Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MSC Cruises to station new ship, Seaside, in Miami

Grandeur of the Seas-Ship Inspection in Baltimore, Maryland


The Grandeur of the Seas sails out of Baltimore, Maryland, port of Baltimore. Grandeur is a Royal Caribbean ship that sails to the Caribbean on 7-10 day cruises. I recently had an opportunity to inspect the ship and I 'm please to report the good news.

The ship offers great dining and entertaining, wines from around the World, Broadway style shows and eight bars and  lounges. Adult only solarium, rock climbing wall, poker and slot, De-stress at the Vitality Spa.

Great programs for kids of all ages, a program for children with Autism with Autism friendly toys and activities. This ship is sure to satisfy, including no airfare for those living within driving range of the Baltimore Port.

Friday, March 27, 2015

This week, cruise line movers and shakers are gathered in Florida for Cruise Shipping Miami, the industry's largest conference. We're on the ground to give you the latest and greatest breaking news and trends.

(3:15 p.m. EDT) -- Asia's hot, but the Caribbean is still pretty darn warm, according to cruise line executives who spoke Tuesday, March 17, about both markets at Seatrade's annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference.

With Asia being the talk of the industry for the past couple of years, it's not surprising that cruise lines have ramped up efforts to attract customers in that region -- China, in particular, which makes up almost half of the entire Asia cruise market, according to Adam Goldstein, chief operating officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and chair for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Asians typically take even shorter vacations than Americans do, and nearly half of all existing cruise passengers are younger than 40, Goldstein said. Cruise lines are adapting by changing their marketing tactics and by primarily offering sailings that are shorter than a week in length. Lines also are doing special outreach to Chinese travel agents who aren't as familiar with cruises as their North American counterparts and, therefore, aren't as comfortable selling them to their clients.

Goldstein said the Asia market has nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014, but there's plenty of room for growth. Only 1/12 of the Chinese population traveled last year, and less than 1 percent of those who traveled did so by cruise ship.

With so much of the industry's focus on China, where exactly does that leave the Caribbean?

The answer: In a pretty good spot.

During a panel discussion on the state of the Caribbean, Michele Paige, president of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), said market share is down slightly due to the focus on Asia, but more than 20 million people will still be cruising to the Caribbean in 2015.

While demand for Caribbean cruises remains steady, the industry's capacity in the region increased by about 13 percent last year.

"The Caribbean was, is and will always be the most important destination [for the North American market]," Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International's president and CEO said.

With demand even, the cruise industry is looking for new ways to fill the larger capacity, including trying to draw passengers from other markets, Bayley said.

"We've got demand issues," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "I think we're much more focused now on how to find the right target market."

Richard Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises USA agreed, saying it wasn't that the lines had purposely neglected to market the Caribbean, but rather several lines saw a void in capacity and tried to fill it at the same time, causing a surplus. "Our nimbleness in changing deployment happened at the same moment," he said, adding that 20 years ago, it wasn't typical for cruise lines to move ships around so much. They'd plan itineraries two years in advance and never think about changing them.

Naturally, Cuba came up during the discussion, and the general consensus was that opening it up to cruise travel from the U.S. will help to draw more passengers -- particularly Americans -- to the Caribbean with the promise of something new and previously off limits.

Sasso supported that point, saying that many people don't cruise until they have a reason besides the cruise itself -- theme cruises, group travel, Cuba, etc. -- to do so.

"I think it's hugely exciting for the region and for the industry," said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, adding that his boss, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and CEO Frank Del Rio, wants to be the first to go and added that Norwegian Cruise Line could be ready to deploy ships there almost immediately when the opportunity finally presents itself.

When asked what the cruise lines can do to ensure passengers want to return to the destinations they visit on their Caribbean cruises, Sasso didn't mince words: "Our job is to bring the people to the destination. Getting them to return is the responsibility of the local government, the people and the destination. If the people are smiling and the food is good, people will come back. If not, they won't come back, and they'll write letters to us, asking us not to go there anymore."

