Lessons in cruising; cruise news; tips and more

Intro to Cruising 101 Plus the Latest Cruise News Fit to Blog

Introduction To Cruising 101
Hi, welcome to the savvyseafarer.com where I blog the cruise industry with news, first hand reports, opinions(I have my favorites) and hopefully (see below) a little humor. Enjoy and feel free to send comments or questions.
 
 

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A Little Cruise Humor

 A savvy seafarer with hundreds of voyages under my nautical belt, I’ve learned a few things about cruising and selecting the right vessel.  First of all it’s good to pick a ship that can stay afloat. It’s no fun flailing around in the open sea worrying about being eaten by sharks. Or for that matter stuck in a lifeboat with a bunch of people you hardly know and wouldn’t really want to be with it you did. 

Therefore a skilled navigator is very important. You want someone who can steer the ship through the water without incident—avoiding mountains, ice bergs, sand bars and other seagoing vessels at all costs.

There also must be an authoritative-looking captain who is drop-dead handsome, barely speaks English and always appears to be walking around the deck lost in deep converstion with a crew member, making you wonder who’s watching the bridge. Ditto for the ship’s doctor who when you see him makes you work harder at staying healthy.

The ideal cruise ship always sports an amiable cruise director with an ear-to-ear grin plastered on his or her face, who gushes non-stop over every nautical mile the ship sails, like they’re relieve it made it that far.

The perfect vessel is well-stocked with life boats. Which, in non-emergencies are used as launches to tote passengers ashore during those times when the ship must drop anchor outside the port.  Because: 1. Nobody paid the port fees; 2. The navigatorhasn’t got a clue how to fit the big boat in the tiny slot allotted at the pier; or 3. Why bother. Anyhow these boats are invariably driven by crew members who think they’re competing in the Indy 500.

As a rule, a cruise always begins with at least two choppy nights at sea. Sometimes the ocean is so rough everything in your cabin crashes to the floor providing you with an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with al the unnecessary stuff you’ve lugged on board. Which sometimes includes your mate.

This phenomenon seems to occur with regularity during the captain’s welcome on board or farewell galas. Probably to give the commandant an opening to utter quips like, “As you know we also refer to a ship as a her or she, and well a woman’s breasts sometimes heave.” Or something like that which makes queasy passengers feel like upchucking the mystery hors  d’oeuvres they’ve just scoffed down. But the nearest restroom is invariably located as far away as possible.

Speaking of captains’ fetes, on the ideal ship, the captain greets passengers gathered for their watered-down Manhattan (or at least I think that’s what the dark stuff with the cherry is), with the utmost sincerity when he says that they are the best bunch ever to sail with him on the SS Bullship. While it’s true food flows freely aboard most cruise ships, this doesn’t mean passengers are obligated to consume massive amounts of extra calories. However unfortunately many seafarers waddle down the gangplank on the day of departure wearing a size larger than when they began the voyage. Mostly because fork lifting took precedence over weight lifting or  exercise. Hey it will come off when you get home and back into a routine. Andtrying new food and having seconds, thirds, fourths or even fifths on dessert is half the fun. Right?

Things to know before you board. & while you’re there:  NO drinks aren’t fee. With the exception of all-inclusive cruise lines such as Seabourn and Silversea where wine, booze and soft drinks are proffered at no extra cost, water, soda, booze and wine will cost you and often big time, however Crystal Cruises does not charge for soda or water, but does for wine and liquor. Some companies won’t even let you take your own libations aboard, bummer. So if you’re on a budget watch those drinks, even sodas can pad the bill. Also keep alert for other hidden costs, like sometimes ice cream sundaes served on deck aren’t free. The Internet will often add extra to your tab as will any ship to shore phone calls which can actually be exorbitant. Best bet is to use your cell phone in port but check with your provider to make sure you want be charged for “roaming”. I made a cell call from Mexico that cost me well over  $100 for a couple of minutes.

Disembarkation day blues. The worst part of a cruise is the last morning when all Hell breaks lose as passengers frantically attempt to jump ship to catch planes, trains and rides to where ever they are moving onto. Long lines, lots of waiting, sometimes chaos prevails. Just so you know. Some lines have attempted to ease the pain, but it’s rarely pleasant. One tip is if you can disembark a day or two earlier and avoid the pain. We’ve done this on long voyages and were able to stay in our stateroom or suite all day until the time to head to the airport. It really turns that frown upside down.

Packing: Most of us stuff way to much in our luggage.  Plan your day time wardrobe much as you would at home. You probably don’t change clothes every day and believe me you’ll settle into a couple of outfits and wear them the entire cruise. Of course evening wear will require a little more thought. Be creative, mix different tops with the same bottoms, put a shawl over a dress to change itsappearance. Pack light especially if you flying to and fro.

Any more questions? Leave a comment or email me at ppietschma@aol.com and I’ll try to help.

Now get out and book a cruise. It’s still cheaper than a land vacation and offers the opportunity to see more of the world with less hassle. And you really only need to pack and unpack twice.

 News from Holland American: new Shore Excursion e-Brochure online system allows pax to view and print shore excursion information for booked cruises. You’ll find up-to-the minute, personalized information specific to your itinerary 24/7..

 ”We strive to personalize each guest’s experience and to endeavor to make their interaction with us as easy and enriching aspossible,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “By giving our guests the flexibility of printing an e-brochure with their shore excursion options that is tailored specifically to their cruise itinerary, we are able to present the exact information they need—when they need it. Additionally, more and more of our guests applaud our online efforts from an environmental standpoint.”

