Bob Hoelscher

Group Cruise News – November 21, 2018 Update

 
 

Bob Hoelscher
Published November 21, 2018

Welcome and Happy Thanksgiving! Last month I was enthusiastic about a sailing on Pullmantur’s Zenith, and this time my thoughts have been reinforced by a second week on the line’s Sovereign (originally Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign of the Seas), which is in remarkable condition for a vessel that is now 30 years old. For a company offering low-priced, value-oriented cruises, Spanish line Pullmantur really seems to have its act together, as my follow-up experence (on a completely different Mediterranean itinerary) has been every bit as good, if not even better than the first, with everything meeting or surpassing expectations…food, service, included beverages, entertainment, activities, ports, etc. Cabins are compact, as was the Royal Caribbean standard circa 1988, but they are functional, very clean and comfortable. This ship features a variety of very large public rooms, so crowding never seems to be a concern, and the Atalaya 360° Rooftop Bar (i.e. RCI’s Viking Crown Lounge) is still one of the nicest venues at sea. Both embarkation and disembarkation procedures were well organized and went quickly.

 

Sandwiched between my two Pullmantur cruises was an upscale 17-night voyage on Silversea’s beautiful Silver Muse from Muscat to Singapore, with seven en route stops in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. This subject is a much more complex one, however, so my discussion of the experience will need to wait until early 2019.

After my excellent Holland America Maasdam New Zealand and Australia trip last January, my good friend Jon London and his wife Bess (both very experiened cruisers) took my recommendation and booked an extended sailing aboard the ship this fall. The results from Jon are now in: “The Maasdam cruise was one of my favorites ever. We very much hated to leave the ship after the 34 days. Even considered booking the next 28-day segment to Auckland, but finally decided we couldn’t. Easter Island was very interesting. The port lecturer said that about 10 ships schedule a call there each year, but weather prevents half of them from landing passengers. We were lucky. We had two beautiful days there.” Incidentally, Maasdam is one of HAL’s smallest and longest serving vessels…just further proof that “oldies” can still be “goodies.”

Finally, my sister Carole recently returned from a one-week Disney Fantasy Caribbean cruise with her younger son and his family. Having no children of my own, I’ve never had a huge interest in sailing aboard a Disney ship, so I’d like to share some of her observations on the trip. I was impressed by Disney’s organization from the start. We had cruise transfers, and there was a huge number of people at the airport. Checking in only took about 10 minutes, where they assigned us to a group – Pluto. We sat in a large lounge area until they called our group – it was within a half-hour. They had a good number of busses running, so there was little waiting. We found that to be true on our return, too. When we arrived at the cruise, again it seemed like there was a huge crowd and long lines. But because of their efficient check-in process with MANY agents, we were probably on the ship within 20 minutes.

Our cabin was very nice – not sure of the cabin category, but we were in cabin 8126 and Patrick and family were in 8128. They were adjoining balcony cabins, and the balconies could be connected by opening the door. The bathroom arrangement was great – there were two separate bathrooms. One had the toilet and a sink, while the other had the shower and another sink. So one person could be in the WC and the other could be in the shower. There was plenty of cabinet and drawer space, even though the actual size of the cabin didn’t seem any larger than a Carnival standard balcony cabin. We had some drawers and other storage that we never even used. I’ve never found that on a cruise before.

The food and the service in the dining rooms at dinner were excellent. Each night, there were five or six entree selections, plus two vegetarian selections, and then three more lower calorie selections. There was a lot a variety in the entrees, salads, appetizers, and desserts. Every night, there were five desserts plus a no sugar added selection. You could also order plain ice cream or a sundae. There were three different themed dining rooms. We rotated to a different one every night. The wait staff would rotate with us, so we had the same servers every night, who were amazing. By the second night, they knew us all by name and knew exactly what we wanted to drink – they had it waiting for us when we arrived. The food in the buffets for lunch and breakfast was probably comparable to other cruises – good variety, with different types of food found in different areas.

