Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cunard Will Add Fourth Ship To Its Fleet

Luxury cruise brand Cunard has announced it is adding a fourth ship to its fleet. This investment is part of the company’s ambitious plans for the future of Cunard globally.

Carnival Corporation—the world’s largest cruise company and parent of the Cunard brand—has signed a memorandum of agreement with Fincantieri S.p.A., Italy, to build a new ship that will join the Cunard fleet in 2022.

The as yet unnamed ship will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth as the fourth member of the Cunard fleet, the first time since 1998 that the luxury cruise brand will have four ships in simultaneous service.

The iconic and unparalleled luxury cruise brand is going from strength to strength, having seen crowds of more than one million people gather in 2015 to celebrate the company’s 175th anniversary. Cunard has subsequently invested over $172 million refurbishing the flagship Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.

Alongside an array of exciting new itineraries featuring new destinations and special event voyages for 2018 and 2019, Cunard has also continued to evolve the guest experience to meet the needs of the luxury consumer by introducing new bar and dining signatures, entertainment offerings and brand partners across the fleet.

“Cunard continues the legacy of our liners with the commissioning of a magnificent new ship. It’s an especially fitting time with the recent 50th Anniversary of the beloved Queen Elizabeth 2 marking the occasion. We are proud to share Cunard’s enduring luxury liner experience with future generations to be enjoyed the world over," says Josh Leibowitz, Senior Vice President, Cunard, North America.

Cunard will be revealing exciting details about the new ship during the course of 2018 and through to the ship’s launch.

• The new 113,000 GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) ship will carry 3,000 guests and will be launched in 2022
• The new cruise ship will be the 249th ship to fly the Cunard flag since the company’s founding in 1839
• Cunard’s first new ship in 12 years, since the launch of Queen Elizabeth in 2010
• The first time since 1998 that the luxury cruise brand will have four ships in simultaneous service

Cunard Line
Defining true excellence at sea with over 176 years of legendary voyages, Cunard is renowned for impeccable White Star Service, gourmet dining and world-class entertainment. The three Queens offer luxury on a grand scale in Britannia, Britannia Club, Princess Grill, and Queens Grill accommodation. Cunard is the only line to offer regularly scheduled Transatlantic service and continues the legacy of world cruising which it began in 1922. For more information about Cunard, visit Cunard.com.

Images Courtesy Cunard Line

Viking Takes Delivery Of Fourth Ocean Ship

Viking Ocean Cruises has taken delivery of Viking Sun, the company's fourth ocean ship. The delivery ceremony took place yesterday when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's shipyard in Ancona, Italy. On October 4, Viking Sun will set sail from Venice, making her way through the Adriatic and Ionian Seas on her maiden voyage.

In early November, Viking Sun will cross the Atlantic to sail fall itineraries. On December 15, the ship will embark on Viking's first-ever World Cruise. Over the course of 141 days, Viking Sun will journey around the world, visiting 35 countries and 66 ports, before the itinerary ends in London on May 5, 2018. In 2019, Viking Sun will continue to sail the globe on the recently-announced second World Cruise, which spans 128-days, five continents, 21 countries and 44 ports with 10 port overnights.

"As we celebrate two decades of helping guests travel the world in comfort, this year also marks one of significant growth. We are pleased that with the delivery of Viking Sun we now have four small ships, each carrying only 930 guests," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. "With the continued expansion of our offerings, we look forward to bringing guests to more destinations around the world and introducing them to the Viking way of exploration."

Viking Sun
Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, with 465 staterooms that can accommodate 930 guests.The all-veranda Viking Sun is the newest addition to Viking's award-winning ocean fleet, which also includes Viking Star, Viking Sea, and Viking Sky. Viking will welcome two more sister ships in the next two years, and by 2019 it will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line. Two additional ships are also on order for delivery in 2021 and 2022. Viking's ocean fleet features modern Scandinavian design with elegant touches, intimate spaces and attention to detail. Highlights include:
• All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from 270 sq. ft. Veranda Staterooms, all with private verandas, sweeping views of the destination and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, generously proportioned closets, large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand, unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi and award-winning bathrooms with large showers, premium Freyja® bath products developed exclusively for Viking and heated floors.
• Explorer Suites: The ships feature 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer expansive views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category on board.
• Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ships feature a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.
• LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa on board is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 named it one of the "5 best cruise ship spas."
• Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow of the ship and designed to represent the Scandinavian spirit for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.
• The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service.
• Dining Choices: Viking's ships offer eight dining options, all with no additional charge or fee—from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and a variety of culinary options, and the World Café, which features international fare and regional specialties including a sushi and seafood cold bar—to intimate alternative dining experiences at The Chef's Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings, and Manfredi's, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. The Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers, while afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden. Mamsen's serves Norwegian deli-style fare, and complimentary 24-hour room service allows all guests to enjoy many signature dishes in the comfort of their stateroom. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking's ocean ships offer the most al fresco dining at sea. Additionally, The Kitchen Table specializes in regional dishes from market to table.
• Cultural Enrichment: Viking experiences from ship to shore are designed for unparalleled access and cultural enrichment. Viking Resident Historians deliver high-level historical and cultural education specific to the journey, offering invaluable insight in to the rich history of the destination. Guest Lecturers who are experts in their fields shed light on the destination's art, architecture, music, geopolitics, natural world and more. Destination Performances represent the most iconic cultural performing arts of the region—whether it be Italian opera or Portuguese fado. Resident Classical Musicians—pianists, guitarists, violinists and flautists—perform classical compositions throughout the ships. And Culinary Classes in The Kitchen Table, Viking's onboard cooking school, focus on regional cuisine.
• Nordic Inspiration: Even the smallest details take their inspiration from the exploratory spirit of the original Vikings, reflecting deeply held Nordic traditions. Light wood grains, touches of slate and teak, Swedish limestone and fragrant juniper appear throughout the public spaces and Spa. The Clinker-built design of the Viking Bar mirrors the construction style of the original Viking Longships. A Viking Heritage Center provides history and context from the Viking Age. And characters from Norse Mythology are subtly incorporated into the design, providing curious guests with inspiration to further explore Viking's Nordic heritage.
• Sustainable Features: Designed to be environmentally friendly, Viking's ships feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that reduces exhaust pollution and meets the strictest worldwide environmental regulations.
The Viking Difference
Designed for discerning travelers with interests in history, art, music and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port and more overnights. On board, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is both beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. With the most al fresco dining opportunities at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking's guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences ashore and on board. And only The Viking Way of Exploration provides guests with itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

In addition, Viking offers the best value at sea, with each cruise fare including much more than what competitors offer—an included value of more than $200 per person per day for an average cruise. Every cruise fare includes an exterior stateroom, a complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; alternative restaurant dining; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service.

Image Courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises

Monday, September 25, 2017

Silversea Plans Refurbishment For Silver Whisper & Silver Wind

Ultra-luxury cruise travel innovator Silversea has announced plans for Silver Wind and Silver Whisper to undergo a concrete refurbishment program in some areas of the two ships. The transformation of these two ships will be accomplished in December. The project is part of the elegant fleet-wide refurbishment program launched at the end of 2016 that will continue with new announcements to come soon.

Silver Whisper will incorporate technical improvements that will increase the already excellent level of guest satisfaction. The refurbishment will also incorporate a significant redesign of public areas. Many of the public areas will take inspiration from Silver Muse's décor, which will be reflected in carpet replacements and upgrades for La Terrazza, as well as the Observation and Panorama lounges.

Silver Wind will also be upgraded in a similar format, taking inspiration from Silver Muse as well. Public areas will also receive stylish enhancements, including the reupholstering of chairs and new carpets for the casino, and a new floor upgrade in the spa and beauty salon based on the inspiring concepts of Silversea’s flagship, Silver Muse.

"Silver Muse has been a sophisticated inspirational milestone for our brand. We are confident that the comprehensive makeover we have planned for Silver Wind and Silver Whisper will enhance the onboard experience and be equally appreciated by our guests," said Roberto Martinoli, Silversea's CEO.

