NCL Jewel

NCL Begins Port Houston Service

Norwegian Cruise Line returned to the Port of Houston for the first time in more than seven years with the arrival of Norwegian Jewel on Saturday, October 11 at the Bayport Cruise Terminal. This inaugural call marked the beginning of the 2014 fall cruise season for Houston. The Norwegian Jewel will sail 27 Western Caribbean cruises through April 11, 2015.

Oasis of the Seas Upgrades

Royal Caribbean International has announced that the Oasis of the Seas, which completed a 14-day drydock October 14th, has a new look, including “reimagined dining,” high-speed internet, new retail offerings, a new Broadway show, and new suites with exclusive suite dining and a lounge. Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining offers guests more choices and flexibility by offering 20 restaurants, said to be as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.

Crystal ReCRYSTAL-CRUISES-LOGO1ceives Atlantic Alliance Award

The Atlantic Alliance has given Crystal Cruises its “Triple A – Award” for 2015, which it presented to Crystal in Los Angeles last week. Each year the Atlantic Alliance awards cruise companies that have made a particularly significant contribution to the region with its “Triple A – Award”.

Holland America Adds Pros to Dancing with the Stars at Sea

Holland America Line has added the professional dancers Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev to the remaining two 2014 Dancing with the Stars: At Seatheme cruises. Both currently performing on the ABC hit show Dancing with the Stars, Burgess and Chigvintsev will join the Westerdam departing Nov. 29 and the Champions Cruise that sets sail Dec. 6. Both cruises sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean.

C-Equinox_090731-2492_bAll Inclusive Packages Offered by Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has announced an All-Included Europe Package beginning Monday, Oct. 13. Guests can now fly directly from New York or New Jersey where they can embark on their European vacation. The Celebrity All-Included Europe Package is available for the following prices: $2,999 Oceanview lead rate for seven-night Celebrity Equinox Mediterranean sailings; $3,499 Oceanview lead rate for 12-nights on the Silhouette to the Baltic; and $3,499 Oceanview lead rate for 10- or 11-nights on the Reflection on Mediterranean sailings.

The package is available on seven-to-12-night European cruises ocean view or higher stateroom sailing between April 27 and October 12, 2015 on the three ships with round-trip, non-stop flights from JFK or Newark to Barcelona,  Rome, Amsterdam , Venice, Istanbul, Stockholm and Athens. Onboard amenities include a Classic Beverage Package for two including beer, wine and spirits;  non-alcoholic beverage packages for third and fourth guests; all cruise gratuities;  air and cruise taxes and port fees; and round-trip ground transfers.

Carnival Vista Construction Begins

Carnival Cruise Lines’ celebrated the keel-laying of its newest ship, the 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, in a ceremony held last week at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone. The 133,500-ton vessel – the largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed – is set to debut in spring 2016.

Chinese Ports Brace For Immense Growth

By 2020, if estimates are correct, China’s cruise market will make up 4.5 million passengers and $8 billion in local economic impact. With that potential, government-backed ports are working hard to upgrade their infrastructure in time for new tonnage and more ships.

vikingstarViking Ocean Names Captain of Viking Star

Viking Ocean Cruises has announced that Captain Gulleik Svalastog will be at the helm of its first ocean ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – which will sail its first cruise in April 2015.

Carnival Corp May Start Entry Level Chinese Cruise Line

Carnival Corporation is making moves in China and may add another brand to its portfolio in a Chinese entry-level/mass market cruise product.

Four Home Ports and Quantum in China for Royal Caribbean

Putting the Quantum of the Seas in China will not only attract new Chinese passengers but also promote pre- and post-China visits from international guests, according to Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Building up in China, Royal Caribbean International will sail the Mariner from Tianjin in 2015, the Quantum from Shanghai, the Legend from Xiamen and the Voyager from Hong Kong, according to Goldstein, speaking today at the China Cruise Shipping Expo hosted by the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association.

Ruby Princess Helps Set Port Saint John History

Port Saint John welcomed its 1000th cruise call on Oct. 16, while last year marked the 25th anniversary of cruising to Saint John since 1989.

The Rhapsody in Brazil: 2015-2016

Royal Caribbean International has announced that the Rhapsody of the Seas will be deployed in the Brazilian market, sailing from Santos for 2015/2016 season. The Rhapsody will arrive in Santos December 5, 2015 and will be on the South American coast until April 10, 2016.

