Great cruises for the New Year from Uniworld

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, the world’s only authentic boutique river cruise line, has unveiled an exquisite

assortment of 33 all-inclusive European itineraries set to launch in 2015. This collection includes six NEW programs ,

venturing from Belgium’s sophisticated capital city, Brussels, to Spain’s legendary cities, Madrid, Toledo, and Salamanca, and 45 additional departures on the most popular Rhine and Danube itineraries.

“We are pleased to offer travelers more European itineraries in 2015 than any other river cruise line,” said Guy Young,

president of Uniworld. “Additional capacity on our popular Rhine and Danube cruises was essential to satisfy customer demand, and we are confident these new itineraries will be favorites as well.”

Uniworld’s new itineraries include the eight-day Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time; 10-day Delightful Danube & Prague;

10-day Eastern Europe Explorer; 14-day “Jewels of Spain, Portugal & the Douro River;

19-day Grand European Explorer; and 22-day Ultimate France.”

Uniworld offers truly all-inclusive European river cruises, with all gratuities onboard and onshore, airport transfers,

shore excursions, and unlimited onboard meals and beverages included in the fare. And with Uniworld’s

Early Booking Savings, couples can save up to $800 with a deposit at reservation before January 15, 2015.

For more details, please visit www.uniworld.com or connect with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises at facebook.com/uniworldrivercruises or twitter.com/uniworldcruises.
About Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection—the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line™—features luxurious ships

with an average capacity of 130 guests, exclusive excursions, gourmet cuisine, and the highest staff-to-guest ratio in

the river cruise industry. Based in Los Angeles, California, Uniworld offers truly all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, India, and Egypt—a total of 22 rivers in 29 countries worldwide. Uniworld is a member of CLIA and is highly regarded by discerning travelers, media, and cruise industry experts:

  • Listed among the “World’s Best River Cruises” by Travel + Leisure, and recognized for “World’s Best Service” in the River Cruise category
  • Seven ships listed among Travel + Leisure’s “Top 20 River Ships,” with River Countess rated highest of all cruise ships (river & ocean)
  • Included on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List for seven years (2008 – 2014)
  • Top 3 ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top Ten Cruise Lines” (river & ocean)
  • Top 4 ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for ‘Top Cruise Lines” (2014)
  • Named “Best Luxury River Cruise Line” by Cruise International (2012 – 2014)
  • Name”Best Culinary Cruise Line” by readers of SAVEUR (2014)

About The TreadRight Foundation
At Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and parent company The Travel Corporation, we understand that travel matters;

it allows us to explore the world and gain a deeper understanding of each destination, its history and culture, through enriching experiences. We also recognize that it is our responsibility to help protect the places we visit and take care of the world around us.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a

not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant and preserved

for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has donated more than USD 2.5 million to sustainable

tourism projects worldwide. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is proud to be active founder and

supporter of TreadRight’s projects and work. Go to www.uniworld.com/giving-back to learn more.

For more of Patti Pietschmann’s cruise articles click here.

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Windstar Cruises offering blow-out deals on fares to tropical getaways

Escape reality and create your own scenario with  sensual sailings with Windstar Cruises. The tiny ships provide comfort and grace as they ply the waters of the Caribbean or French Polynesia. No crowds, no hurry. Only 300 passengers fit on board.

Not for sedentary types Windstar offers adventures with water skiing, banana boat rides, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and more. What’s more book now and save up to 73%.

Caveat emptor, while the vessels are sleek and modern, most cabins are tight quarters so don’t expect super-sized staterooms. The food’s excellent and the crew usually pretty good with one exception when they were shifting personnel and it seemed that they were just too anxious to leave the ship and head home or to where ever they go for their well-earned  v

Glenn Bozarth captures Windstar in Costa Rica

Glenn Bozarth captures Windstar in Costa Rica

acations. The sale’s over onDec. 12, 2014 so hurry up and cal 800-258-7245 orhttp://click.email2.windstarcruises.com/?qs=8aaa43f93cab70088589f70547e06af13dd396b6ea3280edea307efea1258b2b

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Just a few of the many reason to book a Crystal Serenity cruise

The Sea Horse pool

The Sea Horse pool

Teak Promenade deck

Teak Promenade deck

Free wines and spiris

Free wines and spiris

The food

The food

More food

More food

Prego Italian restaurant

Prego Italian restaurant

Buckwheat pancakes with nuts and raspberries served in your penthouse stateroom y a butler

Buckwheat pancakes with nuts and raspberries served in your penthouse stateroom y a butler

??????????Read more here: http://www.examiner.com/list/a-few-of-the-great-things-on-board-a-crystal-serenity-cruise-part-2

A gorgeous well-kempt ship

A gorgeous well-kempt ship

Engin our Turkish butler

Engin our Turkish butler

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A definitive guide to picking the right ship

The last thing you want to do is get on the wrong ship. To prevent this from happen and have a happy cruise you may want to consider your priorities and match them with this handy guide I wrote for Examiner.com, really it will save you time and anquish and there’s lots of photos like these:

Engin our butler

Engin our butler

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Me

Me

breakfst patti

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Cruise French Polynesia on the lovely Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering tempting  fares to celebrate the luxury cruise line’s  fifth birthday celebration.

tahiti 023If you’ve ever wanted to explore French Polynesia consider that going by ship eliminates having to pack and unpack your bags and head to airports to hop small planes to and from each island. Once you’re on the ship, you unpack once and let the captain steer you into ports where you can walk off and head to the beach, restaurant or on various cruise operated excursions.

Climb aboard these Paul Gauguin voyages for fares from $4,295 per person :

  • Tahiti & the Society Islands
  • 7-night voyage: November 15, 2014
  • Now from only $4,145 per person
  • 7-night voyage: December 13, 2014
  • Now from only $3,395 per person
  • 7-night voyage: December 20, 2014 (Holiday Sailing)

Hop on one of these PG cruises for fares from $4,095 per person

  • 7-night voyage: January 3, 2015
  • Now from only $3,345 per person
  • 7-night voyage: February 28, 2015
  • Now from only $3,995 per person
  • 7-night voyage: March 28, 2015
  • Or do the Society Islands & Tuamotus on a 10-night voyage: February 4, 2015 for $4,245 per person and up; or Cook Islands & Society Islands 11-night voyage: November 22, 2014; January 24, 2015 with fares from $4,695 per person.

 

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Princess Cruises puts balconies and suites on sale

Patti Pietschmann:

Golden Ensenada arrival

The sales feature spring and winter cruises to places such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Panama Canal, Europe and Transatlantic voyages. Cruises depart between December 2014 and May 2015. More information about the cruise sale and pricing can be found at princess.com/sale.

Guests booking a mini-suite or suite will receive an onboard credit of $50 per person for six- to nine-day cruises, $100 per person for 10-11-day cruises or $200 per person for 12 days or longer.

A few suite and balcony deals:

  • Caribbean cruise — 7 days: $1,999 suite; $899 mini-suite; $699 balcony
  • Mexico cruise — 7 days: $1,999 suite; $899 mini-suite; $699 balcony
  • Alaska cruise — 7 days: $2,079 suite; $1,349 mini-suite; $1,149 balcony
  • Panama Canal cruise — 11 days: $2,999 suite; $1,699 mini-suite; $1,299 balcony
  • Transatlantic cruise — 14 days: $4,599 suite; $2,399 mini-suite; $1,799 balcony

Information about other cruise deals and promotions can be found at princess.com/topcruisedeals.

All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy. The Suite and Balcony Bonus Sale runs from 12:01 a.m. PDT on July 22 through 11:59 p.m. PDT on August 19, 2014 and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.

Originally posted on Patti's Prattles:

Golden Ensenada arrivalGolden Patti in mini suiteThe Savvy Seafarer does enjoy sailing in suite style with a private balcony so whenever a cruise lines offers a deal on such luxuries her ears perk up and her fingers hit the link to the website.  The latest deal is from one of her favorite cruise lines, Princess—on which she sailed many times and seas—which is offering a Suite & Balcony Bonus Sale, from now through  August 19, on select cruises.  If you book a suite or mini-suite (both come with perks, the former obviously a few more and are SS-approved) you can score up to $400 free onboard spending money per stateroom (use it at the spa, for drinks, alternative dining venues or shore excursions). If you book an oceanview stateroom you get a free balcony upgrade (trust me you’ll love having it).

