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Cruise ship cabins don’t always have the best reputation. We’ve heard the complaints: They’re too small, the bathrooms are too cramped, there’s not enough storage space, etc. Passengers who don’t come nicely in groups of two gripe that they’re forced to pay double to book a cabin for one or that squeezing three or four in a standard stateroom is like fitting a basketball team inside a phone booth. cabin-collage

But with a boatload of ships debuting over the past few years, cruise lines have made vast improvements, not only in onboard amenities but in cabin configurations, as well. The majority of cabins remain the standard variety, but new ships are sporting some innovative new designs, including solo and family cabins, elaborate and spacious suites, and some clever updates of the inside, outside and balcony cabins we all know and love (or hate).

Whether you’re looking for a new cabin type that will best suit your traveling needs, or you’re simply curious as to what novelties have emerged from the brains of shipbuilders and designers, read on to find the latest trends in cruise-ship cabin design.

Solo Cabins — Living Quarters for One

Trendsetters: Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O epic-solo-cabinCruises

Old School: Most cruise ships only have cabins that sleep two or more, forcing solo travelers to pay as much as double the cruise fare of passengers who share cabins.

New and Nifty: Norwegian and P&O are turning things around with the addition of solo cabins on their newest ships. Azura is the first P&O ship to sport single staterooms — 18 to be exact. Solo cabins come in inside and outside categories, each measuring 130 square feet, and feature oversized single beds, desks/vanities and en-suite bathrooms with showers.

On Norwegian Epic, solo travelers will find 128 Studio cabins, each measuring a tiny 100 square feet; 90 of these connect together, though you must be 21 or older to book these staterooms-for-one. The Studios are all inside cabins, each with a round window facing the interior corridor and a full-size bed taking up most of the space. However, these small cabins come with a huge perk — access to the Studio Lounge, an exclusive social space with a bar, large TV’s, comfy seating and concierge service. It’s another version of Norwegian’s ship-within-a-ship concept (see below), but you don’t have to pay the highest fares for access.

Duplexes — Two Floors Are Better Than One

Trendsetters: Royal Caribbean, Cunard

Old School: Cruise lines like to squeeze the most cabins into the space available onboard. Standard staterooms line the hallways like ducks in a row, while suites occupy odd spaces like the «corners» of each deck or run the length of two or three lower-tier cabins.
royal-caibbean-cabin-duplex-loft
New and Nifty: To change things up, some lines are building up instead of out. Cunard certainly knows how to pamper its highest-paying Queens Grill passengers, and among its posh accommodations on Queen Mary 2, the line decided to break new ground with two-floor duplex suites. The 2,249-square-foot Balmoral and Sandringham suites feature large living and dining room areas, expansive balconies and marble bathrooms (with showers) on the lower floors; upstairs, the lavish master bedrooms are each accompanied by a bathroom with a whirlpool bath and ocean views. The Holyrood, Windsor, Buckingham, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth suites are only slightly smaller duplexes with similar lavish amenities, ranging from 1,194 to 1,566 square feet.

Loft apartments are also tres chic, so when Royal Caribbean’s innovative Oasis and Allure of the Seas were designed, two-floor loft suite cabins were added into the cabin category mix. Loft suites come in three flavors: Royal, Sky and Crown. The king of the bunch — the 1,524-square-foot Royal Loft Suite — can sleep six. Downstairs, you’ll find a living and dining room and a wraparound balcony with outdoor dining area and whirlpool; upstairs holds the master bedroom and an enormous bathroom. The smaller Crown and Sky Loft Suites also feature extra-large balconies, roomy bathrooms, upstairs bedrooms and downstairs living spaces. Bringing the whole gang? The Royal Loft Suite connects to the adjacent Crown Loft Suite to create an enormous living space that can sleep 10.

Spa Cabins — Bring the Spa to You

Trendsetters: Costa, Celebrity, Holland America, Windstar, Carnival, Norwegian

Old School: In the past, luxury-seekers could spend all their time in the spa only by booking multiple treatments, signing up for fitness classes or purchasing cruise-long passes to the thermal suites or thalassotherapy pools.

New and Nifty: Costa Cruises was the first line to conceive of the concept of cruise ship as destination spa when it introduced the Samsara spa cabins and suites on Costa Concordia. Spa cabins are now found on Costa Fascinosa, Costa Favolosa, Costa neoRomantica, Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa. These staterooms are clustered around the spa and include private elevator access, Zen-like decor, cushy bedding, Samsara bath products, mini-bars stocked with healthy drinks and tea kettles with a choice of herbal teas. Additional perks include an invitation to a spa tea ceremony, a choice of two treatments, a choice of two fitness or meditation lessons, two tanning sessions, unlimited use of the thalassotherapy pool and a reserved table in the Samsara Restaurant.

Other lines quickly followed suit with their own versions of spa cabins. Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships feature the AquaClass staterooms and suites. In addition to massaging showerheads a healthy-dining room service menu and upgraded bedding, residents get their own specialty restaurant, Blu; free use of the AquaSpa Relaxation Room and Persian Garden thermal suite; and access to a «spa concierge,» who can book treatments and provide product information. The line is adding AquaSpa cabins to older ships during refurbishments.

Windstar is taking a slightly different approach to this concept. Instead of having dedicated spa cabins, it offers suite passengers on Wind Surf the opportunity to upgrade their cabins to spa suites for an additional charge ($600 per suite on a seven-night cruise). Ten suites maximum per cruise will be able to receive upgraded spa robes, a pillow menu, O SPA London bath amenities and in-suite tea service. Spa-themed perks include a welcome cocktail party in the WindSpa, an invitation to «Spa Under the Stars» to sample alfresco spa treatments, a spa concierge, complimentary spa and salon treatments, and unlimited fitness classes.

Other ships that have jumped on the spa cabin bandwagon include Carnival Splendor, Dream, Magic and Breeze; Norwegian Epic; and Holland America’s Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam, Veendam and Rotterdam.
cabin-oceania-luxury-suite Over-the-Top Suites — Lavish Luxury

Trendsetters: Oceania, Seabourn

Old School: Onboard suites can be anything from simple two-room spaces, still smaller than typical hotel rooms, to fancy affairs with Jacuzzis, pianos, wet bars, kitchens and private dining rooms (both indoors and out). Most are fairly cookie-cutter, simply larger versions of standard cabins.

New and Nifty: With cruise-ship suites becoming more lavish, each new ship seems to take the luxe factor up a notch. At the top of the over-the-top list are the Owner’s Suites on Oceania’s Marina and Riviera and the Wintergarden Suite on Seabourn’s Odyssey-class ships. Oceania’s knock-your-socks-off suites are more than 2,000 square feet and furnished by Ralph Lauren Home with touches like faux zebra rugs, enormous suede couches, wood paneling, velvet carpeting, pianos and bars. An entire wall in each is made of glass for expansive sea views. Each bedroom is done in cashmere and features a chandelier, while the bathroom has a tub you can practically do laps in. If that’s not enough, a second whirlpool on the balcony comes with a flat-screen TV for the dedicated TV-watcher.

Seabourn’s Wintergarden Suites are named for the glass-walled solarium found inside each suite. This area features a soaking tub, day-bed and seating. Add a few more plants, and you’d think you were bathing in a rain forest. The rest of the 914-square-foot cabin is equally luxurious, including a 183-square-foot verandah, a six-person dining table, wet bar, guest bath and master bedroom with whirlpool tub. They’re just steps away from Seabourn Square, a bustling hub featuring a coffee shop, Internet cafe, library, comfy chairs and concierge desks.

Innovative Insides — Say Goodbye to Claustrophobia

Trendsetters: Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean

Old School: Tiny, windowless inside cabins have long been a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare. They may be cheap, but you sure don’t want to spend a lot of time in these low-end staterooms — unless you like living in a cave and not knowing whether it’s night or day.

New and Nifty: We’ve already mentioned Norwegian’s new take on inside cabins with its Studios, but two other lines are also working to make inside cabins more livable. In Disney Dream’s and Fantasy’s inside cabins, Disney Cruise Line has introduced «virtual portholes» — video screens that play actual footage of the seascape outside (filmed with four high-definition cameras positioned on the exterior). The live view is enhanced with Disney friends, including «Finding Nemo» characters and Mickey Mouse himself. Rough seas? Simply turn the sea views off.

Royal Caribbean takes a different approach. With the line’s Promenade cabins on Voyager-, Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, and Central Park and Boardwalk cabins on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, inside cabin residents can look out on the action taking place inside the ships. Residents have prime viewing spots for Royal Promenade parades or people-watching on Oasis and Allure’s Boardwalks. Some Central Park and Boardwalk inside cabins come with balconies — but don’t expect privacy on these interior-facing verandahs.

 

Ship-in-a-Ship — Exclusive Access for Cruising’s Elite

Trendsetters: MSC Cruises, Norwegian

Old School: On most ships, the highest-paying passengers may get access to a small concierge suite, but they have to fight for deck chairs on the pool deck, queue up at the bar and search for available treadmills at the fitness center — just like the rest of the rabble.

New and Nifty: Norwegian and MSC Cruises have brought back classed cruising with such expansive, exclusive play areas for certain passengers that the experience is almost like being on an entirely different ship.

Although Cunard has always clung to classed cruising with exclusive dining venues for its Queens and Princess Grill cruisers, Norwegian took the idea one step further when it introduced the Haven (formerly the Courtyard), a private courtyard with pools, hot tubs and sun decks surrounded by the line’s most luxe accommodations, the Courtyard Villas. The Haven can be found in various forms on Norwegian Jewel, Epic, Gem, Pearl, Jade and — coming in April 2013 — Breakaway. The complexes on Epic and Breakaway take it up a notch with an exclusive restaurant and bar.

MSC Cruises has created a similar effect on MSC Fantasia, Splendida and Divina with the Yacht Club. On each ship, people in these special cabins have access to a private club with complimentary open bar, a private pool area, grill, private lounge with meal service and 24-hour butler service. Yacht Club cruisers also get to eat in cordoned-off special sections of the main dining room, to maintain that exclusive vibe. On Disney Dream and Fantasy, Concierge-level passengers have access to a concierge lounge with food and drink, TV and Internet, as well as an exclusive sun deck with water misters, cushioned lounge chairs and a bar.

Family Cabins — More Room for Memories

Trendsetters: Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival, Norwegian, Princess

Old School: Cruising families are usually forced to squeeze into one cabin, employing a mixture of pullout sofa beds or bunks that pull down from the ceiling. Or, you can book the kids in an adjoining cabin or stateroom across the hall. Go for maximum togetherness, and you find yourself with no elbow room (and nowhere to hang out in-cabin once the kids are asleep).
family-cabin
New and Nifty: Cruise lines have begun to realize that families want to stay in the same cabin, but need enough room to do so.

Royal Caribbean offers an array of family-oriented cabins, ranging from outside family cabins to the Presidential Family Suite. Outside cabins can sleep six, with a combination of Pullman beds, sleep sofas and — on some ships — additional bunk beds in separate rooms within each cabin. Oasis and Allure of the Seas have balcony versions.

For even more space, the Royal Family Suite accommodates eight people in two bedrooms (plus Pullman beds and sofa beds), with multiple bathrooms, living areas, fridges and concierge service. The Presidential Family Suite (found only on Freedom- and Oasis-class ships) can sleep a whopping 14 family members with two master bedrooms and two additional bedrooms. These luxurious digs include a spacious living area, complete with dining table, and a private balcony with hot tub, dining table and padded teak loungers.

Disney has always offered family-friendly cabins with its family balcony cabins that sleep four or five people. Parents will enjoy the privacy curtain that separates the main sleeping area from the sitting room/kids’ sleeping area, so when the children are tucked in, it doesn’t have to be lights out for the grownups, too. Another innovative feature is Disney’s split bathroom design. One half has a toilet and sink, and the other has a sink and shower/tub combination.

Other lines making life onboard better for families include Norwegian, whose Norwegian Epic features hundreds of family balcony cabins on Decks 13 and 14, clustered around the expanded children’s facility. Cabins are standard but come with additional pull-down beds and pullout couches, and many connect to accommodate larger family groups.

Carnival Dream, Magic and Breeze include deluxe oceanview cabins that each feature two bathrooms (one with a shower, one with a kid-sized tub) and extra berths (some can sleep five) — perfect for bigger families. And Princess’ 500- to 600-square-foot Family Suites, which can accommodate six to eight passengers, are found on all nine Grand-class ships. The suites are each essentially two self-contained cabins connecting through a large living room with an expanded balcony, and at least one bathroom typically features a tub.

Design Modifications — Standard Cabins That Stand Out

Trendsetters: Norwegian, Carnival, Holland America

Old School: Standard cabins have been pretty, well, standard — and once you’ve seen one, you pretty much know what to expect everywhere else. Typically, you’ll find a boxy space with a bed, desk/vanity, closet and bathroom, and some sort of sitting area if you’re lucky.

New and Nifty: Cruise lines are thinking outside the prefabricated cabin box with their new ship designs. On Norwegian Epic, standard cabins sport a «New Wave» design, with curved walls and lines and more open living space. Bathrooms have also been tweaked, though somewhat contentiously. The shower stalls and toilet areas are split into separate areas behind the main bathroom doors, and the sinks and vanities are out in the open in the actual staterooms. The controversy is the smoked-glass doors that allow those on the outside to see the shadows of those within.

Holland America has created the first cabin with a back door. Called lanai cabins, they can be found only on Veendam and Rotterdam. These cabins have windows and a second door that face the wraparound Promenade Deck, so passengers can step from their cabins directly into this outdoor public area. Each cabin comes with two teak chairs outside the back door — though watch out for passengers from other decks who are tempted to use your lounges when you’re not home.

And Carnival introduced a new type of balcony cabin on Carnival Dream, Magic and Breeze. These «cove balconies» are located within the hull on Deck 2 and feature verandahs close to the waterline. Watertight doors keep out sea spray, and lifeboats directly above block the view so your shipmates can’t see down into your private verandah. While they’re great for extra privacy, they’re not so hot for sunbathing.

avalon-cabin-panorama-suite River Upgrades — Heading for Luxury

Trendsetters: Viking, Uniworld, Avalon

Old School: Riverboats have had the reputation of Spartan accommodations lacking space, balconies and modern niceties. Previously, the lines used the ships’ size limitations (they have to squeeze through locks and fit under bridges) as an excuse.