Silversea Cruises, which is chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, is recognized as an innovator in the ultra-luxury cruise line industry, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Spirit, and Silver Muse—all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the inclusion of the expedition ships Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos, Silver Discoverer, and with Silver Cloud joining the Expedition fleet in 2018, Silversea's itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, both polar regions and hundreds of fascinating destinations in between.

For more information on Silversea Cruises, visit Silversea.com.

Images Courtesy Silversea

Crystal River Cruises Welcomes Crystal Mahler To The Fleet At Handover Ceremony In Germany

Crystal River Cruises officially welcomed Crystal Mahler to its award-winning fleet in Germany during a handover ceremony held at MV WERFTEN Shipyard last week. The second "Rhine Class" river ship was received by Crystal's newly appointed president and CEO, Tom Wolber and was then christened by godmother Lauren Barfield. Ms. Barfield is an American volleyball star who has led teams to victory since her professional career began in Europe in 2012, and is currently playing for reigning German champions SSC Palmberg Schwerin, a team sponsored by MV WERFTEN. Ms. Barfield christened the ship with the traditional German blessing and champagne bottle breaking, as Crystal executives, local dignitaries and guests from Crystal parent company, Genting Hong Kong, looked on.

"Welcoming this stunning new ship to Crystal's celebrated fleet is incredibly gratifying, as we continue to expand the celebrated Crystal Experience to a broader audience of discerning world travelers," says Wolber. "Like her sister ships, Crystal Mahler surpasses all previously established standards of luxury in the river cruising industry, with Crystal's signature service and attention to detail that our guests have long expected from the 'World's Best.'"

Crystal Mahler joins Crystal Mozart and sister "Rhine Class" ship Crystal Bach, which embarked just last month, as part of the Crystal River Cruises fleet. Sailing 7-, 11- and 16-day voyages along the Rhine and Danube Rivers, she will call in medieval towns and modern hubs in Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Netherlands and Hungary. Two additional "Rhine Class" ships, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, will join the fleet in 2018.

The four 106-guest, all-suite, all-balcony "Rhine Class" river ships will offer plush amenities and spaces rarely seen in river cruising, featuring Crystal's signature service thanks to the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the industry. The ship features French balconies in all suites, many with walk-in closets and dual vanities in the bathrooms, and Crystal's celebrated butler service in every suite to attend to guests' individual wishes. ETRO robes and slippers, personal iPads, wall-mounted 42-inch, flat-screen HD TVs with streaming movies, complimentary Wi-Fi, and Nespresso machines are standard in every suite. Additional enticing features include a luxurious spa and separate fitness center and Crystal's farm-to-table, Michelin-inspired cuisine in multiple, open-seating eateries including the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro café, the exclusive Vintage Room and the Palm Court.

"The enthusiastic response to Crystal's first Rhine Class ship, Crystal Bach, has been tremendous," says Wolber. "The innovative design of these ships and industry-leading features and amenities are truly impressive, and the world's most selective travelers are taking notice."

For more information, visit Crystal Cruises.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Cruise Lines International Association Finds Cruising Popular Among Men & Millennials

The new Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook, conducted on behalf of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), found men and Millennials are more interested in taking a cruise among all travelers surveyed. This is the latest installment in the Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook of 2017, in partnership with J.D. Power, and new findings than six out of ten (63 percent) respondents have an increased interest in cruising—with overwhelming interest among men and Millennials. The report details consumer traveler behaviors, attitudes, and opinions toward both cruise and land-based travel.

“CLIA highly values keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer cruise attitudes and preferences in order to create an ever-improving industry based on traveler feedback,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “The Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook plays a key role in helping us continue to adapt and appeal to every type of traveler with evolving business practices, varied cruise durations, and available destinations.”
Who is interested in cruising?

When it comes to specific generations interested in cruising, about 85 percent of Millennials expressed that an interest in cruise travel has increased within the last year, while 64 percent of Gen Xers said the same, compared to 40 percent of Baby Boomers citing the same sentiment. Across all generations, the report found that the increased interest in cruising is higher for men (74 percent) than for women (54 percent). Further, more than seven out of ten (71 percent) men named ocean cruises as the type of vacation they are most interested in taking within the next three years. In regards to cruise atmosphere, more than half (62 percent) of both female and male respondents cite casual elegance as their preferred cruise style.

Other key findings from the latest Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook of 2017:
• Repeat Cruising: The report found 80 percent of past cruisers have an increased interest in taking a cruise, while 50 percent of non-cruisers said the same. Repeat cruisers are drawn to cruise travel largely due to the value this vacation type offers.
• Cruising Costs: When compared to both land-packaged tours and all-inclusive trips, more than half (57 percent) of respondents surveyed believe cruising offers a high value, compared to 48 percent saying the same for land-based vacations. When it comes to outside factors impacting leisure travel plans, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents cite job responsibilities as the top factor.
• Keeping it Close: The report also found travelers are drawn to cruising for a variety of reasons including destinations and convenience. Regarding cruise ports being within driving distance, respondents acknowledged the convenience of driving to the cruise ship (68 percent), the reduced hassle of not having to fly to a port (64 percent), and the cost savings when not needing to fly (57 percent) as the primary benefits of having a lot more cruise embarkation options available in North America.
• Destinations & Durations: Cruise destinations and durations also positively impacted consumer attitudes toward cruising. When it comes to cruise destinations, more than one-third (36 percent) of travelers prefer the Caribbean region, while a quarter (27 percent) chose the Mediterranean. The Caribbean is more favored by people in the lower income brackets while interest in the Mediterranean is higher for higher-income brackets. Seven-day cruises are also the most popular among those surveyed (33 percent) when compared to other cruise durations.
• Oceans of Interest: According to the new research, respondents are showing an increased interest in ocean cruising when compared to reports earlier in the year. Currently, 34 percent of respondents interested in cruising will definitely be taking an ocean cruise compared to 23 percent reported in January.
About the Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook
J.D. Power conducted the latest North America Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook web-based surveys earlier this year targeting 500 consumers who: 1) earn more than $50,000 annually; and 2) had taken a vacation within the past three years. This survey will be conducted three times per year to establish industry trends.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line San Juan Cruise Departures Update

ITINERARY UPDATES 9/23/2017 – 11:30:00 AM (EDT)

Carnival Fascination – San Juan
The Port of San Juan is open and Carnival Fascination wass expected to dock at 12:00 PM yesterday. Guests were given the opportunity to debark or continue with us as the ship repositions to Miami, where it will arrive on Monday evening at 7:00 PM. All guests are invited to stay on board until Wednesday afternoon as they wait for their flights. Our airline partners are committed to working with our guests to waive any change fees associated with rescheduling flights.

Port officials have informed us that our terminal in San Juan has sustained extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Maria. The assessment is still in progress but it now appears that it will take several weeks to make the necessary repairs. Unfortunately, this means the following San Juan and Barbados sailings will have to be cancelled:

San Juan departures
September 24
October 1
October 8

Barbados departures
September 27
October 4
October 11

For all canceled cruises, a full refund will be automatically processed, including Fly2Fun reservations, pre-purchased Carnival Adventures, Fun Shop purchases and beverage packages. The refund will be processed to your original form of payment.

Given the circumstances, we are working with our airline partners to assist those guests with independent air travel regarding the waiver of change fees.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise Itinerary Updates

At Norwegian Cruise Line, the safety and security of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance. The company is closely watching Hurricanes Maria and Jose in the Atlantic, and will be slightly modifying the itinerary for Norwegian Breakaway, to ensure that our guests have the best vacation experience possible. To avoid the storm's path, Norwegian Breakaway will sail a longer route back to New York for her cruise that departed on Sunday, September 17. Norwegian Breakaway will now spend two days in port in Bermuda and depart a day early at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 21 and will arrive back in New York on Sunday, September 24, as scheduled. Norwegian Dawn will sail as scheduled and return to Boston on Friday, September 22.

