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Just a few onboard highlights in a long list of Celebrity Reflection

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser torsdag 13. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

Celebrity Reflection® is our newest marvel. She boasts an expanded deck, 72 additional staterooms overall, more seating in the main and specialty restaurants, more sun lounges on the pool deck, and more seats in the theatre. Celebrate the flavorful joys of outdoor grilling in the new Lawn Club Grill. Enjoy more than 20 delicious options in the Main Restaurant. Unwind in your own cabana-style haven, The Alcoves, on the Lawn Club. And check out all the new spa innovations in the enhanced Canyon Ranch SpaClub®. Your vacation time is precious. Time aboard Celebrity Reflection will make the most of it.

Celebrity Reflection Facts:

Occupancy :
3046
Tonnage :
126000
Inaugural Date :
Oct 12, 2012
Length :
1047 ft
Beam :
123 ft
Draught :
27 ft
Cruise Speed :
24 kts

Sushi on Five

Our modern luxury take on traditional sushi and Japanese favorites, paired with imported sakes and beers. The extensive menu is created by our Master Sushi Chef, Yoshikazu Okada, a fourth-generation sushi chef.

Reflection Suite

The Reflection Suite-our fleet’s first two-bedroom suite-is located in a private area accessible only to guests carrying a special SeaPass® card. You’ll sleep on a premium Reverie® Dream Sleep System™ mattress you can customize, experience the luxury of European-style butler service, and shower in a spectacular sea view bathroom with cantilever, all-glass shower.

 

 

 

 

 

Signature Suite

In a spacious Signature Suite, you’ll relax in airy, high-ceiling rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, sleep on a premium Reverie® Dream Sleep System™ mattress you can customize, enjoy the European-style butler service, and relax on a veranda with lounge seating. Located in a private area accessible only to guests carrying a special SeaPass® card.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub

Relax and rejuvenate in our serene spa at sea. Experience the unique services of Canyon Ranch in a breathtaking setting—aboard Celebrity’s modern luxury ships. Enhance your vacation with a complete wellness and lifestyle program that increases resilience, restores serenity, and helps you feel rejuvenated.

Lawn Club Grill

Fire up your culinary passion. The bright and modern Lawn Club Grill celebrates the flavorful joys of outdoor grilling. The highlight of dining at the Lawn Club Grill is the opportunity to serve as your party’s «Grill Master,» by being paired with a Celebrity chef to assist in preparing the menu for your table over custom-built, ventilated grills.

 

Qsine

Qsine® is a uniquely unordinary experience with elements of surprise and delight. Our concept behind Qsine was to give you something you’ve never experienced before on land or sea. Leave any preconceived notions behind. Dig in and try new things. It’s time your palate got a wakeup call. Our iPad® menus are fun, interactive, and full of surprises.

The Alcoves

A cool, cabana-style private retreat on The Lawn Club for two to four guests. By day, filtered sunlight and breathtaking ocean views. By night, ambient lighting for drama and star status. Alcoves are even equipped with Wi-Fi. Rental fee applies.

Michael’s Club

A premium, private lounge for those in Reflection, Penthouse, Signature, Royal, and Celebrity Suites, as well as for Captain’s Club Zenith members. This luxurious club features a large-screen TV, reading areas stocked with magazines, newspapers, and books, plus a continental breakfast. Complimentary drinks are available throughout the day and canapés are served with evening cocktails. Michael’s Club is available 24 hours a day with selected service hours from the Michael’s Club Concierge.

 

Annonse:

Feel like cruising to the other side of the world?

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser onsdag 12. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

Norwegian Star blends the relaxed Freestyle Cruising concept with cruises to the Baltic capitals, The Caribbean and Transatlantic. Onboard Norwegian Star features 15 delicious dining options, 11 bars and lounges, a sprawling spa, an always-exciting casino, plus tonnes of fun for kids of every age. So whether you’re exploring Northern Europe, sipping Piña Coladas in The Caribbean, or crossing the Atlantic, this ship offers it all.

Balcony

Experience it all. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to your own private balcony. Or unwind inside in well-appointed and stylish accommodations.
  • Aft-Facing Balcony

    Aft-Facing Balcony

    Facing aft gives you exclusive access to the most exhilarating – and unforgettable – views. Open your floor-to-ceiling glass doors and enjoy it all from your private balcony.

    • Accommodates: 3
    • Total Approx. Size: 203 – 262 sq. ft.

    DECKS 8,9,10

    LOCATION Aft

    CATEGORY icon

  • Family Balcony

    Family Balcony

    Share spectacular views with those you love, all from your private balcony. Plus you can connect multiple staterooms to each other, making it easy to spread out yet stay together.

    • Accommodates: 3
    • Total Approx. Size: 203 sq. ft.

 

 

  • DECKS 8,9

    LOCATION Forward, Aft

    CATEGORY icon

  • Mid-Ship Balcony

    Mid-Ship Balcony

    Stay mid-ship and stay closer to the action. When it’s time to retreat, open floor-to-ceiling glass doors onto your private balcony. Now that’s a holiday that runs on your speed.

    • Accommodates: 3
    • Total Approx. Size: 203-220 sq. ft.

    DECKS 9,10,11

    LOCATION Mid

    CATEGORY icon

  • Balcony

    Balcony

    Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to a private balcony with sweeping views. So enjoy beautiful sunrises, breathtaking sunsets and a cozy and comfortable room designed with you in mind.

    • Accommodates: 3
    • Total Approx. Size: 203-303 sq. ft.

 

 

  • DECKS 10,9,8

    LOCATION Forward, Aft Forward

    CATEGORY icon icon icon

  • Guarantee Balcony

    Guarantee Balcony

    A Guarantee stateroom ensures a Balcony stateroom or better! We’ll assign the stateroom number for you closer to the sail date. Please note that your stateroom may be on any deck and the view from your balcony may be fully obstructed or partially obstructed.

     

    Promotional rates and offers are excluded on this category (BX).

    • Accommodates: 3
    • Total Approx. Size: 203 sq. ft.

    DECKS 8,9,10,11

    LOCATION Forward, Mid, Aft

    CATEGORY icon

 

18-Day Southeast Asia & India from Singapore

Day Cruise Ports Arrive Depart
Day 1 Singapore, Singapore (EMBARK) 5:00 pm
Day 2 Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Malaysia 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Day 3 Penang, Malaysia 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Day 4 Phuket, Thailand 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Day 5 At Sea
Day 6 At Sea
Day 7 Colombo, Sri Lanka 9:00 am 7:00 pm
Day 8 At Sea
Day 9 Cochin, India 4:00 am 5:00 pm
Day 10 Mangalore, India 6:00 am 6:00 pm
Day 11 Goa (Mormugao), India 6:00 am 5:00 pm
Day 12 Mumbai, India 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Day 13 At Sea
Day 14 At Sea
Day 15 Fujairah, United Arab Emirates 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Day 16 Muscat, Oman 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Day 17 Khasab, Oman 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Day 18 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 8:00 am 11:00 pm
Day 19 Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DISEMBARK) 6:00 am

 

Bottoms Up! A Guide to Cruise Line All-You-Can-Drink Packages

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser tirsdag 11. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

First it was a trend — now it’s here to stay: Mainstream cruise lines have embraced all-inclusive drinks packages. Found somewhere between the ubiquitous soda packages and the included-in-your-fare booze of luxury lines, these programs let cruisers pay one base price that covers most of their nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks onboard. But will high prices and annoying fine print persuade travelers to go it a la carte, or will the freedom to sample brightly colored cocktails and wines of unknown provenance be too appealing to ignore?

See below for a line-by-line guide to available packages, followed by some Cruise Critic member reactions to the new and not-so-new programs.

Azamara Club Cruises

Ships: Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest

Package Details: Although Azamara Club Cruises includes select standard spirits, beers and a changing daily selection of red and white wines by the glass in its cruise fares, the line also has nine for-fee all-inclusive beverage packages. Options include the Premium Water Package ($8.95 per person, per day), Beer Package (26 brands, $14.95 per person, per day), Premium Liquor Package (90 brands, $15.95 per person, per day), Top Shelf Liquor Package (120 brands, $18.95 per person, per day) and Ultimate Liquor Package (140 brands, $21.95 per person, per day). Beer and liquor packages also include a 25 percent savings on premium wines by the glass, as well as all the beer selections that come with the beer package. There are also three wine packages: Wine by the Glass (13 wines, $29.95 per person, per day), Wine Lover Package (all bottles of wine valued at $50 or less, $180 to $350 for five-, seven-, 10- and 12-bottle packages) and Wine Connoisseur Package (all bottles of wine valued at $51 to $75, $315 to $630 for five-, seven-, 10- and 12-bottle packages). All packages feature more choices and more premium brands than the complimentary offerings.

Fine Print: Packages can be pre-purchased (through Azamara Club Cruises or your travel agent) or bought onboard throughout the length of your cruise. Charges begin the day you purchase the package. Packages are not refundable once purchased and cannot be downgraded to a lower-tier package. You can only order one drink at a time. You can order drinks through room service as part of your package.

Carnival drinks

Carnival

Ships: All ships, except Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend

Package Details: The Cheers! program has been rolled out to all ships in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, with the exception of those sailing in Australia. The cost for the program is $49.95, per person, per day, if purchased in advance and $54.95 per person, per day, if purchased once onboard. The package allows cruisers to select from mixed drinks, beer, wine and spirits valued at $50 or less each, up to a 15-drink maximum per day. Additionally, the package includes soda, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees and teas, most bottled water, PowerAde, Vitamin Water, coconut water and Honest Tea. The program also includes a 25 percent discount on bottles of wine and Champagne, beverage classes and seminars, and cocktails that cost more than $50.

Fine Print: If one adult in a cabin purchases the package, all adults over 21 years old in that cabin must also purchase it. Participants can order only one drink at a time, there is a five-minute wait time required between drink purchases, and all bottles and cans are served opened. The package does not apply to drinks in souvenir glasses. A 15-percent gratuity is added to the cost of the package, and due to state laws, the package is not available until the second day of all sailings leaving from ports in New York, Alabama and Texas. Cheers! applies to onboard beverages only; it cannot be used on Carnival’s private island, Half Moon Cay. The package is not available on two-night sailings or chartered sailings, and it must be booked for the entire duration of the voyage.


Celebrity

Ships: All ships except for Celebrity Xpedition

Package Details: Celebrity Cruises was a forerunner when it comes to packages; it first introduced its alcohol packages in 2009. The line has gone package crazy with classic and premium nonalcoholic packages ($18 and $22 per person, per day, respectively), as well as packages for wine, soda, bottled water and even in-room bar setups. The line now offers three all-inclusive drink packages. The Standard Package ($45 per person, per day) includes any drink (beer, wine, cocktails) up to $6 per serving. This includes soda and bottled water. Additionally, the package includes a 10 percent discount on wines purchased by the bottle.

The Classic Package, starting from $55 per person, per night, includes soda, fresh-squeezed and bottled juices, premium coffees and teas, non-premium bottled water; all beers (priced up to $6 each); spirits, cocktails and frozen drinks up to $8 per serving; and wine by the glass up to $9 each.  The package also includes a 15 percent discount on wines by the bottle.

The Premium Package, priced from $65 per person, per day, includes soda, premium bottled water (Evian, Perrier and San Pellegrino), specialty coffees and teas, nonalcoholic frozen drinks and smoothies, Red Bull, specialty water from Vitamin Water, all beers, and spirits, cocktails and wine by the glass up to $13 per serving. The package also includes a 20 percent discount on wines by the bottle.

Fine Print: An 18-percent service charge is added to package prices. Packages must be bought for the entire sailing and refunds are not allowed; however, packages can be purchased onboard up until two nights are left in the cruise, at prorated prices. Packages do not include drinks purchased from the mini-bar, room service or Enomatic wine dispensing machines. Ordered packages can be modified or canceled online or by phone up to four days prior to the sailing date.

Costa

Ships: Fleetwide

Package Details: Costa Cruises‘ All-Inclusive Beverages package includes a selection of alcoholic beverages (including beer and wine), soft drinks by the glass and coffee. The cost is 24.99 euros per person, per day, including service charges, and is available to adults 18+. A youth version of the package (for ages 4 to 17 years — see the fine print) costs 15.99 euros per day, including service charges, and includes soft drinks by the glass. It must be booked in combination with the All-Inclusive adult package.

Fine Print: Mini-bar products and premium brands are excluded from the package. All passengers, even kids (ages 4 and up), traveling together with the same booking number or who choose to dine together, must purchase the package.


Holland America drinks

Holland America Line

Ships: Fleetwide

Package Details: For $44.95 per day with advanced purchase, or $49.95 when you purchase onboard, Holland America’s Signature Beverage package allows cruisers to indulge in up to 15 beverages a day — choosing from a variety of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails (including nonalcoholic), sodas and coffee for an entire sailing. Each drink must cost less than $8. If one passenger in a cabin opts for the package, anyone who is 21-plus years old in the same cabin is required to purchase it as well. Items from the mini-bar, in-room dining and beverages on Half Moon Cay are excluded from the package.

Fine Print: An additional 15 percent service charge is not included in the base price.

 

 

 

MSC Cruises

Ships: All ships sailing in the Mediterranean and Caribbean

Package Details: MSC Cruises offers multiple beverage packages, including:

Premium Packages: The More-For-Less Premium Adult All-Inclusive (Caribbean sailings, $61 per person, per day) and Allegrissimo Premium Adult All-Inclusive (Mediterranean sailings, $53 per person, per day) packages each include the entire bar list, all beers, wine by the glass, premium spirits and cocktails, in-cabin mineral water and mini-bar access, energy drinks, soda, fruit juice, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, as well as items from the onboard Gelateria and Pastry Shop. This package is valid in all onboard bars, lounges and restaurants. (Drinks are not included in specialty restaurants as part of these packages, but a 20-percent discount is offered to package-holders.) Children’s packages are priced at $31 and $25 per person, per day, respectively, and they include all nonalcoholic beverages — including milkshakes, smoothies and mocktails — and items from the Gelateria and Pastry Shop.