New and Nifty: The lines have gotten creative to offer more spacious, luxurious and innovative digs onboard. Viking Emerald and Prestige each have a pair of 840-square-foot presidential suites with separate sitting and sleeping areas, two flat-screen televisions, panoramic windows and private wraparound balconies. Standard accommodations boast 269 square feet of living space, and all have private balconies. The line’s current and forthcoming Long Ships also rock lavish suites with 445-square-foot Explorer Suites that offer multiple rooms and wraparound balconies, in addition to French balconies in the bedrooms.

Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette sports fancy top-deck suites with alcoves that can be converted from glassed-in conservatories to open-air balconies by pushing a switch. And Avalon’s Panorama, Vista, Visionary and Avalon Artistry II and Expression (both slated to launch in 2013) feature suites with wall-to-wall panoramic windows, which open by some seven feet to transform the cabins into an open-air balconies.

Annonse:

Carnival’s «Fun Ships» pledge fun for everyone and earn high marks indeed for their cross-generational appeal. The cheery and flashy 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor is no exception, and as one of the line’s largest ships (and the only one in its class), it boasts a large canvas that’s been colored with some distinctive features. Not only has Splendor been a launching pad for Carnival innovations (like the line’s very first spa cabins or its newer Seuss at Sea program), but it comes chock-full of «wow factor» diversions, too, with an expansive spa, several age-appropriate kids’ spaces, a massive film screen for outdoor movies and much more. Here are 10 reasons why Carnival Splendor is just the ship for you.

1. You’re a spa-lover.

Carnival Splendor devotes a massive, bi-level 22,500-square-foot space on its forward-facing top decks to the health-and-wellness haven that is the Cloud 9 Spa — one of the largest spas at sea. Here, spa-lovers can luxuriate with a $40 day pass to the Asian design-inspired facilities, inclusive of a heated, glass-dome-covered thalassotherapy pool with bubbling jets of ionized mineral water; an elaborate thermal suite with four climate-controlled rooms (featuring heated loungers and aromatherapy mists); and a relaxation lounge (bonus: most spaces tout panoramic sea views). Passengers can also book a treatment in one of 17 treatment rooms, with Asian-, Middle Eastern- and European-style services like a «mud Rasul ritual» scrub or a Thai herbal poultice massage. For the ultimate in spa immersion, Splendor is one of only five Carnival ships to offer spa staterooms and suites. The 68 spa-designated cabins come clustered around the spa on Decks 10 and 11, and boast extras like private elevator/staircase access to the spa, unlimited access to the spa facilities, priority spa appointments, complimentary fitness classes and special in-room amenities like slippers, yoga mats and Elemis bath products.

2. You enjoy standup comedy.

Carnival keeps its onboard comedy offerings cutting-edge and fresh via its Punchliner Comedy Club concept, first debuted in 2011, now available fleetwide. With a performance list curated by comedian and TV personality George Lopez, several comedians are brought on and off Splendor on any given sailing — so for a weeklong cruise, there could be as many as two dozen performances from multiple comedians, ranging from established comics to up-and-coming talents. Typically, most nights feature earlier family-friendly sets and later adults-only shows. While venues vary from ship to ship, the shows on Splendor unfold in our favorite public onboard space, the 425-seat aft-side lounge, El Morocco, boasting a transporting, 1930s Moroccan-inspired decor complete with exotic tiles, animal prints, lanterns, and more.

 

Camp Carnival

3. You’re cruising with your kids.

Splendor’s robust onboard offerings for kids are so exciting that your wee ones will be positively enthralled. The three dedicated kids’ spaces onboard include Camp Carnival (ages 2 to 11), Circle C (ages 12 to 14) and Club O2 (ages 13 to 17); each facility plays host to age-appropriate, included-in-the-rates activities helmed by a well-trained and enthusiastic youth staff. For instance, youngsters can get into some serious fun in their 5,500-square-foot playroom and adjacent splash park; tweens will easily take to their club space, equipped with gaming consoles and a booming sound system; while older teens’ sophisticated lounge is cool enough that their folks will want to stick around (sorry, ma and pa — you can’t!). Scheduled activities are available for good chunks of the day, and well into the night, thanks to «night owls» programming (offered until as late as 1 a.m.) that features hosted activities for tweens and teens and babysitting (at a nominal fee) for under-11s.

4. You’re a fan of Dr. Seuss.

Splendor is nearly unbeatable for its kid-friendly programming, and was the first ship to roll out Carnival’s 2014-debuted Seuss at Sea program, which will be featured fleetwide. In partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Carnival allows families to interact with popular Dr. Seuss characters like the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam-I-Am at several events like the «Seuss-a-palooza» character-and-family parade and interactive story time. Plus, there’s a Cat in the Hat-hosted breakfast, serving — what else? — green eggs and ham.

5. You want some adults-only relaxation time.

While Splendor is a fun-for-all-ages kind of ship, it hasn’t overlooked the need for some grown-ups-only havens, too. Adults can slip away into the quiet quarter that is Carnival’s signature Serenity sun deck, set along Deck 12 forward, where plush lounge chairs (including «clamshell» shaded loungers for two) and tables encourage low-key R&R. It’s the perfect spot to soak up some sun, stare out to sea or cuddle up with a good book in kid-free bliss. Or, look to the ship’s atmospheric aft-side pool on the Lido Deck, equipped with a duo of hot tubs and a full-service bar nearby — another adults-only space, it’s a favorite spot for grown-up company, expansive views out over the ship’s wake and proximity to the buffet, just steps away. 

 

Carnival Splendor pool deck

6. You love watching movies, but don’t want to give up your poolside lounger to catch a flick.

The days of drive-in movies might be behind us, but on Carnival, you can experience a «dive-in» movie. Splendor is one of the line’s two dozen or so ships to offer the nifty cinematic experience, which outfits the main pool deck with a jumbo 270-square-foot LED screen and 70,000-watt sound system. During the day, it’s known as the Seaside Theater, running a near-constant stream of concerts, news, cartoons and sporting events while families frolic in the pool. By night, it transforms into the setting for popular movie screenings, where passengers pull up loungers (or hang out in the pool) and order up drinks and complimentary popcorn, while a feature film is screened — all set under the alfresco night sky.

7. You want to be able to use the pool, rain or shine.

For anybody who’s had their poolside vacation dreams shattered by uncooperative weather, the retractable, sliding-glass roof above Splendor’s main midship pool is just the insurance policy you’re after. When employed, it effectively transforms the pool and its bi-level decks into the largest venue on the ship, containing within not only a pool, but twin hot tubs, a duo of bars, stage for live music, food stations and the aforementioned movie screen. That way, you’re ensured that a little chill or rain needn’t put a dark cloud over your poolside vacation plans. 

8. You want to make a splash on the water slide.

Kids of all ages can’t help but appreciate a fun run on Splendor’s three-deck-high Twister water slide (slides being a signature of Carnival’s fleet). Twisting and turning for a lengthy 214 feet, adrenaline junkies will get a respectable thrill, and can make a day of splashing about and hanging out in the small and lesser-used Thunderball pool, just adjacent to the slide’s landing zone. Bonus: The Twister’s starting point on the ship’s highest deck (14) grants one of the best viewpoints aboard Splendor, with vistas stretching out over ship and sea.

Carnival Splendor room service

 

9. You’ve got a hankering for succulent steak and seafood.

Splendor keeps most of its dining options refreshingly fee-free, but its one extra-fee alternative dining venue is well worth the splurge (at $35 a head). A destination dining venue, The Pinnacle Steakhouse dominates a top-level deck with an atmospheric 108-seat setting that boasts large windows looking out to sea and classic American steakhouse-style decor with subtle Art Deco influence. But the real draw is the well-executed menu, running over with juicy, cooked-to-order steaks (like filet mignon or New York strip), lobster tails, grilled lamb chops and fish. And don’t forget about gourmet appetizers (like escargot or lobster bisque), tasty desserts and a well-selected wine list, too. Reservations are recommended.

10. Your idea of vacation is to sleep in and enjoy a late brunch.

True to Carnival, Splendor isn’t necessarily an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of ship, with plenty of diversions to keep passengers dining and dancing into the wee hours of the night. Happily, on sea days, passengers can stay in bed till they please and still catch some breakfast/brunch favorites courtesy of the complimentary Seaday Brunch service, held until 1 p.m. in the aft-facing Gold Pearl. Enjoy soothing views of the ship’s wake while tucking in to brunch favorites like eggs Benedict or fat-stack pancakes. Plus, pair the fare with a hair-of-the-dog beverage courtesy of the (extra-fee) Bloody Mary bar, offering custom garnishes.

Regent Seven Seas is calling its newest vessel, Seven Seas Explorer, the «World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship.» It’s a completely subjective claim but it does make us wonder: What exactly goes into the most luxurious ship in the world? What sets it apart? We’ve found five things on the 750-passenger ship that we know will have cruisers feeling like they’re living in the lap of luxury.

 

The Explorer Suite on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Cabins

All cabins on Seven Seas Explorer are classified as suites, with the smallest coming in at 219 square feet — not enormous by luxury standards, but certainly comfortable. What sets Explorer apart, though, is that every cabin includes a balcony — and many of even the lowest-class balconies are 10 feet deep — which is quite large when compared with other luxury ships and brands. The average balcony size is 138 square feet. All suites include indulgent touches, such as marble and stone bathrooms, rainfall showers, European Sleep Slumber beds and high-end linens. But the real wow factor is the ship’s Regent Suite, which is an astounding 2,917 square feet and features a 958-square-foot wraparound balcony. For about $5,000 per person, per day, the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath suite includes an in-suite spa with unlimited treatments available. The master bedroom features a gorgeous Savoir Bed (which cost an estimated $90,000 plus another $60,000 in linens), and the separate living area includes a $250,000 Steinway piano. Two Picasso paintings even hang just outside the suite. Plus, passengers are assigned a personal butler and a personal driver for exclusive use in port. Regent Seven Seas says this top-end suite has been a big seller, and demand is so high, the line is likely to raise the price

The French restaurant Chartreuse on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Culinary Options

Seven Seas Explorer has multiple fine-dining restaurants onboard, with specialty options included in the price of the cruise fare. The ship’s main dining venue is Compass Rose, the cruise line’s excellent flagship restaurant that features Continental cuisine. Just don’t miss the ship’s alternative restaurants; every passenger is entitled to at least one dinner at each during their cruise. Two new restaurants — Asian-inspired Pacific Rim and French venue Chartreuse — are exclusive to Seven Seas Explorer. Both are elegantly decorated: Pacific Rim includes a gasp-worthy floor-to-ceiling art installation that resembles a Tibetan prayer wheel along with handpainted murals; Chartreuse’s design is reminiscent of Paris, with filigree screens and a floor that imitates a cobblestone street. Dishes at Pacific Rim include dim sum options, miso glazed black cod, curried seafood laska and ramen noodles. At Chartreuse you can choose from options such as poached blue lobster tail glazed with caramelized lobster roe butter and hand-cut Charolais steak tartare. Seven Seas Explorer also has a Culinary Arts Kitchen, where passengers can get fun and individualized hands-on cooking and technique lessons in a top-of-the-line professional kitchen. Still want more food? Try one of the ship’s Gourmet Explorer Tours, which pair experiences like wine tastings with dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants. (Classes and gourmet tours are not included in your cruise fare.)

Ceramic loungers in the spa on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Spa

The Canyon Ranch Spa on Seven Seas Explorer offers exclusive experiences designed with Red Flower, a beauty products and lifestyle company. The high-end company emphasizes sustainability and has created treatments that source ingredients from the world’s seven seas. Treatments offered include the Red Flower North Atlantic Journey, which uses sea salt from the Atlantic Ocean, enhanced with sea algae and Icelandic moonflower. Canyon Ranch also has partnerships with Irish company Voya and Shankara. At 750 square feet, the spa is the fleet’s largest and has eight treatment rooms; a large thermal suite with heated ceramic loungers and a private outdoor deck; and an infinity plunge pool. It also includes infrared saunas, aroma steam rooms and cold rooms — one each in the men’s and women’s changing areas. Sweeping silk fabrics, Swarovski crystals and twinkling lights decorate the spa.

Regent Suite on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Inclusivity

Like many luxury cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Explorer’s cruise fares includevirtually everything: unlimited shore excursions, specialty dining, unlimited beverages (including most premium spirits and fine wines), gratuities, Wi-Fi, fitness classes and entertainment. But this inclusion might put it on top: business class airfare for all intercontinental flights for North American passengers starting in 2017. (Economy class round-trip air is already included for all passengers, and business class air on Europe cruises for passengers staying in Penthouse Suites and above.) Depending on the suite class you choose, your cruise fare might also include extras such as a pre-cruise hotel stay, transfers to the ship, hotel breakfasts, porterage, and free laundry and pressing.

The Penthouse Suite's bathroom on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

The Little Things

In the world of luxury cruising, it’s often the little things that make the biggest impact. Consider the toiletries offered on Seven Seas Explorer — they vary, depending on suite class, and might include French-designed Guerlain, or L’Occitane’s Mer & Mistral line, which is exclusively carried on Explorer. Then, there’s the space ratio, which on paper sounds pretty dull but on a ship is essential to making you feel less crowded. While Seven Seas Explorer has the capacity for 750 passengers, its space ratio is the second-highest in the industry (behind Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2). Throw in a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1.38, and you can expect a high level of service and attention. Crew onboard anticipate the needs of passengers, providing services such as poolside sunglasses cleanings or carrying messy plates in buffets to avoid spillage. Passengers also will be blown away by the ship’s chandeliers: Explorer has almost 500 of them, including a nearly two-story oval crystal chandelier in the lobby and a gorgeous blue droplet light feature in Compass Rose. The ship’s elements, like floors, countertops and walls, utilize more than an acre of marble and an acre of granite.

I want to buy drinks on my cruise. Is there a way I can prepay for all my drinks so I pay one price instead of per drink?

bar cocktails

Yes, you can buy a beverage package. These all-you-can-drink packages allow passengers to pay a set fee up front for unlimited drinks (of a certain type, as outlined by the package’s fine print), rather than pay per drink once onboard the cruise ship. They are offered because many cruise lines, with the exception of the most expensive luxury lines, charge extra for most beverages (including soda and alcohol) onboard. These beverage packages can be a good deal, depending on how often you plan to buy drinks on your vacation.

