February 24, 2024

NCL highlights 7-Day Hawaii Cruise

In advance of National Plan for Vacation Day (Jan. 30, 2024), we wanted to highlight Norwegian Cruise Line’s exclusive seven-day inter-island Hawaii voyage – the best way to discover the tropical paradise. This highly sought-after itinerary, which is only available with NCL, features nearly 100 hours of port time, visits to four of the Hawaiian islands, two overnight stays and weekly departures from Honolulu all-year long…making it the easiest way to island-hop while only having to unpack once.

Only possible on board the U.S. flagged Pride of America, the award-winning itinerary sails from the idyllic island of Oahu, home of the iconic Waikiki beach; and visits Kona and Hilo, Hawaii, commonly known as The Big Island; and makes two overnight calls in Maui and Kauai.

Now is the perfect time to start planning your summer escape, and with NCL’s Hawaii voyages, guests can look forward to immersing themselves in the nature of the islands; enjoy bucket-list experiences like swimming with turtles in the clear waters of Molokini Crater; watching the sun set over Maui from high above a sea of clouds atop the Summit of Haleakalā; embracing the cultural art of Hula dancing, the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people, among so much more.

Just in time for National Plan for Vacation Day, NCL is offering an exclusive promotion of 50% off all cruises through the end of January that is combinable with its value-added Free at Sea program where guests receive complimentary amenities including unlimited open bar, specialty dining, Wi-Fi and shore excursion credits. For even more ease of planning the vacation of a lifetime, the promotion also offers free airfare for the second guest on select cruises.

West Coast Boat Shows coming soon

William Kelly, co-author of Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage.

West Coast boaters will have a couple of boat shows to visit in the next few weeks. The Vancouver Boat Show (https://www.vancouverboatshow.ca) runs from January 31st to February 4th and the Seattle Boat Show (https://seattleboatshow.com) from February 2nd to the 10th.

William Kelly, co-author of the new edition of Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage (see above) will be doing three presentations of “Getting Past Cape Caution” during the Vancouver show. Voyaging north to Fitz Hugh Sound, known for some of the best cruising on the B.C. coast, can be intimidating to many boaters and this is due mainly to the challenge of rounding Cape Caution. Winds coming off the cape combined with strong currents in the area can produce heavy swells and steep seas. The presentation will outline the hazards, strategies and best routes for a safe and quick passage. He also includes the sheltered anchorages near Cape Caution for getting out of bad conditions on the way to the beautiful cruising grounds north of this cape.

He’ll also show the rewards that lie north of Cape Caution with detail on anchorages in Fitz Hugh Sound and beyond.

Award-winning author William Kelly has written about cruising the B.C. Inside Passage for over 40 years, his stories appearing in yachting publications across North America. He and his wife, Anne Vipond, have sailed as far north as Kodiak Island and Prince William Sound in Alaska. Anne and Bill are the authors of the best-selling guidebook Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage, recognized by the Society of American Travel Writers as an outstanding work in travel journalism and receiving a Lowell Thomas Award in the guidebook category. Their book covers anchorages from the Gulf Islands to Bella Bella and includes Desolation Sound and Broughton Archipelago. The book also covers pilotage all the tidal passes leading to the best anchorages of the B.C. coast.



HAL adds 55 ports to 2024 Asia cruise season

Holland America Line’s Westerdam will be visiting over 55 ports on various 2025 Asia itineraries.

Holland America Line’s Westerdam is heading to Asia, where it will explore 11 countries from September 2025 through April 2026. The itineraries have a strong focus on Japan with 24 different ports around the country, as well as visits to Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Cruises in the Far East depart from Hong Kong, China; Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan; and Singapore to some of Asia’s most iconic cities — with up to 12 ports in a single cruise. Late departures and overnight stays allow extra time for guests to sample the nightlife, local cuisine and rich cultures of the region.

“For travelers looking to discover Asia, our 2025-2026 season provides an opportunity to explore the region in-depth via cruise,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “We have diversified the number of ports to more than 50 across several itineraries. We want to ensure our guests have an authentic glimpse into the diverse cultures of each country, creating immersive moments and deeper connections to those destinations.”

