Thursday, September 4, 2008

Royal Caribbean Debuts Oasis of the Seas Pool & Spa Areas

Royal Caribbean International unveiled two more neighborhoods for the 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas -- the Pool and Sports Zone and the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center. Stretching the length of the ship, the Pool and Sports Zone will feature private cabanas, four pools, and two FlowRider surf simulators, each larger than the single FlowRider found on the line’s Freedom-class ships. Building on Royal Caribbean’s Vitality wellness program, the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center will feature spa treatments and Kinesis group classes, a no-impact workout utilizing natural movement to engage several muscle groups simultaneously.
Oasis of the Seas will have seven neighborhoods. Previously announced were Central Park, an open-air park setting with live foliage; Boardwalk, with a carousel; and a much wider Royal Promenade than found on earlier Royal Caribbean ships. The Pool and Sports Zone will include an adults-only Solarium and sports deck. The Beach Pool will have a sloped entry to wade into the water or relax in a beach chair under an umbrella as the water rolls underneath. Located on the opposite side of the ship from the Beach Pool and separated by Central Park six decks below is the Main Pool with two side-by-side whirlpools. Overlooking both pools will be private cabanas, complete with a dedicated attendant. Families will easily spot Royal Caribbean’s H2O Zone, marked by a giant octopus with slides and water-spraying tentacles. Separate wading and current pools, as well as a dedicated infant and toddler pool, will be surrounded by adult and child-sized lounge chairs. The Sports Pool will host afternoon water team sports such as basketball, badminton and water polo, while morning hours will be dedicated to lap swimming.
The adults-only, two-deck Solarium will be a glass-paneled enclave with seating on islands surrounded by water. The Solarium will offer a swimming pool, two whirlpools, and four cantilevered whirlpools suspended 136 feet above the ocean. The mezzanine level will overlook the pool deck below, offering additional chaise lounges and seating. The new Solarium Bistro will offer casual fare from the Vitality spa menu during the day, and in the evenings, transform into a venue for specialty dining and dancing, and later, for a late-night dance club called Club 20. The Sports Deck in the Pool and Sports Zone also will boast the first zipline at sea, and two of the FlowRider surf simulators, flanking either side of the elevated back deck. There also will be a nine-hole miniature golf course and the Sports Court for basketball and volleyball. Near the FlowRiders will be the Wipe Out Bar and the casual dining venue, the Wipe Out Café.
The Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center will feature relaxation rooms; a thermal suite with heated tile loungers, saunas and steam rooms; three couples massage suites; and seven individual treatment rooms. There also will be a dedicated spa for kids and teens. The Fitness Center will offer the latest cardio and resistance equipment as well as classes in spinning, kickboxing, Pilates and yoga. The Vitality Café will offer healthy snacks, light meals and juices.
Oasis of the Seas, which is scheduled to launch in November 2009, opens for general bookings on Sept. 3. Diamond and Diamond-plus members of the Crown & Anchor Society are already able to make reservations, and all Crown & Anchor members can do so starting Aug. 28. The ship will sail from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean Expands Partnership with Nickelodeon

Royal Caribbean International and Nickelodeon announced two new cruise adventures in summer 2009. Based on the success of the first-ever, sold-out Nickelodeon Family Cruise with Royal Caribbean, the two companies are teaming up to offer families new cruises from each U.S. coast -- one on Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Rivera and another on the Freedom of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean. The announcement was made after the completion of the first Nickelodeon Family Cruise Aug. 10-17. “Coming off the success of the first Nickelodeon cruise this past week, we’re thrilled to build upon our relationship with the announcement of two additional themed cruises,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
The first 2009 cruise will sail from Los Angeles on July 26 on Mariner of the Seas and will travel to the Mexican Rivera (exact locations will be determined). The Eastern Caribbean itinerary will leave on Aug. 9 from Port Canaveral on Freedom of the Seas and will sail to St. Thomas, St. Maarten and the private island of CocoCay, Bahamas. Onboard, Nickelodeon will provide families with such experiences as interactive game shows, meet-and-greets and performances by their favorite Nickelodeon stars, screenings and premieres of new Nick TV shows and movies, and plenty of Nickelodeon’s signature slime. Also planned are visits with favorite Nick characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Diego and Aang from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” The Nickelodeon Family Cruises go on sale to the public beginning in mid-September.