What types of beverage packages can I buy?

Packages run the gamut from bottled water and soda packages to all-inclusive packages that cover cocktails, wine, beer, soda and coffee. Some lines offer coffee cards for a set number of drinks from the for-fee coffee bars, or wine packages that vary in number of bottles and vintages. Packages can either be a set number of drinks for a discounted price (for example, six bottles of water or five bottles of wine) or a set per-day fee for a range of drinks orders.

For more details, see our story on all-you-can-drink packages.

How much do drink packages cost?

Soda packages (sometimes referred to as soda cards) can costs from $4.50 to $8 per person, per day, and might include a souvenir travel mug. Water package prices vary greatly, depending on what’s included, but Celebrity’s, for example, costs $14 per person, per day, for unlimited, brand-name still and sparkling water (such as Evian, Pellegrino and Perrier).

Some lines have nonalcoholic drink packages that include soda, bottled water, juice, for-fee coffee and tea, smoothies and/or nonalcoholic cocktails. Prices range from $8 to $20, per person, per day, depending on the cruise line and which drinks are included.

Alcohol packages typically cost $40 to $65 per person, per day, and the price varies both by cruise line and which kinds of drinks are included. Cruise lines that offer two or three tiers of packages will often have a limited selections of brands included in their cheapest package, with a maximum per-drink price (think beers priced up to $5 or wine and cocktails under $10). The more expensive packages will include more drink options, such as more premium brands of liquor and more exotic cocktails, as well as a higher maximum price for included beverages.

Some lines offer a discount on the packages if you purchase them before your cruise rather than once on the ship. Also, most add a 15 to 18 percent gratuity and taxes on top of the cost of the package.

How do I know which drinks are included?

Most cruise lines post lists of the included drink types and brands on their websites, or you can ask for a list when onboard. However, some travelers report discrepancies between the website lists and the ones onboard, and they say it’s often tricky to determine exactly which cocktails are included. The package fine print will usually list price maximums for included beers, wine and cocktails, where applicable

 

How do I know which drinks are included?

Most cruise lines post lists of the included drink types and brands on their websites, or you can ask for a list when onboard. However, some travelers report discrepancies between the website lists and the ones onboard, and they say it’s often tricky to determine exactly which cocktails are included. The package fine print will usually list price maximums for included beers, wine and cocktails, where applicable.

 

Are beverage packages worth the money?

banana split milkshake

It can be a bit tricky to determine if a beverage package is a good value for you or not. If you might only have a drink or two on any given day, and intend to stick with free beverages (water, iced tea, plain coffee), you likely will be better off paying a la carte. However, if you drink soda all the time, love to frequent cruise ship bars, or intend to consume a wide variety of nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks on your vacation, you should do the math to see if a packages makes sense. Or, if you just like the idea of all-inclusive beverages, it might be worth it to opt for the package, even if you’ll pay a premium for it.

If you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, then it’s best to figure out how many drinks (soda, coffee, water, wine, cocktails) you might drink each day — keeping in mind that you’ll have fewer opportunities on port days — and add up the costs to see if you would spend close to or more than the package daily rates. For this, you’ll need to look up drink prices online; cruise lines don’t always post bar menus, and the ones you find online may be out of date. Don’t forget that some packages include discounts on wines by the bottle when you’re working out the sums.

When can I buy a drink package?

Many lines let you prepay for beverage packages ahead of your cruise, occasionally at a slight discount. You can book the packages through the cruise line’s website or get your travel agent to assist you. Otherwise, you can purchase them onboard, either at the beginning of your cruise or within a day or two of sailing. (Prices are prorated based on number of days.) Crewmembers will be advertising them onboard, especially on the first day, so it’s easy to sign up. Cruise lines vary in their policies as to whether you can purchase packages throughout the cruise or only on select days.

Who can purchase a drink package?

Anyone can purchase a drink package, though alcohol packages are restricted to passengers who meet drinking age restrictions (typically 18 or 21, depending on the cruise line). However, some lines will only sell you a beverage package if every adult or everyone in the same cabin purchases a package (meaning kids would need to opt for a nonalcoholic package if their parents are buying an alcoholic one).

In addition, some cruise lines do not offer package sales on select ships or sailings. For example, Norwegian does not sell its packages on one- and two-night sailings or on any Pride of America cruises; it also does not sell them to passengers ages 25 and younger on sailings out of U.S. ports during the spring break period of March 1 to April 15.

Can I upgrade, downgrade or cancel my drink package after I’ve bought it?

Most cruise lines are happy to upgrade you to a higher-tier package (if one exists). You can do so onboard. Some lines do not allow you to downgrade to a cheaper package; those that let you change or cancel packages often refund your money in onboard credit, which you must spend onboard (rather than crediting your credit card for the difference).

Do I really get unlimited drinks?

Check your package’s fine print. Some packages do have a drink maximum on certain types of drinks. For example, Carnival limits you to 15 alcoholic drinks per day, with unlimited nonalcoholic drinks.

If I buy a package, can I get free drinks anywhere onboard?

drinks line up

In general, you can obtain drinks in any onboard bar, lounge or restaurant and often at a cruise line’s private island (where its staff is operating the bars and you pay with your cruise card rather than in cash). You might not be able to use your package when ordering drinks via room service and almost certainly can’t use the package for taking items from the minibar or buying bottles in an onboard gift shop.

Can I buy a drink for someone else or multiple drinks at once?

No, you cannot order multiple drinks at once (including buckets of beer) or purchase a drink for another passenger when using your beverage package.

19
juni 2017
Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - kl. 16:00

Jupina Amour

Opinions about cruising’s best bars vary like the color of cocktails. One passenger’s top-shelf piano lounge might be another’s to-be-avoided dive. We all have our favorites: levitating lounges, pubs with delicious fish and chips, and alfresco bars where you can watch a spectacular sunset as you nurse an Ocean Breeze.

What makes a bar stand out for us? Often, it’s originality and innovation, a new twist on the ol’ purveyor of gin and tonics and buckets of beer. You might find an ice bar gimmicky, but it’s certainly different. In other cases, we applaud onboard establishments for offering unique drinks or pairing food and booze; sometimes, these bars are simply places where, time and again, we’ve spent an enjoyable evening.

So, whether you’re a beer connoisseur or a purveyor of fine wines, we invite you to enjoy our list of best bars at sea.

Celebrity Reflection Martini Bar & Crush

Shaken, Not Stirred: Martini Bars

Celebrity’s Martini Bar & Crush

Ships: Fleetwide (minus Celebrity Xpedition)

What’s Cool: Order a martini flight and try out six colorful beverages, poured from a tower of martini shakers into a pyramid of glasses. The bartenders here have watched Cocktail too many times, and they put on an impressive display of bottle-tossing and -twirling as they mix your drinks. An ice-topped bar and a central location add to the appeal.

Cunard’s Commodore Club

Ships: Fleetwide

What’s Cool: While not just a martini bar, Commodore Club’s menu includes the line’s most extensive selection of martinis. You’ll feel like a million dollars sipping yours straight up or with a twist while taking in the 270-degree views. Chairs, many tucked into windowed nooks, are deep and comfortable and, as befits Cunard, the more formal evening dress code means everyone’s dressed to impress

Carnival Freedom alchemy bar

With a Splash: Cocktail Bars

Carnival’s Alchemy Bar

Ships: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Victory, Carnival Pride, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Vista

What’s Cool: Carnival’s Alchemy Bar takes cocktails to the drugstore with an «Olde Apothecary» theme, featuring bartenders in lab coats and a dark wood bar decorated with apothecary jars. They’ll write you a prescription for Passion Potions (like a Martini Seduction), Energizing Elixirs (Spicy Chipotle Pineapple Martini) or Cocktail Therapy (Curative Peach Cosmopolitan). Despite its old-timey feel regarding your concoction, menus are illuminated e-readers (on some ships).

Norwegian’s Sugarcane Mojito Bar

Ships: Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Escape, being rolled out fleetwide

What’s Cool: A mojito flight will get you in the mood to fiesta with your choice of six sweet and savory combinations such as pineapple coconut or Sriracha. Take yours out to the Waterfront if you’re on the Breakaway- or Breakaway Plus-class ships; sea breezes and live music (piped in from the interior half of the bar during the evening) complement the Cuban cocktail perfectly.

Regal Princess Vines selection

Start Wining: Wine and Champagne Bars

Vines on Princess Cruises

Ships: Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Grand Princess, Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Ruby Princess, Sapphire Princess and Star Princess

What’s Cool: Princess’ wine bar, found in the bustling Piazza area, serves up wine flights and a selection of new- and old-world vintages in a faux wine-cellar setting. (Think dim lighting and wooden barrels.) But it’s more than just a bar; along with your vino, you can order sushi and tapas for a light, sophisticated meal (free with beverage purchase on select ships). As you sip, don’t forget to check out the performers who entertain in the Piazza. (Note that sushi and tapas are not served on Grand and Sapphire Princess.)

MSC’s Wine Bars

Ships: Divina, Preziosa, Splendida, Fantasia, Poesia, Orchestra and Musica

What’s Cool: Although the wine bars on these ships all have different names, they offer a hefty list of wines from provinces across Italy. The bars’ light leather upholstery seems, at first, counterintuitive; wine bars, after all, are generally very dark and rich in tone. But, ultimately, the decor creates an atmosphere that’s open and chic. Knowledgeable sommeliers on each sailing offer tastings that include information about the various vintages, their regions and the processes that go into making the wines. The tastings fee includes a plate of tasty cheeses and meats to accompany each glass of vino. A partnership with Blend Craft Wines of California brings winemaking classes, dinners and experiences onboard, also for an additional fee.

Oceania’s La Reserve by Wine Spectator

Ships: Marina and Riviera

What’s Cool: La Reserve isn’t just an ordinary wine bar; it’s a venue for wine tastings and gourmet wine-themed dinners. Tastings, developed by Wine Spectator, might focus on wines from your cruise region or show how different types of wine glasses affect your enjoyment of the vintage. Multicourse dinners pair fine cuisine with premium wines, and are a collaboration between the executive chef and Wine Spectator’s wine aficionados. La Reserve’s elegant setting, with upper-deck views, simply adds to the experience.

Disney’s Pink

Ships: Disney Dream

What’s Cool: It’s pink. Really pink. It’s decorated with pink Champagne bottles, pink plush chairs, pink bubble lights and pink Champagne glasses. Yet it’s not overbearing; in fact, it’s downright charming. Lighted glass bubbles adorn the walls, and savvy cruisers might catch a glimpse of Dumbo dancing sporadically in them. Champagne and Champagne cocktails are, of course, the drinks of choice. Champagne cocktail options include standbys, such as bellinis, as well as more inventive drinks that include Elderberry cocktails.

Royal Caribbean’s Vintages

Ships: Quantum-class ships, Oasis-class ships, Freedom-class ships, Mariner of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas

What’s Cool: Atmosphere is everything at this cool and collected wine bar onboard select Royal Caribbean ships. Taste the bar’s namesake from vineyards around the world, with some varietals exclusive to the cruise line. Onboard Quantum-class ships with Jamie’s Italian, a limited menu is available for $5 per appetizer.


Humidor interior

Burning Issues: Cigar Bars

Silversea Cruises’ Humidor

Ships: Fleetwide, except Silver Galapagos and Silver Discoverer

What’s Cool: The Humidor feels like a traditional smoking room in an old British country house, where you can relax in deep, lush chairs and couches set on rich wooden floors, accented with handsome rugs and prints on the walls. It’s well ventilated, but it still retains that delicious, rich cigar aroma that has permeated into the furniture. There’s a bar adjoining it, and it has excellent waiter service. All cigar bars should be like this.

MSC’s Cigar Bars

Ships: Divina, Splendida, Fantasia, Magnifica, Poesia, Orchestra, Musica, Sinfonia and Armonia

What’s Cool: Although smoking is more prevalent on MSC’s ships than it is on mainstream U.S. lines, we often found the cigar bars, which vary in name from ship to ship, uncrowded and quiet. With rich woods and cushy leather seating, they offer elegant places to escape the general population onboard, whether it’s to read, write, nap or have a smoke. Some — like the Hitchcock Lounge on Poesia, which features silhouettes of Alfred Hitchcock — even have fun themes. (Surprisingly, the ones we visited didn’t smell anything like smoke, so nonsmokers shouldn’t worry about stepping inside.)

Disney’s Meridian

Ships: Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

What’s Cool: The view from Meridian — located on Deck 12, aft — is spectacular, with huge windows and vast outdoor spaces that ensure passengers will never miss the passing scenery. A large granite bar runs the length of the lounge, which is decorated with lots of high-backed leather chairs and travel-themed decor. Cigars are available for purchase at the outside bar. Meridian is nestled between restaurants Palo and Remy, so aficionados don’t have far to go for an after-dinner stogie.

Carnival Sunshine sports bar

Got Game: Sports Bars

Disney’s Diversions, 687 and O’Gill’s

Ships: Diversions (Disney Wonder); O’Gill’s Pub (Disney Magic, Disney Fantasy); 687 (Disney Dream)

What’s Cool: Disney’s association with ESPN means sports fans won’t miss a game (including NFL) while sailing. The line’s sports bars — all adults-only at night — have numerous flat-screen, high-def TVs with digital surround sound and cozy spaces that allow for quiet conversation, even when the bar is packed and the big game is on.

Carnival’s Sports Bars

Ships: Fleetwide

What’s Cool: One reviewer described Carnival’s Sports Bar as the man-cave to end all man-caves. It’s chock full of flat-screen TVs that can show individual games or combine to show a single game across several screens. The bar is stocked with a selection of beer and bar snacks. Despite the line ending its partnership with EA Sports, a handful of ships still feature the collaboration at the EA Sports Bar where you can play free EA video games.

MSC’s The Sports Bar

Ships: Divina, Preziosa, Splendida, Fantasia and Magnifica

What’s Cool: Called The Sports Bar on all ships (except Magnifica, where it’s known as L’Olimpiade), these venues are more than just a place to watch the game with a beer. With a relaxed and colorful atmosphere, each features a bar, a pair of mini-bowling lanes, sports memorabilia, plenty of tables and chairs in various alcoves, and, of course, an astounding number of flat-screen TVs for watching live competitions.