Ebola Scare on Carnival’s Magic

Late afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 15, CCL was made aware, by the U.S. CDC, of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. This person handled specimens from the patient who died at that hospital earlier in the month. At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She was deemed by CDC to be very low risk. At the time of this posting, this hospital worker was cleared of the disease, The Magic returned home, and everyone was cleared to disembark.

Mediterranean Cruise-Land Package by MSC for Divina in 2015

MSC Cruises has announced inclusive air/land/sea vacation package deals for guests sailing on MSC Divina, the line’s largest ship specifically dedicated to North American travelers, while the ship is in the Mediterranean from May 16 through Sept. 19, 2015. Starting at $1,899, the 10-night package includes round-trip airfare to Rome or Barcelona, a seven-night cruise, a two-night post-cruise stay in a four-star hotel, and all transfers needed, including from the airport to the ship, from the ship to the hotel and from the hotel back to the airport.

(News compiled from cruise company press releases, Cruise Industry News and Tourism Boards)

Here is a brief recap of headlines from the cruise industry, for the past week:

Princess Mobile App

Regal Princess guests will have the opportunity to connect with their fellow cruisers with the debut of Princess@Sea Messenger, a free mobile messenger feature offering guests an easy way to share updates and make plans during their cruise vacation.

The Princess@Sea Messenger is integrated in the complimentary Princess@Sea mobile app, accessed via a smartphone or tablet browser. It debuts on Regal Princess in November and will be rolled out to all cruise ships in the entire fleet by the end of 2015.

Norwegian Escape Goodies

She'll be here before you know it!

She’ll be here before you know it!

Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week that Norwegian Escape will incorporate The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place.

This concept includes an oceanfront boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars and shops, combined with three expansive, flowing decks of dining, bars, entertainment, gaming and more.  The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place have taken cruising to new heights and offer an unparalleled experience with a unique connection to the ocean.  Norwegian Escape is currently under construction and is scheduled for delivery in October 2015.

Cruise Ship Arrivals to Puerto Vallarta Increase by 43 Percent

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board announced that the Pacific seaport city of Puerto Vallarta will see 118 cruises call on its shores this year, 43% over 2013 when 81 cruises called the port.

Puerto Vallarta!

Puerto Vallarta!

Puerto Vallarta will welcome 52 cruises from September through December of this year, which added to the 64 already touched Vallarta waters will reach a total of 116, 81 more than the received arrivals last year.

A total of 141 cruises have already confirmed stations to Puerto Vallarta for 2015, including Carnival will call on the destination throughout the year with the Coral Princess being the first on September 26. Carnival represents 34% of arrivals; Princess 20%; Norwegian 19% and Holland American 16%.

Royal Asian Cruises, New Cruise Line, Set to Start Service from Sri Lanka

Royal Asian Cruises has signed an agreement with the Board of Investment in Sri Lanka to launch a luxury cruise line in Sri Lanka.

Royal Asian Cruises [RAC], which currently has offices in the US and in India, will invest US$200 million over the years in the Sri Lankan venture. It will also acquire and operate two vessels over the course of 2016.

Carnival Miracle to Start Year-Round Mexican Riviera Program Next Week

Carnival Miracle departed Saturday, Oct. 4 from Long Beach, Calif., on the first voyage of a new year-round cruise program to the Mexican Riviera.  The ship will be the first to call at Cabo San Lucas on October 6 following Hurricane Odile and will be loaded with relief supplies provided by Carnival for local residents.

Carnival Miracle’s new year-round Mexican Riviera program will encompass three different week-long itineraries, including a new three-port, seven-day cruise featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival Corp. Releases Results of Multi-Year Fuel Conservation Program

Carnival Corporation & plc the world’s largest cruise company, released the results of its multi-year Fleet Fuel Conservation Program that by the end of 2014 will have saved more than one billion gallons of fuel and reduced fleet carbon emissions by 12 billion kilograms over a seven year period.

By the end of 2014, Carnival Corporation’s Fleet Fuel Conservation Program will have improved the fleet’s overall fuel efficiency by 24 percent compared to 2007, while saving approximately $2.5 billion in fuel costs, the company’s single biggest expense. Carnival Corporation announced the results of its fuel conservation efforts in conjunction with a National Press Club event celebrating world tourism today in Washington, D.C.