Note: In summer 2017, these packages will be combined into one, called the All-Inclusive Premium Drink Package.

Standard Packages: The More-For-Less Classic Adult All-Inclusive (Caribbean, $45 per person, per day) and Allegrissimo Adult All-Inclusive (Mediterranean, $31 per person, per day) packages offer wine by the glass, all beers, soda, fruit juice, mineral water, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, spirits and cocktails (excluding premium brands), and ice cream (cone or cup). This package is valid in all onboard bars, lounges and restaurants. (Drinks are not included in specialty restaurants as part of these packages, but a 20-percent discount is offered to package-holders.) These packages do not include energy drinks, premium liquors, in-cabin mineral water and mini-bars, or items from the Gelateria and Pastry Shop. The kids’ versions of these packages cost $23 and $14.50 per person, per day, respectively. They feature ice cream and all nonalcoholic beverages, including milkshakes, smoothies and mocktails. They exclude in-cabin mineral water and mini-bar soft drinks. Drinks ordered as part of the standard packages in this category must cost less than $7.50 each.

Note: In summer 2017, these packages will be combined into one, called the All-Inclusive Classic Drink Package.

Cheers: Offered on all sailings, Cheers packages for adults ($20 to $22.50 per person, per day) and kids ($11 to $12.50 per person, per day) allow for unlimited beverages during lunch and dinner in the main dining rooms and self-serve buffets. Featured items for adults are house wine selections, draft beer, mineral water and soft drinks. The children’s version includes soft drinks and mineral water. These packages are not valid for drinks or discounts on drinks in alternative restaurants.

Note: In summer 2017, Cheers will be renamed the Mealtime Restaurant Drink Package.

Fine Print: If one person in a cabin purchases a package, all others in the cabin must purchase a package. If 21 or older (18 or older on cruises not departing from the United States), an alcohol package must be purchased; for passengers younger than 21 (younger than 18 on non-U.S.-based sailings), the equivalent children’s package must be purchased. Packages must be purchased for the entire duration of each voyage. Advance package purchases must be completed no later than seven days prior to sailing; packages can also be purchased onboard on the first and second days of each voyage. There is no per-day limit to the number of drinks a package-holder can order. The above listed packages do not include cigars, bottles of wine or Champagne, or drinks in souvenir glasses.

Norwegian fishbowl drinks

Norwegian Cruise Line

Ships: All ships except for Pride of America. Norwegian Sky includes a free Ultimate Beverage Package for all passengers.

Package Details: Norwegian has two beverage packages, available on all ships. The «Corks and Caps Package» costs $59 per person, per day, (plus an 18-percent gratuity) and includes a selection of fountain soda and juices, beer and wines by the glass ($15 or less). The «Ultimate Beverage Package» costs $79 per person, per day, (plus an 18-percent gratuity) and includes everything in the «Corks and Caps Package» plus liquor and cocktails (all drinks $15 or less). You can use your beverage package at all onboard bars, lounges and restaurants, and on the line’s private island.

Fine Print: The Ultimate Beverage Package is only available for purchase ahead of time on sailings of five days or more, and for purchase onboard for sailings of three or four days; the package is not available for sailings of two days or less. An 18-percent gratuity is added to your package price. Only one drink is allowed per passenger per order. All passengers sharing a cabin or using the same payment method (i.e., kids you stuck in the inside cabin across the hall) must purchase the beverage package. For kids two and up, that means buying the soda package instead. The package does not include room service, buckets of beer, super and ultra premium brands, wine or liquor by the bottle, mini-bar purchases, freshly squeezed juice, canned soda or energy drinks, specialty coffee or bottled water. Passengers looking to purchase this package onboard during the dates of March 1 through April 15 will only be able to purchase on embarkation day.


Oceania Cruises

Ships: Fleetwide

Package Details: Oceania Cruises offers two all-inclusive beverage package options. House Select, which costs $39.95 per person, per day, includes unlimited Champagne, house wine and beer with dinner and lunch. (Interestingly, it’s available when ordering room service, but it does not cover mini-bar drinks.) The second package, Prestige Select, is pricier — $59.95 per person, per day — and includes beer and premium house wine (from a selection of red and white vintages that change daily), most beverages on the bar menu and room service beverages during regular operating bar hours. Mini-bar selections are not included. Oceania already includes in cruise fares items like soft drinks, bottled water and specialty coffees.

Fine Print: Package prices include gratuities and can be prebooked online or through a reservations representative. They can also be purchased onboard at any time during the cruise (with prices prorated for days remaining). You can upgrade from Package A to B during the voyage, but you can’t downgrade. Refunds aren’t allowed.

Princess Cruises

Ships: Fleetwide (different packages are available on Australia-based ships)

Package Details: Princess Cruises‘ package costs $56.35 per day, per day plus a 15-percent gratuity, and includes all cocktails, spirits, beer and glasses of wine up to $10. All nonalcoholic drinks served in cans or bottles, as well as mocktails and shakes are included, as are all coffee, tea, espresso and specialty drinks and any food items such as crepes and gelato included with the coffee card. Each purchaser of the package also receives a 40-percent discount on all bottled wine less than $100.

Additionally, Princess offers beer packages, by brand, that includes five bottles for the price of four: Dos Equis ($22.27), Heinekin ($24.15), Budweiser ($26.45) and Bud Light ($26.45). The price includes the service charge. Beer packages are not available on Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess or Golden Princess when itineraries begin/end in Australia or New Zealand.

Fine Print: Princess cruisers may purchase the package on seven-night or longer cruises. All passengers traveling in the same stateroom do not have to purchase the package.

Royal Caribbean

Ships: All ships with three-night or longer itineraries offer the all-inclusive package.

Package Details: Royal Caribbean has one alcohol-inclusive beverage package on offer. The $55 per person, per day Deluxe Beverage package includes premium coffee and tea, bottled still and sparkling water, fresh-squeezed orange juice, house and premium cocktails (up to $12 value), frozen cocktails, beers, premium wine by the glass (up to $12 value), nonalcoholic cocktails, fountain sodas with a souvenir Coca-Cola cup, a 40 percent discount on wine bottle purchases up to $100 and a 20 percent discount on wine bottle purchases more than $100. For drinks over $12, a $12 credit will be applied to the price of the drink.

Prices do not include an 18-percent gratuity that will be applied to each individual drink order.

Fine Print: The drinks package is available on all two-night or longer sailings and must be purchased a minimum of four days before the cruise ends. Only passengers who intend to use a package need to buy it. Package users may only order one item at a time for individual consumption. There is no daily limit on how many items a person may order.

Windstar

Ships: Fleetwide

Package Details: Windstar‘s package is only sold by the cabin and costs $116 per cabin, per day, plus a 15-percent gratuity. The price includes taxes. The package entitles passengers to unlimited cocktails (including some top-shelf brands), regular and sparkling wines by the glass (priced at $12 or less), beer, mini-bar selections and room service drink orders. (Windstar includes nonalcoholic beverages, such as coffee drinks and soda, for everyone in its cruise fares.) Bottles of wine and Champagne are not included.

Fine Print: The package is valid for all passengers sharing a cabin or suite. It must be purchased in advance or on the first day of the cruise, for the entire length of the sailing. Package holders are entitled to purchase certain ultra-premium liquor brands for $1.15 per cocktail.


Mermaid’s Tail on Regal Princess

Reader Reactions

Are drink packages a good addition to cruising or a bad one? Cruise Critic readers — not surprisingly — have a wide range of opinions on the subject. Proponents are all about the value proposition these packages offer, especially for people who buy a lot of beverages onboard. Says Docalbe, «I try to cruise once a year and bar tab is always over $1,500. $50 is ok with me ($450)…. Not that I’m a lush….» And disan points out that «the main thing is it just makes the experience a little more mindless and isn’t that what a cruise is all about? More fun and less to think about.»

Opponents either don’t see the value or worry about the consequences of unlimited booze. Judi Stein O’Brien posted this Facebook comment: «I can’t see how that’s worth it…we must be cheap drunks! This past cruise we drank and partied pretty hard, rented a tux, paid for a specialty restaurant for 2, various small souvenirs, internet, etc., and our total bill for 2 people for 7 days was less than what this package would cost us.» Others take a more extreme view, like Fred Couch, who says on Facebook, «Some people will drink themselves silly just to get their money’s worth. Just a terrible idea.»

Reader Paula Winchester rebuts that argument. «Those of you saying it would cause too many drunks? Really? Those people are already drinking on the ship with or without the package.»

Still others are on the fence, acknowledging that whether the packages are a good deal have much to do with your ordering habits and the cruise itself. Kathy says, «I do like the idea…and yes on days at sea a great idea…but on port days…could be a waste. I would definitely do this if it could be done on a day by day basis.» Member chillyw concurs, «There’s just no way I’m going to drink 8-9 drinks EVERY DAY.» (Unfortunately for them, a daily package isn’t on offer. Yet.)

And several readers have had some enlightening comments about how to get the most out of the packages.

«Not only did we get our money’s worth and more, there were other perks that we didn’t anticipate,» posts boyerd about Celebrity’s package. «Aside from no slips to sign etc., often around the pool when a frozen drink started melting the staff would ask if they could just make a new one. We tried many different types of drinks esp. martinis that we might not have bought otherwise. If we tried a new drink and didn’t like it, it was replaced with another drink of our choice without question…. We told our assistant waiter the first night about the specialty coffee and we had it served with our dessert every night…no hassles. It really added to the vacation atmosphere that we enjoy!»

Cadburysmom had a strategic plan for her Celebrity drinks package. «I waited until halfway through my Eclipse Baltic cruise to get the package,» she reveals. «More sea days towards the end and the Solstice-class ships offer a much more interesting variety to taste with the Martini and Molecular bars as well as the coffee/tea bar.»

 

Årets familieeventyr begynner her!

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser mandag 10. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

 

The world‘s largest cruise ship – Harmony of the Seas

In the impressive luxury town you whole family’s dream vacation. You live on a floating hotel with a sea of facilities, and get a unique combination of sun, beach holidays, city breaks and adventure holidays. Suitcase unpack only once! The ship is in many ways an amusement park with activities like roller coaster over 10 decks, sufesimulator, Zipline, climbing wall, ice rink, fitness center, spa and much more.

When evening comes the choice is between more than 20 restaurants, where new flavors can be tested out every night. The ship has among others own Jamie Oliver- and Johnny Rockets restaurants – in addition to its own Starbucks café.

Facts about Harmony of the Seas®
362 meters long
37 stateroom categories
227.000 gross tons
2700 cabins
6410 guests
18 deck
66 meters wide

On cruise with us you can experience a varied entertainment program for both day and evening, with dazzling full-scale productions each day – included in the cruise price. Including Tony-winning Broadway musicals, ice shows, diving show, big band, light show and incredibly talented artists from around the world.

Broadway At Sea
Royal Caribbean International® offers the most diverse array of entertainment options at sea. From the the second longest running musical on Broadway, CATS and jazz infected Chicago, to disco bonanza in Saturday Night Fever and super hit MAMMA MIA! All this gets you miles away from the nearest land.
The vessels change from time to time what staging the shows, so double check happily with us which cruise that shows your favorite musical.

Grease the musical
This is a brand new stage production that has never before been seen, specially designed for our ship. It gets a second look with crowd favorites like «Summer Nights,» Greased Lightnin` «and» Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee. «You can see it on board Harmony of the Seas.

HAIRSPRAY
The action takes place in Baltimore in 1962, the time when one stronghold after another fell for segregation between black and white. It’s about a teenager girl Tracy Turnblad who would like to join the school’s dance team to melt the heart of the main dancer Link Larkin. You can see the onboard Oasis of the Seas®

Chicago
20s Chicago with gangsters distinctly lawlessness and jazz on every street corner in this musical portrayed through the life of Roxie Hart, who, having killed his lover end up in the city’s women’s prison. Using a clever lawyer can she still be a superstar. You can see the onboard Allure of the Seas®

Aqua Theater
On Aquatheatre can daytime take diving lessons and in the evening there will be spectacular water show with lights and music, as well as everything from acrobatics, theater, synchronized swimming, water ballet and demonstration of professional divers. Oasis-class ships.

ice show
Experience has a fantastic ice show at the rink that carried with professional isdansere worldwide. Oasis-class ships.

On board you will find a wide range of formal and informal restaurants and cafes. You can choose from simple snacks throughout the day to gourmet dinners in one of our restaurants. Most eating places are included in the cruise price. In our specialty restaurants you get a little extra at an additional cost.

Eating included
We can promise you fantastic dining experiences throughout the cruise without having to pay one penny extra for it.

The main restaurant:
Multi-course breakfast, lunch and dinner in an elegant environment, tasty menu and personalized service from our dedicated staff. During dinner you can choose between fixed table setting, where you choose a fixed time with the same table, same bordkavalerer and same waiters throughout the cruise, or My Time Dining where you can eat when it suits you (between 18.00 and 21.30) and without fixed table , escorts and waiters. The choice is yours.

Windjammer Cafe:
Tasty buffet with dishes from around the world. Open all day and with stunning views at the very top of the ship.

Sorrento`s:
Supergod pizza New York-style. Mums! Select topping as desired and eat a whole pizza or just a piece if you want. Simple salads, sandwiches and desserts are also on the menu.

