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February 28, 2011

Celebrity Cruises expands premium culinary offerings

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'Champagne High Tea' and industry-first premium kosher meals join line's breadth of differentiated dining experiences

Miami - (February 25, 2011 ) - The dining experience has always been central to a Celebrity Cruises vacation, and the line has proven it once again with its latest culinary introductions: an authentic, world-class high tea experience called "Champagne High Tea," and industry-first premium kosher meals.

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"We know how precious consumers' vacation time is, and we're committed to offering an exceptional dining experience to make those rare vacations even more special," said Celebrity's Vice President of Culinary Operations Jacques Van Staden. "Our Champagne High Tea is designed in the tradition of the most highly regarded afternoon tea experiences in the world."

Celebrity's Champagne High Tea takes place once on every seven-night sailing, and at least twice on an eight-night or longer cruise. Held in Celebrity's highly acclaimed, elegant specialty restaurants, amidst live music performed by a string quartet, the event's delectable selections include premium Forte' teas; Lavazza coffees, including espressos, lattes and cappuccino; savory sandwiches and desserts - including pastries, scones, truffles and pate de fruit - all served on Wedgewood china and in Riedel Crystal.

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Celebrity's Champagne High Tea cover charge of $25 per person - an exceptional value when compared with land-based high tea experiences - includes all culinary selections and a glass of champagne. Reservations for Celebrity's Champagne High Tea can be made onboard by dialing the ship's "dining reservation" number. The experience - in addition to the line's longtime, complimentary tea service in the main dining room - is offered across the Celebrity fleet, with the exception of Celebrity Xpedition, the line's megayacht sailing year-round in the Galapagos Islands.

Meanwhile, for guests interested in kosher meals, Celebrity has introduced another industry first: premium kosher meals, offered as an option amidst the brand's vast array of other dining selections. Among Celebrity's premium kosher entrees are herb-roasted salmon, BBQ quartered chicken, beef brisket, citrus-glazed chicken breast, and citrus-glazed tilapia, while breakfast items include traditional lox and bagels, Belgian waffles, wild mushroom omelettes, or pancakes. Kosher wines and champagne also are available, with Celebrity's highly skilled sommeliers poised to offer recommendations.

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All selections are Glatt Kosher certified and made from scratch in kosher kitchens under the strict supervision of the O.U. and USDA. Celebrity's premium kosher meals are available for a fee, and the line's more limited, complimentary kosher selections will continue to be offered.

Vacationers interested in kosher meals are asked to notify Celebrity of their interest 60 days in advance of departure. Guests participating in the premium kosher program then can make their specific menu selections for each day onboard, 24 hours in advance of dining.

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Guests with bookings on any Celebrity vacation are invited to submit requests for kosher meals or any special dietary needs in advance through their travel agent.

Celebrity Cruises' iconic "X" is the mark of the world's top-rated premium cruise line, with spacious, stylish interiors; dining experiences elevated to an art form; personalized service, with a guest-to-staff ratio of nearly 2:1; unexpected, trendsetting onboard activities, all designed to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers' precious time. Celebrity sails to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Galapagos Islands. Celebrity also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America. One of the fastest-growing major cruise lines, Celebrity's fleet currently consists of 10 ships, with two additional Solstice Class ships scheduled to join the fleet: Celebrity Silhouette in July 2011, and Celebrity Reflection in Fall 2012. For more information, contact a Five Star Agent at Cruising2Europe.com #1-800-738-8837.

Posted by Denise at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2011

Norwegian First In The Cruise Industry To Be Awarded With Travel + Leisure Design Award

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Norwegian Epic's Studio staterooms recognized for innovative design

Miami - Feb 17, 2011 - Norwegian Cruise Line is the first in the cruise industry to be honored by Travel + Leisure, the popular guide for world travelers with the largest audience of any travel magazine, with its distinguished Design Award. The recipients of the seventh annual award represent the best new examples of design in a range of categories from hotels and transportation to luggage and travel fashion.

Norwegian Epic was awarded "Best Transportation" for its innovative Studio staterooms, a private key-card access complex on two decks consisting of 128 staterooms and the Studio Lounge. The concept was pioneered by Norwegian and designed and priced specifically for solo travelers, allowing them the comfort and convenience to travel without the industry's single supplement cruise price. Priestmangoode, a design firm in the United Kingdom, designed the Studios for Norwegian.

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"The Studio staterooms on Norwegian Epic have been extremely well received and we are pleased to be able to offer solo traveler's an opportunity to visit great destinations while experiencing Freestyle Cruising on board our most innovative ship," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer.