I was extremely impressed by their attention to cleanliness. Outside the buffets, in the elevator area, there was an area with several sinks. There was always a staff member there to remind people to wash their hands before entering the restaurant. Anyone who didn’t wash their hands was handed an anti-bacterial wet wipe. At the beverage areas (soda was included, not extra), there was also a canister of wet wipes. You could not refill a glass. There was a staff member at the beverage areas to make sure you got a clean glass with every refill.

The shows were very well-done and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Times were posted every day for the different Disney characters to be in different areas so kids could meet them and get their pictures taken with them. There was usually a line for the characters, but it moved quickly. We were probably never in line longer than 15 minutes. The areas for the different-aged children were well-thought out and very secure. The older kids who were in the organized programs always seemed to be having a great time. There was a variety of entertainment in smaller lounges, but I didn’t really see any of that. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON, THE WORDPRESS SOFTWARE USED FOR LOADING THIS BLOG IS GIVING ME DIFFERENT FONTS AND TYPE SIZES THAT DO NOT APPEAR ON THE SCREEN I SEE WHEN ENTERING THE COPY.  I REALIZE THAT THIS IS EXTREMELY ANNOYING FOR READERS, SO I WILL ATTEMPT TO GET THIS PROBLEM CORRECTED ASAP.   AS FOR NOW, PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGIES, EVEN THOUGH ALL THE INFORMATION INCLUDED IN THIS UPDATE IS COMPLETE AND CORRECT DESPITE THE RATHER BIZARRE APPEARANCE OF THE COPY.

 

 

 

AdventureSmith Explorations, the small ship expedition cruise specialist, is offering a $750 per person air credit, plus 20% off select 2019 Antarctica itineraries that are booked by December 31. www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/ 

 

AIDA Cruises new AIDAnova was fueled by the tanker Cardissa with around 3,500 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) on October 18, officially becoming the world’s first LNG cruise ship in the process. By 2023, two more AIDA ships of this new generation will follow, which will also be manufactured at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg. In other news, AIDA has once again received the German Fairness Award for 2018. The German Institute for Service Quality annually carries out an extensive consumer survey in cooperation with n-tv and obtains about 50,000 customer opinions on more than 500 companies. AIDA has consistently ranked first, giving it recognition as the best-rated line in Germany’s cruise industry. Finally, on November 8, the best ships of the year were chosen as part of the 8th Cruise Congress in Hamburg. AIDA scored twice, for AIDAperla in the family friendliness category and for the Special Prize of the Expert Jury for Innovation, which lauded the world’s first LNG cruise ship, AIDAnova. www.aida.de/

 

American Cruise Lines has revealed the deployment schedule of its vessels for 2019 and 2020: American Constellation and American Spirit in Puget Sound and Alaska; American Song, American Pride and Queen of the West on the Columbia and Snake Rivers; American Constitution, Independence and American Star on the Northeast and Southeast Coasts (New England, Maine, Hudson River, Chesapeake Bay, and Charleston, South Carolina to Florida); and American Harmony, America and Queen of the Mississippi on the entire Mississippi River system, including the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. ACL has also announced that it has successfully launched its second new ‘modern riverboat,’ American Harmony, at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland, last Saturday, November 17, four weeks ahead of schedulewww.americancruiselines.com/ 

 

American Queen Steamboat Company recently announced that Ted Sykes will be stepping down from his role as the line’s President and Chief Operating Officer by the end of the year. In other news, the line has released a time-lapse video of construction progress on the American Countess at Gulf Island Shipyard in Houma, Louisiana. The 245-guest riverboat, the fourth vessel in the U.S.-flagged fleet, is a paddlewheeler currently under construction using the existing hull of Kanesville Queen, a former gaming vessel built in 1995. Also, on November 12, AQSC announced an agreement to acquire Victory I and sister ship Victory II from Sunstone Ships, Inc., as well as the Victory brand. These vessels are currently being marketed by Victory Cruise Lines as overnight cruise ships on the Great Lakes. The transaction is expected to close in early January. The identical 5,000-ton, 300-foot-long, 202-passenger Victory I and Victory II will join the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet under the Victory Cruise name. Details on upcoming operations of both vessels will be announced during the coming months. NOTE: AQSC’s ”Black Friday Sale” of ‘2-for-1’ cruises runs until December 1. www.aqsc.com/