Executives also agreed that ports need to differentiate themselves by offering shopping, dining and excursion experiences that are new and different. Otherwise, passengers may stay onboard their cruise ships.

But make no mistake, the cruise lines said, Caribbean cruising is here to stay.

"Cruise lines do not create demand," Paige said. "Cruise lines go where their passengers want to go and where they can make money." So, as long as cruisers continue to crave sun, sand and fruity umbrella-adorned drinks, the Caribbean isn't going anywhere.

--By Ashley Kosciolek, Cruise Critic Editor

Carnival Cruise Line is bringing Carnival Sunshine to New York City

 Carnival Cruise Line is bringing Carnival Sunshine, its first cruise ship to feature all of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 dining and entertainment venues, to New York City in 2016 for 20 sailings between June and October. Carnival Sunshine also will sail a short series of cruises from Charleston and Norfolk.

Carnival Sunshine's New York City sailings, which replace Carnival Splendor's sailings, will range from two one-night cruise-to-nowhere outings to nine-night Caribbean voyages. Sunshine also will sail a handful of New England and Canada cruises including two three-night cruises to Saint John, three four-night sailings to Saint John and Halifax, and five one-week Canada/New England cruises that visit Boston, Portland, Saint John and Halifax. Caribbean sailings include six one-week Eastern Caribbean sailings, plus a nine-night Carnival Journeys voyage.
Carnival Sunshine also will sail from Charleston and Norfolk in summer and fall 2016.
Charleston sailings include an overnight cruise to nowhere in November, a three-night jaunt to Nassau in May, a four-night Bahamas cruise in May and November, and a nine-night Carnival Journeys sailing departing the end of May.
Norfolk sailings include two overnight cruises to nowhere in June and October, a four-night Bahamas cruise in June, a four-night Bermuda cruise with an overnight in King's Wharf in October and a five-night Bahamas cruise in October.
The ship will finish out 2016 back in its current homeport of Port Canaveral, where it will sail a schedule of four- to seven-night Caribbean cruises.
--By Dori Saltzman, Editor

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cruises out of Baltimore, Maryland on Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines

Vacation cruises offer all inclusive benefits. Many discount cruises can include your stateroom, meals, and entertainment costs into one great cruise deal. Whether you prefer constant activities or just kicking back by the pool, Cruises out of Baltimore are a great opportunity to save on airfare and avoid airport hassles.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Cozy cottage living at Bahamas' Pink Sands

By Gay Nagle Myers / March 04, 2015
For clients suffering from the winter blues, Pink Sands Resort on Harbour Island in the Out Islands of the Bahamas may be just the antidote.
Pink Sands opened in 1951 and quickly became a winter haven for the elite, according to Christopher Pollock, general manager.

"In the 1990s, Island Records mogul Chris Blackwell ushered in a new era for the property," Pollock said. "New owners took it over last year. It's been updated but still retains its original feel and ambience."
• Harbour Island, called Briland by locals, is home to Dunmore Town, a quaint village, the only town on the island and one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas. Explore it.
• The pink color of the sand is from shells that are ground into sand grains by waves and currents.
• Fly into North Eleuthera Airport on Silver Airways from Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Fla.; American from Miami; and South Air and Bahamas Air from Nassau. Harbour Island is a five-minute water taxi from the airport.
• Direct ferry service is available from Nassau; seewww.bahamasferries.com. Crossing takes three hours.

The 25-cottage resort set on 25 acres overlooking a pink-sand beach (hence the name) is easily accessible by air and ferry yet far from the crowds.

It's family-friendly: Several of the cottages are two-bedroom units that include a living room.
For $4,500 per night, the resort offers the Banyan Tree estate home with a three-bedroom main house and a one-bedroom cottage, fire pit and pool; the estate often serves as a venue for wedding parties.

"We have 10 lots where we will begin building villas that will go into the room inventory when not owner-occupied," Pollock said.

Occupancy this winter ran at 60% in January, 75% in February and will top 90% this month, according to Pollock.

Guests can kick back at the beachside Blue Bar where the specialties include crab cakes Benedict, Bahamian pepperpot and the catch of the day; dine by candlelight at the Garden Terrace restaurant; and enjoy room service on private patios in the cottages.

The U.S. is the main market, although there's been an upswing in European visitors of late.
Rates in March start at $695 per room, per night, double, in a gardenview cottage, plus 24% tax. Prices include water taxi transfer from Eleuthera, continental breakfast and WiFi throughout the property.                                                            

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Royal Caribbean Presents Anthem of the Seas

Caribbean's Anguilla Restaurants

When you Think of the islands of the Caribbean and images of beaches, turquoise water and steel-drum bands come to mind. Fine dining? Not so much — unless the island is Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory just a 10-mile ferry ride from St. Martin/Sint Maarten.
In its 35 square miles, Anguilla boasts more than 100 restaurants from beach shacks to a surprising number of fine-dining spots, some with celebrity chefs. Last summer the Anguilla National Culinary Team took several gold and silver medals in the Taste of the Caribbean competition in Miami.
The road to culinary fame started when the island began to develop tourism in the 1980s. When its first high-end resort, Malliouhana, opened it 1984, it brought in Michelin-star French chefs Jo and Michel Rostang. Other luxury resorts followed, each with a fine-dining venue. But not all of Anguilla's noteworthy restaurants reside in fancy resorts. A few independents stand out:

Blanchards (blanchardsrestaurant.com) — In 1989, Bob and Melinda Blanchard turned their life upside down by moving from Vermont, where they had launched several businesses, to Anguilla, where they opened their namesake restaurant on Meads Beach. They tell the story of their lifestyle switch in their first book, "A Trip to the Beach," which continues to prompt patrons to show up at their door. "This actually happens all the time," Melinda Blanchard said. "When we first wrote the book, we had no idea it would actually bring people to the island, much less our restaurant." They penned two more books inspiring readers to follow their own dreams, as well as two cookbooks.
The Blanchards use flavors from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Italy, France and various regions in the U.S. in their cuisine. "We serve what we like to eat ourselves and always make sure to have several flavors on each plate to make the dish interesting," said Melinda Blanchard. Favorites include a seafood pasta dish and jerk shrimp with sweet potato puree and cinnamon-rum bananas. They recently added a gluten-free menu. Blanchards Beach Shack opened next door right on the sand in 2011. Its Caribbean cornbread draws raves.

Veya (veya-axa.com) — The Blanchards aren't the only culinary couple to decamp from the U.S. for Anguilla. After an Internet search located a restaurant for sale on the island, "we sold our restaurant, house, cars, all personal belongings and gave our three children each a suitcase," said Carrie Bogar, who opened Veya with husband, Jerry, in 2007. "Many, many people told us we were crazy." The chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, calls her style "Cuisine of the Sun," inspired by the Caribbean and other warm climates in Southeast Asia, Africa and India. Among her first courses are shrimp cigars with chermoula and apricot sauce and conch carpaccio with Indonesian rice salad. Red snapper is a popular second course, as is the local crayfish when it's available.
"Anguilla is the culinary capital of the Caribbean," chef Bogar said. "When we first arrived here, a lot of people spoke of St. Barts as the best island for food, but over the past few years, I hear more and more people stating that Anguilla has surpassed St. Barts in quality, diversity and cost."
De Cuisine (facebook.com/decuisineaxa) — Among the newest additions to the island's fine-dining scene is this 18-seat restaurant Denise Carr and husband Josh Proctor opened last December. A chef for more than 20 years, Carr worked in four- and five-star hotels in Las Vegas and Dubai before coming to Anguilla as executive chef at CuisinArt Golf Resort and later as owner of the Sandbar. "I decided to open De Cuisine because I wanted to do exactly the food I love to do," she said, an approach she calls "food artistry." Her menu changes frequently but recently featured foie gras mousse with mango preserve in hibiscus reduction and lobster carpaccio with lime sabayon, avocado, wakame sea air and browned chili butter.