How it works. Pax log on to:  (www.hollandamerica.com),  input  booking number and last name, click on the “View Your Personalized Shore Excursion Brochure” link and a personalized e-brochure will immediately download. The Shore Excursion e-Brochure will present the guest’s name and all available shore excursions for the guest’s booked cruise. Guests have the option of continuing their shore excursion viewing online, printing their personalized Shore Excursion e-Brochure for review at a later date or booking their tours immediately. Additionally, guests may review their personalized Shore Excursion e-Brochure from six months to a year before their cruise departure date rather than waiting for a hard-copy version that accompanies guests’ cruise documents 30 – 60 days from their cruise departure date. In the five weeks since the Shore Excursion e-Brochure online system has gone live, 20,470 guests have downloaded an e-brochure.“ For more information on cruises and shore excursion. Info: 1-877-724-5425 or visit www.hollandamerica.com.

 Passengers of Princess Cruises and Silversea Cruises can also book shore excursions on line at both line’s web sites www.princess.com; www.silversea.com.

 The Suite Life Aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper

 To say this was most memorable cruise of my lifetime is an understatement  since I’ve taken more than 200 voyages aboard every major cruise line….but this relaxing, exhilerating, salubrious 33 day journey aboard the Silver Whisper, from Los Angeles to Auckland , was pure heaven here are my reactions:

  

I squealed with glee as the steward let us into our Grand suite—a 1,434 square foot concert of marble and mahogany mini mansion—which would be our floating home onboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper for 33 glorious days on a voyage from Los Angeles to Sydney. I’d been in shipboard suites before, but this went outside the box. The bedroom was huge with an exquisite vanity and a king size bed covered in fine linen with Piumi Salpi down pillows and comforters. I couldn’t get over all the storage space, and the walk-in closet large enough for two steamer trunks and more. The Italian marble bathroom dazzled with a Jacuzzi tub, twin sinks, and separate shower.  Lavish soaps, shampoos, conditioners and toiletries lined the glass shelves. Thick Frette terry robes hang on the door.

 The living room was so inviting we eased into a nightly routine sprawled out on the comfy sofa or recliner room watching movies on the Flat screen plasma television, or listening to CDs playing on the Bang & Olufsen or Nakamichi entertainment center. While we love the dining venues on the ship, the suite proved so comfortable that we opted to for room service about half the nights of the cruise. The waiters set our mahogany dining table elegantly with candles, Christofle silverware and Bernardeau Limoges china. We dined on truffles from Rome, foie gras from France, Italian-style pasta, filet mignon, and luscious desserts like Viennese tortes. 

 A beautiful wood bar, stocked with fine crystal and free wines, beverages and water, proved perfect for entertaining new friends we made during the voyage. Our steward always ensured sure we had plenty of hors d’oeuvres for our soirees.

 We also had a large teak balcony, where we ate breakfast by day and sat sipping champagne at night.

 

We did manage to wrest ourselves from our suite to work out in the nicely equipped gym, take free Pilates and exercise classes, and swim in the 30 feet by 12 feet lap pool. We also got out to explore the ports of call.

 or additional information call: 800-722-9055, fax in the U.S. to 954-522-4499, or visit the website at: http://www.silverseacruises.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 12, 2008

2:31:49 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

Princess Cruises Sponsors Couples’ Giveaway

USA TODAY and Princess Cruises joined hands in a special contest called “Romance on the Ruby” offering 10 lucky couples a chance to attend the naming festivities for the cruise line’s  newest ship, Ruby Princess, November 6-8, 2008, in Ft. Lauderdale, For the launch of Ruby Princess, Princess Cruises is celebrating romantic moments and milestones.  In honor, celebrity couple Trista and Ryan Sutter will christen the ship.  The Sutters, who met on ABC’s hit reality series, The Bachelorette, will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary this fall, and will mark this milestone event during the Ruby Princess inaugural.

Entry Rules:

To enter, couples must submit a 250-word essay by October 3 on what their romantic milestone is and why they deserve a getaway to celebrate.  Princess Cruises’ Department of Romance members will judge the entries and choose 10 finalists who will receive an all-expense-paid trip with their significant other to the inaugural and two-night sailing on the Ruby Princess. Finalists will be announced on October 17 at romanceontheruby.usatoday.com as well as USA TODAY’s online site devoted to cruising, The Cruise Log (cruises.usatoday.com).  Trista and Ryan Sutter will then select a grand prize winner out of the 10 finalists who will be named on October 24. The winner and their significant other will win a seven-day sailing on the new Ruby Princess plus coach airfare. For full official rules and to submit your essay, visit romanceontheruby.usatoday.com.<

The Ruby Princess’ inaugural season includes seven-day weekly sailings from Fort Lauderdale, FL to the Western Caribbean.  Calls include Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.  Next spring the ship will move to Europe for 12-day sailings in the Mediterranean and Greek Islands. For more information about Princess Cruises check with a travel agent, call:

1-800-PRINCESS, or go to: www.princess.com.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

1:35:30 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

Princess Cruises Offers New Fitness Options

Just in time for my fitness entry (see below) Princess Cruises comes out with an innovative fitness program on its stellar fleet,  here’s the skinny:

The program includes the  industry’s first in-room fitness program, fun yoga classes for kids and teens, and a new array of Lotus Spa classes featuring the three vital components of balanced health.

Designed for cruisers of all ages and activity levels, it’s designed to get passengers  off their duffs and on their feet in the privacy of their own staterooms with Fitness@Sea hosted by celebrity trainer Gillian Clark; strike a pose in an interactive yoga class for junior cruisers; or test their mettle with a “Tour de France” spin class as part of the line’s new Core.Balance.Strength. program. 

“We know that many of our passengers are interested in maintaining their exercise programs while on their cruise, and still others like to try new things to stay in shape,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises senior vice president. “Our new fitness programs are a great way to do both.”

Fitness@Sea
Led by celebrity fitness trainer and bestselling fitness DVD host Gillian Clark, passengers can participate in a series of Fitness@Sea classes in the comfort of their own staterooms to challenge their minds and bodies. Produced as an industry first for Princess, the classes are designed as a way for passengers to comfortably start off their day with beneficial exercise. Clark leads nine different classes shown exclusively on the line’s Wellness Channel, including:

• Core strengthening
• Flexibility
• Arm and leg strengthening
• Big muscle groups and an overall body workout
• Cardio training
• Stretching
• The mind/body connection
• Breathing to enhance your workout
• Back strengthening

Fitness@Sea debuts fleetwide this month. On ships with Movies Under the Stars, morning sessions are offered on the signature 300-square-foot-screens for those passengers who want to enjoy the open air on deck and work out in a group setting.

Yoga for Kids and Teens
In another industry first, Princess will introduce yoga to kids and teens in a fun and imaginative way, while promoting exercise in a positive environment. With the worldwide popularity and widely known benefits of yoga, Princess brings this mind and body exercise to kids and teens ages 3-17.
The program promotes building coordination, breathing, balance and emotional strength with an element of play incorporating music, chants and singing. With yoga mats provided, kids can participate in a variety of yoga animal poses from Downward Dog to Cat and Mouse. Classes are complimentary and are currently rolling out fleetwide in the onboard youth and teen centers. Classes range from 30 minutes to one hour and parents are welcome to participate.

Core.Balance.Strength.
This exclusive new onboard fitness program focuses on three vital components of balanced health called Core.Balance.Strength. Using a variety of energetic new options for health-conscious passengers, these classes are offered in Princess’ Lotus Spa.

Core.Balance.Strength. is designed to help guests maximize their wellness potential by focusing on three fitness components, each with a series of corresponding classes. The Core component is designed to create a strong foundation on which to build, and is based primarily on the principles of Pilates and correct postural alignment. Balance focuses on centering both mind and body, and features fusion yoga classes. Strength includes a high-energy mixture of both strength and cardio classes designed to get the heart racing and the endorphins flowing.

As part of the new program, passengers who’ve dreamed of bicycling in the famed Tour de France can now get a taste of the action with a new Tour de Spin program, offered as part of the strength course options, which will benefit LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The new Core.Balance.Strength. program is currently being rolled out fleetwide and is expected to be in place aboard all Princess ships by the end of the year. A nominal fee is charged for each class, which includes the following:

Core
• AbSession: A 20-minute abdominal blaster
• Core Strength and Stretch: Pilates based, concentrating on creating a strong foundation
• Pilates Basics: An introduction to classic Pilates moves
• Fitball Pilates: Innovative core class utilizing the Pilates ring to develop a strong center

Balance
• Meditation Series: A guide to a clearer more enriched life
• Yoga Basics: Suitable for all fitness levels, this yoga series introduces the ancient concepts of yoga
• Strong Centered and Stretched: Fusion class incorporating yoga and Pilates, focusing on posture, strength and the individual’s chi

Strength
• Body Challenge Conditioning: The ultimate all over body workout set to chart topping hits
• Tour de Spin: Offered in association with LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Tour de Spin program will consist of three different 45-minute classes, each featuring a ride named after various stages of the Tour de France. Each spin class offers a different profile based on the class theme: Les Alps features multi-level resistances, Time Trial offers a fast interval workout and Alp D’Huez consists of a mind/body climb. One dollar from each class series will be donated to LIVESTRONG to fight cancer, and at the conclusion of the three-ride program each participant will receive one of the foundation’s famous yellow wrist bands.
• Step to My Groove: Beginners step aerobics, simple, easy and fun

In addition, the new program will continue to offer a selection of complimentary classes, including:
• Long and Lean Stretch class: An introductory stretching class with an emphasis on postural imbalances and tight muscle groups
• Ab Workshop: An in-depth look at the perfect sit-up with an informative and results-driven workout
• Circuit City: Using resistance machines, guests will experience the ultimate full body workout and learn the best way to use exercise machines
• Aerobically Challenged: A low impact aerobics class for beginners – easy and simple
• Chillax: Chill out and relax on the ultimate wind down
• Lotus Tai Chi: A meditative workout to promote inner peace and calm using slow rhythmic movement

Wii Fit
All Princess ships, which have long featured Nintendo’s popular Wii™ systems onboard, also offer the revolutionary Wii Fit™ balance games, challenging passengers of all ages to put their athletic skills to the test with active video game tournaments such as the ski jump, Hula Hoop® or heading soccer balls. Exciting family competitions are held onboard – including on the dramatic Movies Under the Stars poolside screens. Youth and teen centers are also offering younger cruisers the opportunity to participate in Wii Fit activities on their vacation.

1-800-PRINCESS, at http://www.princess.com.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

3:26:00 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

Even fitness animals can stay in shape at sea

Shipboard Spas & Fitness Facilities Go Outside the Hull

       

 According to Bob Dickinson, president/CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, more than 1.5 million passengers are expected to utilize the fitness and spa facilities aboard its 20-ship fleet.     

 

Surfing Patti’s Personal Best

 

Celebrity Cruises: (800-437-3111, http://www.celebrity.com)

 

Facilities:  Large fitness areas filled with treadmills, elliptical machines and updated devices such as virtual reality bikes, rowing ergometers and Aerobicycles. Personal trainers are available for a fee to help you boost your metabolism strengthen and stretch teach weight training and basically motivate and pump you up. One catchy session called “Help! I Don’t Belong to a Gym,” provides tips for training at home.

 

Pamper Possibilities: The innovative AquaSpa by Elemis–which pummels the body with hydrotherapy jets– is the highlight of each eye-catching spa, while the Acupuncture at Sea program headlines therapeutic options on five of its newest vessels. The Oriental technique targets passengers who want to stop smoking, lose weight, reduce stress and decrease pain—which takes in a pretty big group.  According to Dietmar Wertanzl, the company’s senior vice president of fleet operations, the program has enjoyed large success since its debut on the Infinity in 2003.

The spa specializes in trendy two and five hour “ceremonies” such as the “Egyptian Ceremony of Milk and Ginger” which includes a soak in a hydro pool, a milk bath (if you’re not clean enough), a ginger salt glow (you never can be too clean), coconut rub and milk ritual float, Chakra balancing massage and a Japanese Silk Booster Facial. The “Tahitian Ceremony of Flowers” utilizes two therapists who rub you simultaneously. Advance bookings are available by calling 1-800-437-3111.  Just so you don’t suffer sticker shock, expect to shell out roughly $350 and up per procedure.

 

Carnival Cruises (800-438-6744, http://www.carnival.com):

The Facilities: The 13,300 square feet Spa Carnival on the Valor is the trendsetter of the fleet with wide windows overlooking the sea; and saunas and steam rooms that also afford ocean views. Passengers can burn calories and firm up with kickboxing, spinning (for a fee), aerobics and spa cuisine.

Pamper possibilities: A comprehensive list of top to bottom salubrious services. The novel fleet wide Y Spa Program (which is also offered on RCI) offers youth-friendly services such as deep cleansing fresh fruit facials, surfers’ scrubs, sea salt scrubs, teeth whitening and poolside hair braiding.

 

Crystal Cruises: (800-820-6663, http://www.crystalcruises.com)

The Facilities:  Eye pleasing, fully equipped fengshui correct fitness centers and spas designed with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the sea (aerobics, stretch, step) are superb. Exercise classes and personal trainers (available for a fee) are top notch. 

 

Pamper Possibilities: Salons are stunners with serene treatment rooms. The spa menu includes the usual head to toe maneuvers along with packages such as the Frangipani Ceremony of Strands (translation: hair and scalp treatment that costs from $191 to $211) to $61 “Sole Delight” pedicures. Treatments on every Crystal ship rank leagues above most ship spas. Best bets include the oxygen-lifting facial ($109 and up), aroma stone massage ($175 and up for an hour and a half), and the coconut rub and milk ritual, two hours of nirvana for about $239.           

            

Princess Cruises: (800-774-6237, http://www.princess.com)

Facilities:  Super gyms combined with an extensive roster of exercise classes such as high/lo aerobics, basketball play, “minimize your middle”, step aerobics, firm & fabulous, and circuit training. Kickboxing, Yoga, Pilates and Spinning and personal trainers are available for a fee. 

 

Pamper Possibilities: The newly designed Lotus Spas offer a head-spinning menu of corporal extravagances. “Rituals” are the rage here, 4 to 8 hour-long sessions that range from $340 to $640. A la carte therapies such as Oxygen Facials start at $99, a deep tissue sport massage is $104, Chakra Stone massage runs $158 for an hour and a half and a lime and ginger salt glow goes for $120. Each facility provides steam baths, saunas, outdoor Jacuzzi’s and an inviting spa pool suspended between two decks adjacent to the gym.  Treatments can be pre-booked on the web at http://www.timetospa.com, or a by calling 800-433-5293.   

           

 

Windstar Cruises: (800-258-7245, http://www.windstarcruises.com)

Facilities: Each of these four and five master sailing ships boasts greatly enhanced spas and fitness centers. WindSurf leads the pack with a spiffy 1,895-square-foot facility filled with Nautilus equipment, an exercise gym, treadmills, stationary bicycles, free weights, elliptical machines, stair climbers and workout stations. Wrap around windows offer great ocean views. Supervised aerobics, Yoga and Pilates (for an extra $11 a class), Cardio Kick-Boxing, and Kai Bo are held regularly in the Nautilus Fitness Room.

Pamper Possibilities: Exotic face and body options such as Aroma stones massage, ocean wrap, Reiki, Shiatsu, Reflexology, nail and hair care and much more. Personal trainers and diet consultants are available to measure your body fat (to avoid shock, do this early in the cruise) and offer weight control tips. Other ways to stay in shape include snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking off the water sports platform, or running around the jogging track (many times, these are small ships remember).

            

Royal Caribbean International: (800-327-6700, http://www.royalcaribbean.com)

Facilities:  Cater to Xtreme fitness fanatics with some of the biggest and best workout areas afloat, especially on the Brilliance of the Sea with 15,000-square-feet of dedicated space. There are dozens of treadmills, tons of equipment and a 30-foot high rock-climbing wall. Fitness Frenzy packages cater to teens with boot camp sessions guaranteed to get rid of the baby fat.

Pamper Possibilities:

Along with usual assortment of indulgences, is the fleet wide Y Spa menu for teenagers that includes “Fake Bake” body scrub; “Surfers Scrub” aromatherapy massage; “Fruity Facials” and manicures and pedicures. Adult options such as Ionithermie—a Parisian “body correction” designed to firm abs, buttocks, hips, thighs and waist and pare 1 to 8 inches off those areas–costs about $132.   Hot stones sizzle at $175 for 90 minutes, a seaweed rub, which allegedly soothes aches, pains and arthritic conditions runs $176 for 90 minutes.        

           

Holland America: (800-426-0327, http://www.hollandamerica.com)

Facilities: 1,400 square foot floating versions of the prestigious Texas-based Greenhouse Spas. Currently available on all Vista Class ships; the spa will operate fleet wide in spring of 2006.  There is a $15 usage fee for spa facilities, but use of the super sized, well-stocked fitness centers are complimentary.  . 

Pamper Possibilities: out of body indulgences here beginning with two to four hour Greenhouse “Ceremonies” that run $215 to $350 to specialized rubs such as aroma stone therapy for $159; reflexology for $99; Shiatsu ($99), wraps ($115-$222), tanning sessions, salt glows and way beyond.  

Silversea Cruises: (800-722-9955, http://www.silversea.com)

Facilities: nicely appointed fitness rooms, top intructor and  Personal trainers.

Pamper Possibilities:  South African therapists who really know their stuff. Highlights of the extensive menu include the hot stone massage (210), a side-by-side couple’s Balinese Bliss 80-minute rub ($160 per person), and personalized facials (from $115).

Ticketed passengers can book spa and salon treatments 48 hours prior to sailing on line by going to http://www.silversea.com and clicking ‘My Voyage.”

  

 

 

                                    

 

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So you think yu want to take a cruise, be courteous

If you’ve never been on a cruise, or happen to be one of the offenders we’re talking about here, this piece is for you, read on…. 

 

Common Courtesy at Sea

Unfortunately every ship attracts its share of Inconsiderate Passengers—a disruptive, “entitled” group who go out of their way to rock the boat. While you might not think this applies to you, to assure nobody else does here are 10 guidelines on your next cruise:

 

1. Dress the part:  While many passengers sport stunning cruise wear, some, to put it bluntly, dress like slobs. This is not a good thing. For everybody’s sake, please dress according to the shipboard code, which is always outlined, in the daily program. On “formal nights, a tuxedo or suit are appropriate for men and a cocktail dress or gown for women. “Informal” translates into a jacked for men, an attractive evening outfit for woman while “casual” means smart resort outfits NOT shorts, jeans or for goodness sakes NOT warm ups.

 

2. Please keep unruly children under control: Maybe everybody loves kids but not tykes who take over the swimming pool and jump, splash and dive on top of anybody in their path. Sure, kids just want to have fun. However, they should respect adults who just want to swim or lounge in the pool. If you travel with little ones please control their behavior. This means keeping them out of casinos and other adult play areas where they don’t belong.

 

3. Try to talk the talk.  Refer to your vessel as a “ship” not a “boat” especially if the Captain is in earshot. Remember that a ship is female. We’re not sure why offense is taken here, but always call your vessel a she or her. Know your left from your right, and back from your front. Left is “port”, right is “starboard.” “Aft” means rear or stern. The “bow” is the front or pointy end of the ship. Tender doesn’t refer to how you want your steak, but rather a lifeboat and/or the vessel that takes passenger to and from shore when the ship is at anchor in a port. The Bridge is where the Captain operates the ship, not something the ship sails under (although on occasion is does). Do not just walk into the Bridge unless invited–some Captains have “open bridge” policies which means passengers are welcome to visit at any time.  On the other hand, the “Brig” is where you don’t want to be, as this is the ship’s jail.

 

4. Queue Up and shut up:  Some folks throw etiquette to the wind when it comes to waiting in line. Lines happen. Be patient, wait your turn, and do it with grace. The worse offenders are those who crowd the stairs to disembark on tenders even after the crew pleads with them not to.

 

5. Wine reciprocals: Ordering wine can prove awkward. The proper procedure, if everyone partakes of the grape, us to reciprocate the wine buying.  But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes one passenger or one couple winds up stuck with the tab.  To avoid this, talk it over with tablemates on the first night.

 

6. Don’t blow smoke in your shipmates’ faces: Smokers are a major turnoff for those who have kicked the habit. Puff away if you must but only in designated areas. For the sake of all concerned, don’t throw lighted cigarettes overboard.

 

7. Do not hoard seats in the showroom: While it’s acceptable to save a seat for your traveling companion, it shows poor etiquette to save an entire row. It’s first come first seated at show time, folks. Just grab your friends and go together.

 

8. This applies to deck chairs, too: Many unscrupulous sorts race up on deck early in the morning and drop suntan lotions, books, magazines, and whatever else they can on lounges so they can keep them all day for themselves even if they don’t show up for hours. 

 

9. Be a considerate jogger: Please only jog according to the hours posted so passengers in the cabins below can sleep or nap soundly.

 

10. Exercise manners: If you use a gym or health club at home the same rules and courtesies apply on a cruise ship. This means limiting time on equipment such as tread­ mills, bicycles and ellipticals to 30-minutes when others are waiting. It also entails cleaning off equipment after use and wearing proper, decent attire.

11. And, just like on shore, please go off somewhere private for your cell phone chats. Sure most cells don’t work in staterooms, save for those where you can go out on the balcony, making it necessary to go up on deck to yada yada yada. but keep it private, personal and out of ear shots of passengers who just want to relax.

Don’t laugh it’s amazing what some people put on to work out.

 

 

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

3:16:07 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

The Suite Life Aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper

 

To say this was most memorable cruise of my lifetime is an understatement  since I’ve taken more than 200 voyages aboard every major cruise line….but this relaxing, exhilerating, salubrious 33 day journey aboard the Silver Whisper, from Los Angeles to Auckland , was pure heaven here are my reactions:

  

I squealed with glee as the steward let us into our Grand suite—a 1,434 square foot concert of marble and mahogany mini mansion—which would be our floating home onboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper for 33 glorious days on a voyage from Los Angeles to Sydney. I’d been in shipboard suites before, but this went outside the box. The bedroom was huge with an exquisite vanity and a king size bed covered in fine linen with Piumi Salpi down pillows and comforters. I couldn’t get over all the storage space, and the walk-in closet large enough for two steamer trunks and more. The Italian marble bathroom dazzled with a Jacuzzi tub, twin sinks, and separate shower.  Lavish soaps, shampoos, conditioners and toiletries lined the glass shelves. Thick Frette terry robes hang on the door.

 

The living room was so inviting we eased into a nightly routine sprawled out on the comfy sofa or recliner room watching movies on the Flat screen plasma television, or listening to CDs playing on the Bang & Olufsen or Nakamichi entertainment center. While we love the dining venues on the ship, the suite proved so comfortable that we opted to for room service about half the nights of the cruise. The waiters set our mahogany dining table elegantly with candles, Christofle silverware and Bernardeau Limoges china. We dined on truffles from Rome, foie gras from France, Italian-style pasta, filet mignon, and luscious desserts like Viennese tortes. 

 

A beautiful wood bar, stocked with Schott-Zwiesel crystal, and complimentary beverages (Philipponnat Royale Reserve champagne, wines, liquor and soft drinks) proved perfect for entertaining new friends we made during the voyage. Our steward always ensured sure we had plenty of hors d’oeuvres for our soirees.

 

The suite sports a large private teak balcony where we ate breakfast by day and sat sipping champagne at night.

 

We did manage to wrest ourselves from our suite to work out in the nicely equipped gym, take free Pilates and exercise classes, and swim in the 30 feet by 12 feet lap pool. We also got out to explore the ports of call.

 

 

For additional information call: 800-722-9055, fax in the U.S. to 954-522-4499, or visit the website at: http://www.silverseacruises.com

 

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

1:54:48 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

Princess Picks Young Godparents for New Ship Trista and Ryan Sutter

 Trista and Ryan Sutter Picked to Christen Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess

as America’s Most Romantic Couple Celebrates Their Fifth Wedding Anniversary Milestone
by Naming Newest “Love Boat”

 

Say goodbye to aging celebrities at least when it comes to christening new ships–Princess Cruises has gone young by appointing  celebrity couple Trista and Ryan Sutter to christen the Ruby Princess, on November 6 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  The Sutters, who met on ABC’s hit reality series, The Bachelorette, the most romantic franchise on TV since the Love Boat, will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary this fall, and will mark this milestone event during the Ruby Princess inaugural, which will be themed around “romantic moments and milestones.”

Okay so I copied the press release they sent me, hey it says it all….

Trista and Ryan are one of the best-known romantic duos in recent broadcast history, as they are the first and only couple from the The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises who have actually gotten married.  The Sutters also recently celebrated the first birthday of their son, Max.

“Princess Cruises has long stood for romance and reconnection, and so we’re delighted to have Trista and Ryan christen Ruby Princess as they celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary,” said Jan Swartz, senior vice president for Princess Cruises.  “While slightly unconventional, their courtship and marriage was exciting to watch as it unfolded, and we think their fascinating love story epitomizes our inaugural theme of celebrating romantic moments and milestones.”

Trista and Ryan Sutter met in 2002, when she was America’s first BacheloretteThe Bachelor and The Bachelorette on ABC-TV were the first and are still the most popular reality dating shows in which one man or woman searches for their soul mate out of 25 potential suitors.  Over the course of the show, the bachelorette bestows roses on those bachelors she wishes to continue dating.  Trista presented Ryan with her final rose and he then proposed on the show’s finale in November 2002.  The couple wed on December 6, 2003 in an elaborate television ceremony watched by 26 million viewers, making it one of the most widely viewed episodes in the history of reality TV and one of ABC’s top rated shows of the year.  After their highly visible courtship, Trista and Ryan moved to Vail, CO, where they currently reside with their son, Max.  In addition to frequent TV interviews and promotional appearances, he is a firefighter and she is a stay-at-home mom and designer for her new diaper bag line, Trista Baby.

“We’re incredibly honored to be invited to be the godparents of Ruby Princess,” said Trista Sutter.  “It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since we got married.  This is a wonderful way to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and also to remind people about the importance of marking not only the key milestones in a relationship, but also making time to incorporate romance into our everyday lives.  We are so excited to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

The 3,070-passenger Ruby Princess includes a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing array of performing street entertainers.  Passengers will also enjoy Princess’ other array of dining venues including the signature Sabatini’s Italian trattoria and the Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant, plus a relaxing oasis just for adults called The Sanctuary.

The new cruise ship will also offer the many other innovations that define the Princess experience, including the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, Personal Choice Dining featuring traditional or Anytime seating, multiple entertainment venues, a relaxing Asian-style Lotus Spa with fitness center, an extensive children and teen’s center, a wedding chapel and nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies — perfect for enjoying a scenic Caribbean islands cruise.

During Ruby Princess’ inaugural season she will make seven-day weekly sailings from Fort Lauderdale, FL to the Western Caribbean.  Calls include Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.  Next spring the ship will move to Europe for 12-day sailings in the Mediterranean and Greek Islands.

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 www.princess.com.

# # #

One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 17 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service.  A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess offers its passengers the opportunity to escape to the topdestinations around the globe, with sailings to all seven continents, ranging in length from seven to 107 days.  The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE:CCL; NYSE:CUK).

*National Romance Week takes place during the second week of August each year.  In 2008 it is August 10-16.

 

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

7:37:26 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

The Hotel Bel-Air and Crystal Cruises Can’t Beat that for Luxury onshore and at sea

When I heard Crystal Cruises was teaming up the Hotel Bel-Air all I could say was this is match made in nautical heaven. I love both the hotel and the cruise line. I have stayed, eaten and enjoyed the Hotel Bel-Air many times and sailed with Crystal a half dozen times. I actually did the line’s first cruise on the

Crystal Harmony back in 1995–an unforgettable voyage to Alaska on one of the very first ships to raise the nautical bar on luxury. Since then Silversea, Seabourn, and the defunct SeaGoddesses (now SeaDreams) continued the trend, followed by more mainstream companies upgrading their liners with penthouse suites and upscale amenities. Even Carnival joined the crowd, excalating from a rock bottom economy product to a surprisingly semi-luxury cruise line. Ditto for Holland America and of course Princess, which always carried a touch of class, especially back in the day when it was a small luxury cruise line. Alas I digress…..

 

Sophistication, refined service, classic elegance, delicious cuisine, and a never-say-no policy the Hotel Bel-Air–a chic, 92-room sanctuary hidden by vibrant bouganvilla and lush tropical foliage on 11 prime acres just above Sunset Boulevard. So it was a no brainer that the hotel would team up with super luxe Crystal Cruises, also known for its excellence in service and product and a long time favorite overnight spot of passengers boarding  or disembarking the ships in Los Angeles.

 

 Beginning  December 21 with the  Crystal Symphony and continuing throughout 2008, Crystal passengers sailing into or out of Los Angeles can combine their vacation with a two- or three-night stay at the Hotel Bel-Air. In addition to a Garden Suite, guests receive a welcome bottle of champagne with strawberries, full American breakfast daily, and private car transfers to and from the hotel, ship and airport. For 2007, the package is available at $1,815 per person for two nights and $2,430 for three nights.

 

What’s more, guests can reaprewards from both brands. The hotel’s frequent guests will earn a $100 per person onboard credit on any future Crystal cruise and will receive exclusive offers from the cruise line. Meanwhile, Crystal Society repeat passengers will receive a 23 percent reduction in rates at the Hotel Bel-Air, even when they are not cruising.

 

Like the Hotel Bel-Air, Crystal Cruises attracts upscale travelers, many repeat passengers who eschew other lines to sail on the very best. Fresh from a $23 million stem to stern refurbishment, the 940-passenger, 50,000-ton Crystal Symphony looks spiffier than ever.  Staterooms now boast a chic boutique hotel décor with Murano glass bedside lamps, Rubelli fabrics, leather headboards and 20 inch LCD flat screen TVs. Bathrooms shine with granite countertops and lavish fixtures. The Tiffany Deck, Symphony’s hub of activity, sports new colors and design elements in the Starlite Club, Casino—which now offers “Texas Hold-em and high tech slots—and an added nightclub highlighted by Phillipe Stark bar stools and glass Bizzaza mosaics.

The Bistro Café is even more inviting with decorative tillers and warmer russets and earth tone colors. And it doesn’t stop here; the Computer University@Sea is more user friendly with the addition of wireless access and new equipment.  

 

The highlight of both ships are the lavish penthouse suites manned by personal butlers—like Simon, who pampered us during a 14-day Mexican Riviera Cruise and remained unflappable even when we opted for room service dinners half the time. “Many of our passengers enjoy dining in,” Simon reasoned as he set our table with fine china, crystal and silver. He also plied us with cocktail hour servings of caviar, bowls of mixed nuts, canapés and videos we requested from the library. An uncommon amount of shipboard space per passenger as well as an unusually high ratio of crewmembers to passengers distinguishes the Crystal Symphony and the 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity. Private balconies grace more than 85 percent of Serenity staterooms and more than half of those on Symphony. Each boasts artful meals presented in the lavish dining room or smaller specialty restaurants, such as Jade Garden, Prego, and Silk Road, which incorporates a sushi bar.

 

Crystal’s entertainment and enrichment programs, worthy of worldly guests, features Broadway-style production shows, intimate cabaret, lectures by genuine experts, and the line’s acclaimed Computer University@Sea. The ships have American-style casinos, fully equipped fitness centers, feng shui-designed pamper spas, jogging tracks, oversize swimming pools, and boutiques stocked with upscale goods. For days in port, Crystal offers some of the best operated shore excursions in the industry as well as concierge service to handle any special requests, such as arranging chauffeured limousines or making shore side restaurant or golf bookings.

 

 

 www.crystalcruises.com; www.hotelbelair.com

 

 

 

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Monday, June 23, 2008

1:51:36 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

Another Bodacious Carnival Ship Set to Sail 2009

 A pith quote from cruise line’s latest press release states: “We’ve taken everything we’ve learned about shipbuilding and incorporated it into the magnificent Carnival Dream.  By offering the widest variety of all-inclusive facilities and features at sea, we will create fun, memorable vacations for our guests, all at an incredible value,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. “From a bold new entertainment concept called The Piazza to innovative new larger stateroom categories and the most elaborate children’s facilities ever featured on any Carnival ‘Fun Ship’ – all of which are included in the initial cruise fare and accessible to everyone on board. – Carnival Dream was specifically designed with our valued guests in mind,” he added.                   

Carnival Dream is scheduled to do a l 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia) featuring seven spectacular ports: Naples, Livorno and Venice (two-day call), Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Messina,Sicily; Monaco; and Barcelona, Spain. Two additional 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises will be offered on October 3 and October 15, 2009.

        The ship will then sail on a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing departing Rome (Civitavecchia) Oct. 27 and arriving New York Nov. 12, 2009.  Featured ports include Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Malaga, Spain; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; and King’s Wharf, Bermuda (overnight call).

        From New York, Carnival Dream will operate two eight-day Bahamas/Florida cruises departing Nov. 15 and 23, 2009.  These voyages include a call at Port Canaveral (in proximity to Orlando-area attractions), followed by a visit to Nassau and Freeport in The Bahamas.

       Following its New York departures, Carnival Dream will reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., where it will launch year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises Dec. 5, 2009.    On its new Port Canaveral-based program, Carnival Dream will depart every Saturday on alternating weeklong cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Nassau; St. Thomas/St. John, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles; while exotic Western Caribbean voyages will visit Cozumel; Belize; Costa Maya; and Nassau.  Carnival Dream will assume this route from the Carnival Glory, which will be redeployed to Miami to operate year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning October 3, 2009.

 Ships stats: at 1,004 feet in length Carnival Dream is the largest and longest “Fun Ship” ever constructed and the line has made maximum use of the vessel’s added size by creating some truly spectacular on-board facilities and features.           

There’s also  a half-mile, open-air promenade encircling the ship on Promenade Deck 5.  four “scenic whirlpools” cantilever out over the sea providing magnificent sea views. Higher up, Lido Deck 10 will offer the most elaborate and expansive open-deck area of any Carnival ship with a tropical, resort-style main pool complete with a Seaside Theatre LED screen, a Serenity adults-only retreat,  and numerous other features.

Lots of  lounges, bars and nightspots –  a new dance club concept offering indoor/outdoor access – will be accessible via an 11-deck-high atrium whose ground level will offer a cantilevered bandstand atop a massive dance floor. Other features include an expansive 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa – Carnival’s largest and most elaborate health and wellness center to date. 

Stateroom comfort–we like big and balconies and the new ship will offer both when Carnival premiers its “cove” balcony staterooms – located closer to the water line. Deluxe ocean view staterooms – they say offer a guest-friendly configuration with two bathrooms – and provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience for guests who can enjoy their unique spaciousness, particularly families. In addition to twin beds that convert to a king, ample closet space and elegant décor, the two-bathroom configuration will include one full bathroom and a second bathroom featuring a junior tub with shower and sink.

There are even staterooms that can accommodate five guests – a rarity in new ship construction and also ideal for families. Additionally, there will be a wide selection of balcony staterooms and suites from which to choose – all offering the best in scenic cruising.  Additionally, adjacent to Carnival Dream’s luxurious Cloud 9 Spa will be 65 spa staterooms and suites which will offer guests a number of exclusive amenities and privileges.

All Carnival Dream staterooms will feature the Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality linens and pillows.

Family-friendly amenities will include separate, purpose-built facilities for the line’s three distinct children’s programs: “Camp Carnival” for kids ages 2-11, “Circle C” for 12- to 14-year-olds, and “Club O2” for teens ages 15 to 17, along with a full schedule of morning-til-night activities catering to each age group.

Carnival WaterWorks, an expansive aqua park offering exhilarating water slides and various water spray apparatus. Carnival Dream will also be the first “Fun Ship” to feature a two-level miniature golf course.

All this, combined with the spacious two-bathroom staterooms and an attractive and convenient Port Canaveral/Central Florida homeport, will make Carnival Dream an exceptional family vacation.

       Reservations will be accepted for all of Carnival Dream’s cruises starting July 1, 2008. A special online preview of the Carnival Dream is available now at carnival.com/dream.  The site showcases a variety of the exciting features and amenities of this spectacular new ship. 

        For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

4:20:23 PM EDT Edit Entry Delete Entry 

Crystal Cruises Sails  into the New Age

I love everything about Crystal Cruises’ ultra-upscale ships.  Possibly with one exception that they don’t offer all-inclusive fares–but they do provide free water and soft drinks–so that a good thing.  The spas on these ships are feng shui super and now the company is offering speical ‘holistic, wellness’ voyages… and well read excerpts from their recent releases for yourself: 

  In keeping with this global trend, Crystal Cruises is introducing two “Mind, Body & Spirit” cruises this December.  Holistic, comprehensive programming incorporates lectures, classes and workshops given by leading experts and instructors from The Cleveland Clinic, Tai Chi Cultural Institute and the line’s exclusive Walk on Water program.  The Mind, Body & Spirit focus is set for Crystal Symphony’s December 7 South America voyage from Los Angeles to Valparaiso, Chile and Crystal Serenity’s December 12 Panama Canal cruise from Caldera, Costa Rica to Miami.

“Our guests are active and inquisitive individuals looking to continue their healthy lifestyles while on vacation,” says Thomas Mazloum, Crystal’s vice president, hotel operations.  “The sophisticated programming on the Mind, Body & Spirit cruises allows them to learn about the latest developments in health, fitness and well-being from top experts.”

Crystal Symphony guest lecturers–who will discuss  medical treatment and prevention, spiritual healing and growth through tai chi and yoga, and the physical and mental fulfillment of strenuous exercise  include:

* Donald Malone, M.D. – The Cleveland Clinic instructor and staff psychiatrist will speak about wellness in relation to mind, body and spirit;

* John McMichan, M.D. – Mayo Clinic staff physician specializing in Critical Care Medicine, Anesthesiology and Medical Education;

* Dr. Martin Lee and Emily Lee – Dr. Lee, a Stanford University physicist and his wife founded the Tai Chi Cultural Center in 1974, utilizing a pioneering approach to understand Tai Chi, health and the self;

* Debbie Rocker – Founder of Crystal’s exclusive Walk on Water program featuring the WALKVEST(r) Training System, revolutionizing walking by adding weight resistance;

* Richard Deutsch, – Author of One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome, Deutsch has inhabited every continent, hiking his way through some of the most challenging areas of the world; and

* Cathy L. Greenberg, PhD – Dr. Greenberg delivers time-tested “happiness tips” and is the author What Happy Women Know, What Happy Companies Know; What Happy Parents Know and What Happy Leaders Know.
And on her sister ship, Crystal Serenity – the ”Caribbean Jewels” cruise will feature:

 Jim Karras, – Author of the bestseller The Business Plan for the Body Karras is also a fitness contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America;

* Leslie Cho, M.D. – Director of The Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s cardiovascular center, Cho specializes in heart disease in women;

* Sandra Shaner – Certified by the Yoga Institute and a Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance, Shaner has been teaching yoga for more than 10 years;

* Mollie Epstein – Epstein oversees Crystal’s exclusive Walk on Water program featuring The WALKVEST(r) Training System; and

* Jeff Corbett – Corbett, a member of the Tai Chi Cultural Center will conduct workshops utilizing Dr. Lee and Emily Lee’s unique approach to the art.

 Adventures shore excursions catering to the wellness-minded. include kayaking Eco-Adventure in Cabo San Lucas, a hike through Caldera’s tropical rainforest and “power” snorkeling in Grand Turk all challenge the body and mind, while a day’s retreat to a tranquil resort and spa in St. Barts soothes the soul.

The Feng Shui Crystal Spa offers the ultimate in pampering along with fitness options like the “Tour de Spin,” a complimentary indoor cycling program that mirrors stages of the Tour de France.  You can also get in a good jog, walk or run around the large  promenade decks, try your hand at  paddle tennis or even shoot hoops (all of which I have enjoyed on these ships). What’s more you can forgoe the dreaded seafarer’s weight gain by eating light cuisien or  drinking cocktails made with fresh  fruit purees and juices.
And hopefully booze.
Cruise fares for Crystal Symphony’s 15-day South America itinerary begin at $3,450; Crystal Serenity’s 12-day Panama Canal voyage begins at $3,550, per person, double occupancy.

www.crystalcruises.com

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Wow! The economy isn’t stopping Carnival Cruise Lines. The mega company that owns Princess, Seabourn, Holland America, Cunard et al–just announced it’s latest entry into the high seas– the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream – the largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed. Slated to debut September 21, 2009, the  3,646-passenger vessel,currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, is part of the cruise company’s SuperLiner class. 

 
 

 

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About Patti Pietschmann

I'm Patti Covello Pietschmann, a travel diva and proud of it. I've been all over the world. I prefer luxury travel (penthouse suites, fine d
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One Response to Lessons in cruising; cruise news; tips and more

  1. Sysbase says:

    Interesting Read! Very detailed log

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