 

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has introduced a special ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ promotion, available for a limited time and redeemable for sailings through the end of the year. Guests can enjoy a two-night cruise from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island for as little as $129 for two people. www.bahamasparadisecruise.com/

 

Carnival Cruise Line announced on November 12 that the transformed Carnival Radiance will be the first cruise ship to feature “Big Chicken,” a seagoing version of a new restaurant created by the line’s “Chief Fun Officer,” NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. The menu will feature a variety of fried chicken sandwiches and fries, with flavors to match Shaq’s larger than life personality, all free of charge. O’Neal opened his first land-based Big Chicken Restaurant in Las Vegas in October, and the seagoing adaptation will be among the many food, dining and entertainment innovations incorporated into the 102,000-ton ship following a $200 million refurbishment in Cadiz, Spain, during 2020. A day later, Carnival announced a diverse inaugural schedule for the redesiged vessel, including 9 to 13-day European voyages, the line’s first to Cuba from New York and Norfolk, four to nine-day sailings to the Caribbean, Canada/New England from New York, and a winter season of voyages to the Caribbean and Cuba from Port Canaveral. Additionally, the company revealed details of Carnival Sunrise’s 2020 schedule, including an expanded series of New York to Cuba cruises, as well as four to nine-day voyages to the Caribbean from New York and Norfolk. And on November 15, the first steel was cut for the line’s newest class of ship, and new livery was revealed for the 180,000-ton,1,130-foot-long XL vessel that will be among the first ships operating in North America to be fueled by liquefied natural gas. The traditional steel-cutting ceremony was held at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, signifying the official start of construction of the largest Carnival cruise ship ever, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2020. A second XL ship will begin construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Line’s founding. At the ceremony, the company also revealed a new red, white and blue hull design developed by New York-based Bluarch Architecture, which celebrates its legacy and pays homage to maritime tradition. www.carnival.com/

 

Celebrity Cruises officially took delivery of Celebrity Edge on October 31, then the vessel sailed from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France on November 4 for her first transatlantic voyage. Celebrity Edge has now officially arrived at its new home…Port Everglades’ Terminal 25. Her inaugural season will be spent sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean departures beginning on December 9. The brand is also introducing its most technologically advanced ship in the most technologically advanced way, with the launch of the Celebrity Edge Access Tour app.  Narrated with insights by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain, and Celebrity President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the tour uses binaural audio, soundscaping, and 3-D augmented reality technology to give guests behind-the-scenes access to the story of the new vessel. In other news, the 2021-21 season for Celebrity will feature more than 280 ports in 77 countries, plus 169 overnight stays. Notable ship deployments include Celebrity Eclipse (from Melbourne) and Celebrity Solstice (from Sydney) in Australia, Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Millennium in India and Asia, plus Celebrity Silhouette in South America. And in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity Flora has now introduced a camping experience on the top deck of the yacht that allows guests to dine, drink, and, even sleep under night skies that are unaffected by ambient light. www.celebritycruises.com/

 

CroisiEurope, as noted last month, will be offering a new seven-day culinary cruise on the Rhône, beginning next April. The “Must-See Sites on the Rhône” itinerary will travel round-trip from Lyon through the gastronomic heart of France and focus on the superb food and wine that is found throughout this region. The cruise, onboard the new Rhône Princess, will visit Arles, Avignon, Viviers and Tain L’Hermitage, taking in the colors of Provence and the landscapes of the Camargue. Prices start at $1,953 per person for departures from April through October, 2019. A highlight of the program will be an optional dinner at Abbaye de Collonges, a Paul Bocuse restaurant situated on the banks of the Saône. www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/

 