Each Studio stateroom, at approximately 100 square feet of living space, features a contemporary design with a full-size bed and separate areas for the bathroom, sink and shower. In addition, guests in the Studios have private access to the exclusive Studio Lounge. Here, guests can grab a cup of coffee in the morning, meet up with fellow cruisers and plan their day or relax with a drink in the evening. Since many of the Studio staterooms are connecting, there is also the opportunity for friends to travel together while giving each their own private space.

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Norwegian Epic is currently featured on www.TravelandLeisure.com and is highlighted in the magazine's March issue, on newsstands February 21. Winners of the 2011 Travel + Leisure Design Awards were selected by an esteemed panel of judges, including Henry Urbach, curator of architecture and design for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Norma Kamali, fashion designer; Danny Meyer, restaurateur; Paulette Cole, CEO and creative director of ABC Carpet & Home's; and David Childs, Chairman of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill.

About Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 44-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising, most notably with the introduction of Freestyle Cruising which has revolutionized the industry by allowing guests more freedom and flexibility.

Today, Norwegian has 11 purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea. The Company has reached an agreement for two 143,000-gross ton vessels for delivery in 2013 and 2014.

Norwegian's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic, debuted in June 2010. Norwegian Cruise Line is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, debuting for the first time at sea on Norwegian Epic, as well as the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, Second City Comedy Troupe, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, Gibson Guitar, and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids. Cirque Dreams" & Dinner is also featured on board Norwegian Epic as the first show of its kind at sea under a big top.

Posted by Denise at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2011

Standing in the Shadows of the Moai - Easter Island, Chile

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Posted by Melania Parnisari, Hotel General Manager for Crown Princess

February 22, 2011 - The first time I stood in front of one of these sculptures, I felt like a tiny, meaningless mosquito ... I had tears in my eyes, silly me, thinking of how little we know of our past, of the culture of people we know nothing or little about. Ever since childhood, Easter Island had captured my imagination. I've always been an avid reader with a strong interest in history and ancient civilizations, so this mysterious land with its unique stone sentinels called to me. I longed to see more than just the printed pictures of one of those iconic heads; I wanted to stand in its shadow.

A few years ago I was lucky enough be working aboard the original Royal Princess during its South America season. My contract ended in Valparaiso, Chile, and instead of heading right home, I flew to my ultimate "bucket list" destination. On my own. Everyone thought I had lost my mind. I simply could not explain to anyone's satisfaction the meaning this place had for me. Nonetheless I set off on a solo adventure that became one of my most memorable travel experiences ever.

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Easter Island, or Rapa Nui in the local language, is one of the world's most isolated inhabited islands - its nearest neighbor is Pitcairn Island, which is more than 1,200 miles to the west. South America is about 2,300 miles away, and is the main gateway for flights to the island (you can also fly from Tahiti). Getting there is something of a quest and the flights are usually full. When I checked in for my flight I was offered very generous compensation to give up my seat. But I turned them down without hesitation - no way was I going to miss out on this experience!

I had booked a room at a small family-owned hotel, and they picked me up at the airport. I quickly discovered that everybody on the island is very friendly, and eager to share their history and heritage with visitors. The locals appreciate that most visitors are keenly interested in learning about the island.

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Easter Island got its current name when Dutch navigator Jakob Roggeveen visited on Easter day in 1722. But long before he came, Polynesian settlers found the island and took the art of carving mystical figures to new heights.

Those giant heads I saw in all the pictures? They're called Moai, and on my arrival, I couldn't wait to see one for real.

Although many have tried to solve the mystery of the Moai there are still many theories to explain their presence. I came to learn that the island has nearly 900 of these giant heads in various stages of completion. And on an island that's only about 63 square miles - that's a lot of statues per mile!

My hotel was only a few minutes' walk to the sea and one of the Moai sites. I quickly found my favorite spot, called Ahu Tahai. In the late afternoon I'd walk over, sit on the grass with my book and watch the sunset and wonder ...

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The Moai give one many things to wonder about. They are carved from the local volcanic rock and the style and size evolved over time. Some think that the bigger the need, the bigger the statue to appeal to the gods. Or maybe each neighboring clan chiefs kept trying to outdo each other with bigger and bigger Moai. The smallest ones stand only about four feet tall, but the largest tower like skyscrapers more than 30 feet high. They weigh between 14 and 80 tons, so the work it took to move them boggles the mind.

The first time I stood in front of one of these sculptures, I felt like a tiny, meaningless mosquito ... I had tears in my eyes, silly me, thinking of how little we know of our past, of the culture of people we know nothing or little about.

Each statue is quite unique. Not only are they different sizes, but each has literally a different look - the body shape, the nose. Most no longer have the coral and stone eyes, but many still have red "hats" or pukau - which were carved in a different quarry from the statues themselves.

