Opinions, Tips on Cruises by the Industry leader! Find out which cruise lines and which destinations are appropriate for you through reading the insight of the industry leaders!
Home Beginners Guide Cruise Destination Guides Cruise Ship Reviews General Tips on Cruises Hotel Reviews Press Releases

April 14, 2011

Alaska with Celebrity Cruises

It's more than just the higher altitudes that take your breath away.

From a breathtaking view of Hubbard Glacier to the totem poles of Ketchikan to a ceremonial salmon bake on the shore, Alaska is as rugged and romantic as you always imagined. And with our stunning ships to add to the excitement of it all, we offer the most scenic and relaxing way to get to some of the most spectacular corners of Alaska. So, experience complete exhilaration with a vacation to places few people ever get to see.

celebrity_cruises.jpg

Celebrity's Alaska
Celebrity ships roam translucent waters on a variety of exciting routes. You'll marvel at ever-changing views of floating glaciers. Breathe in crisp fresh air. Be hypnotized by eagles soaring overhead. And simply be amazed by a different natural wonder every time you walk out your door. And expert naturalists accompany each cruise to provide firsthand knowledge on the local wildlife, geography and history to immerse you completely in your adventure to one of the greatest unspoiled lands on Earth.

We offer 10 spectacular itineraries from 7 to 14 nights giving you the option to go exactly where you want. Cruise Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier on the North American Continent. Behold the wonders of the Inside Passage from your private veranda. Pay homage to the Tracy Arm Fjord - once seen, never forgotten. Step back into time by visiting Icy Straight Point an area that began as a Salmon Cannery and is now a beautiful and inviting cruise ship destination.

celebrity_alaska_cruises.jpg

Celebrity's Alaska Cruisetours
The best way to get acquainted with Mother Nature's piece de resistance is by combining the grace and beauty of a cruise with an explorer's land based journey. Enhance your vacation by embarking on a 3- to 7-night pre- or post-cruise land adventure by booking a Cruisetour. Choose from 21 Cruisetours, each one designed to showcase the most intimate regions of Alaska. Travel to remarkable inland places you won't experience on your cruise, including the six million acre Denali National Park, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, Seward and Alyeska. You'll be guided by expert Tour Directors who know this land like no one else. And they'll provide concierge-style service, 24/7 - exactly as you'd expect from us.

Take a seat in your wide, leather, swiveling chair on our magnifi cent glass-domed train, the Wilderness Express. Not an ordinary train, you'll enjoy sumptuous cuisine in the bistro - serving Alaska specialties - and the full-service bar. When not on the train, you?ll travel on luxurious, air-conditioned motorcoaches. And at night, you'll rest easy in well-appointed and centrally located resorts that are surrounded by natural beauty.

celebrity_alaska_cruisetours.jpg

Five of our Cruisetours transport you to the Canadian Rockies and Whistler. You'll visit majestic sites like Vancouver and Whistler - the sites that captivated the world during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Travel to scenic resort towns to vibrant cities. Explore natural wonders of Lake Louise. Newly remodeled traincars take a scenic route through the 2,564 square mile valleys and mountains of Banff National Park. Get your cameras ready, this journey is a vision to behold.

New - our ultimate Cruisetour
The Ultimate Cruisetour is an 18-night adventure throughout Alaska and Canadian Rockies. It'll take trains, ships and motorcoaches to transport you from the day-to-day to must-see destinations. After a 6-night pre-cruise tour of the naturally beautiful Canadian Rockies, depart from Vancouver for an extraordinary 7-night Alaska cruise. Then from Seward, enjoy 5 more nights of escorted land exploration to the heart of Alaska. From Calgary to Fairbanks, from coast to the interior, the ultimate Alaska is a magnifi cent break from reality.

View Celebrity Cruises Alaska Cruise & Cruisetour Deals Here!

Posted by Denise at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2011

The Gift of the City of Lights - Paris, France

paris_france.jpg

Written By Giuseppe Romano, Commodore with Princess Cruises

The irony of my life is that I really don't do that much leisure traveling. As Commodore for Princess Cruises, I can see how some people would think I must be joking, because of course, I travel all the time.