Cunard’s flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 had a rare meeting in New York Harbor on October 25 and paid tribute to the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth during the carrier’s first visit to the U.S. In other news, on the following evening, the line announced a partnership with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles at BAFTA LA’s annual awards ceremony, the 2018 Britannia Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Finally, Cunard has announced a partnership with the prestigious English National Ballet for the first-ever “Dance the Atlantic” trans-Atlantic crossing on board flagship Queen Mary 2, sailing from Southampton to New York, August 11-18, 2019. NOTE: Cunard’s ”Black Friday Sale” on select 2019 voyages aboard all three of its ships runs until November 28. www.cunard.com/

 

Disney Cruise Lines guests will be the first to meet Captain Marvel, one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe, during “Marvel Day at Sea,” a day-long celebration scheduled for select Disney Magic sailings departing from January 6 through March 8 from Miami. www.disneycruise.disney.go.com/

 

Dream Cruises has announced and introduced Halal cuisine options on Genting Dream, which is currently the only cruise ship in Asia granted Halal certification by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia. The Lido, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and one of the vessel’s most popular onboard restaurants, now offers a dedicated Halal buffet section for Muslim guests. The Lido provides guests with an indoor and outdoor dining experience on the open seas, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Genting Dream sails from Singapore to a variety of destinations across the ASEAN region. www.dreamcruiseline.com/

 

Emerald Waterways is promoting the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany with a three-night cruise extension that includes hotel accommodations, a tour of Munich, four meals, tickets to the play and transportation to and from its ships and the airport. NOTE: Emerald Waterways’ ”Black Friday Sale” runs until November 27 on 2019 European and Mekong River Cruises. www.emeraldwaterways.com/ 

 

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ well-known Head of Sales, Mike Evans, will be retiring in in April after a 27-year career with the company. Elsewhere, following the success of last year’s fundraising across the its fleet in support of the Caribbean hurricane relief effort, when guests donated over £25,000 to this worthy cause, the line has pledged to provide shore tours offering experiences that are away from the traditional tourist trail on its Caribbean itineraries in 2019. Next, U.K. travelers looking to take in the autumnal beauty of Cape Cod, sail along the Hudson River and get a close-up glimpse of the iconic Statue of Liberty will have the chance to do so with the company’s inaugural 34-night American Waterways in the Fall with New Yorksailing on Balmoral in September, 2020. Also, Fred. Olsen will be offering guests the chance to relive history in 2021 as it launches its second sailing of the Corinth Canal, with the line set to break a world record with its inaugural passage in 2019. Next year, the 924-passenger Braemar is set to become the longest ship ever to traverse the Corinth Canal in Greece as the ship embarks on a sold-out cruise around the Greek Islands. In other news, the company is celebratig the first graduates of its new Women’s Leadership Network course, whose achievements were recognised in a ceremony held in Woburn, Bedfordshire, on November 8. Twelve female managers from across a range of Fred. Olsen companies in the U.K. were selected to take part in a six-day residential course between August and November, with the aim of learning and developing the skills necessary to become effective leaders and ‘change managers’ in their respective businesses and teams. Finally, the line’s Managing Director, Mike Rodwell, has announced that he is to retire at the end of August, 2019, following 15 years in the role and 31 years with the Fred. Olsen companies. www.fredolsencruises.com/

 

Genting Cruise Lines has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding with the Baoshan District Government to further extend its cooperation in developing the cruise industry in China and in Shanghai. Genting will deploy its new Global Class ship in the Dream Cruises fleet to Shanghai as her first homeport. This, the largest cruise vessel to homeport in the Asia Pacific, is currently being constructed at MV Werften, Genting Hong Kong’s own shipyard in Germany, and is scheduled to be delivered by the beginning of 2021. The largest cruise ship built in Germany will measure 342 meters long and over 46 meters wide. At 204,000 gross tons, the ship will be able to accommodate 5,000 passengers in 2,500 cabins to meet peak season capacity needs in Asia. www.gentingcruiselines.com/

 

