and special activities, including a fun-filled “throw back sea day” with retro activities and old school dining options from the 1980s. 

For additional information on these voyages, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.  Carnival can also be found on:
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/carnival

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About Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival, a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), is "The World's Most Popular Cruise Line®" with 24 ships operating three- to 16-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.  The company currently has two new 133,500-ton ships on order--Carnival Vista, set to debut in 2016, and an as-yet-unnamed vessel scheduled to enter service in 2018.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Crystal Cruises expands free Wi-Fi for all luxury travelers


Daily Complimentary Internet Access Enhances Onboard Amenities for Globetrotting Guests

LOS ANGELES, August 20, 2015 – Crystal Cruises announced today that it will expand complimentary Internet access to all of its luxury guests.

Beginning August 30 on both, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, Crystal will provide one free hour per guest, per day for Deluxe Stateroom and Penthouse guests; 90 minutes for Penthouse Suite guests.  

With additional free access to Crystal’s 24-hour satellite-enabled wireless Internet – which will also be available aboard Crystal Yacht Cruises’ Crystal Esprit when the maiden voyage embarks on December 23, 2015 – travelers can remain connected while on vacation, whether on their own devices or utilizing one of the ships’ cutting edge work stations or portable laptop rentals, which are available for a nominal fee. 

“While some travelers like to ‘unplug’ on vacation, many of our guests wish to stay connected while traveling, whether for business purposes, to stay in touch with loved ones, or to share their Crystal experiences along their journeys,” says President & CEO Edie Rodriguez, “It is always our goal to make life aboard our ships as effortless and comfortable as possible for our guests, and amenities like free Internet go a long way to help those efforts.”

Kate McCue advances women's leadership in cruising as Celebrity Cruises names her the industry's first American female captain


Captain Kate McCue
MIAMI, FL – For the first time in the cruise industry – and in Celebrity Cruises’ history – an American woman will take the helm of a mega-ton cruise ship.

At 37 years of age, San Francisco native Kate McCue will command Celebrity Summit a 91,000-ton, 965-foot ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, sailing between the eastern United States and Bermuda.

As Captain, she will be responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and the onboard experience of its 2,158 guests and 952 crew members.

The modern luxury cruise brand, which operates a fleet of 10 ships, has elevated McCue to the position of Captain based on her 15 years of successful experience and leadership in the maritime industry.


During her tenure, McCue has managed ship logistics while sailing worldwide itineraries, including Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and along the Panama Canal. Captain McCue has also served as a maritime leader while sailing several transatlantic and repositioning cruises, and played a notable role in the revitalization of ships in Singapore.

Carnival dramatically enhances shore excursion offerings with exclusive private and customized tours, expanded service, family friendly pricing

Expanded Options and Services Provide Guests with Even More Exciting Choices
Among the Nearly 1,200 Unique Landside Experiences Offered by the Line Each Year
 
MIAMI – Carnival Cruise Line has dramatically expanded its shore excursion offerings, adding exclusive new landside experiences and customized private tours, as well as new family-friendly enhancements, including fun complimentary beachside activities, value pricing and free tours in select ports for children under age five.
The new options build upon Carnival’s leadership position in the shore excursion arena, with nearly 1,200 unique landside experiences offered by the line in more than 50 ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Bahamas, Canada, New England, and Central and South America.
“Shore excursions are an important part of the Carnival vacation experience and we’ve gone to great lengths to provide our guests with even more choices and offer families unique value-added services and pricing options that are exclusive to Carnival,” said Erika Tache, Carnival’s director of product development.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 to undergo major refurbishment in early summer 2016, befitting the world’s most iconic ocean liner




As Cunard marks its illustrious 175 year history with the arrival in New York of its flagship, Queen Mary 2, it is proud to announce the next chapter of innovation and investment, introducing new designs and guest experiences to the world’s most iconic ocean liner.

From the company’s inception, Cunard has been at the forefront of ocean travel. Through establishing the first scheduled Transatlantic Crossings, to the first electric lightbulbs and en-suite bathrooms at sea, to the grandeur of the floating palaces of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, to the launch of the current fleet.

To ensure the tradition continues, Queen Mary 2 will undergo an extensive 25 day dry dock refurbishment at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany next summer, 27 May- 21 June 2016.

This major refurbishment will further refine and refresh guest interior spaces and launch new exciting innovations designed to exceed guest expectations. Three of the key developments are announced today, reflecting the changing needs of Cunard’s guests:




Un-Cruise Adventures releases new brochure of small ship cruises and introduces new itinerary in Panama


Panamá adventure cruises begin in spring 2017

Seattle, WA, August 3, 2015Un-Cruise Adventures’ new comprehensive brochure of small ship adventure and river cruises begins arriving in mailboxes the first week of August.   The brochure details voyages from November 2015 through April 2017 in Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Columbia & Snake Rivers, Hawaii, Mexico, the Galápagos Islands, Costa Rica and new in 2017, Panamá. 

The printed brochure has increased to 100 pages and includes details on twenty cruise itineraries plus land tour extensions. Colorful photos and maps illustrate each trip, and ship deck plans provide an overview of the line’s fleet of boutique yachts and small ships carrying 22-88 guests.