The sales features spring and winter cruises to places such as the Caribbean, Mexico…

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We ‘cruise for a cause’ on the Ruby Princess

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Read more here: http://www.examiner.com/article/going-cardio-cruising-for-a-good-cause-on-the-ruby-princess#sthash.8CAVTCVj.hpvt

 

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Crystal Cruises creates celestial dining experiences at sea

Image

Image

Image

Enjoy all that and more on a Crystal Cruise aboard Serenity or Symphony:http://www.examiner.com/article/crystal-cruises-creates-gastronomic-culinary-coup-on-serenity-and-symphony 

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Cruise views by the Savvyseafarer

IMG_5812IMG_5809IMG_5814??????????Crystal_SymphonyIMG_4654serenityBest butlerBest main pool2crownprincess deck

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A slideshow of seven celestial days aboard Silversea Cruises Silver Spirit

ImageSuite breakfast on the balcony of Silver Spirit.

ImageDressed in silk Pret a Port outfit.

ImageDinner at Hot Rocks, an outdoor, deck grill where you cook your fish, fowl or steak at your table.

ImageDinner in The Restaurant.

ImageStopping in Turks&Caicos

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Read more: http://www.examiner.com/article/msc-cruises-adding-two-new-behemoth-ships-to-its-12-vessel-fleet

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A magical Cinderella-like cruise aboard Silversea’s Silver Spirit

A magical Cinderella-like cruise aboard Silversea's Silver Spirit

The Silver Spirit docked outside St. Barths during our 7-day Caribbean cruise, giving us ample time to visit the emchanting #LeToiny–a hotel gem that sparkles on the tiny island.

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Princess Cruises gets right to the ‘heart’ of the matter with Cruising for a Cause

Princess Cruises gets right to the 'heart' of the matter with Cruising for a Cause

We cruised for a cause Feb. 10-15 aboard the spiffy Ruby Princess, it was quite an eye-opener with seminars and lectures by Heart Assn. members and guest speakers. We learned CPR, matters of the heart and how to stay healthy. And, we had fun!

Read  more about it here:  http://www.examiner.com/article/a-princess-cruise-created-for-a-good-cause-inspires-informs-and-delights

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Princess Cruises creates “Come Back New” sweepstakes for chances to win cruises and cameras

Courtesy Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has created a contest  called “Come Back New” that coincides with its marketing campaign. Thel sweepstakes, which runs through April 16, 2014,  will  give a lucky winner a chance to score a free 19-day cruise to the destination of their choice. Weekly winners can record their cruise memories with Nikon’s new, revolutionary 1 AW1 camera.

To enter go to https://princess.promo.eprize.com/holiday and register, plus can get additional entries by taking a destination personality quiz or by submitting their transformative vacation photos.crownprincess deck

The grand prize winner will enjoy free airfare and a balcony stateroom for two aboard a seven- to 19-day cruise of their choice. The winner can pick their voyage from among Princess’ many worldwide options, including an Alaska cruise, Alaska cruisetour, Panama Canal cruise, Hawaiian cruise, Caribbean cruise, Grand Mediterranean cruise, California Coastal cruise, Australia & New Zealand cruise, East Australia and Asia cruise or a Canada & New England cruise.

The grand prize winner will also receive a Nikon camera bundle featuring a Nikon 1 AW1 camera, with lens and accessories, valued at more than $1,000. This waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof camera offers the world’s fastest continuous shooting frame rate, so photographers never miss those fleeting shots.

In addition, each week throughout the 12-week sweepstakes a winner will be randomly selected from the photo submissions to receive a Nikon 1 AW1 camera, valued at more than $800. The weekly winner’s photo will be featured on the sweepstakes landing page each week.

The grand prize winner will be chosen on or before May 6, 2014. Eligible entrants must be at least 21 years old and U.S. or Canadian (excluding Quebec) citizens.princess_01rubychristening

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.

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Silversea to issue spiffy Travel Journals to passengers prio to cruise

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Carnival Cruises creates Dr. Seuss fantasty for kids

Image

Carnival Cruises, an industry leader in onboard children’s programs, just got more kid-friendly with the addition of Dr. Seuss-themed fun aboard its Fun Ships. In a press released received today, Dec. 11, the company announced a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to keep young seafarers entertained.

The Carnival Seuss at Sea program will offer a variety of exciting and immersive onboard youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences featuring the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss. “It is fun to have fun but you have to know how,” said the Cat in the Hat in the iconic Dr. Seuss book.

A great way to get the kids to eat breakfast, the program kicks off in the main dining room with a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends. Children will eat it up. We’re talking moose juice and goose juice, along with colorful fruit and pancake stacks, funky French toast and more, with traditional breakfast favorites also available. Imagine your kid’s faces when they see waiters dressed in Dr. Seuss-inspired outfits and a cast of  Seuss characters coming alive before their eyes such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam. The breakfast will be hosted on the first sea day of each cruise (which is all the ships) and then cost $5 after.

There will also be a selection of c Dr. Seuss books, toys and themed activities with special showings of movies such as “The Cat in the Hat” and Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired outdoors on the giant screen of the Seaside Theater on Lido Deck as part of the cruise line’s Dive-In Movies programming.

The Seuss at Sea program will begin aboard Carnival Splendor in February 2014 with implementation across the full fleet by 2015, as well as Carnival Vista when that ship enters service in early 2016. For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit www.carnival.com .

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How to make your cruise the best one ever

IMG_4654IMG_2754

Shore excursion in St. Lucia

Shore excursion in St. Lucia

Carnival breezeReally want to know? Read this: http://www.examiner.com/article/six-top-ingredients-for-the-best-cruises-ever-plus-some-savvy-seafaring-advice Me in blue dressrich in tuxeBest butler

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Cruises are wonderful when you’re on the right ship

Carnival breezeMe in blue dressDon’t book a cruise until you read this:  http://www.examiner.com/article/a-matchmaker-s-guide-to-picking-the-ship-that-s-right-for-yousansebastian on spirit1porthole galley Read more:   http://www.examiner.com/article/a-matchmaker-s-guide-to-picking-the-ship-that-s-right-for-you

IMG_1963bestpattimealprincess_01rubychristeningIMG_2755

 

Just call me the ‘yenta of the sea’, but you really need to read the story on Examiner.com at the link above

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Royal Caribbean ship catches fire company offers apologies and more on Twitter

Patti Pietschmann:

Cruise Ship Fire_AnguRead all about the latest cruise ship disaster

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is offering updates about today’s (May 27, 2013) fire aboard the Grandeur of Seas on its Twitter site. The company sent alerts to members of the press via it’s proprietary Twitter account  @RoyalCaribPR.

The compan, which seems to handling the situation with surprising elan in the wake of other cruise ship mishaps where it wasn’t, has  assured passengers that full refunds of the cruise fare paid will be issued along with a future cruise certificate for 100% of the cruise fare paid for the May 24, 2013 voyage.

The company tweeted that, “Royal Caribbean International is deeply sorry for this unexpected development in our guests’ vacation, we understand that this may have been a very stressful time for them.” “And we also know that it has significantly impacted their vacation experience and appreciate their patience and cooperation in dealing with this unfortunate situation.”

There is a dedicated telephone hotline family members of guests at 1-888-824-0012 or internationally at +1-408-916-9000.

 

The cruise line requests that only families of guests use the telephone numbers in order to help ease call volume and ensure that they can receive information as quickly as possible.

When the fire broke out the Grandeur of the Seas was on a seven-night sailing that departed Baltimore, Maryland, on May 24, and had included port calls to Port Canaveral, Florida; CocoCay and Nassau, The Bahamas.

Originally posted on Patti's Prattles:

Has the cruise industry learned anything yet? We think so since Royal Caribbean appears to be handling today’s fire aboard its Grandeur of the Seas with more elan than say Carnival has in the past. The Miami-based cruise line is offering apologies-plus on its Twitter account and sending messages exclusively to use writers.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is offering updates about today’s (May 27, 2013) fire aboard the Grandeur of Seas on its Twitter site. The company sent alerts to members of the press via it’s proprietary Twitter account  @RoyalCaribPR.  Cruise Ship Fire_Angu

The latest tweet stated that, “Unfortunately, the damage caused by the fire on Grandeur of the Seas will require us to cancel the rest of the voyage. We are currently working on making the necessary arrangements to return all guests to Baltimore, Maryland.”

