Archive for Cruise Lines

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live within a few hours of a cruise departure port, or have the time, and patience, to drive – most of us cruisers must consider booking a flight in order to set sail on our cruise getaways even if it means including this cost into our overall vacation budget. (Frankly, with the rising cost of fuel these days it can be easier on the wallet and less wear on the ol’ automobile to fly.)

You can research and book your air independently, but booking and finding the perfect flights can be complex and infuriating. Most cruise lines offer an air/sea program that allows you to purchase your cruise plus airfare in one neat little package, but are you able to pick your flights and are they more expensive?

With all of that in mind a good question to ask is, “Should I book airfare on my own or through the cruise line?”

Travel is personal. So your decision on whether to purchase your air directly with the airline or through the cruise line is up to personal preference. Your best bet is to discuss with your travel agent and research the pricing on both so you can see which option fits with your own unique schedule and budget!

Standard Air/Sea Programs:

Advantage: You don’t pay for your airfare until final payment, assistance with day of travel flight delays or cancellations.

Disadvantages: No control over air schedule and times without a deviation fee, cannot guarantee direct flights, and fares can be higher than booking directly with the airline.

Cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Silversea offer an air add-on package you may purchase in addition to your cruise. They make your travel arrangements and can help you arrange ground transportation. This seamless process is convenient and provides peace of mind that the cruise line has selected the appropriate flights to ensure you arrive at the ship on time.

If you choose to take the air/sea package through the cruise line, you do not pay for your airfare until you make the final payment on your cruise, making it easier to put down a small deposit and budget for the final balance.

Flights will be confirmed 60-75 days prior to sailing, tickets are issued at the lowest-available coach fare, and all restrictions apply. Changes to the air schedule, or special requests, are subject to a service or ‘air deviation’ fee. The air/sea package does not include ground transportation from the airport to the cruise terminal, transfers may be purchased separately. The cruise line cannot guarantee direct flights, most routes are non-direct and include connections.

Upon having a confirmed air schedule, you are able to confirm seat assignments and add frequent flyer numbers directly with the airline.

In the event your flight is delayed and you do not arrive in time for the ship’s departure, there is a 24-hour hotline offer by the cruise line you may call for flight assistance.

Enhanced Air Programs for Flexibility & Control

Advantage: Control and flexibility, peace of mind, competitive airfares (especially international), access to air credits and promotions from the cruise line

Disadvantage: Possibility of higher fares for domestic flights and if reserving Flexible Airfare you must weigh the pros and cons

While the standard air/sea packages used to be the industry norm, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises have enhanced, revamped and revitalized cruise line air programs.

  • Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises – ChoiceAir®
  • Princess Cruises – eZAir ®
  • Holland America Line – Flight Ease  TM
  • Cunard Line – CompleteAir

Designed for the modern traveler, these flight programs provide cruisers access to real time airfares with your choice of airlines and flights any time from 330 days up to 4 days prior to sailing. Search results are pre-filtered for only those flights that complement your cruise in order to ensure your timely arrive on embarkation day. Want to arrive a day early? No problem. Want to leave by 8:00am? No worries. You have the flexibility to search for the flights right for you.

Enjoy day of travel support if there are any flight interruptions, delays, schedule changes or cancellations. If you miss your cruise embarkation, the cruise line will work with the airline in order to get you to the next appropriate port of call.

You also have the freedom to choose the pricing option best suited to your needs. You can decide between Lowest/Restricted Fares or Flexible Fares. The least expensive, yet most restrictive, fares require instant purchase. Flexible fares are more, well, flexible. They are typically higher than restricted fares, but you can easily cancel or change your flight arrangements up until a designed time, plus the air payment isn’t due until the date of the final cruise payment.

Many times, special promotions and valuable air credits are offered if you purchase air through the cruise line’s air program. And even some, like ChoiceAir, guarantee the lowest airfare, even providing a credit of 110% of the difference to spend onboard your cruise if you find a lower base fare within 24-hours of booking.

Booking Air Independently from the Cruise Line

Advantage: Control and flexibility over schedules and payment.

Disadvantage: More room for error, restrictive fares.

If you decide to research and book airfare for your cruise on your own, it may take more time and frustration, but you have the ultimate control over your desired air schedule and can purchase whenever you feel comfortable.

A few things to keep in mind when booking air independently:

  • We recommend you consider arriving a day prior to the cruise to ease any concerns of arriving to the port on time. This is especially recommended for travel during the winter months when weather delays are common.
  • If arriving a day early isn’t an option, you should plan to arrive no later than 1:00pm on the day of departure for cruises departing the continental United States. This should provide ample time to collect your bags and transfer to the ship, even if the port is an hour from the airport. By arriving early, you are planning ahead for unforeseen flight delays and increasing your chances of meeting the ship on time.
  • Return flights should not be booked any earlier than noon on the day your cruise returns.

There are airports that are located more than an hour away from the cruise port, and ships depart from international ports at varying times, so in order to minimize your chances of choosing a risky flight schedule, please contact your travel agent or iCruise.com Cruise Specialist to confirm times before you purchase.

For more information on cruise line air/sea packages and their respective Terms & Conditions, please give us a call at 800-i-CRUISE or email us by clicking here.

