September 17, 2019

Windstar Cruises Expands Shore Excursion Program

Windstar Cruises continues to build on its impressive array of shore excursions.

Windstar Cruises has dramatically broadened its award-winning shore excursion program over the last three years, more than doubling its options for guests to upwards of 2,500 choices. The increase is a direct result of the line’s expanded global deployment to new regions like Alaska, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, and the Holy Land.

The small ship leader in destination delivery and diverse itineraries now sails to over 330 ports of call worldwide, with 700 cruise departure dates available through 2021. The company’s global expansion offers cruise guests itineraries that are immersive in a particular region or country such as Grand Japan, Around Iceland on the line’s all-suite ships, or Grand Caribbean Adventure on Wind Surf, the world’s largest sailing ship. In addition, nearly half of Windstar’s itineraries offer late night departures and overnights in port for more diverse excursion selections, including evening tours and overnight or multi-day options such as exploring Spain’s mystic inland region in the new “Beyond Ordinary: Alhambra In Depth & Insider’s Granada Overnight Tour.”

With smaller ships that can access and stay longer in smaller ports, Windstar’s shore excursions are authentic and personalized, allowing time and space to explore local cultures. To help guests navigate the many choices and match shore excursions to their interests, activity levels, and budgets, Windstar offers three shore tour categories. The award-winning line has recently debuted 10 Beyond Ordinary Tours, in-depth experiences offered in select ports. These tours complement the small ship line’s popular Concierge Collection and Essentials Collection, offered in every port.

Beyond Ordinary tours are comprised of the most over-the-top experiences that deserve to be called “once in a lifetime,” such as a panoramic helicopter flight from Monte Carlo that transports guests to Alain Ducasse’s La Bastide de Moustiers in Provence for a Michelin-starred lunch. A bit less high-flying but still exceptional is an excursion in Roses, Spain, with access to the Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery for a private yoga session on the rooftop, followed by brunch with views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Sky Princess Completes Successful Sea Trials

The 3660 passenger cruise ship, Sky Princess, completed sea trials to test out all systems.

International premium cruise line Princess Cruise has accomplished another major milestone in preparation for the debut of its newest ship, Sky Princess, with the completion of sea trials. The new cruise ship set out to sea from the construction dock at Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy and was put through a series of maneuvers to test the propulsion, steering and navigational equipment.

After a successful six days of trials, Sky Princess is now back in the shipyard for further exterior and interior finishing to prepare for the maiden Oct. 20, 2019 seven-day Mediterranean & Adriatic cruise from Athens to Barcelona. The ship will sail a series of Mediterranean voyages before debuting in North America on Dec. 1, 2019 for sailing a season of Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.

The 3,660-guest Sky Princess shares all of the spectacular style and luxury of her sister ships – Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Majestic Princess. The ship also will feature breathtaking Sky Suites, with expansive views from the largest balconies at sea. In addition, two entertainment experiences have been announced for Sky Princess – Phantom Bridge, a world’s first game combining digital and physical elements for the ultimate immersive escape room, and Take 5, the only jazz theater at sea, celebrating the iconic sounds, culture and history of jazz.

In addition, guests can make the most of their vacation time with the Princess MedallionClass™ experience, featuring the complimentary OceanMedallion™ wearable device that delivers an entirely new level of service and creates a vacation that is more simple, effortless and personalized.

The Princess Cruises fleet continues to expand with Enchanted Princess in June 2020, and three additional ships arriving in 2021, 2023 and 2025.

Additional information about Sky Princess and Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at

Tips For Visiting Your Cruise Casino

An on-board attraction for many is the ship casino.

The casino on a cruise ship can be a big draw. Granted there’s a ton of activity on most every cruise ship, but a lot of passengers enjoy the chance to try out a casino in a more casual environment. That is to say, it’s easier to indulge in this kind of activity if all you have to do is walk down the hall, as opposed to going out of your way to visit a casino resort on land. If it’s part of your trip, rather than the entire goal, it just feels a little more relaxed.

Visiting a casino on a cruise ship is largely a traditional experience, but there are a few differences, and there’s generally a different atmosphere. It’s something you may want to give at least a little bit of thought to before traveling.