Carnival to Create New ‘Spin U’ DJ Academy For Teens

Carnival Cruise Lines has teamed up with DJ IRIE – the official DJ of Carnival and the Miami HEAT – to create Spin U, a new shipboard DJ academy exclusively for teens ages 15-17.

carnival

Queen Mary 2 to Bring Home a Very Special Cargo

When Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 arrives in Southampton on Wednesday October 8, she will bring home a very special cargo item – the final sandbag to make the journey from the First World War cemeteries in Belgium, containing soil from those cemeteries to create a Flanders Field Memorial Garden.

Four Carnival Ships Earn Perfect 100 Health Inspection Scores in Past Month

Four Carnival Cruise Lines ships have earned perfect 100 scores on their most recent public health inspections this past month.

Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph each scored 100 on their respective United States Public Health (U.S.P.H.) inspections, while Carnival Splendor earned a perfect score during its inspection by Health Canada.  This marks the 12th time a Carnival ship has earned a perfect health inspection score this year.

Princess Delivers Relief Supplies to Cabo San Lucas

Star Princess called on Cabo San Lucas this past Saturday, Oct. 4, for the first time following Hurricane Odile and brought needed relief supplies to area residents impacted by the storm. The Princess cruise ship delivered pallets of bottled water, milk and paper products, among other supplies.

(News compiled from cruise company press releases, Cruise Industry News and Tourism Boards)

The Eurodam!

The Eurodam!

Probably the biggest myth about using a cruise (travel) agency/agent to book is that you will pay more versus booking yourself or via the cruise lines directly. This could not be farther from the truth!

Did you know…

  • Travel agents have access to special group rates that are not offered directly to the masses. Often, these group rates are offered with extra on board credits not offered by the cruise lines.
  • Agent commissions are BUILT IN to the prices of the cruise whether you use an agent OR book directly! What this means is no surcharge when working with an agent.
  • If prices reduce before you make your final payment, your agent will advise you and your out of pocket cost will be reduced! A cruise line will not do this.

We are here if you need us…you decide the time and we can even set up a Skype meeting for that personal touch! Bon Voyage!!

We have some news, with the help of Cruise Industry News, coming out of 2014 Cruise Shipping Miami yesterday:

4th Quantum Class Ship for Royal Caribbean?

RCCI's Quantum Class cruise ship.

RCCI’s Quantum Class cruise ship.

It isn’t a done deal, but it was overheard that a contract for a fourth Quantum-class ship may become reality.
Our thoughts: We like the Quantum-concept, but hopefully Royal Caribbean will find a way to give each sister ship her own identity. The Oasis and the Allure, for instance, are pretty close to being identical twins, versus fraternal twins.

Norwegian Escape Home Port and Hull Art

Norwegian Escape with its hull art to be designed by Guy Harvey. She'll homeport in Miami year-round.

Norwegian Escape with its hull art to be designed by Guy Harvey. She’ll homeport in Miami year-round.

NCL announced the Norwegian Escape will home port year-round in Miami, and that the hull art is to be designed by Guy Harvey.
Our thoughts: One of the nicer, less gaudy works of art for the hull. And, when is NCL going to position a ship in Fort Lauderdale, even if for half the year?  And we thought Carnival took forever on this.

Faster Internet Delayed

A diagram of the O3b satellite.

A diagram of the O3b satellite.

The much hyped O3b satellite internet was destined to launch on the Oasis and Allure of the Seas in late 2013. A bit behind, but still on target to debut aboard, according to a source familiar with the start-up satellite firm. Low-orbiting satellites have been launched and provide more bandwidth and less latency, but are extremely complicated to operate and manage. Royal Caribbean expects to introduce its O3b service later this year.
Our thoughts: Better late than never. High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but an everyday part of life for many, particularly those with the means to spend money on travel. This should have been done, on all brands, a long time ago.

The Port of Newcastle, Australia

Port of Newcastle, Australia.

Port of Newcastle, Australia.

The Port of Newcastle in Australia is going after itinerary planners with a new stunning coffee table book presenting the port (check it out here). Among top layout and photography, the book presents a number of arguments to bringing a ship to Newcastle – showing off the Australian destination’s features.
Our thoughts: We love new. We love different. In addition to customer service, the two best ways to lure repeat passengers is to provide innovations fleet-wide and exciting, new itineraries.

rcclwayfinderNew for some, a review for others, here is a list of terms that can help prepare you for your cruise. We hope this helps!