Solarium Café:
Solarium Cafe is located in The Solarium. It serves continental breakfast in the morning and pizza, hamburgers, french fries and snacks afternoon / evening.

Café Promenade:
Here’s a selection of wraps, baguettes and cakes. Bring food or relax in the cafe. Café Promenade is open day and night.

Boardwalk Dog House:
Cozy little eatery with sausages of all kinds, from common barbecue to bratwurst, chili and a wide range of accessories.

Mini Bites:
Take a break from swimming and sun with an unexpected måltil with Mini Bites.

Room service:
Breakfast in bed, lunch on the balcony or dinner in your cabin? No problem, just order room service we will do it for free (a small fee applies between 0:00 to 5:00)

Specialty Restaurants:
Specialty restaurants offer a wide scope of dining experiences onboard and prices start at US $ 15 per person. We have an exciting and enticing list of restaurants to choose from.

150 Central Park:
An intimate and elegant setting for our 6-8 course menu combined with appropriate wines. The menu changes seasonally and features fresh and unique ingredients from around the world.

Wonderland:
Come to Wonderland and let your imagination run wild. Experience culinary scale catering and dishes you will not forget. Open the menu and find your element Wind, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Drømmer- each with a choice of small or breakable fantasies.

Chops Grille:
Our signature steakhouse serves steak, seafood, gorgeous accessories and desserts in a modern and exclusive atmosphere.

Izumi Asian Cuisine:
It serves traditional Asian dishes. Fresh and tasty sushi and sashimi, or how spe food ishi-yaki style, on a red-hot stone placed on your table.

Johnny Rockets:
Authentic 1950s American décor with a jukebox at every table and a menu full of American favorites. You certainly should not get off the ship until you’ve tried one of the hamburgers here!

Jamie’s italian:
Jamie Oliver’s world-renowned restaurant concept with exciting Italian dishes and authentic recipes. Here is the pasta fresh every day.

Sabor Modern Mexican:
A contemporary Mexican restaurant that serves the most delicious and tasty Mexican specialties.

Solarium Bistro:
Night changes Solarium pool area into a chic eatery with healthy and tasty dishes.

Starbucks:
Trained baristas stock seasonal beverages and food, as well Starbuck`s own Ready Brew products.

Costal Kitchen- Exclusively for you with the suite:
This restaurant is reserved for guests of our suites. Coastal Kitchen blends California’s exciting culinary tradition with classic dishes from Mediterranean countries.

Special restaurants are popular so we advise you to reserve space as fast as you’ve decided what you want.

 

You have a variety of opportunities to enjoy the water on our ships. Whether you want to get active together with other guests and our skilled instructors or if you just want to relax and enjoy the day for yourself, we always have something to suit you.

4 swimming pools
On board there are 4 swimming pools of various sizes. There are including a sports pool where it is popular with daily swims at morgningene and various team games in the afternoons. Around the main pool you have the opportunity to relax in comfortable loungers and there are several shallow pools where there is room for the whole family. Want a little more peace and quiet we recommend Solarium, a wellness area only for people over 16 years.

10 whirlpool
Around the pools and other places on the deck you will find 10 comfortable jacuzzi. Especially nice are the two free hanging where you can have a fantastic view while sitting in the Jacuzzi.

Splash Away Bay
Splash Away Bay is a large water playground for kids with spurting geysers, waterfalls, water guns, funny characters, paddling pool and much more. The kids will certainly enjoy themselves here and many of them spend almost all day in this area.

FlowRider
For the slightly more adventurous is the super popular FlowRider an obvious first choice. Surf simulator that creates waves where it pours out about 130 000 liters of water per minute is fun whether you’re an experienced surfer or if you’ve never tried before. We have instructors that help you get started, but there is a high probability that ends up in the water the first few times.

Waterslides Perfect Storm
Typhoon, Cyclone and Supercell – three different water slides, three different experiences, a lot of fun!

dive Course
Want to learn how to dive, we have courses on board which gives you the opportunity to experience the underwater world. Our experienced dive instructors provides training you need in the pool based on your past experiences of diving, from beginner to something more advanced. The courses end with diving in some of the world’s finest destinations. Entrants must be over 12 years and you enroll aboard the ship.

With all the exciting destinations you catch during a cruise is obviously endless shopping opportunities while we are to harbor.

On Harmony of Seas® for the best of fine jewelry, fashion, luxury watches and beauty products. You can find iconic brands such as Tiffany & Co, Hublot, Cartier, Kiehl, BVLGARI, Breitling, Coach and Michael Kors. There are tax-free prices on a large selection of jewelry, clothing, art and much more.

 

Although the sun goes down does not mean that life on board is something boring for that reason. We have a selection of bars, clubs, lounges and casino where you can enjoy your holiday until the small hours.

Casino Royale
Our casino with 450 gaming machines and 30 tables with various games. Try your luck at the roulette table or check if you can bluff your way through a tournament, at 1 500kvm large casino has something to suit every taste.

Comedy Club
In this dark and intimate club served jokes a bit on edge of stand-up comedians. Want to test out your own jokes at an audience too, so you will assuredly ability to it and. For adults only.

Viking Crown Lounge
At the very top of the ship with panoramic sea views you will find Viking Crown Lounge. Here you can enjoy the evenings with live entertainment and a good drink.

Live Band
Every night you get live entertainment locations on the ship. Everything from Jazz Band and cover bands to quartets, acoustic and Latin-inspired touches you’ll experience aboard.

English Pub
In the English pub you can enjoy a pint or a large range of other beers. If you are lucky you can also see the wonderful acoustic mini concerts here in the evenings.

FlowRider
For the slightly more adventurous is the super popular FlowRider an obvious first choice. Surf simulator that creates waves where it pours out about 130 000 liters of water per minute is fun whether you’re an experienced surfer or if you’ve never tried before. We have instructors that help you get started, but there is a high probability that ends up in the water the first few times.
Gaming Arcade
Come here and play some of the old classics and new favorites in this retro gaming site.climbing wall
Take the chance to test your climbing skills in our wonderful outdoor climbing wall. Both funny and very good exercise, and whether you are a beginner or an experienced climber you will definitely enjoy the view 15 meters above the deck.Zip Line
Hold the thrilling Zip Line tour nine decks above the ground.

Sports Court
Whether it’s one-on-one or a full tournament fueling competitive by nature your Sports Court is the place you can drive with ball sports.

Minigolf
Practise putt no or challenge your family in a round of miniature golf on the deck overlooking the ocean.

Boxing Ring
In our full-scale boxing ring go half-hour or hour training rounds with our experienced instructors. We promise you that this is both fun and a very effective workout. Requires a small surcharge.

Rollerblades
Skate your way through our harsh role blades court inset with obstacles and smooth surface.

Skating rink
Maybe not the first thing you associate with cruise, but we actually have a separate skate hall where you can freshen up skating skills or work on a brand new pirouette.

Pirates, explorers, superstars, Ship O’hoy!
On cruise with us is not only children children. They are one-eyed pirates in search of gold, they are explorers who examines the world of insects, they are superstars who takes gold in Crazy Olympics, they are part of the world’s funniest playground.

Adventure Ocean®
A successful family is dependent on the children are doing well. It has taken seriously and with our Adventure Ocean program for children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, there will always be exciting things to do all day. Even when the ship is in a country, if you want to take an excursion or have some time for yourself without the kids, so you can always relax knowing that our Adventure Ocean staff takes good care of your child along with other peers playmates . The program is included in the cruise price, unless otherwise specified.

All Adventure Ocean managers have a college education in pedagogy or other related fields as well as expertise and experience with children. In addition, all managers trained and certified in first aid and resuscitation. Our Adventure Ocean program are aboard all our vessels and is particularly till suited to entertain children and youth in different age groups:

Aqua Babies (6-18 months) and Aqua Tots (18-36 months)
Here we have custom activities that keep even our smallest guests entertained. Together with you, as parents, they can participate in play groups with jevnaldrede focusing on music, toys and learning in a safe environment. Although our activity leaders are very experienced and professional with child, a parent or guardian participate in these activities hours.
If you want some time for yourself, we have babysitters who take care of your kids with fun activities. The offer is available both during the day and afternoon / evening for a surcharge. Children under 6 months’re unable to travel on the Royal Caribbean cruise.

Aquanauts (3-5 years (bleiefri))
The young adventurers will experience dinosaur great secrets of Jurassic Junior, they will take over the ship in pirate parade and they will discover their talent for painting, drawing, clay construction and other arts.

Explorers (6-8 years)
Romleire, fossil-fever, meteorological madness and many other scientific experiments that gets grinders brains of these young explorers. Along with a little dancing, singing, playing, theater, shows and games they will have fun all day (and evening). Maybe hang it an ice cream or two as well.

Voyagers (9-11 years)
How about a treasure hunt with new friends from around the world? Or a basketball tournament against the same friends? This is just the beginning, with fun activities like games and sports tournaments, talent shows, video games competitions and much, much more.

Teens (12-14 years)
Keep activity levels up with climbing competitions, dodgeball and Dance Revolution or calm down with barbecue and movie night. Be a star for open mic or in our fabulous talent show. Maybe there are some who fancy a DJ course at DJ Academy also?

Teens (15-17 years)
Meet new friends at themed parties, Pool Parties and dinners only for teenagers. Compete at the karaoke stage, on the basketball court or on the Wii and see who comes out with honor intact.

DreamWorks Experience
In partnership with DreamWorks Animation we are proud to show off stars and heroes from including Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Turbo and Dragetreneren with exclusive entertainment for young and old guests on board, without any additional cost. This is something few children ever forget, for honestly, how often you come face to face with some of the biggest sjernene found on film? You meet familiar characters such as Shrek, Fiona, Po (Kung Fu Panda), Tooth Laus and many more. From fun parades where everyone can participate to incredible shows and personal meetings in restaurants. Of course you can watch your favorite movie in the cinema, either as 3D or regular format.

Splash Away Bay
Splash Away Bay is a large water playground for kids with spurting geysers, waterfalls, water guns, funny characters, paddling pool and much more. The kids will certainly enjoy themselves here and many of them spend almost all day in this area.

Game
Here are classic games like PacMan, pinball and air hockey in addition to new things like Guitar Hero and Fast & Furious Drift, just to mention a few. The extra cool is the traditional Arcade feeling you get in the playing hall.

children’s menus
Food is important for large and small, so luckily we have many exciting opportunities aboard. Hamburger Jonny Rockets, breakfast with DreamWorks characters and kid-friendly dishes at most eateries. If you book My Family Time Dining in the main restaurant, we serve children delicious food before Adventer Ocean acquiring them and taking them on fun activities and games while you can enjoy the rest of your dinner in peace.

Something is happening from early morning until the late night hours. For that you will always know what is happening, our English-language newsletter «Cruise Compass» handed in his cabin each day. Here

 

 

Cruiseaholics: Why Cruising Is Ruining the Australian Traveller

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser søndag 9. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00
Decks of cruise ship with view of Sydney Opera House

Australian holidays are changing. Some locals are becoming so addicted to the cruise life that they’re turning their backs on land-based trips and heading out to sea. The biggest cruise fans are signing up for back-to-back voyages, getting married onboard, celebrating birthdays and divorces on ships, and even ditching the idea of a retirement home to travel the world on a floating residence.

More than 1 million Aussies set sail in 2014 and the 2015-2016 summer cruise season was the biggest on record. It seems more and more Australians are becoming cruiseaholics, accustomed to the comfort, ease and fun of cruising.

1. Cruising offers amazing value for your holiday dollar

Cruise fares are generally inclusive of almost everything you’ll need for a fantastic trip. Food, accommodation, entertainment and transportation between destinations are included in the fare. Some cruise lines have free drinks, free WI-FI and free tours. Many of the major players — such as P&O, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line — offer Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries for less than AU$100 per person per night. Even cheaper deals can be found online.

2. Cruise ships come in all shapes, styles and sizes

What’s holiday heaven for one person is hell for another. You just have to pick the right one for you. Whether you’re after a romantic experience or people to party with, there’s a perfect ship and itinerary for everyone. From the refined luxury of the 382-passenger Silver Whisper or sailing with 3,000 new friends on Explorer of the Seas, there are plenty of choices for Australian cruisers.

Gondolas on the background of a huge cruise ship, Venice, Venezia, Italy, Europe,

3. You experience destinations in a different way

We’re no longer just flying to Europe to visit London and Paris; we’re flying in to cruise. Europe is now our third favourite cruise destination (after the South Pacific islands and within Australia), according to the latest Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia report. The Caribbean, Alaska and Asia are other destinations that look and feel very different by ship. Not to mention cruising is far easier than travelling around foreign countries by car, coach or train.

4. You can sleep comfortably in transit

There’s no other way of travelling where you have a queen size bed to snooze away your overnight transit in complete comfort. All cabins have private bathrooms, air-conditioning, some have balconies and butlers, and you wake up in a new destination with zero effort. Bliss.

5. You wake up somewhere else every day

There’s nothing as exciting as looking out the window to a different view every morning. One day you might gaze upon a postcard-perfect beach and the next day to the splendour of an ancient city. With a growing trend for Australians to do back-to-back cruises, particularly on European and Asian itineraries, you can pack in a lot of destinations into a relatively short time.

The North Star on Anthem of the Seas

6. The views are inescapable

There’s no other form of travel that offers you panoramic views wherever you are — whether you’ve arrived at a port or your ship is sailing into the beautiful blue. If you’re lucky enough to cruise in Asia on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Quantum of the Seas there’s also North Star, an incredible glass observation capsule suspended from a giant arm 300ft above sea level, which takes the 360-degree vista to a whole new level. Sydney-based Ovation of the Seas will also offer the North Star experience when it comes Down Under in December 2016.

