New this week: Carnival decided to expand their seat-saving initiative to their entire fleet – so now everyone can enjoy their time in the sun. The Cruise Lines International Association reports more cruise lines are offering shorter cruises to appeal to more vacationers. Also – the newest Princess ship gets her name, NCL’s Pride of America will offer solo traveler staterooms next year, and finally celebrity chefs will spice up some Silversea Culinary Arts voyages.
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Carnival Expands Seat-Saving Initiative Fleet-wide
Following a highly successful pilot program on Carnival Breeze, Carnival Cruise Lines has begun a fleetwide rollout of a new system designed to ensure that all guests are able to enjoy equal access to sun loungers by preventing seat saving in outdoor deck areas.
Under the new system, shipboard team members monitor sun lounge usage and if they observe a seat that contains a towel or personal belongings but appears to be unoccupied, a notification is placed on the chair indicating the current time. If the chair remains unoccupied for 40 minutes, the contents are removed and held for the guest’s safekeeping.
The expanded policy is scheduled to be introduced on a gradual basis over the next couple of weeks, with fleetwide implementation on all 24 Carnival ships expected by mid-September.
Guests will be advised of the new system via public address announcements by the cruise director, signage in outdoor deck areas, messages displayed on the Seaside Theater poolside LED screen, as well as notices in “Fun Times,” the daily shipboard newsletter.
CLIA Cruise Lines Offering More Choice, Value with New Shorter Cruises
While that most famous of circumnavigators, Phileas Fogg, inspired the notion of sailing around the world in 80 days, most people today are lucky if they can take a two-week vacation. In response to an increasingly time deprived society, many members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), including luxury and specialty lines, report a trend towards new short, or shorter, cruise sailings in all parts of the world. These “mini” or “sampler” cruises are proving popular with frequent as well as first-time cruisers.
In a recent CLIA conducted survey, the association’s cruise line member lines say that short cruises have strong appeal for a broad range of vacationers of all ages, from the new-to-cruising set, to families, working professionals to honeymooners to independent travelers seeking to combine a cruise with land programs. And, perhaps because they are less expensive compared to longer voyages offered by the same cruise line, shorter cruises can stimulate last-minute travel decisions.
Driving the trend are a number of factors at home and abroad. The increase in domestic ports of embarkation – more than 30 in North America – has opened up the world of cruising to a far greater vacation market. Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, estimates that half the population of the U.S. is now within driving distance of a cruise port. Short cruises, historically the “entry” market for the industry, are effective in building interest in the newer ports and cruise lines have responded with more offerings. Carnival officials indicate that 50 percent of the company’s capacity is devoted to short cruises.
Globalization of the industry also has driven the increase in short cruises. The Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexico/West Coast, traditional short cruise markets, remain strong, but travelers looking to sample the cruise experience or to find a vacation that fits a busy work life will discover new short cruises in other destinations such as Europe where many CLIA members have increased capacity, even year-round deployment, in order to attract European vacationers.
Princess Cruises Announces Name of Next New Ship: Regal Princess
Princess Cruises recently marked the beginning of construction of the second of its new generation of ships with the official keel laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At the same time the line announced that the ship’s name will be Regal Princess.
The vessel, a sister ship to Royal Princess, will debut in Spring 2014. The company and shipyard officials started the countdown to the ship’s launch today as the keel – the bottommost part of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position in the building dock.
Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship’s keel – which weighs approximately 500 tons – was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than 2 million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel. The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out next summer.
Regal Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess, which debuts in June 2013. Among these are a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.
NCL’s Pride of America to Receive Major Enhancements Including New Suites and Studio Staterooms
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that the latest vessel in the company’s ship revitalization program, Pride of America, will enter dry dock in March 2013 for major enhancements, including the addition of new luxurious suites and studio staterooms.
Pride of America enters a 14-day dry dock on March 23, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawai`i. The 2,124-passenger ship will receive major renovations including the addition of 24 ultra-luxurious suites, four Studio staterooms and four inside staterooms; Moderno Churrascaria, the line’s signature Brazilian-style steakhouse; ship wide wireless internet connectivity; new carpeting throughout; flat screen televisions in all staterooms; updated décor; upgrades to the fitness center; new directional signage; renovations to the gift shop, photo gallery and art gallery; and much more.
Celebrity Chefs Spice up SilverSea Voyages
Renowned chefs and food writers are set to share some of the world’s finest gastronomic traditions on seven upcoming Culinary Arts voyages aboard ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises.
These unique culinary theme cruises showcase the skills of culinary experts and award-winning chefs of top dining establishments from around the world, including the internationally acclaimed chefs of Relais & Châteaux, the distinguished international association of charming properties and gourmet restaurants.
The Flavours of Europe
A special Culinary Arts voyage titled “The Flavours of Europe”, will take place aboard Silver Explorer’s Expedition Voyage 7309, sailing 29 April to 13 May 2013, from Lisbon to Portsmouth, offering an array of culinary demonstrations and activities on board and ashore.
On this unique culinary sea adventure, guests will have the opportunity to visit a farm near Bordeaux dedicated to the cultivation of heirloom fruits and vegetables; learn how to prepare Basque pintxos (bite-sized delicacies); partake in a gastronomic celebration at Château Kirwan in the Bordeaux countryside; experience an authentic afternoon tea at a manor house in Guernsey; and join Silversea’s culinary team for a provisioning excursion to a seafood market in Santander, Spain. The voyage will be hosted by Chef Rudi Scholdis, Silversea’s culinary director; Chef David Bilsland, culinary trainer for the “Relais & Châteaux L’Ecole des Chefs” cooking school aboard Silversea; and Conrad Combrink, Silversea’s director of expeditions.
On all Culinary Arts enrichment voyages, celebrity chefs will display their exceptional talents during dynamic and informative cooking demonstrations where guests can taste and learn firsthand the secrets of enticing signature dishes. These voyages also feature escorted provisioning trips to international markets (when the itinerary permits), food and wine pairings, creative regional dishes, and a five-course grand gourmet dinner. Throughout these special sailings, the featured guest chef and Silversea’s executive chef are on hand to share their culinary expertise and answer any questions.