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Oceania Cruises, an award-winning upper premium cruise line, will embark on its first-ever cruise around the world on Jan. 10, 2015 and include stops in 89 ports in 44 countries – returning 180-days later on July 8, 2015. This impressive once-in-a-lifetime journey (approx. six months) sails round-trip from Miami, Florida aboard the 684-passenger Insignia.

Fulfill your traveler’s bucket list and explore all of the world’s greatest treasures in one spectacular voyage! Back onboard, enjoy Oceania’s casually elegant atmosphere, world-class cuisine and dedicated staff.

“As the leading specialist in destination cruising, we wanted to create a unique port- intensive voyage that reflects the dreams of the true explorer, rather than speed across the seas racing to the next convenient port as is the norm in a typical 100- to 110-day world cruise,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, the line’s president. “By eliminating the 100-day time constraint, we freed ourselves to conceive a remarkable dream voyage designed to visit the world’s most fascinating destinations.”

The world cruise will begin its marathon expedition with visits to boutique ports in the Caribbean followed by South America, the crossing of the Atlantic to Africa, India, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Hawaii before returning to Miami via the Panama Canal. Please see below for the full itinerary.

In addition to crossing the equator four times and sailing through all 24 time zones, guests will traverse three oceans and 10 seas, call on 45 islands and have the chance to visit 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Of the 89 ports visited on this extraordinary cruise, 13 are new to Oceania Cruises, including Corinto, Nicaragua; El Guamache (Isla Margarita), Venezuela; Langkawi, Malaysia; Santa Marta, Colombia; and Xiamen, China.

The around-the-world cruise will include 11 overnight calls including Bangkok, Thailand; Beijing, China; Bali (Benoa) Indonesia; Cairns, Australia; Papeete (Tahiti), French Polynesia; and more. There will also be four two-night calls in Cape Town, South Africa; Yangon, Myanmar (Burma); Singapore, Singapore; and Shanghai, China.

Through September 17th, 2013, guests can take advantage of early booking discounts that feature two-for-one cruise fares and free pre-paid gratuities. Additionally, guests will receive a free visa package including entry visas for 16 countries, unlimited Internet and laundry service, luggage delivery, round-trip transfers and free onboard medical service, a first for the industry. Also included in the cruise fare are free exclusive shoreside events in Walvis Bay, Namibia; Myanmar; Bangkok; Beijing and Honolulu.

Around the World guests will cruise aboard the Insignia, an elegant mid-size ship. Insignia is spacious enough to offer every modern comfort and amenity of larger ships, yet small enough to call on secluded bays and chic, seaside hamlets not accessible to most vessels. Gourmet cuisine crafted by acclaimed master chef Jacques Pépin is served in four open-seating restaurants, all at no additional charge. The ship features spacious, modern accommodations and a state-of-the-art fitness center, casino, boutique, large pool and the Canyon Ranch SpaClub®.

For more information on Oceania’s Around the World in 180 Days cruise, please call 800-i-CRUISE [800-427-8473] to speak with one of our knowledgeable, friendly cruise specialists.

Oceania Insignia World Cruise 2015 Itinerary:

Overview:

Founded in the mid-13th century, Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the largest city in Scandinavia. The city’s strategic position in the southeast of Sweden on the Baltic Sea quickly grew its historical importance as a vital trade and economic center.

Distributed across 14 islands connected by 57 scenic bridges, Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North, Stockholm is known for its beauty, its buildings and architecture, its abundant clean and open water, and its many lush parks.

It is a sightseeing smorgasbord, including a wide selection of world-class museums and attractions such as the well- preserved medieval city center Gamla Stan (The Old Town), the vast Royal Palace, the Vasa Maritime Museum, and the City Hall, which hosts the yearly Nobel Prize ceremonies. Stockholm became the ‘European City of Culture’ in 1998 and features two UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Royal National City Park, the world’s first, is an oasis of green in the center of the bustling and vibrant city.

With its high latitude, daylight varies from over 18 hours in the summertime to just 6 hours in December. Despite its northern location, Stockholm has a humid continental climate with relatively mild weather. Summers are usually pleasantly warm with average temperatures of 68–77 °F (20-25 °C), but winters are cold with average temperatures of 23- 34 °F (-5 to 1 °C). Spring and autumn are generally cool to mild.

The unit of currency in Sweden is the Krona (SEK). Traveler’s checks and credit cards are also widely used and the euro is accepted in many places. Tipping is not necessary in restaurants where a service charge is included in the bill, however, it is common to round up and leave a few notes (about 5%). For taxis, round up the fare to the nearest Kronor.

Swedish is the national language of Sweden, but you will find that a large portion of Stockholm residents are able to speak conversational English – it is one of the first foreign languages offered in schools.

Useful Swedish Phrases:

  • Hello: Hej (HAY)
  • Good day: God dag (Good dayg)
  • Excuse me: Ursäkta (Oor-sayk-tha)
  • Goodbye: Adjö. (Ad-juuh)
  • Do you speak English?: Talar du engelska? (Taahlar doo ayngelskah)
  • Yes: Ja (YAH)
  • No: Nej (NAY)
  • Please: Snälla (SNELL-la)
  • Thank you: Tack (TOCK)
  • You are welcome: Var så god (VAHR sha good)

 

 

 

 

 

Where you’ll dock:

Cruise ships will use one of two cruise terminals in Stockholm, Frihamnen for the larger cruise ships or Stadsgården for the smaller ships. Tourist Information Centers with souvenir shops and Wi-Fi are available at both.