7. It’s impossible to get bored

Pick the right ship and you’ll find something to do at any time. Beyond the usual swimming pools and hot tubs, Carnival Spirit and Legend have waterslides and splash parks, while Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas offer FlowRider surf simulators for wannabe surfers, plus ice rinks, rock climbing walls, putting greens and gymnasiums for sporty types. Action fans will also enjoy P&O’s adventure parks with zip lines, funnel climbs and other adrenaline-pumping activities. Those who just want to be pampered can hit the spa and beauty salon, while those who prefer to indulge their minds can head to art classes and lectures. Then there are the Broadway-style shows, dozens of entertainers, musicians, comedians and movies for every taste. And that’s not including all the things you can do at the cities and islands you visit.

 

 

8. You will never go hungry

Cruises are no longer all about buffets and all-you-can eat pizza. Today’s cruise ships cater to every palate and every dietary need with an endless array of food showcasing the cuisines of many parts of the world. You can eat as much or as healthily as you like, and most of it is included in the fare. For those who like to dine al fresco, Celebrity Solstice has a real grass-top deck with a Lawn Club Grill offering the delights of an outdoor barbecue. Foodies will also appreciate the fine dining in specialty restaurants (for a small surcharge, from AU$20 to $50), often in partnership with a celebrity chef. Princess Cruises’ has teamed up with Curtis Stone with shareable meals on Share, P&O has Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, and Carnival serves unbeatable burgers devised by Guy Fieri.

Multi-generational family dining at Johnny Rockets on Freedom of the Seas

9. Cruising appeals to every age and ability

Cruising’s appeal cuts across all age brackets, reflecting the broad variety of product and destinations as well as the accessibility offered by cruise lines worldwide. Cruising works well for multi-generational travel, family reunions and celebrations because the needs and interests of every generation can be met in the one place. The bigger cruise lines such as Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and P&O all boast dozens of gentle activities for grandma and granddad, relaxation and entertainment for mum and dad, and loads of active fun for the kids. MSC Cruises even go as far as offering free cruises for children under 18 when they share a cabin with two paying adults.

10. Aussies love getting out on the water

Australia has grown to become the world’s leading cruise market in terms of growth (the percentage increase in the number of people cruising) and population penetration (the percentage of people who have taken a cruise). We love river cruising as well as ocean cruising. And this is despite the fact that the majority of the population already lives on the coast — or perhaps it’s the very reason why we just can’t enough of cruising.

 

How to Pick a Cruise Line Part 3

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser lørdag 8. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

Best for Night Owls

Eagles Aft Lounge on Carnival Valor

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian ships have an array of bars and lounges, from the bordello-meets-bowling-themed Bliss Ultra Lounge to Getaway’s Sugarcane Mojito Bar and other specialty venues focusing on beer, whiskey, cocktails or Champagne. Norwegian’s signature White Hot and Glow Parties (they vary depending on what ship class you are on) are the hottest dance parties aboard, where cruisers come dressed in white and the entertainment staff, bedecked with angel wings or layered in neon, keep the fun going with group dancing and on some ships, a mesmerizing video screen. We’ve also heard some mighty impressive karaoke on these ships.

Carnival Cruise Line

It’s no shock that the Fun Ships are ideal for night owls. Carnival’s piano bars just might be the happeningest in cruising (true night owls know the songs get raunchier after midnight), and karaoke is offered nightly. You’re never far from a bar or dance club, and the casino is often in the heart of the action. Late-night 18-plus comedy has always been a staple event at the line’s Punchliner Comedy Clubs.

MSC Cruises

When you’re cruising the European way, be sure to adjust to European bedtime, when even the smallest children are found in the nightclub around 10 p.m. That’s the vibe on MSC, even on its U.S.-geared ships. Piano bars, sports bars, lounges with wine-blending classes and hangouts with international beer — it’s all there. What keeps the nightlife lively isn’t only the atmosphere, it’s the clientele; MSC passengers typically keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning.

Best for Entertainment

Disney Dreams

Disney Cruise Line

Disney knows the entertainment biz better than anyone, and that shows in its cruise line offerings as well. Its onboard stage shows mix original productions with live versions of hit movies like «Frozen» and «Tangled,» but all feature catchy tunes, creative props and costumes, and favorite Disney characters. Its best known event is its once-a-cruise pirate-themed deck party, which combines an interactive musical show with dance parties and at-sea fireworks.

Royal Caribbean International

This line loves to the push the boundaries of onboard entertainment options. It’s the only line to offer ice-skating shows and water-based acrobatic shows. Plus, it was the first to bring Broadway to the high seas with condensed versions of «Chicago,» «Hairspray» and «Saturday Night Fever.» It utilizes every square inch of space onboard to keep the fun going, with toe-tapping parades along its indoor Promenade shopping and dining district and aerial performances in the atriums of its Vision-class ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian is RCI’s competitor when it comes to innovative entertainment options. The line has also introduced Broadway-quality shows including «After Midnight» and «Million Dollar Quartet.» Add to that a production featuring the cult hits of «16 Candles» director John Hughes, the unique Cirque Dreams and Dinner Show (part acrobatic show, part alternative dining venue), jazz and blues clubs, celebrity musician impersonators, dueling pianists and comedians, and it’s hard not to be entertained.

 

Best for Exploring Onshore

Azamara Club Cruises - Concert

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara’s catch phrase is «destination immersion,» and its fleet of two small ships achieves this in several ways. Itineraries include less-touristed ports and cruise regions, and often feature late-night stays and overnights in port. Plus, nearly every cruise includes an «AzAmazing Evening,» a complimentary shoreside event that presents the local culture in an intimate or exclusive setting. When possible, Azamara also tries to schedule its cruises around major destination events, such as Carnaval in Rio or the Grand Prix in Monaco.

Celebrity Cruises

One of Celebrity’s goals is to offer sailings to every continent, including Antarctica, with more overnight calls and more small-group excursions. (Clearly, it’s following in sister Azamara’s footsteps.) A Destination Concierge is on every ship; these port experts assist passengers in making the most of their time ashore, even going as far as creating individual excursions tailormade to your touring desires. A fleet of three expedition ships cater to cruisers looking to explore the Galapagos.

Viking Ocean Cruises

Join a home visit in Stavanger, Norway, or a full-day walking tour in Rome. At least one shore excursion is included in each port on all Viking’s itineraries. Plus, itineraries tend to be port intensive, so expect to visit a new city nearly every day of your cruise. If you’re not impressed by a morning exploring the city, opt to pay for one of the line’s more custom shore tours like a helicopter ride or a journey through Nice in the footsteps of Henri Matisse. Want to arrange a private car ride in port? They’re a way to do that, too.

 

Best for Water Lovers

Kayaking couple

Windstar Cruises

Water-lovers have two reasons to love Windstar. First, the line’s yachts have plenty of open deck space, including alfresco dining options, for getting that sea-wind-in-your-hair feel. Second, the ships offer complimentary water sports from a built-in onboard marina. You can borrow kayaks, windsurf boards, small sailboats and inflatable boats and mats. Passengers have access to free snorkel equipment, and water skiing is offered by the ship’s staff. Select itineraries feature beach party days, as well.

 

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin’s namesake ship sails in the South Pacific, an ideal place for savoring water-based activities and scenic island views from the sea. The ship has a retractable aft marina used for complimentary water sports, such as kayaking, windsurfing and water skiing. The ship also lends out snorkel equipment, but it can’t be used from the onboard marina, and offers a scuba program with both recreational dives and certification classes. Water-lovers will also enjoy beach days on a little island in Bora Bora and Motu Mahana, a tiny island off Taha’a complete with a floating bar offshore.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Another big-name luxury line with a water sports platform is Seabourn. Its marina is stocked with all the toys: banana boats, kayaks, pedal boats, water skis, windsurf boards and the «doughnut,» an inner tube in which you sit while being pulled along by a speedboat. If you’re excited about taking advantage of this option, choose your itinerary wisely — cooler weather sailings and busy ports are not conducive to marina use.

Best for Solo Travelers

Studio Cabin on Norwegian Getaway.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian’s much acclaimed Studio cabins proved to the world that solo travelers aren’t always overlooked. Norwegian Epic offers the line’s largest studio offering with 128 single cabins measuring 100 square feet with a corridor-facing window, mood lighting and access to a shared social space with large-screen TVs, coffee-making facilities and a bartender. You’ll find 82 studio rooms on Escape, with an area that includes a lounge bar and social space. Getaway has 59 studio cabins, with access to a two-deck lounge, complete with a 50-inch TV and a self-service wine bar, as well as a tea and coffee machine.

Holland America Line

Even before dedicated cabins, solo cruisers were choosing Holland for its social atmosphere and a ton of independent travelers sail the line every year. HAL’s Single Partners Program is designed for single cruisers with meetups, activities and events geared just toward solos. On longer itineraries, social hosts serve as greeters and dance partners for women. Prinsendam now features single cabins and Koningsdam, the line’s newest vessel, has solo cabins without a single supplement. If you’re sailing a ship without a solo cabin, the program can arrange for you to share your room with another same-sex single to save you money.

Crystal Cruises

A popular choice for solo travelers, Crystal entices lone travelers with its wide range of onboard activities, singles get-togethers, gentleman hosts and low solo supplements. Many single cruisers choose the line’s set-seating option to meet new friends over dinner, while its Table for 8 program matches solo travelers for group meals at the specialty dining venues. The onboard atmosphere is communal and social, so no passenger needs to feel lonely.

 

 

 

Best Cruises for Teens

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser fredag 7. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

Teenagers, those hard-to-please opinion leaders, are in hot demand by the cruise industry. Both surveys and anecdotal evidence suggest that parents in search of a pleasant vacation would do well to not only consult but also seriously consider the input of teen members of the family. This age group — bearing that heady mixture of youth and adulthood — is one of the travel industry’s most demanding. And it’s no secret that a dissatisfied teen can create a messy imbalance even among an otherwise happy family.

Cruise lines are interested in drawing teens, too, knowing that they have special impact on family vacation choices. And there’s another reason: Today’s teens are tomorrow’s twenty-something adult passengers. As such, most cruise lines offer special programs, facilities and amenities for the teenage cruise traveler. Highlights of these include increasingly larger teen clubs, some of which have discos, lounges and outdoor sun decks. Many ships offer tween clubs, which separate younger teens (generally ages 13 and 14) from older ones. More plentiful, casual and flexible dining options appeal to teens, and larger family cabins can accommodate five or six passengers. Additionally, some lines offer shore excursions geared (and limited) to teens, and youth spa programs on several lines now offer treatments like mother/daughter facials, father/son massages, spray tans and pedicures.

 

From outward appearances — iPods, smart phones and general ennui — teens appear to be a homogeneous group. But, like the cruise lines themselves, teens come with distinct personalities, from party animals and sports jocks to nature-lovers and computer junkies. Some teens enjoy organized activities, while others prefer roaming independently on a ship the size of a small town. And some are drawn to adventure and enrichment without the big-ship distractions. As such, matching your teen’s personality with that of the cruise ship is crucial.

Consider these other points, too: cruise length can be an important factor for busy teens, with short itineraries often working best. Families with both teens and younger siblings will want to select a ship with a solid children’s program so the entire clan will be happy.

Speaking from experience, here are our editor’s picks of best cruise options for families with teenagers

Royal Caribbean

Ships: Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas

Why: These ships are literally floating playgrounds with features that include ice-skating rinks, rock-climbing walls, miniature golf courses, full-sized basketball courts and large teen facilities. If the kids are looking for fuel, they have more than two dozen dining options from which to choose. We heartily recommend a pit stop at either the Wipe Out Cafe or Johnny Rockets.

Best features: Like many other lines, Royal Caribbean divides teens into two groups in its youth program. Navigators (tweens, 12- to 14-year-olds) are wisely separated from the Teens (15- to 17-year-olds) for activities like Karaoke, open mic nights, toga parties and sports tournaments. Teens will love the FlowRider surf simulator, teen casino and the Scratch DJ Academy, where they can learn how to mix records. Spas on both ships offer an array of treatments just for teens.

Beware of: While bigger is often better when it comes to ships for teens, it can be easy to lose track of your kids on such big ships, and unsupervised teens are one of the cruise industry’s biggest hassles. If you can’t count on cell phone service, consider bringing walkie-talkies for teens who spend a lot of time roaming alone; on these ships, you could literally go days without running into one another.

 

 

Hasbro Game Night on Carnival

Carnival Cruise Line

Ships: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic

Why: More children sail on Carnival than any other cruise line, and the party atmosphere onboard Carnival definitely lends itself to teens. Super-cool water parks, poolside theaters, plenty of fun and casual eats, and shore excursions just for teens make them feel right at home on this trio of ships.

Best features: For older teens, 15 to 17 years old, Club 02 is the place to be. There are late-night parties, a dance floor with a high-tech lighting system, computers, a soda bar and plenty of TV’s. Younger teens, 12 to 14 years old, have access to their own space called Circle C, which has many of the same activities as the teen club, as well as pizza hangouts, T-shirt decorating and game nights. Teens will love the Thrill Theater on Carnival Breeze, a 3-D movie experience with special effects like vibrating seats and bubbles. The SportSquare complex has mini-golf, a suspended ropes course, a lighted basketball court and a host of other games.

Beware of: You may never see your kids — which can be a plus or a minus! Also, a large number of college students are onboard many Carnival sailings, and you may not be entirely comfortable with their influence on your high-schooler. Participation in the teen clubs is a good way to avoid that.