Know The Hours

You might think of casinos as being open 24/7 by nature, or at least being open pretty much any time you could possibly want to be in them. This is the case in some of the world’s biggest casino hubs, to be sure. But it actually isn’t the case on most cruise ships simply because of gambling laws. While there are exceptions, such as when ships dock in Bermuda, for the most part cruise ship casinos are closed when in port, whether day or night. This should be clear enough when you’re on board a ship, but it helps to remember it heading into your trip, because nothing is more frustrating than gearing up for a few hours at the gaming tables and then finding the doors closed.

Know What To Wear

Particularly if you’re not a regular casino gamer, you might have certain ideas about what to wear for this kind of activity. You’ve probably seen famous actors wearing tuxedoes to Vegas casinos, or seen images of people similarly dressed at world famous venues like the casino in Monte Carlo. This is fine, and can add a certain pageantry to the experience. But a casino cruise is generally more casual. We’d actually direct you not to Vegas or Europe but to a piece on fashion choices to consider when visiting a Canadian casino. These are more casual establishments in general, so the proposed dresscode is more like what you might wear on a cruise. In a phrase, however, dress nicely, but not necessarily fancily.

Expect More Beginners

Broadly speaking, casinos can be a little intimidating. There’s no harm in plopping yourself down at a slot machine and gaming alone, but sitting down at a card table can be daunting. For this reason it helps to know that casinos on cruise ships tend to have more beginners. Serious card sharks rarely play at sea (or so they say), and plenty of people in the ship casino will just be tourists who want to check it out and maybe have a little fun. This contributes to a more casual overall atmosphere.

Learn How To Play Blackjack

This is just one of many games that will likely be available in your ship’s casino, but it’s a great one to start with. The machines, from slots to video poker, don’t really give you the full experience. Bigger and more complicated games like poker and craps can take a little more getting used to. But blackjack is fairly easy to pick up, and gives you that awesome feeling of sitting at a table handling cards, sipping a cocktail and trying to win some chips. You can learn how to play simply by reading about it (and possibly pick up some great mathematical strategies as well), and focus on enjoying the games once you’re there.

Remember The Casino’s Goals

This is a quick one, but keep in mind above all else that the ship you’re on is a money-making machine, and the casino too is trying to generate revenue. Just because the atmosphere is a little more easygoing than most land-based alternatives doesn’t mean the odds are any better. That’s not to scare you off, but simply to remind you to be responsible.

Carnival Victory in drydock for new guest options

Carnival Victory, upgraded extensively in 2015, is undergoing more upgrades in drydock this winter.

MIAMI – Carnival Victory is in the midst of an extensive, multi-million-dollar dry dock that is adding a wide variety of food and beverage innovations, as well as two luxurious Captain’s Suites and new deluxe ocean view staterooms.
The new spaces, which are being added during a 17-day visit to dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, include:

· Guy’s Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with chef and restaurateur Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture.

· New Accommodations: Several new cabin categories will be added to Carnival Victory, including 260-square-feet Scenic Ocean View staterooms and 320-square-foot Scenic Grand Ocean View accommodations as well as Captain’s Suites, spacious 820-square-foot cabins offer a large extended balcony, two full-size bathrooms, separate sleeping quarters and a large living room.

· RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

· BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.

· BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool.

· Bonsai Sushi Express: the success of the full-service Bonsai Sushi restaurants has spawned this casual, convenient yet equally tasty offshoot featuring a mouth-watering array of sushi, sashimi, rolls and more.

· Re-Branded Deli: the ship’s deli has been completely renovated with an updated design and new menu offerings, including seven sandwiches such as meatball, buffalo chicken, and The Cubano, along with Southwest chicken, falafel and turkey wraps.

· Cherry on Top: The “sweetest spot on board,” Cherry on Top is the gateway to the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun-and-fanciful gifts, just-because novelties, colorful custom apparel and more.

These spaces complement Carnival Victory’s numerous other onboard amenities, including a 14,500-square-foot spa, a 214-foot-long water slide, a Punchliner Comedy Club offering adults-only and family-friendly performances, and Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
Carnival Victory operates year-round three- and four-day cruises from PortMiami. Three-day cruises depart on Fridays and call at Nassau, while four-day voyages depart Mondays and visit Key West and Cozumel or Nassau and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay.