O'Sheehans on Norwegian Getaway

Pub Reporter: The English Saloon

Cunard’s Golden Lion Pub

Ships: Fleetwide

What’s Cool: Cunard’s Golden Lion Pub reeks of authenticity with its fine lagers, ales on tap and classic pub fare like fish ‘n’ chips. Entertainment is also pub-worthy with pub quizzes, live music and sporting events on the telly.

Norwegian’s O’Sheehans & District Brew House

Ships: O’Sheehans (Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway); District Brew House (Norwegian Escape)

What’s Cool: At O’Sheehans, passengers can bowl, throw darts and play pool or foosball before enjoying dinner and drinks. The 24-hour venue serves up complimentary breakfast and pub fare, and it’s the best spot for draft beer. Miami-based Wynwood Brewing Company partnered with Norwegian to introduce its first brewpub at sea on Norwegian Escape, and while no beer is made on premises, a selection of 24 beers on tap — including La Rubia Blonde Ale, a craft beer made exclusively by Wynwood for Escape — accompanies 50 bottled choices and a gastropub-style menu supplied by onboard small-plate outlet Food Republic. Don’t forget to take a quick pic with new friends at the onsite photo booth — this place is a hangout for cruisers and crew alike.

Michael’s Genuine Pub on Royal Caribbean

Ships: Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas

What’s Cool: Chef Michael Schwartz serves up a gastropub-style menu for lunch and dinner (and snacking, of course) along with craft beer at this Quantum-class outfit. Settle into the dark and comfy atmosphere with a Michael’s Genuine Home Brew (Schwartz’s own recipe) or a number of other IPAs and ales. Bourbon flights and cheese plates make this a desired drinking and dining spot for anyone onboard.

Carnival’s RedFrog Pub

Ships: Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Vista

What’s Cool: Eschewing the «British» in British pub is Carnival’s RedFrog Pub, a Caribbean/Key West-themed space featuring for-fee appetizers (conch fritters, roti and the like) on Breeze, Magic and Vista; plus chill live music, games including ring toss and table shuffleboard, and an exclusive brew on draft. Carnival’s ThirstyFrog Red Ale can be ordered by the pint or by the 100-ounce beer tube. Taking it to the next level on Vista, Carnival will install an onboard brewery — a first for the industry — that will brew craft beer from tanks in full view of pub-goers.  Additionally, a partnership with Tampa-based craft brewery Cigar City will bring local craft beers to 13 ships sailing from Florida.

Piano man bar panoramic

Tickle the Ivories: Piano Bars

Carnival’s Piano Bars

Ships: Fleetwide

What’s Cool: Carnival earns top honors in this category, with piano bars on all its ships. Though no two look the same, you can expect a nearly identical rollicking atmosphere with plenty of sing-alongs, group toasts and some adult-themed tunes after midnight. The most coveted spots are the stools surrounding the pianos, which revolve slowly so everyone gets a good view of the ivories. But arrive early to snag a choice spot — some of Carnival’s pianists have nearly cult-like followings!

Norwegian’s Howl at the Moon

Ships: Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Escape

What’s Cool: Sipping is almost secondary to the singalongs at this popular dueling pianos bar. Request songs by bringing up a slip of paper (and a tip never hurts to get it played), then sit back and watch the two pianists work their magic on the keys. Both the classics and songs currently on the radio are fair game, and depending on the crowd on any given evenings, the joint can get rowdy.

Royal Caribbean’s Schooner Bar

Ships: Fleetwide

What’s Cool: Royal Caribbean’s nautical-themed bar and trivia basecamp also turns into a piano bar at night. The individual pianists really affect the after-hours atmosphere; some host lively sing-alongs, complete with props, while others provide background music to a packed house of post-dinner merrymakers. If the piano player’s not playing your song, feel free to make a request.

Rising Tide bar on Oasis at night

Photo Op: Cool Bars You Gotta Try Once

Royal Caribbean’s Rising Tide

Ships: Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas

What’s Cool: It levitates. This Oasis-class novelty bar, evocative of a space pod, floats up and down three decks between the Royal Promenade and the foliage-filled Central Park. Take-offs typically occur every 30 minutes during designated hours. The ride is about 20 minutes, but the «driver» can adjust the speed up and down. While the bar is one-of-a-kind, don’t expect the same from the menu; you’ll find a standard selection of cocktails and beers.

Norwegian’s Svedka & Inniskillin Ice Bar

Ships: Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway

What’s Cool: It’s not just cool, it’s freezing. The air in this spine-tingler is kept at a constant 17 degrees, all the better to keep the cocktail glasses, bar and ice sculptures from getting all wishy-washy. (Yep, they’re all made of ice.) Just don a parka at the door, take a deep breath, and enter the enchanting little cavern with multihued ice walls mimicking the aurora borealis. You can stay in there for up to 45 minutes, but trust us … you won’t. The cover charge includes a toasty, warm parka and two drinks — all of which are made with Svedka vodka or Inniskillin ice wine.

Royal Caribbean’s Bionic Bar

Ships: Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas

What’s Cool: Robots! Makr Shakr is a robotic bartending system that serves up cocktails to thirsty and amused customers who enter their order via a tablet. Just be specific when ordering drinks; robots are pretty literal. If you fear that witty banter has been removed from the bartender-patron relationship, watch for sly comments that sometimes appear on the waiting list screen.

Anthem's North Star Bar lounge area

A Room with View: Panorama Bars

Royal Caribbean’s Viking Crown Lounge

Ships: Fleetwide except Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships

What’s Cool: The round, UFO-esque tower in the middle of many Royal Caribbean ships houses the line’s signature Viking Crown Lounge. While some are more expansive, they all offer sloping windows and great views over the outer decks and out to sea. Head there for sunset or sailaway — it’s an ideal place to snuggle into a comfy couch, order a drink and watch the world go by.

Crystal’s Palm Court

Ships: Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity

What’s Cool: One of the best places for a great view at sea is the Palm Court on Crystal’s two ships (Deck 11, forward). The highlight of the sleekly modern lounge, located just over the bridge, is the 5.5-foot high windows along the sides and the 10-foot windows toward the front, providing stunning 300-degree views. Stand right at the front when docking to see exactly what the captain is seeing. Aside from the view, Palm Court is a wonderfully quiet place during the day to curl up on a comfy chair with a good book. In the late afternoon and evening, the space comes alive with high tea and jazz, respectively.

Celebrity’s Sunset Bar

Ships: Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Solstice

What’s Cool: Sunset Bar’s unimpeded aft views are particularly breathtaking. Celebrity paid careful attention to the scenery in designing the bar, where railings are barely noticeable and glass spans as far as the eye can see. The proximity to the ships’ unique Lawn Clubs provides a breezy backyard feel and makes for the perfect location for a sunset cocktail.

Royal Caribbeans’s North Star Bar

Ships: Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas

What’s Cool: Located at the base of North Star, the ships’ jewel-shaped glass pod that rises 300 feet into the air, this bar provides great views over the pool deck. Sit at the bar or spread out on a lounger with a selection of cocktails, beer and Champagne as you plan your evening or reflect on your day in port.

Most consumers, especially those who travel frequently, are familiar with airline-affiliated credit cards, through which you earn free mileage based on how much you charge to your card. But if you’re an avid cruiser, especially one who prefers to drive or take the train to the cruise port, a card that earns you points toward cruise-related awards might be a better fit. So do such cards exist?

They do, but only a few cruise lines offer them. In fact, cruise line-affiliated credit cards are only an option among the biggest names in mainstream cruising. Of the 18 lines surveyed, only six had co-branded credit cards: Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, NCL, Princess Cruises, Holland America and Royal Caribbean.

Unlike hotel- and airline-affiliated credit cards, cruise credit cards are not linked to the cruise operators’ loyalty programs. That’s likely because cruise loyalty programs are themselves quite different from the frequent traveler programs run by the airlines and hotel companies. Spending more with your credit card won’t bump you up to platinum status, but it could get you a free cruise. Here’s how:

How Affiliated Credit Cards Work

The cards offered by these six lines are more alike than they are different. Five out of six award two points for every dollar spent on cruise services and products, and one point for every dollar spent on other charges. The outlier, the Disney Premier Visa card, awards two points per dollar for charges at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, in addition to Disney services and merchandise.

On the redemption side of the ledger, you can exchange your points for free or discounted cruises, onboard credit, upgrades, onboard amenities and cruise line merchandise. Points have a value of 1 cent apiece when cashed in for most rewards. So, for example, a $100 credit toward onboard purchases can be had for 10,000 points. If those points were earned at the rate of one point per dollar in charges (as they will be in the great majority of cases) that $100 credit would amount to getting a 1 percent rebate on $10,000 in charges.

Another feature common to all six cards: Points expire after five years. Five of the six carry no annual fee; again, the exception is Disney’s Premier card ($49).

 

Should You Choose a Cruise Card?

If you’re a frequent cruiser on any of these six lines, you might be tempted to apply for a card. But does it make sense to get a cruise credit card versus a different type of rewards card?

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on your goals.

If you want to get the best return on investment from a credit card, cruise credit cards aren’t the way to go. With most charges yielding just a 1 percent effective rebate on a limited catalog of awards, cruise credit cards aren’t top-of-the-class in terms of value or rewards flexibility.

For comparison, look at airline credit cards. While the average value of a frequent flyer mile is around 1.2 cents — which amounts to getting a 1.2 percent rebate when earning one mile per dollar charged — that per-mile value can be increased considerably by cashing in miles for higher-priced award flights. Some cash-back credit cards rebate 1 to 2 percent or more for select categories. And your reward is cash, which can be used to pay for anything, from a cruise to other travel expenses (pre-cruise air or hotel, for example) or even a new wardrobe for your upcoming sailing.

In other words, if your choice of credit cards is based strictly on bottom-line considerations, the value of a cruise card is readily trumped by that of other types of cards.

 

 

On the other hand, maybe a free or discounted cruise is such a high priority that the value and flexibility tradeoffs are incidental. Your eye is on the prize, and you’re going to charge, charge, charge until you get that free cruise (or other cruise-related award). In that case, a cruise credit card might suit your goals just fine.

Just make sure you do the math first. Depending on your monthly credit card purchases, the five-year points-expiration policy could mean that some of the most expensive awards will simply remain out of reach because you won’t be able to earn enough in that time period. If you intend to use your card for all of your day-to-day purchases and pay off the balance each month, you will likely be able to accrue enough points for a free cruise every couple of years. But otherwise, you may not, and those points will go to waste.

Editor’s Note: We have a few friends who have lost all of their reward points on cruise line credit cards when the bank/cruise line affiliation was discontinued and the type of card they had ceased to exist. If you do choose a cruise line card, keep in mind that these things sometimes happen with less popular/lucrative credit programs.

Don’t forget to factor in the double points for purchases with the cruise line. You’ll rack up award points more quickly if you’re booking two cruises a year with the same line than if you sail every other year or try out different cruise companies.

If you think a cruise card is right for you, here’s a more detailed summary of the cards’ features and benefits:

 

Carnival Cruise Lines

Credit card: Carnival World MasterCard, issued by Barclays Bank

Earning points: Cardholders earn two FunPoints for every dollar spent with Carnival and one FunPoint for other charges. You’ll receive a signup bonus of 5,000 FunPoints after the first use. There are no maximum earnings, but points expire after five years.

Getting rewards: Points may be redeemed for a statement credit toward cruises on the World’s Leading Cruise Lines (Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Yachts of Seabourn) or an airline or hotel charge, onboard amenities, gift cards, gift certificates or merchandise. For most rewards, the point value is around 1 cent apiece — a 1 percent rebate.

Fine print: An additional bonus of 5,000 FunPoints is available for balance transfers made within thirty days of opening your account. (Balance transfers each incur a small fee.) The card does not carry an annual fee. The annual percentage rate on charges is 13.99 to 20.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness.

Disney Cruise Line

Credit card: Disney Premier Visa or Disney Rewards Visa, issued by Chase

Earning points: Cardholders earn 2 percent in reward dollars for every dollar spent with Disney or at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 percent for other charges with the Premier card and 1 percent on all purchases with the Rewards card. You’ll receive a bonus of a $100 Disney gift card if you charge $500 on the Premier card within the first three months or a $50 Disney gift card after the first use of the Rewards card.

Getting rewards: Reward dollars may be redeemed for Disney cruise vacations, merchandise, spa treatments and shore excursions, as well as Disney theme park tickets, other Disney products and a statement credit toward airfare. Reward dollars, as the name implies, are worth $1 a piece and can be redeemed for goods and services at that rate, which amounts to a 1 to 2 percent rebate, depending on how they’re earned. There are no maximum earnings, but reward dollars expire after five years. Additional year-round perks are available for all card members, including onboard credit offers and discounts for onboard services and discounts at Disney stores, theme parks and resorts.

Fine print: The Rewards card has no annual fee, and the Premier card carries an annual fee of $49. Both cards offer a 0 percent annual percentage rate on charges for the first six months, which will then increase to is 15.24 percent.

 

Holland America Line

Credit card: Holland America Line Rewards Visa, issued by Barclays Bank

Earning points: Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent with Holland America and one point for other charges. You’ll receive a signup bonus of 5,000 points after the first use.

Getting rewards: Points may be redeemed for cruises, cruise discounts, onboard credits, onboard experiences, merchandise and other onboard for-fee amenities. For most awards, the point value is around 1 cent apiece, which amounts to a 1 percent rebate for most charges. There are no maximum earnings, but points expire after five years.

Fine print: The card does not carry an annual fee. The annual percentage rate on charges is 13.99 to 20.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness.

 

Norwegian Cruise Line

Credit card: Norwegian Cruise Line MasterCard, issued by Bank of America

Earning points: Cardholders earn two WorldPoints for every dollar spent with Norwegian Cruise Line and one WorldPoint for other charges. You’ll receive a signup bonus of 10,000 WorldPoints after the first qualifying purchase.

Getting rewards: Points may be redeemed for cruises, stateroom upgrades, cruise discounts, onboard credits and onboard experiences, car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise and gift certificates. For most awards, points value hovers around 1 cent apiece — a 1 percent rebate for most charges. There are no maximum earnings, but points expire after five years.

Fine print: The card does not carry an annual fee. The annual percentage rate on charges is 12.99 to 20.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness.

 

Princess Cruises

Credit card: Princess Cruises Rewards Visa, issued by Barclays Bank

Earning points: Cardholders earn two Princess Points for every dollar spent with Princess Cruises and 1 Princess Point for other charges. You’ll receive a signup bonus of 5,000 Princess Points after the first use. There are no maximum earnings, but points expire after five years.

Getting rewards: Points may be redeemed for free cruises and cruise discounts, onboard merchandise and services, and airfare discounts. Points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for most awards. However, there’s better value to be had when using points for free cruises and discounted cruises. A $3,000 cruise discount, for example, costs 200,000 points, yielding a value of 1.5 cents per point.

Fine print: The card does not carry an annual fee. The annual percentage rate on charges is 13.99 to 20.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness.

Royal Caribbean International

Credit card: Royal Caribbean Visa Signature, issued by Bank of America

Earning points: Cardholders earn two MyCruise Points for every dollar spent with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises and one MyCruise Point for other charges. You’ll receive a signup bonus of 10,000 points after the first transaction. If you charge $3,500 within the first 90 days of membership, you’ll receive «buy one, get one free» airfare.

Getting rewards: Points can be redeemed for onboard amenities, onboard credits, selected merchandise, charitable donations, discounts against the purchase price of any eligible cruise vacation and cabin upgrades. For most awards, points have a value of 1 cent apiece, which amounts to a 1 percent rebate for most charges. There’s a maximum earning of 540,000 points per calendar year, and points expire after five years.

Fine print: The card does not carry an annual fee. The annual percentage rate on charges is 12.99 to 20.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness.

17
juni 2017
Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - kl. 16:00

Two million kids younger than 15 sailed the high seas in 2013 on lines that are members of the Cruise Lines International Association Industry. To attract and keep that many children happily engaged, cruise lines offer meet and greets with beloved cartoon characters, splash-happy water parks, zip lines, ropes courses and more.

The major family- friendly lines that cater to the North American market and carry most of the junior sailors are (in alphabetical order) Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Celebrity and Crystal offer children’s programs on selected sailings. Holland America Line‘s Club HAL offers supervised activities for ages 3 to 12 and has dedicated facilities for children and teens on most of its ships.

All of these lines offer great cruises. It’s the differences — each line’s signature features, onboard partnerships and the structure and frequency of the kids and teens programs — and how they match up to your children’s ages and interests that will determine which ship is the best fit for your family.

Does your young child have a character crush?

Little kids love cartoons, so consider which make-believe star your youngster wants to meet. In this age of media ads, movie blockbusters and action figure toys, your kindergartner may long to take tea with a Disney princess, and your second-grader may count the days until he can team up with Marvel’s Avengers on a Disney voyage.

Disney’s not the only line to make storybooks spring to life. On five of Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships, kids can dance with Dora the Explorer, hold hands with SpongeBob and meet other Nickelodeon characters. Carnival has rolled out Seuss at Sea, complete with Seuss-a-palooza Story Time and Green Eggs and Ham Breakfasts. Shrek, Fiona, Puss in Boots and other DreamWorks stars parade on six Royal Caribbean ships, and DreamWorks’ popular movie releases play onboard.

 


How important is the pool?

A pool’s a pool, and all family-friendly ships feature them, but water parks bring out everyone’s inner child. Carnival, known for its signature slides, ups the energy on its newer and refurbished ships with longer, windier slides that snake, twirl and even «flush» passengers.

Young kids and grade schoolers relish Royal Caribbean’s tame H20 Zone, which brings out the giggles with geysers, water guns and small pools. Tweens, teens and adults test their skills on RCI’s FlowRider, a surf simulator.

Disney’s revamped Magic features a thrill slide and a water play area for young kids. AquaDuck elicits screams by partially extending over the ship’s side while swirling you down 212 feet. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have similar slides. At AquaLab, younger kids and parents get wet by going down a family slide, getting caught by the bucket dump and running through geysers.
Aqua Park on Labadee What are the additional family activities?

Many lines offer athletic activities, but Royal Caribbean sports are at another level, including ice skating, rock climbing, zip lines and surfing. RCI’s ships, especially its newer ones, appeal to active teens and adults. On its upcoming Quantum-class ships, RCI debuts a deckside version of skydiving known as RipCord by iFLY, as well as SeaPlex, an indoor fun space with bumper cars and roller skating.

Challenge your gang on the ropes course on Norwegian Breakaway, or see who gets the highest score at bowling, available on Norwegian Pearl, Gem, Epic, Breakaway and Getaway. NCL also scored big by being the first line to offer Nintendo Wii sports games, now also available on other lines.

Disney, predictably, targets families with younger kids. At D Lounge, families can team up for the pirate-themed game show «Pirate’s Life for Me» and dance at «Goofy’s Rock Stars and Guitars Family Dance Party,» both geared to families with younger kids. Families with older teens and sports-loving adults can test their knowledge during «ESPN Monday Night Football Call It.»

What about evening entertainment?

Princess Cruises introduced Movies Under the Stars, films shown on deck while you relax in a lounge chair, tucked up in a blanket. Carnival and other lines also offer outdoor movies. Disney wows kids and adults with its first-run movies in its indoor theater and its Disney-themed stage shows.

Older kids like the Blue Man Group on Norwegian Epic, as well as the Broadway-style (shortened versions) hits playing aboard RCI. «Mamma Mia» will debut on new ship Quantum of the Seas in fall 2014. «Hairspray» plays to applause on the Oasis of the Seas, «Chicago, the Musical» draws crowds on Allure of the Seas, and «Saturday Night Fever» brings back memories on Liberty of the Seas.

 


How are the children’s programs structured?

Family-friendly cruise lines work hard delivering creative children’s programs that go beyond baby-sitting. The best divide kids into age-appropriate groups. The narrower the age span within a group, the better a program can serve a child.

RCI, for example, offers separate groups for ages 3 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 11, a division that takes into account kids’ natural tendencies: An outgoing 6-year-old might be bored and insulted by being with a 3-year-old, and a shy 8-year-old might feel overwhelmed being matched with a much taller and athletic 12-year-old. Princess groups together ages 3 to 7, 8 to 12 and 13 to 17. During spring break, summer and other peak times, groups may be subdivided when the numbers of kids onboard increase.

Norwegian’s Splash Academy separates kids into Turtles, ages 3 to 5; Seals, ages 6 to 9; and Dolphins, ages 10 to 12. Tumbling, juggling, spinning and other circus skills, long a part of the line’s programming, engage the young cruisers. By the voyage’s end, the kids perform their circus acts for appreciative parents.

Carnival, a leader in attracting families, expects to host more than 700,000 children in 2014. Camp Ocean, the line’s revamped children’s program, debuts on Carnival Freedom in May and is anticipated to appear on Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Triumph by the end of 2014 and fleetwide by 2016. In the meantime, Camp Carnival continues on the remaining ships.

The marine-themed Camp Ocean divides kids into Penguins, ages 2 to 5; Sting Rays, ages 6 to 8; and Sharks, ages 9 to 11. Activities like Marine Life Trivia, Make Your Own Sailboat, Create a Penguin From Oreos and Under the Sea Mad Libs aim to make learning about sea life and conservation fun. Carnival is one of the few lines to offer a full children’s program for 2-year-olds.

Holland America Line offers Club HAL, a supervised program for ages 3 to 7, 8 to 12 and 13 to 17. The two younger groups always have their own club rooms. On many ships, teens meet each other at the Loft, an indoor teen lounge, and at the Oasis, an outdoor sun deck with a juice bar, waterfall and wading pool. The Loft and Oasis are not available on Prinsendam. The Oasis is featured on seven ships.

What about babies?

Although little ones aren’t likely to remember their first sea voyages, minimum ages tend to be around six months: That’s the minimum on Disney, Carnival, Norwegian, Princess and RCI.

For years, Disney Cruise Line was tops for babies, offering full-service themed nurseries at sea for ages 12 weeks to 3 years, complete with toys and special one-way porthole windows that allow parents to peek at their children without being seen by their tots. Disney fell in line with most other lines in 2014, increasing the minimum age for babies to 6 months.

Royal Caribbean now offers an equally enticing Royal Babies Nursery for ages 6 to 18 months and Royal Tots Nursery for ages 18 to 36 months on several ships with plans to have these fleetwide. At Royal Tots’ 45-minute interactive play group, children do arts and crafts, create music and enjoy other kinds of play with their parents.

At Norwegian’s Splash Academy, Guppies, ages 6 months to 3 years, get creative with Wee Can Too art projects, listen to storytellers and play with puppets. At least one parent per child must be present.
What about teen programs?

Teen programs are tricky, and the best ones, like the best children’s programs, separate teens into age-appropriate groups. Carnival and Royal Caribbean offer separate programs and facilities for ages 12 to 14 and 15 to 17.

On Disney Cruise Line, teens divide into two separate groups by age: 11 to 13 and 14 to 17. Each has its own places to hang out. Both Norwegian and Princess group ages 13 to 17 together, with teens having their own spaces on each line.

While teens meet each other at supervised events and do fun things together, there’s plenty of time for them to form cliques and couples. Be realistic. Everything you worry about at school and at teen parties on land — bullying, drugs, alcohol and sex — can be issues at sea. Talk to your teens ahead of time, and be aware of their activities on the ship.

Do programs operate in port, and is there evening baby-sitting?

When traveling with young children, consider lines that offer activities onboard when the ship is in port. This enables your child to play happily with pals while you scuba dive, golf, visit museums or browse boutiques. Programs in port may cost extra. On port days, Norwegian charges a nominal fee to supervise kids during meals, for example.

Similarly, most lines offer evening group baby-sitting for a fee. Norweigan’s Late Night Fun Zone, for example, operates from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. for a per-child hourly fee. Carnival, Disney, Princess and RCI also offer late-night programs. Royal Caribbean even allows you to book in-cabin baby-sitting for children aged 1 year and older. One per-hour fee covers up to three children in the same family. If interested, set this up on the day you board the ship.

What’s the meal deal?

No one goes hungry on a cruise ship, and the family-friendly lines satisfy young kids and always-hungry teens with extended-hour pizza, lavish dinner buffets, specialty casual restaurants and room service, in addition to seated dinners. Have a fussy kid or one who’s vegan or lactose intolerant? Talk to the head waiter; he’ll be happy to work out meals that your child will eat.

Most lines offer kids menus at lunch and dinner. In Carnival’s dining rooms, for example, young cruisers can order peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, hot dogs, or mac and cheese. Along with signature restaurants geared to teens and adults, Carnival kid-friendly eateries include Guy’s Burger Joint and the Shake Spot. Carnival Breeze also has Bonsai Sushi, great for college-age kids, and Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ, which serves pulled-pork sandwiches and grilled chicken and sausage.

When Norwegian introduced Freestyle Dining — the ability to arrive at the dining room between certain times for dinner and sit wherever you want — the line literally started a sea of change for those who like flexibility. The line features up to 29 dining options per ship; some are complimentary, and some aren’t. Norwegian also hosts a Kid’s Cafe on eight ships. In addition to kid-sized furniture, the buffet set at child-height features hot dogs, sandwiches, fruit, French fries, Jell-o and cookies.

Traditional dining with the same waiter every night has its fans. Your server knows your preferences and will bring the fruit cup for your seven-year-old and the crackers for your 10-year-old even before you ask. A new waiter every night won’t know these little details.

Princess Cruise Lines lets you choose between traditional dining and Anytime Dining, allowing you to show up between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. To limit your wait, you’ll be asked to share a table with others. This can be a wonderful way to make new friends or lead to a tense evening with people who do not like children.

Royal Caribbean offers traditional dining plus My Time Dining, which enables you to limit waits by making a reservation for a seating between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Additional eateries may include the Boardwalk Dog House (hot dogs and sausages), the Park Cafe (salads and prepared-to-order sandwiches) and Jade Sushi.

On Disney ships, you don’t necessarily need to book first seating to get your kids finished with dinner so they can rejoin the children’s program, but that’s the best option if you have young children. With Dine and Play, waiters serve children ages 3 to 12 on the second seating first; after about 45 minutes, counselors pick your child up from the dining room and escort them to the children’s program.


How are cabins configured?

Disney Cruise Line features a most welcome bath-and-a-half in most cabins. In addition to one full bathroom with a toilet, sink and tub/shower, the second bathroom has a vanity, sink and toilet. This goes a long way to getting everyone in the family ready for outings and meals with the minimum number of hassles, and you don’t have to pay extra for a suite.

Traveling with grandma and grandpa, your 8-year-old and your twin teenagers? Ask about connecting cabins and suites; most family-friendly lines offer them. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, offers a 572-square-foot villa with two bedrooms that sleeps six in the Haven. RCI’s family staterooms can accommodate six, and multi-room family suites sleep eight apiece. Carnival has some cabins that sleep up to five people each.

Does size matter?

That depends on the ages of your kids and your family’s temperament. Megaships like Royal Caribbean’s 5,400- passenger Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas offer surfing simulators (FlowRiders), ice skating rinks, ice shows, zip lines and high-dive acts, as well as fun themed areas that suggest a boardwalk with a carousel or a green space with benches like a faux Central Park. Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas add a skydiving simulator and North Star, a glass-enclosed capsule high above the decks that allows panoramic 360-degree views.

Norwegian Breakaway has 27 eateries and stages Broadway shows. Passengers on Carnival Breeze, Magic and Sunshine can challenge themselves at SportSquare’s ropes courses, an addition to the typical basketball/volleyball courts. At Breeze’s Thrill Theater, seats move, and you get sprayed with water and air at appropriate moments.

The bigger ships also tend to offer the most elaborate kids and teens facilities. That said, remember that the bigger the ship, the more confusing it may be for younger children to navigate and the more crowded it may feel for everyone during peak seasons. That can mean waiting in lines at elevators and eateries, moving through packed hallways and needing to reserve specialty restaurants and shows in advance, limiting some of the spontaneity of a cruise.

Most lines have upgraded their older and typically smaller ships. Disney, for example, upgraded Disney Magic with a thrill waterslide and other features. RCI has enhanced many of its older vessels, such as Liberty of the Seas, by adding rock climbing walls, bungee jumping trampolines and Royal Babies and Tots nurseries.