Stadsgården is slightly closer to Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, and is accessible on foot (approx. 20 minutes) by walking along the dock guided by a blue line marked on the ground. Taxis are available for about $20 (SEK 120) and a 10 minute travel time.

Frihamnen cruise dock is located in a commercial district, walking is not recommended. The best way to get to nearby attractions is by taxi ($25 or SEK 150) or bus with a travel time of 15-20 minutes.

Stockholm is easily navigable by a convenient and safe public transportation system of hop-on/hop-off buses, subways, trains, trams and ferry lines. The Stockholm card or the SL Tourist Card entitles the holder to unlimited travel on public transport in and around Stockholm.

What to do:

Gamla Stan (the Old Town) is the oldest section of Stockholm and one of its top attractions. The cobblestone streets are home to restaurants, cafés, art galleries, bars and shops. Stroll by medieval architecture, the Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. Also in Gamla Stan is the grand 600-room Royal Palace, the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden.

The Palace is open to the public and offers a look at the spectacular Royal Apartments and a variety of museums steeped in regal history; the Treasury with the regalia using for weddings, christenings and funerals; the Tre Kronor Museum that displays the palace’s medieval history and remnants of the Tre Kronor Castle; and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities.

Stockholm’s City Hall (or Stadshuset) is another popular tourist attraction and built in 1923 it is a famous example of Sweden’s national romantic architectural style. It is the political center of the Swedish government but best-known for its spires featuring the golden Three Crowns and a panoramic view of the city. The large Blue Hall is used for the Nobel Prize Banquet and the Golden Hall contains more than 18 million mosaic pieces made of glass and real gold.

Another remarkable destination in Stockholm is the green island of Djurgården. The Royal Djurgården is located in the heart of the city and has it all – national Swedish city park, museums, castles, a zoo and many festivals. Don’t miss the Vasa Ship Museum, a Swedish warship that sank in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later, then restored to create the only museum of its kind in the world. The Skansen Open-Air Museum features a beautiful view of Stockholm, the Stockholm Zoo and consists of 150 historic buildings from all over Sweden educating visitors about traditional crafts and local traditions. Junibacken, another main attraction, is a magical children’s museum devoted to Swedish children’s literature.

Leisurely walk down Strandvägen, a tree-lined boulevard along the picturesque waterfront. The National Museum is the largest art museum in Sweden, with a collection of artwork from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century including paintings, sculptures, and applied art. If you have time, explore the magnificent Royal Opera House and Royal Dramatic Theater. Situated 40 miles from Stockholm is Uppsala, a religious and cultural center since the early days of the Vikings, offering much in the way of historic interest. Or Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden, is located 36 miles from Stockholm and is home to charming wooden buildings including stores, cafés, restaurants and hotels, plus an interesting museum.

To save a little, check out the Stockholm Card - this city card gives you the benefit of free admission to over 80 museums and attractions, plus free public transportation.

You can visit Stockholm, Sweden on many Northern Europe cruise itineraries.

2013-2014 Northern Europe Cruise Calendar

During the longer, warmer days of summer we tend to slow things down – a welcome element of laziness is common. Fortunately, for those of us hoping to plan our next cruise vacation, the cruise lines have not taken that approach to the summer season.

A variety of cruise deals and promotions are available this summer – with individual offers changing frequently. To help keep track, we thought we would put together the top cruise deals of August 2013.

  • Royal Caribbean – Upgrade Your View:  Sail the Caribbean, the Bahamas or Bermuda Sept.  2013 – Apr. 2014 and enjoy a free upgrade! Book an ocean view stateroom for the price of an inside stateroom, or book a balcony for the price of an ocean view stateroom.
    • Ends August 31st!
  • Celebrity Cruises – Caribbean on Sale:   Book a quick Caribbean getaway and quench your thirst with a FREE Classic Beverage Package when you book a veranda stateroom or higher. If you book a suite, you’ll receive a FREE beverage package, plus you’ll enjoy FREE gratuities.
    • More Caribbean escapes with up to $500 in Onboard Credits – click here for more information.
    • Ends August 20th!
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – Reduced Deposit & Onboard Credits:Enjoy a 50% reduced deposit and up to $250 onboard credit per stateroom on ANY Norwegian cruise 3 days or longer.
    • Available August 13th – August 16th
  • Disney Cruise Line – Up to $200 in Shore Excursion Credit:  Choose from select 2013 Disney Magic cruises and 2014 Disney Wonder cruises to receive up to $200 to spend on magical shore excursions.
    • Ends August 31st!
  • Holland America Line – Free Drinks & More:  Book Select 2014 Holland America Cruises and enjoy all four offers: Free Signature Beverage Package ($100/day value!) or Beverage Card (Caribbean & Mexico), Free Specialty Restaurant Dinner, Free or Reduced 3rd & 4thguests and 50% Reduced Deposits.
    • While supplies last, end date to be determined
  • Cunard Line – Onboard Credit & Waived Deposit:   Up to $300 per stateroom onboard credit and waived deposit for second guest, applicable on ALL sailings.
    • Ends August 22nd!
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Why Choose When You Can Have it All?: Now when you book select Regent Seven Seas Europe Cruises, you’ll receive up to $300 per suite shipboard credit, FREE unlimited Internet access, and business class air upgrades from $699 per person each way.
    • Ends August 31st!
  • Azamara Club Cruises – Book a Veranda for Price of an Inside:  Enjoy a complimentary upgrade from a Club Interior to a Club Veranda stateroom plus up to $1000 per couple ChoiceAir credit on select 2014 sailings.
    • Ends September 30th!
  • Last Minute Cruises:  Unbelievable last minute getaways to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe and more.
  • iCruise.com Exclusive Combos:  Our vacation packages are our absolute best value and offer huge savings over purchasing cruise, hotel and more separately.
    • 9-day Caribbean Vacation Package from $449
    • 15-day Mediterranean Vacation Package from $1319
    • 11-day Alaska Cruise and Land Tours from $1299