Princess puts guests in trees for 2018

A cruisetour with Princess Cruises offers a unique view of Alaska – from a treehouse.

Princess Cruises today announced the 2018 programming to be featured at the line’s custom designed wilderness treehouse located at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. The treehouse is a new addition to the guest experience which allows guests an opportunity to view Denali, North America’s highest peak, while enjoying themed activities and socializing with fellow travelers, all amongst the trees. The treehouse was built during an episode of Animal Planet’s hit show “Treehouse Masters,” in association with the line’s partnership with Discovery Communications, which premiered during the season finale in fall 2017.

“At destinations around the globe, we strive to create a bond between our guests and the places we visit, and now more than ever people are visiting Alaska to experience the beauty and adventure the state has to offer,” said Lisa Syme, Princess Cruises vice president. “As the #1 cruise line in Alaska, we are eager to bring these fresh and engaging experiences to our Alaska cruisetour guests, providing opportunities for more travelers to connect with the people, nature, storied traditions and history of the Great Land in 2018.”

The treehouse was the first-ever designed and constructed in Alaska by Pete Nelson, the star of the hit TV series. As one of the highest land-based north-facing viewing areas, the treehouse provides Princess guests a one-of-a-kind experience to see the south face of Denali from atop the trees, and is powered by solar panels. At approximately 500 square feet, guests can access the treehouse by hiking the short “hill trail loop” and be rewarded with the ultimate Denali view.

For more information visit: Princess Cruise tours

Avoiding paying too much for a cruise

Getting to those favorite cruise destinations doesn’t need to be expensive.

(By Brittany Chrusciel – Cruise Critic) Cruise pros and first timers alike can benefit from optimizing their cruise booking routines. Dollars can be saved at every juncture, from planning where and when to go, to accessing special offers three months before you sail. Can’t seem to get your cruise fare to go any cheaper? Take advantage of perks and extras, such as onboard credit, that will add value to your vacation in lieu of slashed pricing. Whether in a rush to get something on the books or too rigid to change plans, there are plenty of reasons you might not be getting the best possible cruise vacation for your money. Check out the following 10 ways you might be paying too much for your next cruise.

Your Schedule Isn’t Flexible
If only we could all abracadabra some free time into our lives, coordinating vacation wouldn’t be such a problem. The reality is many of us answer to a rigorous work schedule. Add to that a school calendar or any other kind of obligation, and the window becomes even narrower. If you can only cruise around holidays, summer vacation and other peak seasons for cruise travel, you’ll pay for the convenience. If you can maneuver even a few days off in the fall or early spring, you can shave hundreds off the price of your sailing. If you know where you want to go, try to plan your trip for the region’s shoulder season. Conversely, if you have a limited timeframe for travel, keep an open mind regarding destination.

You Don’t Book During a Cruise Sale
The best prices — or best value — often show up during promotions offered by the cruise lines or travel agencies. But don’t expect the best cruise deals to come to you. You need to be savvy about finding them. When you’re ready to book, look to see if you can take advantage of a current promotion. If a promotion is ending soon, either act quickly to take advantage of what’s on the table, or gamble with what a cruise line might offer next. If there are no sale fares on offer, consider waiting to book in case new deals are on the horizon. These days, many cruise lines don’t wait for wave season, the promotional period between January and March once known for plentiful cruise deals.

You Underestimate Travel Agents
In the Age of Information, sometimes we forgo humans with real expertise and let the Internet compute all of our cruise details. As valuable as the Web can be, especially for research, cruise professionals (travel agents) can not only provide you with experience and personalized attention but can lock in a deal that comes laced with comped dinners, free wine and/or copious onboard credit. Established cruise agencies have access to special rates and can help you monitor fares and promotions so you book at the right time for the best price.

You Don’t Book Early
If you can commit to booking a cruise far in advance, your line might offer a discount that’s worth overriding your usual vacation-planning procrastination. Unnerving as advance bookings can be, they give you something to look forward to and let you lock in early-booking deals or promotions only available when reserving your next cruise onboard your current one. (You only have to put down a deposit, and you can re-price your trip if fares go down before final payment.) Plus, you have the advantage of being able to request particular cabins or book onboard experiences the moment they become available. Travel insurance can help ease your fears about putting money down so far from your future cruise.