Holland America Line in 2019 will offer 133 cruises on eight ships and 15 different Land+Sea Journey configurations to choose from in Alaska. Elsewhere, the line is debuting a new Holland America Line Academy Specialist Training Course that supports travel professionals in selling the brand’s Caribbean cruises. Called “Caribbean, Cuba and Panama Canal: Our Unique Take on Cruising’s Most Popular Sea,” the online course helps agents increase their cruise sales by giving insider tips and tools featuring those itineraries. In other news, Nieuw Statendam will officially join the HAL fleet on December 1; the ship’s dedication ceremony will be held at a private event in Fort Lauderdale on February 2. During her first year in service, she is expected to visit more than 75 ports and sail 92,723 nautical miles. Next, HAL is introducing ‘Club Orange,’ a program designed to provide exclusive benefits and amenities to guests looking to elevate their cruise experience. From a private dining venue to priority services and a dedicated concierge hotline, Club Orange will allow guests to opt in to extra privileges that are available to a limited number of guests on each cruise. Included for guests in Neptune and Pinnacle Suite categories, the program will be available to purchase for a small number of non-suite staterooms on each sailing. Club Orange is slated to launch on Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam in December, with a rollout to the rest of the fleet in 2019. Finally, travelers looking to explore Canada and New England’s historic ports will have 34 HAL cruises to choose from between April and October, 2019. Guests can select from among nine itineraries ranging from seven to 12 days aboard Veendam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam. www.hollandamerica.com

 

Hurtigruten’s Richard With has entered the drydock at Norway’s Fosen Yard for a one-month full upgrade of all cabins, suites and guest areas, which is the first phase of the two-step upgrade that is intended to transform the custom-built polar vessel into one of the most modern and environmentally friendly cruise ships in the world. Over the course of the next two years, Hurtigruten will also replace diesel propulsion with large battery packs and liquefied natural gas engines on Richard With and at least five more of its existing ships. Hurtigruten currently operates a fleet of 17 expedition ships that explore unique destinations from pole to pole, including Antarctica, South America, Norway, Svalbard, Greenland, the Northwest Passage and other Arctic destinations. In other news, the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Norway’s Kleven Verft AS for the construction of a third new hybrid-powered expedition cruise vessel, based on Hurtigruten’s two next-generation ships, Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, that are currently under construction at the yard. The additional new ship is expected to be delivered during the second quarter of 2021. Interestingly enough, as the next step, Hurtigruten soon intends to power its ships with liquified biogas (LBG), fossil-free, renewable fuel produced from dead fish and other organic waste. Renewable biogas is a clean source of energy, considered the most eco-friendly fuel currently available. Biogas is already used as fuel in small parts of the transport sector, especially in buses. Northern Europe and Norway, which has large fishery and forestry sectors that produces a steady volume of organic waste, has a unique opportunity to become world leader in biogas production. www.hurtigruten.com

 

 

Lindblad Expeditions is offering solo travelers savings on seven itineraries. For a limited period of time, solo premiums are being waived on select expeditions to the Galápagos, Baja California, Costa Rica & Panama, Belize, South Pacific, and the Pacific Northwest. www.expeditions.com/

 

Mayflower Cruises & Tours has relocated its corporate office effective this past Monday, November 19. Since being acquired by the Scenic Group last February, Mayflower has planned to move to a new facility capable of housing both their corporate office and distribution center. The move from 1225 Warren Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515 has now been made to 650 Warrenville Road, Suite 500, Lisle, IL 60532. www.mayfowercruisesandtours.com/

 