We are saddened by the devastating impact Hurricane Irma has had on several islands in the Eastern Caribbean, ports that we have called on since the start of our 50 years in business. We are working with our partners on the ground to provide assistance to ensure these spectacular destinations are up and running and ready to welcome guests again very soon. In the interim, due to the destruction caused by the storm, we have altered the itineraries for Norwegian Escape’s Eastern Caribbean cruises for the remainder of 2017. Travel Partners and guests booked on these sailings will be receiving updated itinerary information shortly.

Should there be any further updates, guests will be advised.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Itinerary Updates/Hurricanes Irma & Maria

Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in San Juan and the other affected islands as they rebuild after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The following sailings are being modified due to Hurricane Maria:

Adventure of the Seas: September 23
Due to the uncertainty of the timing of the port re-opening in San Juan, we anticipate our new departure date will be Wednesday, September 27, sailing a 3-night itinerary to Antigua and St. Kitts.

We know these changes are disappointing, and we are truly sorry for the storm’s impact on your vacation. Should you choose to sail with us we will provide you with a refund of 60% of your cruise fare paid in the form of a refundable onboard credit, and an additional 50% future cruise credit, for a cruise booked within the next year.

If you are unable to travel and need to cancel your cruise, we will provide you with a 100% future cruise credit, for a cruise booked within the next year. Pre-booked shore excursions will be refunded to your original form of payment, and you will have the ability to book excursions in our new ports of call once onboard.

Anthem of the Seas: September 23
Due to the forecasted track of Hurricane Maria, we will be modifying Anthem’s upcoming itinerary and replacing our call in Bermuda with calls on Portland, Maine and Halifax, Nova Scotia. We are very sorry for the impact this storm has had on your vacation. Given the change to this sailing, we will be adding a 50% refund of your cruise fare to your onboard account in the form of a refundable onboard credit. Pre-booked shore excursions will be refunded to your original form of payment, and you will have the ability to book excursions in our new ports of call once onboard.

The following sailings are no longer modified:

Empress of the Seas: September 23 & 27; October 2, 7 & 11 Cuba cruise
Havana welcomed our Empress of the Seas guests on September 20th. The terminal, port and transportation were ready and all tours ran as scheduled. The city is ready and receiving visitors and delivering the authentic experience this historical destination is known for.

Additionally, we are happy to announce that we received confirmation that we can return to Key West starting this weekend with our call on Sunday, September 24th. With both Havana and Key West ready, and excited to welcome us, we are now able to offer the Royal Caribbean vacation guests are looking forward to.

Immediately following Hurricane Irma we recognized guests may have had concerns visiting Cuba and offered the ability to cancel and receive a future cruise credit. As Havana and Key West are both ready to welcome guests, our offer will end by close of business Sunday, September 24. All cancellations to receive a cruise credit must be completed by this time so we can offer the stateroom to another traveler. We look forward to welcoming guests on board Empress of the Seas for a truly once in a lifetime experience to visit Key West and Havana, Cuba
Future itineraries:

Given Hurricane Irma’s impact to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Key West, as well as Hurricane Maria’s impact to San Juan, we are altering the following ports for future sailings until these islands have fully recovered.

As the recovery effort remains fluid and each island is working diligently to get back to normal operations, we will continue to communicate any port changes approximately four weeks prior to departure.

Adventure of the Seas:
9/30 – St. Maarten to St. Kitts
10/7 – St. Maarten to St. Croix
10/14 – St. Thomas to St. Croix

Allure of the Seas:
10/1 – St. Thomas to Labadee
10/15 – St. Maarten to Labadee

Enchantment of the Seas:
9/25, 10/2, 10/9 – Key West to Freeport

Harmony of the Seas:
9/23 – St. Kitts, San Juan and Labadee to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Nassau
10/7 – St. Maarten to St. Kitts

Oasis of the Seas:
9/24 – St. Kitts, San Juan and Labadee to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Nassau
10/8 – St. Maarten to Nassau

Itinerary Updates for Charter Music Cruises: Entertainment Cruise Productions & StarVista LIVE

Cruise Diva has sailed with both of these music-centric cruise hosts and can assure future passengers that they will have a wonderful experience no matter where they go. For insight into how our hosts and Holland America Line took care of us in a stormy 2012 situation, see A Hurricane Sandy Cruise.

Port Update for Entertainment Cruise Productions Cruises

Important Announcement to Patrons of Entertainment Cruise Productions from Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director:

Sadly, the Caribbean continues to be battered by terrible storms. Our thoughts and best wishes are with the wonderful people of the Caribbean and their road to recovery. The loss of life and property is far more important and devastating than our cruise programs, but we can only address what is in front of us, so we are speaking, as promised, about the itineraries for our upcoming cruises on a cruise by cruise basis.

Cruise Programs Unaffected by the Storms

The following cruises appear to be unaffected by the storms and will continue as planned:

Star Trek: The Cruise I January 5–11, 2018 (Miami, Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya)
Star Trek: The Cruise II January 11–17, 2018 (Miami, Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya)
The Jazz Cruise February 3–10, 2018 (Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, Cozumel)
The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’18.1 February 10–17, 2018 (Ft. Lauderdale, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, CocoCay)
The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’18.2 March 10–17, 2018 (Ft. Lauderdale, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, CocoCay)

Cruise Programs Which Are Affected by the Storms

Both Blue Note at Sea, which sails from January 27–February 3, 2018, and The 80s Cruise, which sails from March 17–24, 2018, are scheduled to call upon St. Thomas and other ports in the Virgin Islands. These itineraries will be changed as St. Thomas will not be available as a port-of-call for many months. We are working now to determine what our alternative ports-of-call will be for Blue Note at Sea and The 80s Cruise. We promise you that we will keep you informed and will do our very best to continue to create the very best cruise programs in the world.

Port Updates for StarVista LIVE Cruises

We have been working diligently with our cruise line partners to evaluate the ports that have been affected by the recent hurricanes. First, we want to assure you that all of our planned cruises are still scheduled to depart as planned from Florida this fall 2017 and spring 2018.

For our November 5 departure from Ft. Lauderdale on the 2017 Malt Shop Memories Cruise, we are pleased to announce that Holland America Line was able to secure a new itinerary of ports that were unaffected by Hurricane Irma and that will provide our guests with beautiful Caribbean destinations. The new ports of call will be the breathtaking islands of Willemstad, Curaçao and Oranjestad, Aruba.

We have been notified that the 2018 Soul Train Cruise and The Country Music Cruise will not be able to stop in St. Maarten due to the heavy damage from Hurricane Irma. Holland America Line has been in close contact with our team and the port authorities of the local governments to identify a new itinerary and ports of call that showcase the natural beauty that the Caribbean islands offer. We will announce an update on the new ports to the guests sailing with us on the Soul Train Cruise and The Country Music Cruise as soon as we receive word from Holland America Line.

The itineraries for the Southern Rock Cruise, Flower Power Cruise and '70s Rock & Romance Cruise remain unchanged at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation in the Caribbean and alert you to any updates as they become available.

We want to extend our gratitude to our cruise line partners and to all those involved in granting us the ability to make stops at new destinations. Also, we want to thank you for your patience and words of support for those affected by the hurricanes this season. All of us at StarVista LIVE will continue to keep them in our thoughts as they recover and rebuild their lives and homes. We will plan on visiting the Caribbean jewels whose ports are closed due to damage again in the future.

SeaDream Yacht Club Highlights 2019 Cuba Sailings

SeaDream Yacht Club, known for showcasing the most picturesque ports and harbors, will visit the rich, cultural landscape of Cuba in 2019 from January through April. With itineraries departing directly from Havana and Cienfuegos, guests will experience the ideal vantage point of the striking and colorful island nation. With miles of beaches, charming ports of call and brilliant turquoise water, the scenic landscape of Cuba is brought to life with the casual luxury of a SeaDream yacht.

“We have already seen terrific results with our 2019 Cuba sailings with a response beyond our expectations,” shares SeaDream Yacht Club Vice President of Marketing Colby Goodman. “Many of our bookings so far have come from past guests eager to see Cuba for the very first time. We are thrilled to deliver unique, new itineraries that our guests desire.”