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But I did not just see a sculpture; I saw an ancient culture and a timeless puzzle. I felt the same way the first time I visited the pyramids in Giza, Egypt. How could they build these statues without modern technology? What drove them to this? My mind reeled with "whys" - plus a few "maybes" and "what ifs" for good measure. At the same time I felt somehow at home, at peace with myself and the rest of the world in such a magical place.

The Moai everywhere are amazing, but the place that stunned me most was the Ranu Raraku quarry. Hundreds of Moai in various stages of completion are scattered everywhere - some standing, some lying down as if abandoned. There's even one single Moai carved in a sitting position. Here you can walk up close, touch them and wonder about who last worked on each statue. Nobody knows why they stopped carving, but maybe they just got too big - Ranu Raraku also features the biggest Moai ever carved - about 70 feet long - and it lies unfinished on the slopes still attached to its original rock. It just deepens the mystery.

The statues not in the quarry are dotted all along the coast of the island, forming something of a ring around its shoreline. What surprised me was that many statues don't gaze out to sea (as I did regularly), but instead face inland, looking over a ceremonial area. The Moai are mostly grouped on Ahus - stone pedestals on which they stand. I found Ahu Tongariki the most stunning. Here 12 Moais stand one next to the other in a neat row with the sea directly behind them.

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While the Moai are the "headliners" of local attractions, there is more to see and do on this tropical island. At one end there's a beautiful white sand beach called Anakena. There was talk of building a five-star resort here, but as far as I know the locals have blocked it. There is a Moai site here, but the beach also sports a "magic" rock that radiates heat and, so they say, positive energy.

Volcanoes have left lava tubes and several interesting caves on the island, which were apparently used as refuge during the battles between tribes, and later to hide from slave hunters. Today many people like to explore them for the interesting artwork on the walls.

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The ceremonial village of 'Orongo also fascinated me with its story of the birdman cult which hosted an annual race to collect the first sooty tern egg of the season. The now abandoned site sits atop a hill facing the three little islets. In order to complete the challenge, young men had to climb down the very steep cliffs, swim over to the islets and collect the egg, then return. The first one to make it back would secure control of the island's resources for his tribe for the year. It was clearly very dangerous, with sheer cliffs and extremely strong currents to battle.

Wherever I went, I found I wasn't really alone in my solo adventure. It was easy to make new friends, and I met several other solo travellers, who like, me were on their own quest. It was nice to share impressions over dinner or during an excursion. In my short time on the island I collected new friends from Chile, Argentina, Germany, France and Switzerland.

After five days I was supposed to return to the "real world," however the only flight connection was delayed and I was "forced" to stay another day. Apparently this situation is quite routine, and extending isn't a problem because any new guests will only arrive on that delayed plane, so our rooms were still available.

I loved the extra day which gave me the chance to do a jeep tour to the highest point of the island - Mount Terevaka. When we got to the top, a brilliant rainbow arched across the sky. This last amazingly peaceful image of Easter Island was what I took with me to the airport and eventually back home.

I was so lucky to return to Easter Island last year during the World Cruise on the new Royal Princess. The island has developed a lot in the 11 years since my first visit, but the magic and the mystery remain. I was told that visitors still like to watch the sunset from "my" spot facing the Moai with the ocean behind them.

I still can't completely explain why, but I have never felt better in my life, than this time I spent in isolated reverie in my beautiful special spot by the Moai.

Posted by Denise at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2011

From Tahiti with Love

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Posted by Gavin MacLeod
Princess Cruises Ambassador (and "Captain Merrill Stubing" on "The Love Boat")

After 10 seasons portraying Captain Stubing on "The Love Boat," actor Gavin MacLeod became an iconic symbol of cruising and romance. Since the show ended in 1986 Gavin has also been our ambassador at events around the world. We consider him part of the Princess family. So for the week of Valentine's Day we've asked him to share his own essential experience ... and could you guess it's a travel adventure filled with romance?

The deep blue waters of Tahiti are a long way from the world I knew as a child. I had a modest upbringing in upstate New York, and then cruises were a luxury I couldn't even dream of. It wasn't until years later that I set foot on my very first cruise ship - and amusingly, I was instantly the captain! I'm pretty sure I'm the only "captain" who can say that.

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I was lucky. I spent 10 memorable years playing "Captain Stubing" on "The Love Boat" - what a dream job! Every week I got to act in stories about love and romance ... and I had the chance to meet some incredible guest stars. I couldn't believe I was actually working alongside these amazing actors I had admired since my childhood - like Lana Turner and Ginger Rogers. Some were interesting folks, like Andy Warhol, and others were up and comers just starting out, such as Tom Hanks. It was an unforgettable experience.

We didn't just shoot "The Love Boat" in our Los Angeles soundstage. Several times a year we actually boarded a Princess ship and shot scenes on an actual cruise. We sailed to Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Alaska. But one place we never got to on the show was Tahiti.