Tasty's (tastysrestaurant.com) — At first glance, this green and purple building looks like a nondescript roadside structure. But the beribboned culinary medals and clippings from Bon Appetit, Travel & Leisure and Gourmet hanging on the walls of the modest dining room testify that Tasty's is a true foodie find. In a local-boy-makes-good story, Anguillan-born chef Dale Carty started his career as a dishwasher at the Malliouhana Hotel at age 15 and was soon hooked on life in the kitchen. "Chefs Alain Laurent and Jacques Borderon saw my passion and potential," Carty said, "and made it possible for me to go to the south of France to train under the guidance of Jo Rostang and later his son Michel Rostang." Carty opened Tasty's in 1999 at age 28, fusing the techniques and styles he learned in France with his Caribbean heritage.
Meals start with warm Johnnycakes before the menus unfold. Seafood salad, in appetizer and entree portions, has sauteed crayfish, snapper, lobster, shrimp, conch and salmon in a basil vinaigrette dressing. Caribbean curry stewed goat comes with root vegetables and Anguilla's national dish, pigeon peas and rice.
Da'Vida (davidaanguilla.com) — The name translates as "the life," an apt description for this combination white-tablecloth restaurant, beach grill, spa and water-sports rental spot on Crocus Bay. Those who think this place is all about sitting under a beach umbrella while sipping colorful tropical drinks — pleasant as that may be — are underestimating it. The fine-dining restaurant won a Wine Spectator award in 2012. Its dinner menu begins with appetizers such as Thai beef salad and expands to entrees of beef tenderloin, rack of lamb and truffle mushroom risotto.
Diners who want something lighter can order tapas in the evening. Lunch at da'Vida's Bayside Grill might be burgers, barbecue ribs and chicken or fresh fish.
Scilly Cay (scillycayanguilla.com) — No discussion of food and Anguilla is complete without mention of this quirky, open-air beach shack on a tiny spit of sand and coral just off the island. For 28 years Eudoxie Wallace, nicknamed Gorgeous, and his wife, Sandra, have turned this cay into an afternoon's escape of sunbathing, snorkeling and island food washed down with killer rum punches that may prompt patrons to get up and dance. A string band often plays on Sundays. Lobster, fish, chicken and crayfish — when they can get it — are barbecued on oil-drum grills.
Getting there is part of the fun: Stand on the dock at Island Harbor, look toward the cay and wave your arms like a fool. If they're open (Wednesdays and Sundays only), they'll send a boat for the two-minute ride to the cay.
For tourism info, visit the Anguilla Tourist Board site at iVisitAnguilla.com.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun


Which destinations might present risks to an LGBT traveler?