  • Aft – the back or near the back of the ship
  • Atrium – the central court (or center area) of a cruise ship, usually rising through more than one story of the ship’s interior
  • Berth – a built-in bed or bunk, as in a ship’s cabin or stateroom
  • Bow – the very front of the ship
  • Bridge – the navigational control center
  • Cabin or Stateroom Steward – a person whose work is to take care of the guests aboard a ship.
  • Captain – the person in command of a ship
  • Deck Plan – an overhead diagram of the cabins and the public rooms
  • Disembark – to unload (passengers or goods) from a ship
  • Dock – where your ship ‘parks’ when in port
  • Forward – faces the front of the boat
  • Gangway – allows you access on and off the ship
  • Knot – a nautical mile (see Nautical below)
  • Leeward – the side of the ship that is out of or away from the wind
  • Midship – the middle of the ship
  • Muster – to come together or assemble aboard ship for inspection or roll call
  • Muster Station – a specific location on ship to gather, based on stateroom assignment
  • Nautical – of or having to do with sailors, ships, or navigation. A unit of speed of one nautical mile (6,076.12 feet or 1,852 meters) an hour: abbrev. kn or kt [to average a speed of 10 knots]
  • Pier – a structure built out over the water and supported by pillars or piles: used as a landing place.
  • Port – the left-hand side of a ship as one faces forward: opposed to starboard. Port – so named because the side toward the port (dock), since the steering oar (see starboard) prevented docking to the right.
  • Port of Call – regular stopover(s) on a cruise itinerary.
  • Purser – a ship’s officer in charge of accounts, freight, tickets, etc., esp. on a passenger vessel. Important to you – a Purser takes responsibility for all money, transactions.
  • Port – the left hand side of the ship while facing forward (bow). Easy to remember since “port” and “left” each have four letters.
  • Ship – You always cruise on a “ship,” never a “boat”.
  • Starboard – the right side of the ship while facing forward (bow).
  • Stateroom – your cabin or berth
  • Stern – the very back of the ship
  • Tender – a boat for carrying passengers to or from a ship close to shore.
  • Windward – on the side of the ship from which the wind blows; toward the wind

Cruise Lines International Association (C.L.I.A.) reports that the Cruise Industry is going to invest $8 billion on 24 new cruise ships through 2015! C.L.I.A. noted that its global fleet is now comprised of 410 ships, up from 393 one year ago, and the introduction of 24 additional ships will meet growing demand. This $8 billion capital investment will add capacity for another 37,546 passengers. By the way, if you count river cruising, the number goes up to 49 new ships between now and the end of 2015 (note: several river cruise ships will be removed from service).

Click for larger view.

Click graphic for larger view.

The Busiest Ports

Most of the world’s busiest ports remain in the Caribbean Sea, which were featured on more than a third of all global itineraries last year. The Mediterranean (19% of the market) and Northern Europe (12% of the market) were not far behind. Australia, with 22% growth, and Asia, with 32% growth, are catching up.

Where Are You Coming From?

C.L.I.A. also reports that 55% of all cruise passengers (last year) were from North America. International source markets demonstrated accelerated demand for cruising, and with a staggering 185% growth over the past five years, Scandinavia has seen the largest increase in interest, followed by Australia (130%), Brazil (85%) and Germany (80%).

 

The view from aboard the Allure of the Seas as she departs from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The view from aboard the Allure of the Seas as she departs from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The Cruise Customer Experience includes so many factors: research, the booking process, on-board experience, flight (getting to the port) and much more. But, what about the time leading up to your next cruise, the period from the time you make deposits (or final payments) to the time you begin your trek to the port? Sure, there’s dieting (maybe?), shopping, researching ports of call and excursions, online check-in, but, what if you could get a bit of a cruise fix in between times of the actual cruise?

If you live near a port city, you can actually visit port inlets and view the cruise ships as they depart for their journeys. You can view them as they arrive, too, but that is typically before the sun comes up! There is also YouTube, of course, where thousands of cruise videos can be found. Videos ranging from corporate marketing pieces to those created by passengers and crew.