CLIA Lines Offer Increasing Number of World Cruises

Cruise Lines International Association said seven of its member cruise lines are offering 10 world cruises in 2009, including an unusual longitudinal itinerary from the top of the world to the bottom beginning in late September. The others, departing in early 2009 from ports on the East and West coasts, will follow the sun from west to east through the Caribbean, South Pacific, Asia, Africa and Europe. "Even during uncertain economic times, it appears that growing numbers of travelers are eager to sail the globe or, at the very least, take a nice long segment of a world cruise in a part of the world they probably have never seen before," said Terry Dale, CLIA's president and CEO. All the world cruises are available for the entire voyage -- typically 90 to 100 days -- and some lines report that almost half their guests stay onboard from start to finish, while others take segments ranging from less than two weeks to more than two months.
Crystal Cruises' 14th annual World Cruise, on Crystal Serenity, departs Los Angeles Jan. 21. The 106-day voyage will visit 45 cities in Mexico, the South Pacific, New Zealand, eastern and western Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Russia, Alaska, British Columbia as well as San Francisco and back to Los Angeles. Segments are available in lengths of 12 to 22 days. Special guests onboard will include Deborah Norville, Ed McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Hanna and more than two dozen experts on world affairs and other topics. The trip will also feature 125 new shore excursions, including several on a complimentary basis.
At Cunard Line, both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will embark on their second World Cruises. Queen Victoria makes a 99-day "Exploration of Distant Horizons" world cruise departing from New York Jan. 10 and visiting the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It is available in four segments including the 17-day New York-to-Los Angeles segment and the 27-day Sydney-to-Singapore segment. Queen Mary 2's 90-day "Epic Expedition" departs Fort Lauderdale Jan. 13 and circumnavigates South America before sailing Down Under and then through Asia and Europe. Space is still available on some of the most popular segments including the 28-day Fort Lauderdale-to-Los Angeles segment and 31-day Singapore-to-New York segment.
Holland America Line's Rotterdam returns to world cruising in 2009 with a 114- or 117-day "Grand World Voyage" departing Jan. 19 from Los Angeles. The westbound route sails the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, and through Asia and Africa before visiting the Caribbean and concluding in Fort Lauderdale. Overnights are scheduled in Sydney, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, Mombasa and Cape Town. Segments of 22 to 69 days are available. In a departure from many other World Cruise itineraries, the trip will feature the east coast of Africa to South Africa and a rare "Midnight Golden Line Crossing" when the Rotterdam crosses the equator and the International Dateline simultaneously.
Based on the response to its return to world cruising, Princess Cruises will offer two global itineraries in 2009. The 670-passenger Tahitian Princess and 710-passenger Royal Princess will offer similar 107-day itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, the former departing Jan. 12 and finishing in Dover, England, and the latter sailing Jan. 20, concluding in Rome. The itinerary features South America, the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, India and Egypt as well as a variety of European destinations. Both will feature a new port for Princess - Port Blair in the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Other exotic destinations include Vietnam, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the Great Barrier Reef.
Regent Seven Seas is offering two simultaneous world cruises in 2009. The 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner will visit 110 ports of call in 50 countries on six continents. Segments range in length from 12 to 24 nights and visit the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, India, the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Celebrity guests will include former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, football coach Don Shula, Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Al Worden, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and others.
Silversea Cruises is offering the company's first-ever "Grand Pacific Voyage" in 2009, a 92-day cruise timed to coincide with prime regional seasons of the Pacific Ocean. The voyage will depart Los Angeles on March 7 on Silver Shadow. On this journey, composed of six themed segments, guests will visit 45 ports in 15 countries and two hemispheres, with overnight stays in Bora Bora, Sydney, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Guests sailing the full voyage will receive complimentary hotel accommodations in Los Angeles on the eve of departure, plus transfer and baggage handling between airport, hotel and ship. Scheduled enrichment speakers include Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space, and author and Pulitzer Prize winner, Frank McCourt.