 

Sports Complex on Norwegian

Norwegian Cruise Line

Ships: Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic

Why: The casual atmosphere on Norwegian’s ships attracts many families with teens. Its newest ships offer the ultimate in teen-friendly dining choices, ranging from Teppanyaki and sushi to French. There is also 24/7 pizza. Not only does that mean terrific flexibility (particularly at dinnertime), it also means teens can eat with — or without — their families. The ships are also strong on entertainment for young folks (including a Rock of Ages production on Breakaway and Blue Man Group on Epic). A three-story sports complex features ropes courses, rock climbing, basketball and mini-golf.

Best features: An impressive amount of real estate is dedicated to teens on Breakaway and Epic. Teens can hang out in Entourage, which by day has self-serve food, soda stations, PlayStation, air hockey, pinball, foosball, and a host of other games, and by night transforms into a teen disco with dancing and music until the wee hours. The Aqua Parks on these ships are also impressive: Epic’s Epic Plunge is a bowl slide that drops through a 200-foot-long tube, and Breakaway has a pair of twin free-fall slides.

Beware of: Norwegian allows teens 18 and older to drink beer and wine onboard with the permission of parents. Even if your teens are not drinking, be aware that their peers might be.


Remix Teen Club outdoor lounge on Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises

Ships: Royal Princess

Why: Princess’ newest ship, which debuted in June 2013, offers something for every conceivable age group. Sure to please teens is the ship’s pool deck, where they’ll have access to two freshwater pools, Movies Under the Stars (on a jumbo screen by the pool) and a water and light show every evening. Other cool features and activities that will appeal to teens include a batting cage and a laser shooting range, teens-only «mocktail» parties and formal dinners, and an aerobics studio that offers Pilates, yoga, spinning and TRX.

Best features: Royal Princess addresses what has always been a downside to most onboard teens (and kids) clubs: they’re inside. This ship’s teens club (ages 13 to 17), called Remix, has an outdoor lounge with a teens-only wading pool, outdoor seating and space for open-sky parties. The indoor space for teens is equally impressive, with a D.J. booth and lounge area with foosball, hip-hop dance classes, Skee-ball and video games. Teens will love the ship’s all-ages sports area, which has a golf driving facility, basketball, volleyball, tennis and an upper deck with an artificial grass area for bocce, croquet and lawn bowling.

Beware of: Princess, in general, caters to a more traditional crowd, and longer cruises attract older travelers. If you’re taking teens, look for shorter itineraries or cruises during school holidays when more kids are onboard.

 

Vibe Teen Club on Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Ships: Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

Why: Disney sets the standard for youth programming and amenities, including cabins designed with families in mind and production shows geared toward the young and young at heart. While younger siblings will be thrilled to meet Disney characters onboard and to see Disney classic movies on the big screen, teens (and tweens) will enjoy having their own hangout spaces. Clubs for the older crowd are fun, retro-hip spaces that are not a mere afterthought, and they really cater to the older set by playing down the character connection.

Best features: Vibe is the cool lounge for 14- to 17-year-old teens on Disney’s newest ships; the no-parents-allowed teen center is a coffee shop-style hangout, with overstuffed couches and chairs, big-screen TV’s and a bar that serves soft drinks and smoothies. Teens can entertain themselves with a D.J. dance area, Internet access, board games and events (such as karaoke, dance classes and trivia games) led by hip crewmembers. Kids can even get some fresh air on the attached sun deck without leaving the club. Outside their private haunt, teens will enjoy watching movies (like «Pirates of the Caribbean») on the pool deck and taking part in Disney’s over-the-top evening deck parties.

The Edge is a tween club located in the forward funnel that offers many of the same activities as Vibe, but for the 11- to 13-year-old age group. There are computers with access to intranet social networking, an 18-foot-long video wall and a porthole to view people passing by on the AquaDuck waterslide.

Beware of: Some teens might be too cool for the constant Disney hype and get frustrated with all the mouseketeering, while others may get into the Disney spirit. Know your teen’s personality before you book a cruise.

Adventurous teens can climb the mast on a Star Clippers cruise.

Star Clippers

Ships: Royal Clipper

Why: Star Clippers’ 227-passenger, five-masted sailing ship sails to historic ports in the Western Mediterranean, as well as to the Caribbean. Port-intensive itineraries make for busy and educational cruises, with little downtime for teens to get bored. You won’t find raucous kids clubs, nor late-night dance parties onboard Royal Clipper — and that’s part of the appeal for those who choose this ship. Royal Clipper is ideal for independent teens who like history and sailing.

Best features: Three small pools grace the deck of this elegant ship, and a platform lowers from the stern for water sports. Teens can climb the mast to the crow’s nest, watch the dramatic hoisting of 42 sails each morning and work out in a gym with underwater portholes. Teens are allowed access to the small spa, which has a hot tub and steam room.

Beware of: This ship attracts primarily European passengers, so teens need to be open to other languages and cultures. In general, teens will need to entertain themselves. There are no children’s programs or menus for younger siblings.

 

Best Family-Friendly Cruise Ship Cabins

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser torsdag 6. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

The Havana Suite on Carnival Vista

Choosing the right cabin is tricky under any circumstance — choosing the perfect room (or set of rooms) for a large family or one with young children is even harder. Can you find a room with a bathtub for your little one without splurging on a suite? Can you fit a crib in your cabin if you’re also using the sofa bed? Should your family of five squeeze into one room or book two adjoining cabins? Are any staterooms designed with actual families in mind?

With cruise lines introducing new cabin types with every new ship, it’s hard to keep track of what your family’s options even are. On the plus side, there are now options for every family group, from connecting room configurations to standard cabins with family-friendly amenities to spacious family suites that can fit five, six, eight or more.

 

To ensure your whole family can rest easy at sea, we’ve broken down the family lodging options aboard the most popular cruise lines into two types: designated family cabins (rooms or suites intended for families) and family-friendly staterooms (which anyone can book, but may have space and amenities useful for family groups). Read below to find the perfect cruise cabin for your whole crew. And for more advice on choosing the best cabin, read our tips on booking a cruise room for the whole family.

The Royal Loft Suite with Balcony on Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean

Known for high-adrenaline activities, including rock climbing, zip-lining, surf and skydiving, Royal Caribbean is catering to families with a wider range of activities and cabin categories (37 on some vessels) aboard its newer Quantum- and Oasis-class ships.

Family Cabins

Royal Caribbean has some of the biggest family cabins in the industry, with multiple configurations.

Family Interior Staterooms:

Available on Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, these windowless rooms accommodate up to six people, with two twin beds that convert to a king, a double pullout sofa and two Pullman-style bunk beds. The Family Interior Stateroom is the least expensive option for up to six passengers.

Family Ocean View Staterooms:

Available on Radiance-, Voyager-, Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, these cabins feature a picture window and accommodate up to six people, in the same bed configurations as the Family Interiors. These cabins are in the front of the ship, which means you’ll feel more motion and may not be best for family members prone to seasickness. Oasis-class ships also feature 290-square-foot Family Ocean View Staterooms with Balconies, which also sleep up to six.

Family Connected Junior Suite with Balcony:

A new suite configuration that debuted in 2014 aboard Quantum of the Seas, it’s made up of three different categories of staterooms — a junior suite, a superior balcony stateroom and a studio cabin (which can actually sleep two) — that connect to accommodate up to 10 passengers. This is a great choice for single relatives who want to travel with the family, yet have their own space.

Royal Family Suite:

If you have more money to spend, these 560- to 580-square-foot two-bedroom suites (available aboard Voyager-, Freedom-, Oasis- and Quantum-class ships) hold eight people — two bedrooms with two twin beds that can be pushed together for a king bed and a living area with a sofa bed that pulls out to a double bed. Two Pullman-style beds pull out from the wall and serve as upper level bunk beds. There’s a veranda and two bathrooms, one with a bathtub and one with a shower.

Loft Suites:

The newer Royal Caribbean ships feature stunning two-story Loft Suites that, while not specifically geared to families, can sleep up to six with one or two bedrooms and sofas that convert to double beds. Plus, they have two bathrooms, one on each level. Aboard Oasis of the Seas, for example, the Royal Loft Suite (the largest of all lofts) connects to the adjacent Crown Loft Suite to create an enormous living space that can sleep 10.

Aqua Theater Suites:

Oasis-class ships keep families entertained with suites that overlook the Boardwalk area and AquaTheater water-based performance venue. Inside, the suite can sleep up to eight with two bedrooms, one with additional Pullman beds, and a convertible sofa; it is also has two bathrooms (one with tub), and a living and dining area. Outside, a wraparound balcony features lounge and dining areas and uncrowded viewing of the shows and scene below.

Presidential Family Suite:

This lavish suite fits 14 aboard Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. These suites include four bathrooms (two masters and two bedrooms with twin beds convertible to kings and pull-down bunks), spacious living and dining areas, and huge balconies with alfresco dining tables, hot tubs and wet bars.

Family-Friendly Cabins

Standard cabins hold a maximum of four people, but Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships have many connecting cabins, about 25 per deck, of different configurations — quads that connect to quads or quads to doubles. Royal Caribbean has plenty of different suite configurations that sleep four if you

simply want more space. One interesting addition aboard inside cabins on Navigator, Quantum and Anthem of the Seas is the «virtual balcony» — window-size TV monitors playing a live feed of what’s happening outside.

Nice Touches

  • Royal Caribbean’s partnership with Dreamworks means that Dreamworks movies and TV programming play on in-cabin TVs.
  • Complimentary Pack ‘n Plays and minifridges can be delivered to the cabin.
  • Diaper bags can be ordered for an additional fee, filled with diapers, wipes, diaper cream and a changing pad. They are delivered to your cabin (you can also order baby food and packs of diapers). With increasing fees for carry-ons and luggage, this is a huge perk if you’re flying!
  • In-room baby-sitting for children older than 1 year old is available for $12/hour during the day and $19/hour at night.

The Haven 2-Bedroom Family Villa on Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Cruise Line

The laid-back line famous for «Freestyle» cruising, meaning relaxed dress codes and dining whenever and wherever you want, has also seen an increase in families onboard. Norwegian Cruise Line‘s newest ships feature kid-size furniture in the buffet restaurants, and plenty of larger and connecting cabins.

Family Staterooms

Norwegian’s newest ships — Escape, Breakaway and Getaway — feature more staterooms that fit five, more connecting rooms and more studios for the single relative who wants to join in the family fun.

Family Inside:

These windowless cabins sleep up to four with two lower beds converting into a queen and two Pullman bunk beds. The one bathroom is outfitted with a shower. All family staterooms are located on Deck 12, near the Splash Academy kids club, and most of the staterooms can be turned into connecting rooms.

Family Oceanview:

Most Norwegian ships sleep four in this category, but aboard Escape, Getaway and Breakaway, this cabin sleeps five people, with two lower beds that convert to a queen, a double sofa bed and a Pullman-style bed that drops down from the wall. Family Staterooms are located near the kids clubs, teen club and kids pools. (You’ll be thankful not to have to walk across the entire ship with your toddler!) The sleeping area is separated from the living area by a small closet. Family Oceanviews generally come with a bathtub.

Family Balcony:

These cabins sleep up to four with two lower beds converting into a queen and a single sofa bed and one Pullman bed. The bathroom is shower-only. Look for these near the kids club on Deck 12.

Family Mini-Suite with Balcony:

Similar to the Family Balcony but with more space, this Mini-Suite sleeps four and includes a nicer bathroom with a bathtub.

Family Suite:

These suites fit up to eight aboard Pride of America and six on the Dawn-class ships. Aboard Pride of America, Family Suites include a living room with two lower beds that convert to a queen and a double sofa bed, a separate bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen, and additional bedding for two more passengers. There are two bathrooms with showers and two TVs. Family Suites aboard the Dawn-class ships have only one bathroom, but it has a bathtub and a shower. Some of the family suites come with a balcony, but not all. All suites on Norwegian ships include the added perk of butler and concierge service.

Two-Bedroom Family Suite:

These suits are available on Jewel- and Dawn-class ships, as well as Pride of America. Each family suite has a living area, dining area, a separate bedroom with a queen-size bed, as well as a separate children’s bedroom, a luxury bathroom with bathtub and a second bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. There’s also a roomy balcony.

The Haven:

The Haven is Norwegian’s exclusive-access suite area, which features a private pool and sun deck and, on some ships, a dining area and lounge. It’s found on all ships except for Dawn-class ships and Pride of America. The Haven’s Family Villas are like two-bedroom apartments at sea, accommodating up to six people each. Aboard some ships, including Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl, there’s an additional Three Bedroom Garden Villa within the Haven that sleeps eight. Other Haven suites may not be designated for families, but can sleep four to six, or can be connected with adjacent suites for humongous living areas.

Family-Friendly Cabins

Standard cabins hold a maximum of four people. Certain cabins aboard Norwegian Dawn, Star, Sun and Jewel feature dividing curtains, to give Mom and Dad privacy after the kids have gone to sleep. Breakaway and Getaway have many connecting cabins of different configurations for larger families.

Nice Touches

  • Nickelodeon channel plays on cabin TVs.
  • Complimentary Pack ‘n Plays are available on request.
  • A week’s worth of diapers and wipes can be delivered to your cabin for an additional charge.
  • Cabins offer ample storage space, including functional box-shaped seats that double as storage.
  • Cabins have minifridges to store your own snacks and drinks.

 

Family Harbor Lounge on Carnival Vista

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival is considered one of the most affordable options for families. Its «Seuss at Sea» programs bring Dr. Seuss characters and decor to the kids clubs and ship activities, including a Green Eggs and Ham character breakfast.

Family Staterooms

Carnival isn’t known for over-the-top luxurious suites, but families on a budget will be glad to find almost 200 quint cabins aboard the newer Dream, Magic and Breeze.