“The brochure releases details on our newest destination—an in-depth exploration of Panamá’s jungles, islands and native cultures,” said Dan Blanchard, CEO. “This is a Panamá rarely seen by travelers; beyond the Panama Canal is a culturally rich and scenic country.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings reports improved financial results; announces new "exotic" itineraries



Second Quarter Adjusted EPS Improves 29.3% to $0.75

Second Quarter Adjusted EBITDA Improves 42.8% to $313.4 million

2016 Synergy Capture Increased to $125 million

New Exotic Itineraries Announced for the Norwegian Brand, Including Australia and Asia
  
MIAMI, Florida – August 4, 2015 – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: NCLH together with NCL Corporation Ltd., “Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings”, “Norwegian” or the “Company”), today reported financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2015 and provided guidance for the third quarter and full year 2015. 

Second Quarter 2015 Highlights

  • Improvement in Adjusted EPS of 29.3% to $0.75 on Adjusted Net Income of $171.6 million.
  • Increase in Adjusted Net Yield on a Combined Company basis of 1.5%, or 3.2% on a Constant Currency basis, driven by pricing improvement in the quarter.  Increase of 18.2% on an as reported basis.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Windstar Cruises welcomes solo travelers


Seattle –  For the first time, Windstar Cruises offers solo travelers the chance to experience the trip of a lifetime with waived or reduced rates on select voyages booked by September 18, 2015.

Windstar extends this more affordable style of single cruising on more than 130 voyages including itineraries in Panama, Costa Rica, Tahiti, , the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. The Single Supplement is completely waived on 43 itineraries, with a 10-25% discount on 94 voyages.

  • Waived Single Supplement – Dreams of Tahiti, Glitter and Glam of the Rivieras, Caribbean Delights and Panama Passages, Morocco and the Canary Islands, and more.
  • 10% Single Supplement – Black Sea Tapestry, Classic Italy and the Dalmatian Coast, Naturally Costa Rica, and more
  • 15% Single Supplement – Classic Caribbean, Jewels of the Windward Isles, Spanish Serenade, transatlantic crossings, and more
  • 20% Single Supplement – Best of the ABC Isles, Culinary and Wine Delights of Spain and France, Tahiti and the Tuamotu Islands 10 day, and more
  • 25% Single Supplement – San Juan and the Virgin Islands, Secrets of the Southern Caribbean, Treasures of Southern Spain and Morocco, and more

Carnival teams up with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to host events aboard ships in Tampa and New Orleans

Events Included Readings by Tampa Bay Rays All-Star Evan Longoria, New Orleans Broadcasting Legend Angela Hill, Donations to Area Animal Rescue Organizations


MIAMI (August 3, 2015) – Carnival Cruise Line and its partner Dr. Seuss Enterprises teamed up to celebrate the release of the new Dr. Seuss book, “What Pet Should I Get?” with celebrity book readings by Tampa Bay Rays all-star Evan Longoria aboard Carnival Paradise in Tampa and local broadcasting legend Angela Hill aboard Carnival Dream in New Orleans. 

In conjunction with the event, Carnival is matching Longoria’s donation of $100 to Pet Pal Animal Shelter for every home run he hits during the 2015 season. The cruise line is also donating monies to the Tampa Bay and Louisiana chapters of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

“Carnival is the number one cruise line for families and we’re delighted to team up with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring the joy of reading to kids with these special presentations in Tampa and New Orleans while supporting local animal rescue organizations,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “The kids were absolutely thrilled to have been treated to a reading of the first new Dr. Seuss book in 25 years and our most sincere thanks to Evan and Angela, as well as the SPCA, for the valuable work they do each and every day,” she added.

Most Overnights, more Excursions, more Caribbean with Celebrity Cruises

(News Release)

MIAMI, FL – Aug. 4, 2015Celebrity Cruises is bringing more of the Caribbean to vacationers with “Evenings Around the World” shore excursions, featuring 14 new, unique experiences that begin after the sun goes down.


These special excursions perfectly complement the recently announced overnight stays on over 40 Caribbean sailings departing January 2016 and beyond – more than any other cruise line.

Celebrity’s Caribbean Evenings Around the World program offers guests a curated menu of evening experiences that go beyond the port, expose travelers to the true soul of the Caribbean, and provide experiences that can’t be captured on a postcard.

Seven reasons to take a Halloween cruise with Disney Cruise Line

A frightfully good time awaits Disney Cruise Line guests this Halloween

As summertime comes to a close, Disney Cruise Line is preparing to treat guests sailing this fall to a wickedly good time as the Disney ships transform into a ghoulish wonderland filled with frightfully fun events and activities, special decorations, unique menu items in the restaurants and themed parties on deck.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crystal Cruises' new Extended Land Programs in Canada explore the indulgent sides of Toronto and Montreal




Fine Dining, Posh Hotels, Cultural Highlights Set for Expanded Luxury Vacations

This fall, Crystal Cruises is offering travelers the chance to extend their ultra-luxury cruise experience ashore with two lavish Extended Land Programs in Eastern Canada.

Offered with two Crystal Symphony New England/Canada sailings from New York to Montréal, the post-cruise shore-side adventures take guests further into two of Canada’s most culturally rich cities – Toronto and Montréal – including iconic sites like Niagara Falls, the Notre-Dame Basilica and exclusive mountaintop villages. 

“Toronto and Montréal each offer such distinctly elegant experiences, from the palpable history to the world-class cuisine,” says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez.

“These Extended Land Programs have been carefully curated by our expert team to cater to guests who want to continue their journey ashore while still enjoying all the luxury and attention to detail that draws them to Crystal.”
Mont-Tremblant village near Montreal
With each, guests will enjoy the luxurious attention to detail for which Crystal is known, from getting there to being there, including such highlights as: