Star Princess sparkles after her facelift

The 17-year-old liners is all gussied up

Patti Pietschmann

She debut in 2001 weighing in at 109,000 gross tons and passenger capacity of 3,100.  Seventeen years later the  Star Princess has reemerged after a two-week multi-million-dollar renovation that graced her with some of the latest Princess Cruises product innovations and enhancements.  She is now offering  15-day Hawaiian Island cruises roundtrip from Los Angeles and Vancouver through April before heading north to Alaska for the summer. 

“Star Princess now offers many of the signature product innovations our guests have come to love, including the Princess Luxury Bed, Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center and revamped Sabatini’s,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “These enhancements continue our $450 million multi-year ship renovation campaign, ‘Come Back New Promise’, enhancing our onboard guest experience.” 

Some changes and upgrades include:

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria – the signature specialty restaurant now offers updated décor and a new menu developed in collaboration with Chef Angelo Auriana, Executive Chef and partner at the authentic Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen and Officine BRERA, in Los Angeles.  Inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavors the menu features handmade pasta dishes from Chef Auriana, as well as family recipes from Italian Princess executive chefs.

Princess Luxury Bed – available in every stateroom aboard Star Princess, the Princess Luxury Bed was developed by Princess Cruises in collaboration board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson. The bed offers the ultimate night of sleep at sea combining the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – for cruisers ages 3-17, Star Princess now offers a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications™, as part of the cruise line’s Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle.

Enhanced Boutiques  guests will enjoy aesthetic enhancements to the Shops of Princess, offering an upgraded shopping experience, such as a branded Effy Fine Jewelry boutique and a modern Fragrance & Cosmetic shop. There will also be new products to choose from such as a new collection of Princess and Under Armour branded athletic wear and Princess logo apparel featured in a newly designed Logo shop. 

Lotus Spa & Fitness Center  in a space where guests can relax and invigorate, salon and treatments rooms have been upgraded and the latest in fitness equipment is now available.

Casino – for guests ready to take a gamble, reconfiguration of machines and tables, as well new carpet tempt them to roll the dice. 

Other general refurnishing upgrades of carpet and upholstery are found throughout Star Princess.

Rainbows are part of Hawaii’s magic

If you’ve never sailed from the mainland to Hawaii, I highly recommend  the journey. (Photo above  shot by Richard Pietschmann while sailing out of Kauai).

On Star Princess you can sail from LA now through April. Be aware that the first three days out could be chilly, so bring wind breakers or sweaters, but as you approach paradise the weather warms. It’s a great way to visit four islands hassle free while living on the spiffy ship. or   enhancements, there is live entertainment, world-class cuisine, island-inspired activities and endless ocean views.

Awesome shot of Hawaii
Maui wowie by Patti Pietschmann

 Cruise fares start at $1,299. To learn more about our Hawaii cruises, visit

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


Holland America chef creates  many faces of food

‘Food Faces’ is  perfect gift for cruise lovers and former HAL passengers

Patti Pietschmann

 Foodies and cruise fans have to love this.  Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin just released a coffee table art cookbook called “Food Faces” that  illustrates more than 150 vibrant images of edible creations that display a cast of unforgettable characters expressing a whimsical spectrum of human emotion.

Sodamin, who  began to design and photograph his stylized Food Faces several years ago as a labor of creative love, has since captured hundreds of distinctive characters through his lens. His artistic inspiration comes from culinary ingredients and human expression, and he created each plate personality from food items including vegetables, fruit, meats, fish, grains and sweets.

Fish toast

Sodamin captured the images in his photography studio, working with his perfectionistic approach to bring each piece of art to life, fine-tuning the emotional coloring of each Food Face as he adjusted lighting, depth and focus.

Hair, hair

Thomas Keller, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, wrote the forward to the book saying, “Rudi has a keen eye, playful sensibility and a willingness to let inspiration take him where it will. Rudi puts happiness front and center.” “Rudi is an icon in the cruise industry for his culinary talent and creativity in the kitchen and is regarded as the hospitality industry’s most innovative chef, but today we congratulate him for his innovation as an artist with his beautiful new book,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Rudi is esteemed throughout the world for his passion for his craft and his ability to translate that creative energy into serving thousands of guests each day on our ships. ’Food Faces’ allows people to be inspired by Rudi’s work every day in their homes.”

