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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

43 years of fun: A history of Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines is the most successful cruise line in the world, carrying more passengers than any other.  
But the Carnival of today is a vastly different company than the one started from humble beginnings more than four decades ago.  Carnival was launched with a converted transatlantic ocean liner and a dream of entrepreneur Ted Arison, a pioneer in the modern-day cruise industry who set out to realize his vision of making a vacation experience once reserved for the very rich accessible to the average person.
The rest, as they say, is history.

1972 – Maiden voyage of Carnival’s first ship, the TSS Mardi Gras, which runs aground on sandbar outside the Port of Miami

1975 – Carnival purchases Empress of Britain, enters service as the TSS Carnivale

1978 – The Festivale, formerly the S.A. Vaal, undergoes $30 million refurbishment, begins service for Carnival as the largest and fastest vessel sailing from Miami to the Caribbean

1982 – Debut of the Tropicale, the first new cruise ship the cruise industry has seen in many years; ship marks the beginning of an industry-wide multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding boom

1984 – Carnival becomes first cruise line to advertise on network T.V. with the premiere of new advertising campaign starring company spokesperson Kathie Lee Gifford (then Johnson)

Cunard celebrates 175th anniversary in Boston

Commemorations are marked at former Cunard U.S. headquarters on State Street

Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, throws first ceremonial pitch at Boston Red Sox game
Dazzling fireworks over the harbor conclude the festivities
The Servia model, built in 1881, was brought over by the Queen Mary 2 and adorns the front entrance of the
former North American Cunard headquarters at 126 State Street

13 July 2015Cunard celebrated 175 years of history, tradition, and industrial achievement in Boston, Massachusetts. The day-long event marked the company’s original Transatlantic Crossing as well as the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic.

In July 1840, the company’s first flagship, Britannia, left from Liverpool, England, setting sail across the Atlantic towards Canada and the United States with Samuel Cunard and his daughter on board. The Britannia’s crossing of the Atlantic in a fortnight marked a revolution in communication in an era when mail and newspapers could take six weeks to reach their destination.
From L-R: Richard Meadows, President, Cunard North America, Thomas Glynn, Massport CEO, William Mosakowski, CEO, Public Consulting Group
and Cunard Building owner, Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, and David Noyes, CEO, Cunard, along with Cunard bellmen.

The cutting-edge paddle steamer, capable of speeding at nine knots, carried 115 passengers, 89 crew, 600 tons of coal, the Atlantic mail, chickens, and one cow to provide fresh milk. One hundred and seventy five years later, a Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2 offers the ultimate in luxury.

Cunard’s 175th Anniversary in Boston on 12 July 2015 included:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Carnival Cruise Line releases high-energy video tour of the new Carnival Vista

Go on a tour of our newest ship, Carnival Vista.

Take in the brand-spanking new amenities and restaurants designed to let the indoors and outdoors mingle on your vacation.

Fast-paced, fun video provides sneak peek at exciting spaces and activities
on Carnival’s newest, largest and most innovative ship

            MIAMI – Produced in a style that expresses the fun and awe-inspiring features of Carnival Cruise Line’s newest, largest and most innovative ship, Carnival Vista’s new video tour is a distinct departure from most new ship overviews. 

Narrated by the ship itself in a carefree, sassy female voice that mirrors Carnival Vista’s online social media persona, the video ranges from bird’s-eye overhead views of the vessel to swooping careens through engaging public spaces and expansive outdoor decks.  The video also highlights the spaciousness and indoor-outdoor integration of Carnival’s newest ship, set to debut in Europe in May 2016.  The video can be viewed here.

            The video opens with a three-quarter exterior panoramic view of Carnival Vista plying sunny seas as the voice-over introduces herself and sets the casual, conversational tone the narration employs throughout the five-minute segment. The tour begins with a fly-through of the atrium, anchored at its center by a three-deck-high LED column with ever-changing colors and shapes extending from the center of the atrium bar. 

AdventureSmith Explorations now offers Cuba - Announces 8-day small ship cruises beginning December 2015

  TAHOE CITY, CA – Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com is venturing into new waters. The company has engaged a three-masted schooner, Panorama, to cruise the Caribbean carrying American travelers who for the first time in over 50 years can now visit the island nation of Cuba and meet its people.

Launching in December 2015 and scheduled into April 2016 will be a series of eight-day adventures called the Cuba People to People Cruise aboard a recently refurbished 49-passenger sailing vessel. The program begins and ends in Miami with round trip flights to Havana included in the fare. The ship stops in five ports along Cuba’s western and southern shore.

The per person, double cabin rate is from $4,799. Guests use the ship as a floating hotel as they enjoy daily shore excursions.  Included in the rate are round-trip air fare from Miami, all meals from arrival in Cuba to breakfast on departure day, cabin accommodations, Cuban visa, mandatory Cuban medical insurance and transportation.