The company assured passengers that full refunds of the cruise fare paid will be issued…

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Carnival using cruise control big time

Carnival Cruise Lines is doing everything possible to clean up its tarnished imaged after several very unsettling mishaps, the first of which was the ill-fated Costa Concordia diseaster.  Recently, the mega-cruise operator announced major safety enhancements to assuage fears of perspective passengers and repeaters. Now its going to be featured in a 30-minute episode of the popular Travel Channel series, Trip Flip, Athat airs May 5, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET. During the show, a couple from Austin, Texas, is surprised with a six-day cruise on the line’s newest ship, Carnival Breeze, and whisked away to the balmy Caribbean. Hosted by professional fun-seeker, comedian, and travel expert Bert Kreischer, Trip Flip does a “switcheroo” on travelers who may already be on vacation, as well as people still in their hometown, by tossing out the guidebook and giving them an exceptional holiday experience they never saw coming.

During the Carnival Breeze episode, Texas natives Shannon and Nathan are initially taken on a vacation to Miami’s South Beach. After a few days, they’re surprised with a voyage on the spectacular Carnival Breeze. Viewers will have the opportunity to “cruise vicariously” through Shannon and Nathan as they check out the ship’s many innovations. On board, the couple traverses the ropes course at SportSquare, taking in awe-inspiring views of the sea 150 feet below.

They also take a plunge down the 312-foot-long Twister water slide and enjoy luxurious pampering at the Cloud 9 Spa. Kreischer even pulls some strings and gets Nathan, an amateur comedian, headline billing at The Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez. The episode also includes breathtaking scenes as Shannon and Nathan snorkel the colorful coral reefs of Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos Islands. “We are extremely excited to be featured in this upcoming episode of Trip Flip which does a great job of capturing some of the many magical and exciting experiences that our 4.5 million guests enjoy each year,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

For additional information and reservations on any of Carnival’s “Fun Ship” vacations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com. “Trip Flip” is produced by High Noon Entertainment for Travel Channel. For High Noon Entertainment, the executive producer is Patrick Jager. For Travel Channel, the executive producer is Dale Roy Robinson.

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Cruise industry news: Crystal bans smoking, Princess cops eco-award, Seabourn gets swanker

Carnival breezeIMG_4651No more indoor

Caribbean

Caribbean

puffing on Crystal Cruises except in special smoking room and on designated deck spots

Los Angeles, California-based Crystal Cruises  made a bold  statement today (April 22, 2013)with the announcement that the luxury cruise operator is banning smoking in all indoor areas, except for its Connoisseur Club smoking lounge.  While the announcement will most likely be overwhelming welcomed by environmentalists and anti-smoking groups, those addicted to the habit might take exception to the new rule. However, the cruise line is still allowing people to puff in designated areas on the decks of its Symphony and Serenity.

The smoking ban will take effect  in 2014 with the January 5th  and January 8 cruises of both ships and of will extend to  staterooms and balconies. In keeping with lifestyle trends, most areas of Crystal ships have been non-smoking for several years, including restaurants and main entertainment lounges, as well as stateroom and suite verandahs. Crystal eliminated smoking in its popular Avenue Saloon and Casino in 2013.

Princess gets honored, Seabourn spoils paxwith luxurious penthouse spa suites

In other news Princess Cruises copped a green award from the Port of Seattle see: http://www.examiner.com/article/princess-cruises-picks-up-green-getaway-award-from-port-of-seattle and Seabourn Lines is pampering elite pax with penthouse spa suites, see: www.examiner.com/article/penthouse-spa-suites-raise-the-bar-on-seabourn-s-luxurious-fleet .

 

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A tale of two women: an English Duchess and an American editor earn godmother status with Princess Cruises

Her Royal Highness, Kate aka: The Duchess of Cambridge will hold yet another title come June when she becomes godmother of Princess Cruises Royal Princess.  The the last godmother choice  aka  madrina was Cruise Critic Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown–also an influential woman who has been editor of the popular Cruisecritic.com website for the last decade. I have edited this post because when I mentioned that I wondered how objective Ms. SB could be writing about Princess Cruises on her web site, she replied to me at Facebook that I should have asked her.  I am also former contributor  for about 10 years) to Cruisecritic.com before Carolyn’s time and one who espects the contributions that Carolyn has made to the cruise industry but  what I said before editing this was “One can’t help but wonder how objective Ms. SB can be writing about Princess Cruises on Cruise Critic now that she is sort of a spokeswoman for them.  Ah well, all’s fair in love and journalism as my feature editor at Newsday once told me.

Kate will break the ceremonial Champagne bottle over the spiffy new generation ship on Thursday, June 13, 2013. The spectacular ceremony will uphold British ship-naming traditions including the blessing, a performance by the Royal Marines Band and the pipers of the Irish Guards, together with contemporary highlights.

Alan Buckelew, the line’s president and CEO said “It is a great honor for Princess Cruises that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has accepted our invitation to become the Godmother to Royal Princess. We are delighted that the Duchess will launch our new ship and can think of no better way to celebrate our company’s British heritage and our commitment to the country.”

Duchess of Cambridge to become Royal Princess Godmother
Duchess of Cambridge to become Royal Princess Godmother
      Photo credit:
        PR Newswire

The 3, 600-passenger ship will arrive at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton on Friday, June 7,2013 where she will start a series of events for clients and travel agents, including a special naming gala on the evening of Wednesday, June 12. The ship’s inaugural celebrations will conclude with her maiden voyage on June 16.

The Royal reigns in a new-generation for the cruise line with  special features added such as greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the new Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

During the hoopla surrounding the  Royal Princess  debut the company will offer two short preview cruises prior to and following the naming. After her maiden voyage the ship will sail Grand Mediterranean cruises throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the autumn.

More information and some exciting  videos of the ship are available at www.princess.com/royalprincess.

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Oops, Carnival Triumph runs amok

Carnival breezeRead all about Carnival Cruise Lines latest debacle: http://www.examiner.com/article/another-big-blow-for-carnival-triumph-breaks-away-from-shipyard-sustains-damage

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Mostly hits with a few misses on board Golden Princess

the Golden Princess cruise bithdy baloonsto Hawaii was a fantasy-filled birthday/anniversary celebration  for the savvyseafarer and her first mate.   Hardly strangers to the Princess product, we expected the voyage to run smoothly.  But it turned out better than ever.

To review a 109,000-ton, 2,600-passenger ship properly one must take into perspective its class. While not considered high-end by industry standards of price (think Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea), the Golden held her head up well with some of the best service at sea we’ve ever encountered on the line. The crew was simply sensational, helpful, attentive, the quality of a much higher-priced spread actually.

And while our enjoyment ranked as a ‘10’, in all honesty the reviewers can only award it four stars (which is hardly chopped liver). Why? Because the ship failed in two categories. Granted this is purely subjective, but the spread in the Horizon Court buffet barely passes muster. It was uninventive and sometimes hard to eat. However the crew working the room was exceptional. The coffee, served in this setting, which is open from morning to midnight, is undrinkable. You can get better joe by buying it, however.

The other area that was lacking is the Lotus Spa. Not the facility itself, but the staff and quality of the three treatments experienced. The attendants sort of stared and seemed lackadaisical when passengers walked in. A special ‘head to toe’ treatment than ran $139 was way below par for the course, perfunctory at best.  Another “Fire and Ice” manicure that ran $50 didn’t even include cuticle cutting. There was a light hot stone massage of the arms that was barely felt. And, get this, there was so few polish choices, I had to fetch my own from my mini-suite.

To accentuate the positive, meals in both Sabatini’s and the Crown GrillSabatini's salt crusted branzino—two alternative dining venues that cost $25 a person—were exceptional as were our servers. The hotel manager, wine steward (seen here) IMG_4675 maître ‘d and captains were phenomenal. Because we are consider ‘Elite’ passengers who have sailed several voyages with Princess, we were invited to have breakfast each day in Sabatini’s with only about 70 other passengers of the same ranking. It was real treat that came with extraordinary service, fresh orange juice, specialty dishes, and cappuccinos or espressos. Princess does take care of its repeat passengers, especially the ‘Elite’ category for which we also got free laundry and cleaning service, priority boarding and disembarking, an Internet package of 250 minutes and first dibs on reservations in the alternative dining venues—which was welcome since we ate most of meals there, opting out of the crowded dining room.

Another really nice touch was the relaxed dress code of ‘resort casual’ at night, which meant no tie and jackets for guys, and optional formal attire on three evenings.Me in blue dressrich in tuxe

The shows, activities and Hawaiian diversions on board rated a ‘10’. We didn’t partake of shore excursions this time but they are usual tops on Princess and we heard no complaints.