Seabourn Fleet Now Equipped with Starlink

Seabourn Cruises, the highly rated luxury cruise brand, has updated their ships with Starlink for high-speed internet.

Seabourn has announced that its fleet of ultra-luxury ships has been equipped with next generation Wi-Fi connectivity with SpaceX’s Starlink, the leader in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology.

The upgraded technology provides Seabourn’s guests with faster service, greater connectivity and more reliable Wi-Fi wherever Starlink’s services are available.

“Following the positive feedback we received from our guests from the successful rollout of Starlink’s enhanced connectivity on our expedition ships, we are thrilled to share that both our ocean and expedition ships in our ultra-luxury fleet now feature Starlink. Our guests can now choose to connect or disconnect as they wish during their extraordinary journeys with Seabourn,” said Natalya Leahy, president of Seabourn.

Starlink is now available on Seabourn’s two new purpose-built ultra-luxury expedition ships, Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit, as well as its ocean ships, Seabourn Sojourn, Seabourn Quest, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation.

Seabourn’s fleet of ultra-luxury ships visits a perfect blend of iconic destinations and hidden gems, ensuring an indulgent and unforgettable voyage for luxury travelers. Guests can discover Antarctica, the Arctic, the South Pacific, the Kimberley region in Australia, and the legendary Northwest Passage aboard Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit. They may also explore marquee destinations and boutique ports in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska and more on Seabourn’s ultra-luxury ocean ships.

Celebrity Cruises Unveils Culinary Experiences for Ascent

Celebrity, always known for excellent cuisine, ups its game on newest ship Ascent.

Celebrity Cruises, an award-winning premium cruise line, unveiled details of the culinary and beverage program planned for its highly-anticipated new ship, Celebrity Ascent. The fourth vessel in the line’s Edge Series, Ascent, will delight travelers with redesigned restaurants, a new immersive dinner experience, expanded food and cocktail menus, a new whiskey tasting experience, and a plant-based multi-course dinner.

“The memories we make with family and friends while sharing food and drink has long-been one of the most memorable parts of travel, and with Celebrity Ascent we sought every opportunity to make these experiences richer and exciting for our guests,” says Laura Hodges Bethge, Celebrity Cruises’ President. “Onboard Ascent there is something to delight every guest, whether it is the fine dining connoisseur with a palate for the world’s best wines or the wellness-minded traveler desiring more plant-based, healthy options.”

A New Le Voyage: Chef Daniel Boulud’s Exclusive Restaurants at Sea

World renowned chef, Daniel Boulud, Celebrity’s Global Culinary Ambassador, will bring his highly acclaimed restaurant concept at sea to Celebrity Ascent. The second installment of the highly rated fine dining venue, Le VoyageSM will feature an all-new design that creates a stunning scene and ambiance, featuring a new chandelier, captivating neutrals, plush banquet seating, and gold tones throughout. Guests will experience a global menu that offers dishes from his personal travels and favorite places around the world. For the ultimate culinary experience, groups can reserve the Chef’s Table – a private, 6-seat dining room that treats diners to a multi-course tasting dinner complete with exceptional wine pairings.

Plant-Based Flavors and Options Pop

One of the most captivating venues onboard Edge Series ships, Eden, is a window to the world, featuring three levels of experiences completely wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows. The multi-use venue offers a casual lunch café, a cocktail bar, an entertainment space, an outdoor terrace and a signature restaurant – all of which come alive at night with a fusion of music, libations, and performances. One of the highlights of Eden is its signature restaurant, offering a culinary journey rooted in untouched, fresh and seasonal ingredients. With the arrival of Ascent, travelers will have the opportunity to experience global cuisine in its most pristine and untouched form through a new seven-course plant-based tasting menu. Each dish features ingredients that have been sourced from their original place of origin and presented in the most natural state. Menu highlights include dishes like the Golden Beet-Tomato Ceviche, Ajoblanco Panna Cotta, Roasted and Glazed Celeriac Steak, and Dry Rose Petals Masala Curry. Enjoyed as a tasting menu, or a la carte, diners can also opt for organic and vegan wine pairings.

