Tag Archives: UK-Cruise-Blog

89 Wine Awards For Celebrity Cruises

89 Wine Awards For Celebrity Cruises

Raise A Glass!

Celebrity Cruises Honored With 12 Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards

With 89 Awards for Celebrity Cruises in Nine Years, the cruise line continues its tradition of excellence with the most awarded wine collection at sea.

The awards for Celebrity Cruises’ onboard wine program continue to flow as the cruise line adds 12 additional Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards to its nearly decade-long list of accolades. Wine Spectator annually recognizes restaurant wine lists which feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.

For nine consecutive years, Celebrity Cruises has set the standard for onboard wine programs, holding more awards from the world’s leading authority on wine than any other cruise line. In addition to receiving 10 “Awards of Excellence” for the second consecutive year, Celebrity received two coveted “Best of Awards of Excellence” for its unique wine lists on the brand’s newest ships — Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge — making it the only cruise line among a small, elite group of establishments in the world that have received awards for the past nine consecutive years.

AWARDS

All of the main dining room restaurants on Celebrity’s Millennium and Solstice Series received this year’s “Award of Excellence.”The list of Celebrity Cruises Wine Spectator’s 2021 Restaurant Awards include:

  • Celebrity Apex — Cyprus (“Best of Award of Excellence” since 2020) and Fine Cut (“Award of Excellence” since 2020)
  • Celebrity Constellation – San Marco (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Eclipse – Moonlight Sonata (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Edge – Normandie (“Best of Award of Excellence” since 2019)
  • Celebrity Equinox – Silhouette (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Infinity – Trellis (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Millennium – Metropolitan (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Reflection – Opus (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Silhouette – Grand Cuvee (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Solstice – Grand Epernay (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Summit – Cosmopolitan (“Award of Excellence”)

Celebrity Cruise’s wine collection at sea

Offering one of the largest wine collections at sea, Celebrity Cruises offer over 500 selections. They come from the world’s most sought-after wine regions and some of the most acclaimed labels. An educated and knowledgeable team of Sommeliers onboard every ship help navigate the options. They offer a variety of experiences that immerse guests in wine education and enjoyment including:

  • World Wine Tours – opportunities to sample different wines from across the globe and learn about regional and varietal technicalities
  • Food and Wine Pairing Workshops – samples of contrasting pairings to teach the fundamentals of food and wine chemistry and the way food and wine interact
  • Destination Wine Tours – immersions into beautiful regional wine-producing areas around the world, including winery tours and tastings

Recommended Reading; Celebrity Infinity Cruise Ship Review

Virgin Voyages Announces Sneak-A-Peak Sailings

VIRGIN VOYAGES ANNOUNCES CELEBRATORY MAIDEN VOYAGE EXPERIENCES 

Virgin Voyages have made exciting announcements on what to expect for the Scarlet Lady’s Maiden Voyage. The much-anticipated voyage will depart Miami on the 1st April next year. In true Virgin style, the first celebratory sailing will be an unforgettable experience.  Celebrity guests will be at every turn, and I am sure there will be much speculation as to who will be onboard. Special onboard events with exciting surprises will give Sailors an enhanced Virgin Voyages experience.

TWO NEW SNEAK-A-PEAK SAILINGS

Virgin Voyages also announced two special preview Sneak-a-Peek sailings, so sailors can sample the Virgin Voyages experience. with the first one departing 26 March 2020.

The adult-only cruise promises to be a cruise like no other, with their fresh approach to cruising.  Scarlet Lady officially sets sail on its Maiden Voyage April 1st.

The three-night Sneak-a-Peek Scarlet Lady sailings will feature the ship’s marquee experiences. These include a stunning day at Virgin Voyages exclusive Beach Club at Bimini. Sailors will enjoy a Scarlet Night Party, access to all restaurants and the opportunity to experience complete versions of entertainment offered onboard.

Bookings for Sneak-a-Peak sailings open on VirginVoyages.com Friday, November 15th. The first sailing will run from Thursday, March 26 – Sunday, March 29. The second sailing will run Sunday, March 29 – Wednesday, April 1.

Recommended Reading Mark Ronson Virgin Voyages Minister of Music

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The Only Dom Perignon Pairing Experience

The First of Its Kind Dining Experience

Oceania Cruises have introduced a brand new dining experience, which is not available anywhere else on land or at sea.

Combining the finest cuisine with Dom Perignon Vintages, Oceania Cruises’ guests can enjoy an intimate six course pairing menu. Oceania Cruises and La Maison Dom Perignon culinary teams worked together to create this extraordinary menu. Available on two of Oceania’s ships, Marina and Riviera, nowhere else in the World offers this experience. The dinner limited to 24 guests, costs $295 per person, less than the cost of one bottle of Dom Perignon Rosé 2004.

Champagne Is All About Celebration

Speaking about the new concept, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oceania Cruises Bob Binder said “We created this dinner to be sophisticated, memorable, a little bit decadent, but also a lot of fun. After all, champagne is all about celebration.”

Image: Oceania Cruises – La Reserve onboard Oceania Marina and Riviera will offer the only Dom Perignon pairing experience in the world

The Dom Perignon Experience Menu

Scallops “Rossini”, mole negro, roasted pineapple
Comme un Rossini de St Jacques, mole negro et ananas rôti
Dom Perignon 2009

Brittany blue lobster in yellow curry broth, coco foam
Curry jaune de homard bleu, nuage de coco
Dom Perignon 2006

Image: Oceania Cruises

Black truffle risotto, aged parmesan
Risotto aux truffes noires et vieux parmesan
Dom Perignon 2006

Image: Oceania Cruises 

Seared wagyu beef sashimi style, sautéed arugula, blood orange-soya jus, caviar perlite
Sashimi de boeuf wagyu, roquette sautée, jus à l’orange sanguine et soja, caviar d’aquitaine
Dom Perignon Rose 2004

Image: Oceania Cruises 

French A.O.C cheese plate, black currant-pepper paste, thyme flower
Assiette de fromage A.O.C, pate de fruit cassis-poivre et fleur de thym
Dom Perignon Rose 2004

Image: Oceania Cruises

Sakura tea “Geisha flower” ice cream, lemon caviar
Glace au thé fleur de Geisha et citron caviar
Dom Perignon 2009

Image: Oceania Cruises

The Dom Perignon Experience is now available on all Riviera voyages, and will be aboard Marina from 31st January 2019 onwards.