Then, there’s my favorite…Live Webcams, particularly cams providing live, moving video. Below I have provided links to several active webcams. The PortCams are particularly interesting, as they are in HD and provide Live Video, great for cruise ship fans and boating/yachting buffs alike. Enjoy!

PORT WEBCAMS

CRUISE SHIP WEBCAMS

Note: With some of the Cruise Line links above, you will have to choose the ship first, then, if the ship has a Cam, click on the Cam link.  Once again, Enjoy!!

GetawayCamera2smallYesterday during a ceremony in Bremerhaven, Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the 145,655 gross ton cruise ship, Norwegian Getaway, from Meyer Werft after a building period of only 15 months. This is the second of two Breakaway-class ships, and is being delivered only nine months after the launch of sister ship Norwegian Breakaway. The ship will be christened in Miami on February 7.

Before her arrival into Port of Miami, Norwegian said it had arranged a private charter of the 4,000-passenger ship in New York from January 29 to February 5. Those dates overlap with the 2014 Super Bowl, which is being played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, on February 2. Her first week-long cruise (and inaugural Caribbean cruise from Miami), takes place on February 8 (Saturday to Saturday).

Here are Some Additional Highlights

  • Nestor Torres

    Nestor Torres

    Latin GRAMMY® Award winner Nestor Torres will headline Norwegian Getaway’s GRAMMY® Experience at Sea.  Torres is the first artist to join Norwegian’s newest ship as part of the line’s partnership with The Recording Academy® that named the line “Official Cruise Line Partner of the GRAMMY Awards®

  • Norwegian Getaway will feature a new lunchtime entertainment experience for guests, WINE LOVERS THE MUSICAL
  • Norwegian Getaway will feature several restaurants and bars that evoke the tropical feel of Miami and South Florida. The Tropicana Room, Flamingo Bar & Grill, Sunset Bar and Sugarcane Bar will be new and unique additions to the largest ship to homeport in Miami year-round
  • Master Baker Buddy Valastro, star of the popular TLC television series “Cake Boss” and “Next Great Baker,” will open his second Carlo’s Bake Shop at sea on the new Norwegian Getaway
  • Entrance into the Illusionarium

    Entrance into the Illusionarium

    Seven-time Tony Award nominated musical LEGALLY BLONDE will be featured on Norwegian Getaway, along with an additional Broadway show: the dance sensation BURN THE FLOOR, and an all-new stand-up comedy program in partnership with Levity Entertainment Group, the largest producer of comedians in the world.  The line also introduced all of the varied and exciting entertainment acts and venues that will debut on the ship, including Howl at the Moon at Headliners Comedy Club. These exciting entertainment experiences are in addition to Norwegian Getaway’s Illusionarium and Grammy Experience.

These are just a few of the highlights and innovations on board the Norwegian Getaway. You can experience much more at Norwegian Cruise Line’s website!

fclogotitleembeddedOne of our previous Facebook polls centered around how you arrive to the home port. While many of you live close to major cruise port cities, the majority of our FB fans fly in a day or two early. We found a great web resource which focuses on topics that directly affect your aviation custome experience! It is flightchic.com. Check it out!

Duty-free shopping!

Duty-free shopping!

Here is a brief refresher for veteran cruisers, and potentially new information for those new to cruising. Having this knowledge with regards to U.S. Customs declarations (when cruising round-trip from the U.S.) can only help to enhance your Cruise Customer Experience, and eliminate unwanted surprises. If you do cruise out of the U.S. and return to the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), you’ll need to clear Customs at the end of your cruise.

Cruise lines usually distribute Customs forms on the second to last day of your trip. You need to fill out a form identifying yourself (one form per family/household), declaring how much you spent abroad on items that you are bringing into the U.S. Play it safe and keep receipts for items you are bringing back.

The process of clearing Customs at the port is usually easy and rather quick; you hand off your form and walk through! However, there are restrictions regarding what you can bring in.

The standard duty-free allowance is $800 per person (it raises to $1,600 for goods purchased in the U.S. Virgin Islands). If you spend greater amounts, you’ll need to declare it and pay the duty. Alcohol is limited to 1 liter per adult. Cigarettes are limited to 1 carton per adult while cigars are limited to 100 total (no Cubans, or you will face stiff fines if caught!). Fresh fruit and vegetables (including those from the ship), plants and most meats and meat products are not permitted whatsoever.

For specific instructions, visit the U.S. Customs website.