Celebrity: President’s Cruise with CEO Michael Bayley

Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Michael Bayley will personally host a seven-night sailing on Celebrity Equinox departing from Rome (Civitavecchia) July 26, 2014, with a series of events designed exclusively for members of Celebrity’s Captain’s Club loyalty program (“Classic” level membership or higher).

In addition to the exceptional evening in the medieval village of Bolgheri, considered the ultimate destination for Super Tuscan wine enthusiasts, Celebrity’s President’s Cruise will allow Captain’s Club members and other guests to book dining experiences offered exclusively on this sailing, each representing Celebrity’s culinary excellence:

• A Taste of Nice: This four-course Mediterranean dinner will feature locally-caught seafood, farm-to-table vegetables, artisanal olive oils, local wine pairings and dessert, all created by Celebrity Chefs Thomas Szymanski and Thierry Houlbert, and served in Celebrity’s elegant Murano restaurant. The prix fixe menu is $95 per person.

• Molecular Cocktail dinner: Captain’s Club members on this sailing can join Celebrity’s James Beard-featured Chef John Suley and “The Liquid Chef” Junior Merino on a tour de force fusion of cocktails from Celebrity’s Molecular Bar paired with a ‘uniquely unordinary’ menu inspired by Celebrity’s engaging specialty restaurant, Qsine. The prix fixe menu is $95 per person.

• James Beard House dinner: Celebrity was the first cruise line to be invited to prepare dinner at the revered James Beard House in 2012, and the menu for this evening will replicate it exactly, with globally influenced classic and contemporary creations. The intimate, four-course dinner complete with an international array of award-winning wines and desserts will be served in the private Murano restaurant wine cellar and will be co-hosted by Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson. The prix fixe menu is $195 per person, and includes a copy of Celebrity’s hardbound “Excite the Senses” culinary and lifestyle book.

• New York Pop-Up evening: Celebrity was the first cruise line to introduce a pop-up restaurant on land in 2012, and this dining experience will recreate it on Celebrity Equinox for Captain’s Club members who reserve a space. The modern seasonal creations on the four-course menu designed by Chef Suley feature dishes prepared exclusively with sustainable and organic products. Co-hosted by Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson, the dinner includes wines and dessert, along with a copy of Celebrity’s hardbound “Excite the Senses” culinary and lifestyle book. The prix fixe menu is $95 per person.

• A Taste of Spain: Captain’s Club members who book this experience will enjoy traditional tapas, such as Iberico ham and samplings of olive oils direct from Andalusia. Celebrity Chefs Rufino Rengifo and Thierry Houlbert will host the evening together with Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson, and will pair Spanish delicacies with fine wines including Riojas, Priorats and Sherry. The prix fixe menu is $95 per person.

Guests on this sailing also can purchase select shore excursions, including a scenic tour and tasting at the Tenute Nozzole winery, or Celebrity ExclusivesSM, such as a hot air balloon ride over the Tuscan countryside, a tour via Ferrari of the Côte d’Azur, and a specially designed helicopter flight prior to an intimate lunch at renowned Chef Alain Ducasse’s Provencal Inn. Space is extremely limited within the collection of Celebrity Exclusives, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

After departing from Rome (Civitavecchia), guests on Celebrity Cruises’ 7-night President’s Cruise in 2014 will visit some of the finest destinations in the Mediterranean, including Florence, Italy; Nice (Villefranche), France; Ajaccio, Corsica; Porto Torres (Sardinia), Italy; and Palma de Mallorca, Spain, concluding in Barcelona, Spain.

Reservation System Enhancements for Royal Caribbean Brands

Travelers and travel agents can now enjoy a faster, easier and more flexible cruise fare search experience with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s newly enhanced global reservation system, according to a statement from the line 

The system will provide more targeted, visible and relevant cruise options to travelers and travel agents, and instantly deliver and automatically apply promotions for which they qualify. With the new technology, vacationers planning a cruise with one of the company’s cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises, and CDF Croisières de France – will now receive the best cruise rates that apply, based on travelers’ age, loyalty program status, residency, current promotions, and a host of additional personal qualifiers.

“Our newly enhanced global reservation system is going to significantly elevate the cruise planning experience for our valued travel agent partners,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Services, Royal Caribbean International. “Travel agents will be able to quickly serve up the best available fares to help them better sell Royal Caribbean to their clients and grow their business.”