Advanced booking is advised and can be made by directly with Oceania Cruises or through a Travel Agent. The Speciality Dining Desk located on Deck 5 will take bookings for guests onboard.

For more information on Dom Perignon visit their website domperignon.com

Recommended Reading: An Introduction To Oceania Marina

Oceania Cruises Announce New Allura Class

Allura Class – Higher Level of Comfort and Amenities

The ultra luxury cruise line Oceania Cruises have announced an order for two new cruise ships. The Allura Class will offer guests an even higher level of comfort and convenience than Marina and Riviera.

The two 67,000 gross ton Allura-Class ships will cost approximately 575 million euros per vessel. The ships will be built by leading cruise ship design and construction company Fincantieri S.p.A.  Each shall accommodate an estimated 1,200 guests. Oceania Cruises want to retain the warmth, design and signature amenities regular Oceania cruisers love about the Marina and Riviera. The new Allura Class will also offer an additional level of comfort and convenience, with new luxury amenities.

The Evolution of Perfection

“This new class of ships will represent an evolution of the Oceania Cruises experience with all the elements our guests treasure – a warm, intimate, residential style; the most spacious standard staterooms afloat; amazing suites, and of course, the finest cuisine at sea,” stated Bob Binder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oceania Cruises.

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd announced; “We are excited to expand the Oceania Cruises fleet with our new Allura-Class ships to meet the strong demand for upscale culinary- and destination-focused cruise vacations around the globe. This new class of ships will further elevate the already best-in-class guest experience at Oceania Cruises and meaningfully strengthen demand from both new and loyal returning guests, which will ultimately drive further returns for shareholders.”

“This new successful project for Oceania Cruises is yet another demonstration of our ability to capitalise on product innovation and diversification to meet the needs of every type of customer, a capability that distinguishes us in the world” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri.

The ships will be delivered in 2022 and 2025.

Recommended Reading: Ship Tour of Oceania Nautica

The Access Tour With A Difference

With the arrival of Celebrity Edge this week, the Celebrity Cruises have revealed another innovative move in the way guests can experience an ultimate behind-the-scenes tour.

The tour which is accessed by using a smart phone app, uses binaural audio, soundscaping, and 3-D augmented reality technology. Now if you are anything like me, you won’t have a clue what that means, so here’s a quick introduction.

Binaural audio is a recording method using two microphones. This creates a 3D sound giving the impression that the sound is happening around you. This is most effective when wearing headphones.

Soundscaping is when ambient noises are added creating an immersive environment.

If that’s not enough to excite you, the 3D augmented reality will get your attention.  Celebrity Cruises have already employed the technology in one of the Celebrity Edge restaurants, Le Grand Bistro. Here is a flavour of what this technology can do.

The eye-opening tour is narrated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain, and Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.  It showcases more than a dozen of Celebrity Edge’s most innovative spaces, including:

  • The Grand Plaza: Spanning three decks at the heart of the ship, this spectacular Italian piazza-inspired space acts as the epicenter of Celebrity Edge and the start of this innovative tour
  • Magic Carpet: This transformative venue is world’s first cantilevered, floating platform that reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level along the ship’s exterior
  • Resort Deck: Revolutionary in its vision, this outward-facing space offers endless ways for guests to enjoy the outdoors and connect with the sea
  • Rooftop Garden: A living, outdoor playscape offering everything from live concerts to dinner and movies under the stars
  • Eden: A unique venue where state-of-the-art design is fused with culinary and entertainment to excite guests’ every sense
  • Guests can also take a 360-degree peek at the Galley, the Bridge, the Engine Control Room, and the luxurious new Edge Launches

Guests can download the groundbreaking Celebrity Edge Access Tour app at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Sailing round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Celebrity Edge will make her first maiden voyage on December 9, 2018 and her inaugural season will be spent sailing alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries for the Winter. In Spring 2019 she repositions to the Mediterranean sailing a range of seven- to 11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome in 2019.

Celebrity Edge‘s will be joined by Celebrity Apex in 2020, followed by two additional sister ships in 2021 and 2022.

MSC Cruises Sponsor Chelsea Football Club

MSC CRUISES TO BECOME OFFICIAL GLOBAL PARTNER OF CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB

  • Partnership is part of MSC Cruises’ strategic focus on the UK & Ireland

  • MSC Bellissima first ship to benefit from the partnership with signed memorabilia onboard & Chelsea ambassadors set to attend naming ceremony on 2nd March 2019 in Southampton

Image: MSC Cruises – Antonio Paradiso (MD MSC Cruises UK & Ireland), Bruce Buck (Chairman Chelsea FC), Gianni Onorato (CEO MSC Cruises)

I couldn’t be more excited to see a partnership between MSC Cruises and Chelsea Football Club.

I remember asking my Mum which football team was the one nearest to where I was born. The answer? Chelsea. In the 1970’s I took a lot of flack for that.

I manage to dig out a couple of old photos of the day I met Dennis Wise and Steve Clarke. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Players Lounge at an away match many years ago. Can you try and guess what year these photos were taken?

The multi-million-pound deal, includes LED perimeter advertising, VIP hospitality, star player engagement and a dedicated digital marketing presence. Starting in January 2019 the partnership will run until June 2021.