Carnival to Increase Capacity in New Orleans

Carnival Cruise Lines - which operates the only year-round cruise program from New Orleans - will increase capacity by 34 percent when the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph replaces the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy in November 2009. Carnival Triumph will introduce new seven-day Western and exotic Western Caribbean schedules to complement the four- and five-day cruises to Mexico. The seven-day cruises will depart on Saturdays with Western Caribbean voyages to Belize City; Isla Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel. Eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Key West, Freeport and Nassau. Four-day cruises will depart Thursdays to Cozumel, while five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.
Carnival Triumph will operate 65 departures annually from New Orleans, carrying approximately 200,000 passengers. Carnival Fantasy, which currently sails from New Orleans, will be deployed to Mobile, Ala., to operate four- and five-day cruises beginning in November 2009.Carnival Triumph will make its New Orleans debut with a special four-day cruise departing Nov. 10, then launch its new year-round four-, five- and seven-day schedule beginning with a weeklong voyage departing Nov. 14, 2009. The 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph offers a 14,500-square-foot spa, a jogging track, shipwide Wi-Fi access and cell phone service, a duty-free shopping mall, and three restaurants. Also featured are 18 themed lounges and bars, including a wine bar, sports bar, piano bar and a multi-level theatre showcasing lavish revues. A golf program offering professional instruction and opportunities to play top Caribbean courses is available, as well. Family-friendly amenities include programming for children in three age groups - Camp Carnival for youngsters, Circle C for 12- to 14-year olds, and Club O2 for older teens. Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Triumph's cruises from New Orleans.

Princess Debuts In-Room Fitness Classes, Yoga for Kids

Princess Cruises is introducing new fitness programs, including the industry’s first in-room fitness program, yoga classes for kids and teens, and new Lotus Spa classes. Designed for cruisers of all ages and activity levels, these fitness choices will help passengers get moving in their own staterooms with Fitness@Sea hosted by celebrity trainer Gillian Clark, strike a pose in an interactive yoga class for junior cruisers, or take a “Tour de France” spin class. Fitness@Sea classes led by fitness DVD host Clark are designed as a way for passengers to comfortably start off their day with exercise. Clark leads nine classes shown exclusively on the line’s Wellness Channel, including core strengthening, flexibility, arm and leg strengthening, big muscle groups and overall body workout, cardio training, stretching, the mind/body connection, breathing to enhance a workout and back strengthening.
Fitness@Sea debuts fleetwide this month. On ships with Movies Under the Stars, morning sessions are offered on the 300-square-foot screens for those who want to work out in an open-air group setting.
Princess also will introduce yoga to kids and teens ages 3-17. The program promotes building coordination, breathing, balance and emotional strength with an element of play incorporating music, chants and singing. With yoga mats provided, kids can participate in a variety of yoga poses. Classes are complimentary and are currently rolling out fleetwide in the onboard youth and teen centers. Classes range from 30 minutes to one hour and parents are welcome to participate. The new onboard “Core.Balance.Strength” fitness program focuses on three vital components of balanced health in classes in the Lotus Spa.
“Core.Balance.Strength” is designed to help guests maximize their wellness potential by focusing on three fitness components, each with a series of corresponding classes. The Core component is designed to create a strong foundation and is based primarily on the principles of Pilates and correct postural alignment. Balance focuses on centering both mind and body, and features fusion yoga classes. Strength includes a high-energy mixture of both strength and cardio classes. As part of the new program, passengers can now try the Tour de Spin program, which will benefit LiveStrong, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The Tour de Spin program will consist of three 45-minute classes, each featuring a ride named after various stages of the Tour de France. One dollar from each class series will be donated to LiveStrong to fight cancer, and at the conclusion of the three-ride program each participant will receive one of the foundation’s famous yellow wrist bands. The new “Core.Balance.Strength” program is currently being rolled out fleetwide and is expected to be in place aboard all Princess ships by the end of the year. A nominal fee is charged for each class. In addition, the new program will continue to offer a selection of complimentary classes.