Royal Caribbean has already engaged its travel agent partners around the world in training, in order to help them take advantage of the newly enhanced reservation system and deliver the best cruise value for vacationers immediately. Travel agents can find out more details about Royal Caribbean’s newly enhanced reservation system at www.CruisingPower.com/BookSmarter.      

 “Travel agents selling Celebrity Cruises are going to instantly notice how fast this will help them make a booking and close a sale,” said Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of Sales for Celebrity Cruises. “The newly enhanced reservation system is part of our ongoing strategy to ensure greater transparency and flexibility as cruise vacations continue to offer more options and grow in sophistication.”

 Royal Caribbean’s newly enhanced reservation system streamlines the cruise fare search process into four simple steps. First, travel agents will select the applicable qualifiers for their clients through their respective booking channel. The reservation system then returns the best available rate, which includes only applicable offers for their clients. The travel agent will then consult with their clients on which offer would deliver the greatest vacation value and arrive at the best eligible offer to select, at which time, the reservation can be finalized.       

“We have leveraged the latest technology and delivered that power to our partners,” said Bill Martin, vice president and Chief Information Officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “This has been a sizable undertaking, but we are confident that this will help our partners realize greater efficiencies and returns with this system.”

New Princess Cruises Ship Receives Royal Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale

 “Love Boat” Captain Gavin MacLeod is joined by a court of young “princesses” who welcomed Royal Princess to Ft. Lauderdale for the first time.Royal Princess arrived at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale today, marking her North American debut and launching her inaugural season of Caribbean cruises. Princess Cruises ambassador Gavin MacLeod was on hand to welcome the ship as it arrived at the Florida port, where he was joined by a court of young girls who he proclaimed “royal princesses for the day.”

The actor, best known as Captain Stubing from the iconic “Love Boat” TV show, will join the ship for a two-day preview cruise for travel agents where he will participate in a special presentation and book signing for his just-released autobiography, “This is Your Captain Speaking.”

The ship’s North American season starts with a five-day maiden Caribbean cruise on October 29, followed by a program of seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailings to Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

Royal Princess debuted this past June with a christening ceremony watched around the world as The Duchess of Cambridge officially named the ship in her last public appearance before giving birth to her first child. The ship has been sailing in the Mediterranean throughout the summer.

“We’re delighted that Royal Princess has been so enthusiastically received by passengers during her first Mediterranean season,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “And now Caribbean cruisers will be able to experience this stunning new vessel too.”

Royal Princess will sail from Ft. Lauderdale through April 20, 2014. The ship then will cross the Atlantic to offer a summer season of Scandinavia and Russia cruises.

Trimline Signs 10 Ship Maintenance Contract with Carnival UK

Southampton-based Trimline, a marine interior refit company, has signed an agreement with P&O Cruises and Cunard under the Carnival UK (CUK) banner to look after and maintain its fleet of 10 passenger cruise ships. The agreement will see Trimline support all 10 vessels by providing maintenance services to the interiors of the ships for up to three years. Trimline will provide everything from survey, design and manufacture of furnishings and fittings to installation in ports around the world or whilst in service on-the-run.

Trimline had previously been awarded the maintenance of five ships of the Carnival UK fleet.

Mike Oliver, sales and marketing Director at Trimline, explained: “The contract between Carnival UK and Trimline highlights a real shift in the way that the cruise industry is currently operating and the way Trimline has responded to its customer’s changing needs. Trimline’s approach means that a refit is no longer about simply completing a project on time, to budget and then walking away – Trimline is working hard to show that onboard refurbishment is about value for money and the cost of ownership, meaning that we look after our clients well beyond the completion date of the project.”

The ships that will come under the CUK and Trimline agreement are: the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth (Cunard), Ventura, Azura, Aurora, Oriana, Oceana, Arcadia and Adonia (P&O Cruises).

William Whitehouse, senior superintendent facilities maintenance at Carnival UK, commented: “This agreement is the next natural progression, cementing a business relationship stretching back over 30 years. Trimline has consistently demonstrated its expertise and commitment to maintaining interiors to the high standards our passengers expect.”

In addition to this contract, Trimline has had a busy start to this year’s refit season and has started work on six major refit projects worth in excess of £4 million.

Trimline will be working up to, and including, Christmas to complete the works on six different ships, engaging over 280 employees and sub-contractors across the various projects.