Consider what’s important to you and your children. The big, glitzy new ships book at top dollar, while older, smaller ships tend to cost less.

What are the family-friendly itineraries?

Everybody loves a beach, so Caribbean itineraries play to all ages. Alaska, with its kayaking, rafting, fly fishing and dogsledding, tends to appeal more to grade schoolers and teens than to young kids. Europe is somewhere in the middle, depending on how you structure your days. If a mix of parks and palaces are on your schedule, then little kids might be fine. A heavy load of museums and historical sites can make preschoolers — and sometimes even teens — cranky. With active teens, think about bike riding through cities, but only with kids who know how to pedal in traffic.

Har du vurdert å bestille cruise med Cunard? Nå har du atter en god grunn: I høst kan du oppleve nyrenoverte Queen Victoria tur/retur Southampton fra kun 7.438,- p.p.
I november 2017 inviterer vi til et seks dagers Big Band Ball cruise tur/retur Southampton. Seilingen går via Zeebrügge, Amsterdam og Cherbourg, og om bord er det duket for feststemning når skipets storband spiller opp til Ballroom Dancing på kveldstid. Men dette er ikke en seiling kun for de danseglade; nyrenoverte Queen Victoria har mye mer å by på. Kombiner cruiset med et opphold i London før/etter cruiset – vi hjelper deg med fly og hotell

 

Vi inviterer alle danseglade mennesker med på Ballroom Dancing om bord på et av verdens flotteste cruiseskip; nyrenoverte Queen Victoria. Skipets Big Band Ball-cruise starter i Southampton 13. november 2017 og går via Zeebrügge, Amsterdam og Cherbourg før retur til Southampton 18. november (5 netters seiling).

På kveldstid er det duket for feststemning når storbandet spiller opp til dans i majestetiske Queens Room, og på dagtid kan du nyte tiden om bord med avslapning og deilig mat, eller ta en tur i land og utforske destinasjonene som besøkes. Vi hjelper vi deg gjerne med fly tur/retur London og hotellovernatting, slik at du har hele reisen samlet på ett sted. Velkommen om bord!

 

Seilingsrute Queen Victoria 13. – 18. november 2017

Southampton, England – Zeebrügge, Belgia – Amsterdam, Nederland – sjødag – Cherbourg, Frankrike – Southampton, England.

Pris per person i delt dobbeltlugar:

  • Innvendig lugar fra 7.438,- (kat. ID)
  • Utvendig lugar fra 8.074,- (kat. EF)
  • Utvendig lugar med balkong fra 10.143,- (kat .BB)
  • Singellugar fra 13.012,- (kat. ID)

Prisene gjelder per person i delt dobbeltlugar, dersom ikke annet er angitt. Prisene kan endres når som helst og uten varsel som følge av forandringer i valutakurs, kapasitet og/eller tilbud. Kontakt Cathrine Conradi på 67 43 02 00 / cathrine@cruise.no for mer informasjon/bestilling. Tips, fly, hotell, drikkevarer, etc. tilkommer.

Om Queen Victoria

  • Tonnasje: 90.000
  • Lengde: 293 meter
  • Passasjerkapasitet: 1.990 (basert på to personer i hver lugar)
  • Mannskap: 981
  • Byggår/renovert: 2007/2017
  • Registreringsland: Bermuda

Queen Victoria, også kjent som QV, er søster til Queen Elizabeth. Skipet er maritimt og elegant, innredet i Cunards tradisjonelle stil med marmor og trepaneler. Det er høyt under taket og atmosfæren er luftig.

Ved ombordstigning møtes man av den storslagne trappen og de flotte kunstverkene i Grand Lobby. Skipet har 12 dekk som innbyr til aktivitet, avslapning, revitalisering og opplevelser. Er man interessert i Cunards historie kan man besøke The Book Shop og Cunardia. Sistnevnte er en unik utstilling med gjenstander fra og historie om Cunards skip, og her kan man blant annet finne Queen Marys loggbok. I The Book Shop selges maritim litteratur, postkort og samleobjekter. Ønsker man å handle merker som Harrods, Hermés eller H.
Stern, da er Royal Arcade stedet.

Sportsentusiaster kan spille tennis, teste golfsvingen eller lære kunsten å fekte. Biblioteket har mer en 6.000 titler, og i The Cunard Book Club kan man diskutere litteratur med sine medpassasjerer. På kveldene arrangeres det Masquerade Ball, Royal Night Theme Ball og Black & White Ball med dans og storband i Queens Room. Man kan også lene seg tilbake og nyte god jazzmusikk i Chart Room, nyte pianospill i The Commodore Club, eller oppleve et av de påkostede showene i Royal Court Theatre

Queen Victoria renoveres 
Queen Victoria renoveres i perioden 5. mai – 4. juni 2017. Skipet vil blant annet få 43 Britiannia Club Balcony-lugarer, ny Britannia Restaurant, 30 nye Britannia Balcony-lugarer og innvendige lugarer

15
juni 2017
Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - kl. 16:00

Celebrity Silhouette

 

More energetic and with more extra-fee attractions than its three Solstice-class predecessors, the 122,400-ton, 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette debuted in July 2011 as the fourth of five ships in the now-iconic series. The Solstice signatures — a stable of themed dining venues, a public hub that smells of crepes and waffles, a strikingly green and grass-covered deck space, the use of glass and marble throughout — are all there. But Silhouette also reflects a handful of significant modifications to the blueprint.

The most visible are found on the Lawn Club, a half-acre of spongy grass that tops every Solstice-class ship’s stern sun deck area. On Silhouette, the public park has become something of a gated village green, and the space is much more exclusive — and expensive — to use than those planted on Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox. Gone is the (free) Corning Glass Show, replaced by the breezy Lawn Club Grill, where participants pay for a combination meatfest and cooking class under Caribbean or Mediterranean skies. The Porch, a fee-extra casual breakfast and lunch option modeled after a private deck in the Hamptons, has also been slotted into space previously free to occupy. But the most controversial additions to Silhouette’s Lawn Club are the eight alcoves, private cabana rentals that occupy prime real estate in what was a common sunning area on previous lawns.

Silhouette’s custom-collated multimillion-dollar art collection is also a key differentiator. Two installments that draw the most shouting, laughing and exuberant pointing: caged birds on video screens and the enchanted forest with piped-in chirps, positioned in a vestibule through which hundreds of passengers walk en route to the ship’s specialty restaurant hub. Intrigued? Check out our 7 Hits and Misses on Celebrity Silhouette.

Still, despite these distinctions (or perhaps in spite of them, considering the Lawn Club changes), Silhouette is nothing if not quintessential Solstice class. It’s the most sophisticated experience you’ll find on a nearly 3,000-passenger ship — see the focus on wine, sleekly styled spaces and slightly upscale dining — without being overly stuffy. Celebrity does a commendable job of keeping the pretentiousness quota in check by inserting playful touches, like an ice-topped martini bar that features juggling bartenders, the aforementioned cook-your-own steakhouse and another restaurant, Qsine, where passengers are encouraged to play with their food. Solstice-class stalwarts won’t miss a beat, and for first-timers, Silhouette will showcase why the series has become one of the most acclaimed in modern cruising.

Celebrity Silhouette Fellow Passengers

Celebrity draws a wide range of upper-middle-class couples and groups, with the average age of passengers being in the mid-50’s. Especially on European cruises from Rome and Venice (the ship is a Caribbean-European dual passporter), expect a large contingent of Brits and Continentals — and a more international feel. The ratio of families with kids to couples may increase during the Caribbean season, bringing the average age down.

Celebrity Silhouette Dress Code

During the day, dress is resort casual, but Celebrity passengers tend to dress up for dinner — typically button-down or dressy Tommy Bahama-type sport shirts and slacks for men and dresses or smart-casual pants for women. Formal night on Celebrity has been replaced by «evening chic» in the main dining room. This means that men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. In the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.

Celebrity Silhouette Gratuity

Tips aren’t included in the cruise fare, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account at a rate of $13.50 per person/per day, if you’re in a standard cabin; $14 per person/per day, if you’re in a Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $17 per person/per day, for passengers in suites. If you would like to adjust the gratuities, you can make do so through the Guest Relations desk. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and mini-bar purchases as well as spa and salon purchases. You can’t remove these gratuities but can add to them.

Regal Princess

Regal Princess

Regal Princess is unmistakably elegant, accomplishing something mainstream cruise ships occasionally struggle with: finding a balance between fun and refinement. The decor is comfortable, with warm tones and plenty of wood and marble. The Piazza, a hallmark of the line, is truly grand; it’s large, encompasses three decks and has three bold spiral staircases. At night, it’s where you’ll want to spend your time watching people, listening to music or sipping cocktails.

Regal Princess is a near twin of fleetmate Royal Princess, and, as such, it has mostly the same features that debuted on that ship just a year earlier. That includes the SeaWalk, a cantilevered glass walkway that juts out from the Lido Deck, allowing passengers to take in unobstructed views of the sea below. It’s a fun touch, though it loses its appeal after you’ve taken the walk once. Editor’s Tip: For a fun photo, station one person on the promenade on Deck 7, directly below the SeaWalk. Have the model look up to the SeaWalk and wave. Snap a pic looking down through the SeaWalk.

When Royal Princess debuted, passengers complained that two staples on the lines’ other ships were lacking: the aft pool and the promenade deck. In response, Princess made changes to get versions of those on Regal Princess, with some success. The aft pool is a solid, though small, addition to Regal Princess, but the promenade still misses the mark. It doesn’t wrap the ship like a true promenade; instead, it comprises two outdoor decks — one portside, the other starboard side — that are only accessible by cutting through the ship.

One item Princess didn’t fix, unfortunately, is the weird staircase midship, which mysteriously ends at Deck 7. If you want to get up to higher decks from that location, you’ll have to take an elevator. Walkers must go forward or aft and take the stairs there.

A highlight onboard is the food, which we enjoyed in most venues. The buffet offers tremendous variety, with many options for international palates, and the for-fee restaurants — specifically Sabatini’s and Crown Grill — are reasonably priced. Still, those who don’t want to pay have enough options that they won’t feel slighted. Conversely, those who want to splurge on the Chef’s Table and the Winemaker’s dinner will likely feel as if it was money well spent.

While Princess fans will recognize the things they love about the line onboard Regal Princess, this class of ships represents a major evolution for the line. Careful thought has clearly been given to many of its public spaces, restaurants and activities, resulting in an overall vibe that’s relaxing and fun — exactly what you want a vacation to be.

 

Regal Princess Fellow Passengers

Passengers tend to be a solid mix of older and younger couples, as well as families, which are more prevalent during the summer and holiday seasons and while Regal Princess sails the Caribbean. While many passengers are North Americans, Europeans and Asians do sail the line, especially during Regal Princess’ Mediterranean season, which runs roughly from late spring to early fall. In the Med, the passenger mix is decidedly international, with Japanese, Chinese and Korean cruisers heavily represented.

Regal Princess Dress Code

During the day, casual is the name of the game, with shorts, swimsuits and flip-flops the norm. In the evening, passengers wear resort-casual attire. For men, that generally means khakis or slacks and button-down or collared shirts. Women wear dresses or skirts, capris or slacks and blouses.

On formal nights, evening attire is the standard. For men, that includes suits, jackets and slacks or the occasional tuxedo. Women wear cocktail or evening gowns or formal pantsuits. Cruises of four days or fewer won’t have formal nights, but those with five or six days will feature one formal night, seven- to 13-day sailings will have two formal nights and voyages of 14 to 20 days will feature three formal nights.

Regal Princess Gratuity

Princess automatically adds a gratuity of $12.95 per person, per day, ($13.95 per person, per day, for mini-suites and suites) to passengers’ shipboard accounts. Passengers have the option of increasing or removing these gratuities from their accounts. Wait staff, cabin stewards, buffet stewards and housekeeping staff will share the gratuities.

A 15 percent gratuity is added automatically for beverage and spa services.

Tipping for room service is not included but is appreciated; usually a dollar or two is appropriate. The U.S. dollar is the onboard currency.

 

 

Allur of the Seas

was the world’s largest cruise ship — for six years — before that title was stolen by sister Harmony of the Seas in May 2016. It can carry 5,492 passengers at double occupancy or 6,452 when every berth is full.

It has two famous near-twins, Oasis of the Seas and the aforementioned Harmony, with which it shares roughly 95 percent of its DNA — including a novel neighborhood concept that divides the ship into seven distinct spaces. It also shares inward-facing balcony cabins, arguably the biggest (and best) kids program at sea, an ice rink, a bar that rises between three decks, simulated surfing, rock climbing walls and an outdoor high-diving AquaTheater.

The ship is breathtaking, both in scale and ambition. Although it’s vast, it never feels overwhelming because its public spaces are broken up into seven neighborhoods. On Deck 4, you’ll find Entertainment Place, complete with an indoor ice skating rink and various clubs and lounges. The Royal Promenade is the signature shopping area, the length of a football field, with a pair of enormous tented skylights to let the sunshine pour in. The outdoor Boardwalk neighborhood was inspired by Coney Island, with family-friendly restaurants, shops, a carousel and the AquaTheater. The foliage-filled Central Park — covered in some 12,000 plants, 60 of which are trees — is a more upscale restaurant and retail hub. The fronts of decks 6 and 7 are given over to fitness and well-being in the Vitality at Sea Spa. Deck 14 is all about the kids in Adventure Ocean, and, at the back of the ship, right up on Deck 15, you have the Sports Area, complete with FlowRider surf simulators, a zipline, mini-golf, Ping-Pong and basketball courts.

The ambience and atmosphere in each area are so distinct, it’s as if there are seven different ships on one.

Astonishingly, Allure of the Seas also rarely feels crowded. The only places where you get a sense of the sheer number of people onboard are in the Royal Promenade during parade times, on sea days round the pool deck, and prime food times in the Windjammer Cafe buffet restaurant. You can sit in Central Park under a tree, drink in hand, stars above you, (piped) birdsong all around, and feel almost alone — despite being overlooked by hundreds of cabins.

The ship is ideal for first timers, whether they’re a family dipping their toes in the water for the first time, a group of friends looking for a fun-filled break or a couple celebrating a significant wedding anniversary.