As a white heterosexual American male, there are certain things — OK, plenty of things — I don't need to think twice about. One of them is travel. There obviously are places where being a white, heterosexual American male will work against me (probably the American part, mostly), but usually I'm not too concerned for my well-being in the places I am most likely to visit.
But a stat caught my eye recently that underscores an odd irony: A certain group of people who love to travel is among those facing the gravest risk while doing just that. In a 2012 Community Marketing Inc. survey of more than 4,000 people identifying as LGBT, 79 percent of respondents said they held an active U.S. passport. That compares with about one-third of the general U.S. population.
Crossed with a higher-than-average disposable income, the LGBT crowd becomes a no-brainer of a target audience for the travel industry. And indeed, airlines, hotel chains and cruise lines have been some of the most progressive and aggressive when courting that market.
But the demographic that embraces travel also faces some of the biggest challenges while traveling. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, a whopping 78 countries have deemed "homosexual acts" illegal. That's more than a third of the world. Homosexuality is punishable by death — punishable by death in 2015! — in seven of those countries.
It's a paradox as cruel as it is ridiculous, with potential blowback both small (such as a double take when same-sex travelers request one bed instead of two) and unfathomably large (arrest). Eric Silverberg, chief executive officer of gay social networking site Scruff (scruff.com) said he suspects "almost every gay couple that has traveled in the last 10 years could cite some example of prejudice or hostility."
"Gay travelers are absolutely doing a calculation: Am I going to try to go out tonight and try to find the gay neighborhood or gay bar, or am I going to just stay in?" he said. "If you're going to a city with just a few gay bars, you will be much more cautious as you travel to your destination, especially in the evening."
With those dangers in mind, Scruff has launched a web page in recent weeks dedicated to "gay travel advisories," including the nearly 90 countries and regions that have laws against homosexuality or frequent discrimination. The advisories also can include push notifications; for instance, if a Scruff user arrives in, say, Nigeria, an alert will pop up on a smartphone: "The country you have recently entered has laws that criminalize sexual acts between consenting adult males as well as laws that criminalize gay activism and public gatherings." The alert also notes potential punishment, which in Nigeria includes the death penalty.
"We see this as a duty in our community to keep people informed and safer as well as to shine a light on these laws to increase global pressure on reform," Silverberg said.
Popular LGBT website towleroad.com has frequently covered the perilous relationship between homosexuality and travel, including a recent story about two gay men who visited the Maldives, an island nation south of India where homosexuality is illegal.
"It wasn't as scary for them as they thought it would be," website founder Andy Towle said. "It turned out to be fine for gay couples to book at resorts there. But they were concerned, so they booked two twin beds."
Then again, Towle said, he was on a gay cruise arriving in Dominica that was met by a protest at the dock. He wrote about the experience for Genre, a now-defunct magazine aimed at gay men: "I had heard about the past refusal of some Caribbean islands to allow gay cruise ships to land, but I thought (wrongly) that since then this type of discrimination had been forced into a corner by the mighty power of the gay dollar. Not exactly so."
That was in 2003. Towle said the world mostly has become friendlier to people identifying as LGBT but not completely; discrimination endures in Dominica, for instance, where in 2012, two men were arrested for what local authorities deemed "buggery" (or sodomy) after engaging in a sex act on a cruise ship balcony.
(Brief diversion: in my estimation, the couple should not have done such a thing and may well have been guilty of a crime. But a heterosexual couple likely would not have been charged with sodomy, hence the double standard.)
According to a 2014 LGBT travel survey by Community Marketing Inc., a significant number of respondents said they wouldn't feel safe in even middle-of-the-road destinations: South Africa (31 percent), Turkey (44 percent), Dubai (52 percent), Jamaica (53 percent), Kenya (73 percent) and Russia (82 percent). I asked Towle if there was a destination that a heterosexual person might embrace that he would avoid. He named Egypt, citing a recent raid in a Cairo bathhouse in which 26 men were arrested (and later acquitted).
These are the decisions gay travelers often must make, Towle said: Which places might present risks to an LGBT traveler? To what degree does an LGBT couple need to censor themselves when traveling? It's a consideration even across much of the United States.
"If I was traveling with a partner in rural Wyoming or Montana or somewhere in the Midwest, I would definitely think twice about where I was going to stay," Towle said. "Gay and lesbian people, by the nature of how we grew up, are very used to being aware of our surroundings and how we present in public. It's no different when we travel."
Twitter @joshbnoel

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


by Daniel Levine / February 24, 2015
New York—A few days after the publication of new regulations governing U.S. travel to Cuba, I logged on to the Cubana Airlines website and purchased tickets to Havana using my credit card.

While many tour operators to the island would still like prospective visitors from the U.S. to believe that travelers cannot just hop on a plane and go, that's simply not the case. They can, and they will. The floodgates for FIT travel have been thrown wide open.

Purely touristic travel such as stays at all-inclusive beach resorts remains prohibited. However, any American wishing to visit Cuba may now do so, simply by declaring oneself as fitting into one of 12 legal categories.

The broadest of these is Professional Research relating to the traveler's profession, professional background or area of expertise. If the reason for traveling to Cuba falls into this (or any of the other categories) an American is automatically authorized to visit the country legally, without having to apply for a license.

An opportunity for agents
Direct, scheduled flights may take a year or more to get underway while airline agreements are negotiated, but as a practical matter for individual travelers this hardly matters.