See more ways to save money at: Cruise Critic

Eleven cruise ships coming for 2017

Another 145,000 Royal Class ship for Princess Cruises has been ordered from Fincantieri.

By Anne Kalosh, Seatrade – Eleven ocean-going cruise ships valued at a total $6.8bn are targeted for delivery in 2017, according to Seatrade’s orderbook. They’ll add 28,000 lower berths to global capacity.

This is similar to 2016, when 10 ocean-going newbuilds arrived, worth a total of nearly $7bn and adding 27,580 lower berths.

2017’s newbuilds are TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 6, Star Clippers’ Flying Clipper, Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Sky and Viking Sun, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy, AIDA Cruises’ AIDAperla, Silversea Cruises’ Silver Muse, Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess, MSC Cruises’ MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside, and Dream Cruises’ World Dream.

This is an eclectic fleet. It ranges from a near replica of 1911’s France II, the largest square-rigged sailing ship ever built (Flying Clipper) to two very large and different prototype vessels for one brand (MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside). Three ships are tailored for Chinese passengers (Norwegian Joy, Majestic Princess, World Dream), and two are for Germans (Mein Schiff 6, AIDAperla). One, for a European owner, is entering service in the US market (MSC Seaside).

The year’s ultra-luxury entrant (Silver Muse) is the first newbuild for Silversea since 2009’s Silver Spirit (though the line subsequently built an expedition fleet with extensively renovated pre-owned tonnage). Star Flyer is the first newbuild for Star Clippers in 17 years (the last, Royal Clipper, came in 2000).

The ships range in size from 300 lower berths (Flying Clipper) to 4,500 lower berths (MSC Meraviglia), while gross tonnage swings from 8,770 (Flying Clipper) up to 167,600 (MSC Meraviglia).

MSC Meraviglia from STX France is the largest ship ever built for a European cruise line, and it will offer features like the first purpose-built venue for Cirque du Soleil. MSC Seaside is a new design, too. It’s been called ‘revolutionary,’ with a 360-degree promenade on Deck 8 that’s lined with indoor/outdoor shops and restaurants, a full buffet area and a pool—features typically located on upper levels, and high-rise hotel towers. It is Fincantieri’s first newbuild for MSC Cruises.

Silver Muse kicks off a new class for Silversea, but at 40,700gt with all-suite accommodations for up to 596 passengers, it’s not a huge leap size-wise from the 36,000gt, 540-passenger Silver Spirit of eight years ago. It features a wider array of dining venues (eight).

Norwegian Joy is second in the Breakaway Plus series (following 2015’s Norwegian Escape) and is heavily customized for Chinese travelers, with novelties like the first race track at sea. Majestic Princess is third in the Royal class (after Royal Princess and Regal Princess) and its nods to the China market include a Chinese haute cuisine restaurant by a Michelin-star chef. World Dream is the twin of 2016’s Genting Dream.

Fincantieri remains the most prolific builder, with five ships (Viking Sky, Viking Sun, Silver Muse, Majestic Princess, MSC Seaside), followed by Meyer Werft with two ships (Norwegian Joy and World Dream). Four other yards will produce one ship each—STX France (MSC Meraviglia), Meyer Turku (Mein Schiff 6), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (AIDAperla) and Brodosplit (Flying Clipper).

The record cruise ship orderbook got a further boost with Fincantieri signing a memorandum of agreement with Carnival Corp. & plc for one new ship each for Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. The order is valued at more than €1bn.

Fincantieri ceo Giuseppe Bono called it ‘an extraordinary moment for the cruise sector, and it is particularly rewarding for us to be able to seize all the opportunities coming from the industry growth, also thanks to our deep-rooted partnership with Carnival Corporation.’

The HAL ship will be a third in the 99,500gt Pinnacle class, for delivery in 2021. It will be built at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard. The ship follows 2016’s Koningsdam and its sister, Nieuw Statendam, scheduled for delivery in November 2018.

The Princess ship will be sixth in the 145,000gt Royal class. It will be built at Monfalcone for delivery expected in 2022 and feature the recently unveiled Ocean Medallion Class cruising. The vessel follows 2013’s Royal Princess and 2014’s Regal Princess. Coming in March for the China market is Majestic Princess, and a further pair of Royal-class sisters is due for handover in 2019 and 2020.