Allure came out of a May 2015 refurbishment with a number of changes, including new dining options, shops, lounges, cabins and super fast Wi-Fi. Some of the post-dry dock tweaks — which include a breathtaking Suite Lounge and suites-only dining room, Coastal Kitchen — also point to a move by Royal Caribbean making a significant play for the high-end cruisers who perhaps have previously been put off by Allure’s sheer size.

A word of warning: Allure of the Seas is so flooded with bill-busting offerings — ice cream, extra-charge Mexican food, build-your-own stuffed animals, Coach bags — that it’s easy to forget about the included offerings, many of which are exclusive to the Oasis Class. You can surf or zip-line, ride a carousel or watch a first-run DreamWorks movie in 3D, and tap along to some Broadway showtunes. The Lady Gaga dance class had to be more fun than filling up on Skittles and gummy worms from the for-fee candy store. In other words, Allure can be enjoyed for the price of the cruise fare alone. But with so many temptations, it sure isn’t easy.

 

Allure of the Seas Fellow Passengers

Families flock to Allure of the Seas, a ship that celebrates youthful exuberance in the form of surf simulators, rock climbing walls and some of the best children’s facilities at sea. But the ship also clearly appeals to active couples, mainly in their 30s to 50s. Numerous spaces, especially the foliage-filled Central Park, provide a relatively kid-free ambience. In the Caribbean, passengers are predominantly American. However, when the ship sails in Europe, the passenger mix could not be more eclectic, drawing travelers from Europe, the U.S., the Middle East, Japan, China, India and Israel.

Allure of the Seas Dress Code

Weeklong cruises consist of two formal nights and five casual nights. On casual nights, expect a mix of jeans and slacks in the main dining rooms and nicer restaurants (no shorts); elsewhere T-shirts and shorts are fine for both men and women. Many men choose to wear tuxedos for formal dining, though dark suits are more common. Women are typically found in cocktail dresses or gowns.

Allure of the Seas Gratuity

Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $13.50 per person, per day ($16.50 for suite passengers). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to cruisers’ SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

 

Royal Princess

 

Editor’s Note: During a September 2016 drydock, Royal Princess became the first ship in the fleet to receive the line’s new livery design. Other upgrades, mostly routine, included the addition of a midship staircase and new Princess Luxury Beds, developed by board certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV Designer Candice Olson, to all cabins.

Princess Cruises doesn’t set out to dazzle with gimmickry (no bumper cars at sea, ropes courses or simulated surf pools for this Princess), and it’s never wanted (or needed) to. The line opts for a more traditional style of cruising, even as it does occasionally push the bounds in terms of innovation. It’s certainly come up with some great ideas — Movies Under The Stars, the adults-only Sanctuary and the transformation of a functional ship’s atrium into the buzzing Piazza — that are now widely copied by other lines.

Arguably, what Princess does better than any other mainstream cruise line is embrace innovations and enfold them into an otherwise traditionally minded cruise experience. Royal Princess is no exception. Here, the Piazza has been significantly expanded, Movies Under the Stars is the biggest in the fleet, and the Youth Center has some exciting new features, including a private, outdoor sun deck for teens. New twists onboard Royal Princess include the SeaWalk, a walkway that hangs off one side of the ship 16 decks up and offers vertigo-inducing views through strengthened glass. On the pool deck, a magical fountain — between the main pool and the upgraded Movies Under the Stars screen — does a Vegas-like water and light show at night. And there’s Princess Live!, the first television studio in cruising, featuring with audience seating and participation.

A renewed focus on food means that, of the 16 eateries, several are new, including the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, Pastry Shop and Gelato parlor, as well as pop-up restaurants Crab Shack and the Fondue Dispensary in the Horizon Court buffet area. Old favorites get new twists, including the expanded Alfredo’s, the line’s stand-out pizzeria, with a few menu additions and a lot more seats.

Tradition is honored, as well: one dining room is dedicated to set-seating, cocktail lounges have an elegant ambience, lovely classical music performances are mixed in with jazzier tunes, and afternoon tea is still a staple.

One aspect where Royal Princess does fall down is cabin sizes, which, in certain cases, come in significantly smaller than those found on Grand Princess. It’s particularly noticeable with the balconies, which are tiny — barely enough space for two chairs and a table.

You could argue that Princess is merely «playing it safe» with Royal Princess and trying to please everyone, but as a prototype — cruise industry parlance for a new design, rather than the «third ship in a series of» — the first impression is a simple one. Royal might represent an evolution for Princess, but it’s still offering an experience that will feel familiar to fans.

Royal Princess Fellow Passengers

Princess passengers are typically sophisticated, but not stuffy. They’re mostly Americans (on Caribbean routes) and Brits (when the ship is sailing the Mediterranean) who enjoy a quality product in an atmosphere of casual elegance. Many families choose Princess; multigenerational groups (grandparents, adult children, grandkids) enjoy the dining and entertainment options and the line’s solid family programs. During the Caribbean season, the average age is mid- to high-40’s; on European itineraries, the average age skews higher (except during school holidays).

Royal Princess Dress Code

«Smart casual» is the way Princess prefers to label its general dress code, and passengers generally dress appropriately. Most cruises will have two formal nights; think lots of beaded gowns for the ladies and tuxes for the men, although cocktail dresses and dark suits are perfectly acceptable. No swimwear, jeans, tank tops or shorts are allowed in the restaurants at dinnertime.

Royal Princess Gratuity

Princess adds $12.95 per day to each adult’s onboard account as a prepaid gratuity ($13.95 for those in suites and mini-suites). An automatic 15 percent is added to bar and spa bills. Although not required, it is recommended that gratuities be offered for room service, usually just a dollar or two. The currency onboard is American dollars.

 

Island Princess

 

island Princess is one of the two 92,000-ton Coral-class ships — the other is Coral Princess — that offer transits through the Panama Canal. They were custom built to do so and are the only two Princess ships in the fleet small enough to get through the locks.

A 2015 dry dock added 121 staterooms and reorganized and refurbished certain public areas of the ship to accommodate the new cabins. The Horizon Court was remodeled to improve passenger flow, and its updated design includes the addition of an Italian pastry shop. If you sailed the ship previously, you will feel like a first timer as many public spaces have changed locations: The Sanctuary sun deck is now on one deck instead of two and its pool is gone; the teen center has moved to Deck 14, while the kids club has lost its outdoor space; the fitness center exchanged its former Deck 14 location to one on Deck 6; and even the shore excursions desk and future cruise booking office have new locations. The multipurpose Universe Lounge is no more. The end result is that the remaining public areas can feel more crowded with the addition of the extra passengers.

Despite the refit, the ship still feels a little dated, especially in the corridors (which can be uneven in places) and cabin bathrooms. While the four-story atrium — undoubtedly eye-catching with its lovely, tinkling waterfall, glass-fronted elevator, comfortable seating, white grand piano and profusion of greenery — is the centerpiece of the ship, the area still has a cramped feeling, which is particularly noticeable on sea days.

Island Princess is a comfortable ship. It won’t intimidate virgin cruisers like some of the newest behemoths might do, and staff throughout the ship are pleasant and willing to help with queries or requests. With plenty of onboard entertainment opportunities, a good selection of shore excursions, good food and fantastic kids’ programs, the ship makes it easy for guests to have an enjoyable holiday.

Island Princess Fellow Passengers

Island Princess attracts families, couples and a few singles. Although it is a ship for all ages, summer holidays tend to attract more families with children and teenagers. Our Mediterranean cruise attracted a good mix of ages, with the bulk of passengers hailing from the United States, followed by Brits and a healthy smattering of Australians. Other nationalities — including Chinese, Japanese, Canadians and Italians — made up the balance. Depending on itinerary, however, it would be fair to say that the majority of Island Princess passengers are American. Announcements are kept to a minimum.

Island Princess Dress Code

During the day, anything goes, although beachwear is not allowed in the restaurants without a cover-up. On most nights, recommended evening dress is smart casual — an open-neck shirt and trousers for men and a dress, skirt ensemble or trouser suit for women. Cruises of five nights or longer include at least one formal dining night, while cruises of seven to 13 nights have two formal evenings.

Although Princess asks that passengers observe the dress code, particularly in the main dining rooms, we saw many people flouting the rules. Men, in particular, turned up in short sleeve, open-neck checked shirts, casual trousers and sneakers. Generally speaking, ladies were better turned-out; while less than a handful wore evening gowns, most turned up in cocktail dresses or elegant trouser suits. Staff seemed to turn a blind eye to any dress code infractions.

Island Princess Gratuity

A daily gratuity of $12.95 is automatically added to every passenger’s onboard accounts, including children; $13.95 is added for those in mini-suites and suites. A 15 percent tip is added to bar purchases, dining room wine accounts and spa bills. Currency onboard is the U.S. dollar.

 

 

 

 

Disney Dream was Disney’s first new ship in 12 years when it debuted in 2011, and it represented the company’s step into bigger, bolder and smarter ships. So it’s not surprising that the 128,690-ton, 2,500-passenger vessel (4,000 max occupancy) — and its near-twin, Disney Fantasy — is 40 percent larger and two decks taller than the company’s previous ships, Magic and Wonder. And while Disney kept the same classic design inspired by the ocean liners of the 1920s and 1930s, this ship is far from the same-old; a closer look reveals many innovative features and spaces.

Advanced uses of technology throughout the ship include virtual portholes in inside cabins and «Enchanted Art,» digital paintings that come to life as you admire them. Families can pick up a packet at the Midship Detective Agency and use the digital works to solve a mystery. Interactive Magic Play

Floors, a ship-limited social network and a sound studio enhance the kids clubs, and «Wave Phones» in every cabin can be used to call or text other passengers, as well as receive messages from the youth staff.

A late-2015 refurbishment added even more impressive features, including spruced-up adults-only spaces, a spa juice bar, a «Wreck It Ralph»-themed sweet shop and high-tech kids club play areas that will amaze even the most tech-savvy adults.

If you’re a huge Disney fan (or your kid is), you don’t need to be convinced to sail with one of the best family entertainment enterprises around. If you’re not — or have never seen a Disney ship — you might have the mistaken impression that this line is only for families with little kids who love Mickey Mouse and princesses. Sure, young Disney fans are the line’s bread and butter, and they always have been. Princess meet-and-greets take place daily and are hugely popular, the shows feature character cameos and songs from the Disney movies, and the family pools are definitely overrun with splashing, shrieking young-uns.

The influence of the Mouse ranges from subtle to obnoxious. It’s omnipresent but generally not overwhelming. «Hidden» Mickeys can be found just about everywhere on the ship: in artwork, on railings, on dinnerware, in cabins. What’s endearing to some, though, might be overkill to others. And a few areas on the ship were definitely overlooked. The «sports» deck, for example, offers a cute nine-hole mini-golf course and a basketball court but nothing strikingly groundbreaking or athletic.

But, Dream does offer evidence that a Disney cruise is not only for kids or overgrown Mouse fans. The art deco decor onboard is elegant and jazzy and imparts an old-world luxury, mostly refined, but with a touch of glitz. The pioneering, tech-friendly kids clubs, with spaces themed on Pixar and Disney movies, have a huge amount of beanbag-chair- and videogame-filled real estate dedicated to tweens and teens, a noble effort to better cater to the older-than-8 crowd.

Entertaining dinner shows help keep fidgety youngsters occupied during long sit-down meals. Adults can appreciate high-quality, multicourse dining at Remy; the creative use of costuming and technology (and some mildly adult humor) in the shows; and grown-up activities, such as wine tastings and late-night games and dancing. They have access to a pool, a sun deck, bars and lounges, restaurants and even shore excursions where those younger than 18 are not allowed. That’s good because, in the words of Walt himself, «You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.»

Above all else, the line pays attention to details — little things like putting lids on kids’ drinks to minimize spills and pouring ketchup in the shape of Mickey’s head in the dining rooms, and adding touches like a life preserver and pair of Donald Duck legs to the side of the funnel to make it look as if the loveable character has gotten himself stuck.

Disney Dream Fellow Passengers

Disney is strongly influenced by American and Canadian travelers, and its primary market, of course, is families (especially those with kids younger than 8). Its new approach to teen cruisers may help the line appeal to families with older kids. Beyond that, Disney has strong appeal for multigenerational travelers, and its superb spa, bar district and alternate dining facilities mean that adults of any age will find their own spaces onboard.

Disney Dream Dress Code

Disney Dream has two dress codes: Princess Formal and Pirate Casual. We’re kidding, of course, but it’s true that princess dresses and other costumes for kids (and fun-loving adults) are always in style.

The actual dress code is casual during the day and what we’d call «family resort casual» most evenings. Nice shorts and jeans are allowed in the dining rooms, but tank tops and swimwear are not. However, Disney cruisers love to dress up, and themed evenings — whether formal-optional, Caribbean or pirate night — are wholeheartedly embraced. Dream’s three- to five-night cruises feature one night each of pirate/tropical and formal-optional dress, with the remainder of the evenings being cruise casual.

The dress code in Palo and Remy is fancier — no shorts, capris, flip-flops or sneakers. Jeans are allowed in Palo but not Remy. A jacket (but not a tie) is required for men at Remy.

Disney Dream Gratuity

Gratuities, which are given to the waiters, assistant waiters, head waiters and stateroom attendants, are $12 per person, per day. You can prepay gratuities up to three days prior to sailing or add tips to your onboard bill. Envelopes are distributed on the final evening so you can personally thank your room steward and wait staff with cash if you choose, or use cards denoting the prepaid amount. An automatic 15 percent service charge is added to cocktail and other beverage purchases; an 18 percent charge is added to spa treatments.

Celebrity Reflection

Cool sophistication is the unmistakable vibe onboard Celebrity Reflection, the final — and biggest — of the five ships in the line’s Solstice Class. Sure, the Solstice Class blueprint is still in place; you can’t miss the Lawn Club, Solarium and themed dining venues found onboard all five ships. But Reflection, which debuted in October 2012, turns it up a notch. There’s also the sheer size of the 126,000-ton, 3,046-passenger ship. It’s bigger and about two feet wider — a change necessary to accommodate the additional weight. You might not notice the change in width, but Reflection is loaded with 89 more cabins and about 150 more passengers than its siblings.