Our mini-suite was excellent with two flat-screen TVs, king-sized bed, sitting area with sofa and table, desk/vanity, mini-fridge and a one-time complimentary set up of libations. The bathroom had a tub with a shower, robes and slippers and upscale spa products.

The ship was sparkling clean everywhere. Deck space was ample for a ship that was filled to capacity. The four pools (two of which are large) were all kept at a comfortable temperature and deck stewards were always on hand to bring you anything you desired.

The cruise director was entertaining and informative. Our captain, Ronald Wilson, a pure delight, and our cabin steward efficient if not effusive.

The 14-day cruise provides five days each way at sea with island stops in Hilo, Kauai, Maui and Oahu.  Days at sea were filled with choices such as the line’s Scholarship@Sea, lei making, photography classes, treasure hunts, trivia sessions, ping pong tournaments, movies, shows and more than we have space for here. Of course there’s also a casino, which was well-attended, a  well-stocked fitness center, also used extensively, a jogging/walking deck, and plenty of bars and nooks and crannies.

The Golden Princess makes these Hawaii cruises through the end of March before heading north to Alaska for the summer. She returns in the fall to continue the highly-recommended itineraries.

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Photos from a glorious two-week cruise on the Golden Princess

It was a fantasy at sea, a special birthday/anniversary celebration aboard Princess Cruise sterling Golden Princess. We sailed roundtrip from Los Angeles bithdy baloonsbirthdy caketo HawaiiMe in blue dresswhat a whirlwind voyage:rich in tuxe

Golden princess plaguePatti 1IMG_4651Pastry, glorious pastryGolden pastry4

IMG_4654 .

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The Savvy Seafarer hits the high seas on Golden Princess

diva on deck of royal princessAhoy maties, your Savvy Seafarer is off on a roundtrip cruise from LA to Hawaii on the Golden Princess, check in here or at http://www.examiner.com/cruise-88-in-national/patti-pietschmann for regular updates.

It’s a birthday/anniversary cruise for me and my first mate. So wish us a bon voyage.

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Seabourn sells three of its fleet concentrates on bigger ‘boats’

patti3
Luxury, all-inclusivecruise operator Seabourn has announced the sale of the line’s original three vessels Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend to Xanterra Parks & Resorts ®, owner of Windstar Cruises.

Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn, added, “Seabourn remains dedicated to our mission of creating the world’s finest travel experiences through our small-ship cruising product.” “Our three newest vessels, Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, and Seabourn Quest have raised the bar for ultra-luxury cruising and we intend to add a fourth ship of similar design,” he continued. “Seabourn is already in discussion with shipbuilders and an order is likely to be announced within the current fiscal year. The new ship will allow Seabourn to maintain much of its current guest capacity.”

Meadows maintained that Seabourn is fully committed to continuing to deliver its award-winning standards on Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend, and providing its clientele with the ultra-luxury service and onboard product they have come to expect.”

For more information on Seabourn’s award-winning cruise vacations, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit http://www.seabourn.com .

Read more here: http://www.examiner.com/article/seabourn-startles-industry-with-sale-of-original-small-luxury-liners-to-xanterra

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Cruise Italian-style at dinner anyway on Holland America

ImagePassengers on Holland America’s Prinsendam now have the option of eating Italian at the ship’s recently installed Canaletto Restaurant, located on the Lido Terrace.

Named for the famous 18th-century Venetian artist, the award-winning Canaletto is located in the Wintergarden, which is adjacent to the Lido dining area. The restaurant serves classic Italian fare with tableside service for dinner only, and reservations are encouraged. With the addition of the eatery to Prinsendam, Canaletto is now on all 15 ships in the Holland America Line fleet.

“We continue to invest in our fleet and the onboard experience to offer the best premium cruise experience,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “Prinsendam has one of our most loyal followings, so the new Wintergarden and popular Canaletto will certainly be appreciated by our guests.”

In addition to Canaletto, the 835-guest Prinsendam’s aft Lido terrace was enclosed and remodeled into a covered Wintergarden. The new area increased the dining capacity of the Lido and provides the venue for Canaletto. The ship also received other cosmetic enhancements during its dry-dock in Freeport, Bahamas, including new balcony decking and balcony dividers.

For more information about Holland America Line, contact a travel professional or call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit www.hollandamerica.com.

Find Holland America Line on Twitter, Facebook and the Holland America Blog.  Access all social media outlets via the Online Communities quick link on the home page at www.hollandamerica.com.

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Hollywood hits the high seas o Crystal Cruises

serenity

Crystal Cruises is staging a gala Hollywood hits the high seas spectacular on its November 2, 2013 New York to Miami, Film & Theatre voyage. Presented in partnership with the award-winning Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles, the film buff’s dream come true  will feature more than a dozen performers and industry speakers with material created exclusively for the Los Angeles, California-based luxury cruise line. Highlights include a special spotlight on Marilyn Monroe, one of the industry’s most glamorous, and legendary bombshells.

Legends Brought to Life on Stage

Internationally acclaimed Marilyn Monroe tribute artist Susan Griffiths will bring her uncanny talent to sea for the first time ever with a new live cabaret show created exclusively for Crystal called “Marilyn – Memories, Music and Magic”.

Crystal fan favorite Jim Brochu returns with ‘Character Man”, his newest tribute to some of Broadway’s greatest character actors, like Jackie Gleason and Zero Mostel.

LA’s Troubador Theatre Company, or “Troubies,” will perform multiple commedia dell’arte productions onboard, including a satirical Shakespeare-meets-cinema-disco musical theatre performance of “Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream”.

Iconic Insights

Presentations from guests such as actress Kate Burton, the – daughter of Richard and the current U.S. vice-president on hit TV show “Scandal”, Center Theatre Group’s artistic director Michael Ritchie will provide insider tales from the show business front. A dedicated in-stateroom television channel will broadcast classic motion pictures, theatre documentaries and theme presenter insights throughout the voyage.  For added enjoyment, an interactive trivia games will also provide opportunities for guests to show off their entertainment knowledge.

Dinner with Marilyn

A multi-course dinner in the ship’s uber-intimate Vintage Room, featuring extraordinary wine pairings, will be hosted by “Marilyn Monroe” (Griffiths) and Marilyn fan club president, Greg Schreiner, sharing tales of Tinseltown and the star’s life.

Red Carpet Beauty Tips

Premier red carpet make-up artist William Squire will present celebrity beauty secrets for guests’ everyday lives and onboard photo opportunities, including ways Marilyn hid flaws and enhanced her beauty to create her signature style — and how her look still influences style today.

Famous Fashions

Original costumes from some of Hollywood’s greatest films will be showcased in a special musical theatre production created just for Crystal, featuring Broadway veteran Karen Morrow and other special guests.

The Silver Screen

The ship’s recently-redesigned Hollywood Theatre will feature movie marathons of classic and recent films, including some of Marilyn’s greatest hits, with Turner Classic Movies film historian Jeremy Arnold providing fascinating behind-the-scenes commentary.

“It’s a privilege to collaborate with the Center Theatre Group on such a unique program of entertainment and enrichment for film and theatre-philes,” says Christopher Escamilla, manager of entertainment operations. “Whether you love the songs, cinema, style, stars, or just Marilyn, everyone is bound to have an amazing time feeling like a star with the Six-Star Crystal treatment throughout.”

The East Coast and Caribbean itinerary visits New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville (maiden call), Turks & Caicos, Curaçao, Aruba and Miami. All-inclusive luxury cruise fares begin at $4,300 per person for 14 days, with $800 per person in Book Now savings if booked by February 28, 2013.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit  www.crystalcruises.com.

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Carnival Cruise Lines Breeze-A-Thon sweepstates starts today

 

Carnival Cruise Lines “Carnival Breeze-A-Thon,”  today launchea  Facebook  sweepstakes contestA, for a chance to win a boat load of prizes from a Caribbean cruise to a Samsung television, and other awards inspired by the Carnival Breeze’s vast amenities.

The contest is in conjunction with the Breeze’s arrival in Miami where she began a series of year around, six and eight day cruises and will be hosted on Carnival’s Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/carnival) from today, Dec. 3 through Dec. 6, 2012. Then, on Dec. 8, the day of Carnival Breeze’s official naming ceremony, prizes will be awarded each hour between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., interspersed with a series of videos showcasing many of the ship’s fun and fantastic features. The final video of the day will feature highlights from the naming ceremony.

 

To enter just hit “like” Carnival on Facebook, visit the “Carnival Breeze-A-Thon” tab and enter to be eligible to win a wide range of fun and memorable prizes.

