Night Club Under the Stars Coming to the Regal Princess

Princess Cruises has announced a new nighttime experience that will make its debut this fall on the Regal Princess.  For one night on the week long cruises to the Caribbean, the adults only Retreat Pool will be transformed into a chic and contemporary outdoor nightclub.

The Night Sky

The Night Sky Lounge at night and the Retreat Pool during the day.

The Night Sky Lounge will offer guests an upbeat and modern, South Miami style vibe, glowing sticks, atmospheric pool and furniture lighting, and a DJ spinning tunes on a state of the art audio system.

The cabanas can be reserved for hosted bottle service and guests will be able to enjoy the jacuzzis and flair bartending demonstrations.  Princess said that there will be a nominal charge to enter the Night Sky Lounge but did not say what the fee will be.

Jan Swartz, the president of Princess Cruises gave the following statement:

“The Retreat Pool aboard Regal Princess is such an inviting space, and so transforming it into a cool lounge that offers an entirely new evening experience will be sure to delight our guests.

We think the lounge’s great location, beautiful lighting, specialty cocktails and music will be a winning entertainment experience.”

The Regal Princess will begin sailing to the Caribbean in November 2014 on week long cruises that will stop in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and in Princess Cays, Bahamas.  The ship’s christening and naming ceremony will take place on November 5 and will be followed by a 3 night preview cruise to the Bahamas.

The 3,560 passenger Regal Princess will sail out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Smart Ship, Royal Caribbean’s Game Changing Cruise Ship

When Royal Caribbean released more details about the Quantum of the Seas on Monday, there left little doubt in anyone’s mind that this new cruise ship will be industry changing and the most technologically advanced cruise ship ever built.

The Quantum will be offering Smart Check-in, which means that there will literally be no check in when you get to the pier.  Most of the things required for check-in will be able to be done at home, including taking a selfie for your security photo.  The goal of this new check-in process is to get passengers from the sidewalk to ship within 10 minutes and eliminating long lines.  Traditional check-in will still be available for those who aren’t as tech savvy.

When your bags are dropped off with the porters, they will place a RFID tag on them.  This will allow passengers to see in real time where their luggage is and follow the 7 steps the luggage takes to reach their stateroom.  This will be done with a downloadable app on smartphones and tablets.

The Quantum of the Seas will kiss goodbye to the current cruise ship internet speeds that bring back the glory days of AOL 5.0.  The Quantum will have more broadband that every other cruise ship in the world COMBINED.  This will allow for internet speeds that passengers are used to at home and will allow for video streaming on Skype, Facetime etc. Passengers will also be able to stream Netflix, although with all that the Quantum is offering, it is doubtful many passengers will spend their time at sea streaming Netflix.

The Royal iQ will be a downloadable app and will be provided at freestanding iQ stations around the ship.  This will allow passengers to make the most of their cruise with convenient calendars, details about the cruise, and the ability for passengers to keep in touch with each other via phone and text capabilities.

Every crew member onboard every Royal Caribbean cruise ship will be receiving a tablet to allow them to keep in touch with family back home, all 40,000 crew members.

The Bionic Bar will have robots that make drinks for the passengers.  There will be a tablet for ordering and the robots will make and mix the drinks.

The ship will also be going green in a number of areas.  All of the light bulbs on the cruise ship will be LED or Fluorescent.  Nothing from the ship will go to a land based bump.  Everything will either be reused, recycled, or incinerated.

The Quantum of the Seas will also be introducing WOW Bands which will allow passengers to make onboard purchases, serve as their room key, and navigate their way around the ship.  The bands will cost an additional $2 each.

Royal Caribbean is using all of this new technology to give the passengers and crew members a better experience.  They will be able to better track passenger’s preferences and tastes, to offer even better personalized service.

The Quantum will be comprised of 80% balcony staterooms, 10% oceanview staterooms, and only 10% inside staterooms.  The inside staterooms will have floor to ceiling virtual balconies that will give passengers a live look at the view outside.

The Quantum of the Seas will begin sailing out of Cape Liberty in November 2014.  All photos are courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Hurricane Cristobal Has Cruise Lines Making Itinerary Changes

Hurricane Cristobal, the 3rd hurricane of the 2014 hurricane season, currently has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and is moving north at 15 mph.