Sign up for our email newsletter here. Get the best deals and packages sent straight to your inbox – so you can just sit back, relax and save!

For more information on a Top August 2013 cruise deal, please contact iCruise.com at 800-i-CRUISE [800-427-8473]. Or, email us here!

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Cruising is one of the best vacation values available, with a cruise to fit every preference and budget. Small ships to large ships, inside staterooms to penthouse suites, and 3 night getaways to 116-day world cruises.

No matter your cruising style, one of the most controversial and highly debated subjects among passengers is that of cruise line alcohol policies. Most cruise lines consider alcohol a personal item, so it is not included in economical cruise fares. This also allows cruise lines to continue to produce comfortable accommodations and high quality entertainment.

Upscale, luxury lines tend to include spirits like wine and beer for a more all-inclusive, less nickel-and-dime experience – as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Can I bring alcohol onboard my cruise?

This is a frequently asked question we receive from our clients.

Cruise line alcohol policies vary by cruise line, and individual guidelines on what alcohol you are able to bring onboard the ship from outside, either on embarkation day or from a port of call.

All-Inclusive Cruise Lines – Alcohol Included

  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
    • Passengers are allowed to bring wine and liquor for consumption onboard upon embarkation day and when purchased in a port of call.
    • However, alcoholic beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, are complimentary. Ultra-premium wines and liquors are available for a nominal fee.
  • Seabourn
    • Passengers are allowed to bring wine and liquor for consumption onboard upon embarkation day and when purchased in a port of call.
    • However, alcoholic beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, are complimentary. Ultra-premium wines and liquors are available for a nominal fee.
  • Crystal Cruises
    • Passengers are allowed to bring wine and liquor for consumption onboard upon embarkation day and when purchased in a port of call.
    • However, alcoholic beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, open bar service in all lounges, and pre-paid gratuities for bar staff, are complimentary.
  • Silversea Cruises
    • Passengers are allowed to bring wine and liquor for consumption onboard upon embarkation day and when purchased in a port of call.
    • However, alcoholic beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, are complimentary.

Cruise Lines That Allow You to Bring Alcohol Onboard

  • Azamara Club Cruises
    • Passengers are allowed to bring liquor, beer or wine for private consumption in the stateroom upon embarkation day and when purchased in a port of call.
    • For the consumption of outside liquor, beer or wine in any shipboard restaurant, bar or dining venue, a corkage fee of $10 will be charged.
    • Ship bars and dining rooms (when open) offer a limited number of complimentary standard spirits, international beers and a changing daily selection of red and white wines by the glass. Premium wine, beer and liquor packages are available for purchase.
  • Disney Cruise Line
    • Passengers are allowed to bring liquor, beer or wine onboard upon embarkation day and when purchased in a port of call.
    • Beverages must be packed in a carry-on bag—which must not exceed 22 inches wide, 14 inches high and 9 inches deep in dimension.
    • Outside alcohol cannot be consumed in any lounge or public area At Palo and Remy, a $20 corkage fee will be charged for outside wine and champagne.

Cruise Lines That Do Not Allow Alcohol Onboard – Restricted to Wine

  • Cunard Line
    • Passengers are allowed to bring one bottle of wine OR Champagne onboard per person. No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption.
    • A $20-per-bottle corkage fee applies if wine or champagne is consumed in the dining room.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
    • No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring one bottle (750ml) of wine or champagne, per person, only in their carry-on luggage.
    • A $10 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in the dining room, or a $14 corkage fee per bottle if consumed in the Steakhouse.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
    • Passengers may bring bottles of wine and champagne onboard upon embarkation only. No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption.
    • Each bottle of wine or champagne is subject to a corkage fee of $15 for 750ml bottles, $20 for 1,000ml and $30 for 1,500ml. Box wine is not permitted.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Royal Caribbean
    • No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring a maximum of two bottles (750ml) of wine or champagne, per cabin, only in their carry-on luggage at embarkation.
    • A $25 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in the dining room.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Celebrity Cruises
    • No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring a maximum of two bottles (750ml) of wine or champagne, per cabin, only in their carry-on luggage at embarkation.
    • A $25 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in the dining room.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Princess Cruises
    • No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring one bottle (750ml) of wine or champagne, per person, that is not subject to a corkage fee.
    • A $15 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in the dining room.
    • Additional wine or champagne bottles are welcome, but will incur a $15 corkage fee each, irrespective of where they are intended to be consumed.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Holland America
    • Sailings Prior to January 31, 2014: No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring wine or champagne onboard upon embarkation day or when purchased in port with corkage fee charged of $18 per bottle.
    • New Policy Effect January 31, 2014: Passengers may bring one bottle (750ml) of wine or champagne, per person, only in their carry-on luggage. No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. A $20 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in the dining room.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Oceania Cruises
    • No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring a maximum of three bottles (750ml) of wine or champagne, per cabin, only in their carry-on luggage at embarkation.
    • A $25 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in a public space or dining room.
    • Alcohol purchased in port or the ship’s duty-free shop will be retained until the last night of the cruise.
  • Windstar Cruises
    • No beer or liquor may be taken onboard for consumption. Passengers may bring wine or champagne onboard upon embarkation day or when purchased in port.
    • A $15 corkage fee will be charged if wine or champagne is consumed in restaurants or bars onboard.

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Jul
24

7 of the Most Luxurious Bathrooms at Sea

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Many passengers might not pay much attention to their cruise ship bathroom, but if you’re fortunate enough to travel in one of the extravagant suites below – the palatial bathroom would be hard to miss, or ever come out of, really.

But, one of my favorite, or rather, one of the more surprising bathrooms at sea you can enjoy without the deluxe price tag attached.

Celebrity Reflection Suite | 1,636 square feet

The Reflection Suite is Celebrity’s first two-bedroom suite, accessible only to guests carrying a special cardkey. Its ocean view bathroom (probably the coolest at sea) is stunning with an all-glass, cantilever shower that extends out over the edge of the ship. This corner shower undoubtedly offers the best views from the Celebrity Reflection!

This remarkably engineered shower is an industry first. It features see-through glass on its floor, sides and ceilings that is tinted so you are able to look out without enabling anyone to look in. At night, shower users can flip a switch to trigger a fogging function that further obscures the view.

In addition to this luxurious bathroom, you’ll be completely and utterly pampered by round-the-clock butler and concierge services, the Premium Reverie® Dream Sleep System, plus the complimentary use of an iPadwith the Reverie Remote app that acts as a remote control allowing you to easily operate the lights and TV in the stateroom, massage features, and elevation of the mattress.

Celebrity’s Suite Staterooms receive a comprehensive list of additional services and amenities.

The Haven – Deluxe Owner’s Suite | 1,022 square feet

Each Norwegian Cruise Line Deluxe Owner’s Suite is an individual, uniquely designed with modern and luxurious finishes in the private bathroom with separate shower, over-sized soaking tub and two vanity sinks.

These suites also include a king-size bed with pillow-top mattress and fine linens, extra bedding that accommodates two, and one and a half bathrooms. There is a separate living room and dining room, with a wet bar, as well as an extra-spacious wrap-around balcony.

Deluxe Owner’s Suites are located in The Haven – a ship-within-a-ship reserved exclusively for Norwegian’s special guests.

Amenities include the expert services of a concierge and 24-hour butlers, and a secluded Courtyard where you can spend your sea days relaxing, dining and enjoying exquisite privacy.

Seabourn Cruises’ Wintergarden Suites | 1,097 square feet

Available on the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest these suites provide guests with not one, but two luxurious tubs – a jetted whirlpool bathtub for two in the marble-clad bathroom as well as a glass-enclosed solarium with soaking tub.

Wintergarden Suites feature large windows with ocean views, dining for six, guest bath, enclosed solarium with soaking tub and day bed, pantry with wet bar, complimentary Wi-Fi and two flat-screen TVs. Special suite amenities include fine French champagne upon arrival, 24-hour suite service, personalized stationery, electronic safe, flowers and fresh fruit replenished daily, 100% Egyptian cotton linens and duvet, plush cotton robes, towels and slippers, designer soaps and toiletries, hair dryer, umbrella, and world atlas.

Crystal Penthouse | 982 square feet

An indulgent home away from home, Crystal Penthouses are the largest suites available on a Crystal Cruises ship. Its spacious master bath features a Jacuzzi tub with ocean view, separate shower, bidet and flat-screen television.

In addition to the extraordinary facilities, enjoy the comfortable living room, separate dining area with formal seating for six, large private verandah, walk-in closet, private workout area, library and pantry.

Enjoy a wealth of amenities such as plush down comforters, 100% Egyptian cotton linens, wireless in-room Internet access, private car transfers, complimentary laundry pressing and shoeshine, in-suite massage, fresh flowers, Frette robes, Aveda bath amenities, a pillow menu, 24-hour complimentary in-room dining service, twice-daily housekeeping including nightly turndown service, and so much more.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Grand Duplexes (Q1) | 2,249 square feet

Just as the name suggests these two-story cabins, or more appropriately, apartments are grand. Among the most extravagant accommodations at sea, these suites house two marble baths with separate whirlpool tub and shower in addition to a guest bathroom with shower.

Downstairs offers sweeping views from the large balcony, and expansive living quarters. Upstairs, the luxurious master bedroom upstairs includes walk-in closet space and private exercise equipment.

Thoughtful amenities include priority embarkation, bottle of champagne and strawberries at embarkation, daily fruit basket, complementary bottled water, flower arrangement, personalized stationary, Xbox and DVD player, 24 hour room service, butler service, daily newspaper, shoe shine service, evening canapes, pillow menu, nightly turndown service, bathrobes and slippers, and priority disembarkation. Guests in Queens Grill accommodations dine in the renowned Queens Grill.

Oceania Mariner Owner’s Suite | 2,000 square feet

Three Owner’s Suites on the Oceania Marina boast lavish interior design, marvelous views and opulent master bathrooms. Each includes an oversized soaking tub, separate shower, mahogany double vanity and finishes of marble and granite. If you require an outdoor soak, do not fret, an outdoor whirlpool spa complete with flat-screen television is waiting for you.

These suites also feature a large living room and dining room, spacious bedroom with a king-size Prestige Tranquility Bed, private fitness room, his and hers walk-in closets, and a dramatic entry foyer and music room with baby grand piano overlooking the sea.

A professional entertainment system with flat-screen televisions, 3D movies, and media library is provided as well as a laptop and iPad® with wireless access. Enjoy en-suite gourmet dining from any of the six restaurants, served course-by-course by your Butler.

Norwegian Epic – Public Restrooms | Pool Deck 15

The Norwegian Epic (2010) was full of new and innovative design efforts, some of which worked and others that unfortunately didn’t, such as the controversial Miami-esque style of separate toilet and shower in the new ‘wave’ staterooms.

Attempting-to-be-chic-but-failing in the cabins aside, for me personally, the Norwegian Epic offers one of my favorite restrooms at sea. And guess what? It is not in a penthouse or owner’s suite, gasp, but a public restroom on the pool deck.

My Cruise on the Epic Inaugural from NYC

Walking in for the first time, and I can only attest for the women’s restroom as I did not have a chance to sneak into the men’s room, was a very nice surprise. The walls are floor-to-ceiling glass with spectacular views of the ocean or port of call. Many cruisers felt somewhat exposed, especially while docked as those on land could technically see in. However, the actual facilities were private and if anyone was nosy enough or somehow close enough to get a look they would only get a peek of you washing your hands or fixing your lipstick.

Photo Credit Pat L. 314 / Flickr

Notable Mentions

  • Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream Signature Royal Suites – luxurious master bath designed with opulent granite and marble finishes features a whirlpool tub, rain shower, double sink and a walk-in closet and ensures comfort with superior amenities including plush Frette bath towels, sublimely soft bathrobes and slippers, and Elemis toiletries.
  • Oasis and Allure of the Seas Royal Loft Suites – the bathroom on the upper loft features a tub, shower, dual sinks and a bidet. A second bath with a shower is found on the main level. Two contemporary floors, separate bedrooms, private balcony with Jacuzzi, flat screen tvs, wet bar, two dining areas, and Baby Grand piano.

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Multiple announcements in recent weeks of new cruise ships on order have reflected exciting growth within the cruise industry.

Continued innovation of onboard amenities and itineraries allow cruise lines to cater to a diverse and growing mix of demographics. New ship deliveries from 2014 -2018 will include everything from small, luxury vessels to larger, resort-style ships with multiple themed restaurants and entertainment venues.

Carnival Cruise Lines

The plans to build Carnival’s 25th ship were released this week. The Carnival Vista is scheduled for delivery in the winter of 2016 and at 135,000-tons she will accommodate 4,000 passengers. Carnival Vista was named to represent her projected overall design to maximize views of the ocean.

Royal Caribbean

Back in February 2013, Royal Caribbean made the long-awaited announcement of the names of its newest ‘Quantum Class’ of ships. The Quantum of the Seas (November 2014) and the Anthem of the Seas (Spring 2015) will make family, adventure and entertainment a priority.

Quantum-class ‘firsts’ will include Virtual Balconies; Rip Cord, the first skydiving experience at sea; North Star, an exciting ride over the ocean inspired by the London Eye; and SeaPlex, a fun zone that will offer bumper cars and roller skating.

SEE ALSO: Quantum of the Seas Itineraries, Deck Plans and Stateroom Guide

Royal Caribbean’s third Oasis-class vessel, not yet named, is scheduled to be delivered mid-2016. The cruise line also took an option for a second ship with a potential delivery of mid-2018. Oasis-class ships feature seven incredible neighborhoods, including the Boardwalk and Central Park, packed with first-at-sea experiences: the oceanside AquaTheater, Starbucks, Broadway hit musicals, 3D movie theater, zip line, designer shopping, and much more.

Norwegian Cruise Line

This week Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it has confirmed an order for a second Breakaway Plus ship for delivery in spring 2017. Along with the first Breakaway Plus ship, scheduled for delivery in October 2015, these two ships will be Norwegian’s largest at 163,000-tons and will reflect the innovative design and new features of the line’s current Breakaway class.

Norwegian Breakaway, the first of its class, launched in New York early May 2013, and her sister ship, the Norwegian Getaway will be delivered to sail year-round from Miami in mid-January 2014.

Princess Cruises

The Regal Princess will debut June 2014 with many of the exciting new venues and innovations of her sister ship, the Royal Princess, that just celebrated her inaugural sailing this past June.