Family Ocean View Staterooms:

An affordable option for families of five, these outside cabins are available on Carnival’s Dream-class (Dream, Magic and Breeze) and Conquest-class ships (Glory, Valor, Freedom), as well as Carnival Splendor. These 230-square-foot staterooms have a large picture window, but no balcony. Family Ocean View Staterooms have two twin beds, two upper bunk beds and a single sofa bed. Note to parents: The two regular twins cannot convert into one queen-size bed if both bunk beds are used, as it would block ladder access to one bunk. Also note that Family Ocean View Staterooms aboard the Dream-class ships feature two bathrooms, one with a shower and the other with a junior tub. Family Staterooms aboard the Conquest-class ships have only one bathroom.

Family Harbor:

Carnival Vista (debuting in 2016), first in the line’s Vista class, is also first with a brand new cruising concept — the dedicated family zone. It’s a space exclusively for families, with its own suites, staterooms and a lounge just for guests staying in the family cabins. The Family Harbor Suite fits five and has a partition divider between the main bedroom and the sitting area with its pullout sofa. Family Harbor Suites have two bathrooms, a full one with a shower, sink and toilet, and the second bathroom with only a sink and shower/tub combo. The lounge is designed as the ultimate family hangout with large-screen TVs, games and complimentary breakfast and snacks. A special family concierge will assist family cabin passengers in planning excursions and making reservations both onboard and ashore.

Family-Friendly Cabins

Carnival ships have hundreds of connecting cabins of varying configurations. In addition, the line offers quad configurations on select inside, oceanview and balcony cabins. Standard staterooms are large compared to industry standards; inside cabins offer 185 square feet of space, and balcony cabins offer the same plus a 35-square-foot balcony. Those balconies can provide priceless relaxation space, as children are napping or watching TV.

Ocean View Quad Cabins include 220 square feet of space, with a split bathroom layout; one bathroom has a tub, toilet and vanity, while the other has a shower, toilet and vanity. There are no designated Family Staterooms aboard Carnival Liberty and Carnival Conquest. The only «quint» cabins available are two luxurious Captain’s Suites, which come with VIP check-in and priority dining assignment, allowing you the flexibility of changing your dinner time once onboard. These are the largest suites in the fleet (650 square feet aboard Liberty and 840 square feet aboard Conquest) and feature a bathroom with junior tub and shower and a private veranda.

Nice Touches

  • Flat-screen cabin TVs have Cartoon Network, as well as pay-per-view movie options.
  • Complimentary Pack ‘n Plays are available upon request.

Disney Fantasy - Inside Cabin

Disney Cruise Line

Considered by many to be the gold standard among family cruise lines, Disney pioneered the simple addition of the privacy curtain (dividing the sleeping and living room area) and the family-friendly bath-and-a-half concept — a sink and toilet in one and shower/tub combo and sink in the other. This goes a long way in getting everyone out the door and reducing the number of daily arguments.

Disney «quint» cabins range from 200-square-foot family staterooms that feature Pullman-style pullout bunk beds to the luxurious 1,000-plus-square-foot concierge-level Royal Suite, with private veranda and separate master bedroom.

Family Staterooms

Every cabin on a Disney ship could be considered a family cabin, but some are specifically flagged as family-focused accommodations.

Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Veranda:

Five fit into this 300-square-foot stateroom with balcony. There’s a queen bed, double convertible sofa and upper pull-down bunk bed.

Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom:

The balcony-less version of the Deluxe Family Ocean View Stateroom (found only on Disney Dream and Fantasy) offers 241 square feet of space and one or two round portholes, deep enough for built-in window seats. There’s a queen bed, single convertible sofa, wall pull-down bed and upper pull-down bunk bed in cabins that sleep five; some only sleep three or four without the pull-down beds.

Concierge Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah:

All Disney ships now offer larger family suites that offer additional perks — priority boarding and tender service, 24-hour concierge, access to a private sun deck and delivery of entire meals from the restaurants via room service. The Concierge Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah measures 306 square feet (including the balcony) and sleeps five with a queen bed, double convertible sofa and upper pull-down bunk bed.

Family-Friendly Cabins

Many cabins that sleep five and up are not actually designated Family Cabins. For example, Concierge Royal Suites, the fleet’s largest staterooms, accommodate five aboard Disney Dream and Fantasy, and up to seven passengers aboard Magic and Wonder. One Bedroom Suites with Verandas are 620 square feet with a balcony and two full bathrooms, one with a whirlpool tub. It sleeps five in a master bedroom with a queen bed and a living area with a double pullout sofa and a single bed that pulls out of the wall.

Disney ships feature some 500 connecting cabins. Larger families and groups traveling together will find ample quint and quad cabins that connect to doubles and triples.

And if you’re a family of just three or four on a budget, Disney has worked its magic on interior cabins. These 184- to 214-square-foot cabins feature «Magic Portholes» aboard Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. These are flat-screen TVs made to look like a porthole window, which display views of what’s happening outside (as seen by cameras mounted on the exterior of the ship). Kids will particularly love the occasional Disney character that pops up on the screen.

Nice Touches

  • All cabins feature Disney’s bath-and-a-half, with most having a bathtub in one of the bathrooms.
  • Complimentary crib or Pack ‘n Play, bottle warmers and diaper pails for in-cabin use are available on request.
  • Beds are elevated to provide more storage.
  • Room service will deliver kids menu items, including macaroni and cheese and Mickey ice cream bars, as well as pureed food for babies.
  • «Babies Travel Light» add-on package allows parents to pre-order baby supplies and have them delivered to the cabin.
  • Disney Channel and Disney movies are available on stateroom TVs.
  • Bathroom amenities feature Disney characters.

The Family Oceanview Balcony Cabin on Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity‘s 11 ships serve a more upscale crowd and are known for having more sophisticated cuisine, amenities and activities than its sister line, Royal Caribbean. Yet its terrific kids programs still make it a hit with families.

Family Staterooms

Celebrity’s staterooms are considered some of the most spacious at sea. The line’s well-designed family staterooms provide plenty of privacy and space.

Family Veranda Stateroom:

These spacious 575-square-foot suites are available on all Solstice-class ships. These are the only staterooms that fit five. They have two bedrooms, a large veranda, one bathroom and a living area with a pullout double sofa. The master bedroom has a queen bed and the second bedroom has a single bed. This is a particularly nice setup for a family with kids of different ages. The smaller child can sleep in the second bedroom, while older kids stay up and watch TV. Family Verandas can connect to Double Ocean View Cabins. These cabins have one bathroom with a shower. The Family Veranda Staterooms on the Millennium ships (Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Infinity) are smaller, only 271 square feet, but they feature a whopping 210-square-foot veranda for your own front porch at sea (opposed to the standard 38-square-foot veranda). These staterooms include two lower beds that convert to a queen, floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors, a sitting area with two sofa beds that convert to full-size beds and a privacy partition between the two sleeping areas. Aboard Millennium, Family Veranda Staterooms fit five, have one bathroom with a shower, but unlike the Solstice class ships, they do not connect with any other cabins.

Family-Friendly Staterooms

Most Celebrity ships have, on average, 60 to 80 connecting rooms with a variety of configurations. All room categories on Celebrity ships, from Inside to Ocean View, Veranda and Suite class, can hold four passengers, except for the Aqua Class. Typically, a room for four would have a king and a double pullout sofa. These rooms have one bathroom with a shower. Suite category rooms and higher would also have a full-size bathtub.

Nice Touches

  • In-room baby-sitting for up to three children is available for an additional fee.
  • Kids menus are available via complimentary room service.
  • Complimentary P
    The Family Oceanview Cabin on Koningsdam

    Holland America

    Holland America known for its older clientele is checking in to the multigenerational travel trend. Its newest ship, Koningsdam (debuting in 2016), will be its first to offer cabins that sleep five.

    Family Staterooms

    Holland America’s current fleet does not offer any designated family cabins; Koningsdam will offer the first.

    Family Ocean View Stateroom:

    Koningsdam’s 32 quint staterooms range from 222 to 231 square feet and feature two bathrooms, one with a bathtub and shower. Two lower beds convert to a queen, and there’s a double pullout sofa and one upper Pullman-style bunk bed.

    Family-Friendly Staterooms

    On average, 4 to 5 percent of Holland America cabins connect to other rooms. The newest ship, Koningsdam, will offer 150 connecting cabins. In addition, many rooms sleep three or four, and often you can find discounted cruise fares for additional passengers sharing a cabin.

    Nice Touches

    • Complimentary Pack ‘n Plays are available on request.
    • Complimentary room service can be delivered 24 hours/day and includes kid-friendly foods like hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken fingers.
    • In-room baby-sitting is offered for $8/hour for the first child and $5/hour for each additional child.
    • Complimentary video games and game players (Xbox or Wii) can be checked out for use in room.

    ack ‘n Plays are available on request.

 

 

Cruisers Being Punished for Shopping Around?

Kategori: Ukategorisert | 0 kommentarer » - Publiser onsdag 5. juli , 2017 kl. 16:00

Consumers need to be wary of booking cruises on U.S. sites as the shipping lines reserve the right to deny boarding at check-in if they find that travellers are not U.S. residents who booked with a U.S. agent at the U.S. market rate.»
Australia with American Money
This quote, posted on Cruise Critic’s message boards by member LuckiePuris, who claims to have gotten the info on an Australian travel agent’s Web site, set off a 27-page — and counting — discussion on the topic of cross-border bookings. The thread showcases the frustrations of Australian cruise fans trying to get a great deal on a vacation at sea. Their biggest fear? Getting a great price on a cruise through a U.S.-based agency only to fly halfway around the world to the embarkation port and be told they’re not allowed to board because their home address is in Australia.

U.S. cruisers benefit from an abundance of homeports, last-minute sales and regional discounts. However, the budding Australian cruise market — which the International Cruise Council of Australasia (a nonprofit organization that trains travel agents and promotes cruising among consumers, similar to CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, here in the U.S.) says grew 26 percent in 2008 alone — is struggling to find affordable rates on their home turf. The savviest travelers have turned to online travel sellers in the U.S. to find the best deals, but many would-be cruisers are now finding that overseas agents refuse to book them because of cruise line policies.

Beyond that, Australian cruise travelers are simply frustrated and angry that they have to jump through hoops to get a good price on a cruise. «All I know is that they are gouging us Aussies on pricing,» says member victravellers, while Down-Unders concurs, «Whatever spin you want to put on it, the blank sheet of paper should read, Australia and New Zealand are being robbed blind.»

So why are prices so different — and can you really be denied boarding based on your nationality?

The answers are difficult to find, especially since cruise lines are loathe to talk about it; most of our requests for live interviews were answered with e-mailed company statements or terse written answers to our questions. Ultimately, we were able to speak with U.S. travel agents and exchange e-mails with several cruise lines, Australian cruise travelers and the International Cruise Council Australasia.

 

Why Is the Same Cruise Priced Differently for Different Nationalities?

The very root of the problem is the fact that cruise lines price cruises differently in different markets. «We had paid over $3,500 p.p. at the time for cabin…. Once on board, we discovered that nearly everyone had paid less than $1,000 U.S. for the 14 day cruise,» posts member Aussie Gal. «Of course this was never offered to anyone here in Australia.»

Even though one might think an outside cabin has the same value regardless of the nationality of its occupants, the cruise lines take a more business-like approach, treating cabins as commodities. It’s basically a game of supply and demand, and the rules vary throughout the world. «Our aim is to offer stable, good-value, competitive pricing in all markets around the globe,» says Richard D. Meadows, executive vice president of marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. «At any time, local competition, sales promotions and foreign exchange rates may affect the pricing relationship between markets.» Jan Swartz, executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service for Princess Cruises, concurs, stating that Princess’ pricing «depends on the nature of the destination and itinerary, the demand in that market, and how much inventory we have left to sell.»

In lay terms, they’re saying that if Australians are buying cruises at higher rates than Americans are willing to pay, the cruise line has no incentive to drop prices Down Under to match those in the U.S. It’s the same reason why a loaf of bread may cost different amounts in the supermarket in your town, the next town over, across the country or in another country — even though it’s the same product — or why that children’s toy you bought for a summer birthday party skyrockets in price around Christmas.

Another cruise line concern is currency fluctuation. By selling cruises to Australians in Australian dollars, Gavin Smith, managing director of Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia, says that «Australian residents are not subject to price fluctuations caused by currency movements, which they would be if they had to continually convert Australian dollars to U.S. dollars to pay their cruise fare. This is of particular importance when considering the time between depositing a booking and making final payment, which can be many months.»

So what is it about region-specific pricing that seems to result in the U.S. getting the best deals and the Australians left hunting for a good fare? Swartz offers a revealing tidbit: «As the U.S. is our largest market in the world, it’s sometimes most effective for us to discount there to ‘top off a ship’ and sell the last remaining beds.» Cruise lines even do this kind of regional discounting to sell off cabins within the U.S. itself, with discounts only available to residents of certain states or regions of the country. By restricting the deal to a certain market or traveler type (like seniors, military or past guests), the cruise lines can offer titillating discounts without invoking price protection policies, which would force them to honor the price drop on every single booking.

Do Cruise Lines Forbid Australians from Booking Cruises Through U.S. Travel Agents?

Australian cruisers who are smart shoppers have been utilizing the Internet to compare fares and access the best savings — often by taking advantage of pricing in U.S. dollars offered by American travel agencies. Cruise Critic member molliemoo writes that she booked a cruise through a major U.S. travel agency and «we will pay approximately half price, saving over $6,000 compared to the cheapest online fare I could find in Australia. Normally I’m a fierce ‘buy local’ supporter, but this is a serious saving.»