Whether exploring the Spanish elegance of the cultural treasure chest and capital city of Havana, experiencing the pristine beaches of Cayo Largo, an idyllic paradise off the northwest coast of the mainland or visiting multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, SeaDream opens the door to a world that few have experienced before. With a maximum of only 112 guests to a 95-person crew, those who travel with SeaDream are able to experience one of the best culinary programs at sea while receiving exceptional service within an intimate setting, truly embodying the phrase “It’s yachting, not cruising.”

After an initial on-sale period available only to past guests, the 2019 Cuba sailings are now on sale to the general public. Very limited availability remains. Fares for the 7-day Cuba voyages start at $5,399 per guest plus fees. The inclusive fare includes ocean view accommodations, gourmet meals, gratuities, wine with lunch and dinner, and so much more. Due to strong demand and the quick pace of bookings, a 9th sailing has been opened for general sale to the public, leaving from Cienfuegos on March 4, 2019 and disembarking in Havana on March 11, 2019. A full list of SeaDream Yacht Club’s 2019 Cuba voyages is available.

Highlights of the ports of call include:
• Cabo Cruz Cuba, originally founded as a Spanish port in the earth 18th century, “Cape Cruz” is a cape that forms the western edge of the Granma Province in southern Cuba. It is recognized for its 19th-century manned lighthouse called “Faro de Cabo Cruz.”
• Cayo Largo, Cuba, an intimate resort island, this cay has a zero-permanent population and some of the most pristine beaches you can find. Its beaches Playa Sirena and Playo Paraiso are two of the finest undeveloped beaches in the world.
• Cienfeugos, Cuba, this city, on Cuba’s south coast, was a major port for the sugar trade during the 19th century. The city’s Urban Historic Center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and serves as an example of urban planning accomplished by the Spanish in the 19th century.
• Havana, Cuba, the capital of the island nation is one of the largest cities in the Caribbean and cultural delights abound at every corner. Its walled capital was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. “Old Havana,” the city’s center, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Isla de Juventud, Cuba, the second largest island off Cuba’s shore, this spot is popular with divers hunting buried treasure and is also rich in pirate lore. Beautiful black-sand beaches line the island’s striking turquoise waters.
• Maria la Gorda, Cuba, a port only accommodating smaller vessels, the lush landscape is home to many species of exotic wildlife and is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers. Authentic Cuban mojitos and fresh seafood are served along the beachfront.
• Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba was founded by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. The city is home to the citadel of San Pedro de la Roca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also where Bacardi Rum was founded.
• Trinidad, Cuba, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is a preserved Spanish settlement from the 16th century. Its charming cobblestone streets evoke a bygone era, and the city is known as Cuba’s oldest and most captivating outdoor museum.
For additional information, visit SeaDream.com.

Image Courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Post-Hurricane Maria Statement from Kenneth E. Mapp, Governor, U.S. Virgin Islands

The past two weeks have been a challenging period for the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Residents of the St. Croix district were impacted by Hurricane Maria in the wee hours of yesterday morning, and the good folks of St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island, still recovering from Hurricane Irma’s passage, experienced a second onslaught with Maria’s wind and rain. As difficult as things are, Virgin Islanders are resilient, and we will come through this together even stronger. Your Government is doing everything in its power to restore our infrastructure and our communities.

I will resume my daily media briefings today, Thursday, September 21, to provide you with recovery information for the Territory. Effective immediately, a 24-hour curfew must be in place on all four islands until further notice. Your presence on the roads during the curfew hours will only hamper clean-up efforts, and could delay the distribution of critically needed supplies.

To assist with the recovery and reconstruction of the U.S. Virgin Islands, please visit usvirecovery.org. Thank you again for your continued prayers and your support. God bless the United States and these Virgin Islands.

“Mighty Cruise Ships” Takes Viewers Behind the Scenes of the Royal Clipper

The lure of cruising lies as much in the grandeur and majesty of the ships as the destinations to which they travel. Sailing enthusiasts can get a real-life, behind the scenes view of the world’s largest squared-rigged ship—Star Clippers’ five-masted Royal Clipper—on Smithsonian Channel’s newest episode of “Mighty Cruise Ships” when it airs this Sunday, September 24 at 8 p.m. EDT/PDT. The episode is slated to be repeated on Sept. 24 at 11 p.m., Sept 27 at 8 a.m., Sept. 28 at 4 p.m., Sept. 29 at 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., Sept. 30 at 1 a.m. and Oct. 1 at noon.

Built in 2000, Royal Clipper preserves and celebrates the traditional seagoing ways of the late-1800s, calling to mind the grand age of sailing. Her design was based on the Preussen, a famous German five-mast windjammer built in 1902. This modern-day tall ship boasts five masts that soar 190 feet in the air, and 42 sails spanning nearly 56,000ft² that can catch even the slightest of breezes. The upcoming episode of Mighty Cruise Ships follows the guests and crew aboard the Royal Clipper as it sails a 12-night voyage along the western coast of Italy, then heads east to Greece and north into the Adriatic Sea.

“Mighty Cruise Ships,” which airs on the Smithsonian TV in the US, explores some of the world’s mightiest, most remarkable cruise ships around the world. The audience is transported to remote spaces and historic places aboard these unique vessels, visiting breathtaking destinations from tropical Caribbean oases to the frozen Northwest Passage to idyllic and storied places in the Mediterranean.

For more than 25 years, Star Clippers has been introducing travelers to the thrill of modern tall ship sailing to remote ports in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indonesia, and Far East. The company operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels: Star Clipper and Star Flyer are traditional clipper ships with modern amenities carrying 170 guests, while the 227-guest Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest and only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship in service today. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, convivial tropical bars on deck and piano lounges. The brand’s newest vessel, Flying Clipper, will debut in Fall 2018. For more information, visit StarClippers.com.

Image © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

Princess Cruises Donates $25,000 to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Princess Cruises presented its first donation from the Princess Animal Welfare Sponsor (PAWS) to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) in the amount of $25,000. PAWS was established by Princess Cruises to donate a portion of proceeds from the sales of Stanley the Bear, the cruise line's recently introduced plush bear, to local causes and charities that support nature, animals and wildlife.

"Our support of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center furthers our commitment to nature and wildlife in the places we visit, as well as offers a much-desired authentic Alaska experience to our guests," said Ralph Samuels, vice president of public affairs, Princess Cruises.

The AWCC plans to use the donation to fund an enhanced bear viewing and sitting areas on the property and a new family interactive space. In addition, the AWCC will be providing Princess Cruises bear related items, such as bear paw prints to be used in the cruise line's Camp Discovery youth centers.

"We're honored to be the first recipient of $25,000 from the Princess Animal Welfare Sponsor and applaud the cruise line for supporting our sanctuary, dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife through conservation, research, education and quality animal care," said Karen Cowart, AWCC board member.

Named in a Facebook contest that generated nearly 9,000 entries, Stanley was chosen in honor of the founder of Princess Cruises, Stanley B. McDonald. Debuting in May 2017 for the Alaska cruise season, Stanley the Bear interacts with guests through various entertainment and enrichment opportunities and is available for purchase on board in The Shops of Princess and in the Princess Wilderness Lodges in Alaska for $24.95. Princess Cruises donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this bear to support PAWS: Princess Animal Welfare Sponsor, an allocated fund within Princess Cruises Community Foundation.

For nearly 50 years, Princess Cruises has been recognized as the destination leader in Alaska. On board, Alaska guests experience the award-winning program, North to Alaska, which includes unique Alaska onboard enrichment , entertainment and food and beverage offerings, as well as Discovery Channel and Animal Planet recommended and exclusive shore excursions, as part of the cruise line's Discovery at Sea partnership.

More information can be found at Princess.com/Alaska.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line Updates Cruise Itineraries

Itinerary Updates 9/20/17

Carnival Fascination – September 24
We continue to monitor Hurricane Maria and will confirm our itinerary once the post storm assessment has been completed. To stay up to date, please text CCL1 to CRUISE (278473).