Among the special features found on board will be a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the new Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

Holland America Line

The first in Holland America’s Pinnacle-class is scheduled for delivery February 2016. The 99,000-ton, 2,660-passenger ship will feature exciting new public areas and dining venues, as well as a stunning onboard ambiance with details to be revealed at a later date.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Luxury line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, announced just two weeks ago that it has confirmed plans to build their first ship in nearly a decade. The Seven Seas Explorer will offer passengers the chance to experience Regent Seven Seas Cruises with fresh amenities and destinations.  At 54,000-tons, she will be Regent’s largest and their third all-suite, all-balcony ship.

Guests will enjoy 369 suites ranging from 300 square feet to 1,500 square feet, six open-seating gourmet restaurants, Regent’s signature nine-deck atrium, the two-story Explorer Theater, three boutiques and an expansive Canyon Ranch SpaClub®.

Seven Seas Explorer will also be a “green ship” employing the most advanced environmental systems and state-of-the-art technology.

Viking River Cruises

In 2012, Viking River Cruises launched its Viking Longships, officially heralding a new era in river cruising. Six ships were delivered in 2012, ten in 2013 and another twelve are scheduled for 2014. Each vessel is named for a prominent figure in Norse mythology and features an environmentally friendly engine system, solar panels and an organic herb garden, balcony cabins with full-sized verandahs, and an indoor-outdoor casual eatery “Aquavit Terrace”.

Viking’s new venture, Viking Ocean Cruises, will make its debut in the spring of 2015 with the Viking Star, its first ocean going vessel. A second ship is currently on order for 2016. The Viking Star will carry 928 passengers to Scandinavia, the Baltic region and the Mediterranean. The ship will also have two pools, twelve dining experiences, a spa, and a variety of onboard entertainment.

Other New Cruise Ships on Order:

What upcoming ship are you most excited to sail? A smaller ship with new ports of call or larger cruise ship with new onboard amenities?

This past week luxury cruise line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, announced their definitive plans to build a brand new luxurious cruise ship to be delivered summer 2016.

The Seven Seas Explorer will offer passengers the chance to experience Regent Seven Seas Cruises with fresh amenities and destinations.  At 54,000-tons, she will increase Regent’s overall fleet capacity by nearly 40 percent, making the brand the world’s largest luxury cruise line.

Following in the footsteps of Seven Seas Mariner (2001) and Seven Seas Voyager (2003), the Seven Seas Explorer will accommodate its 738 guests in all-suite, all-balcony comfort.  Guests will enjoy 369 suites ranging from 300 square feet to 1,500 square feet, six open-seating gourmet restaurants, Regent’s signature nine-deck atrium, the two-story Explorer Theater, three boutiques and an expansive Canyon Ranch SpaClub®.

Seven Seas Explorer will also be a “green ship” employing the most advanced environmental systems and state-of-the-art technology.

“This new ship order represents an exciting time of growth for our company as we build the next generation of cruise ships for the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line,” said Frank J. Del Rio, Prestige Cruise Holdings Chairman and CEO. “Seven Seas Explorer will be the most luxurious cruise ship ever built, boasting one of the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios ever seen in the modern era of cruising enabling us to deliver the highly personalized service and extraordinary experience that is the hallmark of the Regent brand.”

According to Del Rio, “The moment you step aboard, you’ll know you’ve arrived somewhere special. The ship’s upscale yet timeless design, extreme use of exotic stones and polished woods, designer furniture, rich fabrics and sophisticated lighting combined with what promises to be a museum-quality, eclectic art collection will clearly position Seven Seas Explorer as the new standard in luxury cruising.”

“At Regent, we believe more is best,” Del Rio quipped.

Further details about the ship will be announced in the coming months.

Seven Seas Explorer will join a fleet of three award-winning luxury vessels that appear continuously on annual “world’s best” and “top” awards lists by noted media including Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Luxury Travel Advisor plus many more.

Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager carry guests in luxury to ports in Australia, Europe, Asia, South America, Alaska, New England, Canada, Africa, India, South Pacific and the Caribbean. Public areas are resplendent with rich fabrics, textures and furnishings. Guests can choose to dine in several open-seating gourmet restaurants, including Prime 7, a contemporary American steakhouse and Sette Mari at La Veranda, the line’s Italian dining experience. Amenities include elegant bars, a show lounge, casino, library, Internet center, card room, outdoor pool and the Canyon Ranch SpaClub®.

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Only Disney can provide the necessary magic to create a vacation experience unlike any other. Indulge in extravagant entertainment, legendary service, gourmet dining, adult only escapes and energetic kids club full of Disney storytelling.

Sailing with Disney Cruise Line won’t be the cheapest cruise you’ve ever taken, but if you’re considering the overall value for your dollar and experience than a Disney Cruise is extremely valuable.

I can assure you, it is worth every. single. penny. Every one.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sail with Disney Cruise Line 7 times, and I wanted to share with you a few tips that will enable you to make the most of your Disney cruise!