MSC Cruises will welcome guests on board MSC Magnifica for the company’s first world cruise, departing on January 5. The 119-day voyage will visit 32 different countries. Elsewhere, MSC Divina arrived in Miami on October 28 to offer 10 and 11-night itineraries through March, as well as new culinary offerings for guests, including the Eataly Market and a sushi restaurant. Three, seven and 11-night sailings are being planned for the vessel during the winter 2019-20 season. Also, MSC Cruises is inaugurating its Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve this month, which has transformed a former industrial sand extraction site into an island with 75,000 native shrubs and plants; over 200 environmentally-friendly structures, including bars and restaurants as well as housing for staff; a pier that allows ships to dock directly along the island; and a sea bed for marine life. The clean-up process has removed over 500 tons of industrial waste and scrap metal. In other news, the line has released its plans for the summer/fall, 2020 season. 11 ships will be deployed in the Mediterranean…the company’s new flagship, MSC Grandiosa, plus MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia and MSC Seaview will cruise the Western Med, while MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Magnifica, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Opera will be positioned in the Eastern Med. During the autumn, MSC Splendida and MSC Poesia will offer nine and 12-night sailings to Madeira and the Canary Islands or Portugal and Morocco. Four MSC Cruises ships will be deployed in Northern Europe…MSC Preziosa, MSC Poesia, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Splendida. MSC Seaside and MSC Armonia will continue their year-round 7-night sailings from Miami, visiting both the Eastern and Western Caribbean, as well as Havana, Cuba. Finally, MSC Virtuosa, the second of the Meraviglia Plus class of ships, has officially opened for sale, first for MSC Voyager’s Club members, with all other guests able to book on December 3. Voyager’s Club members (during the initial two-week period) will receive an additional 5% discount on top of their usual 5% discount, all other guests booking will also enjoy a 5% early booking discount until next June 3. MSC Virtuosa will commence her maiden voyage from Genoa, Italy on November 8, 2020. NOTE: MSC’s ”Black Friday Sale” runs until November 27 on select Caribbean sailings. www.msccruises.com/

 

Norwegian Cruise Line returned to New Orleans on November 11, introducing Norwegian Breakaway to the ‘Big Easy’ with five to 11-day cruises to the Caribbean through April 12. At 1,068 feet and 145,655 gross tons, the recently renovated vessel is the largest cruise ship to homeport in the city, as well as the youngest in port this season. In other news, the line has completed the refurbishment of Norwegian Jewel. Following a two-week dry dock in Singapore…Norwegian’s most extensive enhancement project this year…the vessel will debut in Sydney, Australia on December 1, showcasing refreshed venues, updated spaces and redesigned staterooms. Offering seven to 19-day itineraries, she’ll spend the winter, 2018, and spring, 2019 seasons cruising from Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore, before joining Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy in Alaska for the summer. Speaking of Norwegian Bliss, the vessel has made her way to Miami to offer Eastern Caribbean cruises, which began last weekend. Seven-day saiings to the Eastern Caribbean with calls at St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau have been sceduled through March 30. In April, she’ll transit the Panama Canal and return to Los Angeles for sailings to the Mexican Riviera before moving on to Seattle. www.ncl.com/

 

Oceanwide Expeditions is offering a variety of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic voyages aboard its two chief vessels. The earliest departures begin this month and focus on exotic destinations like the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Oceanwide also offers several activity-oriented cruises, such as ‘Basecamp’ trips that are designed to immerse passengers in the polar world with outdoor activities like kayaking, mountaineering, hiking, snowshoeing, camping, and even scuba diving. The company has recently updated the ships used for these voyages…last spring the bar and observation lounge of Plancius was renovated, and during the summer parts of the Ortelius galley were refurbished. In 2019 a new ship will join the Oceanwide fleet: Hondius, the world’s first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel, will reportedly be one of the most advanced polar tourism ships on the seas, offering all new adventures in the Arctic and Antarctica. www.oceanwide-expeditions.com/ 

 

Poseidon Adventures annually offers a round-trip cruise from Iceland to East Greenland in September, a time when the northern latitudes are dark enough for excellent sightings of the famed Northern Lights. The itinerary has reportedly been so popular that the company has now added a second replica itinerary. Departures in 2019 of “Sights and Northern Lights” are scheduled for September 15 to 25 and now also September 6 to 16, when good space is still available. Rates for this 11-day voyage aboard the 54-suite Sea Spirit begin at $8,395 per person, double occupancy. www.poseidonexpeditions.com/

 