Holland America passengers that dine in Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant can enjoy his dynamic Food Faces on exclusive limited-edition plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each plate charger features a different image from the “Food Faces” book, creating a table setting unlike any found anywhere in the world.

“Food Faces” was published by Welcome Books, an imprint of Rizzoli, and is available for purchase in bookstores nationwide.  Sodamin will be exhibiting his Food Faces art in Miami, Florida, and in Europe in 2018.

For more information on HAL call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit

The art of cruising

Great  expectations for newbie cruisers

First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake, completely relaxing.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.

Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco.

Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have

Pick, plan, put it together on


Picking a cruise that suits your personality

Passenger Profiling

Ever wonder what your fellow shipmates will be like and if you’ll  gel? I’ve got you covered

By Patti Pietschmann

us at captain's partyWhether you’re a virgin cruiser or veteran seafarer trying a new cruise line you might wonder what your shipmates will be like.  This is especially true if you’re on a ship with assigned dining and  might be sitting at a table with strangersm(we always ask for a table for two).  So I’ve curated a  passenger profiling list based  400 cruises (yup, been covering the industry since I graduated from college) and reflects  the personal observations of my first mate Richard and I:

Carnival paradise and freedom in Grand CaymanCarnival: The Fun Ships no longer attract only younger passengers onboard mostly to party and go on active shore excursions. You’ll still find lots of energetic revelry around the swimming pools and in the bars, but families and the middle-aged are now in the mix. These ships are where you will find Middle America; what you won’t find are dedicated foodies.

Celebrity : This fleet of upscale ships attracts a mixed bag of millennials, the middle-aged and seniors who tend to be great fans of the fun and food  Celebrity provides. Passengers are likely to be better-traveled and more global than most mass-market lines aimed primarily at North Americans.

Costa:  This line credits itself as being “Italian’ but much of the crew hail from other parts of the world. Still the product rings true of Italy via cuisine, Italian captains and ambiance. A large segment of the passengers are from abroad.  Most of them are 55 and older, veteran cruisers who generally join in the activities with gusto. A regular Toga Party garners lots of attendance with passengers doing Roman-style garb.

cunardCunard:  Cunard’s famous Queens appeal to older, wiser, more sedate passengers, although the summer Atlantic crossings between New York City and Southampton also attract younger Sloane Rangers and other sophisticates who are anything but stuffy. You likely will encounter a high percentage of passengers from the British Commonwealth, who will carry on the tradition of dressing for dinner. You will also encounter one of the last bastions of the British class system at sea, with portions of the ship off limits to the hoi polloi.

IMG_0054Crystal:  Most of your shipmates on the two medium-size ships of this globe-trotting line will be 45 years-old and above, well-traveled and well off, and appreciative of the line’s reputation for outstanding food and service. You will find many repeat passengers who know the ropes and wouldn’t think of switching allegiances to another cruise line. This loyal clientele eagerly attends the lectures, seminars, computer classes and shows that the line works hard to provide. Although passengers tend to be upscale, there isn’t a whiff of pretension.

Disney:  what can we say? The passengers (mostly couples with young children) who flock to sail with Mickey and Minnie are staunch fans of everything Disney. They buy out the gift shop during the first days at sea, don logo tee-shirts, Mouse ears and go gung ho on the theme. For the most part Disney fans are not sophisticated travelers. Most are from Middle America but there is a sprinkling of foreigners.

Holland America:  Most of the passengers on the HAL cruises I have been on (though none in a while) were older, reserved, dedicated to the line and relatively undemanding regarding food and drink. They know what they want and they know that they like the consistent product that Holland America gives them.

MSC Cruises:  untested waters for me, research indicates that this Swiss-based line attracts  many Europeans along with Americans. Demographics include couples, families (children under 18 sharing a cabin with two adults cruise for free) and single passengers. Average age is 50 and older.

Norwegian:  it’s been eons since sailing on one of these budget ships and the line’ s come along way since then.  It continues, however, to attract a lot of firs-time, young cruisers, couples and friends sharing staterooms.  You won’t find foodies flocking to the fleet, but you will find plenty of party animals and very active seafarers.

marina photoOceania: Passengers on Oceania’s ships love the food and the far-flung itineraries the line offers. Many have cruised dozens of times with Oceania and wouldn’t sail on any other line, which prides itself on affordable luxury. Your fellow passenger will be middle-aged or above and confident in his or her choice.

Paul Gauguin:  this spiffy little ship that has the market cornered on French Polynesia, attracts water babies and arty adventurous passengers who appreciate nature and the beauty  of this part of the world.  They are usually sophisticated younger than average, well-dressed and love fine food, beach activities and culture. While most passengers are from the US (many lot from California) you will find some French, German and Italians on board.  Many who sail on PG spend a few days before or after the cruise in a port such as Bora Bora or Papeete.

Princess Cruises:  You’ll find every type of passenger on this line—wide-eyed first cruisers to those who already know the maître d’ and have sailed with the company dozens of times. The line’s big ships offer endless activities and options and a popular shore excursion program.  Expect more fellow guests  over 50 than under 30, lots of Californians (the line is headquartered outside Los Angeles), and a tolerant attitude toward dress and decorum.

Regent Seven Seas:  As with its sister company, Oceania, foodies and gourmets flock to the many restaurants on each of the line’s upmarket cruise ships. RSS’s similarly loyal, nicely put-together clientele comes from all over the world; if there’s a type, it is well to do. They enjoy the line’s luxury and worldwide itineraries and all-inclusive pricing, and if you don’t mind paying for it, you will too.

Royal Caribbean:  this mainstream cruise line attracts  aa similar segment of seafarers as Princess and Holland America.  During the summer there will be lots of families. The rest of year you’ll find a mixed bag of mostly middle class folks.  Passengers are fairly well cruised who  sail on these ships more for the ports and entertainment then say the food (which is often good but not usually exceptional).

DSCN0972Seabourn:  Passengers on the smaller, stylish ships of Seabourn tend to the chic, the sophisticated, and the international. Country club is the prevailing style of the moneyed leisure class that dotes on Seabourn’s easy luxury, excellent food, relaxed ambience and inclusive pricing and find it exactly what they want.  They tend to be repeaters who have been there, done that and have the funds to do more of it. Meet them in the bar and you’ll find most as friendly as they are accomplished.

36c16-ships2bin2bst-2bkittsSilversea:  Shipboard mates will be similar to those you will find sailing on the other premium small-ship lines that offer inclusive pricing—well-dressed, discerning and, because the line is Italian-owned, more of them may be European. They gravitate to Silversea for the food, varied itineraries, and the Italian-owned line’s refined cachet. The Bar, the convivial center of the ships, is where passengers meet before dinner.

056Windstar (photo by Glenn Bozarth): This fleet of mastered sailing ships attract young to middle-age, upscale adventurers who go for the wide variety (and convenient) selection of watersports from diving to snorkeling. Although they prefer being in the water, they love the lure of the wind-propelled sail and the fine food served on board.

 Tips for making friends:

Passengers tend to mingle more on upscale ships where drinks at the bar are free.  This isn’t because of the comps, but rather it reduces that awkward pause when you’re with people you just met and the check comes.

Also like-minded passengers tend to gravitate toward each other.  Say you take a snorkel or biking tour. You’ll notice back on board that the people who were along with be more friendly to you. The same goes for cultural tours etc.

Don’t barge in on passengers when they are sitting down to dinner, especially couples, unless invited. That’s okay at the bars but not the dining venues.









What makes cruises so appealing — everything fro A to Z

Great expectations

By Patti Pietschmann


First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake,d0e60-decksofasitting in a lounge chair on Crystal Serenity or Symphony.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.b3b88-img_0951

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).d0a36-vitello2btonnato2bla2bterraza

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal


CruisesSeabournSilverseaRegent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.


Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco. Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).manava hotel

Dining in penthouse suite on Crystal Serenity

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

Money matters cash isn’t tendered on ships. A credit card account is set up for you on embarkation day for which you can charge drinks, spas, boutique buys, shore excursions and the like.  If you’re watching your budget, charge carefully, the tab can skyrocket.

Outfits the cruise line web site will advise you of any wardrobe preferences. All ships are casual by day, especially on deck,  evening options vary from sea to port days, but some like Cunard‘s Queens are always dressy at night. Always look presentable.


Snorkel excursion

Formal wear
  The Ruby Princess

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have go ashore and use a cybercafe.  Check with your cruise line to see if Internet is included and if not what packages are available to purchase. By all means pop for  a package, the rates per minute are pretty pricey.


Indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea’s new mystical Muse

museOne of my most memorable experiences was a cruise to Rio de Janeiro that began with a fast flight from Miami on the since defunct Concord,  and included three booze-soaked, fun filled days attending Carnival. The cruise line, which is long gone, had secured tickets to the balls for passengers to attend. It was surreal with people partying day and night, scantily-clad carioca women dancing on tables, and many next morning hangovers.

Although a flight on the SST is no longer on the table, you can indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea’s new, super sonic Muse which is heading south from Fort Lauderdale on a 69-day Grand Voyage on Jan, 3, 2018. The spiffy vessel will completely circumnavigate South America, visiting 34 ports in 14 countries, while experiencing the mystery and pulsating rhythm of this vast continent on an intimate, ultra-luxury voyage that is Simply Divine™.

The  Grand Voyage 2018 combines the luxury of sailing aboard an intimate, elegant ship with the excitement of discovering fascinating destinations. Highlights include a crossing of the Panama Canal, cruising Chile’s majestic fjords, a three-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro in time for Carnival, plus overnight calls in Valparaiso, Punta Arenas, Buenos Aires, and Manaus, nestled in the heart of the Amazon.

“Grand Voyage 2018 is perfectly tailored to travelers who have the time and passion to indulge in travel on a grand scale. It combines adventure and immersive cultural experiences with leisurely days wrapped in the exquisite luxury and impeccable service of our beautiful new Silver Muse,” said Mark Conroy, Silversea’s managing director for the Americas.  As usual passengers will enjoy free drinks from Champagnes and cognacs an beyond, have tips covered, get transportation in ports,  and savor culinary experiences. Through Silversea’s association with Slow Food Italy, a selection of Ark of Taste products, such as Ecuador’s Nacional cacao, Peru’s native potatoes, Chile’s Merkén chili peppers, and sugarcane products from Santa Rita, Brazil, will be sourced locally by Silversea chefs to introduce guests to the remarkable flavors of these cultural treasures, which are being catalogued by the Ark of Taste to help ensure their preservation.

Exclusive Added-Value Benefits

In addition to a gala Bon Voyage dinner and overnight stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Fort Lauderdale on January 2; a unique “Panama Hat Party” event at the Montecristi Golf Club in Manta, Ecuador on January 12, showcasing the talents of local artisans; and a box-seat view of the Carnival Winners’ Parade at the Sambadrome in Rio on February 17, full-voyage guests will enjoy a generous array of benefits, including:

–$2,000 Onboard Spending Credit (per suite)

–Free unlimited Wi-Fi

–Baggage valet service

–Visa service (U.S., Canada and select markets)

–Commemorative gifts

Fares for Grand Voyage 2018 start at $36,955 per guest, based on double occupancy. For further information and the complete itinerary, please visit



Carnival signs pop star Nick Jonas to perform on two ships

Singer/song writer will do shows on Carnival Victory and Liberty
By Patti Pietschmann

Carnival ships grand cayman1 (2)

Teen favorite and multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated recording artist and award-winning songwriter will be performing for Carnival Cruise Line passengersjonas this fall while the ships are docked in Nassau as part of the  Carnival LIVE Concert Series. A recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Hal David Starlight Award, Jonas will do two high energy shipboard concerts – one aboard Carnival Liberty on November 17 and the other aboard on Carnival Victory November 18. This is not part of the lines free entertainment with  tickets for Nick Jonas going for  $75 for general admission, significantly less than land-based venues.  VIP tickets are available for $250 and include seating in the first few rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.

Carnival LIVE is a unique entertainment experience offering the tops in live music and comedy at sea.   Performances are held in the ships’ main show lounges – which range in capacity from 900 to 1,300 – meaning there’s never a bad seat in the house. “This will be my first time performing on a cruise ship, which I’m really excited about because it’s so different than any other venue. I’m looking forward to seeing and performing for my fans that will be there.”

Jonas needs no introduction pop music buffs. He  released his self-titled, critically acclaimed debut album in November 2014 that included the double-platinum and No. 1 U.S. radio hit, “Jealous” and his sultry chart-climbing radio single, “Chains.”  Jonas released his sophomore solo album “Last Year Was Complicated” in June 2016 featuring the platinum him “Close” featuring Tove Lo that debuted as the No. 1 selling album of the week.

A full listing of all Carnival LIVE performances is available at For reservations, contact any travel agent or call 1-800-CARNIVAL. You  can connect with Carnival on: FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube. Journalists also can visit Carnival’s media site, or follow the line’s PR department on Twitter at

Carnival Liberty Carnival LIVE Concert Series Carnival Victory Nick Jonas on Carnival shipboard entertainment