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Tahiti! Doesn't it sound magical? I envision Mitzi Gaynor "washing that man right out of her hair" in "South Pacific." The wonderful tales of James Michener, who I had the great fortune to sail with aboard a Princess cruise years later. And, the colorful art of Paul Gauguin.

But most of all, when I think of Tahiti I think of romance. Maybe it's all those years on a show that focused on love and happy endings. However, when I did finally get to Tahiti I was very glad my wonderful wife, Patti, was by my side.

We flew out a few days ahead of our cruise aboard Tahitian Princess along with my manager and good friend, Lee. Appropriately, Patti and I would be performing the two-person play "Love Letters" on the ship, so it was something of a working vacation. But really what this trip became was discovering one of the world's most romantic places.

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Our first glimpse of Tahiti from the air was one of vast expanses of turquoise water, punctuated with the occasional island. We were all seasoned travelers, but the excitement of descending closer and closer to this lush paradise felt like a new experience. The colors popped out even from the air - bright greens and blues as far as the eye could see.

Tahiti is famous for its beaches, and that was where we spent the bulk of our time before the cruise. Years before, I had travelled to Hawaii to shoot an episode of Hawaii 5-0, and thought the waters around those islands were amazingly beautiful. And yet I now discovered that they had serious competition with Tahiti's sparkling blue seas.

That, to me, is Tahiti. Sparkling white or black sands. Water as clear and placid as a sheet of glass. And nothing and no one else for as far as the eye could see. Those picturesque overwater bungalows. No commotion or craziness. No worries except maybe when to go to dinner or which beach to try next. Just this tremendously lush landscape and the feeling of total relaxation and time to focus on your loved one.

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There's something about the mystique of Tahiti that brings out the romantic in all of us. Surrounded by this tranquil atmosphere with nothing to disturb us but the lapping of the waves and the scent of tropical flowers in the air, Patti and I were able to relax, talk and really connect.

We did leave our reverie to visit some of the island's sights. We saw historic Matavai Bay, where many early European navigators anchored, including the HMS Bounty - of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame - and Captain Cook. We met warm, wonderful people speaking French, Tahitian and, thankfully, some English. We saw the open air Le Truck buses that run around the island and the Les Roulottes mobile restaurants serving movable feasts along the waterfront. But mostly we enjoyed time together marveling at the stunning vistas everywhere.

This peaceful feeling continued once we set sail on Tahitian Princess to tour the other islands of French Polynesia. We were in awe of the towering pinnacles and spectacular waterfalls of Moorea, we learned about the fascinating Polynesian culture in Raiatea, and we felt we had surely found the mythical "Bali Hai" when we first glimpsed the shimmering lagoon and lush greenery of Bora Bora. Every island seemed as if it was painted by an artist using the brightest palette of colors.

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One day onboard, I joined my wife who was standing on our balcony, looking out at the sun setting just beyond jagged peaks of the islands. It was a picture postcard moment if ever you saw one. As I approached she mused, "Do you think heaven's as beautiful as this?"

Well, I don't know if heaven could be any lovelier than these stunning islands, but I do know I was lucky to share this little bit of heaven on earth with someone I love so dearly. It was our own personal "Love Boat."

Posted by Denise at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2011

Princess Cruises Chefs Take Home Culinary Prizes at Bacardi Bartender and Chef Cruise Competition

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Pacific Princess and Coral Princess Passengers Can Taste Winning Creations

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 16, 2011) - Thanks to creative use of red snapper and deep-fried sushi, two Princess Cruises chefs have taken first place in two culinary categories at the Sixth Annual Bacardi Bartender & Chef Cruise Competition.

Pacific Princess Executive Chef Antonio Cortese received top honors in the "Heart Healthy" category for his Red Snapper Mojito, while Coral Princess Sous Chef Abelardo Alvarez won the "Vegetarian" category with his Deep Fried Sushi with Bacardi Wasabi Emulsion and Spicy Kimchi.

The award-winning recipes were selected from more than 1,600 entries submitted for the prestigious beverage and culinary competition. Using criteria such as presentation, taste, creativity, appeal and ease of preparation, a judging panel of culinary experts winnowed down the field and chose the best recipe in each of five categories.

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Passengers aboard Pacific Princess during her just-launched world cruise will have an opportunity to sample Executive Chef Cortese's Red Snapper Mojito when it is served as a special heart-healthy appetizer. Chef Alvarez's winning entry, Deep Fried Sushi with Bacardi Wasabi Emulsion and Spicy Kimchi will also be served to passengers on a regular basis on board Coral Princess.

"We're tremendously proud of both chefs for demonstrating such culinary excellence," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "It's always a great honor to be singled out from one's peers and receive industry acknowledgement of the creativity that enhances our passengers' experience. We congratulate them on this achievement."