Princess Cruises’ six-course, fine-dining experience from award-winning Chef Curtis Stone at SHARE aboard Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess has been revamped with fresh menu offerings, plus new “Crafted by Curtis” dishes on the main dining room menu are also rolling out fleetwide. Elsewhere, the brand’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge will debut a new restaurant and bar named after a famed Alaskan pioneer next May, showcasing her story and locally inspired dishes in a modern saloon setting. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Fannie Q’s Saloon will offer indoor and outdoor seating with a total capacity of 180, as well as live evening entertainment. In other news, the line has announced that when its next new ship, Enchanted Princess, debuts in June, 2020, it will be named in Southampton, U.K., and sail its inaugural season in the Mediterranean. As previously announced for sister ship Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess will also feature new Sky Suites, centrally located on the top deck of the ship, which will feature the largest private balconies ever offered by Princess. Iconic line facilities that will be redesigned aboard the 143,700-ton vessel will include the Salty Dog Gastropub, Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, and the Princess Live! and Café. Next, the April through July, 2020 summer season for Caribbean Princess will feature 15 departures round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, visiting seven destinations on alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, with the option to combine the two for a 14-day voyage. Also, the 2020 Canada & New England cruise season offered by Princess will showcase the fall foliage in iconic destinations along the East Coast and even offers a trip to the frozen landscapes of Greenland. Two ships will sail the region…the debut of Sky Princess, joined by OceanMedallion-enabled Caribbean Princess. The 2020 season will feature 16 departures, exploring 16 destinations on five itineraries ranging in length from five to 16 days. Select sailings during the summer have also been scheduled. Furthermore, Princess guests have reportedly been giving rave reviews of the high-tech theatrical show Fantastic Journey, with its elaborate costumes and state-of-the-art multimedia technology. Now, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) has honored Fantastic Journey with its “Thea Award of Outstanding Achievement,” as recently announced at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo in Orlando. Next to last, the brand has unveiled details on its 2020 Alaska season, featuring eight ships offering 11 cruise-only itineraries, plus 25 cruise-tour itineraries. Highlights include: a full Golden Princess season of 14-day Inside Passage voyages, sailing round-trip from Los Angeles with a visit to Hubbard Glacier…Royal Princess returning as the largest ship sailing in the Gulf of Alaska on the seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, along with Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Pacific Princess…sister ships Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess cruising on seven-day Inside Passage voyages out of Seattle…plus Star Princess sailing from San Francisco on 10-day Inside Passage voyages. Finally, Princess has announced that it will be the first premium cruise line to distribute its gift cards through retail locations across the country, made possible by a partnership with Blackhawk Network, a global financial technology company. Gift givers can now purchase Princess gift cards in more than 3,500 Kroger, Harris Teeter and Giant Eagle locations nationwide. Available in denominations between $50 and $500, cards can be used to purchase cruises or be used toward onboard products and services. Cards will be activated upon payment and checkout at these stores. NOTE: The Princess ”Black Friday Sale” featuring two offers on more than 380 worldwide destinations runs until December 3. www.princesscruises.com/ 

 

Riviera River Cruises has announced its new brochure and schedule of European river cruises for 2019, including a new train extension into the Swiss Alps, a new, smaller class of ship, and expanded departures exclusively for solo travelers. Next year, Riviera will offer a total of 13 itineraries from five to 15 days, with 12 vessels sailing on nine rivers and waterways. The brochure is available for download on its website. www.rivierarivercruises.com/

 

Royal Caribbean International officially opened Terminal A, the largest cruise port in the U.S., on November 2 in collaboration with Miami-Dade County. The new terminal, a major addition to PortMiami, will serve as homeport to RCI ships such as Symphony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, two of the world’s largest cruise vessels. www.royalcaribbean.com/ 

 

Scenic Luxury Cruises has announced that Susan Goldberg, the Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Partners Editorial Director (in charge of all publishing ventures, including digital journalism, magazines, books, maps, children, family, travel and adventure), will be joining the line’s May 25, 2019, 11-day Douro River Cruise. In other major news, Scenic has announced that the first sailing date for Scenic Eclipse, its first ‘Discovery Yacht,’ has been delayed to April 13, 2019. Due to ongoing financial issues at the Uljanik shipyard in Croatia, where the vessel is being built, and a resultant strike by specialist engine and systems commissioning workers, this segment of the ship’s completion has been delayed. Although the specialist teams apparently did return to work earlier this month, it reportedly will not be possible to catch up the nearly six weeks of lost time due to their strike. NOTE: Scenic’s ”Black Friday Sale” runs until November 26 on select 2019 sailings. www.scenicusa.com/ 