The fact is, many airlines are already offering charter flights to Havana's José Martí International Airport from Tampa and Miami for as low as $329 round-trip. And Sun Country Airlines just announced charter service from New York's JFK starting on March 17th. Others are set to follow.

Especially now, while Cuba-bound flights are not available for purchase directly from most airline websites or traditional OTAs, there is a unique opportunity for travel agents to fill in the knowledge gap and help clients make these arrangements.

While traveling in Cuba is not particularly difficult, it is not for novices. It’s for sophisticated travelers who value meaningful experiences over luxurious pampering. The biggest hurdle for Cuba-bound travelers is no longer the U.S. government; it’s finding a good place to sleep.

Upscale room shortage
Cuba has a shortage of high-end hotels and much of what does exist seems to be already booked, often by tour operators far in advance. This situation will become even more acute as the number of American visitors rises.

As an alternative, the country's newly-minted entrepreneurial classes are transforming their homes into apartment rentals and bed-and-breakfasts.

Walking around Havana I saw signs announcing these "casas paticulares" on almost every street. Some streets sport as many as ten of these logos – which look roughly like a blue roof against a white background – on a single block.

Prices seem to hover around the $25 to $50 a night range. Hotel rates, in comparison, can go to $300 or more. The challenge, of course, is finding and booking these before landing. Here is where opportunity exists for clever packagers to get involved as middlemen for FIT travel.

The Caribbean’s new competition
Restaurateurs and other tourism service providers I spoke with in Cuba are clearly excited by the vast sea change set to wash over the country's tourism landscape.

Conversely, at the last Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) conference I attended, country managers seemed universally threatened by the opening of Cuba to Americans—and the impact it will have on their own number of visitor arrivals.

When asked how many American tourists they foresee, more than one Cuban used the expression "as many as the stars." Clearly this optimism also suggests an opportunity for those U.S.-based tourism professionals who position themselves to take advantage of it.



by Andrew Sheivachman / March 02, 2015
 While river cruises have exploded in popularity in recent years, with booking windows lengthening and prices surging, adventure and small-ship cruising is experiencing a kind of renaissance as well.

As demand for small-ship cruises to more exotic locations grows, the need for travel agents to help cruisers plan those trips has become more important than ever, according to small-ship cruise line executives.

“A lot of travel agent clients who have done the European river cruise circuit feel really satisfied with that experience, but now they’re looking for something more exotic and maybe something bragging-rights worthy,” said Kristin Day, director of travel agent sales at International Expeditions. 

Impressive growth
So-called ‘specialty’ cruises grew 21% annually from 2009 to 2014, according to data from CLIA. 

Experts divide small-ship cruising into two main categories: cultural and expeditionary. Many itineraries and cruising experiences, however, merge the two in an attempt to craft a more diverse vacation for more experienced cruisers.

“For agents, it’s a matter of matching the right person with the right cruise experience,” said Katherine Bonner, Tauck’s vice president of river and small ship cruising. 

“The person who wants a more in-depth experience, who stays in higher-end hotels and has maybe cruised on a Regent, Crystal or Silversea cruise but is looking for something different now, is [a prime candidate] for small-ship cruising,” she said.

Exotic destinations, intimate experiences
Small-ship cruises lines have focused on refining their product in recent years to appeal to a wide range of cruisers, especially multigenerational groups and families.

“We’ve always had a high number of multigenerational families, and those cruisers tend to be more focused in the Galapagos, Alaska and Antarctica for us,” said Jacinta McEvoy, vice president of travel agent sales at Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.

“Those can be groups of four people or a whole family of 25-30 people at a time,” she added.

For other lines, the focus will always be on the cultural experience centered on the destination. 

They have ramped up educational offerings and specialty trips and while they may cruise rivers at times, the experience is more curated than a traditional river cruise.

“Norway is not a first-timers’ destination,” said Gordon Dirker, managing director at Hurtigruten. “We do get the highly-educated, well-traveled travelers; they watch PBS and have a high interest in world affairs.”

Hurtigruten remains focused primarily on Norway and Antarctic cruises, staying true to its roots after more than a century of cruising Norway’s shores—and becoming a part of the country’s culture in the process.