I?m at sea for months at a time with Princess where my duties keep my mind attuned to the safe and pleasurable passage of our passengers as we sail around the world. When my time off coincides with school vacations, my wife, Sabina, our two children and I also travel. We go to see our relatives - my family in Sorrento, Italy, and Sabina's in Cleveland, San Francisco and Germany.

One of my favorite things to do is go camping with my boys. Give me a tent in the forest, a fishing pole and river and I'm very happy. As much as we love our vacations to see family, it was becoming clear that Sabina and I were overdue for a 100-percent carefree, zero responsibility trip together. With all of this in mind and our 20th wedding anniversary approaching, I knew I had to do something special for her. I had to create the perfect gift to symbolize my love for her and celebrate our life together.

It had been a long time coming. Sabina has talked about going to Paris since the day I met her, on a Sitmar cruise (now part of Princess Cruises) where I was, naturally, working. She was on board with her aunt, a Sitmar employee and acquaintance of mine, who had given her a cruise as a graduation gift.

Her aunt introduced us and as we got to know each other, I learned how Sabina had studied art and fashion design at university, and how she longed to walk the streets of Monet and Chagall; to see the Mona Lisa at the famed Louvre Museum; to have a drink at a cafe made famous by Ernest Hemingway. She had dreamed of doing this long before I met her. Over the years, Paris kept coming up. "Maybe next year," was our refrain. We never had the opportunity to go. So Paris would be my gift to her.

To make the journey even more special, I decided to make it a surprise. I enlisted Sabina's parents, who live in Cleveland, to come to Florida to watch our boys, Luca, then 14, and Marco, 11. My story was that she should join me on a training session in Amsterdam, itself a treat, but not Paris.

We boarded a flight from Miami to Paris under the guise that we were continuing on to Amsterdam. It wasn't until we went to collect our luggage that I handed her a Fodor's guide to Paris, her go-to book whenever the family joined me on board, and told her, "Happy Anniversary!" Knowing my sense of humor, she thought I was joking. But once she realized we were finally going to Paris, she was overjoyed.

paris.jpg

We grabbed our bags and went off to discover the dazzling City of Lights.

First stop was our home for the next four nights, the Hotel Saint-Jacques in the Latin Quarter, which I had secretly booked online. It was the perfect place for Sabina because the Hotel Saint-Jacques is where her favorite movie, the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant classic 'Charade', was filmed. The hotel was charming and a piece of art itself with rooms painted in warm colors and beautiful paintings on the wall.

We headed out immediately toward Notre Dame, which was close to our hotel. This beautiful Gothic cathedral was a site we ended up visiting many times during our trip. We saw it that first morning, with pale, February light streaming through the magnificent stained-glass rose window, a gleaming contrast to the gray, stone walls. As Notre Dame was on the way to the hotel, we returned each evening, after busy days exploring, to pass by its watchful gargoyles, perched along the walls.

We stopped for crepes at one of the many creperies near the cathedral. Like our visits to Notre Dame, we quickly formed another routine of a Nutella crepe before returning to the hotel. Delicious!

Sabina discovered that the Louvre was open until 10 p.m. that first evening, so we headed there at 6 p.m. and found the museum mostly empty. How wonderful it was to walk through its rooms together, seeing the priceless works inside.

For Sabina, seeing paintings by the artists she had studied for so many years was a lifetime dream. For me, the most memorable painting was the Mona Lisa. To gaze upon her, without the throng of people that ring her during the day, and feel as if she was gazing back only at us, was really special. It was a very quiet, serene moment. I'm not typcially into paintings but once you go there, it changes your mind. The Louvre is a special place.

We packed a lot into our short time in Paris. We saw the churches of Saint Sulpice and Sacre Coeur. We worked our way through the department store Galeries Lafayette. We stood atop the Eiffel Tower and surveyed the city. From that high point, we spotted our next destination, the golden-domed tomb of Napoleon and the Musee de L'Armee.

Strolling through this magnificent museum, we admired the armor and diverse range of weaponry through the ages. We found ourselves thinking of our sons because they both enjoy medieval history and the Age of Empires computer games. They would love this museum. It?s truly a museum for guys!

arc_de_triumph.jpg

More typically, we soaked up the atmosphere through long walks, along the grand Champs Elysee, the historic Marais district, the Jardins de Luxembourg and the ancient rue Mouffetard, a narrow cobblestone street that was once a Roman road that led all the way to Italy. Sabina mostly set the itinerary and I advised on where to dine. You know you are on vacation when choosing a restaurant is the most important decision of the day! We enjoyed a classic French dinner of Boeuf Bourguignon at the renowned bistro Chez Rene and couscous at Chez Omar.

But the meal I recall the most reminded me of one I had long ago. I must stop here and admit, this was not my first trip to Paris. I went decades ago, a few years before I met Sabina. That visit also represented a very rare break from responsibility.

I was a young safety officer at the time, appointed by Sitmar Cruises to the building team of the Fairsky (later the Sky Princess), which was being built in a shipyard near Toulon. When a strike broke out, I found myself with nothing to do, so I took a train to Paris. I stayed in a small hotel, and most of my meals were picnics of fresh, French bread, pate, cheese and wine. Is there a more beautiful lunch or dinner?

As I walked alongside famed Parisian food markets with my wife, I remember the simple meals I enjoyed more than 25 years ago. One night, we put Fodor's recommendations aside, and recreated one of those meals. We bought baguettes, three or four different types of pate, some salami and an assortment of cheese. Of course, we also picked up a great bottle of wine.

We set our picnic out in the room of our hotel. As the night was not too cold, we opened the doors to the balcony and let the breeze in. We looked out over the city, as we sat on our bed trying different pates and sipping wine. I cannot think of a more romantic setting.

My surprise gift of a trip to Paris for Sabina was every bit as much a gift to myself. Two years have passed by since then, but I still treasure our getaway together. Before we know it, another significant anniversary, our 25th, will approach. I think it would be difficult for me to surprise her again, so I think we will plan that one together. I know if Sabina has her choice, we will go to Paris again.

Surprize your significate other with a cruise vacation on Princess Cruises!

Posted by Denise at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2011

Celebrity Cruises adding exotic escapes to premium vacation line-up with introduction of new Asia itineraries. First-ever Asia season for premium cruise brand Celebrity Cruises

celebrity_cruises.jpg

Miami - (April 06, 2011 ) - From the Great Wall to the river markets of Vietnam, Asian culture has long intrigued vacationers who seek exotic lands and exquisite cultural experiences. Premium cruise brand Celebrity Cruises will give vacationers a way to enjoy Asia in style when it introduces its first-ever season in the region, during the winter of 2012-13, on Celebrity Millennium, which Celebrity plans to "Solsticize" in April 2012.

"Visiting the Far East for the first time is the result of constantly listening to consumers, who have told us they're eager to vacation in the region with Celebrity," said Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "We know that vacationers' time is precious, and by delivering a destination as culturally rich and compelling as Asia, with a luxurious shipboard environment that offers truly extraordinary accommodations, service, cuisine and activities, we are offering them the opportunity to experience a deeply rewarding, memorable holiday."

celebrity_asia_cruises.jpg

More luxury, new verandas
Celebrity Cruises coined the word "Solsticize" last year, referring to the addition of some of the most popular venues on the line's widely heralded Solstice Class ships, to its Millennium Class ships. In keeping with those plans, when Celebrity Millennium becomes the first Celebrity Cruises ship to sail an Asia season, she will do so with a new slate of AquaClass staterooms. In a drydock scheduled for April 2012, 70 of the ship's existing Concierge Class staterooms will be converted to Celebrity's signature, industry-first, spa-inspired AquaClass staterooms, and an additional 37 will be built. Guests who book sumptuous "Celebrity Suites" in which to enjoy Celebrity's Asia cruises will also enjoy more time outdoors on a new veranda, as Celebrity plans to add these to Celebrity Millennium's eight existing suites in this category. Celebrity also plans to add six inside staterooms and 17 oceanview staterooms, increasing the total number of available staterooms to 1,079.

New countries, exotic cultures
During the 2012/13 winter season, Celebrity Millennium will visit nine countries new to the brand, including Vietnam, Thailand and China, among others. Celebrity's inaugural Asia season will consist of a series of 14-night open-jaw cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong. Overnight stays in ports like Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Halong Bay, Vietnam and Hong Kong, China offer more opportunities for travelers to immerse themselves in Asian culture. The season also will include two 14-night sailings roundtrip from Singapore with overnight stays in Bali, Indonesia, in January 2013.

Bookending Celebrity Millennium's core Asia season will be two transpacific voyages offering unique experiences. The westbound cruise will coincide with the total solar eclipse in November 2012. Guests will be able to view the eclipse while at sea, when sailing from Fiji to New Zealand. In April 2013, Celebrity Millennium will reposition from Hong Kong to Shanghai on a cruise featuring overnight calls in Hong Kong and Beijing (Tianjin), China. The ship will then continue eastbound across the North Pacific to Alaska and will call at various ports in China, Japan, and Russia.

celebrity_asia_cruises.jpg

Guests who wish to deepen their experience in Asia can take advantage of one of Celebrity's cruisetours, which combine a cruise with a five-night pre- or post-cruise escorted land package out of Hong Kong. The cruisetours will feature trips to Xian and Beijing to view the famed Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall of China. All of these packages are escorted by a local tour director and include hotel accommodations, transportation, select activities, breakfasts and some additional meals.

While sailing, a variety of shore excursions are available to travelers who wish to immerse themselves in the region. A number of overnight stays in port during the Asia cruises will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy two- or three-day excursions. Examples of these include a two-night/three-day overland experience from Bangkok to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The tour focuses on the temples of Angkor to see the best examples of stone carvings recovered from temples across Cambodia. During cruises that include an overnight stay in port at Halong Bay (Hanoi), Vietnam, an overnight shore excursion includes a visit to the Old Quarter of Hanoi; an opportunity to witness unique Vietnamese performing arts at the Hanoi Water Puppet Theatre; enjoy dinner at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant; and an overnight stay in a leading hotel in Hanoi. Guests also will experience the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Museum, as well as a gentle ride on a traditional street cyclo, and lunch at Vietnamese restaurant.

Celebrity also recently announced additional expansion in the Eastern Hemisphere - the award-winning, 2,850-guest Celebrity Solstice, will be the newest Celebrity ship to sail a full winter season in Australia/New Zealand in 2012-13.

celebrity_cruises_entertainment.jpg

More details will be available on April 8, when bookings for Celebrity's new 2012-13 Asia itineraries will open for sale.

Members of Celebrity's Captain's Club loyalty program are eligible to receive up to $600 savings per stateroom when booking 2012-13 Asia itineraries before July 29, 2011.

Shore excursions and cruisetours are not included in cruise fare.

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 nine 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 Celebrity Five Star Agent at Cruising2Paradise.com #1-800-738-8837.

Posted by Denise at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2011

FREEDOM OF THE SEAS REEMERGES FROM DRYDOCK WITH ENHANCEMENTS TO DELIVER THE ROYAL ADVANTAGE TO VACATIONERS

royal_caribbean_cruise_vacations.jpg

MIAMI, March 28, 2011 - Freedom of the Seas returns into service this week after completing a week-long drydock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. As part of the Royal Advantage revitalization and enhancement program, Freedom of the Seas received new dining concepts, entertainment options, children's programming and technology advancements that were introduced to wide industry acclaim aboard Royal Caribbean's new Oasis-class ships. The Royal Advantage program comprises approximately $70 million of enhancements aboard five of the world's most innovative cruise ships in 2011 to expand unparalleled onboard experiences across the cruise line's fleet. Freedom of the Seas alternates an Eastern and a Western Caribbean seven-night, round-trip itinerary from Port Canaveral on Florida's Space Coast.

"Royal Caribbean is rooted in providing our guests with incredible vacation experiences across the fleet and around the world," said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "The outdoor video screen installed aboard Liberty of the Seas in January has already been so well received that we have decided to deploy it aboard all the ships scheduled to undergo the Royal Advantage revitalization in 2011. Making the investment on these ships as a way of extending the reach of the Oasis-class innovations to more of our guests is a natural progression for the fleet as a whole and how we are delivering the Royal Advantage to vacationers."

royal_caribbean_cruises.jpg

In drydock, Freedom of the Seas received new technology enhancements, such as enhanced Wi-Fi, interactive televisions, electronic waivers for sports activities, and electronic mustering (as well as ticketing for shows later in the year) that offer greater convenience to Royal Caribbean guests on their cruise vacation. The ship also offers a new BRITTO Gallery, featuring a variety of merchandise designed by pop-art icon Romero Britto.