Lucky winners will score  goodies such as:

  • A Caribbean cruise for two aboard Carnival Breeze (Grand Prize)
  • Samsung 40-inch 3D high-definition television (Thrill Theater)
  • iPod Touch and Bluetooth Rechargeable Mini-Speakers pre-loaded with the Personal Party Mix created by DJ IRIE, Carnival’s official DJ (Liquid Nightclub/DJ IRIE)
  • Kindle Fire HD 7 and Fusion classic red and white wine glass collection (Library Bar)
  • Chef Pro 10-inch tortilla maker and set of six Novica Margarita glasses (BlueIguana Cantina)
  • Guy Fieri Food – Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It, a cookbook authored by the Food Network personality and four jars of his signature barbecue sauces (Guy’s Burger Joint)
  • Engraved chopsticks for two and sake set (Bonsai Sushi)
  • Banzai Triple Wave Racer Water Slide (Carnival WaterWorks)
  • Two Carnival Comfort Robes and $250 gift card toward a massage on board (Serenity/Cloud 9 Spa)
  • DVD of “It’s Not Me, It’s You” featuring a live performance of comedian George Lopez (Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez)
  • Hasbro board game party pack, including Trivial Pursuit Master Edition, Clue, The Game of Life, Monopoly, and Scattergories (Hasbro, The Game Show)
  • Set of six ThirstyFrog Red beer glasses (RedFrog Pub/RedFrog Rum Bar)

 

For additional information and reservations on Carnival’s “Fun Ship” cruises, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

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Carnival Cruises talks turkey tops Breeze with 50-foot inflatable turkey

Check out the full story of  Carnival’s ‘fowl’ play here:  http://www.examiner.com/article/carnival-breeze-arrives-miami-topped-by-a-50-foot-tall-1-250-pound-turkey

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Crystal Cruises promises you a ‘rose garden’ with new garden & floral theme cruises

The Savvy Seafarer’s favorite all-inclusive, mid-size ship operator,  Crystal Cruises  promises passengers that life’s a rose garden with its new Mediterranean Garden & Floral Design-themed  sailing from Barcelona to Venice on April 21, 2013.

Aptly named “La Dolce Vita,” the Crystal Serenity cruise offers more than 15  peaceful Crystal Adventures visiting some of the most renowned, romantic, and private gardens that epitomize the Catalan coast and French and Italian Rivieras.  On board, Britian’s celebrity floral designer, Paula Pryke, and Sybil Sylvester, founder of flower “creative think tank,” Wildflower Designs, will also offer hands-on workshops and presentations in floral design, arrangement, and other floral-related topics.

“The scenery in these destinations is simply spectacular, and is only enhanced by the artistry and historical significance expressed in their gardens,” says Victoria Harris, Crystal’s manager of hotel services and design.  “Together, the ship and shore enrichment allow travelers to get to know the area, and its unparalleled landscape, in a really novel way, while also teaching green and black thumbs alike valuable ‘trip souvenir’ skills they can bring back home.”

Vacationers can “smell the roses” (and other flora and fauna blossoming next spring) in/near:

  • Venice – Insider explorations of cozy Venetian squares and private courtyards include a garden created by Italian modernist architect Carlo Scapa, inside the 16th-century Palazzo Querini Stampalia museum and library complex.
  • Monte Carlo– From exotic gardens of succulents and sub-tropical microclimate species, to umbrella pines and rare fruit trees, Crystal takes guests throughout the Cote d’Azur to explore classic French, Spanish, and even English garden design, complete with stunning coastline views and even a lesson in cooking with flowers.
  • Barcelona– Excursions go off the beaten-tourist-path, from the city’s newest garden hotspot – the conservation-focused Botanical Garden, showcasing the plants of five Mediterranean climate – to the city’s oldest garden, the neoclassical Cypress-filled maze of Labyrinth Park…as well as to the area’s popular Park Güell, one of Gaudí’s most famous works.
  • Rome – Italy’s finest Renaissance garden includes cascading fountains and dripping grottoes dating back almost 450 years.

In between overnights on both ends, the Experiences of Discovery luxury cruise visits Trogir, Croatia and Florence, Sorrento, and Sicily, Italy.  Until October 31, all-inclusive, “Book Now” fares for the 11-day itinerary begin at $4,165 per person.

A second Garden & Floral Design-themed voyage sails from LA to NYC on May 6, offering visits to lush private and public gardens in Charleston, Florida, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean.

Crystal’s passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more “World’s Best” awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

 

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The Crystal Symphony gets a ‘living wall’

Los Angeles, California-based, luxury ship operator  Crystal Cruises has come up with a way to bring land to sea, or least vegetation with the installment of  the world’s first self-contained, free-standing living wall at sea, created and crafted by UK-based ANS Group Europe on board the Crystal Symphony.

ANS Group Europe spent two days installing the living wall on the 922 passenger luxury liner while the ship sailed from Portland to Dover to complete its 11-night British Isle Brilliance voyage.

Designed for an al fresco area in the ship’s Deck 11 Trident Grill, the distinctive living wall uses a varied and diverse selection of indoor plants to display a world map. The living wall is 37.7 feet long and 7.9 feet high and will receive regular maintenance by Crystal Symphony’s onboard team of florists.

“In keeping with our ongoing focus on design, we wanted to create a focal point that was both highly contemporary and visually stunning,” says Alexandra Don, Crystal’s vice president, hotel design and services. “The end result is a living wall that brings the Trident Grill to life and serves as an eye-catching backdrop to the incomparable service and choices that always characterize a Crystal holiday.”

Joel Nash, marketing manager for ANS Group Europe added, “This bespoke project is an exciting and exhilarating scheme. Installing living walls on a cruise ship is taking us to a completely new level and opens up all sorts of possibilities. When you think this wall will be travelling as far north as Lapland and down to Cape Horn, it takes your breath away.”

A living wall is a vertical garden that is pre-planted in panels and then attached to the wall or facade of a building. Plants stay intact in their vertical positions because their root structures are anchored in two to four inches of soil kept within the panel.

The installation of the wall reflects another example of Crystal’s commitment to the environment and  its educational efforts both onboard and on shore. A living wall acts as a bio filter, enhancing air quality by breaking down harmful airborne contaminants and transforming them into clean oxygen. By absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, it reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

For more information on Crystal Cruises and reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

 

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Create a Princess Cruises Pinterest board and win prizes

Princess Cruises has put a Pinterest contest on “the board” with great prizes for winners who show the best photos of themselves in repose. The ‘How I Escape Completely’ contest winners will be selected from the top five boards. Winner get  a Sanctuary Relaxation Kit, complete with a Lotus Spa plush robe, skin nourishing milk bath and an iPod® with a $50 iTunes® gift card. The contest runs from August 1-14, 2012 – leading up to National Relaxation Day on August 15.

To enter the competition, to http://www.princess.com/pinterestcontest  or Princess’ Facebook page to register and follow Princess on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/princesscruises/ . Each entrant can then pin images to their personal boards showing the places, phrases and products that help them escape – including their own Princess cruise memories. Boards must contain at least five images pinned from Princess’ Pinterest board, princess.com, or Princess’ blogs at http://www.inspiredtocruise.com  and www.50essentialexperiences.com .

All boards will be judged between August 16 and August 31, 2012 on creativity, originality and how well they define the theme.  Participants can also use any inspirational or mood imagery to enhance their board. Each image should be tagged with the hashtags #PrincessCruises and #Travel.

All entries for the contest  must be received by August 14, 2012. The contest is open to legal residents of the United States, Canada (excluding Quebec), the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Official rules are available at: https://pinterest.brandmovers.net/rules . iPod and iTunes are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the U.S. and other countries. Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this program.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.

For more about this breaking story go to: http://www.examiner.com/article/princess-cruises-creates-industry-first-with-unique-pinterest-contest.

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Passengers in glass showers….

Wow, Celebrity Cruises new ship Reflection is shaping up pretty spiffy. There’s a boat load of innovations including a glass shower that goes outside the box, or actually outside your suite and hangs over the ocean.

More details at:http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrity-reflection-to-debut-gorgeous-over-the-top-glass-rain-shower

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A New England chowder bowl-full of exciting adventures from Crystal Cruises

Crystal symphony in Maui

Crystal Cruises sails into fall with voyages through America and Canada’s “East Coast” roots during dozens of new boutique adventures ashore; new chic spaces on board; and a brand new, exotic Québécois itinerary with three off-the-beaten-path maiden calls.  All that plus free wines, spirits, tips and entry to alternative dining venues. And that’s not all, there’s a world-class spa with top-notch treatments, a fully-equipped gym, jogging tack, movies, entertainment, enrichment programsbulters that man penthouse accommodatins

and seamless service of a crew that never (well almost neve) says “no.”