Expanded Offerings at Main Dining Rooms and Redesigned Cosmopolitan Restaurant

With the Edge Series ships, Celebrity presented a new dining room concept, expanding offerings from one main dining room to four main dining restaurants –each offering a different style of cuisine and signature dishes. Onboard Ascent, travelers will continue to enjoy the option for New American cuisine at Cosmopolitan restaurant; Mediterranean at Cyprus; French contemporary at Normandie; and Italian at Tuscan. Combined, the four main dining restaurants offer travelers more than 84 different dishes to choose from. Guests of Cosmopolitan will be delighted by its new design inspired by the culture of champagne, featuring a new layout and seating throughout.

Carnival Jubilee floats out in German shipyard

Carnival’s Jubilee is a departure from other ships with it’s blue bow. The 184,000 ton ship will carry over 5000 passengers.

Carnival Cruise Line’s next new ship, Carnival Jubilee, marked a key construction milestone as it floated out of the covered building dock at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. The ship features a Texas star proudly displayed on the bow. Currently in its last stages of construction the ship is set to debut in December.

“The Texas star on Carnival Jubilee’s bow is a symbol of our commitment to the Port of Galveston. As the first cruise line to sail year-round from Galveston, we have a long history with the community,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Hundreds of spectators gathered at the shipyard to get a look at the ship. Jubilee moves into its next phase of construction alongside the shipyard’s outfitting pier. Sea trials are scheduled for November.

Carnival’s newest ship is part of its groundbreaking Excel-class, the largest ships in its fleet, and is the third and final vessel in this class. It will offer features already aboard her sisters Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, including the next iteration of the first roller coaster at sea, BOLT: The Ultimate Seacoaster.

Originally ordered for AIDA Cruises, the Jubilee was set to be built as a sister to the AIDAnova and the AIDAcosma before being transferred to Carnival Cruise Line in 2021.

The ship will sail year-round on Western Caribbean itineraries beginning in late December – though she will not be the first Carnival Jubilee to sail from Galveston. Like her sisters, the ship shares a name with a classic Carnival ship, and the first Carnival Jubilee sailed from Galveston in 2002. The new Carnival Jubilee is four times larger than her predecessor and will bring four times the fun for Carnival guests to enjoy. For more information visit Carnival.com


HAL Lingers longer in South Pacific

HAL’s Zaandam is set for 51 day cruises in 2024 from San Diego.

Three Holland America Line ships are set to explore the lush landscapes and natural wonders of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific in 2024-2025. From unspoiled islands to cosmopolitan cities, Westerdam will spend the season Down Under, while Koningsdam and Zaandam each offer a longer Legendary Voyage to the South Pacific and Hawaii.

In October 2024 Westerdam sails a westwardly South Pacific crossing, followed by the iconic Australia Circumnavigation. From December 2024 through March 2025, the ship offers a series of 14-day departures roundtrip from Sydney, Australia, or between Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney. Zaandam’s “Tales of the South Pacific” in September 2024 is from Vancouver, Canada, to San Diego, California, or roundtrip San Diego, while Koningsdam’s “Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas” in February 2025 is roundtrip from San Diego.

“Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are iconically beautiful locations, but they have so much more to offer which is why they remain high on the bucket list of travelers who are looking to see the world with the ease of a cruise,” said Beth Bodensteiner, Holland America Line’s chief commercial officer. “The Australia Circumnavigation itinerary is the most in-depth immersion a cruiser can have of the continent, and many of our Legendary Voyages make it possible to visit distant destinations from a North American homeport. These cruises are among some of the most notable we offer.”

Legendary Voyages Linger Longer
Holland America Line’s extended Legendary Voyages range from 25 to 59 days and combine the ceremony of a Grand Voyage with itineraries that feature a comprehensive collection of ports that enrich the experience in each destination. Most of Holland America Line’s Legendary Voyages sail roundtrip or to/from a North American homeport, allowing travelers to see the world from their doorstep with a convenient domestic flight and easy embarkation.

NCL cancels Epic sailings for 2025

NCL’s Epic comes in for minor refit in 2025.

Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled multiple sailings on its Norwegian Epic ship, the latest in a string of scrapped voyages for the cruise line.