Other newly acquired Oasis-class signatures aboard Freedom of the Seas include:

royal_caribbean_dreamworks.jpg

  • The DreamWorks Experience: The next generation of family programming is now available onboard Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas, as well as on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, with activities and shows including the DreamWorks parade down the Royal Promenade and interactive Character Breakfasts in the Rembrandt (Liberty of the Seas) and Leonardo (Freedom of the Seas) Dining Rooms with the animation movie studio's "celebrity" characters.

  • 3-D Movie Screens: The phenomenon of 3-D technology adds a new dimension to Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas' Platinum and Arcadia Theaters respectively, where guests can screen newly released and long-time favorite movies in 3-D, available starting next week.

  • Outdoor LED Video Walls: Measuring approximately 18.5 feet, the video screens - similar to those found in the Oasis-class AquaTheater - will overlook the main pool area, featuring movies and entertainment programs throughout the cruise for families, friends and couples to enjoy during the day and for an evening under the stars.

    royal_caribbean_cruising.jpg

  • The Cupcake Cupboard: A runaway hit for sweet treats aboard Oasis of the Seas, the 1940's-style shop charms guests with a broad assortment of fresh gourmet cupcakes offered daily at a la carte pricing and memorable family experiences including hands-on decorating classes; specialty cupcakes and custom cupcakes cakes also are available. Beyond its tempting and innovative menu, the specialty bakery boutique, takes the place of A Clean Shave on Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas' Royal Promenade.

  • Vintages: The popular wine lounge aboard Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas features a new trendier decor where patrons can enjoy a wide range of fine wines. A new automated serving system, which will be stocked with 48 notable wine selections, offers a self-pour option for guests wanting to explore a variety of tastes and varietals.

  • Imaginocean! Puppet Show: Conceptualized and produced by Emmy and Tony Award nominee John Tartaglia, exclusively for Royal Caribbean, this family musical geared towards children stars glow-in-the-dark underwater puppet characters will debut next month aboard Freedom of the Seas.

    royal_caribbean_adventure_ocean.jpg

  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery: A huge hit aboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the nursery care program (starting next week aboard Freedom of the Seas) is expanding across all four ships being revitalized this year. Designed for babies and tots six through 36 months old, it offers parents a safe, fun and interactive vacation environment for their toddler. Royal Caribbean's trained professionals carefully maintain an optimum staff to child ratio, offering various playgroups and activities developed exclusively for Royal Caribbean with partners Fisher Price and Crayola.

  • Digital Wayfinding system: Groundbreaking technology launched on the Oasis-class ships makes it easier than ever to navigate Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Onboard activities, real time updates, customized directions and routing, as well as ship factoids are at guests' fingertips with new plasma and LCD touch screen signs prominently placed throughout each of the ships.

    The ships undergoing revitalizations in 2011 are Liberty of the Seas earlier this year, Freedom of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas in May, and Splendour of the Seas in October. Each ship will come out of service and reemerge outfitted with the most highly guest-rated features introduced on Royal Caribbean's new Oasis-class ships. Even Oasis of the Seas, the first Oasis-class ship, now boasts new features with the recent addition of the DreamWorks Experience and 3-D movies which first debuted on Allure of the Seas.

    royal_caribbean_freedom_of_the_seas.jpg

    Liberty of the Seas was the first to showcase the revitalization enhancement when she arrived to her homeport of Port of Miami on January 30. Liberty of the Seas is sailing six-night Western Caribbean and eight-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries before repositioning to Barcelona for the summer season where she will debut the energetic West End musical "Saturday Night Fever" in the Platinum Theater. Starting April 16, Liberty of the Seas will join sister-ship Independence of the Seas in Europe to offer four- and five-night short Western Mediterranean cruises.

    Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 ships currently in service. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. For additional information or to make reservations, contact a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Mexico.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)