As a result of damage caused by Hurricane Irma, we have modified the following itineraries in order to provide our guests with the best possible shore experience.

Carnival Ecstasy – September 20
Departing Charleston on a 5 day cruise to Nassau and Freeport.

Carnival Sensation – September 21
Departing Miami on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel.

Carnival Splendor – September 23
Departing Port Everglades on a 7 day cruise to Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay and Grand Cayman.

Carnival Vista – September 23
Departing Miami on an 8 day cruise to La Romana, D.R., Aruba and Curacao.

Carnival Conquest – September 24
Departing Port Everglades on a 6 day cruise to Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Carnival Magic – September 24
Departing Port Canaveral on a 6 day cruise to Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya.

Carnival Pride – September 24
Departing Baltimore on a 7 day cruise to Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport.

Carnival Paradise – September 25
Departing Tampa on a 5 day cruise for an overnight stay in Havana.

Carnival Victory – September 25
Departing Miami on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel.

Carnival Glory – September 30
Departing Miami on a 7 day cruise to Half Moon Cay, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Carnival Sensation – September 30
Departing Miami on a 5 day cruise to Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport.

Carnival Splendor – September 30
Departing Port Everglades on an 8 day cruise to Princess Cays, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Carnival Pride – October 1
Departing Baltimore on a 7 day cruise to Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport.

Pre-purchased Carnival Adventures for cancelled ports, as well as any taxes, fees and port expenses will be refunded to your onboard Sail & Sign account. An email with detailed itinerary information will be sent to all guests scheduled to sail on these cruises. We sincerely apologize for the disruption Hurricane Irma has caused and look forward to welcoming our guests on board.

At this time, all other future cruises will depart as scheduled.

St. Kitts Hurricane Maria Update

Basseterre, St. Kitts: The eye of Hurricane Maria passed to the south of St. Kitts & Nevis yesterday afternoon, with the center having been located 90 miles west-southwest of the islands. Rapid assessment teams are currently being deployed to determine the extent of disruption caused by the storm. Everyone is advised to remain indoors until the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) states that the "all clear" is given. All storm watches and warnings for St. Kitts & Nevis have been discontinued. Essential services are up and operating.

St. Kitts' Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) will reopen today at 11am. American Airlines' non-stop daily flight #318 from Miami (MIA) to St. Kitts is operating today and is scheduled to depart Miami on time at 11:45am and arrive on island at 3:35pm. British Airways' flight #2157 from London Gatwick airport (LGW) to St. Kitts via Antigua (ANU) scheduled to operate today has been cancelled. However, the flight has been rerouted to operate tomorrow LGW-ANU-SKB-ANU-LGW as flight #2157/2256 and passengers who were scheduled to depart on today's flight will be re-accommodated on that flight.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters in Dominica, which took a direct hit from Maria, and to everyone who has been or will be impacted by the storm. Our sincere thanks to those who have kept St. Kitts & Nevis in their hearts and prayers.

ms Koningsdam’s $4.1 Million Art Collection Ranges from Classic to Contemporary & Traditional to Avant-Garde

Ship Sculpture Outside the Crow’s Nest
One of the most notable features of any Holland America Line ship is the remarkable collection of museum-quality art on board. The line’s newest vessel, ms Koningsdam, which launched in April 2016, is no exception. With a collection worth $4.1 million, the ship highlights the talents of leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, working with art curator ArtLink, and YSA Design to procure a thought-provoking collection of diverse works that complements the ship’s design while stimulating conversation.

The result is a floating art gallery with 1,920 pieces ranging in value from $500 to $600,000 that spans the decks, public rooms and staterooms. More than 21 nationalities are represented by Koningsdam’s artists, with the greatest number of contributors coming from the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Koningsdam features artworks in many media, including photography, painting, mixed media, illustration, prints, and sculpture. Much of the art curated aboard is from emerging artists and highlights Koningsdam’s focus on entertainment, showcasing themes of music, dance, and movement.

Ranging from classic to whimsical, a variety of two-dimensional, mixed-media pieces using materials including paint-injected bubble wrap, computer disks on wood, toy cars cast in resin, aluminum wire, cast paper, bamboo, and more are scattered throughout the ship. Many of the pieces change appearance depending on the viewer’s vantage point, inviting guests to take time to ponder and discuss the works of art.

The largest and most expensive work is the stunning Atrium sculpture titled “Harps” that is based on a concept by Adam D. Tihany, who was at the helm of the ship’s design and is regarded as one of the world’s pre-eminent hospitality designers. The $600,000 piece is an impressive 7.5-ton stainless steel sculpture that spans three decks.

“Extensive collections of unique and thought-provoking art have always been a hallmark of our elegant on board ambiance, and Koningsdam showcases one of our most exciting and contemporary displays,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Surrounding our guests with a vast array of meaningful artwork is a natural extension of the cruise experience as art awakens your senses, enriches your perspectives, inspires conversation and crosses cultural boundaries, all the same transformative values of travel.”

Additional pieces that carry an impressive price tag include Jason Krugman’s multideck “Quad Helix” light sculpture located in the Queen’s Lounge that cost $174,750; the custom-designed Swarovski crystal globe made by Dutch design group Studio Job valued at $100,000 located on Deck 3, mid-ship stair lobby; and the $54,000 “Rabbit” by Berg and Meyers nestled in The Retreat, which has turned into one of the most talked about pieces on board.

The large-scale tulip images behind the Guest Services desk on Deck 3 are by a Netherlands-based artist who was commissioned to photograph Holland America Line’s Signature Tulip. This unique flower only blooms for a couple of weeks every year, so ArtLink’s team traveled to the Netherlands to collect the blooms directly from the only grower in the world of the Signature Tulip, and they arrived at the photographer’s studio in time to capture the moment.

Some of the most charming pieces can be found nestled inside special tables at the Grand Dutch Café on Deck 3. Royal Goedewaagen created handmade and hand-painted ceramic buildings that showcase a little bit of Dutch history with canal houses, mills, palaces, and Zaanse Schans houses (typical greenhouses from a specific region of Holland).

Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar recently exhibited his work at Paris’ famed Louvre, and now Holland America Line guests can enjoy his captivating, two-story sculpture in The Dining Room. Titled “Wings of the Pharao,” the piece is made from handmade cast paper, Belgian linen and bamboo, and Gentenaar came on board the ship during construction in the yard to complete the installation.

As he has done for the entire Holland America Line fleet, Stephen J. Card, a British artist regarded as one of the finest maritime painters working today, created two paintings that are on display in the Captain’s Corner of the Crow’s Nest, forward on Deck 11.

A highlight for many Holland America Line devotees are the historic art objects on display that came from ms Ryndam and ms Statendam, which were transferred to sister brand P&O Australia.

Whether it’s a collection of pieces featuring famous musicians or the wooden ship sculpture with a cello for its hull (pictured above), the art aboard Koningsdam makes up one of the finest collections in the world. Guests can explore the decks inside and out and discover inspired works around every turn.

For more information about Holland America Line, visit HollandAmerica.com.

Image © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

CH2M, Canaveral Port Authority Designing New Terminal For World's Second-Busiest Cruise Port

Advancing the Tomorrow's Port Canaveral vision to accommodate future growth for the world's second-busiest cruise port, Canaveral Port Authority engaged long-time partner CH2M to design a new terminal to support its cruise business, which currently accounts for 80 percent of the Port's revenue.

The new terminal will join the Port's Cruise Terminal One, also designed by CH2M, in its ability to serve ships like Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class, with capacities of more than 5,400 passengers. The berth will also strengthen Port Canaveral's position as an in-demand port-of-call and popular vacation destination.

In addition to leading design of the proposed 1,400-foot-long terminal berth, CH2M will provide permit support, dredging, bidding support and construction support as part of their waterside engineering design and permitting services contract.