Chris Townsend OBE, Commercial Director, Chelsea Football Club stated: “We are delighted to announce a partnership with MSC Cruises at such an exciting time for their business. With the imminent launch of their new ship, it is the perfect time to begin our partnership.”

“We look forward to collaborating with MSC Cruises and cannot wait to introduce our global fanbase to this fantastic company”

An Industry-Unprecedented Investment Plan

MSC Cruises is the leading cruise line across Europe and the Gulf, South America and Southern Africa. They are currently in the midst of an industry-unprecedented 10-year. Their €13.6 billion investment plan, will see 17 new ships coming into service over a 10 year period.

The partnership with Chelsea comes during a milestone week for MSC Cruises, as the 100-day countdown to the launch of the new MSC Bellissima begins. The Company’s new flag ship, which will be named in Southampton in a star studded ceremony on March 2nd will be the first ship in the fleet to benefit from the partnership where signed Chelsea FC memorabilia will be on display for guests in the British pub on board. In celebration of the partnership, ambassadors from the football club will attend the naming ceremony, as MSC Bellisima becomes the biggest ship ever to launch in the UK.

Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises’ Managing Director for UK & Ireland, added: “MSC Cruises has an ongoing commitment to the UK and Irish markets and this partnership with a world renowned and respected British institution, Chelsea FC further demonstrates this. This partnership will allow us to further raise the profile of the brand in the two markets. “

Of the impact on trade activity Antonio Paradiso added: “For our travel agents this will mean both an increased awareness around cruise from the billions of football fans who watch the Premier League every week but also an opportunity to engage a totally new audience who may never have considered a cruise before.

Visit here for more information on  Chelsea Football Club.

Most Beautiful Ship 100 Days from Southampton

100 Day Countdown To The Launch of MSC Bellissima

MSC Cruises has started to reveal details of what guests can look forward to on MSC Bellissima. Their flagship will be named in Southampton, England on 2nd March 2019.

MSC Bellissima to be the biggest cruise ship named in Southampton.

MSC Bellissima will be the biggest cruise ship ever to be named in the UK’s cruise capital, with a maximum capacity of 5,686 guests and gross tonnage of 171,598,

FIRST AT SEA

Guests taking a cruise on board MSC Bellissima will be the first to experience the world’s first digital cruise assistant. Zoe will be available in seven languages and is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions all from the comfort of your cabin. The custom designed voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence device, will elevate the guest service experience to enhance and enrich life on board.

HOLA! Tapas Bar – New Dining Venue

At the heart of the ships’ iconic Galleria, HOLA! Tapas Bar welcomes you into an amazing new culinary experience created by the two Michelin starred chef Ramón Freixa. Designed to be a social dining experience, guests will be able to enjoy shared plates in a traditional celebration of the Mediterranean way of life.

Flavia with Michelin Starred Chef Ramon Freixa

 

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, HOLA! TAPAS by Ramon Freixa

Ramón Freixa explains, “I want guests to enjoy a true taste of Spain through appetising tapas and a cheerful bar atmosphere.” Freixa continues, “I am delighted to be collaborating again with MSC Cruises. This partnership is special to me as we have such strong shared values and this new restaurant embodies our passion for sharing the joys of Mediterranean food.”

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, HOLA! TAPAS by Ramon Freixa

12 Dining Venues and 20 Bars

In addition, guests will have a further 12 international dining venues and 20 bars to choose from, including the new French speciality restaurant L’Atelier Bistrot.

Anyone with a sweet tooth can enjoy unique and elegant chocolate creations and desserts at the Chocolaterie and Chocolate bar designed by acclaimed pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury.

World-Class Entertainment

Two brand new exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances will be available onboard MSC Bellissima. The new show concepts will be revealed next month.

NEW MAGIC THEMED KIDS’ PROGRAMME

A giant children’s play area will host LEGO® and Chicco activities, and a brand-new School of Magic programme and weekly Magic Talent Show.

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, Doremiland

Environmental Responsibility

To reduce her environmental footprint, MSC Bellissima will be equipped with the most modern environmental technology, energy-saving features and innovative technology.

Some of the things she will be equipped with include: an exhaust gas cleaning system for cleaner emissions; an advanced wastewater treatment system; smart heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to recover heat from machinery spaces; and LED lighting and smart devices. These measures will save significant energy.

This all comes as part of MSC Cruises commitment to provide guests with the best holiday experiences at sea in a sustainable way.

MSC Bellissima lives up to her name meaning “most beautiful” by offering guests a beautiful and memorable cruise experience.

MSC Bellissima will feature a brand new Grand Canyon theme for the aquapark with three exhilarating water slides.

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, Arizona Aquapark

Photo: MSC Bellissima, Arizona Aquapark

A full-size bowling alley, F1 simulator and an XD cinema are just some of the other onboard attractions to ensure guests of all ages will have fun.

The ship introduces six brand new West-End style shows, as well as a full programme of activities.

At the heart of MSC Bellissima is a stunning Galleria with an 80-metre LED sky screen. The shopping gallery has over 200 brands, bars and restaurants will stunning projections throughout the day.

Photo: MSC Cruises

The Balinese MSC Aurea Spa offers 79 different treatments. It includes a stunning thermal area which will be the perfect place to relax.

MSC Bellissima will offer 7-night Mediterranean cruises for her inaugural season. After which she will move to the Emirates for Winter 2019/2020.

Watch MSC Bellissima coming together in this incredible timelapse video.

Recommended Reading

Will Cruise Ships Sail In Bad Weather?

Features for Enchanted Princess Revealed

Princess Cruises Reveals New Features on Latest Ship

Princess Cruises has unveiled the first wave of new features onboard its newest ship, the 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess. The vessel will be named in Southampton late June 2020, the first Princess Cruises ship to be named in the UK since Royal Princess in 2013.

As with sister ship Sky Princess, which launches next year, Enchanted Princess will feature two new ‘Sky Suites’ centrally located on the top deck of the ship. The 270-degree panorama staterooms will provide a private vantage point of the ship’s Movies under the Stars screen and create a large space for entertaining. The suites can accommodate up to five guests, making them ideal for families.

The ship will also include:

A redesigned ‘Salty Dog Gastropub’. The venue will screen sporting events and offer a range of premium-range food and drink including the award-winning ‘Ernesto Burger’

A redesigned Sabatini’s speciality restaurant, Princess Cruises’ onboard Italian Trattoria, which will incorporate new handmade pasta dishes prepared fresh every day

An art deco design for The Princess Live TV studio and café, where guests can watch live entertainment, order drinks and light snacks

A ‘Wakeview’ pool on its rear decks

A newly-designed top-deck ‘Sanctuary’, Princess Cruises’ adults only relaxation area, which will house extra private cabanas

Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “With the launch of Enchanted Princess in Southampton and our continued commitment to enhancing the range of features onboard our growing fleet of ships, this is an exciting time for Princess Cruises as we constantly strive to appeal to passengers looking for something new and exciting, both in terms of onboard offerings and destinations.”

After its naming ceremony Enchanted Princess will head to the Mediterranean for summer 2020. The ship will offer sailings ranging between seven and 22 days from Barcelona, Athens and Rome.

OceanMedallion for all Caribbean Princess Guests

Princess Cruises announces first fully-enabled OceanMedallion ship is now in service.

Princess Cruises has revealed that Caribbean Princess is the first ship in its fleet to have full OceanMedallion access. All guests on the vessel are now using the wearable device, which offers a more personalised cruise experience.

The OceanMedallion is the same size as a 10p piece, is fully automated and has no visible technology such as an on-off switch or charging function. Its features include:

  • A streamlined ship embarkation and disembarkation process, giving quicker and easier entry and exit
  • Keyless stateroom access
  • Enhanced interaction with crew members and other guests, e.g. staff can see guest’s individual food and beverage preferences and accordingly offer a more personalised service

  • OceanCompass, which provides interactive directions throughout the ship and allows guests to easily locate friends, family and children
  • Access for guests to a real-time look at their itinerary via portals throughout the ship, along with events and activities taking place during their cruise
  • Interactive games that can be played on portals across the vessel including trivia challenges and a shipwide digital scavenger hunt
  • A selection of casino games including poker, bingo and roulette available via guests’ smart devices and select portals

Best Connectivity At Sea

Caribbean Princess now also features MedallionNet, which gives guests faster internet streaming speeds equivalent to those on land.

The ship is based in the Caribbean all year round.

Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “Having 100 percent of our guests using OceanMedallion on every sailing of Caribbean Princess is a significant milestone that we are celebrating on the path to fleet-wide implementation. Our guests tell us that OceanMedallion is turning an already extraordinary experience on Princess Cruises into an even more spectacular holiday, making sailing on Caribbean Princess the ultimate Caribbean cruise.”

OceanMedallion was first unveiled by Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald in 2017. It will continue to roll out as part of a phased fleet-wide activation plan.


Celebrity Transforms Galapagos Experience

After emerging from a seven-day makeover in Panama, the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition is surrounding guests in upgraded comforts as they explore the Galapagos Islands. It’s another bold step in THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION, beyond the introduction of two industry-changing ships – Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Flora – and the $500 million modernisation of the rest of the brand’s fleet.

Scheduled to make its return to service on 23 September 2018, the revitalised Celebrity Xpedition will debut an array of enhancements across the 100-guest ship, such as redecorated staterooms, lounges and restaurants, and faster and more reliable Wi-Fi. All of which will compliment the natural beauty of the Galapagos, and allow guests to stay connected even as they disconnect.

“Our commitment to the Galapagos Islands has never been stronger, because we know, having sailed these awe-inspiring islands for so many years, what a life-changing experience it is to come here,” noted Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and ceo, Celebrity Cruises. “The upgrades we’re making to Celebrity Xpedition and the upcoming arrival of our new Celebrity Flora, the first ship designed specifically with the Galapagos Islands in mind, will transform the way our guests discover this amazing place and take our unrivalled Galapagos offerings to an entirely new level.”

THE BEST SHIP IN THE GALAPAGOS IS GETTING EVEN BETTER

As part of her modernisation, Celebrity Xpedition will undergo the following enhancements from bow to stern:

  • Suites and staterooms will be stunningly refreshed, adding new carpeting and balcony upgrades to a list of already impressive touches. This includes Celebrity Cruises’ eXhaleTM bedding to create a relaxing atmosphere after a long day’s adventure
  • All suite and stateroom doors will be outfitted with RFID lock technology, making it easier for guests to access their rooms
  • An upgrade to the shipboard IT systems, including the addition of an O3B satellite to improve the speed and reliability of the ship’s full-coverage Wi-Fi. The adjusted bandwidth will enhance both guest experience and crew efficiency
  • The Beagle Grill will be outfitted with new furniture and lighting so guests can enjoy an intimate dining experience under the sun and stars, and new ultra-modern culinary equipment to help bring the menus crafted by Celebrity’s Michelin-starred chef to life
  • In the Discovery Lounge, guests will find a new, state-of-the-art video wall, upgraded finishes and textiles, as well as a new dedicated DJ station to elevate the ambiance of this guest-favourite hangout
  • The Darwin Dining Room will receive similar design enhancements with new lighting, carpet and millwork
  • Water filtration system on every deck for guests to enjoy
  • Crew area enhancements including new mattresses with Celebrity’s eXhaleTM bedding, carpets, and Dayroom TV

Celebrity Xpedition will debut these enhanced suites, services and amenities in June 2019, to coincide with the arrival of the new Celebrity Flora. Suite guests will be equipped with marine binoculars to use on their cruise, as well as premium backpacks and rain ponchos that they can take back home with them. Whilst guests unwind in their suites on-board, stateroom attendants are on hand to help with their packing and unpacking, and are provided with full in-suite dinner service, upgraded premium bathrobes, luxurious Kuno bath products from Ecuador, and many more during their sailing.

FROM BUCKET LIST TO BOOK-IT LIST

With more than 14 years in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity Cruises remains the authority in the region, offering guests an unparalleled experience in this iconic archipelago of volcanic islands. It offers all-inclusive  holiday packages ranging from seven to 16 nights, each featuring an immersive seven-night cruise and seven certified naturalists on board.

The Heart and Soul of Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises Unveils The Breathtaking Grand Plaza.

Welcome To The Grand Plaza

With only three months until the first official sailing of Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Cruises have revealed the heart and soul of Celebrity Edge. The beating heart of the year’s most anticipated new ship will be The Grand Plaza,  a stunning venue that will shatter all expectations and break from traditional cruise ship thinking.

Chic Society

Mixing simplicity and modernity, The Grand Plaza takes inspiration from the glamorous days of transatlantic travel. At a time when cruise ships were at the heart of chic society, the centre of these ships were traditionally spectacular ballrooms, accented with dramatic staircases and ornate chandeliers. They were social places to meet, greet, dine, drink and dance. The Grand Plaza pays homage to these powerful historic spaces and reinterprets them for the 21st century.

The Grand Plaza truly is a grand space. At its centre, on Deck 3, guests will find the breathtaking next evolution of the always-buzzing Martini Bar, one of the most popular venues across Celebrity’s fleet.

A breathtaking chandelier-meets-art installation, immediately draws one’s eye from anywhere in the space. Below its atmospheric glow, the bar curves gracefully around to invite conversation and interaction with Celebrity’s talented flair bartenders who’ll impress guests with their gravity-defying skills.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of martinis, including the brand’s Bella Cera, which blends Chameleon cachaça, Bombay Sapphire gin, lime juice, Angostura bitters, and ginger beer; or try the Marmalade Smash, which fuses Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange marmalade, and fresh ginger.

Adorning the edges of The Grand Plaza are intricately hand-stitched mesh screens, combining more than 13,500 pieces of metal, leather, and fabric.

In the morning, The Grand Plaza invites guests to enjoy a cappuccino and a croissant at either of the cafés. Guests can return to The Grand Plaza for afternoon tea or to indulge in a pre-dinner cocktail while enjoying unexpected pop-up performances. At nightfall, the energy transforms completely, and the space becomes the social epicenter of the ship, coming alive with live music.

The Heart and Soul Behind The Heart and Soul of Celebrity Edge

With the aspiration to completely transform the way guests connect to the world, Celebrity sought creative thinkers who were new to the cruise industry to ensure every aspect of Celebrity Edge would be a departure from traditional thinking about cruising.

Turning The Typical Into The Transformative

The Grand Plaza remains a highlight of Jouin Manku’s involvement in the design of Celebrity Edge, but their influence is also strikingly apparent in the Main Dining Atrium on Celebrity Edge, where they’ve taken the concept of a staircase and turned it into a work of art. Hanging three stories between the flights of stairs is yet another meaningful art installation known as The Pendulum. The Pendulum base moves ever so gently to the rhythms of the ocean to remind guests that they are indeed moving and connected to the sea, even when they cannot see it.

Norwegian Encore Hull Artwork Unveiled

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, the award-winning Spanish artist, created the hull artwork for the fourth and final ship of its Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Encore, debuting in Miami in November 2019.

A representation of his modern and abstract style, the ship’s hull will feature a labyrinth of color inspired by Arranz-Bravo’s life by the sea in Barcelona and paying tribute to the vibrant guest experience for which the Norwegian brand is recognized.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is a dynamic, pioneering company known for its innovative experiences and breathtaking collection of beautifully designed ships,” said Arranz-Bravo. “I am honored to not only bring that vibrancy to life even more on Norwegian Encore but also showcase my love for the ocean and my hometown of Barcelona.”

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, played a key role in the selection of Arranz-Bravo as the hull artist for Norwegian Encore, having been inspired by his work for many years. Del Rio’s passion for the arts has helped elevate Norwegian’s on-board experience, most recently with the multi-million-dollar-art collection curated for Norwegian Bliss.

“We are well-known for our iconic hull designs and know that Arranz-Bravo’s lively design will complement the colorful destinations in the Caribbean that Norwegian Encore will visit when she debuts next year,” said Del Rio.

Recognized for his inventive and humanistic approach to abstract art, Arranz-Bravo’s work is showcased throughout the world and portrays a constant evolution that some refer to as futuristic.  He is highly regarded, having been the recipient of countless awards and accolades, and was one of three artists chosen to represent the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona.

“Eduardo’s design will be a perfect complement to the collection of hull artwork within our fleet and is a testament to the dynamic experience our guests will have on board,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.  “We are proud to welcome him to our Norwegian Cruise Line family.”

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating up to 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will complete the Breakaway-Plus class, the most successful class in the company’s history. She is currently being built at Meyer Werft, in Papenburg, Germany and will feature many innovative dining, entertainment and recreational activities that guests have come to expect from the industry-leading brand.

Following her unveiling, she will cruise out of Miami every Sunday and sail seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean, beginning with her first journey on November 17, 2019 through April 12, 2020.

More details on the ship’s design, accommodations, dining and onboard offerings will be shared in the coming months.

World’s First Floating Runway

Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess ‘lands’ on world’s first floating runway in Sydney Harbour

Majestic Princess sailed into Sydney on Saturday morning on the world’s first floating “runway”. The spectacular celebration was held to mark the maiden arrival of the ship, the largest Princess Cruises’ vessel ever to visit Australia.

The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess was filmed arriving into Sydney via the 1,550 metre-long illuminated floating runway, which was created by 62 buoys with red and white flares that guided her path into Sydney Harbour.

The newest ship in Princess Cruises’ fleet, Majestic Princess will be based in Sydney for the next six months, and will join three other Princess Cruises’ ships – Sun Princess, Sea Princess and Golden Princess – in Australia. The vessels will sail from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Fremantle, and Adelaide.

Princess Cruises recently announced its largest ever deployment in the region for 2019-2020. Five ships will travel to more than 100 destinations and carry around 200,000 guests.

The extra capacity will help meet growing demand from the UK. The amount of Brits booking Australia and New Zealand voyages with Princess Cruises has nearly doubled year-on-year in 2018.

Majestic Princess’ current sailing is being filmed as part of series six of ITV documentary ‘The Cruise’, which is due to air on ITV in early 2019. At 143,700 tonnes, Majestic Princess is equivalent to 126 Sydney Manly ferries, while her height of more than 68 metres makes her taller than the Sydney Opera House. The documentary will reveal what life is like for both crew and guests as they sail around Australasia.

Prices start from £2,689 per person for a 13-night cruise onboard Majestic Princess to New Zealand sailing roundtrip from Sydney, departing 1 November 2019.

About Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises operates a fleet of 17 modern cruise ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided with the experience of exceptional customer service. Princess carries two million guests each year to more than 380 destinations around the globe on more than 150 itineraries ranging in length from three to 114 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation

Recommended Reading:  Princess Names New Ship Enchanted Princess

SkyDome – One of Iona’s Star Attractions

From dawn until dusk Iona’s SkyDome brings the outside in

P&O Cruises newest ship Iona will connect guests with the sea, sky and shoreline with an innovative SkyDome. This incredible feature will include a swimming pool that transforms into a stage at night, as well as a glass dome roof which creates a temperate climate while providing guests with fabulous views as they cruise through the scenic Norwegian Fjords.

The first of its kind in the cruise industry, the two-deck SkyDome on decks 16 and 17 will be the place to go for relaxation, effortless dining and contemporary entertainment.

During the day, SkyDome will be a relaxed, poolside environment, with mouth watering dining and drinking options including a grill, pizzeria and street food as well as premium ice cream with flavours inspired by popular ports of call. The area will feature a central pool and two whirlpools. Sun loungers, reclining chairs, greenery and artworks will all create a peaceful environment and make it a tranquil space during the day, giving it the feel of an English park in summer.

As the sun goes down SkyDome will come alive as the space seamlessly transitions into a must-visit entertainment venue, showcasing spectacular aerialist performances and playing host to party nights under the stars.

The mood will change from daytime to showtime with stunning audio-visual effects including dazzling light shows creating a dynamic ambience. The swimming pool will transform into a stage for the night’s entertainment, while dramatic aerial acrobatic shows will make full use of SkyDome’s height. After the show, the space will transition into a party night, with DJs playing as guests dance under the night sky, whatever the weather.

The glass dome roof was designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, renowned for their work on such innovative structures as Bulgari Glass House in Italy and Apple Park in California. The inviting living space underneath the dome was created by cruise ship specialists Partner Ship Design.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow said: “SkyDome promises to be one of Iona’s star attractions, providing guests with a magical venue in which to spend quality time whatever the weather. With stunning views of the ocean by day and of starry skies at night, I’m confident that this extraordinary venue will prove popular with our guests, whether they are early birds or night owls. With sunshine, swimming, dining and dancing all in one contemporary, visually spectacular space, SkyDome will raise the bar for entertainment spaces at sea.”

Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. Holidays on Iona will go on sale in September 2018.

Sapphire Princess Give Brits Their Tea In Bed

Princess Cruises Introduces Tea and Coffee Making Facilities in All Staterooms on UK-based ship

Princess Cruises has recently equipped the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess with kettles and tea and coffee making facilities in all staterooms. As the main Princess ship sailing from the UK both this year and in 2019, the new amenities onboard will appeal to the British market and in particular their taste for tea.

Sapphire Princess underwent an extensive two-week refit earlier this year, which included the introduction of a new luxury bed in every stateroom. The new in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities will further enhance each room.

Guests on Sapphire Princess and all other Princess ships can also continue to order complimentary tea and coffee in their stateroom via the onboard 24hr room service.

Sapphire Princess is currently sailing roundtrip out of Southampton up to October 2018, followed by an April to October season in 2019. A variety of voyages are on offer, largely to the Mediterranean and northern Europe, as well as a 24-day Canada & New England voyage in 2019.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice president UK and Europe, said: “We fully appreciate how much Brits all enjoy drinking tea and coffee. While it’s still easy enough for guests to order complimentary hot drinks via room service or our onboard restaurants, introducing kettles will give them an extra coffee and tea-making option when it’s time to rise and shine or they’re sitting back and relaxing in their stateroom or balcony.”

Recommended Reading:

Sapphire Princess Cruise Part One

Sapphire Princess Cruise Part Two – The Love Boat

Famous Tea and Coffee Quotes

Jackie Chan“Coffee is a language in itself.”

Helen Mirren “I drink just as much tea when I’m in Los Angeles as I do when I’m in London. I take my tea bags with me wherever I go.”

Sydney Smith “Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.”

David Letterman “If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsover.”

William Ewart Gladstone “If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”

Sandra Bullock “I gave up coffee. It’s almost worse than giving up a lover.”

Bear Grylls “I was always brought up to have a cup of tea at halfway up a rock face.”

Lin Yutang “There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson “Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”

Princess Cruises is offering an 11-night Canary Island Interlude cruise, roundtrip from Southampton, on Sapphire Princess from £999 per person with $100 free onboard spend. Departing Tuesday April 16, 2019, ports of call include Vigo (Spain), Funchal (Madeira), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), and Arrecife (Lanzarote). Click here for more details


Celebrity Edge Raises The Bar in Entertainment

Celebrity Edge is poised to raise the bar on entertainment as well as modern luxury travel.

On Celebrity Edge, guests will experience the brand’s most technologically advanced main theatre, the most production shows of any ship in the brand’s history, the largest cast of world-class performers on any premium cruise ship, and more entertainment venues than ever before.

Introducing an Immersive Theatre Experience

The Theatre on Celebrity Edge throws away the curtain altogether, immersing guests in an entertainment experience like no other. With four stage areas and three gigantic, moving projection screens, The Theatre offers an ever-changing canvas for the productions.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Theatre Entrance

The main stage extends into the audience creating a theatre-in-the-round. A rotating platform elevates almost seven feet above the stage to take performances to a whole new level. Two mesmerising rotating spiral staircases, 10 synchronised panoramic projection screens, 16 state-of-the-art video mapping laser projectors, aerial performance rigging, and more, the technology behind the scenes will, at times, steal the show.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Theatre

At The Theatre, guests can enjoy five new full production shows, including:

A Hot Summer Night’s Dream, the Shakespeare-inspired  show where light-hearted theatre meets extraordinary acrobatics;

The Jewelry Box, with its jaw-dropping technological feats;

Kaleidoscope, a high-energy music and dance extravaganza harnessing the stage’s state-of-the-art technology; and two shows as part of Celebrity Cruises’ new Headline Residency program –

Get Up, a dynamic pop concert produced by Black Skull Creative

The Purpose, an uplifting production designed to celebrate the inner self

Welcome To The Club

Brought to life once again in collaboration with the visionaries behind Celebrity Edge’s Eden – The Club on Celebrity Edge is a progressive space that changes its persona throughout the day and night.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Club Bar

During the day, The Club offers experiences such as the Funovation Laser Maze Challenge, the Drone Hunting laser obstacle course, and more.

At night, The Club undergoes yet another transformation. Undercover at The Club puts a contemporary spin on the Prohibition era with 20’s-inspired craft cocktails and an aerial saxophonist. The futuristic body scanner of Andromeda allows guests to become someone else for the evening. And Celebrity Cruises’ Hypno Cam Experience is a first-at-sea dance party featuring a high-tech camera that’s passed around to capture photos, which are instantly displayed on a giant LED screen.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Club

Never The Same Camp Twice

On Celebrity Edge, the brand takes its fully customisable Camp at Sea programme to the next level for younger travellers of all ages with more than 500 activities, including Celebrity Cruises’ first youth coding experience at sea, its innovative STEM programme, and two completely separate contemporary spaces, one for the kids and one for the teens.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Camp at Sea

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Camp at Sea

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Camp at Sea

Entertainment Everywhere

Celebrity Cruises has infused entertainment throughout the ship. At the Rooftop Garden, guests can enjoy experiences such as the Rooftop Concert Series and the Garden Cinema Series, the next evolution of the brand’s Taste of Film experience that’s an under-the-stars movie experience with live musical performances.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Rooftop

The iconic Eden will feature evolving entertainment as the space transforms from a “chillful” escape in the mornings to “playful” in the afternoons to “sinful” at night. Daytime experiences include Meditation at Eden and performances from sitar players to aerialists. As dusk falls, Eve at Eden begins. Developed in partnership with Variety Worldwide, this theatrical journey will indulge every sense and put guests at the centre of the experience, for a fusion of culinary exploration, performance art and nightlife – like nothing else at sea, or even on land.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Eden

To learn more about the entertainment on Celebrity Edge, visit celebritycruises.co.uk/celebrity-edge/edge-entertainment/.

3 Norwegian Ships Get Total Refurbishment

Norwegian Cruise Line have completed total refurbishments of three ships, which is further proof of its commitment to extraordinary quality and guest experience. The revitalized ships, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star, now feature new designs and venues. These include Los Lobos Cantina, an upscale Mexican restaurant; the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O; and Syd Norman’s Pour House – an American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge, which makes its debut aboard Norwegian Breakaway.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway, which was built in 2013, debuts the new American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge Syd Norman’s Pour House as well as upgraded accommodations, public spaces and more, following a two-week dry dock in Brest, France.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Syd Norman’s Pour House onboard Norwegian Breakaway

A testament to Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to providing the best entertainment at sea, Syd Norman’s Pour House is an authentic and immersive experience inspired by the greatest clubs in American rock ‘n’ roll history.  Replacing Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, Syd Norman’s is a tribute to the grandfather of “Rock of Ages” playwright Chris D’Arenso and modeled after influential rock houses such as CBGB’s, The Rainbow and the Fillmore.  Vintage décor, diner-style seating and an unforgettable playlist of classic rock from the late 1960’s to 1980’s come together to bring this high-caliber entertainment offering to life. Three times a week, cast members from “Rock of Ages” will treat guests to specialty cocktails named after rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “The Witchy Woman” among others in the interactive Syd Norman’s Experience. Guests will also rock-out to a five-person band playing classics six nights a week.

Additional upgrades include enhancements to Bliss Ultra Lounge with new, premium furniture; new carpet in all 2,014 staterooms and suites; a full transformation of the gift shop; and new carpet installations in the staircases, elevators and lobbies.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Bliss Ultra Lounge onboard Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Sun

Built in 2001, Norwegian Sun underwent a three-week bow-to-stern renovation in Victoria, BC.  As a result, she now features refreshed staterooms and public spaces, and boasts three new venues including Los Lobos Cantina, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge.