The Bacardi Bartender & Chef Cruise Competition, an international event open to all bartenders and chefs in the cruise and ferry industry, requires bartenders and chefs to create original recipes using Bacardi products. The goals of the competition are to "support the cruise industry and its talented artisans, recognize innovation onboard the world's best cruise and ferry lines, and foster a path for staff to further their trade expertise".

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a Princess Expert at Cruising2Europe.com #1-800-738-8837.

Posted by Denise at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2011

Princess Cruises Ships to Broadcast Historic Royal Wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton

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Passengers Can Watch the Future Princess Walk Down the Aisle with BBC World Coverage on "Movies Under the Stars" Screens

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 14, 2011) - The highly anticipated Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will be televised live on Princess ships on April 29. Passengers will be able to follow along with full coverage of the pomp and majesty of the historic wedding through BBC World's broadcast of the event.

Not only can passengers follow along as the future princess walks down the aisle, but they'll enjoy viewing parties on board as they watch the most extensive coverage of this royal event. BBC is the official wedding broadcaster and has exclusive access inside Westminster Abbey during the ceremony.

The onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

"As this is the first British royal wedding in years we know there will be wide interest among our passengers," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "We at Princess also feel a connection with Prince William because his mother, Princess Diana, christened our original Royal Princess back in 1984."

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Royal Wedding broadcasts are planned for all ships in the Princess fleet, subject to satellite availability. In some time zones the broadcast may be delayed for viewing at a convenient hour.

The Royal Wedding is one of several special events shown on the Movies Under the Stars screens, including the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. The giant LED screens are more than 300 square feet in size with a 69,000-watt sound system and have sufficient lighting power to be seen clearly at mid-day and heard even while the ship is moving at full speed - offering cruise passengers a movie experience comparable to the best shoreside movie theater.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a Princess Expert at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

Posted by Denise at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2011

Crystal Serenity to Undergo Major Redesign in May

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LOS ANGELES, February 9, 2011 - While Crystal Cruises' ocean resorts have racked up countless awards since entering service, the ultra-luxury line has never been one to rest on its laurels. This spring, Crystal will be spending $25+ million dollars to keep its largest ship, Crystal Serenity, on the cutting edge of luxury style.

More than 400 expert technicians flown from around the world, working round the clock for just 14 days, are scheduled for the massive redesign of her 531 Deluxe Staterooms, Penthouses and Penthouses Suites; retail centers; expansive outdoor pool deck and other design projects during a May 8-22 dry dock at Hamburg's Blohm + Voss shipyard.

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"In the past two years, we have invested well over $50 million in our ships," says Gregg Michel, president, Crystal Cruises. "Our guests can look forward to dazzling new spaces, which will serve as a stunning backdrop to the incomparable service and choices that always characterizes a Crystal vacation."

Interior designer, Keith Rushbrook, principal at the Toronto-based II BY IV Design Associates, summarizes the vision: "We wanted modern classic elegance. We wanted Fifth Avenue - creme de la creme New York-inspired living and retail spaces that people love and look forward to spending time in."

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New Deluxe Stateroom and Penthouse Accommodation Decor
All of Crystal Serenity's Deluxe Outside Staterooms, Penthouses, and Penthouse Suites will sport new, floor-to-ceiling tufted headboards, bedside cabinets, wallpaper, sofas, curtains, pillows, and custom carpets in contemporary lines and classic stone, silk, velvet, leather, and crisp linen textures. New modern lighting features and electronic "do not disturb" and doorbell system will allow guests greater personalization of their home-away-from-home.

New Shops
Serenity's retail shops will receive a similar, sophisticated metamorphosis. The Facets fine jewelry store will mirror a jewelry box, with mother-of-pearl feature wall, beveled chrome vitrines, and new, private sales area. The Apropos boutique will become three-shops-in-one, with a flagship Christian Dior cosmetic/skincare area showcased amongst rich Zebrano wood and herringbone rosewood, arresting black-plum-magenta carpeting, and tufted leather seating.

New Chic Pool Deck
Inspired by Crystal Symphony's recent transformation, the Seahorse Pool teak deck will be refashioned with circular pod beds, plush sofa groups, and lounge chairs in a kaleidoscope of lime green, azure, and mango.

New Lighting and Furniture
The corridors throughout the ship will be transformed with new, custom carpeting, inspiring artwork, and mood lighting. Dramatic new lighting will also be installed in the Crystal Dining Room, as will new furniture on all stateroom verandahs.

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Following the dry dock, Crystal Serenity will embark on a series of Baltic, North Cape and British Isles cruises before heading to the Mediterranean for late summer and fall cruise series, where guests cannot only enjoy the resort's new look but exceptional value with verandah savings and a new fall fare sale.