"With experience on both waterside and landside design of cruise terminals at Port Canaveral, we dive deeper than most when it comes to understanding the relationship between a wharf and terminal," said Gary Ledford, CH2M project manager. "Our multi-faceted design knowledge will aid the Port Authority in ensuring that the wharf and the new terminal function seamlessly together so incoming ships can turn around efficiently and continue their journeys."

Guided by their previous success on every recent major waterfront permitting effort at Port Canaveral, and permitting for nearly all of Florida's deepwater ports, CH2M will assist the Port Authority in securing permits from various state and local agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission.

The new berth will support an estimated nearly 4,000 permanent jobs, in coordination with overall modernization and improvement plans, including the Port's channel widening and deepening and new cargo piers.

With a legacy spanning more than a century, including work at Port Canaveral since 1954, CH2M's maritime and coastal engineers lead the industry in developing and implementing modernization and capacity increasing solutions that advance business, stakeholder and community goals.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Royal Caribbean Itinerary Updates

September 19, 2017

We are closely monitoring Hurricane Maria’s forecast track, and have modified both Adventure of the Seas and Allure of the Seas current itineraries to keep our guests and crew well out of the path of the storm. Our goal remains to provide notice of any future itinerary changes within a minimum of 48 hours prior to departure.

Specifically, for the 9/23 departure of Adventure of the Seas we will provide further details no later than early Thursday afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in San Juan as they prepare for Hurricane Maria.

For other itinerary changes, see the September 18 update.

Norwegian Cruise Line Tropical Weather Alert

September 19, 2017

At Norwegian Cruise Line, the safety and security of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance. The company is continually monitoring weather systems, including the tropics, and all Norwegian Cruise Line ships offer state-of-the-art radar and weather equipment. In the event of inclement weather, our ships will sail a route around the affected area, to have the least impact to our guests and crew.

The company is closely watching Hurricanes Maria and Jose in the Atlantic. At this time, all of our ships are sailing as scheduled. Norwegian Dawn is currently alongside in Bermuda and departed this evening, she will return to Boston on Friday, September 22 as scheduled. Norwegian Breakaway is currently enroute to Bermuda, she will arrive on Wednesday and remain alongside at the Royal Naval Dockyard until Friday evening as scheduled.

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Urges Public to ‘Keep the Faith’ as Hurricane Maria Approaches

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp is urging all residents, visitors, and emergency relief workers remaining in the U.S. Territory to be prepared for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm. Maria is estimated to reach the U.S. Virgin Islands between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Together with key emergency management leaders, Governor Mapp held two news conferences Monday, providing comprehensive information regarding the locations and accessibility of emergency shelters on all three islands, including locations designated for individuals with special needs. Underscoring the potential dangers to come in the hours ahead, he announced the reinstatement of a Territory-wide curfew, effective Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. Previously, a curfew had been implemented in response to Hurricane Irma and subsequently adjusted to exclude St. Croix, given the relatively minimal damage the island sustained.

The Territory’s seaports will be closed at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and the USVI Water and Power Authority (WAPA) plans to keep St. Croix’s power supply system on until approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Hurricane Maria is set to be the second major weather system to impact the area in less than two weeks. Given the National Weather Center’s forecast, including maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, the hurricane’s path could take it fewer than 10 miles south of St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, in what would essentially be a “direct hit” to the island.

In addition to the anticipated hurricane force winds, 12 to 18 inches of rainfall are expected for St. Croix, which was largely spared the brunt of Hurricane Irma’s destruction. Between eight and 12 inches of rain are expected in the St. Thomas/St. John district, which is still recovering from Hurricane Irma. Even after the passage of Hurricane Maria, heavy rainfall is forecast to continue in the Territory through the weekend and into next week. Hurricane force winds are not expected in the St. Thomas/St. John district.

The Governor asked the public to take seriously the warnings about the impending storm, including taking the necessary precautions should individuals choose to remain in their homes. Governor Mapp tempered his message of urgency and concern with a call to exercise common sense as well as faith to counter the inevitable feelings of anxiety that many in the Virgin Islands community are experiencing in the wake of unprecedented storms, devastation and disruption to the normalcy of life.

William L. Vogel, Federal Coordinating Officer of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region II, who has been stationed in the Territory to support Irma recovery efforts, echoed Governor Mapp’s warnings, adding that the tidal surge associated with hurricanes also poses a serious threat. While many relief workers have been evacuated from the Territory until after the passage of Maria, Vogel reiterated FEMA’s commitment to return in full force as soon as weather conditions permit and to continue rebuilding the islands.

The road to recovery and restoration is going to be a long one, Governor Mapp said. It will take weeks and, in some cases, months to restore power to everyone across the Territory. “That’s the reality,” he said.

Calling on all the “prayer warriors” to pray for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Governor reminded the public to “keep the faith.” “God bless each and every one of you and stay safe,” he said.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló: It is time to act & evacuate

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced the Government of Puerto Rico has prepared 500 shelters for people who cannot stay with relatives or friends during the passage of Hurricane Maria, which intensified to Category 5 Monday night.

"No generation has seen a hurricane like this since San Felipe II in 1928. This is an unprecedented atmospheric system. I want to remind you that the Emergency Management team will not be available to help you once the winds reach 50 miles per hour. We need to keep in mind that we must also protect the lives of these first responders. It's time to act and look for a safe place if you live in flood-prone areas or in wooden or vulnerable structures," stated Governor Rosselló.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported that from midday Tuesday, Puerto Rico will begin to experience tropical storm-force winds, Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist at the NWS, reported that sustained hurricane winds extend 30 miles from the center. Even if there is a slight deviation from the storm's trajectory, the entire Island will experience hurricane-force winds. The meteorologist said that there will be between 12 to 18 inches of rainfall, and in isolated areas up to 24 inches. Precipitation is expected to last for two days.

The executive director of the Puerto Rico State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management (AEMEAD, per its Spanish acronym), Abner Gómez, notified that the shelter in the Convention Center in Miramar will be open for people who are bedridden or require special care.

"During the past few hours, people have gone to the Convention Center seeking shelter. For the moment, priority will be given to people with special medical needs," explained Gómez. A person with special needs is one who relies on an artificial respirator, medical equipment that requires electricity, or dialysis patients, for example.

The first option should be to take refuge in the home of relatives or friends. If this is not possible, they should go to the nearest shelter in the town where they reside.

Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Fernando Gil expressed concern that there are only 299 people in shelters around the Island. In Salinas there are 27 people in shelters, 104 in Ponce, 121 in the Convention Center, and 50 in Canóvanas. These shelters have the capacity for 66,826 people and emergency capacity for 133,352 people. Due to the magnitude of this hurricane, people who come to the state shelters should be prepared to stay there for several days. It is recommended they bring comforters and pillows to ensure a more comfortable stay because, in case of a major emergency, there could be a shortage of cots.

The secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA, per its Spanish acronym), Tania Vázquez, reported that work was done yesterday on the cleaning of canals, streams, and basins in 16 municipalities, including Vega Baja and Loíza. Other municipalities will see the work completed today: Arecibo, Camuy, Florida, Aguadilla, Villalba, Santa Isabel, Ponce, Arroyo, Moca, Mayagüez, Aguada, Aibonito, Hormigueros, Guayama, Luquillo, and Fajardo.

However, the governor warned that, because a large amount of rain is expected, the recommendation is to evacuate flood-prone areas. Municipalities are expected to complete the evacuation process Tuesday morning.

Governor Rosselló clarified that it is inaccurate that water and power services will be suspended today, as rumored in social networks yesterday. The president of the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA), Elí Díaz, reported that at 3:00 p. m. today, PRASA generators will be protected. 1,800 customers will be affected in Lomas del Sol, Linda Gardens, Camarones Centro, Santa Clara, and Hollywood Hills in Guaynabo; Los Cottos in San Juan, Barrio Nuevo 3 in Bayamón, Terrenos in Trujillo Alto, Sonadora Palmazola in Aguas Buenas, Hormigas in Caguas, and Gino in Luquillo.

The airports in Ponce and Aguadilla will close today at 6:00 p.m., while the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport will close at 7:00 p.m. An exemption will be granted to allows citizens to take their own bags to the ice plants, in case these businesses run out of bags. The secretary of the Puerto Rico Treasury, Raúl Maldonado, announced an agreement was reached with transporters to expedite the lifting of merchandise at the docks, according to the Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 17-19. This ensures perishable food and basic necessities are available to the citizens.

St. Kitts is Ready to Welcome Visitors & Partners With Carnival Cruise Line to Aid Caribbean Neighbors

St. Kitts is pleased to report that the island's airport, cruise port, and all tourism providers are open and resuming normal operations, as it was fortunate to be virtually unscathed by Hurricane Irma.

"We are thrilled to get back to business as usual and ready to welcome visitors," said Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant. "For those who planning to travel to island, we look forward to providing a world-class experience and all the warm Kittitian hospitality for which we have become known."

Cruise lines have resumed scheduled port calls to St. Kitts, with passengers from The Carnival Fascination enjoying the island's various attractions and activities last Friday. Over the course of the next week, a total of four vessels are scheduled to dock at Port Zante, including Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas on September 21. With the arrival of the Carnival Magic on September 20, St. Kitts expects to welcome its one millionth passenger this year. A historic first for the island, the occasion also raises St. Kitts to marquee port status.

We are pleased to report that St. Kitts has agreed to partner with Carnival Cruise Line to assist in delivering humanitarian relief supplies to St. Maarten, which was severely impacted by Hurricane Irma. As such, Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line delivered supplies to St. Kitts during a call from the Carnival Fascination, which docked at Port Zante on Saturday. Among supplies then delivered by boat from St. Kitts to St. Maarten, which suffered extensive damage from the storm, were food, beverages, medical supplies and equipment including essential items such as blankets, batteries and ice. St. Kitts' own relief efforts for neighboring islands began the previous weekend, with water from the St. Kitts Bottling Company being shipped on a vessel to Saba, where it was in very low supply. Starting on Thursday, September 21, a donation box will be placed at Port Zante for arriving cruise passengers and local citizens alike to further aid in relief efforts.

At this time, we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been affected by the storm, particularly to those in need of emergency relief.

Image Courtesy St. Kitts Tourism

Monday, September 18, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line Statement/Hurricane Maria


We are currently monitoring the track of Hurricane Maria in the Atlantic and will inform our guests who are sailing within the next two weeks of any impact to their Caribbean itineraries once the storm has passed.

Royal Caribbean Itinerary Updates

September 18, 2017

We are closely monitoring Hurricane Maria’s forecast track, and have modified both Adventure of the Seas and Allure of the Seas current itineraries to keep our guests and crew well out of the path of the storm. Our goal remains to provide notice of any future itinerary changes within a minimum of 48 hours prior to departure.

The following sailings are being modified due to Hurricane Irma:

Majesty of the Seas: September 18 Bahamas cruise

Our humanitarian efforts in St. Maarten and St. Thomas last week went exceptionally well, and in order to finalize these efforts, we needed to push the departure date of our upcoming Majesty sailing to Tuesday, 9/19. We will still sail to both Nassau and Cococay, Bahamas, except on a 3-night itinerary. We are sorry for the impact that the storm has had on your vacation, and know you support us in helping those in urgent need. Should you choose to sail with us we will provide you with a refund of 25% of your cruise fare paid in the form of a refundable onboard credit, as well as a 25% future cruise credit, for a cruise booked within the next year. If you are unable to travel and need to cancel your cruise, we will provide you with a 100% future cruise credit for a cruise booked within the next 30 days.

Empress of the Seas: September 23 & 27; October 2, 7 & 11 Cuba cruise

Due to the severe impact of Hurricane Irma on Key West, we will be swapping our visit to the port with a day at sea. Please note that all our calls to Havana, Cuba are confirmed and the port is open and ready to receive our guests. We are very sorry for the impact this has had on your vacation, but know you support us in providing help to those in urgent need. If you choose not to sail with us we will provide you with a 100% Future Cruise Credit to use on a cruise booked within the next year.

The government of Key West has shared that they expect to be open to tourism by October 20, which is a great sign. We will stay closely connected with the local authorities and provide you with updates as we receive them.

Future itineraries:

Given Hurricane Irma’s impact to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Key West, we will be working on alternative ports for future sailings until these islands have fully recovered. While we expect the islands to get up and running quickly, until they are ready, we have made the following changes to our itineraries.

As the recovery effort remains fluid and each island is working diligently to get back to normal operations, we will continue to communicate any port changes approximately four weeks prior to departure.

Adventure of the Seas:
9/16, 10/7 – St. Maarten to St. Croix
9/23 – St. Thomas to Bonaire
9/30 – St. Maarten to St. Kitts
10/14 – St. Thomas to St. Croix

Allure of the Seas:
10/1 – St. Thomas to Labadee
10/15 – St. Maarten to Labadee

Enchantment of the Seas:
9/18, 9/25, 10/2, 10/9 – Key West to Freeport

Harmony of the Seas:
9/23 – St. Thomas to St. Kitts
10/7 – St. Maarten to St. Kitts

Oasis of the Seas:
9/24 – St. Maarten to St. Kitts
10/8 – St. Maarten to Nassau

Norwegian Cruise Line/Hurricane Irma Impact

September 18, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line is heartbroken at the terrible impact Hurricane Irma has had on several islands in the Eastern Caribbean, ports that we have called on since the start of our 50 years in business, some of which are included in the itinerary that you are currently booked on. In the wake of this devastating storm and as part of our recovery efforts, we are working closely with our partners on the ground to determine the best way to continue to provide relief to the areas impacted by and recovering from Hurricane Irma and to determine the extent of damage that Hurricane Irma inflicted. We are anticipating that your current itinerary will be adjusted to ensure your comfort, safety and an outstanding guest experience. We anticipate having this information to you within the next two weeks as new ports of call are secured.

We appreciate your patience during this very difficult time. At Norwegian Cruise Line safety of our guest, crew and ships is our number one priority and we hope you understand that these changes are necessary.

Disney Cruise Line Tropical Weather & Itinerary Update

September 18, 2017

Disney Dream Sailings - September 15 & beyond
The Disney Dream is expected to sail as scheduled beginning on Friday, September 15.

Disney Fantasy - September 23 & October 7 Sailings
The September 23 and October 7 Disney Fantasy Eastern Caribbean sailings are being modified to include ports of call in the Western Caribbean. These two revised sailings will now visit Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Falmouth, Jamaica.

Please know that further changes may be needed as the Caribbean islands continue to recover from the impacts of Hurricane Irma and that we will notify Guests should additional changes be necessary. Western Caribbean sailings will continue as scheduled.

Should you have any questions related to a future reservation, please call us at 1-855-347-2784 or 407-566-7054.

Genting Hong Kong Appoints Tom Wolber as President & CEO of Crystal Cruises

Genting Hong Kong today announced the appointment of travel industry veteran Tom Wolber as the President & CEO of Crystal Cruises, which was effective September 15th. Mr. Wolber brings over three decades of experience in general management, operations, new-build construction and business development to Crystal during the company's most significant expansion since its founding in 1988.

"Tom's proven leadership skills will be invaluable to Crystal as the line takes delivery of four river ships in 2017 and 2018 as well as the first of the 'Endeavor Class' expedition yachts in 2019," said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman of Genting Hong Kong and Crystal Cruises. "His leadership will be key to the finalization of specifications and design for the new 'Exclusive Class' oceangoing vessels. Tom has our full confidence and we look forward to working closely with him to ensuring Crystal remains unmatched in the luxury travel segment."

"Crystal has developed a venerable reputation across the travel industry and my first responsibility will be continuing to deliver the world-class service and itineraries Crystal is renowned for," said Tom Wolber. "I thank Chairman Tan Sri Lim for placing his faith in me, and I look forward to spearheading some of the most innovative new-builds and experiences the cruise and hospitality industry has ever seen in the years ahead."

Mr. Wolber joins Crystal most recently from the Walt Disney Company where he served in various executive roles for 28 years, 10 of which were with Disney Cruise Line where he served as Senior Vice President of Operations. Mr. Wolber was involved in transforming Disney Cruise Line from a Port Canaveral based vacation provider to a global cruise line with itineraries covering North America, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic. During his time at Disney, Mr. Wolber assisted with the successful design and launch of new builds including Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Additionally, Mr. Wolber served as President and CEO of Euro Disney, Paris and has held senior executive positions in Disney theme parks and resort operations at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

"Since acquiring Crystal in 2015, Genting has worked tirelessly to expand the Crystal brand by launching two river vessels with a third imminent, an expedition yacht and a private Boeing 777—certainly no easy feat," added Tan Sri Lim. "Thanks to Edie Rodriquez's leadership, Crystal has successfully launched three new brands: Crystal Yachts, Crystal River Cruisesv and Crystal Air. We thank Edie for her service to the company, appreciate all of her hard work, and wish her the very best in future endeavors."

"It's been an extraordinary experience leading Crystal to global prominence, and I am very proud of my accomplishments," said Rodriguez. "I can't thank Chairman Tan Sri Lim enough for the confidence and investment to assure Crystal's future with a bold expansion strategy which I've firmly put in place. I'm happy to turn over the reins, knowing Crystal is well served by the incredibly talented and hard-working people throughout the organization—on sea, river, air, and land. I look forward to announcing my new endeavor shortly."

Rodriguez joined Crystal as President & COO in October 2013; she was promoted to President & CEO following the acquisition of the company by Genting Hong Kong in May 2015. Prior to Crystal, Rodriguez held senior marketing, sales and business development positions with other notable luxury lines and travel companies.

Image Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Friday, September 15, 2017

Carnival Corporation, Miami HEAT Charitable Fund & Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation Pledge up to $10 Million for Hurricane Irma Relief

Carnival Corporation, the Miami HEAT Charitable Fund, and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation are pledging up to $10 million in funding and in-kind support for relief and rebuilding efforts in Florida and throughout the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma. The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation will make an immediate donation of $2.5 million to Direct Relief, UNICEF, and the United Way of Miami-Dade County to support the most timely and urgent relief needs in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Carnival Foundation—the philanthropic arm of Carnival Corporation—and the Miami HEAT Charitable Fund are each pledging to raise a combined $5 million in funding for relief and recovery efforts. Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine will match that commitment up to a total of $5 million from the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, including the organization’s initial donation aimed at supporting the most immediate needs in Florida and the Caribbean.

“We are committed to supporting relief efforts where Hurricane Irma left an impact in Florida and the Caribbean, starting with immediate humanitarian needs and recovery efforts that will have a meaningful impact,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “Hurricane Irma’s impact strikes close to home both in our home state of Florida and across the Caribbean, where we and our brands have made many friends and partners over many years. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of those who have been impacted. It is inspiring to see so many individuals and organizations already pitching in to support the relief work, and we will continue to look for ways to provide support. Our friends and partners from across Florida and the Caribbean have always displayed remarkable resilience, strength and spirit when facing difficult circumstances. They have come back strong in the past, and we will be standing with them as they work to come back strong once again.” Donald added: “We also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Micky and Madeleine Arison for their generosity, and also express our gratitude to the Miami HEAT organization for partnering with us to support recovery efforts.”

“Hurricane Irma has devastated many families and cities that mean so much to us,” said Pat Riley, President of the Miami HEAT. “As a long-time resident of South Florida, I have witnessed the resiliency of our communities; watching neighbors come together to overcome adversity. The South Florida community has supported our organization throughout the years, so it is only fitting that we are there to support and help uplift this community in its time of need.”

As part of the company’s Hurricane Irma relief fundraising efforts, Carnival Corporation’s Carnival Cruise Line is embarking on humanitarian efforts to deliver critical supplies to the most deeply affected areas of Florida and the island nations in the Caribbean that were impacted. The brand is deploying 11 ships to provide affected ports in the region with crucial supplies and the most immediate necessities, including food, water, clothing, diapers, medical supplies, and generators, among others.

Scheduled as part of ongoing cruise itineraries, the humanitarian aid efforts will benefit impacted destinations across the region, including Grand Turk, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Antigua-Barbuda, and affected Bahamian islands. Carnival Corporation remains in touch with leaders throughout the Caribbean to be able to support each country’s quickly evolving recovery needs. The company also initiated a multi-faceted plan to begin providing relief to areas of the U.S. mainland, including Florida and the Florida Keys, which will begin as soon as all impacted areas are accessible.

Carnival Corporation’s cruise brands are contributing additional global fundraising efforts. Carnival Cruise Line set up a relief program enabling guests to donate directly to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts through its donation page available at Carnival Hurricane Relief. Princess Cruises’ Princess Foundation has also pledged to match donations made through its donation page, which will be available soon through the brand’s website. Additionally, P&O Cruises UK is setting up a campaign to support hurricane relief through donations directly to UNICEF.

Carnival Corporation and its full portfolio of global brands are also encouraging employees to support the recovery efforts in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, while also matching some individual donations.

The Hurricane Irma support and relief efforts follow the recent announcement that Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corporation, and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation provided a minimum of $2 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery across the Gulf Coast region, including some of the hardest hit areas of Texas. Support following Hurricane Harvey has been committed to Direct Relief, Houston Food Bank, Operation Homefront, Save the Children, and the United Way of Greater Houston.

The Bahamas: Back To Business After Hurricane Irma

The Bahamas is back to business as tourism resumes after mainly cosmetic clean-up in our major tourism centers, while efforts to rebuild in those islands of The Bahamas that were hardest hit continue. As of Tuesday, Sept. 12, all airports in The Bahamas are open and both international and domestic service has resumed. Major hotels in Nassau have already welcomed newly arrived guests, and cruise ships are expected to begin calling at ports in The Bahamas today. Recreational marinas have also reopened after reporting mostly no damage. While most of The Islands of The Bahamas escaped severe damage, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by Hurricane Irma.

"The aftermath of Hurricane Irma in parts of the Caribbean is devastating," said Hon. Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. "The Bahamas considers itself very fortunate to have been spared the worst of this storm, but our hearts go out to all those impacted."

The Bahamas' main tourism product in areas such as Nassau and Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands was unharmed. Damage from Irma was limited to portions of the southern islands, ranging from mostly cosmetic in places such as Crooked Island, Inaugua and Mayaguana, to major structural damage on Ragged Island. Assessment of Acklins Island continues.

"We are thankful that The Bahamas has generally weathered the storm well, but we continue to evaluate the conditions across all of our islands as we gather information from hotels, attractions and partners," said Joy Jbrilu, Director General, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. "The Bahamas deeply appreciates the good wishes on our behalf this week, and we will seek to assist as we can."

The Port of Nassau and the Freeport Harbour are open for business. Cruise lines from the U.S. will resume sailing to The Islands of The Bahamas, but reservation holders should check directly with their cruise provider for updates on departures and itineraries Baleària Bahamas Express and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line will resume service from The Bahamas on Friday, Sept. 15.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update: Expect Delays, Upsurge in Trip Cancellation Claims

Record claims are expected as Hurricane Irma forces thousands of travelers to cancel trips to Florida and the Caribbean. Due to an upsurge, travel insurance customers should anticipate delays.

When filing a storm-related travel insurance claim, travelers should also do the following:
• Call or email the travel insurance company to understand the claim requirements. A specific form may be required for each benefit within a policy. For example, if a hurricane forced the traveler to cancel a trip, that traveler would then fill out a trip cancellation form—not a trip delay or trip interruption form.
• Save all travel-related receipts and documents. While claims examiners are aware of the hurricane, documentation is still required and will be requested from travelers submitting claims.
Any traveler filing a claim during this time will likely experience a significant delay getting it processed. To prevent additional lag time, InsureMyTrip urges affected travelers that purchased a policy before the storm being named, to contact their travel insurance company as soon as possible to start the process. For the latest information, visit Insuremytrip website.