As the hurricane moves north, it is expected to pass east of the Carolinas and to the west of Bermuda.  Cruise lines have been altering cruise itineraries for the past few days as the storm as moved in erratic directions.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that the Norwegian Breakaway will no longer be stopping in Bermuda.  The ship will now stop in Port Canaveral, Florida and Nassau Bahamas.  The Norwegian Dawn will be leaving Bermuda 12 hours ahead of schedule.

Carnival Cruise Line was the first cruise line to make changes to one of their ship’s itineraries .  The Carnival Splendor will now call on the port of Port Canaveral bypassing a stop in Grand Turk on Saturday.  The Splendor left New York City on Wednesday for an 8 night cruise to the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.

The Carnival Glory will skip a stop in Nassau on Sunday and will replace it with a sea day.  The Carnival Liberty will sail a rearranged itinerary and the Carnival Sensation will stop in Key West instead of Nassau.   The Carnival Pride will see 2 stops changed.  First, the ship will stop in Port Canaveral replacing Grand Turk and then in Nassau replacing Half Moon Cay.

The Disney Fantasy, which departed from Port Canaveral on Saturday, will be stopping in the port of San Juan in place of St. Maarten.

Royal Caribbean had made changes to the Oasis of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas itineraries.  The Oasis will have a sea day instead of stopping in Nassau on Sunday and the Freedom will have a sea day bypassing a stop at the cruise line’s private island, CocoCay.

No cruises have been canceled due to the storm.

Cruise Fever will continue to monitor the storm and will have all updates if other cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Disney make changes to avoid the storm.

It has been a rather quiet hurricane season so far in 2014 with only 3 named storms.  However, that number is expected to rise as we enter prime hurricane season.  The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

Visit the National Hurricane Center for the latest information on Hurricane Cristobal.

First Annual Bon Voyage Cruise Awards Announced

Bon Voyage, a digital travel magazine published by CruiseLine.com, has released their first annual editor’s choice awards. There were 35 different awards handed out in a variety of cruise categories.

“We were so inspired by the amount of quality cruising on the market today that we wanted to acknowledge the excellence in a formal way. We firmly believe that our winners deserve the accolades we’ve bestowed upon them.

In fact, it was no easy feat to accomplish; we originally thought we would give out 10 or 20 awards, but found so much to celebrate that we are handing out 35 in our inaugural year.” – Sherri Eisenberg, editor-in-chief of Bon Voyage.

A panel of top cruise writers were the judges for the awards.  They were Heidi Sarna (a 20+ year cruise writer), Ted Scull (travel writer), Lisa Cheng (former editor at Travel & Leisure), and Donna Heiderstadt (former travel editor at Modern Bride).

And the winners are…

Best Mainstream Line

Gold: Disney Cruise Line
Silver: Celebrity Cruises
Bronze: Princess Cruise Line

Best Premium Line

Gold: Oceania Cruises
Silver: SeaDream Yacht Club
Bronze: Azamara Club Cruises

Best Luxury Line

Gold: Crystal Cruises
Silver: Seabourn Cruise Line
Bronze: Silversea Cruises

Best for Couples

Gold: SeaDream Yacht Club
Silver: Celebrity Cruises
Bronze: Paul Gauguin Cruises

Best for Singles

Gold: Norwegian Cruise Line
Silver: Carnival Cruise Lines
Bronze: Cunard Line

Best for Multigenerational Families

Gold: Disney Cruise Line
Silver: Royal Caribbean International
Bronze: Lindblad Expeditions

Best Service

Gold: Crystal Cruises
Silver: Seabourn Cruise Line
Bronze: Disney Cruise Line

Best Value

Gold: Holland America Line
Silver: Carnival Cruise Lines
Bronze: MSC Cruises

Best New Ship

Gold: Norwegian Getaway
Silver: Regal Princess
Bronze: MSC Divina

Best Refurbished Ship

Gold: Carnival Sunshine
Silver: Crystal Symphony
Bronze: Star Pride

Cabins and Food

Best Mainstream Cabins

Gold: Disney Cruise Line
Silver: Holland America Line
Bronze: Carnival Cruise Lines

Best Premium Cabins

Gold: Oceania Cruises
Silver: Cunard Line
Bronze: Windstar Cruises

Best Luxury Cabins

Gold: Silversea Cruises
Silver: Seabourn Cruise Line
Bronze: Crystal Cruises

Most Innovative Cabins

Gold: Celebrity Reflection Sea View Suite
Silver: Oceania Marina and Oceania Riviera Ralph Lauren Suite
Bronze: Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas Oasis Duplex