Holland America to Spend $200 Million in Ship Upgrades

Holland America Line is doubling the amount to be spent in upgrades, enhancements and new features on five of the line’s most popular ships. As part of its ongoing Signature of Excellence program, over the next two years the Statendam, Ryndam, Maasdam, Veendam and Rotterdam will undergo extensive dry-docks to create new venues, new staterooms, new décor and more. The 18-month, $200 million program will begin when Veendam enters an extended dry-dock in spring 2009, and the last ship is slated for completion in late 2010. The investment in this new series of enhancements will include a new resort pool concept, lanai staterooms, new entertainment and enrichment options, new stateroom décor and more.
Holland America Line’s commitment to enhancing its premium fleet now exceeds $525 million. Signature of Excellence features and amenities are designed to offer guests more luxurious accommodations, more enticing destinations, enhanced dining experiences, more creative activities and even higher levels of service. Previously, during the first phase of Signature of Excellence, these five ships were enhanced with the addition of an Explorations Café, Culinary Arts Center, expanded Club HAL youth facilities and more. This next installment will add more verandah staterooms, introduce a new category of stateroom, expand the Lido Deck’s pool feature with The Retreat, create a showroom at sea and upgrade staterooms, bathrooms and fixtures.
“Holland America Line has long been the leader in the premium cruise segment,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest services. “This significant and continued investment reaffirms our commitment to our fleet of mid-sized ships and our ongoing leadership in the premium category by continually raising the bar in terms of products and services. In an era where cruise lines are building ships to carry more than 5,000 passengers, Holland America Line remains focused on mid-sized vessels. These enhancements will blend the latest innovations for premium travel into our ships, creating a deluxe experience that is unparalleled.” The most dramatic alteration will be to the aft portion of the ships, allowing for a new resort-style pool area on Lido Deck called The Retreat, which will have a shallow area where guests can lounge in chairs and dip their fingers and toes in the water or relax on a bench and dangle their legs in the water. A new pool bar and an upscale pizzeria called Slice will be installed, as well as a canopy and wind screens to provide additional covered seating for the Lido Restaurant.
All staterooms will receive new décor, carpeting and soft goods. Each ship also will have an additional 44 to 46 staterooms, 32 with verandahs and the remaining inside. On the four S-class ships, 12 staterooms near the spa on Deck 9 also will have verandahs added, and along with three inside staterooms, become spa staterooms featuring enhanced spa amenities. On the Rotterdam, 23 staterooms on Verandah Deck will become spa staterooms. On the five ships, 46 new lanai staterooms will be created by replacing existing windows of 42 staterooms (on Lower Promenade Deck 6) with lanai doors that open directly onto the walk-around promenade, and adding four additional staterooms.
The program also involves enhancements to several public rooms. A Merabella luxury jewelry shop will be added. The casino and piano bars will be reconfigured into a multi-themed area called Mix with three separate bars -- Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales. Next door, the casino will be redesigned. The main show space will be transformed into the Showroom at Sea with the ambience of a glamorous nightclub. The Ocean Bar will be refurbished and carpets will be replaced in most public areas. The new Sky Room on Sports Deck will feature the latest in multi-generational video games and high-tech entertainment. Entertainment and enrichment, or “edutainment,” is taking on a new, contemporary look and feel across the fleet. A new Explorations Team employs cruise staff, each specializing in a particular area, to educate and entertain guests with an expanded menu of activities including flower-arranging, hands-on cooking, dancing, and working with digital photos, blogs and movies. Each team consists of a party planner, a travel guide, dance directors and a “techspert.” On longer cruises, a book club leader joins the team to lead lively group discussions.
Renowned for service levels provided by its award-winning staff, the program will also include significant crew area enhancements including a new fitness facility, Internet centers, staterooms and recreational areas. The Signature of Excellence initiative announced in November 2003 has evolved into an ongoing and comprehensive review of every aspect of the Holland America Line experience. Signature of Excellence is Holland America Line’s brand promise and continues to bring innovation and relevance to guests.

Holland America Line Sets Bermuda Return in 2010

Beginning in 2010, Holland America Line will once again operate regularly scheduled cruises between New York City and Bermuda. Holland America is the only major cruise line that calls on both Hamilton and St. George’s, Bermuda’s cultural and shopping hubs. When the 1,350-guest Veendam sails in late August 2010 on the first of 10 roundtrips to the island, it will mark Holland America Line’s return to New York City as a homeport and to Bermuda as a destination. Holland America worked closely with Bermuda’s government to form the partnership that takes the line back to the island that it first visited more than 70 years ago. In 1926, Veendam II, with a guest capacity of approximately 500, left New York on the company’s first Caribbean cruise. During the summers of 1930 and 1931, Veendam II sailed on five-day roundtrip cruises between New York and Bermuda.
“We are thrilled to homeport a ship in New York City again and especially to be returning to Bermuda,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president-marketing, sales and guest programs. “It’s particularly relevant to be doing so on a ship with the same name as the one that sailed to Bermuda so many years ago. Veendam is ideal for this itinerary. She is a premium mid-size ship, the perfect size to navigate the narrow entrances to the harbors in Hamilton and St. George’s. Veendam’s guests are able to step off the ship right in the center of each town. Ships larger than Veendam must tie up at the Dockyard facility a considerable distance from both towns.” In addition to the 10 sailings between late August and October 2010, Holland America will visit the island for a full season beginning in May the following year, with 20 or more sailings anticipated.