Yet, many Australian cruisers are beginning to find that this savings strategy of booking through an overseas agency is no longer available to them. Member redrob1234 posts, «My U.S. [travel agent] told me a couple of weeks ago that he could not book Princess or NCL for Aussie & NZ residents but there was no problem with my Carnival booking…. A few days after my booking was confirmed he told me that he had just been advised by RCCL that they could no longer book cruises on their ships for all of us down-under.»

Redrob1234 is right. According to the Web site of Vacations To Go, an online travel retailer that has been selling cruises to Australians for 10 years, at least nine cruise lines are not allowing international residents to book cruises through U.S. agencies. «Some of these lines have had the ban in place for a while but only recently began to enforce it,» Vacations To Go’s chairman and CEO Alan Fox told Cruise Critic in an e-mail. «We are very disappointed that we have had to turn away so many of our Australian customers and they are certainly disappointed as well.»

The Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean representatives we spoke to confirmed that they mandate that Australians book cruises in Australian dollars through local agencies (Princess goes so far to say that «our North American travel agent contracts forbid them from booking residents outside of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico»). However, Carnival — a cruise line not mentioned in Vacation To Go’s fine print — takes a different approach. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen told us, «CCL offers worldwide pricing so our pricing is the same no matter where in the world a consumer may be…. At the end of the day, it is the consumer that makes the final determination as to how and where they will buy their CCL cruise vacation.»

Although the cruise lines talk in very strict, well-defined terms, the U.S. agents we spoke to think the issue is less black and white. While they agree that their contracts with the cruise lines forbid them from marketing their offers outside North America, they can legally accept business from around the world.

In fact, there is no law forbidding U.S. travel agencies from selling to international travelers. And while it’s true that some retailers strictly adhere to the cruise lines’ policies because they have contracts with the lines, others are willing to accept international bookings and up their sales, even if they run the risk of getting their wrists slapped by the cruise lines.

Anthony Hamawy, president of Cruise.com, told us that «the lion’s share of cruise lines overlook [international] bookings, though several don’t.» Here’s why most do: If a cruise line flags a booking and tells the travel agency that they can’t book an Australian resident at the U.S. rate, the line will suggest that the booking transfer over to the line’s local, in-house cruise consultants at the going rate for that nationality. In most cases, the U.S. agency will then go back to the consumers and offer them a similar cruise, at a similar rate, on a different cruise line. Instead of keeping the cruise booking (and securing the higher, regionally correct rate), the cruise line loses the sale altogether — and may have made a bad impression on the consumer who will be less likely to book with the line in the future.

Terri Burke, senior vice president of relationship marketing at Cruise Planners, agrees that there’s a discrepancy between what agents are supposed to do, according to their cruise line contracts, and what they actually do. Cruise Planners agents are trained on the nature of the agency’s contracts with the cruise lines — which allow for the sale of cruises only within the U.S. and only to North American passengers. But if the agents got a call from an Australian traveler looking to book a cruise, «the reality is that most agents would take that business.»

So if agencies aren’t taking these restrictions very seriously, why do the cruise lines take such a hard line to cross-border bookings? The cruise lines give all sorts of reasons for their strict policies. Princess’ Swartz says it’s all about strengthening the relationship with locally based travel agents. Royal Caribbean’s Smith suggests that a local agent can provide better service, saying «locally based agents will understandably provide better advice on immigration documentation issues for Australian passport holders than could ever be expected from agents based overseas.» And Brett Jardine, the general manager of the ICCA, adds that Australians booking cruises with local agents are «protected by local consumer laws should the agency become insolvent,» which they wouldn’t be if they book with an overseas seller.

However, U.S. travel agents think there’s more to the story. «Cruise lines rely heavily on their revenue management strategy and tactics,» says Burke. «They like not having to expose one price to the entire world.» If the cruise lines allow international travelers to book U.S. rates, they will lose the ability to manipulate pricing based on different markets. Hamawy agrees that it’s all about business models, saying that some cruise lines do allow U.S. agencies to market aggressively internationally — but only when the lines are looking to grow the cruise market in a specific country.

Will Australians Be Denied Boarding for Booking Through a U.S. Agency?

So will Australian cruisers who book through U.S. agencies get turned away during debarkation, solely for having Australian residential addresses? We asked Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean and the response was an emphatic no. No agents we spoke with ever had customers experience that kind of denial of boarding, and no Australian cruisers could find us this warning in print. The original poster of the quote at the beginning of this piece could not be reached for comment.

«I asked [the Captain’s Circle hostess] if she knew anything about passengers being denied boarding at the point of embarkation,» reader Maurice K. tells us. «She said emphatically that Princess would not deny boarding at all….I truly believe this «rumour» has been started by travel agents in Australia trying to scare people from booking with US agents.»

Member AussieGal agrees, «We have now been using T.A’s in the States since 2004 and usually we have two cruises a year. I have never been denied boarding on any of the ships we have cruised on which includes HAL, Princess, Oceania and Azamara

From what agents say, the worst thing that will happen to Australian travelers who try to book through U.S. agencies is that their booking will not go through («which rarely happens,» says Hamawy) or that it could get flagged later and need to be re-booked. Burke explains that the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) requires agencies and cruise lines to collect certain personal information from travelers, such as citizenship and residency, to provide to the government prior to departure. Cruise lines can run APIS reports at any time to see if a passenger’s residency matches the fare code booked. This quality control effort has led to a reduction in customers booking special fares for which they technically do not qualify.

Reader Yvonne M. says she’s also had trouble with future cruise onboard credit not showing up because she booked with a U.S. rather than an Australian travel agent. However, after showing proof of the owed credit and persistent calling, she eventually received the credit she was due.

One exception to the boarding-denial rule: If guests do not do their own legwork about the proper documentation required for the itinerary, they could be turned away at the pier for insufficient documentation (such as an expired passport or missing visa).

How Can Australian Cruisers Find the Best Fares?

Jardine argues that Australians don’t need to look beyond their own country’s borders for the best price. «Australian consumers have access to plenty of great value deals that are available here to travellers interested in cruising locally as well as around the world,» he says. «Similar to elsewhere in the world, travel agents in Australia and New Zealand and cruise lines offer a wide range of incentives to Australian cruise passengers looking to buy a cruise holiday, from keenly priced deals to value-adds including onboard credit, airfares etc.» Plus, as deals in the U.S. dry up this year as the economy improves, it may be that the price disparity between international rates will lessen. Cruise Critic members say they’ve had success at finding deals through wholesalers, direct bookings and overall smart shopping strategies.

With a population not much greater than that of New York State, it’s unlikely the Australian cruise market will ever be big enough to wield as much clout as the U.S. market and manage the same abundance of deals. However, Australia is capturing the attention of cruise lines, which are devoting more cruise ships and more energy to the region. So, Australian cruisers are not without some power over the cruise industry.

The U.S. travel agents we spoke with argued that the cruise lines really need to bring their pricing practices more in line with today’s global market. Because many of the Australian cruisers who we spoke with or who posted on the message boards state that they would much prefer to book with a local agent … if only they could afford it.

Get inspired with more Cruisers’ Choice Awards 2017 Part 2 !!!!Best Small-Mid Ships

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For destination-intensive itineraries, excellent food, a comfortable onboard experience that lets you leave your tux and gown at home and service with a genuine smile, you can’t go wrong booking a cruise on Azamara Journey.

A cruise on Azamara Journey feels a little like coming home, whether you’ve cruised on the ship before or not (and dozens of repeat cruisers are on nearly every sailing). With fewer than 700 passengers onboard and only five decks with public spaces, it only takes a day or two before the ship feels familiar; you’ve found your favorite spot to sit in the Living Room, you know where to find free cookies at any time of day and you start recognizing faces (crew and fellow cruisers alike).

The ship’s size lends itself to an amiable onboard atmosphere as well. The bulk of the tables in both Discoveries Restaurant and the buffet are designed for two people but pushed close enough together that mealtime conversations across tables are a common occurrence. Trivia sessions, which are held three times most days, encourage team building; strangers quickly bond over themes such as nature, the body, sports and music.

Service is also friendly, as well as efficient, especially in the restaurants. If you find wait staff you like and return to them on a regular basis, they’ll get to know your favorite drink order, how you like your coffee and, if you’re like certain reviewers, which gelato flavor you need to cap off every day.

Unlike dining and bar service, cabin service can be hit or miss, with several cruisers reporting their room stewards never introduced themselves, nor pointed out some of the unique quirks of the rooms (like the USB chargers hidden underneath the reading lights). It also took us three days to get extra hangers despite asking several times. But ice buckets were always filled, towels rehung in the bathroom and the cabin kept clean overall.

Another hallmark of the Azamara Journey experience is its destination focus. One of just two ships in the Azamara Club Cruises fleet, Journey stops in a mix of standard and off-the-beaten path ports, offering longer stays and at least one overnight on each sailing. On a Greece itinerary, for example, the ship not only stopped at the island standards of Mykonos and Santorini, but also visited Skiathos and Hydra, while on a Central America sailing, the ship not only stopped at Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, but also at Acajutla, El Salvador and Huatulco, Mexico.

The culmination of Azamara’s destination focus is the complimentary AzAmazing Evening that’s held at least once per voyage. These events are billed as one-of-a-kind and might feature events like a classical music concert among the ruins of Ephesus, a recital by three tenors on a hillside in Tuscany or a ceremonial performance by indigenous people native to Mexico in the foothills of the Sierra Madres. Another special evening that’s held every cruise regardless of destination, the White Night Party, is also unabashedly popular, judging by passenger participation

Silversea’s Silver Spirit may well represent the sweet spot in luxury cruising, exceeding at everything that matters: personal space, beautiful interior design, service, food, wine and choice of compelling itineraries. At 640 feet in length and a beam of 86 feet, the ship could accommodate far more than the 540 passengers it allows. Yet, Silversea capped the number of guests in favor of creating a ship with one of the highest space-to-passenger ratios in the business.

The line’s designers then had the freedom to create some stellar public spaces, all with a unique Art Decor flair. Look for design motifs that highlight patterns — like the chevron, scallop, flamestitch and palmette — that were popular in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. Glass and polished metals accent softer fabrics and plush upholsteries in soothing colors that range from the blues, sea greens and golds of The Bar to the burled walnut, reds and browns that decorate Stars Supper Club. Hallways are wide and public spaces are so well laid out that you don’t necessarily internalize that you’re on a cruise ship right away.

Service is a hallmark of Silver Spirit, with every officer and crew member going above and beyond to make sure passengers are happy. The staff truly seems to enjoy being on the job, and we got the sense that the Silver Spirit family is a happy one. That leads to excellent service — from the ship’s cabin stewards, who work in tandem with your butler, to the bartenders, waiters and waitresses, the gentlemen host dance partner, and the tender crew. (The latter deserve extra props for calmly and safely delivering passengers to and from Sanary-sur-Mer despite some intense swells on the day we visited.) Silversea is one of the few cruise lines that offers butler service in all of its accommodations, and these gentlemen add to the overall cruise experience. After an intense day of touring Florence (we walked more than 20,000 steps that day), our butler had a hot bath — complete with rose-petal accents — waiting for us upon our return to our suite. Gestures like that were appreciated throughout the voyage.

For a ship of this size, Silver Spirit has a tremendous number of dining options and each one is unique and above average. The food in The Restaurant (the ship’s main dining room) is some of the best we’ve had at sea in years.

All in all, we found little to complain about aboard the ship. The water in the whirlpool tubs on the pool deck could have been warmer and the entertainers by the Pool Grill could have been a bit stronger, but those are truly our biggest gripes with the ship. We can certainly understand why some of our fellow passengers had booked back-to-back voyages. A mere weeklong cruise just wasn’t enough.

Silver Spirit Fellow Passengers

Silver Spirit, the line’s largest luxury ship until Silver Muse debuts in April 2017, seems to draw a slightly younger demographic than the smaller ships in the fleet such as Silver Cloud (transferring to Silversea’s expedition fleet in 2017), Silver Whisper, Silver Shadow and Silver Wind. On our cruise, the preponderance of passengers were friendly, well traveled and in their 50s, 60s and 70s. However, there were quite a few professional couples in their 40s enjoying the unusual six-night itinerary.

The ship hosted an informal gathering for solo travelers every night of the voyage. It’s rare to find families with small children sailing Silver Spirit due to the lack of a formal kids club or any age-appropriate activities, but it is common to see multigenerational families with teens or young adults traveling with their parents and/or grandparents. Silver Spirit draws a mostly American clientele but you may also meet a few Canadians, Europeans and Australians.

Silver Spirit Dress Code

Daytime attire is casual both onboard and ashore. Expect your fellow passengers to wear «country-club casual»-type outfits consisting of slacks or Bermuda shorts with a polo or T-shirt. Sneakers, sandals and other comfortable flat or low-heeled shoes are appropriate for exploring the ship during the day. Ladies: If you shop at Chico’s or White House Black Market, you’ll be in good company aboard Silver Spirit.

When the sun sets, the dress code will be casual, informal or formal. Your cruise documents include a schedule of the nightly dress code, and it’s reprised in the Silversea Chronicles bulletin that’s left in your room each night after dinner. Embarkation is generally a «casual» evening, which dictates pants or a skirt and blouse or casual dresses for women. Men tend to wear polos or open-neck shirts and slacks.

«Informal» evenings racket things up one notch with women wearing more dressy dresses or pantsuits and men wearing a jacket (tie optional).