Due to receive Trimline’s expertise are the Arcadia for  P&O Cruises in Germany, Windstar for Windstar Cruises in Portugal, Zenith for Pulmantur, Vision of the Seas in Spain, Crystal Serenity for Crystal Cruises in Spain, and Independence of the Seas for Royal Caribbean Cruises in service on-the-run.

The projects will take place throughout the world, with Trimline staff travelling to Portugal, Spain and as far as the Caribbean to complete the jobs. Some of the works include creating bespoke furniture and fittings, all built at Trimline’s Southampton headquarters, and shipping the materials across the world. The work to P&O’s Arcadia alone will use over 20,000 square meters of carpet.

MSC Divina To Feature Partnerships with the “Best of Italy”

MSC Cruises has announced a series of exclusive partnerships with popular Italian brands for the Divina’s upcoming Caribbean season.

The cruise line has partnered with Segafredo Zanetti, an Italian gourmet coffee brand, and will serving espressos to foamed cappuccinos. Coffee and chocolate menus also include a variety of specialist coffees and chocolate drinks.

Another partnership is with Nutella and its hazelnut spread, with a Nutella Corner aboard the ship by the main pool. All embarking families will receive a special Nutella welcome kit inviting them to come and discover the Nutella corner and a Nutella & Go pack for every child, a snack consisting of Nutella and Italian bread sticks. In the mini and junior clubs will be soft Nutella jar-shaped seats and toy containers.

Also joining forces with masters of Italian confectionery Venchi, MSC said it is bringing artisanal gelato to passengers. Venchi is said to use all natural ingredients and exclusive recipes, from its extra dark chocolate to creamy gianduja and fruit sorbets. A Venchi Gelateria will be located next to the main pool

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MSC has also partnered with Campari, offering its signature bitter-sweet flavor and bright red color, serving up specialty drinks at the Divina Bar on deck 5.

Another Italian brand onboard is Disaronno, an Italian liqueur bringing the first floating Disaronno Contemporary Terrace to the Divina. Set-up in the ship’s Garden Bar, this ice-cool outdoor area offers a Disaronno cocktail menu and a chic chill-out zone close to the pool. One night per cruise, the terrace will turn from relaxation zone to lively bar, with a mix of entertainment, live music and original cocktails.

For what the cruise line calls an unforgettable aperitif or after-dinner drink, it has partnered with Martini. The La Luna Bar on deck 7 will offer an exclusive Martini menu.

And following the successful launch and reviews of the first two Eataly restaurants at sea onboard the sister-ship Preziosa, MSC features two new Eataly restaurants and a marketplace onboard the Divina. There is the 30-seat evening-only upscale Ristorante Italia and a 115-seat regional steakhouse, Eataly Steakhouse, fashioned after Eataly’s steakehouse in Manhattan.

Next door is the La Cantina di Bacco, a wine bar and pizzeria, using Eataly ingredients and boasting a Vino Libero menu, produced by an association of winemakers offering organic products – wines without chemical fertilizers, weed killers and sulphites – from the wineries of Fontana Fredda and Mirafiore.

A boutique Eataly marketplace will also be available for guests to purchase authentic Italian products, including olive oils, dried pastas, artisanal sweets and aged balsamics.

Seven Seas Voyager Completes Drydock

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced that the Seven Seas Voyager has completed her drydock with new interior decor and refreshed exterior decks. The all-balcony, all-suite 700-guest capacity vessel unveiled her new look on Oct. 23 when she set sail on a 10-night cruise from Rome to Venice.

Public spaces are described as “resplendent with elegant new furnishings, rich upholstery, custom-milled carpeting and hand-selected accents.”

 “Regent Seven Seas Cruises has always set the benchmark for luxury cruises and the Seven Seas Voyager just raised the bar considerably,” commented Kunal S. Kamlani, president, in a prepared statement.

As part of the ship’s refurbishment all Penthouse suites received new décor with custom-crafted  furnishings, carpeting, curtains, wall coverings, furniture, lighting, original artwork and outdoor furniture.

Horizons, the ship’s nightclub and bar, and the Observation Lounge each underwent a complete transformation. The venues now sport distinctive new bars, new furnishings, carpeting, wall coverings, and new lighting throughout.

The Constellation Theater, the ship’s two-deck high, state-of-the-art show theatre was rejuvenated  with new carpeting, all new upholstery, wall coverings, cocktail tables, wall sconces, banquettes and chairs. 