For more information visit: Seatrade

Dining tips from a cruise line chef

Cruise ships are known for good dining. Here are tips to make it even better.

Cruise Critic – Want the inside scoop on what to order in an onboard dining room? When is it a good idea to meet with the cruise ship’s chef? And what action should you take if something isn’t right?

Windstar Corporate Chef Michael Sabourin, who oversees the galleys on Windstar’s fleet of six small ships, shares some insights on cruise dining. Prior to that, he was Executive Chef on Royal Caribbean cruise ships Oasis and Allure of the Seas — two of the world’s largest cruise ships. Sabourin trained in his hometown of Montreal, as well as in Paris and at the Culinary Institute of America.

Here, he gives you the inside scoop on everything you should know to enjoy the tastiest cruise dining experience:

1. Newer ships make for better food.

If you’re looking to eat well onboard, Sabourin says, “Pay more attention to the individual ship than to the line. The newer the ship, the better.” Why? “Chances are, a new ship will have a stronger galley team because you need to have a stronger team to launch the ship.” Launching a ship is a challenging, risky proposition, so cruise lines aren’t taking any chances. When staffing a galley from scratch, they’re going to choose the best, most experienced people to ensure success, Sabourin explains, adding that “crew members want to be on the newest ships,” which means lines will have a bigger pool of eager galley candidates to choose from.

Bottom line, you’re likely to eat better on the newest ship, no matter which cruise line you prefer.

2. Veg out early in the cruise.

“Ships take on most — or all — food at the beginning of the cruise,” Sabourin says. “So you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables the first few days,” when they’re freshest and most plentiful. Some smaller ships (including the Windstar fleet) do take on produce from ports along the way when there are good local markets (think European itineraries), but for maximum variety, gobble away when you’re first onboard.

3. Got allergies? Talk to the top.

“If you have allergies or special requests,” Sabourin advises, “ask to meet with the executive chef rather than going through the dining room staff. Cruise chefs are told to meet with people. They hate finding out that you’re allergic on day three of a trip!” Speak with reception to set up an appointment.

4. Not a carnivore? Plan ahead.

Don’t just shrug and accept that vegetarian entree of the day when you’re handed the menu. “If you’re vegetarian or vegan, ask for the next day’s menu at dinner the night before,” our insider recommends. “If you’d like something different, discuss it with the chef. That gives him time to prepare something off-menu for you.” Cruise lines are stepping up their available options, too. For example, Windstar has a collection of 50 different vegan recipes (some even contributed by passengers) that their chefs can whip up with a little notice.

5. Anyone can order off-menu.

“If there’s something special you want, ask the chef,” Sabourin recommends. “With a little advance notice, the cruise ship galley team can make just about anything” — particularly on a higher-end cruise.

Want something more unusual? Many galley staff are from India, Indonesia or Malaysia and are typically happy to cook their local dishes on request. In fact, chefs are quite often thrilled that you’re interested in their culture.

6. Be a fearless eater.

“Don’t be afraid to try something” on a cruise, Sabourin advises. It’s the perfect time to experiment with a dish, ingredient or cuisine you’ve never tasted before. Why’s that? “If you don’t like it, you can always get something else,” he explains. “There’s no extra charge!” And if you really like it, you can ask for seconds.

7. Report problems right away.

“If you have an issue with the food, don’t wait — go to reception and ask to see the chef,” Sabourin says. “Chefs on cruise ships want you to have a good experience. If people say they don’t like something, we won’t be offended. Chefs prefer meeting you, and they’ll take care of you.” Likewise, if something isn’t right when it’s delivered to your table, don’t be shy; politely explain to your waiter that there’s a problem. Even the best cruise galleys can have a misfire during peak times, so alert them and let them make it right.

8. Don’t wait until you’re home to complain.

“Don’t complain once you’re gone,” Sabourin cautions. “My biggest pet peeve is when I read the comment cards [at the end of a cruise] and there’s no record of a complaint in the reception log. Say something!” When you speak up (ask at reception to meet with the executive chef), cruise lines have a chance to fix the situation, so you can enjoy your food instead of plotting the poison pen letter you’ll write on disembarkation day.