On formal nights, men wear tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits, and women are expected to wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses. If you’re not a fan of formal nights, you can dress informally on formal night as long as you choose to dine at La Terrazza, Seishin or Stars. Attire at The Grill (aka Hot Rocks) is always casual. However, be aware that if you wish to enjoy the bars and lounges later that evening, you would need to wear an outfit that adheres to the formal night requirements. Expect one formal night for voyages of nine nights or less; 14-night cruises have three formal nights. On seven-night sailings in the Baltic, Mediterranean and Alaska, formal night is always optional and passengers may instead dress according to the «informal» code.

Silver Spirit Gratuity

The cruise fare aboard Silver Spirit includes an oceanview suite with a dedicated butler; select wines, spirits, specialty coffees and teas as well as soft drinks in all bars, lounges and dining rooms — day and night; an ensuite mini-bar stocked with your preferences and replenished daily by your butler; open-seating, no-fee dining at most restaurants onboard (there is a $40 per person surcharge at Le Champagne and Seishin); and 24-hour in-room dining. Round-trip transportation from the pier to the heart of town is included in most ports, as are most gratuities. General gratuities are included in the cruise fare, but tips are not included (and are expected) when it comes to the services of the beauty salon and spa. Silver Spirit’s onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

There’s a reason Crystal is consistently voted a fan favorite among luxury cruise devotees. Yes, 535-stateroom Serenity is now more glamorous than ever, having emerged from a dramatic $52 million makeover as a part of a $120 million fleet transformation that began in May 2011. Those who long for the black-tie elegance of yesteryear’s cruises will find it nightly amid the charmed laughter and clinking glasses in Serenity’s dining rooms and lounges.

But there’s a whole cult of Crystal-only cruisers, as faithful to the brand as travelers who hop to every Four Seasons, and they don’t just love it for its beautiful aesthetics. In short, it’s the culture of friendly, spot-on, perpetually delightful service.

Launched in 2003, Crystal Serenity is the youngest of Crystal’s ships; near-sibling Crystal Symphony launched five years later. Most significant about the vessel itself is that Crystal Serenity has benefited from more than a decade of evolution with the cruise line. The ship, carrying 1,080 passengers — the largest in the luxury segment — is significantly bigger than its predecessors, and yet, it carries an expanded capacity of just 150 cruisers. Responding to demand, Crystal Serenity offers twice as many penthouse cabins as Symphony. There are two paddle tennis courts instead of one, as tried-and-true Crystal devotees are fiercely competitive in this arena. At heart, it’s a modern ship that incorporates plenty of classic elements, and cabins, public rooms and outer decks all feel spacious.

In 2011, the ship received a $25 million refit. New lighting, carpeting and furnishings, along with a complete redesign of cabins, keep the ship feeling contemporary, fresh and incredibly well maintained. But that was just the first phase in a dramatic $52 million makeover. Its final phase, a $17 million redesign of public areas, had just completed as we came aboard in 2014. It included a redesign of its now-airy Santa Barbara-inspired Lido Deck (think living walls, outside sofas and a global-inspired casual dining deck), as well as the ultra-luxe redesign of its penthouses and 1,345-square-foot Crystal Penthouses, which positions it squarely at the top end of the world’s best cruise ships.

Other hallmarks of Crystal Cruises — the Creative Learning Institutes, which include language classes, digital filmmaking courses and knowledgeable professors that lecture along the way — are as tremendous an added value as ever. Itineraries are all inclusive, with complimentary wine and spirits, and prepaid gratuities. There are little — but important — perks along the way, too, like same-day pressing and convenient self-serve launderettes on the two penthouse floors.

We noticed that there were a lot of passengers celebrating milestone occasions, and for them — or just those with plenty of money to celebrate — Crystal offers a myriad of opportunities to create a once-in-a-lifetime sailing. On our voyage, Crystal unveiled two posh Crystal Adventures for an overnight in Monaco during the Grand Prix. Crystal had its own VIP grandstand seats in the heart of the action, plus catered lunch and, later, VIP tables at Amber Lounge with free-flowing Dom Perignon at Formula 1’s exclusive after party. The experience started at $1,000 per person.

For newcomers, the onboard atmosphere can often feel a bit country clubby. Most passengers are of retirement age, and many have met one another before. (In many cases, they sailed together on previous trips.) We, in our early 40’s with a 5-year-old daughter along, were easily among the youngest aboard.

Crystal is attempting some minor experiments to broaden its appeal; it offers some seven-night itineraries, more dining options than before and even razzle-dazzle late evenings in the Pulse disco. Taking a page from its smaller, ultra-luxury competitors, the line is nearly all-inclusive, with drinks, tips and even airfare included in the fares. (There are fees for shore excursions and alternative restaurant reservations beyond the first one.) But, it speaks to the line’s strength that it’s not interested in rocking the boat to draw passengers at any cost. It’s a safe bet that, unlike other lines that try too hard too quickly, Crystal won’t lose its identity.

Crystal Serenity Fellow Passengers

Crystal passengers are generally an empty-nester crowd, especially on unusual itineraries like World Cruises, where longer itineraries attract those who clearly have the time (read: retirement) to take the longer sailings. In fact, we overheard solicitous staff greeting repeat passengers or those who had been living aboard even while the staff had been on hiatus. On our sailing, our daughter was one of only three children aboard (though the kids of a visiting professor and the child of a performer rotated in and out).

In the Mediterranean, you can expect about half of the passengers to be American. The rest are mostly English-speaking passengers from the U.K., Australia and South America. Crystal’s management tells us that plenty of passengers also come from Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, Germany and Spain.

Crystal Serenity Dress Code

Crystal has always been a formal cruise line, and it still is. But, as with many lines, change is in the air. While the more traditional passengers still wear long, elegant gowns, tuxedos and even formal white coats on formal nights, there are fewer formal and informal nights now. Dress is generally elegant resort casual.

Crystal Serenity Gratuity

While suggested tipping guidelines had been published for years by Crystal — $5 per day for cabin stewards and waiters, $3 per day for assistant waiters, $5 per day for assistant butlers, and so on — Crystal has recently rolled gratuities into the overall charge, which makes for far less confusion. Crystal’s inclusive cruising policy includes gratuities for housekeeping (penthouse butler and attendant, stateroom attendant), and bar and dining staff (including specialty restaurants and in-room dining staff). Naturally, you can leave a little something for over-the-top exemplary service, and Crystal Spa & Salon services automatically add 18 percent.

Azamara Quest will never be a true luxury product — not with its small staterooms and aging real estate in an industry where «newer» and «bigger» often mean «better.» But with its smart new focus on «destination immersion» and sharply expanded menu of complimentary amenities, Azamara Club Cruises has carved out an upmarket niche that should have staying power.

What Azamara Quest (and sister ship Journey) aims to deliver is, as CEO Larry Pimentel frames it, a «bucket list» of must-see destinations around the world. How? With longer stays in port, more overnights and nighttime touring. It’s a strategic move that represents a distinct departure from traditional cruising, which typically features daytime port visits and no overnights or nighttime touring. The ship also plans itineraries around popular events, docking in Rio for Carnaval, Monaco for the Grand Prix and London for the Chelsea Garden Show.

On our seven-night cruise along the French Riviera, we overnighted in both Nice and Monte Carlo. And, in other ports, we sailed away as late as 10 p.m., so there was ample time to enjoy dinner or explore the nightlife on shore. (One downside: On shorter itineraries with no sea days, there is no real sense of the sail or the sea because the cruising itself occurs in the dark. If that’s an important consideration, it’s best to rethink your itinerary.)

In addition, every cruise now features one complimentary AzAmazing Evening — a local performance, concert or sporting event staged exclusively for Azamara that showcases a region’s culture and cuisine. On our AzAmazing Evening in Sete, France, we watched a colorful water-jousting competition, a local tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, followed by an outdoor reception (with sparkling wines, octopus pie, fresh oysters and mussels) and fireworks. It was a showstopper.

As for the ship, Azamara Quest considers itself a floating boutique hotel. When it launched in 2007 with nearly 700 passengers, the ship was considered mid-size. By today’s mega-ship standards, it’s a small vessel, and that’s part of its charm. Also, what Quest lacks in stateroom and bathroom panache, it makes up for with its handsome public spaces. It doesn’t hurt either that the ship underwent a $10 million refurbishment in late 2012 that included an interior design redo of the Windows buffet restaurant, new chaise lounges on the pool deck, all new equipment in the fitness center and an upgrade of carpeting and furniture fabrics in most of the public spaces.

The food and service overall are quite good by any standard. One of the game-changers, though, are new fare inclusions — not only an AzAmazing Evening but the self-service laundry, complimentary shuttles in many ports, butlers for suite passengers, house wines, beer, selected spirits, bottled water and soft drinks. The onboard experience is far more luxurious than it was before. Both onboard and ashore, this is a ship that has reinvented itself.

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Azamara Quest Fellow Passengers

Passengers onboard were an international mix, though the largest nation represented by far was the U.S., followed by the U.K., Canada and Australia. Other Europeans rounded out the lot, although there were also passengers from the Dominican Republic, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Chile and Mexico.

A large fraction of passengers are seniors, but Azamara says the average age is 55 to 57. Onboard entertainment, from trivia topics to musical choice, is clearly intended for Baby Boomers and their elders.

Almost a quarter of passengers on a typical voyage are first-time cruisers who are seasoned land travelers. Azamara says its chief competitors are boutique hotels. Statistically, the cruise lines it draws from are, in order, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal.

Azamara Quest Dress Code

Azamara Quest’s evening dress code is always resort casual, which means slacks and nice, collared shirts for men, and sundresses, dressy slacks or skirts for ladies. Dressing to the nines is the exception, rather than the rule; we saw some stunning dresses in the specialty restaurants Prime C and Aqualina and in the Discoveries main dining room, as well as a handful of men in suits; mostly passengers dressed nicely but not necessarily fancily. Jeans are not permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants.

Azamara Quest Gratuity

Tips are included in cruise fares, but additional tipping is at passengers’ discretion. Spa gratuities are not included in fares. An 18 percent gratuity will be added to passengers’ onboard folio for spa services. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

 

Editor in Chief; updated by Gayle Keck, Cruise Critic contributor

Imagine yourself in a floating country club, and you’ll have a good feel for Nautica’s onboard ambience: elegant, understated and luxurious but with a casual vibe that keeps the whole experience from being overly formal. The experience is anything but pretentious.

Ask passengers what keeps them coming back (on our sailing, more than 50 percent were repeat customers), and it’s likely that «The food!» will be their enthusiastic answer. Varied menus, five dining venues and creative cuisine that can rival top-notch restaurants all make for the best culinary experience at sea.

Nautica’s itineraries tend to be longer, with many in the 21-day range. There is usually a higher number of sea days than on the average ship, and Nautica also spends the night in some ports, allowing for longer onshore visits. The ship travels around the world and hits a wide variety of destinations. Creative and varied itineraries are another element that keeps passengers returning.

In terms of facilities, there’s virtually everything you’d find on a larger ship (Canyon Ranch spa, a casino and an excellent fitness facility), yet the atmosphere is cozy and intimate. Staff and crew routinely rotate among Oceania’s ships, so a returning passenger on any of them is likely to recognize friendly faces. That could also be because Oceania treats its employees well — and they return, contract after contract. Many of the officers, crew and staff members hail from luxury lines like Crystal and Silversea.

The line primarily offers mass sightseeing tours via motorcoach, and if there’s one area where size limits the offerings, this is it. Shore excursions also tend to be on the pricier side, compared to other cruise line offerings.

If you define luxury as polished service, outstanding cuisine, an intimately sized ship with just enough of the key bells and whistles (variety of dining options, a gorgeous spa, top-notch lecturers), intriguing itineraries and an ambience of warmth, then this ship definitely belongs in that niche. On the other hand, there are also mass-market factors that don’t necessarily hew to luxury standards: Drinks and other extras are priced on an a la carte basis, standard cabins can be small (cozy, but small) with shower-only bathrooms, and there are plenty of inside cabins.

The beauty of Nautica is its ability to keep a steady foot in both camps. Oceania is savvy in positioning its fares for a range of travelers, from those who consider suites and butlers necessary amenities to those who value luxury without the Mercedes price tag. In the process, Nautica offers exceptional value for money.

Nautica Fellow Passengers

Nautica attracts mostly North American passengers, with a handful of Brits. Depending on the itinerary, though, you’ll find a smattering of folks hailing from other countries.

On most cruises, passengers fit into the mature traveler category with a majority falling into the 65 to 75 age range. They are typically well traveled and keen for Nautica’s varied destinations. There were only a couple of youngsters on our cruise, and the ship doesn’t cater to — or encourage — children.

Chances are, passengers will have cruised before, and likely on an Oceania ship. They’ll be engaged travelers — the sort who turn out for lectures and want to understand the cultures they’re visiting. Given the Oceania’s culinary reputation, they’re usually foodies, as well.

Nautica Dress Code

Plan for country club casual and you’ll be fine (pretty flowing skirt/pants outfits for women, jackets and, okay, maybe one tie for men at night, and casual tropical wear during the days onboard). Editor’s Note: When going ashore, pay attention to Oceania’s dress recommendations, which will depend on the ship’s itinerary.

There are no formal evenings onboard, though many folks did dress for the welcome dinner.

Nautica Gratuity

Nautica’s onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. On European itineraries, it’s possible to purchase euros from reception for use ashore. For other destinations, the ship endeavors to arrange currency exchange services, either onboard or on shore. For shipboard currency exchange, the line adds a 5 percent service charge.

A gratuity is automatically added to your shipboard bill, but can be altered or removed if you wish. For sailings prior to the 2015-16 winter season, $15 per person, per day, is added for regular cabins; for suites with butler service, $22 per person, per day, is added. Beginning in the 2015-16 winter season, rates will be $16 and $23, respectively.

An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases and spa services.

 

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