The line canceled three 2025 cruises so the ship can undergo “a revitalization,” Norwegian said in a letter to guests and travel partners last week, which it shared with USA TODAY.

“In order to complete these enhancements, Norwegian Epic’s sailings on April 15, 2025, April 26, 2025, and May 5, 2025, have been canceled,” Norwegian said. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

The line gave impacted passengers full refunds and a 10% discount on another cruise in the form of a future cruise credit. “This credit may be used by and applied towards any of our published sailings through December 31, 2025,” Norwegian said in the letter.

Facial Recognition comes to several cruise ports

Carnival Venezia carries over 4200 passengers and was first launched in 2018 as a Costa ship.

Carnival Cruise Line has announced that new facial recognition technology will be active at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City this summer. This will permit cruise guests to debark their vessels much more efficiently without sacrificing security and customs precautions.

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald made the announcement on facial recognition technology with respect to the new Carnival Venezia, which will be arriving for the first time in New York City on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

The new technology, however, will not be fully in place for debarkation of that maiden transatlantic crossing, but will be used beginning with debarkation of the next sailing, a 4-night roundtrip cruise to Bermuda.

“I’m excited to confirm that United States Customs and Border Protection has approved for us to roll out Facial Recognition in New York commencing with the debarkation on June 19th, 2023,” Heald said.

This technology allows passengers to debark a cruise much more quickly, as each individual guest or family group doesn’t need to stop and speak with a customs official. Instead, cameras quickly capture and match up each individual’s face with digital records to confirm their identity.

Facial recognition technology has been in place at different cruise ports for years, including homeports in Florida, California, and Texas. The wireless process is smooth and fast, permitting ever-busier cruise ports to more quickly and securely process guests to get travelers on their way.

Much of the technology was implemented as cruising resumed in the summer of 2021 after the industry-wide pandemic shutdown. Facial recognition is wireless processing that helps minimize in-person contact and eases crowding in cruise terminals.

Carnival Venezia, the latest addition to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, sailed into its New York City homeport for the first time June 13th. The ship’s guests just completed a 15-day transatlantic sailing that began in Barcelona, Spain. The ship was launched in 2018 as Costa Venezia.

Carnival will host a welcome ceremony on board the ship Wednesday evening and acclaimed comedian and television host Jay Leno will become the first godfather named to a Carnival ship. On Thursday, Carnival Venezia will mark its first departure from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, with guests set to embark on a four-day cruise visiting Bermuda.

Carnival Venezia is debuting “Carnival Fun Italian Style” and introducing several new concepts, from restaurants and bars to entertainment programming. The new venues and experiences enhance the ship’s theming, as its design is inspired by the city of Venice, Italy.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas nears completion

The 250,000 ton Icon of the Seas is due to launch in January 2024.

Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas reached its next major construction milestone at the Meyer Turku shipyard Finland, when it was floated out of the dry dock and into its outfitting dock for its anticipated debut in January 2024. This is the first Icon Class ship of RCI where it has been under construction for more than eight months.

As part of the float out, the ship’s dry dock was filled with water overnight. Once the dock was filled, Icon was then moved to an outfitting dock, which will be its home for the next year until construction is complete. The mega ship displaces 250,000 tons and carries over 5600 passengers. The ship is unique both in size and appearance and will be of great interest for agents booking families with young children. There are many attractions for kids on several levels from  especial in the mid aft section of the upper decks with 6 waterslides and seven pools.

What’s in store on Icon is the first-of-its-kind combination of the best of every vacation. From the beach retreat to the resort escape and the theme park adventure, the revolutionary ship delivers every kind of family and adventurer their version of the ultimate family vacation.

The new ship features an all-encompassing lineup of firsts and next-level favorites across eight neighborhoods, making it the perfect getaway for adults and parents, kids and grandparents alike. Between the adrenaline-pumping thrills at the new Thrill Island and unrivaled ways to chill at neighborhoods like the new Chill Island and the luxurious four-level Suite Neighborhood.

Icon will sail year-round, 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations from Miami. Every cruise will visit Royal Caribbean’s top-rated private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas, and a mix of destinations like Cozumel, Mexico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Basseterre, St. Kitts. More details about Icon are available at www.RoyalCaribbean.com/Icon.