9. Get the fish story.

Ask questions about fish and seafood dishes, Sabourin recommends. Generally, all things finned and flippered onboard cruise ships are frozen. But where and how? “On Windstar, the fish is flash-frozen where it’s fished,” he says. “It’s expensive, but it tastes better.” Indeed, many culinary experts say fish that’s flash-frozen on fishing vessels immediately after it’s caught is superior to fresh fish that has spent time in transit — and certainly better than fish that is frozen back on land, long after it was caught.

Sustainability is becoming a big issue, too. “European suppliers provide sustainable seafood sources,” Sabourin says, so if saving the planet is important to you (and that’s all of us, right?) ask where the fish or seafood was sourced. There are plenty of horror stories out there about Asian shrimp farms that are not only harming the environment but are also squalid and unsanitary. So be informed before you order that entree.

As is the case with fresh produce, smaller cruise ships are sometimes able to take on fresh fish. If you like that idea, choose a European itinerary. “When our ships sail in Europe, we have access to a lot more local fish directly from the fisherman,” Sabourin explains, while “in the Caribbean, there is a limited amount of fish and seafood species.

10. Don’t expect fish cooked rare.

The only rare fish you’re likely to see on a cruise is while you’re snorkeling. “The CDC [U.S. Center for Disease Control] says fish should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption,” Sabourin explains. “Depending on the type and thickness of the fish, that temperature could render a fish dry.” Cruise ship chefs have a responsibility to ensure that passengers are safe and might not be able to serve a fish rare, even if people ask for it. Cooking techniques like braising, steaming and en papillote (baking a fish wrapped in parchment paper) tend to keep fish moister and more tender. If you’re a fan of lightly cooked fish, stick to those preparations rather than something grilled — especially if it’s a thicker steak-type cut.

11. What’s your beef?

“You can always count on beef,” Sabourin says, explaining that it’s the most reliable cruise ship menu item. But the variety or grade of beef can make a difference in flavor, juiciness and tenderness. “Find out,” he advises, either by perusing the menu or asking. Fat marbling is a major factor in determining how the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) grades beef. “Select” beef has slight marbling; “Choice” means moderate marbling; and “Prime” has abundant marbling, which makes it the most flavorful, juicy and tender grade.

But that’s not all! “Windstar uses certified Black Angus beef,” Sabourin says. “It’s raised with very specific standards. The DNA of the animal must be verified to be called certified Black Angus.” He has had the opportunity to meet a certified Black Angus rancher, and says they take great care in how the animal is raised. “Black Angus is a cut above USDA Prime, Choice and Select. It’s abundantly flavorful, incredibly tender and naturally juicy.”

If your cruise line is serving one of the top types of beef, you might want to double-down on those steakhouse reservations or order that beef Wellington early in the cruise. If you hold off, you might be kicking yourself once you try it later in the voyage!

For more information visit: Cruise Critic

Cruise Traffic returning to Acapulco

Cruise ships are coming back to Acapulco after avoiding for several years after an uptick in crime.

The cruise traffic is returning to Acapulco. This season will have 28 calls and 31,000 passengers, up from 17 calls and 17,235 passengers last season.

And for the 2017/2018 season, 37 calls with an estimated 45,000 passengers are expected.

Not only does Acapulco have calls, but also turnarounds, which sets it apart from other Mexican Riviera ports. “This season, we will have turnarounds by the Albatros on January 14 and 15,” said Alex Casarrubias, port director, “the Magellan on February 27 and 28 and the Europa on June 15 and 16.”

Cruise Committee

With the secretary of tourism for the state of Guerrero and the mayor of Acapulco playing key roles, the Acapulco Cruise Committee has been working to generate more calls, resulting in four new calls by Holland America Line this season.

Prior to each call, the committee meets with the Center for Assistance and Tourism Protection and coordinates police security efforts. Since 2014 there has not been any incidents with cruise passengers in Acapulco, Casarrubias noted.

“We have two approaches,” he said. “The first one is tactical and includes all the efforts for security and public relations at the port to welcome the ships and differentiate ourselves.

“With the support of the mayor, we have an orchestra that plays local music, and a folkloric troupe that performs regional dances.