Beginning September 19, 2012, the  freshly spruced-up  Crystal Symphony will offer five seven- to 11-day cruises between Boston, Manhattan and Montréal.  The season’s centerpiece, Crystal’s first-ever round-trip from Montréal, is an easy, seven-day intimate exploration of European-flavored French Canada, including a maiden call to France itself.

Choose from 29  new Crystal Adventures featuring novel ways for foodies, adventurers, and culture-hounds to experience the historic region’s most iconic and less-expected areas, like:

  • Saint-Pierre & Miquelon: Visit North America’s last vestige of the French Republic and see Al Capone’s “home-away-from-home” during the island’s golden era of Prohibition profiteering.
  • Québec City: Join Huron natives in a Friendship Dance and sacred ceremonies following a traditional feast of bison, wapiti meat and Indian bannock bread.
  • New York: Sail past the Statue of Liberty to the newly-completed 9/11 Memorial or enjoy an exclusive, private visit to the American Museum of Natural History while closed to the public.
  • Havre-Aubert Island (from Magdalen Is.): Listen to a Madelinot fisherman’s tales of maritime life of yore.
  • Halifax: Look for the majestic North American bald eagle during a Shubenacadie River Zodiac ride.
  • Bar Harbor: Glide over Acadia National Park’s treetops in an open-cockpit biplane.
  • Magdalen Islands (maiden call): Learn about the distinct Acadian culture and taste local specialties like porto-style fortified wine, Pied-de-Vent cheese and bagosse “island beer.”
  • Montréal: Jet boat away from the Old Port, down the Lachine Rapids.
  • Sept-Îles (maiden call):Train-ride to a marshland Innu camp for immersion into traditional First Nations life, from chanting and smoked salmon secrets to moccasin and medicine-making.
  • St. John: Heli-fish in the footsteps of Prince Charles on the Miramichi River or have “Tea with Eleanor” Roosevelt at her and Franklin’s former summer residence.
  • Boston: See what some call New England’s most well-preserved (and picturesque) Colonial town during a half-day in Marblehead and witch trial-famed Salem.

Aspiring photographers can also learn pro tips to capture the “perfect shot” of Halifax or St. John during photo excursions there, and bike-riders can work off their sea legs through NY’s Central Park, or Montréal’s 236 miles of bike paths.  Additionally, Crystal’s You Care, We Care voluntourism program offers complimentary opportunities to assist with local Canadian food banks or help low-income and homeless Bostonian children.

“New England/Canada is one of the most storied and stunning regions in North America and offers so much to explore and discover.  Each year, we strive to not only expand our offerings with new ports, but also re-invent the journey with new experiences in traditionally popular destinations,” says John Stoll, vice president, land and port operations.

Until August 31, all-inclusive, “Book Now,” cruise-only fares start at $2,355/person, double-occupancy with attractive air add-ons from more than 90 North American gateways, and savings for family/friend groups of six or more.

Check out more about this spectacular cruise line and other options here National Cruise Examiner.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

 

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Crystal Cruises decks the halls for the Christmas holidays

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, at least to Crystal Cruises.  The luxury cruise operator has already wrapped the gifts and planned the parties for the December holiday season.

Globe trotting friends, families and couples can escape the cold and snuggle up in a penthouse suite or luxury stateroom with a balcony on a pair of warm weather  Christmas and New Year’s cruises.

The  award-winning line will offer  new exotic holiday options through Australia and New Zealand aboard the re-designed Crystal Symphony, complete with a complimentary over-the-top New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration in Sydney’s famed harbour.

Sydney Harbour

Travelers seeking a tropical Christmas/New Year’s getaway round-trip from Miami can enjoy the holidays aboard Crystal Serenity as she sails to eight ports in Tortola, St. Lucia and other coveted Caribbean locales.
The ships will be lavishly outfitted with holiday trimmings and décor, from fantastical forest-themed atriums with pines covered in snow and shimmering lights, to Santa’s Bakery inside Bistro Cafés.  Elaborate, hand-painted accoutrements and ornaments will adorn areas throughout the ships, creating a romantic, nostalgic winter wonderland.

Ho ho ho…

Santa Claus will be on hand for any last minute wishes from junior cruisers, along with other specially planned  activities and parties.  Christmas days at sea offer traditional culinary delights, including Christmas goose, roast turkey, and chestnut stuffing, plus religious services; New Year’s Eve dinner and champagne countdown celebrations are followed by Bloody Mary parties and mimosa brunch on New Year’s Day.
Itineraries:
December 20 (16 days) – From Auckland (overnight),
Crystal Symphony calls at Tauranga, Napier, Christchurch and Dunedin, New
Zealand, spends two nights in Sydney and cruises the awe-inspiring Millford,
Dusky and Doubtful Sounds before arriving for an overnight stay in
Melbourne.
December 21 (14 days) – Crystal Serenity sails from Miami and explores the picturesque islands of Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Lucia, Barbados, and Guadeloupe, West Indies; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and St. Thomas,  U.S. Virgin Islands; Ponce, Puerto Rico (a maiden call); and Key West, Florida.

Until August 31, all inclusive “Book Now” all-inclusive (wines, tips, admission to alternataive dining venues) fares for 2012 Holiday voyages aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity begin at $8,505 and $7,060, respectively, with additional perks and savings for family and friend groups of six or more via the Crystal Family Memories Program.

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Curve your enthusiasm

 

 

 

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Crystal Cruises cops T&L Reader’s award for 17th consecutive year

Congratulations Crystal Cruises

One of my top favorite cruise lines, LA-based Crystal Cruises, has once again, and for the 17th time, copped the coveted Travel & Leisure reader’s survey award for “best large ship.”

The ultra-luxury,  two ship company is the only cruise line, hotel, or resort to win its category every year since the awards began. Crystal’s winning score for 2012 reflects thousands of jet-setting readers’ ratings across six areas: service, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, and value. The results are published in the popular travel  magazine’s August issue.

“While we have delighted travelers this year with newly designed spaces, new services, and new value-conscious pricing, we have offered a consistency of experience that is unmatched in our industry,” says Crystal President Gregg Michel. “Travel + Leisure’s discerning readership clearly recognizes the best when they see it, and I couldn’t be prouder of our staff for their generous service, creativity and attention to detail.” In recent months, Crystal has spent $40 million on stylish redesigns of its award-winning Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, and $100 million in a little over five years.

Its seamless service, quality, and choices were also enhanced (not to mention, greeted with glee) when the line introduced its “all-inclusie policy” making tips, drinks and wines free for all.

The Savvyseafarer looks at magazine surveys with a critical eye, but having sailed with Crystal several times, can certainly agree with the T&L readers that it is the best. From the seamless service (that includes butlers on the Penthouse decks

and exceptional cuisine, to its Computer University at Sea (which is offered at no charge) and enrichment programs (also free), this “never say no to a passenger’s request” cruise line does it right and most often, best.

For more of the Savvyseafarer’s feeling on the company check out: http://www.examiner.com/article/crystal-cruises-dishes-out-extraordinary-wine-food-series

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Film, cut, edit, print with Crystal Cruises new digital film making courses

Crystal Cruises has teamed up with the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to present fa ive-hour-long Digital Filmmaking:The iPad iMovie Video Course through the line’s exclusive Creative Learning Institute aboard Crystal Symphony.
Learn professional tricks of the trade from pre-production to final cut.
Led by USC film professors, alumni and other film industry experts specially trained by curriculum creators Kerry Millerick and Dina Sterr, the course utilizes the iMovie app for iPad, but teaches basics that can be applied to any digital format.

Using one’s own iPad, guests shoot one of five documentary-style genres while on board: Interview, Event, Commercial, Man on the Street or How-to. They then edit the footage and add music, graphics, voiceover and effects. Participants learn the importance of filmmaking theory in production — considering the video’s purpose, intended audience, camera angle and shot composition — and then how to create a trailer and digitally share their masterpiece with an “audience” of loved ones via social media.

USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, shares her enthusiasm about the partnership: “We are always delighted to have the opportunity to share some of our creative skills and our love of cinema and media with others. Crystal Cruises provides a special way to reach a very interesting and exciting group, and we are pleased that members of our faculty will be invited on board to provide lectures and workshops to their guests.”

The Digital Filmmaking course will expand to Crystal Serenity in January 2013, making the program available on all Crystal’s luxury cruises worldwide.