Crystal Cruises' ethos of warm and friendly attentiveness, proffered by top-trained service staff from around the world, has earned the line a reputation for elevating hospitality to an art form. With no guest request left untended, Crystal Cruises has been the perfect choice for luxury travelers for over two decades.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a Crystal Specialist at Cruising2Europe.com #1-800-738-8837.

Posted by Denise at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2011

Grand Princess to Undergo Dramatic Transformation During Spring Drydock

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Grand Princess to Undergo Dramatic Transformation During Spring Drydock
Makeover Will Include Piazza Atrium, Tea Lounge, Pizzeria and Nightclub

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 10, 2011) - The most significant transformation ever of a Princess Cruises ship will occur this spring aboard Grand Princess. During a 24-day makeover the ship, which was the prototype for the line's "Grand Class" vessels, will undergo a remarkable renovation to receive many of Princess' trademark features introduced since the ship's 1998 debut including the signature Piazza atrium. Several new features will be also be added including a unique tea lounge and library called "Leaves"; and "Alfredo's," a full-service pizzeria showcasing this renowned Princess dish.

A brand new nightclub called One5, inspired by its deck location, will be created on the top deck of the ship, replacing its iconic Skywalker Nightclub, which has given the ship its distinctive profile. Skywalkers will be removed from its 18th deck perch, with its replacement located on deck 15. This change will significantly improve the operational performance of the ship, including greater fuel efficiency.

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"This is the largest makeover we've ever undertaken for any of our ships," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "When Grand Princess was launched she was the most innovative ship at sea, and now we're adding some of the later innovations we introduced on subsequent ships."

Artist renderings of the Grand Princess changes are available in a Flickr gallery at: http://bit.ly/g0JA8I.

The changes will be made during a drydock from April 11 to May 4 at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. Highlights of the dramatic makeover include:

  • New Piazza atrium - The atrium space of Grand Princess will be completely rebuilt to include this signature Princess feature - a multi-faceted social hub of the ship combining always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. The Piazza will feature the International Cafe for pastries, grilled panini sandwiches, salads, fresh-baked cookies and a variety of coffee drinks. Passengers will also enjoy a new Vines wine bar offering a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of tapas and sushi, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.

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  • Leaves Tea Lounge and Library - A fusion of tea lounge and library, the new Leaves offers a distinctive opportunity for passengers to custom-blend a variety of base teas with herbs, fruits and spices to create a personalized tea blend. Created in partnership with Mighty Leaf Tea Company, one of the world's premier maker of artisan teas, Leaves will give passengers an impressive choice of up to 500 different tea blends to suit their palates. A trained tea sommelier will assist passengers in blending a personalized tea creation, which they can enjoy in the midst of the library and a good book.

  • Alfredo's Pizzeria - Known for serving the best pizza at sea, Princess will introduce Alfredo's, a new sit-down pizzeria with an enticing menu of freshly prepared individual-size pizzas. Named for the line's master executive chef, Alfredo Marzi, the pizzeria will feature an open kitchen where passengers can watch chefs create the pizzas they'll enjoy with a glass of wine or other beverage.

  • One5 Lounge - The new One5 lounge will replace Skywalkers as the place to be for nighttime dancing and relaxing. The new lounge on deck 15 (hence its name) takes its inspiration from the chicest urban nightclubs, and will offer a cool vibe, contemporary seating and lighting, and a dramatic back-lit bar.

  • Crown Grill - A classic steakhouse with rich wood surroundings, this specialty restaurant features an open, theater-style kitchen where chefs custom-prepare premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, including live lobsters.

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    Also part of the renovation will be 10 new suites; remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner's Martini Lounge.

    The newly renovated Grand Princess will debut on May 5 in Ft. Lauderdale where the ship will depart on a transatlantic crossing for her summer and fall homeport of Southampton, from which she will cruise a variety of European itineraries.

    For more information about Princess Cruises contact a Princess Expert at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)
  • February 09, 2011

    Norwegian Cruise Line Opens New Marina And Dining Facility At Great Stirrup Cay

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    Miami - Feb 8, 2011 - Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it has completed the first phase of enhancements at Great Stirrup Cay, the line's 250-acre private island in the Bahamas. On Thursday, February 3, the company opened the new marina and dining facility on the island, representing a significant milestone in the more than $20 million enhancement project currently underway. Norwegian Sky's 2,000 guests were the first to experience the opening of the marina basin with four docks for the island's tenders and the new 8,500 square foot dining facility, complete with two bars and four picnic pavilions.