  1. Keep your Personal Navigator on you at all times. This is your daily newsletter that will be delivered to your stateroom (you can ask your cabin steward for multiple copies!). The number of activities available onboard is amazing, you will want a copy hand in order to keep up with it everything you’d like to do!
  2. Please, don’t miss the shows! Disney is world renown for their entertainment and it is no different on their ships –they offer the highest quality shows at sea. Disney’s Aladdin, Disney Dreams, and Villains Tonight are some of my favorites! There will usually be 2 showings each evening, sometimes 3 (check your Personal Navigator). Try to get a seat early!
  3. Ride the AquaDuck water coaster during dinner hours! The lines are the shortest, and sometimes even non-existent!
  4. Get to know your dining room Head Waiter; you never know what sort of information they can provide! Discover tips on the best places to visit in port or even their top suggestions for the evening’s entertainment if you just can’t decide what you’d like to do and see.
  5. Arrive early to take pictures with your favorite characters. Many passengers don’t take the time to plan and just try to take a picture with them on a whim – which usually doesn’t work. The times and locations of each Disney character will be listed in your Personal Navigator. But many times you will see more characters out and about than listed – they enjoy taking time to mingle and talk with guests.
  6. See a first run movie! Enjoy the latest Disney movies like Iron Man 3 and The Lone Ranger. The best part? They’re included in your cruise fare.
  7. If you find something you like in the gift shop the first day, pick up as quickly as you can. Popular items do sell out. However, if your itinerary includes Disney Cruise Line’s private island, Castaway Cay, there is a chance you will find it in its gift shop onshore.
  8. Head to the best party at sea early, the Pirates in the Caribbean! The day of this exciting deck party, complete with fireworks, depends on each individual sailing, but guests are encouraged to dress up as Pirates! Even the crew gets in on the fun! Ask a Crew Member on which side of the ship they are going to shoot off the fireworks, and stand on the opposite.
  9. Take the kids to the complimentary children’s program and spoil yourself with adults only time in the spa, by quiet Cove Pool or in the amazing adults only restaurants, Palo and Remy! The Nursery, Kid’s and Teen programs are so magical they’ll have just as much fun as you, if not more.
  10. Listen to the onboard announcements! You’ll never know when something quirky or special will happen. For example, the Captain may decide to play all of the ship’s fun horns!

Bonus! If you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, stop by the DVC desk every day to get some interesting goodies such as vintage pictures of Walt Disney, Disney Planners, and even some Pins!

Two things I make sure to do on each of my Disney cruises is get the soft serve ice cream on Castaway Cay and plunge myself down the Mickey Slide. The magic of Disney has a knack for making you feel like a kid again!

Have you sailed on a Disney Cruise? Do you have any advice for other cruisers?

Nico DiPerna is a 20-something Internet Marketing coordinator for iCruise.com. He has traveled on over 15 cruises and visited Disney World more times than he can count. In that time he has formed a love affair with all aspects of cruising and Disney vacations; from the smallest elements in the design process to the delicious food to be had. He also is an advocate of taking the stairs while at sea!  Nico’s latest cruise adventure was a two week quest aboard both the Carnival Dream and Disney Fantasy.

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Carnival Cruise Lines announced a big shake up in their ship deployments today, changes that will take effect in 2014.

The newly transformed Carnival Sunshine is heading to Port Canaveral, the Carnival Dream will cruise from New Orleans and the Carnival Pride is leaving Baltimore to sail from Tampa.

The Carnival Sunshine (previously the Carnival Destiny) just debuted this May following an extraordinary 155-million dollar renovation.  Currently cruising Europe, the Carnival Sunshine will cruise seven-night Caribbean Cruises from New Orleans until her move to Florida.

A new special eleven-night repositioning cruise from New Orleans to Port Canaveral, visiting Montego Bay, Aruba, Curacao and St. Thomas will depart April 6, 2014.  On April, 17, 2014, a one-time two-night Bahamas cruise will also be offered.  Beginning April 19, 2014 the Carnival Sunshine will sail year-round from Port Canaveral with a number of five-, seven- and eight-night itineraries featuring Florida, Caribbean and Bahamian ports.

The Carnival Liberty, currently in Miami, will join the Carnival Sunshine in Port Canaveral in May 2014 to launch year-round five- to eight-day Caribbean cruises. This will mark the first time Carnival has had ships in Central Florida that feature their popular Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades like Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, along with BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog Rum Bar, EA Sports Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar and the award-winning Alchemy Bar.

The Carnival Dream, currently positioned in Port Canaveral, will move to New Orleans and begin year-round seven-night Caribbean cruises in April 2014. The Carnival Dream will be the newest and largest ship to ever sail from New Orleans.

A special nine-night repositioning cruise from Port Canaveral to New Orleans, visiting Aruba, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel will depart April 5, 2014. On April 14, 2014 a unique six-night cruise will cruise round-trip from New Orleans, visiting Costa Maya, Roatan and Cozumel.

In a move that came as quite a surprise, Carnival Cruise Lines announced its plan to move its 2,124-passenger ship, the Pride, to Tampa, Fla., in November 2014. The Carnival Pride will join the Carnival Paradise in Tampa from December through April 2015. The Carnival Pride will launch year-round seven-night cruises from Florida’s West Coast.  The Pride’s departure leaves one major cruise line still sailing from Baltimore, Royal Caribbean with its Grandeur of the Seas.

A special five-night cruise will be available on Carnival Pride departing Dec. 16, 2014, visiting Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  There will also be unique eight-night one-way cruises available from Baltimore to San Juan on Nov. 30, 2014, and from San Juan to Tampa on Dec. 8, 2014.  These voyages include visits to Grand Turk, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

The Carnival Pride is set to replace the Carnival Legend that is sailing seven-night Caribbean itineraries at this time. The Carnival Legend will move to Australia Aug. 17, 2104 to join the Carnival Spirit.

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