 

Seabourn has announced a new pre-cruise opportunity for guests to explore the beauty of Western Canada during the upcoming 2019 season in Alaska and British Columbia through the UNESCO Banff National Park & Rocky Mountaineer Seabourn Journeys package. Guests will experience the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Banff National Park, including magnificent Lake Louise, and spend two days on one of the world’s most renowned rail journeys in a luxury, glass-domed coach. And the line will be presenting new evening entertainment experiences aboard Seabourn Odyssey, which will soon include four new shows produced exclusively for the vessel, as well as updates to Seabourn’s award-winning production, An Evening with Sir Tim Rice. www.seabourn.com/

 

Silversea Cruises will raise the curtain on six entirely new theatrical performances over the coming months. Developed in partnership with Luna Rossa Productions, the new shows will be performed in the theatres aboard the luxury line’s vessels, complementing existing onboard entertainment programs. Included titles are Grande Amore; The King on Strings; Silver, Platinum, Gold; Rhapsody in Rock; Lyrically Yours; and Jersey Beats. Next, Silversea is offering Early Booking Bonus savings of 10% on select European cruises for next summer that are reserved by December 31. In other news, the line is promoting an array of polar expedition voyages to the Arctic for summer, 2019 and to Antarctica for winter, 2019-2020, with 11 different itineraries aboard Silver Cloud and Silver Explorer. NOTE: Silversea’s ”Black Friday Sale” runs until November 26. www.silversea.com/

 

Star Clippers is promoting a ‘Buy One Get One’ offer on select seven-night Indonesia sailings, round-trip from Bali. Guests booking select eastbound and westbound Bali departures in June, July and August, 2019, will get a free companion fare, meaning a couple will sail for the price of one person. The starting fare for an inside stateroom drops by half to $715 per person after accounting for the BOGO, while the per-person cost (double occupancy) for the Owner’s Cabin, including butler service and a whirlpool tub, is just $1,685 with this deal. www.starclippers.com/

 

UnCruise Adventures is offering savings of $300 per cabin on 25 ‘Alaska Awakening’ departures in April and May, 2019. The company opens the Alaska cruise season early with its first small ship adventure cruise departing on April 6, and claims the longest Alaska cruising season with 26 weeks of operations ending with its last departure on September 28. Its fleet of seven ships carry 22 to 90 guests on adventure cruises exploring the Alaskan wilderness. www.uncruise.com/

 

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s Best Offer promotion has returned, with savings of up to 30% on select 2019 voyages to Asia, Egypt, Europe, India and Russia. In other news, the brand is offering a pre-cruise extension in Oberammergau, Germany, on select 2020 sailings of Delightful Danube to give guests an opportunity to witness the world-famous Passion Play. www.uniworld.com/

 

Vantage Adventures is reporting that three out of five departures of its 2020 “Majestic Rivers of Europe” itinerary featuring an Oberammergau extension are already sold out. www.vantagetravel.com/pr

 

Virgin Voyages has announced that the company’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, will feature Cuba as one of her voyage destinations during her inaugural season in 2020. Specific sailing dates will be released when the company opens up bookings for sale next year. www.virginvoyages.com/

 

Three of Windstar Cruises’ ships (accounting for 50% of the line’s fleet) were in Barcelona, Spain on October 27. Star Breeze, Wind Surf, and Wind Star (one power yacht and two sailing yachts) happened to be in port at the same time and departed one after another on individual itineraries in the Mediterranean. NOTE: Windstar’s ”Black Friday Sale” runs until ‘Cyber Monday,’ with an added bonus on Alaska sailings through the end of November. www.windstarcruises.com/