The Cuba People to People cruise has obtained all the required licenses for American citizens traveling from the US, which are included in the price of the trip.

Disney Magic sails to Geiranger, Norway, for the first time

GEIRANGER, Norway (June 10, 2015) – Today, the Disney Magic arrived in Geiranger, Norway, for the first time in forever, sailing into the majestic fjord that inspired the fairytale kingdom of Arendelle in the animated hit “Frozen.”

The Disney Magic called on Geiranger as part of the inaugural Norwegian Fjords itinerary that kicks off the 2015 European season. Disney Cruise Line will return to Norway in the summer of 2016.

Follow the Disney Parks Blog, Disney Cruise Line Facebook page and @DisneyCruise on Twitter  for daily updates about Disney Cruise Line.

New destination adventures In the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises unveils authentic dining experience
with locals and reforestation project in national park

MIAMI, FL – Explorers can enjoy new vacation experiences when sailing to the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises.

The modern luxury brand, celebrating its 10-year anniversary in the unspoiled region, has launched immersive and inspiring land excursions that range from dining on authentic cuisine prepared by local residents to contributing to the protected islands by giving new life to a native tree species.

Building on 10 years of involvement in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity continues its commitment to supporting and empowering the communities of the region with a medical clinic, fishing and agriculture cooperatives, and a partnership with the Galapagos Conservancy, which includes a matching program to double the value of guests’ donations.

Now for vacationers, Celebrity has introduced more Galapagos experiences that include:

Carnival Corp. & PLC reports significantly higher second-quarter earnings

MIAMI (June 23, 2015) – Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income of $193 million, or $0.25 diluted EPS for the second quarter of 2015 compared to non-GAAP net income for the second quarter of 2014 of $73 million, or $0.09 diluted EPS.

For the second quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $34 million and $7 million of restructuring expenses, was $222 million, or $0.29 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income was $98 million, or $0.13 diluted EPS. Revenues for the second quarter of 2015 were $3.6 billion, in line with the prior year. 

Carnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald noted “We more than doubled our second quarter earnings versus the comparable period a year ago and significantly exceeded our quarterly earnings guidance.

Our initiatives to create demand and leverage our scale benefited both cruise ticket prices and onboard revenues contributing to 5% revenue yield improvement (constant currency) this quarter. While all of our North American brands enjoyed strong revenue yield improvement, our Carnival Cruise Line brand performed particularly well again this quarter. We thank our teams around the globe for their consistent delivery of exceptional guest experiences as well as our travel agent partners for their strong support, both of which are critical to our success.”

Cunard marks the 175th anniversary to the day of the inauguration of regular Transatlantic service

RAF Fred Arrows honour Cunard's 175th anniversary to the day, with a spectacular fly-past in Liverpool.

4 July 2015 - Queen Mary 2 sounded her ship’s whistle at 2 p.m. in Liverpool today to signify the time exactly 175 years earlier that Cunard’s first ship Britannia left the city’s Coburg Dock and inaugurated the first ever scheduled Transatlantic service.

That first crossing changed the face of ocean travel, establishing the first permanent link between the Old World and the New – a link that has remained unbroken for 175 years as Cunard’s ships have crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic every year since, in peace and war, without fail.

Britannia was Cunard’s first flagship but at just 1,154 tons and carrying just 115 passengers, she could fit inside the Britannia Restaurant of today’s 150,000 ton flagship Queen Mary 2, which accommodates 2,600 guests. But the little ship’s departure heralded the start of passenger shipping sailing from Liverpool.
Descendant of Sir Samuel Cunard, Hugh Paton from Canada, welcomed by Cunard's officers & bellmen
in Liverpool where for the first time since 1968 passengers have embarked for Transatlantic service.
History was also made in the city today when 400 Cunard passengers embarked Queen Mary 2 bound for Halifax, Boston and New York. This was the first time in nearly 50 years that passengers have set out on a Transatlantic crossing from Liverpool since Cunard’s Franconia’s last crossing from the city in 1968.