    "Both the new marina and the dining facility greatly enhance the guest experience on Great Stirrup Cay which is our second busiest port of call this year," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and CEO. "By moving the tenders' arrival to the marina and away from the beach, we have now opened up a great expanse of beachfront for our guests to enjoy and relax. We've also built a new large dining facility that is similar to the action station restaurants we have on board our Freestyle Cruising ships."

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    The marina is approximately 12 feet deep at low water and is home to the island's four tenders. It took more than eight months to excavate the basin and the entrance channel. The dining facility includes a central pizza making station, two grills, hot and cold food stations, as well as fresh fruits and breads. There are two full bars on either side of the facility for added convenience. The four pavilions, each more than 1800 square feet, offer picnic tables with a total seating capacity for more than 500 guests.

    Enhancements to Great Stirrup Cay have been underway since January of 2010 and will continue through the end of this year. Several new island activities have been added since the project began including more than 16 wave runners, kayak rentals and an eco-adventure boat tour around the island. These are in addition to the existing snorkeling; floats; inflatable hippo slide; and parasailing.

    The second phase of enhancements includes an arrival/departure pavilion, additional bar facilities; several comfort stations; a band stand; cruise program activity area; private beachfront cabanas; a kid's play area; straw market; and beach volleyball courts. The beachfront will continue to be expanded on the island's west end.

    Norwegian has owned the island since 1977 when it became the first cruise line to offer an uninhabited tropical island experience exclusively for its guests. Great Stirrup Cay offers magnificent white sand beaches, majestic palms and calm, pristine waters where an abundance of colorful marine life inhabits the surrounding coral reefs.

    Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Pearl regularly call on Great Stirrup Cay throughout the year.

    For more information on Norwegian or to book a cruise, call a Freestyle Certified Specialist at Cruising2Europe.com #1-800-738-8837.

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    About Norwegian Cruise Line
    Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 44-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising, most notably with the introduction of Freestyle Cruising which has revolutionized the industry by allowing guests more freedom and flexibility.

    Today, Norwegian has 11 purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea. The Company has reached an agreement for two 143,000-gross ton vessels for delivery in 2013 and 2014.

    Norwegian's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic, debuted in June 2010. Norwegian Cruise Line is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, debuting for the first time at sea on Norwegian Epic, as well as the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, Second City Comedy Troupe, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, Gibson Guitar, and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids. Cirque Dreams" & Dinner is also featured on board Norwegian Epic as the first show of its kind at sea under a big top.

    Posted by Denise at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

    February 04, 2011

    Super Bowl XLV to Star on Princess Cruises "Ultimate Big Screen"

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    Poolside Parties Offer Top-Deck Tailgating Combined with Dramatic Viewing Experience on Giant "Movies Under the Stars" Screens

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 3, 2011) - Football fans aboard all Princess Cruises ships around the world will have the opportunity to enjoy a super tailgate party at sea this Sunday February 6, with prime viewing of the match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. The "Big Game" will be broadcast fleetwide to passengers, including viewing on the ships' 300-square-foot super-size "Movies Under the Stars" screens.

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    Passengers will be able to follow the action between the AFC and NFC Champions, plus see the halftime show with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas. Fans can enjoy the game with an array of tailgate treats including specially prepared chicken wings, pizza, pigs-in-a-blanket and other game day "munchies," plus beer specials.

    "The Super Bowl has become one of the favorite special events we show on our Movies Under the Stars screens each year," said Jan Swartz, Princess' executive vice president. "Passengers can also enjoy the exciting halftime show, so we expect a festive party around our poolside big screens."

    Super Bowl broadcasts are planned for all ships in the Princess fleet, subject to satellite availability.

    The Super Bowl is one of several special events shown on the Movies Under the Stars screens, which will also broadcast the Academy Awards on February 27. The giant LED screens are more than 300 square feet in size with a 69,000-watt sound system and have sufficient lighting power to be seen clearly at mid-day and heard even while the ship is moving at full speed - offering cruise passengers a movie experience comparable to the best shoreside movie theater. In addition to regular movie showings, other special programs presented on the giant screens include sporting events such as the college football Bowl Championship Series, video game contests, a variety of event concerts, and even midnight showings of cult films such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

    Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a Princess Expert at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

    February 03, 2011

    Scenes from Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked! Filmed During Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Dream Last Week

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    Fox 2000 Pictures began production on ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED!, the third installment of the blockbuster movie franchise, on January 22 during a Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Dream, the newest and largest ship in Carnival Cruise Lines' fleet. Filming took place primarily on the ship's upper, open decks with scenes featuring actor Jason Lee (reprising his role as Dave Seville) and the antics of the beloved chipmunks in the Carnival Dream's expansive outdoor recreation areas.

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    Stops on the itinerary included Cozumel, Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya, which provided a stunning tropical backdrop for many of the movie's shipboard scenes. Twentieth Century Fox releases ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED! in theaters everywhere on December 16, 2011.