Best Food

Gold: Crystal Cruises
Silver: Seabourn Cruise Line
Bronze: Oceania Cruises

Most Improved Food

Gold: Carnival Cruise Lines
Silver: Princess Cruises
Bronze: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Free Takeaway Fare

Gold: Carnival’s Blue Iguana Cantina
Silver: Carnival’s Guy’s Burger Joint
Bronze: Holland America’s Dive In

Entertainment

Best Onboard Daytime Activities

Gold: Royal Caribbean International
Silver: Norwegian Cruise Line
Bronze: Disney Cruise Line

Best Onboard Evening Entertainment

Gold: Disney Cruise Line
Silver: Norwegian Cruise Line
Bronze: Carnival Cruise Lines

Best Nightlife

Gold: Celebrity Cruises
Silver: Carnival Cruise Lines
Bronze: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Water Parks

Gold: Royal Caribbean International
Silver: Disney Cruise Line
Bronze: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Services for Children (Under 3)

Gold: Disney Cruise Line
Silver: Royal Caribbean International
Bronze: Cunard Line

Best Services for Children (Age 3 – 12)

Gold: Disney Cruise Line
Silver: Royal Caribbean International
Bronze: Carnival Cruise Lines

Best Services for Teens

Gold: Royal Caribbean International
Silver: Norwegian Cruise Line
Bronze: Disney Cruise Line

Destinations

Best for Beaches

Gold: French Polynesia
Silver: Eastern Caribbean
Bronze: Bermuda

Best for Culture

Gold: Western Mediterranean
Silver: Eastern Mediterranean
Bronze: Baltic

Best for Food Lovers

Gold: Western Mediterranean
Silver: Southeast Asia
Bronze: Eastern Mediterranean

Best for Nature Lovers

Gold: Galapagos Islands
Silver: Alaska
Bronze: Australia/New Zealand

Best Caribbean Port

Gold: Tortola
Silver: Aruba
Bronze: St. John

Best Alaska Port

Gold: Juneau
Silver: Sitka
Bronze: Anchorage

Best Eastern Mediterranean Port

Gold: Venice, Italy
Silver: Istanbul, Turkey
Bronze: Santorini, Greece

Best Western Mediterranean Port

Gold: Barcelona, Spain
Silver: Portofino, Italy
Bronze: Valenica, Spain

Best Baltic Port

Gold: Copenhagen, Denmark
Silver: St. Petersburg, Russia
Bronze: Helsinki, Finland

Best Asian Port

Gold: Shanghai
Silver: Hong Kong
Bronze: Kyoto, Japan

Best South Pacific Port

Gold: Sydney
Silver: Bora Bora
Bronze: Easter Island

Video: Carnival Cruise Line Takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge To All 24 Cruise Ships

Carnival Cruise Line recently announced that they have met their goal raising over $3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Now, the world’s largest cruise line has taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money to help fight Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The challenge was accepted by Matt Mitcham, the cruise director on the Carnival Breeze, and he nominated the rest of the Carnival fleet and gave them 24 hours to complete it.  Every Carnival ship took part, all 24 ships in 24 hours.  Although most of the ships are currently cruising in the Caribbean, the Carnival Spirit is currently sailing in Australia where it is winter.

Carnival released a video showing all their cruise ships taking part in the challenge, including many of the cruise executives along with Gerry Cahill the CEO of the cruise line.  Carnival donated $100,000 towards ALS after completing the challenge.

The ice bucket challenge has been taking social media by storm over the past week as many celebrities have posted videos of themselves dumping buckets of ice cold water over their heads.  You may have even seen several of your Facebook friends taking part in the fight against ALS.

When someone takes the ice bucket challenge they nominate several people, usually 3, to participate or donate $100 towards fighting ALS.  Of coarse, those who do participate are also encouraged to donate money to fight the disease.

Since July 29, over $5.5 million has been raised for ALS through the Ice Bucket Challenge.  That compares to just $32,000 that was raised during the same time period last year.  Donations have come from over 150,000 donors.  Here is the link if you wish to donate to the ALS Association and help fight ALS.

Here is the video of all 24 Carnival ships taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge and we hope that the other cruise lines follow suit.