Fun, fun, fun in the hot, hot, hot sun, sun, sun on Carnival Pride

   Out to Sea column for July 4/15

   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox

   Caribbean cruises are hot as it’s no longer just a cold-weather destination.
   The Caribbean is the world’s most-popular cruising destination, with each island having its distinct identity, cultural experience and flavour, mon.
   Cruisers go to discover turquoise waters and coral reefs great for diving and snorkelling, exotic blooms, historic fortresses and plantations, and island cultures and customs.
   There are palm trees and sparkling white beaches, spice markets and spicy foods, colourful houses and sun-splashed outdoor fun, not to forget duty-free shopping and warm hospitality.
With its imposing bow, the Carnival Pride is tied up at the pier in Grand Turk. (Jim Fox photo)
   In the summertime when the weather is hot
   We decided to find out why anyone would take a Caribbean cruise in the summertime as the Carnival Pride is now homeported in Baltimore year-round.
   Terry Thornton, a Carnival Cruise Line senior vice-president, said 19 of its 24 ships are based in the Caribbean this summer and will carry upwards of two-million guests.
   “Summer is a great time to take a Caribbean cruise, particularly for families who enjoy the region’s world-class beaches and ‘fun-in-the-sun’ activities it is famous for.”
   Many cruisers on our 2,200-passenger ship were seeking “beach vacations” and the cruising experience with four days “at sea” and only three ports.
   Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport, Bahamas are ideal for laid-back beach-and-water activities.
   On alternate week sailings, the ship visits Port Canaveral and Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas.
WaterWorks park atop the Carnival Pride has several waterslides overlooking the ocean. (Barbara Fox photo)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MGM Resorts International and Celebrity Cruises team up to deliver special experiences and benefits

(News Release)

MGM Resorts’ M life and Celebrity’s Captain’s Club loyalty program members enjoy special perks, from VIP experiences at Las Vegas resorts to modern luxury cruises
Click to Tweet: .@MGMResortsIntl & @CelebrityCruise partner up, offering new benefits for @mlife & Captain’s Club loyalty program members #LivetheMlife

MIAMI and LAS VEGAS (June 24, 2015) Celebrity Cruises (NYSE/OSX: RCL) and MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) have come together to give loyalty program members more ways to travel in style.

Beginning today, Celebrity’s Captain’s Club and MGM Resorts’ M life members can choose from exclusive premium offers throughout the year. These include complimentary cruises for qualified M life Platinum and NOIR members, and Captain’s Club members can enjoy benefits and special access at MGM Resorts’ destinations, including concerts, events, entertainment venues, restaurants and more.

Cruise through the 2015 holidays with Norwegian

Book a cruise from July 1 - 15 and choose one of four free offers from the popular Freestyle Choice promotion plus, get up to $200 to spend on board holiday cruises.

 Cruisers who can’t wait for the holiday season need look no further than Norwegian Cruise Line, as the company is offering an early gift to all this July with a limited time Holiday Bonus Days offer.

During this special promotion, guests can choose to eat, drink or be merry with up to $200 in onboard credit when they book a new reservation from July 1 – 15 for a cruise during the 2015 holiday season*.

With Norwegian’s Holiday Bonus Days, guests can enjoy their holiday somewhere warm and tropical or spend time exploring a new destination – plus, as an added gift from Norwegian, receive up to $200 to spend on board when they cruise on select dates this November and December.

Aloha July: Save $500 on Hawaiian Islands cruise with Un-Cruise adventures

Visit four islands by yacht on inclusive Hawaii cruise

 Seattle, WA, July 1, 2015—Travelers thinking about Hawaii this winter have 31 days in July to take advantage of Un-Cruise Adventures offer of a $500 savings per couple for reservations confirmed during the month of July 2015.  The 36-guest Safari Explorer sails week-long Hawaiian Seascapes cruises from November through April and the savings is good on select dates.

“We welcome Hawaii-bound travelers to say Aloha to our inclusive yacht adventure in the islands this year,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO. “Seeing four islands by yacht with guided tours and water sports at your fingertips is unlike any other vacation option you’ll find in Hawaii.”

Hawai‘i cruises sail one-way between Hawai‘i and Moloka‘i or reverse and explore four islands—Hawai’i, Lana’i, Maui and Moloka’i. 

Cunard announces Natalie Cole to join musicians on Queen Mary 2 for Blue Note Jazz at Sea

22 June 2015 – Cunard is thrilled to announce that multiple Grammy Award-winning vocalist Natalie Cole will headline the first-ever Blue Note jazz themed cruise, which will debut on Cunard’s flagship, Queen Mary 2, on 29 October 2015.

Cole will join a roster of venerable jazz musicians on this very special Transatlantic Crossing including Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and record producer Robert Glasper, acclaimed trumpet player Keyon Harrold, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott.

Cole was introduced to the world of jazz as a child in the 1950s through her famous father, vocal legend and trailblazer Nat King Cole. Throughout her celebrated career, Natalie has paid tribute to the Latin American, R&B and Jazz genres, as well as to her father through posthumous pairings and renditions of his most popular songs.
Natalie Cole
 “Cunard is very pleased to host Natalie Cole onboard Queen Mary 2. Her presence, together with Blue Note Records’ talented musicians, will be a real treat for our guests,” states Richard Meadows, President, Cunard, North America. “We believe this collaboration with Blue Note will be truly unforgettable.”