With ample room, Reflection added 42 suites, including three new classes: the Reflection Suite, the Signature Suite and the AquaClass Spa Suite. While the Reflection Suite, with its cool all-glass cantilevered shower, gets high marks for creativity, the 32 AquaClass Spa Suites might be the most coveted among suite-lovers. Passengers booked in AquaClass and AquaClass Spa Suites receive complimentary access to Blu, a private dining room with a focus on light yet flavorsome «spa cuisine». Suite passengers also receive complimentary access to Blu, based on availability, as well as their own dedicated restaurant, Luminae.

This time around, the line did away with nightclub Quasar, replacing it with a conference center that can serve as a meeting center, conference room or banquet hall, but mostly it’s used for art auctions. Night time activities have shifted to the pool deck and to the Grand Foyer, where entertainment ranges from low-key in the evening to full-throttle after hours, and the DJ is usually found in the Sky Observation Lounge.

It’s impossible to miss the art, a multimillion-dollar investment, on Reflection. It’s big. It’s bold. And it’s everywhere. Perhaps the most stunning piece is the Grand Foyer showstopper: a live tree that grows tall, while an illuminated aluminium tree hangs from the base. Celebrity calls it a tree reflecting on itself and, of course, reflection is the theme of the art onboard. Photography is also a feature with an eclectic range of images lining the stateroom corridors. You could spend hours trying to figure out how each piece expresses the theme, ranging from the grand to the puzzling.

Celebrity’s famous Lawn Club onboard Reflection hasn’t changed much from Silhouette’s design, with its half-acre of grass, up-charge restaurants (the Lawn Club Grill and The Porch) and eight alcoves — private rentable cabanas for those who want shade and a little privacy but away from the pool area. Whereas the Lawn Club on Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse is wide open and has a real park feel, the later iterations feel decidedly more divided, with less space for playing bocce, enjoying lazy picnics or sunning.

Other old favorites return, as well, including Sky Observation Lounge with its stunning sea views and the Martini Bar, famous for its entertaining bar staff and elegant cocktails. Celebrity espouses the virtues of «modern luxury» and there are touches of that throughout from comfy chaise lounges with oversized cushions to the glass-enclosed Solarium.

Entertainment is a hit, from big production shows to more low-key options, such as a guitar and vocal duo. Service overall is warm and attentive however the widespread upselling of drink packages and specialty dining, particularly during the first 48 hours of the cruise, can be somewhat off-putting for those seeking a relaxing cruise vacation.

Reflection represents the evolution of the Solstice class, encompassing the best of each of its sisters, with tweaks here and there to make it stand out. And with the addition of new suite class benefits, this elegant ship is more attractive than ever.

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Celebrity Reflection Fellow Passengers

Celebrity draws a wide range of upper-middle-class couples and groups, with the average age of passengers in the mid-50s. During the Caribbean season, expect more families with children.  Nationalities vary depending on the itinerary with Mediterranean cruises having a more international mix of passengers.

Celebrity Reflection Dress Code

Smart-casual and formal dress is in play on Reflection. Sailings of seven to 11 nights have two formal nights, 12- to 15-night cruises include three formal nights, and sailings of 16 nights or more have four formal nights. Reflection’s passengers typically dress for the occasion, which means suits and tuxedos for men and cocktail dresses and gowns for women. On other nights, smart-casual is required in the dining room and theater for evening performances. For women, smart-casual means skirts and slacks with sweaters or blouses. For men, that means slacks or trousers with collared sports shirts or sweaters. T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps and poolwear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurants at any time. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed in the evening hours.

Celebrity Reflection Gratuity

Tips aren’t included in the cruise fare, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account. The rate is $13.50 per person/per day if you’re in a standard cabin; $14 per person/per day for Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $17 per person/per day for passengers in suites. If you would like to adjust the gratuities you can do through the Guest Relations desk. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and minibar purchases as well as spa and salon purchases. You can’t remove these gratuities, but can add to them. Onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

Celebrity Equinox

Celebrity Equinox, launched in 2009 as the second of five Solstice-class sisters, has all the signature Solstice touches: multiple dining venues (like the spa-restaurant Blu and continental Murano), a gelateria and enhanced coffee shop, and tons of balcony cabins. Yet it retains the original innocence of life before the commercialization of the ships’ signature top-deck green space, the Lawn Club.

While a few more added-fee features (like the cabanas and Lawn Club Grill on Reflection and Silhouette) might not seem like much of a change, Equinox is a better place for their absence.

When you sit outside on the real-grass lawn for a sailaway or take in the free hot-glass show at the Corning Museum of Glass pavilion, you become aware of a communal feel on the top deck that’s reminiscent of summertime in a small town. Ultimately, the friendliness of that stretch of grass and the revelatory stripped-down design of the Lawn Club on Equinox is replicated again and again onboard the ship. Crewmembers are as friendly as they come. Thoughtfully designed delights await in nearly every public space, from the art-adorned walls of the Ensemble Lounge on Deck 5 to the adults-only Solarium pool on Deck 12, with its «living wall» of plants and dancing fountain.

Walk through Equinox’s other main public spaces, and it becomes clear why Celebrity chose the metaphor of light and sun for the Solstice-class ships. From the ship’s heart on Deck 3, glass elevators sweep you up through a soaring central atrium that reaches, through 10 decks, for the sun and sky. On the way to the top, a tree, floating in mid-air and soaked in sunlight, and the words «Here Comes The Sun,» written on consecutive balcony walls, prepare you for a bright, windowed reception on the ship’s uppermost decks. The curved, winding walkways suspended above the pool deck, the solarium-enclosed pool and the Sky Observation Lounge add to the airy and bright ambience of the ship’s top-deck spaces.

Bottom to top, Equinox evokes a luxury high-rise hotel. The ship’s light, bright design and friendly feel create a continuity and harmony of elements that is unequaled on other big ships.

Celebrity Equinox Fellow Passengers

Celebrity passengers are generally upper-middle-class couples and groups, with an average age in the mid-50s. Especially during its Mediterranean season (the ship is a Caribbean-European dual homeporter), expect large numbers of British and European travelers and a more international feel. During the Caribbean season, the ratio of families with children to couples will sometimes increase, for a younger average age.

Celebrity Equinox Dress Code

During the day, dress is resort casual, but Celebrity passengers tend to dress up for dinner — typically button-down or dressy Tommy Bahama-type sport shirts and slacks for men and dresses or smart-casual pants for women. Formal night on Celebrity has been replaced by «evening chic» in the main dining room. This means that men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. In the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.

Celebrity Equinox Gratuity

Tips are not included in the cruise fare. They are automatically added to your onboard account daily. If you want to pay anything other than the «suggested gratuity,» you’ll need to make those arrangements at the Guest Relations desk while onboard.

The suggested gratuity is $13.50 per person, per day, if you’re in a standard cabin or $14 per person, per day, if you’re in a Concierge Class or AquaClass cabin. It’s $17 per person, per day, for passengers in suites. An 18 percent charge is also automatically added to all beverages, mini-bar purchases, the a la carte eatery Sushi on Five and the parfait bar at the AquaSpa Cafe, as well as spa and salon services; those charges cannot be removed, but you can add an additional gratuity if you wish.

 

 

 

Celebrity Eclipse

When the first Solstice-class ship debuted in 2008 (Eclipse is the third, launched in 2010), the phrase «game changer» was used to describe it. With a real grass lawn, a living tree suspended in the atrium, stunning cabins with character, quirky art, a glass-blowing studio, an achingly hip Apple store and a restaurant so innovative that land-based establishments took notice, the reviewers had a point: Ships in the Solstice Class blew all other mainstream vessels out of the water.

However, fast forward almost 10 years and some of these features are looking, well, a little worn. For example, Qsine, which really did set the bar high in terms of quirky cuisine, is now looking a bit gimmicky (sister brand Royal Caribbean’s Wonderland restaurant has taken on the Qsine concept successfully).

That living tree? — No-one gets quite what it’s for. And the glass-blowing? — was long ago removed from sister ships, to be replaced by a restaurant. We even heard people say the iLounge seems a bit dated.

Celebrity Eclipse regularly pulls in high marks for passenger satisfaction, and it has won Cruise Critic awards for the Best Mainstream Ship for several years in a row. Plus, Celebrity gave it a significant refurbishment in May 2015 (the first since its launch), introducing a number of new features that spoke to what cruisers want. These included a craft cocktail bar, World Class Bar; a craft beer bar, Gastrobar; and a dedicated restaurant for passengers traveling in suites, Luminae.

Eclipse is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful big cruise ships we’ve ever sailed. Its interiors blend sophistication with a bit of whimsy — akin to a trendy W Hotel, but with softer edges.

And, perhaps most importantly, the ship positions itself perfectly for the first timer — not so big that it’s overwhelming, but not so small that you get bored. It’s got a good selection of restaurants, the real-grass lawn is still a great spot to just hang out, the entertainment is still of a high quality and generous-sized cabins are bigger than the industry average.

It’s also got that all-important celebrity (with a small c) link up with the the U.K. TV show, The Wine Show; and rugged Brit adventure expert Ben Fogle, who gives talks onboard and helps design some of the line’s more adventurous excursions.

On the downside, the rampant upselling and fee surcharges are a bit of a turnoff, and on sea days, the pool deck, beautiful as it is, can feel crowded and chaotic. Service is often overwhelmed, not just on the pool deck, but at all bars; and the Oceanview Cafe often feels like a motorway service station.

But none of the negatives is enough to deter us from taking another cruise on this fine ship.

Celebrity Eclipse Fellow Passengers

The average age onboard Eclipse is younger than on many U.K.-based ships, as Celebrity has done a good job at positioning itself to couples and families. On short cruises to France, the ship often attracts hen (bachelorette) parties, as well as large groups celebrating significant birthdays.

When homeported in Miami, Eclipse attracts a similar passenger demographic — just with a greater percentage of Americans. During school holiday periods, you will find a lot of families onboard.

Celebrity Eclipse Dress Code

The two levels of dress on Eclipse are smart casual and evening chic. Two evening chic nights take place per seven-night cruise. On smart casual nights, sport shirts and slacks are appropriate for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. On «evening chic» evenings, men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. n the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.

Celebrity Eclipse Gratuity

Onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. Tips aren’t included in the cruise fares, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account at a rate of $13.50 per person, per day, if you’re in a standard cabin; $14 per person, per day, if you’re in a Concierge Class or AquaClass cabin; and $17 per person, per day, for passengers in suites. If you would like to adjust the gratuities, you can do so through the Guest Relations desk. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and minibar purchases, as well as spa and salon purchases. You can’t remove these gratuities but can add to them.

 

 

 

 

Disney Fantasy

When Disney Dream debuted in January 2011, it was a watershed moment for Disney Cruise Line (DCL), which had been on the new-build sideline for 12 years. While maintaining the line’s distinctive ocean-liner silhouette, the ship was bigger, bolder and — let’s face it — better than its older sisters (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder). Despite all of its innovations and sleek design touches, there were areas onboard deemed lacking by some, particularly the top deck.

Enter Dream’s sibling, the 128,690-ton, 2,500-passenger Disney Fantasy (4,000 max occupancy), which debuted in March 2012. Substituting brighter art nouveau flourishes for art deco and homing in on Dream’s shortcomings, DCL has delivered a ship that seems light-years improved over its predecessor — though it’s only modestly different.

Unlike Dream, which embarks on three- and four-night excursions out of Port Canaveral, Fantasy is geared toward seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries (including a stop at Castaway Cay, DCL’s private island). So the ship comes equipped with new shows and activities to kill time at sea, though these things would surely be welcome additions to Dream.

Indeed, Fantasy has many of the features already found on Dream, including the AquaDuck «watercoaster»; «Magical Portholes» showing real-time sea views in inside cabins; the uber-deluxe Remy French restaurant; and sophisticated venues for kids, teens and adults. Public spaces remain a sea of polished wood and Disney artwork, and cabins are largely identical. So what’s new?


«Wishes»
is a Broadway-style musical focusing on three Disney-loving teenagers who are facing tough decisions about relationships, dreams and adulthood as they near high school graduation. Also, a musical based on the Disney animated film «Aladdin» makes the leap from the Disney theme parks into repertory in the ship’s Walt Disney Theatre.

The Muppets make their at-sea debut as part of an interactive mystery game that takes passengers around the ship in search of clues.

On Fantasy, the adults-only «district» — here called Europa — fills the same space as the one on Dream, but with different offerings and a reconfigured layout. Themed around European travel, all the bars and lounges have been tweaked, some dramatically.

The AquaLab is a new 1,800-square-foot water play area on Deck 12 (it replaces the under-peopled Waves bar). Expect pop jets, geysers, bubblers and all manner of watery mayhem.

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a Disney parks transplant making its premiere on the seven seas. This pint-sized salon turns girls into their favorite princesses — for a (hefty) price. On Pirate Night, budding buccaneers can go the eye patch-and-scabbard route.

A new top-deck adults-only area called the Satellite Sun Deck is centered on a water feature called Satellite Falls, a circular splash pool with benches and a fountain that runs its circumference and drips water down on the overheated masses. In addition, the upper deck of the Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar, both line staples, have been reconfigured with protective canopies to provide shade and a small wading pool.

Disney Fantasy Fellow Passengers

Disney’s primary market, of course, is families, especially those with kids younger than 8; however, teen cruisers will find much to like in the venues geared toward them. Beyond that, Disney has strong appeal for multigenerational travelers, and its spa, bar district and alternate dining facilities mean that adults of any age will find their own spaces onboard. The passenger makeup is dominated by American and Canadian travelers.

Disney Fantasy Dress Code

Dress code is casual during the day and resort casual most evenings. (Think jackets for men, but no ties, and pants outfits or summer dresses for women.) Recently, though, the cruise line tweaked its definition of resort casual to include shorts, which means passengers may wear shorts in the main dining rooms in the evening (note: while jeans are allowed in Palo, shorts and flip flops are not). Dress-up is part of the Disney shtick, however — be it princess gowns for young girls or tuxes for dads. Many passengers dress to the nines on Fantasy’s sole semiformal evening, and you’ll be shocked at how many people throw themselves into pirate night — so pack your eye patch and fake parrot.

Disney Fantasy Gratuity

Gratuities — which can be prepaid or added to your onboard account and are given to dining room servers and stateroom attendants — are $12 per person, per day. There’s an automatic 15 percent levy for service on cocktails and other beverages.

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