New markets
Lines like International Expeditions, however, are looking to innovate and enter new markets.

“To satisfy the travel desires of our cruisers, we’re really excited to be planning a Cuba cruise,” said Day. “We are working on it and we’re looking to have our first departure for Christmas 2015.” 

The focus for all these lines remains on the experience, even as demand increases.

“The average ocean cruise company makes 30% revenue onboard,” said Bonner. “We find, especially in the premium and luxury space, that people want to be less nickel-and-dimed; they want to know you curated the vacation for them and chose the best of what a destination has to offer.”

The small-ship cruiser
But who are the typical small-ship cruisers? 

Older, more intellectual clients are bywords for agents who want to target clients for this niche, according to the executives.

“The kind of person who takes a small ship cruise is looking for something a bit more intimate and more social,” said Bonner.“You can be more alone on a big ship than a small ship.”

McEvoy believes the standards of luxury travel are more important than ever to small-ship cruisers, since clients with the time and money to spend on a trip are used to a high level of comfort and service.

“Accommodations are important now to the small-ship cruiser, whereas 15 years ago they wanted more of an expeditionary experience,” she said.

And, of course, limited supply means small-ship cruises are being booked 12 to18 months out for the most wanted destinations like the Galapagos.
“The booking trend is super-positive at the moment,” said Dirker.

Thinking small
Despite limited supply and ships ranging from 15 to 200 passengers, small-ship cruises are especially popular with solo travelers.
Bonner said Tauck sets aside from 8 to 10% of its river and small-ship cabins for solo cruisers.
“It’s a great way for singles to travel, because of the social-mindedness of the experience,” said Bonner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Caribbean Cruise Steals You Can't Refuse
Lose yourself in the tropical splendor of the islands on a Caribbean cruise. Few places in the world exemplify the pure bliss of being on vacation quite like the Caribbean.
Brilliant sunshine diminishes the chill of winter to a distant memory. White sandy beaches invite you to leave footprints. And refreshingly warm water beckons you. 
The Caribbean’s histories and cities are fascinating, from the ancient Mayan city of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula, to the Chacchoben ruins near Costa Maya. Hear the legends of Aruban gold, Jamaican voodoo or the origins of St. Maarten’s half-French, half-Dutch culture.
Drive through a volcano in St. Lucia, sway to calypso music in Barbados or take in the sands of St. Kitts where they turn from a fluffy white to a deep black. Each island has its own incredible story for you to discover. http://tinyurl.com/ky8cufx




Monday, March 2, 2015

Harmony of the Seas Could Be World’s Biggest Cruise Ship

It looks like there will be a new world’s biggest cruise ship in April 2016 when Royal Caribbean International’s third Oasis-class ship enters service.
The new Harmony of the Seas will be 227,000 gross registered tons — a measure of volume, not weight —making it just slightly bigger than its 225,282-ton sister ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, which now share the world’s largest title. The final size measurement is usually taken when the ship is complete, so the numbers could shift.
The Harmony of the Seas will have the same seven neighborhoods introduced on Oasis of the Seas. It also will have three multi-story waterslides, all of which twist and turn over Central Park 10 decks below. One of the slides will have a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they slide down to the end of the ride.      
Harmony of the Seas also will have the Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade — this is the bar with robotic arm bartenders that was introduced on Quantum of the Seas.
The ship also will issue wristbands that can be used as a stateroom key and to make onboard purchases and reservations.
Some stateroom categories will be larger than those on Oasis and Allure of the Seas. The interior accommodations also have the Virtual Balconies that show videos of the view outside. The ship also will have studio staterooms. Suite guests will get access to an exclusive lounge, private restaurant called Coastal Kitchen, and a sun deck.
The Dynamic Dining on Harmony of the Seas will include the “Classic” option in which guests rotate through the four complimentary main restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time with their same dining group and waiter each evening.
Specialty restaurants will include Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with a new teppanyaki menu, and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant.
Overall, the 16-deck Harmony of the Seas will carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy. The seven neighborhoods onboard includes Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.