For additional information  or  reservations  call 888-799-4625 or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

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Dream cruises

SeaDream courtesy of SeaDream Yachts

Read full story about this deamy cruise series aboard SeaDream 1: http://www.examiner.com/article/explore-the-wonders-of-costa-rica-on-a-celestial-seadream-cruise

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Mickey, Minnie and the gang set out from Seattle north to Alasks

Mickey, Minnie and the gang were in Seattle today for a big event–it’s the first time the Disney Wonder will do cruises from this Pacific Northewest port to Alaska.

Photos courtesy of Disney Cruises

All aboard!  Read all about it here: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-disney-wonder-heads-north-to-alaska-on-first-ever-cruises-from-seattle

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Memories of cruises past, well not that long ago…

Patti and Richard in Cartagena, Spain

Our favorite barkeep, Bruno, in Observation Bar on Seabourn

Caribbean

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Hot deals from Norwegian Cruise Lines

 

The Haven on NCL

Here are this week’s hot deals on select Norwegian cruise vacations

 FEATURED PROMOTION:

  • Freestyle Dash Limited Time Offer:  Book a cruise on Tuesday, May 22 and receive up to $250 to spend on board per stateroom (based on cruise length and stateroom category) and reduced deposits. For more information please visit http://www2.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/dash.
  • Airfare Credit Offer:  Receive up to $500 in airfare credits per stateroom on select cruise vacations to Bermuda and Alaska and up to $1,000 on Europe sailings.
  • Resident Rates: California residents can receive special rates on select 7-day cruises to Hawaii on board Pride of America now through July 7, 2012.
  • Military Rates: Special rates on select sailings to Hawaii, Europe, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Bahamas & Florida and Transatlantic.
  • AARP Member Offer: Receive up to 10% off on select sailings and stateroom categories when members book by June 11, 2012.

 

Alaska

  • Norwegian Pearl – $749 Best Available Inside/person: June 10, 24; July 1, 15; September 2, 2012,  7-night Alaska cruise roundtrip from Seattle
  • Norwegian Jewel – $749 Best Available Inside/person: June 9, 16, 30; July 28, 2012,  7-night Alaska cruise roundtrip from Seattle

 

Bahamas & Florida

  • Norwegian Sky – $319 Best Available Inside/person: May 28; June 4, 2012,  3 or 4-night Bahamas cruise roundtrip from Miami
  • Norwegian Gem – $599 Best Available Inside/person: July 7, 21, 2012,  7-night Bahamas & Florida cruise roundtrip from New York

 

Bermuda

  • Norwegian Dawn – $779 Best Available Inside/person: June 22, 29; July 1, 2012,  7-night Bermuda cruise roundtrip from Boston
  • Norwegian Star – $839 Best Available Inside/person: June 17, 24; July 1, 2012,  7-night Bermuda cruise roundtrip from Boston

 

Europe

  • Norwegian Epic – $569 Best Available Inside/person; May 27, 30; June 3, 10, 17, 2012; 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise roundtrip from Barcelona
  • Norwegian Spirit – $649 Best Available Inside/person: November 24; December 3, 2012, 9-night Canary Island cruise from Barcelona
  • Norwegian Sun – $1,229 Best Available Inside/person: May 31; June 9, 18, 27; July 6, 2012; 9-night Baltic Capitals cruise from Copenhagen
  • Norwegian Jade – $649 Best Available Inside/person: June 9, 16, 2012; 7-night Adriatic, Greece & Turkey or Greek Isles cruise from Venice

 

Hawaii

  • Pride of America – $1,399 Best Available Inside/person June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2012; 7-night Hawaii cruise roundtrip from Honolulu

 

The deals are available on select departures and do not include government taxes and fees.  They can be booked by contacting a travel agent or Norwegian reservations at (866) 234-0292.

 

 

 

 

Freestyle Cruising ® www.ncl.com

 

 

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Cruise lines pay big perks for loyalty

Cruise lines reward repeat passengers for their loyalty with perks such as  suite upgrades, free Internet, complimentary laundry, spirits and even future cruises.

Like everything some of these loyalty programs are better than others. Seabourn, one of the lines goes overboard to keep passengers coming back for more, just upped the ante with a major expansion of the benefits it rewards for faithfulness to its ships. Seabourn Club members (repeat passengers)can choose the rewards they prefer from a generous menu of onboard amenities and discounts found on the website www.seabourn.com.

New benefits go into effect on all Seabourn ships on voyages departing on or after June 1, 2012. “Our loyal guests have always been an important part of Seabourn’s success,” said Richard Meadows, the company’s president. “We wanted to start thanking returning guests sooner, and we wanted to offer them rewards in a different, uniquely Seabourn style,” he said. “With our new Seabourn Club, the difference is choice, and choice is luxury.”

Membership Levels, Seabourn Club Points Club members can redeem benefits based on five different membership levels, achieved by accruing one Seabourn Club Point for each day sailed. Additional points are presented for days sailed in premium category suites, for onboard spending and for days spent on overland excursions. Menu of Benefits Popular rewards are laundry and pressing, internet and telephone service which can cost a king’s ransom if used frequently, daily newspaper delivery, a signature Seabourn Club massage in the spa and savings on shore excursions, luggage shipping and premium wine (swill is free on board) and spirits purchases. Some folks get signature luggage tags and subscriptions to leading travel magazines.

Complimentary Cruises are awarded to passengers who have cruised with the company for 140 days to 250 days.  Prizes are based strictly on days actually sailed on board. In addition to the awards, Seabourn Club members receive exclusive offers, additional savings for onboard booking, invitations to events on board, as well as Tiffany & Co. recognition gifts as they achieve loyalty milestones.

Complete details of Seabourn Club membership benefits are available on Seabourn’s website at www.seabourn.com.

The Crystal Symphony off La Haina, Maui

Two other cruise lines with comparable passenger loyalty rewards programs are Crystal Cruises and Princess Cruises. This cruise writer is a proud member of both the Crystal Society and Captain’s Circle from which she has reaped rewards such as laundry, upgrades to suites, Internet usage, luggage tags, crystal champagne glasses and more. It pays to be loyal.

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Photos from Crystal Serenity

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Read full reports here:  http://www.examiner.com/cruise-88-in-national/patti-pietschmann

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The Savvy Seafarer reporting from the Crystal Serenity

The Savvy Seafarer hits Charleston

Here we are in Charleston, South Carolina on the 15th day of a simply fabulous cruise aboard Crystal Serenity (www.crystalcruises.com). We’ve been pampered by our penthouse butler Engin(a wonderful chap from Turkey), spoiled by our  stewardess who keeps  our stateroom ship

shape, and c

Me

atered to by an international crew. Life is good. Read about it here:   http://www.examiner.com/cruise-88-in-national/patti-pietschmann

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Crystal Cruises’ cerebral shipboard delights include a Lord, Modern Family and Gandhi

There’s more to cruising than eating, drinking, playing bingo and taking excursions on Crystal Cruises– the luxury cruise operator that spices up its voyages with such intellectual offerings as enrichment lectures by fascinating speakers.

And for its2012 European season, the cruise line has a scholarly lineup that includes includes Gandhi, U.S. Generals, novelist Jeffrey Archer, and Jeff Greenberg, the casting genius behind Modern Family.

Arun Gandhi, peace activist and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute will be on the ship on May 9 for a Barcelona to London cruise. General Anthony Zinn, four-star Marine Corps General and former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, goes on board for the May 21 London to Hamburg itinerary.

One of the most popular and entertaining speakers, Jeff Greenberg, Emmy Award-winning casting director of Modern Family and Frasier takes the podium on the May 24 London to Rome itinerary. We went to Jeff’s talks on the Crystal Symphony recently and found him absolutely entertaining.

Other speakers include Lord Jeffrey Archer, bestselling author of fifteen novels such as Kane & Abel and the recent Clifton Chronicles series who speaks during the June 19 Venice to Istanbul voyage, and Joel Harper, celebrity trainer for Dr. Oz, Olympic medalists, and PBS’s best-selling Firming After 50 will speak to passengers during the October 12 Athens to Venice voyage.

For more information please go to:   http://www.examiner.com/cruise-in-national/crystal-cruises-puts-a-lord-a-trainer-and-gandhi-on-its-2012-european-cruises, call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

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Princess puts into Japan

Have a yen to see Japan….

Princess Cruises is sending the  Sun Princess  to the increasingly popular Japanese market next spring with a series of nine cruises.

From April through July of next year, the cruise line will offer nine cruises on seven different itineraries from both Yokohama and Kobe. The cruises will run from nine to 12 days in length.

The unique itineraries, customized for the Japanese vacation market,  will launch with the most significant national holiday of Golden Week, a nine-day cruise on April 27, 2013 which includes two days in Hakata during the renowned Dontaku Festival.

Carnival Japan, Inc. has been formed to sell the Princess Cruises brand and certain other Carnival brands in Japan.  Princess Cruises will however launch this largest cruise season in the Japanese market.  Carnival Japan, Inc. is part of Carnival Corporation & plc, a global cruise company and one of the largest vacation companies in the world. Carnival Japan will be based in Tokyo and overseen by Eiko Kijima, who will be on the board of directors of Carnival Japan.

“Our new Japan deployment is three times larger than that of any competitive international cruise program, with superior itineraries specifically designed for the Japanese market,” said Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruise’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s the very first time a global cruise line is offering a full season of cruises from April to July designed specifically for passengers from Japan. We believe that our unique itineraries and onboard experience will prove extremely popular and will help to introduce cruise vacations to a growing number of Japanese vacationers.”

Approximately 18,000 passengers are expected to be carried during this first season of cruising in Japan.

Highlights of other itineraries include overnight stays at cities with popular annual festivals, destinations known for their natural hot springs, northern ports of Japan and foreign ports in Korea and Taiwan, among others.

The 2013 Japan homeport program features the following cruises:

9-day Golden Week: Departs April 27, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Hiroshima (overnight); Nagasaki; Busan, South Korea, and Hakata (overnight).

12-day Round Japan with Festivals: Departs May 6, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Aomori, Busan, Kanazawa (overnight), Sakaiminato, Maizuru, and Nagoya.

9-day Korea & Taiwan: Departs May 18, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama and June 23, 2013 sailing from Yokohama to Kobe, with calls at Busan and Cheju, South Korea; and Kaohsiung and Taipei, Taiwan.

9-day Round Japan with Onsens: Departs May 27, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Nagoya, Kobe, scenic cruising of Japan Inland Sea, Matsuyama, Busan, Kagoshima and Beppu.

9-day Kyushu & Korea: Departs June 5, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Koshi, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Cheju, Busan and Hiroshima.

9-day Hokkaido & Russia: Departs June 14 and July 14, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Kushiro, scenic cruising of Shiretoko Peninsula; Korsakov, Russia; Otaru, Hakodate and Aomori.

  • 12-day Round Japan:      Departs July 2, 2013 sailing from Kobe (overnight) to Yokohama with scenic      cruising of Japan Inland Sea and calls at Hiroshima (overnight), Busan,      Sakaiminato, Maizuru, Kanazawa, Aomori and Sapporo.

Pricing for these cruises starts at ¥124,000 per person, double occupancy for a nine-day sailing.

According to the company, the cruise experience will remain substantially the same as usual, but  with modifications for the Japanese market that include menus that cater to Japanese tastes, and an a la carte sushi bar. A specially designed enrichment program will include an expert lecture series on art, culture and history. Other amenities such as the shopping selection and spa treatments will also be tailored to Japanese preferences, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information will be translated into Japanese.

An extensive array of shore excursions will be available to complement the itineraries so that Sun Princess passengers can experience all the ports have to offer.

The 77,000-ton Sun Princess carries 2,022 passengers and features a high number of staterooms with private balconies, Lotus Spa, steakhouse, wine bar, patisserie, pizzeria, boutiques, and internet café among other amenities.

These cruises can be book as of April 16, 2012 and the sailings, along with all other cruises sold in the Japan market for Princess’ worldwide destinations, will be sold in Japanese Yen.

Princess Cruises  will also launch a Japanese language version of its travel agent booking tool called POLAR Online, enabling travel agents in Japan to book cruises easily and conveniently. The user-friendly 24/7 booking system, which is the number one booking tool for Princess cruises worldwide, is a real-time travel agent reservations portal featuring an easy-to-navigate program, rich with information and functionality.

 
Have a yen to see Japan….

Santa Clarita, California-based Princess Cruises is deploying its Sun Princess  to the increasingly popular Japanese market next spring with a series of nine cruises.

From April through July of next year, the cruise line will offer nine cruises on seven different itineraries from both Yokohama and Kobe. The cruises will run from nine to 12 days in length.

The unique itineraries, customized for the Japanese vacation market,  will launch with the most significant national holiday of Golden Week, a nine-day cruise on April 27, 2013 which includes two days in Hakata during the renowned Dontaku Festival.

Carnival Japan, Inc. has been formed to sell the Princess Cruises brand and certain other Carnival brands in Japan.  Princess Cruises will however launch this largest cruise season in the Japanese market.  Carnival Japan, Inc. is part of Carnival Corporation & plc, a global cruise company and one of the largest vacation companies in the world. Carnival Japan will be based in Tokyo and overseen by Eiko Kijima, who will be on the board of directors of Carnival Japan.

“Our new Japan deployment is three times larger than that of any competitive international cruise program, with superior itineraries specifically designed for the Japanese market,” said Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruise’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s the very first time a global cruise line is offering a full season of cruises from April to July designed specifically for passengers from Japan. We believe that our unique itineraries and onboard experience will prove extremely popular and will help to introduce cruise vacations to a growing number of Japanese vacationers.”

Approximately 18,000 passengers are expected to be carried during this first season of cruising in Japan.

Highlights of other itineraries include overnight stays at cities with popular annual festivals, destinations known for their natural hot springs, northern ports of Japan and foreign ports in Korea and Taiwan, among others.

The 2013 Japan homeport program features the following cruises:

9-day Golden Week: Departs April 27, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Hiroshima (overnight); Nagasaki; Busan, South Korea, and Hakata (overnight).

12-day Round Japan with Festivals: Departs May 6, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Aomori, Busan, Kanazawa (overnight), Sakaiminato, Maizuru, and Nagoya.

9-day Korea & Taiwan: Departs May 18, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama and June 23, 2013 sailing from Yokohama to Kobe, with calls at Busan and Cheju, South Korea; and Kaohsiung and Taipei, Taiwan.

9-day Round Japan with Onsens: Departs May 27, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Nagoya, Kobe, scenic cruising of Japan Inland Sea, Matsuyama, Busan, Kagoshima and Beppu.

9-day Kyushu & Korea: Departs June 5, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Koshi, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Cheju, Busan and Hiroshima.

9-day Hokkaido & Russia: Departs June 14 and July 14, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Kushiro, scenic cruising of Shiretoko Peninsula; Korsakov, Russia; Otaru, Hakodate and Aomori.

  • 12-day Round Japan:      Departs July 2, 2013 sailing from Kobe (overnight) to Yokohama with scenic      cruising of Japan Inland Sea and calls at Hiroshima (overnight), Busan,      Sakaiminato, Maizuru, Kanazawa, Aomori and Sapporo.

Pricing for these cruises starts at ¥124,000 per person, double occupancy for a nine-day sailing.

According to the company, the cruise experience will remain substantially the same as usual, but  with modifications for the Japanese market that include menus that cater to Japanese tastes, and an a la carte sushi bar. A specially designed enrichment program will include an expert lecture series on art, culture and history. Other amenities such as the shopping selection and spa treatments will also be tailored to Japanese preferences, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information will be translated into Japanese.

An extensive array of shore excursions will be available to complement the itineraries so that Sun Princess passengers can experience all the ports have to offer.

The 77,000-ton Sun Princess carries 2,022 passengers and features a high number of staterooms with private balconies, Lotus Spa, steakhouse, wine bar, patisserie, pizzeria, boutiques, and internet café among other amenities.

These cruises can be book as of April 16, 2012 and the sailings, along with all other cruises sold in the Japan market for Princess’ worldwide destinations, will be sold in Japanese Yen.

Princess Cruises  will also launch a Japanese language version of its travel agent booking tool called POLAR Online, enabling travel agents in Japan to book cruises easily and conveniently. The user-friendly 24/7 booking system, which is the number one booking tool for Princess cruises worldwide, is a real-time travel agent reservations portal featuring an easy-to-navigate program, rich with information and functionality.

 

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Photos from a Seabourn Sojourn cruise to Monte Carlo

Our favorite barkeep, Bruno, in Observation Bar on Seabourn

A submarine sits in Cartagena, Spain

Us again

Arrival in Monte Carlo

A Negroni at the Observation Bar mixed by Bruno

A little gnocchi on boardMore food--veal carpaccioRichard at dinner