Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WORLD'S LARGEST YACHT

The Azzam -- designed by Nauta Yachts (Nauta Yachts website)
Business Insider reports the world's largest yacht -- the 590-foot Azzam -- has embarked on its first world voyage. For comparison, the Azzam is half the length of the world's largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas. That's a big boat by any measurement. What does operating a boat of that size cost? Plenty, according to this article. If you happen to see it, send us a snap!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'NEW LOOK' QUEEN VICTORIA SETS SAIL



Queen Victoria has always been a beautiful ship. Now she is even more beautiful after a recent 20-day refit. Here are the details from Cunard:

"Queen Victoria sailed past a fusillade of fireworks to mark the start of her 2015 World Voyage and show off her stunning new look. The ship set out from Southampton in tip-top form having just returned from an intensive 20-day refurbishment at the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg. 

"Nine brand new single staterooms were installed as part of the refurbishment. In addition to refreshing existing furnishings, enhancements have been made to the outdoor spaces, beverage provision in the ship’s informal Lido restaurant and eight brand new internet stations have been installed on the upper floor of the library."

It's another highlight marking Cunard's 175th anniversary year. -- Gerry


Friday, January 23, 2015

GET READY FOR CARNIVAL 'VISTA', COMING 2016

Carnival has released details on its newest -- and largest -- ship, Carnival Vista, set to debut in 2016. Happily for cruise aficionados, the innovations keep on coming. How about a suspended open-air cycling experience called SkyRide? Or the first IMAX theater at sea? Or Carnival's first water-tube slide?

It's all that and a lot more. 

Here's a video from Carnival with more details, and their release follows. 



High-Powered Outdoor Fun

With SkyRide, the cruise industry’s first pedal-powered open-air aerial attraction, Carnival is creating some of the best and highest outdoor vistas ever offered on a cruise ship. Adventurous riders can climb aboard hanging recumbent-like bikes to cycle their way around the 800-foot suspended track with panoramic views from 150 feet above the sea. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TRIPADVISOR'S TOP 25 WORLD HOTELS

Coming in at number one (TripAdvisor)
TripAdvisor is out with their Top 25 Hotels in the World list, as voted by their millions of users. It's interesting that only one U.S. hotel made the list -- The Langham, in Chicago. It may not be long before the top rated hotel is out of this world, literally, as tourism expands into space and we get the first orbiting Hyatt or Hilton. Shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey. -- Gerry

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

CARNIVAL MAKES $5 MILLION DONATION

This news is worth five million smiles:

"Carnival Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Carnival Corporation, is donating $5 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami to create the Carnival Center for Excellence. The donation — timed to celebrate National Mentoring Month — marks the largest gift ever received by the organization’s Miami chapter.

"The Carnival Center for Excellence building at 550 Le Jeune Road in Miami will serve as the headquarters for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami and will provide facilities to support ongoing mentoring and educational activities for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ participants, often referred to as 'Littles.'

"Carnival Foundation’s signature initiative, the Carnival Scholarship and Mentoring Program, pairs a Carnival employee with a South Florida high school student matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. Currently, 95 Carnival management team members mentor 95 Miami-Dade County high school students through the in-the-workplace program sponsored by Carnival in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami.

"The program also awards four-year college scholarships to 15 participating students every year. For the past 12 years, Carnival Foundation has purchased STARS scholarships representing a collective value of more than $2.1 million. Since 2010, 75 scholarships have been awarded, and in 2014 several students from the first group of recipients graduated college."

'ZOOMINATIONS' COMING TO TAMPA ZOO


If you find yourself in the Tampa vicinity this spring, you don't want to miss the chance to experience Zoominations -- A Chinese Lantern Festival of Lights, coming Feb. 28 to May 31 to the Lowry Park Zoo.

Sixty highly-skilled craftsmen from the village of Zigong in China’s Sichuan province will travel to Florida to custom build larger-than-life lantern structures out of steel covered with silk that will light up the Zoo.

The exhibition will feature 30 scenes, including replicas of the Beijing Temple of Heaven (China’s largest existing masterpiece) and large-scale dragons, pandas, and zoo animals. Zoominations will also feature performances by Chinese acrobats and an authentic artisan market with unique handmade crafts.