    The first two films grossed over $804 million worldwide. Alvin and the Chipmunks was the number-one grossing family live-action DVD of 2008, while Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel has been the best-selling family DVD since its release in March 2010.

    The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream operates year-round, alternating seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral, Fla.

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    Posted by Denise at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

    February 01, 2011

    Celebrity Infinity to Present Engaging 'Qsine' Specialty Venue

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    Future-forward restaurant is new addition in ship's expanded revitalization

    Miami - (February 01, 2011 ) - The rules say you shouldn't play with your food. But it's quite the contrary in "Qsine," the novel restaurant introduced on Celebrity Cruises' stylish Celebrity Eclipse last year. The award-winning venue - the first at sea to present its menu and wine list on an iPad - has met with such phenomenal response that Celebrity plans to add it to Celebrity Infinity during the ship's revitalization, designed to complement the already award-winning Millennium Class ships' style and design with some of the most popular venues on the line's widely heralded Solstice Class ships.

    "Qsine is designed to bring out our guests' 'inner foodie' through a uniquely unordinary approach, elevating the dining experience to a performance art," said Celebrity's Vice President of Culinary Operations Jacques Van Staden. "We've been absolutely thrilled with the response to Qsine from our guests on Celebrity Eclipse, and look forward to offering the same engaging experience when Celebrity Infinity presents the venue later this year."

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    Van Staden says the only serious thing in Qsine is the food, such as a vertical selection of savory tapas and mezze served individually in custom-made frames, a trio of chilled soups delivered shot-style, and spring rolls served in springs, all of which are described in detail on the iPad-housed menu and wine list, which offers a full scan of wine labels, an interactive cocktail menu, and the ability for guests to enter tasting notes and e-mail their favorite wine selections.

    The first in the Millennium Class series to be revitalized was Celebrity Constellation in April 2010. Rave reviews from guests sailing on the "new" vessel led the brand to expand the process further on Celebrity Infinity, which will emerge from drydock December 3, 2011, with Qsine housed in the space where Tuscan Grille delights guests on Celebrity Constellation.

    Joining Qsine in the expanded revitalization of Celebrity Infinity will be:

  • AquaClass accommodations - marking a Millennium-Class 'first' - allowing guests on Celebrity Infinity to experience the brand's popular spa-inspired accommodations and amenities

  • the chic, Mediterranean-themed specialty restaurant, "Blu," offered exclusively for AquaClass guests

  • the hip Celebrity iLounge, which debuted on Celebrity Eclipse and made Celebrity Cruises the industry's first Authorized Apple Reseller, and where guests can participate in Celebrity's "iLearn" enrichment series

  • more private luxury havens with entirely new verandas added to the ship's spacious, sumptuous Celebrity Suites

  • additional new oceanview and inside staterooms

  • an expanded collection of original, contemporary art
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    As on Celebrity Constellation, the following venues also will be incorporated on Celebrity Infinity during the ship's scheduled drydock period:

  • a "cool" new ice-topped Martini Bar and Crush

  • the vibrant creperie, Bistro on Five

  • the inviting Cafe al Bacio and Gelateria

  • Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the "Enomatic" state-of-the-art wine serving system - an industry-first when it debuted on Celebrity Solstice - allowing guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button

  • more sumptuous suites, with all new furniture, flat-screen TVs, upholstery, bedding and carpeting

  • restyled staterooms, with entirely new carpeting, flat-screen TVs, upholstery and bedding

  • new color schemes, carpeting and upholstery reflective of the Solstice Class' stylish, modern design in every public venue
  • "Everything we've introduced on our award-winning Solstice Class fleet, and everything we're adding to our popular Millennium Class ships, has been created to enhance that all-important feeling of getting away," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "All of our new venues and onboard experiences - paired with the spectacular service of our dedicated crew - are designed to ensure our guests can make the most of their precious vacation time."

    Celebrity currently plans to similarly refurbish Celebrity Summit in January 2012, followed by Celebrity Millennium in April 2012. The already-revitalized Celebrity Constellation will be further refitted with the additional offerings in April 2013.

    Celebrity Cruises is designed for discerning vacationers, with modern, sophisticated environments, impeccable service, enriching and inspiring onboard programs, and award-winning cuisine. The ultimate in premium cruising, Celebrity sails in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Galapagos Islands. Celebrity also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America. Celebrity's mega-series of honors include being named the top mega-ship line in Conde Nast Traveler's annual Readers' Choice Awards (November 2009). Celebrity's fleet currently consists of 10 ships. Its $3.7-billion investment in building five stylish Solstice Class ships between 2008-2012 represents the largest five-year investment in premium cruising. For more information, contact a Five-Star Agent at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)