According to Regent, the ship’s exterior decks received just as much as attention as the interiors. New teak was installed on the balconies of all 350 suites and teak decks in common areas were re-surfaced and re-finished to brand-new condition. The Pool Deck, as well as the ship’s outdoor relaxation areas on Decks 5, 11 and 12, now feature new resort furniture and accents. The Pool Grill and La Veranda also received upgrades with new mosaic tiling, new wall coverings and awnings.

Additionally, Regent Seven Seas Cruises recently announced an expansion to its all-inclusive product by offering free Wi-Fi fleet-wide including Seven Seas Voyager as part of a multi-million dollar Internet investment upgrade. Beginning with Winter 2014-2015 sailings, concierge-level and higher guests will receive up to 500 minutes of free Wi-Fi. 

Guests can choose from up to four, open-seating restaurants, including Compass Rose, serving a variety of European-inspired Continental cuisine; Prime 7, a contemporary American steakhouse; Signatures, a classic French dining experience; and Sette Mari at La Veranda, which offers an extensive menu of authentic Italian specialties.

Claiming some of the highest space-per-guest ratios in the cruise industry, accommodations include such amenities as down comforters, Egyptian cotton linens, flat-screen television, DVD players and Wi-Fi access. Penthouse and higher-category suites aboard all three ships are equipped with iPads.

Seabourn Will Add New Cruise Ship to Fleet in 2016

(2:15 p.m. EDT) — Eight months after the sale of half of its fleet, Seabourn is officially making plans to add a new ship to its luxury roster.

The cruise line, which recently signed a deal with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard for the construction of the new-build, mentioned the possibility of a new vessel when it sold its three oldest ships — Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit — to Windstar in February.

Line officials say the new ship, slated for delivery sometime in 2016, will be similar in design to Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Sojourn.

“The experience and amenities offered by these award-winning ships have raised the bar in ultra-luxury cruising,” said Seabourn President Richard Meadows in a statement released Friday.

We’re awaiting further details from the cruise line and will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

–by Ashley Kosciolek, Associate Editor

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U.K. Editors’ Picks Awards for 2013 Revealed


(5:30 a.m. EDT) — Cruise Critic’s hotly-anticipated U.K. Editors’ Picks Awards for 2013 have been revealed.

The awards, which celebrate excellence in cruise travel, have been selected by Cruise Critic’s team of cruise editors across 18 different categories.

The big winners for 2013 are Norwegian Cruise Line which secured two awards — for best new ship for Norwegian Breakaway — and Best Entertainment.

And Celebrity Cruises‘ Solstice Class ships which won the Best Suites category; and Celebrity Equinox for Best Cruise Ship Bar.

Other winners include Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines for Best Value for Money; P&O Cruises for Best Itineraries; Hurtigruten which won Best for Adventure and Thomson Cruises for Best for Cruising with Kids. Southampton secured a win as Best U.K. Departure Port, while Liverpool won Best U.K. Port of Call.

Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor of Cruise Critic, said: The Editors’ Picks Awards provide expert insight for British holidaymakers who want to take a cruise. The cruise industry delivers impeccable standards, making these selections a difficult task.

“We aim to identify the creme de la creme of both cruise lines and U.K. ports to help cruisers plan their perfect holiday.”

The full list of categories can be seen here: U.K. Editors’ Picks Awards for 2013.

–By Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor

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Hurricane Raymond Delays Cruise Ship, Cancels Port Call

(5:45 a.m. EDT) — Holland America Line has decided to keep its ship in port an extra day and cancel the vessel’s next port call in order to avoid Hurricane Raymond.

Westerdam will stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday (Oct. 23), according to a spokesman for the line. The ship will also cancel its scheduled port call in Huatulco, Mexico set for Thursday, October 24.

The National Weather Service reports that the Category Three Hurricane Raymond is weakening slightly but continuing to inundate south-central Mexico with heavy rainfall. The storm is currently stationary, about 140 miles west of Acapulco, Mexico, packing maximum winds of 115 miles per hour. Hurricane warnings and watches are in effect for the stretch of coastline between Acapulco and Lazaro Cardenas in southwest Mexico.

Westerdam’s current revised schedule has the ship in Puerto Vallarta today and tomorrow, departing at 1:00 p.m., with a sea day on Thursday (Oct. 24) and a port call in Puerto Chiapas on Friday (Oct. 25). The ship is currently on a 15-night Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal Cruise.

–by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor

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