“Representatives of the state and municipal government offer a welcome ceremony for the captain and the crew. In addition, we have a hospitality desk at the terminal offering tourist information.

The second approach is strategic, Casarrubias said: “As the secretary of tourism is also president of the cruise committee, he and his staff are working to meet the specific needs of each cruise line. At the moment, we are close to reaching an agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and we are in the process of working with Holland America to learn more about their requirements and to inform their executives about the changes in Acapulco.”

Culinary Tour

Among the many excursions offered, a three-and-a-half culinary tour has proved popular, giving participants a taste of the regional cuisine of Guerrero with visits to several neighborhood restaurants, a market and a mezcal cocktail spot, all along Acapulco Bay.

Acapulco is also hosting a variety of special events throughout the year from surfing to tennis, a French film festival and a seafood event.

As Mexico’s original beach destination, since 1932 the cliff divers have performed at La Quebrada. There are murals by Diego Rivera, the 400-year-old Fort of San Diego; scuba diving and snorkeling at La Roqueta Island, and more.

In other developments, major investments are being made in Acapulco, which promise to further strengthen the destination’s tourism product. These include road and transportation improvements.

A new 194,000-square-foot airport terminal is slated to open in 2018, nearly doubling the airport’s current facilities.
From Cruise Industry News: Visit Cruise Industry

Seabourn’s unique Alaska itineraries

Seabourn Sojourn will take passengers deeper into the remote ports and channels of Alaska.

Seabourn, the ultra-luxury, small-ship cruise line, has detailed its itineraries for its return to Alaska in 2017. Responding to high guest demand and having not deployed a ship there for 15 years, Seabourn Sojourn will offer a series of 11-, 12- and 14-day itineraries sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage (Seward), Alaska.

Seabourn will offer unique voyages combining Alaska’s most popular ports with rarely visited hidden gems of the Inside Passage. Taking advantage of Seabourn Sojourn’s intimate size and nimble maneuverability, guests will enjoy a privileged view of The Last Frontier that larger ships cannot access.

“Seabourn’s return to Alaska has been a long time coming and highly anticipated,” said John Delaney, Seabourn’s senior vice president, global marketing and sales. “We’re looking forward to sharing with our guests the highlights of Alaska, from the mountains and glaciers to the picturesque frontier towns and amazing wildlife. But they’ll also see an uncommon Alaska, a side that few visitors ever get to see. No other line can show them in such ultra-luxury Seabourn style,” added Delaney.

Itineraries include visits to iconic sites, such as the towering virgin forests along the Inside Passage; the thunderous calving of glaciers and impressive humpback whales breaching in the Kenai Fjords; Juneau, the state capital, inaccessible by road; Ketchikan, the southernmost and arguably most-colorful town in the state; and Sitka, whose Tlingit history traces back 10,000 years. Interspersed will be visits to unspoiled hideaways such as Alert Bay, British Columbia, a tiny Namgis First Nations community offering rare insights into the region’s aboriginal cultures; and Klemtu, a small island outpost in the Inside Passage.

In spots such as Misty Fjords and the hauntingly beautiful Tracy Arm, guests will be able explore wildlife-rich waterways, forested mountain vistas and lacy waterfalls up close via Ventures by Seabourn, an innovative optional program of Zodiac and kayak excursions led by Seabourn Sojourn’s expedition team of naturalists, science, wildlife and historical experts. The same expedition team will be on hand on deck, pointing out, interpreting and enhancing desirable locations.

In addition, each of the new 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises will include complimentary Seabourn all-weather jackets; inspiring Seabourn Conversations with special onboard guest speakers; opportunities for frequent wildlife sightings from the ship and shore; and a “Caviar on the Ice” deck party and other special deck events.

Seabourn’s return to Alaska begins with the “11-Day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn,” departing Vancouver, British Columbia on June 1, 2017, bound for Anchorage, Alaska, with the Queen Charlotte Sound, Ketchikan, Misty Fjords, Behm Narrows, Wrangell, Decision Passage, Sitka, Tracy Arm, Endicott Arm, Haines, Juneau, and Icy Strait Point in between. Rates start from $7,999 per person on board Seabourn Sojourn.

For learn more visit: Seabourn