If the video above is any indication of what to expect, cell phone cameras will be working overtime. --Gerry

CELEBRITY DEBUTING SUITE-CLASS RESTAURANT

Luminae restaurant  (Celebrity Cruises)
Celebrity's Suite Class passengers will soon be saying, "How suite it is" to have a new restaurant tailored for them. Named “Luminae,” it will be introduced onboard Celebrity’s ships beginning in April. Here's more from the release:

"Guests dining at the brand's first suite restaurant will enjoy warm hospitality, impeccable Celebrity service, and eclectic, one-of-a-kind menus that are only available in Luminae.

"Celebrity's dedicated team of chefs has created the new elegant menus for the venue’s complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner - each menu item will only be featured once during a two-week cruise vacation. With handcrafted dishes that are made from scratch, the unique menus will also feature locally sourced regional and seasonal ingredients inspired by the destinations Celebrity sails to among the world’s seven continents.

"With special touches like tableside preparation of signature dishes and the daily presentation of a new delectable gourmet chocolates and desserts cart, the menus are complete with pairings made by the restaurant’s dedicated head sommelier. The wine list, specially designed for Luminae guests, will feature more than 400 selections, each from the most notable wine-producing countries in the world.

"For full details about Luminae, visit celebritycruises.com/luminae."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

LIVING LARGE IN THE ROYAL LOFT SUITE

If you cruised before and had an inside cabin, or even a balcony, you may be awe-struck seeing the Royal Loft Suite on Quantum of the Seas. Here's the description of what you get:

One bedroom, two bathrooms, sleeps up to 6. Two-deck-high stateroom with panoramic views. On main level, open living/dining room with dry bar and sofa that converts to double bed. Separate media room with sofa that converts to queen bed and full bath with shower. Large private balcony with whirlpool and dining area. Master bedroom on second level has two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, a private bath with a soaking tub, shower, two sinks and bidet, plus private balcony with dual whirlpool tub. Separate dressing area.

(1,640 sq. ft., main level balcony 415 sq. ft., main level side balcony 109 sq. ft.; upper level side balcony 89 sq. ft.) ...Also includes hair dryer, TV, radio, phone mini refrigerator and safe.

I love that last part. And what does all that luxury cost? A mere $1,600 a night, per person.

Take a video tour with the people who designed it:

RETIREMENT ON A CRUISE SHIP -- JUST $164K A YEAR

Cruise ship as a retirement home? That's just what this 86-year-old Florida widow is doing, according to this story in the Asbury Park Press:

"Mama Lee, as she's known aboard the 11-year-old Crystal Serenity, has been living on the 1,070-passenger vessel longer than most of its 655 crew members — nearly seven years."

And you could,too -- if you can afford the $164,000 yearly tab. Where's that lottery ticket I bought last week? -- Gerry

Friday, January 16, 2015

'EPIC' TO GET NEW TUNNEL THRUSTER. WHO KNEW?

File this one under Cruise Ship Things We Didn't Know:

According to the website, MarineLog: "Rolls-Royce says that Norwegian Cruise Line has selected a Rolls-Royce permanent magnet tunnel thruster to upgrade the propulsion package onboard the 4,100 passenger cruise ship Norwegian Epic, delivered in 2010 by shipbuilder STX France.

"According to Rolls-Royce, the permanent magnet tunnel thruster offers numerous advantages over traditional tunnel thrusters including significant reduction in noise and vibration, an increase in power output of around 25% from the same size propeller, and is removable underwater eliminating the need for dry docking."

Who needs the martini bar when you can grab a lounge chair and watch a permanant magnet tunnel thruster? -- Gerry

14 AMAZING HOTEL POOLS

The Perivolas Hotel in Oia, Greece (TripAdvisor)


Here's TripAdvisor's list of 14 Amazing Hotel Pools. Need we say more?

CARNIVAL INTROS APP; UPS INTERNET ACCESS

Carnival Cruise Line understands that even though its passengers may be hundreds of miles at sea, they still want to stay connected. We love our vacations but are loathe to give up our phones and the World Wide Web.

To those points, Carnival has launched a new free mobile app that provides vacationers aboard Carnival Breeze a variety of useful features, including the ability to “chat” with other guests throughout the voyage for a flat fee of $5 for the entire cruise.

At the same time, Carnival is enhancing Internet access aboard Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine that greatly increases bandwidth and speed and also includes "a first-ever social media package providing unlimited access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other popular sites for a fee of just $5 per day or $25 per voyage during the testing period."

Here are more details from Carnival: