Carnival Victory To Be Transformed And Renamed The Carnival Radiance in 2020

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Carnival Victory2

Popular Branded Food, Beverage and Entertainment Innovations to be Added During 38-Day Renovation in Cadiz, Spain
MIAMI – Carnival Victory will undergo a bow-to-stern refurbishment in 2020 that will add a wide variety of popular branded food, beverage and entertainment innovations.  A surprise new dining option will make its debut on Carnival Radiance, as well.
The renovation will complete a $200 million enhancement program and the ship will be renamed Carnival Radiance following a 38-day dry dock which will take place in Cadiz, Spain, from March 18 to April 26, 2020.
Itineraries for the newly renamed Carnival Radiance will be announced and go on sale in mid-November.
This announcement follows previously announced plans to transform Carnival Triumph into Carnival Sunrise next year, part of the company’s eight-year, $2 billion fleetwide modernization program – the largest in cruising.
“Carnival Radiance will offer unprecedented opportunities for our guests to Choose Fun across our entire fleet and enjoy the widest variety of culinary, beverage and entertainment options at sea,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.  “This investment in Carnival Radiance and our many other refurbishment projects reflects our continued commitment to providing our guests with a fun, high quality vacation experiences across the Carnival fleet regardless of what ship they’re sailing on,” she added.
Carnival Radiance’s wide-ranging enhancements will include exciting new culinary, bar and entertainment enhancements detailed below:
Enticing F&B Innovations
  • Cucina del Capitano: offering delicious Italian favorites and new Carnival classics served family-style in an engaging atmosphere reminiscent of a cozy Italian home.
  • JavaBlue Café: this expanded version of the line’s popular coffee bars will offer lattes, cappuccinos and other caffeinated favorites, as well as “spiked” coffees made with liqueurs, and decadent confections.
  • Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse: a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks, gourmet appetizers, entrees and dessertswith impeccable service and understated ambiance.
  • Bonsai Sushi: a full-service Asian restaurant offering a mouth-watering array of sushi, sashimi, rolls and other delicacies from the Far East.
  • The Chef’s Table: a new multi-course dining experience hosted in a special glass-enclosed venue in the forward dining room.
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse: a open-air eatery featuring “real deal” BBQ favorites created by Food Network start and longtime partner Guy Fieri.
  • Lido Marketplace:  a casual poolside eatery boasting favorites like Seafood Shack offering lobster rolls and other New England-inspired fare; Pizzeria del Capitano serving hand-tossed artisanal-style pies free of charge 24/7, and an expanded Swirls venue with complimentary ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Spectacular Open Deck Attractions
  • SportSquare: a suspended ropes course offering heart-racing views to the sea 150 feet below, basketball court, jogging track, ping pong, foosball, pool tables, and a nine-hole miniature golf course highlight this open-area recreation complex.
  • WaterWorks: featuring a 203-foot-long AquaTunnel slide and Carnival’s signature 212-foot-long Twister slide along with a 75-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and kiddie area.
  • Serenity Adult Only Retreat: an adults-only oasis offering plush chaise lounges, whirlpools and oversized umbrellas, enhanced by dramatic sea views.
Wait, There’s More!
  • Cloud 9 Spa:  designed as the ultimate refuge for rest and relaxation, the health and wellness center offers an elaborate thermal suite, private treatment rooms, and the latest cardio and weight-training equipment.
  • The Warehouse:  promising fun for all ages with a variety of the latest video and arcade games.
  • Expanded Retail Spaces:  a mall-style shopping experience featuring reimagined retail outlets with an expanded assortment of jewelry, watches, fragrances, along with the line’s own branded spaces including The Carnival Store.

For reservations on the all-new Carnival Radiance, call The Cruiseman  (800) 889-7683

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Crystal Serenity Completes Extensive Redesign

The award-winning ship returns to the seas with new dining options, new Seabreeze Penthouses and Suites, new entertainment, technological enhancements and re-designed public spaces

Crystal Tables

MIAMI, November 9, 2018 – Emerging from an almost four-week dry dock in Bremerhaven, Germany, Crystal Serenity is ready to welcome luxury travelers aboard after its most extensive refurbishment ever. Mirroring the changes implemented aboard Crystal Symphony in fall of 2017, Crystal Serenity now boasts new dining options and open-seating dining; new spacious, butler-serviced Seabreeze Penthouse and Seabreeze Penthouse Suite accommodations; redesigned lounge and entertainment venues including the Stardust Club and Palm Court; a new production show called Crystal on Broadway, The Show; and new interactive technological amenities. Crystal Serenity sets sail from Lisbon tomorrow (November 10) on her first voyage since the completion of her redesign.

“The scope of this redesign is truly remarkable. Our ocean ships remain at the heart of our brand and our commitment to their continued excellence and success is unwavering,” said Crystal President and CEO Tom Wolber. “The changes aboard Crystal Serenity are a beautiful reaffirmation of Crystal’s timeless style and luxury,
which continues to evolve with the preferences of luxury travelers but will always be rooted in the cornerstones of genuine, personalized service, abundant space, superb quality and numerous choices.”

Every aspect of the ship’s redesign is intended to anticipate guests’ needs and exceed their expectations, while adding luxurious touches and conveniences that will enhance their experience even further.

“The new open-seating dining gives our guests the freedom to dine when, where and with whom they want, while the new restaurant options uniquely showcase and celebrate the flavors of the world we travel in,” Wolber continued. “The new Seabreeze accommodations are in direct response to guest demand for more suites that, of course, include our personalized butler service. And the redesigned lounges will make spaces that are already favorites among our guests even more versatile and inviting.”
The dry dock, which began in Lisbon on October 14 as Crystal Serenity made her way to the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, marks the latest milestone for the expanding Crystal portfolio. Details of the new spaces and experiences guests will find on board include:

New Dining Options
As open-seating dining debuts aboard Crystal Serenity, guests can dine where, when and with whom they choose, allowing them to indulge as they wish and affording more flexibility for evening entertainment. New venues are also debuting, offering a refreshed selection of globally inspired cuisine with reimagined décor, including:

Waterside – Taking the place of the Crystal Dining Room and reflecting the chic elegance of the main dining venues aboard Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Symphony, this centrally located restaurant continues to serve daily changing menus of international classic and modern cuisine, paired with unlimited fine wines, spirits and beers. The restaurant now features more intimate seating with tables for two and four, as well as contemporary finishes, integrated lighting, a new ceiling feature and “tile” treatment that creates a cozier atmosphere. Breakfast and lunch service times continue as they were previously, while guests have the freedom to dine in Waterside for dinner any time they choose. The dinner menu continues to be offered for room service dining during dinner hours.

The Marketplace and Churrascaria – The new daytime and evening identities of the former Lido Café, respectively. Both venues feature an open-kitchen concept with dishes made to order. The Marketplace serves an expansive menu of buffet-style breakfast and lunch options and transforms into Churrascaria during the dinner hours. This Brazilian-style bar-be-que welcomes guests with a traditional Caipirinha cocktail, then offers a selection of tapas and ceviche, salads and soups, vegetables and freshly grilled meat and seafood brochettes, served the traditional way with a “Crystal” twist. Crystal gauchos take meats directly from the grill to carve them tableside from sword-like skewers. Churrascaria offers open seating and does not require reservations.

Crystal Unbrellas

Silk Kitchen & Bar – In the Trident area of the ship that was formerly Tastes, this Asian-inspired venue serves traditional Chinese comfort food in an elegant al fresco atmosphere. Family-style favorites are on the menu for dinner, while lunch options include favorites from the noodle bar, wok dishes, traditional dumplings, Chinois soup and a small selection of favorite menu items from Tastes. Silk also serves Crystal’s late risers breakfast service. Silk offers open seating for breakfast and lunch and requires reservations for dinner.

Umi Uma – The rebranded Silk Road & The Sushi Bar continues to serve the Japanese-Peruvian specialties of Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa by his personally trained chefs and remains the only Nobu restaurants at sea. Dinner reservations are required for Crystal’s specialty restaurants, including Prego.

Stardust Supper Club – A brand new dining experience reminiscent of the era of the Rat Pack debuts on black-tie-optional evenings in the Stardust Club, featuring a four-course menu, live musical performances from Crystal’s Ensemble and string quartet. Cuisine reflects specialties served in Waterside, with wine pairings and desserts as well as a vegetarian menu.

Prego – The specialty restaurant continues to serve regional specialties of Italy in the cozy, authentic atmosphere guests have come to love.

Crystal Piano

Public Spaces
Palm Court, a favorite spot on board for gatherings of all sorts, has been reimagined with an intimate atmosphere. The stage has been relocated to an “in-the-round” concept, with a new modernized bar. More tables for two and intimate seating areas, new finishes, lighting, carpeting and furniture reflect the understated modern luxury of the Palm Court on Crystal Symphony. New touches include a combination of cocktail tables and chairs, dramatic wingback chairs with footstools, sofas and coffee tables. As Palm Court has long been a destination on board for traditional afternoon teatime and refreshments, the previous stage area has become a dedicated culinary space to feature fresh pastries and snacks as guests enjoy the sweeping views from the venue’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

Crystal Club

The Stardust Club – a popular nighttime spot for drinks and dancing – features a new dance floor, new bar finishes and a refreshed décor, resulting in a lighter and more spacious feel, with new lighting and technological upgrades as well. New seating configurations allows the room to be easily transformed into a multi-functional space to host the Stardust Supper Club and large gatherings from bridge tournaments to live evening entertainment.

In the Galaxy Lounge, the Crystal entertainment team is installing a new Broadway-style production show called Crystal on Broadway, The Show featuring songs from the hit musicals Rent, Something Rotten! and West Side Story. The show, which debuts on the December 7th “Pacific Coast Panorama” cruise, is a result of the partnership with Kevin McCollum, the multi Tony Award winning producer of Rent, Something Rotten! and the most recent Broadway revival of West Side Story.

Pulse and the Resorts World Casino at Sea have also been updated with new modern and warm-toned colored carpet and furnishings.

Crystal Bed

New Seabreeze Penthouses

On Deck 10, 36 new Seabreeze Penthouses and two Seabreeze Penthouse Suites now occupy the space of former Deluxe Staterooms with Verandah. The new accommodations, offer the same personal butler service, specialty services, walk-in closets, spa-like bathrooms and spacious square footage as the other Penthouses on board (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft, respectively, including the verandah). Customized, contemporary design and décor are featured throughout, with gemstone-colored velvets, natural materials and brushed brass touches with marble details. The Seabreeze Penthouses also feature unique entries, which are shared between two suites and recessed from the hallway. This enables a seamless design for connecting two suites for larger families upon request. In-room specialty dining and unlimited reservations at specialty restaurants are among the enhanced services enjoyed by Penthouse guests.
The transformation effectively reduces the ship’s capacity from 1,070 guests to 980 guests, while the number of crew on board remains the same. A hallmark of Crystal’s onboard experience has long been a focus on copious amounts of space throughout its ships and one of the highest per-guest space and service ratios in the industry.

Technological Enhancements

In all rooms – public and guest suites – new, state-of-the-art HD flat-panel TVs have been added, featuring technology that allows guests to access a variety of information on their TVs including onboard folios, Crystal Life Spa & Salon menus, the Connoisseur Wine menu and daily restaurant menus. The new on-demand system also offers a vast library of blockbuster films and entertainment, as well as live views from the ship, broadcasts of ship lectures, presentations and destination info. Upgraded, pervasive Wi-Fi coverage throughout the ship is delivered via dedicated antennae in every suite and all public areas and open decks.

Crystal Wi-Fi

A new guest portal – Crystal Connect – is also now live, found on the landing page of onboard Internet service. Guests can access it from their smartphones, tablets or computers and instantly find shipboard and itinerary info, daily menus, shore excursions and port maps, daily issues of Reflections and an array of complimentary global newspapers and entertainment library. Crystal Serenity’s spacious enrichment facilities also were redesigned. The Computer University@Sea has received new carpeting, seating and computer equipment, along with 70-inch TVs. The multifunctional enrichment room, The Studio, has been divided to offer a classroom for language, art and other instruction and a separate dance studio for private lessons.

Crystal’s worldwide itineraries aboard the newly redesigned Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are now available for booking for 2019, 2020 and 2021, offering travelers more than three years to plan their luxury vacations. Crystal also incentivizes guests who book early with thousands of dollars with its Book Now Savings program.

For reservations on a Crystal Cruise, call The Cruiseman; (800) 889-7683

Five Myths About Cruise Ship Food

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by Fran Golden, Special for USA Today June 26th, 2015

When you go on a cruise, food is an important part of the experience. Cruise lines have made great strides in bringing up the level of cuisine.

Food choices abound. For instance, on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, you can choose from 20 dining options; on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas there are 18 eateries. Even the pickiest foodies will be impressed by the appearance on cruise ships of dishes and restaurants by Michelin-star and celebrity chefs – the most recent Thomas Keller, arguably America’s top chef, who has signed on with luxury line Seabourn.

Here we dispel five myths about cruise ship food.

1. You’re stuck with what’s on the menu

lobster

If you have a craving for a particular dish, tell your waiter or the dining room maître d’. On many ships, particularly the luxury lines, you can make a special off-menu order – with 24-hour advance notice. For instance, a popular special request on Crystal Cruises is a whole roasted kosher chicken. On Seabourn, you might ask the chef to prepare a special order of foie gras. On Cunard, a popular request of top-tier Queens Grill passengers is Lobster Thermidor. Even on mainstream lines, with international crew in the kitchen, you can request adobo, the delicious Filipino stew, a real Indian curry or Indonesian fried rice. Note: Passengers with specific dietary needs such as food allergies should let the cruise line know well in advance of your sailing.

2. The buffet is not as good as the dining room

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Wrong. Obviously you won’t have the pomp and circumstance when you serve yourself at this casual venue, but don’t dismiss dinner at the buffet. We’re not talking a bland cafeteria lineup. Often the dishes at the buffet are the same at dinner as in the main dining room. Sometimes they are even better. Some buffets particularly shine: On Oceania Cruises ships, the Terrace Café has a grill where passengers can order all-you-can-eat lobster rib eye steaks, shrimp and lamb chops, and there’s also a chef preparing sushi and sashimi. On Viking Cruises’ Viking Star, a cold sushi and sashimi bar puts the buffet over the top. An advantage of buffet dining is it is come-as-you-are, no need to dress up.

3. it’s impossible to eat good nutritious food

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Cruises are probably not the best place to diet. That said, it’s perfectly okay to order, say, a salad and entrée for dinner and skip the appetizer, soup and dessert. Creativity shines on the latest cruise ship menus, with an emergence of more Asian and other lighter international cuisine – it’s no longer only about the prime rib and Baked Alaska, though you can get that too. You’ll find flavorful regional cuisine options (based on where you are cruising), local seafood and a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Most menus designate low-calorie or healthy choice options, and include a vegetarian appetizer and entrée (SeaDream Yacht Club even has a complete raw food menu). In all cruise ship dining rooms you can get basics such as grilled chicken. At the buffet, those watching their waistlines will find an extensive salad bar. At the burger grill you’ll find a veggie burger option.

4. Everyone goes to the midnight buffet

What midnight buffet? Most ships don’t even have one any more. Cruise lines have moved away from the late-night gorge fest/photo opp in favor of a 24-hour café or other dining spot where you can eat whenever you want. There’s also typically 24-hour room service, though some menus are better than others – on Viking you can order Norwegian salmon served with dill sauce whenever you like. Be aware that Norwegian and Carnival have been testing fees for room service (but have also expanded food options). Royal Caribbean charges $3.95 for orders placed between midnight to 5 a.m.

5. Food is included

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First of all, you will not go hungry. There are plenty of free food options, in fact some of the best bites on the ship may be free – an example, we can’t stop eating those decadent Guy Fieri burgers on Carnival ships.

 

However, if you want a special meal in an intimate venue with fine service you’re probably have to pay. Specialty restaurants such as the excellent Italian venue Sabatini’s on Princess ships and French-influenced adults-only Remy on Disney Cruise Line are well worth the extra bucks (if you plan on hitting several of the venues see if there’s an advance-purchase, discounted dining package). If you’re so inclined, you can have surf and turf (lobster and filet mignon) every night in the dining room on Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships, but you’ll have to pay extra for it.

Aboard the Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean makes good use of the new ship’s extra length, wider beam.

On a two-night preview sailing of Royal Caribbean International’s 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas, the line’s third Oasis-class ship, Travel Agent was impressed with how it combined Quantum- and Oasis-class features on a grand scale. The 226,963-grt ship spans 16 guest decks with seven neighborhoods, including the popular Central Park and Boardwalk areas.

Our favorite jaw-dropping feature was the “Ultimate Abyss,” a 100-foot-long slide cascading down 10 decks in the aft section of the ship. Riders climb stairs leading to the slide platform, walk over the clear platform suspended above a 90-foot-plus drop, and then enjoy a thrilling multi-sensory experience during the slide itself.

Thrills? Data from a Royal Caribbean test of the slide, as supervised by Professor Brendan Walker, director, Thrill Laboratory, UK, revealed that the experience caused heartbeats to rise by an average of 44 beats per minute compared to the resting rate for a 30-year-old adult of average fitness. When the ship is totally full on a regular sailing, there likely could be longer lines, but we liked that the Harmony of the Seas has other adrenaline inducing options nearby on deck 16, including a zip-line and two FlowRider surfing pools.

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More Snazzy Features

Longer than Allure of the Seas at 1,188 feet and a bit wider, with a beam of nearly 216 feet — as well as 20 percent more energy efficient — the new ship is the fastest in Royal Caribbean’s fleet and a city unto itself.

Guests will discover 42 restaurants and bars; four swimming pools, including an adults-only pool in the Solarium; multiple whirlpools and FlowRider surfing pools; a large ice rink; multiple theaters; a casino; a full-service spa; shops; rock climbing walls; and more.

Entertainment-wise, much is new. The 600-seat Aqua Theatre has two new water shows. “Fine Line” features extreme stunts and acrobatics, while “Hideaway Heist” is a comedy dive show. The ship also offers the line’s first dedicated Puzzle Break escape game, and the Attic is a new comedy club.

New productions include the musical “Grease” — for the first time at sea — and “1887: a Journey in Time”, a fun new French-themed ice show.  We were most impressed by the latter with its costumed ice performers in historic French garb; the production unfolded against a backdrop of ultra high-definition video designed to resembled the Seine. It’s great for kids of all ages.

What else is new? Sure to appeal to younger passengers is a dedicated satellite that enables the high-speed VOOM Internet service and a Royal IQ app for quick check-in and the booking of dining and activities. In addition, the ship uses a razzle-dazzle new RFID (radio frequency identification) system to track bags, stateroom entry and onboard charges.

Specialty Dining

Harmony of the Seas has eight specialty restaurants, including the first two-story, 122-seat Wonderland. The concept was initially launched on theQuantum-class vessels, but this is the largest of those offerings. Jamie’s is the first such eatery on an Oasis-class vessel, and also has more space than the ones on the Quantum-class ships.

Of the eight specialty restaurants onboard, we best loved Wonderland, loosely based on the Lewis Carroll novel and Johnny Depp movie. It’s a fantastical experience with a tunnel like-entry, whimsical art and waiters in purple velvet jackets.

Fun touches abound. We loved the menu that revealed itself only after you painted it with a special brush. An appetizer of deviled eggs appeared from beneath a dome of smoke. A “wow” moment was when a dessert was set ablaze to melt an outer chocolate shell — revealing a moist, delicious cake. All entrees are served to be shared so guests dining together can try everything.

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Izumi, a Japanese dining venue, is the first of those restaurants in the fleet to offer teppanyaki. So 24 diners can now enjoy the chef’s sizzling show on the grill. With just 70 seats for sushi, it’s best to book clients for a meal here as soon as they confirm a sailing.

We also sampled the Italian cuisine at Jamie’s ($20 per person at lunch, $30 per person at dinner), Latin dishes at Sabor, and high-end continental fare with multi-course tasting menus and wine pairings at 150 Central Park.

All of the above are more intimate than the main dining rooms. The ship’s specialty dining venues carry surcharges and online pre-booking is essential.

For a casual, yummy treat, definitely check out the Dog House on the Boardwalk, where cruisers can choose from seven different kinds of succulent hot dogs with toppings of grilled onions, peppers and sauerkraut.

Drinking spots worth a mention? Certainly, you shouldn’t miss the mesmerizing Bionic Bar, where two robotic arms create cocktails from 160 suspended bottles and 16 mixers. We also liked the concept of the Rising Tide Bar, essentially a pod of cocktail tables on a platform that rises and drops — seemingly floating between three decks. Vintages, with its an impressive selection, is the place for wine lovers.

Larger Accommodations

The new ship’s increased width means slightly larger accommodations than on other Oasis-class vessels. That’s particularly true for the staterooms on decks six and up. Virtual balconies, a signature of Quantum-class ships, are also offered in 76 of Harmony of the Seas’ inside cabins, a first for an Oasis-class ship.

We stayed in stateroom #9264, a 272-square-foot Ocean View Stateroom with an 80-square-foot balcony. The stateroom felt spacious with a king bed, sofa, desk and two wardrobes with shelves, drawers and a safe.

We toured many other accommodations and particularly liked #8660, a 371-square-foot Grand Suite with Balcony; the king bed area is separated from the living space with a half-wall / half-curtain divider and there’s a large marble bathroom with two sinks.

Most luxurious and spacious for families? It’s #12640, the 1,142-square-foot Presidential Family Suite, which can accommodate up to 14 guests. It has four bedrooms — two with king beds, two with bunk beds — and sofa beds. There is also an additional sofa bed in the main living room. Most spectacular is the 476-square-foot balcony with whirlpool, dining area and bar.

The Royal Family Suite, #10244, is 580 square feet with two king bedrooms with vanities, a nook with bunk beds, a spacious living room with convertible sofa, plus a 238-square-foot balcony. Modest family rooms designed to sleep six are also available.

Royal Suite Class Program

Royal Caribbean has just rolled out a three-tiered Royal Suite Class program for guests staying in suites (excluding junior suites). The three tiers are Sea, Skyand Star class.

Benefits range from access to dinner in the 100-seat Coastal Kitchen on Deck 17 for Sea Class to Suite Lounge access, concierge services, priority bookings and free VOOM for Sky Class.

The most robust perks come with Star Class. Ten suites on Harmony of the Seasqualify for this level of amenities. Included are all the features in Sea and Sky class, plus access to a Suite Sun Deck, a beverage package, free movies, spa classes and exclusive activities such as bridge, galley and back stage tours.

An added level of pampering for Star Class is the Royal Genie butler who greets guests and tends to your every need, creating bespoke experiences and excursions. Guests in these top suites will be whisked to the front of any line, generally ensuring they never wait or want for anything on Harmony of the Seas. Star Class Suite guests fill out a questionnaire before the cruise so the butler will begin preparations for their arrival.

Pampering and Fitness

Top features of the Vitality at Sea Spa include a thermal suite with heated ceramic loungers, saunas and steam rooms. Twenty-nine spa treatment rooms include three couples’ massage suites and seven individual treatment rooms — the largest collection at sea.

Kids and teens have a dedicated spa of their own, YSPA. Certainly, the Fitness Center impresses with its large selection of cardio and weights machines; yoga,Pilates, TRX, spin studio and kick boxing classes; and personal trainers available to assist.

Family Entertainment

Beyond the Ultimate Abyss and water slides, guests can head one deck below — to Deck 15 — for mini-golf, a sport court and ping-pong. That area nicely flows into the family areas, including the Teen Zone, an arcade, Fuel (the teen night club) and Puzzle Break. As you continue on to the bow, you’ll see the aptly named Splashaway Zone with its trio of waterslides.

On Deck 14, the central Kids Avenue boulevard links such spaces as the Royal Babies & Tots nursery and Adventure Ocean, the line’s supervised kids’ club. Around the ship, you’ll also see Dreamworks characters floating around the restaurants at times. The Boardwalk neighborhood is home to a large colorful carousel and carnival games. The ship also has rock-climbing walls.

A Gallery Afloat

Art aficionados amongst your clientele will especially appreciate the ship’s spectacular $6.5 million art collection, brimming with paintings, sculptures and other pieces displayed in public spaces and accommodations. International Corporate Art curated the more than 3,000 unique pieces from 60 countries.

The Ship’s Itineraries

Launched in May, Harmony of the Seas is operating seven-night western Mediterranean sailings through early fall. In November, it will reposition and homeport at Port Everglades, FL, where will sail alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean sailings.

— Source;  Travel Agent Central

16 Worst Mistakes You Can Make on a Cruise

August 30, 2015 by Ben Souza  cruisefever.net

Cruise Fever’s mission is simple, to help you have the best cruise possible.  While we often write articles on things you should do on cruises, here are the worst mistakes that you can make on a cruise.

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1. Climbing/horseplay on railings – Although this should be a no-brainer, we occasionally hear accounts of passengers sitting on the ship’s railings or climbing over balcony partitions.  This is a photo sent to us of a cruise passenger who left common sense at home.

2. Stiffing the crew – While most cruise lines automatically charge a daily gratuity or service surcharge to your stateroom, you can have them removed by going to guest services.  However, just because you are allowed to have them taken off doesn’t mean that you should.  You wouldn’t go to a restaurant without tipping and you shouldn’t go on a cruise without tipping.

3. Getting too drunk – No one enjoys having an obnoxious drunk by them on the lido deck or at their dinner table.

4. Getting left behind in port – When the captain says that the ship is leaving port at 5:00, he means it. He isn’t going to wait around for those that lost track of time.  If you get left behind in port, you are responsible for your own transportation to the next port or back home.  The costs can be several thousand dollars each and will be even more complicated if you are traveling without a passport. Our advice?  Plan on arriving back near the ship 1 1/2 to 2 hours before you are scheduled to leave.  This not only gives you some time to shop in the port area, but also gives you plenty of leeway if you run into traffic or your taxi or bus has a breakdown on the way back.

5. Going by port time instead of ship time – Going by port time instead of ship time is a great way to miss your ship.  Also, never trust the time on your cell phone. Bring a watch and if you don’t have one, pick up a cheap $10 watch and you will never have to worry about getting port/ship times mixed up.

6. Eating only at the buffet – While newer ships like Regal Princess have great buffets, the best food on a cruise is almost always in the main dining room.  By eating only at the buffet, you miss out on the great food and service that is offered in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants.

7. Line cutting –  We all hate waiting in lines while on vacation, but it’s part of life.

8. Booking late flights on embarkation day – Booking late flights on embarkation day is a great way to miss your cruise.  While it is not always possible for everyone to fly in the day before due to work commitments, you should always plan on arriving the day before if you are able to.

9. Booking early flights on disembarkation day – Cruise lines recommend not booking flights before noon on disembarkation day.  Just because your arrival time says 7:00 a.m., there is almost no chance of catching an 8:30 flight.  There have been times I walked right through customs, and other times it took over an hour to get through the line.

10. Leaving balcony doors open – Leaving your balcony door propped open will create a wind tunnel when your stateroom door is opened.  It’s a great way to get your fingers smashed in the door when it slams shut on you.

11. Leaving your curtains open when pulling into port – More often than not, you will be docked directly across the pier from another cruise ship.  Those on the ship next to you will be able to see into your cabin if your curtains are open.

12. Forgetting to turn data roaming off – Before stepping foot on the ship, you should go to the settings on your phone and make sure that data roaming is turned off.  This will keep your cell phone from racking up huge charges and using data even when it is in your pocket. Putting your phone in airplane mode will also keep you from racking up additional charges.

13. Piling into elevators without letting other passengers out first – This is about having respect for your fellow passengers.

14. Treating the crew like 2nd class citizens – We all have bad days, but how many you would have if you worked 7 days a week and were away from your family for 6-9 months at a time?  Kind words to the crew will go a long way, treat them with the same respect that you give to your spouse.

15. Cruising without travel insurance – Cruising without travel insurance is like playing with fire.  There are a wide range of policies offered that include coverage for medical (your medical insurance most likely won’t cover you out of the country), travel delays and interruptions, and cancellations.

16. Lying on your medical form – Before you board your cruise, you have to fill out a medical form where you check boxes of certain symptoms that you have had over the past 48-72 hours.  Lying on this form is a great way of spreading an illness to other passengers.  Lying on your form is one of the biggest mistakes you can make on a cruise.

Top Places to Eat Po’Boys in New Orleans

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New Orleans natives are known for their discerning culinary palates, so you know when a mere sandwich grabs their attention (and hearts), it’s got to be one amazing sandwich. Along-standing tradition in New Orleans, po-boy sandwiches have been around since the late 1920s and now can be found at nearly every casual restaurant. Fried seafood or tender meat is stuffed inside freshly baked French bread and slathered with hot sauce or remoulade. Start your po-boy tasting tour with our list below, or head to the annual Po-Boy Preservation Festival to get the full experience.

What Is a Po-Boy?
A po-boy is a sandwich made with Louisiana-style French bread (think crispy baguette with soft, fluffy insides), which is usually stuffed with fried seafood or tender meat —  anything from house-made hot sausage to barbecued gulf shrimp. Order like a local and ask for the sandwich “dressed,” it’ll come loaded with lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayonnaise.

Huck Finn’s Café
Huck Finn’s Café has it all if you’re looking for a Southern dining experience: flavored daiquiris, spiked lemonade, pecan pie and, of course, a menu packed with po-boys. Go all out and try their smoked alligator sausage po-boy, which comes drizzled with creamy remoulade sauce.

Mother’s Restaurant
The frequent line out the door and the sumptuous aromas wafting out from inside are the first clues of the deliciousness diners encounter at Mother’s Restaurant. The cafeteria-style joint has been serving up home-cooked standards for more than 60 years, and one of the reasons the local keep coming back is for their juicy po-boy. Stack your roast beef po-boy high with debris (gravy) and have a seat at this uniquely New Orleans institution; you’ll quickly understand why New Orleanians always seem so happy.

La Bayou Restaurant
La Bayou Restaurant knows New Orleans ingredients, and the proof is in the po-boy — the Big Easy Po-boy, to be exact. It comes loaded with seasoned gulf shrimp, fried green tomatoes and a Louisiana-style remoulade, all served with a side of French fries.

Johnny’s Po-Boys
Even though Johnny’s Po-Boys has a menu touting more than 50 po-boys, such as country fried steak and alligator sausage, a locals’ favorite is the soft-shell crab po-boy. Piled with battered, flash-fried soft-shell crabs, this crunchy, seasonal sandwich really shines when it’s served with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and a splash of hot sauce.

Central Grocery
Traditionally speaking, Central Grocery is known for the other famous New Orleans sandwich, the Muffuletta. However, they’ve been perfecting sandwiches since 1906, and we trust them with the ways of a po-boy. Try a different take with the veggie po-boy.

Learn more about the famous cuisine of New Orleans.

Source:  New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau

Hurricane Season Cruising: What to Know Before You Go

U.S. News & World Report Travel
Sherry Laskin

Summer activities are winding down. Kids are back in school. The unrelenting heat of summer has started to fade. Sounds like the perfect time to book a Caribbean cruise. Then you turn on the weather report only to learn that Mother Nature is sending a wallop of a storm right where you planned to sail.

This story is retold every year, mostly from August through October. Although the six-month Caribbean hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends November 30, the peak of activity usually falls toward the beginning of September — at the exact time the cruise lines lower their rates. It’s a heady combination to consider.

There are also the odds to consider. Hurricanes and tropical storms tend to affect the Bahamas, Bermuda, the eastern Caribbean, the East Coast of the U.S. and even Canada a bit earlier — between August and mid-September. Mexico and the western Caribbean seem to be a magnet for storms a bit later in the summer, from mid-August through October. Rarely does the Caribbean or U.S. get hit with a hurricane in early June or late November, but it can happen.

If you hope to avoid rough weather and save a little money, plan a cruise to the southern Caribbean. For years, islands in the southernmost Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago) promoted themselves as being out of the hurricane zone. Historically, that is correct. Although there’s no 100 percent guarantee, this area could be your best bet to avoid a hurricane. But you still have to cruise to get there.

 

Getting there and home again

No matter if you leave from Florida, Texas or fly to the Caribbean to begin your cruise, there’s always the possibility that a major weather scenario may interrupt your plans. It’s yet another reason why it’s important to arrive at your departure port at least one day in advance of your cruise.

The good news is that hurricanes travel very slowly and can take up to two weeks to meander from their formation off of the west coast of Africa to the eastern basin of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

The bad news? While cruise ships never sail into a hurricane, they scurry like rabbits to find safe harbor. And here’s where cruising during peak hurricane season can get tricky.

Airports and ports can be closed. You’ve received notice from your cruise line that despite the impending possibility of a major storm or hurricane, your ship is still heading out to sea on the scheduled date of departure. There’s a slim chance that the ship may not be able to return to the port of embarkation. The same port where you’ve parked your car or booked your return flight home.

When something like this occurs, the cruise line makes arrangements to return guests to their original point of embarkation, usually by motor coach if it’s only a few hours away. Wi-Fi and phone charges are usually dropped so guests can make new air travel arrangements. Conversely, passengers departing on a ship whose embarkation isn’t where it was supposed to be will find themselves on buses going to the port where the previous passengers left the ship.

Itinerary changes. If you choose to cruise during hurricane season, be prepared to sail to ports that may not be on your original itinerary. Cruise lines can easily rearrange itineraries to change course or bypass a port based on weather conditions. They certainly do not want to risk running headlong into a full-blown hurricane. It doesn’t take a hurricane to churn up waves; a tropical storm can do it just as well.

Refunds and cruise credits. With simple port changes, passengers are rarely entitled to any refund, which is why it’s so important to read your cruise line’s terms and conditions before you make your final payment.

For example, if at the last minute your ship’s captain decides that it’s too risky to make it into port, you may spend a day at sea or on another island out of harm’s way. Whether or not you are eligible to receive a refund or cruise credit is clearly spelled out in the cruise line’s policy. Generally, there’s no compensation whatsoever that covers missed ports, shorter stays in ports or a totally new itinerary. Rough seas do not constitute a claim for compensation.

Strongly consider travel insurance

Hurricane and severe weather cancellation refunds are available with some cruise lines’ insurance policies, as well as through third-party companies. But again, you need to read the fine print. If you’re sailing during peak hurricane season (September and early October), purchasing trip cancellation insurance can save you from forfeiting the entire cost of your vacation.

Most insurance policies, cruise lines and third-party insurers, offer some sort of cancellation fee protection if the area to which you are sailing is under a hurricane warning issued by the National Hurricane Center. But note the cancellation period from when the warning is issued varies for each cruise line and insurance company. Do your research, discuss it with your travel agent and decide whether purchasing a policy through a third-party insurance company or via your cruise line is best for your needs.

For more information on Travel Insurance  CLICK HERE

Do your homework to prepare

You’ve booked your cruise and purchased travel insurance — what’s next on the list?

About two weeks prior to your cruise, start checking the weather across the Atlantic; the National Hurricane Center website and Weather Underground are resources to bookmark. While the majority of tropical storms and hurricanes materialize off of the coast of Africa, it’s always possible for something to form in the Gulf of Mexico, too. Hurricanes form off the coast of Mexico and make their way toward the Hawaiian Islands, meaning your California and Mexico coastal cruises are nearly as likely to be affected as the Caribbean.

If it looks like a storm is brewing, consider what to pack. Since it’s already rainy season in most of the Caribbean, a poncho and a sturdy umbrella should be in your luggage. If cruising with children, bring a few familiar toys, games and playing cards from home. If rain keeps everyone indoors, make it family time rather than sending your young ones into what could be an overcrowded kids club.

Cruising the Caribbean during hurricane season can be like any other time of year, especially in the early weeks of June and July. After that, when cruise prices drop, it’s important to realize there’s a chance that unforeseen weather conditions could spoil your vacation. Or, you might end up visiting a surprise port, have more family bonding time and relax knowing that if something unforeseen arises, your travel insurance has you covered.