Los Lobos Cantina is a Mexican restaurant offering a modern take on traditional favorites like guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole and handcrafted margaritas. Replacing Las Ramblas Bar and Restaurant, Los Lobos Cantina features leather banquettes, dark wood tables and seating and ranchero-style design accents.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Los Lobos Mexican Cantina onboard Norwegian Sun

Bliss Ultra Lounge, formerly Dazzles, is the new bar and nightclub where guests can begin or end their evenings. Enhancements include an updated look with new plush seating, cocktail tables, bar stools, chandeliers, wall sconces, wall coverings, ornamental ceilings and a wooden dance floor.

The Spinnaker Lounge replaces the Observation Lounge and showcases a fresh design with a natural color palette reminiscent of blue, beige and tan. New to the venue are leather chairs, carpet, chandeliers, wall coverings and a stone top bar.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Spinnaker Lounge onboard Norwegian Sun

All 968 staterooms were upgraded with smart televisions and USB ports as well as new carpet, artwork and select furniture. The newly revitalized accommodations pay tribute to the beauty of the surrounding ocean with a palette of cool blue hues and silver and turquoise accents. The adorning abstract art within the staterooms and suites are the ideal complement to the new and modern feel.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Balcony Staterooms onboard Norwegian Sun

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Owners Suite Living Room onboard Norwegian Sun

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Forward Facing Penthouse onboard Norwegian Sun

The renovations also touched dining outlets and public spaces including Cagney’s, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Teppanyaki, the Mandara Spa, Stardust Lounge Theater, Splash Academy and more.

Norwegian Star

Following a nearly three-week dry dock in Barcelona, Spain, Norwegian Star underwent extensive enhancements to its staterooms, public spaces, restaurants, bars and lounges. The ship, built in 2001, also unveiled three new venues: Sky High Bar, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spice H2O.

Sky High Bar showcases a new design complete with an updated bar and seating for close to 120 guests.  Replacing Bier Garten, the outdoor bar and lounge offers the best views on board.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Sky High Bar onboard Norwegian Star

Bliss Ultra Lounge replaces Spinnaker Lounge for late-night entertainment and now boasts a light, neutral color palette and a complete redesign with new carpet, custom loungers, seating, an upgraded bar and artwork.

For the first time, Norwegian Star will offer the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O. This well-appointed venue features a private pool, hot tubs, full bar and uninterrupted ocean views. During the day, it makes an ideal spot for sunbathing, and at night, it transforms into an open-air lounge with live entertainment, DJs and energizing themed nights.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Spice H20 deck onboard Norwegian Star

All 1,174 staterooms and suites were outfitted with USB ports, enhanced with over 1,500 works of art and upgraded with new carpet, headboards and select furniture. The three-bedroom garden villas which feature private deck areas and can accommodate up to seven people were also remodeled to offer a light and airy design.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa onboard Norwegian Star

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Living Room onboard Norwegian Star

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Sun Deck onboard Norwegian Star

Additional enhancements were made to the bars and lounges, restaurants and public spaces including Atrium Café & Bar, Garden Café and the main dining rooms. A VIP section was also added in the casino.

About Norwegian Cruise Line

Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the eleventh consecutive year, “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” for the sixth consecutive year, the “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the fifth consecutive year, as well as “World’s Leading Cruise Line” and “North America’s Leading Cruise Line” both for the second straight year by the World Travel Awards. Norwegian’s newest ship, the highly anticipated Norwegian Bliss, debuted April 2018 featuring many firsts-at-sea for the global market including the largest race track at sea, award-winning Broadway entertainment, two observation lounges for guests to enjoy stunning ocean and glacier views and more.

Norwegian will introduce Norwegian Encore in 2019 and has six additional ships on order for delivery beginning in 2022.

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3

It’s great to see that you are all enjoying these updates as much as I am. Andrew really has an amazing talent for capturing the beauty of the landscape.

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3, sees the family sail through the Tracy Arm Fjord, visit Juneau and Skagway and enjoy whale and dolphin sightings.

Day Five

Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord was amazing!

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord

The liquid sunshine that so often falls in Alaska came down big time in Juneau,

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Juneau, Alaska

but that didn’t stop us having a wonderful tour that encompassed a visit to the Meadenhall Glacier,

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Meadenhall Glacier, Juneau

followed by whale watching.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Whale Watching, Juneau

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Whale Watching, Juneau

What a day! This cruise is exceeding expectations at every turn!

Day Six

It was a rainy day in Skagway, but we enjoyed a nice wander around this town that made it’s name and fortune from the gold rush.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Emerald Princess docked in Skagway

Rocks around the port are painted with various ships that have visited. One that stood out was a P&O / Princess captain who retired.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Skagway rock art with tribute to Captain I.G. Clark

Day Seven

A day at sea, and the sun has finally returned! A Bridge visit and within minutes we saw dolphins off the starboard bow.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – View from the Bridge of Emerald Princess as she sails Alaska

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Dolphin spotting from the Bridge of Emerald Princess as she sails Alaska

It was a day of relaxing, larking about in the pool and watching some concerts on the screen. In the evening there was a lavish gala dinner followed by another movie under the stars.

This really has been a cruise full of wonderful experiences and memories that will last a lifetime…



Have you read part 1 & 2. If not you can find the links below.

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Recommended Reading: Princess Cruises to build two LNG cruise ships

Iona Inaugural Season To Sail Norwegian Fjords

P&O Cruises have revealed that its new 180,000 ton LNG-powered ship Iona, to be launched in 2020, will sail exclusively to the Norwegian Fjords during the inaugural season.

A destination that is best experienced by sea, Iona will be able to show off her impressive design which focuses on maximizing the views.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Iona’s Atrium with floor to ceiling windows will give guests stunning views of the Norwegian Fjords.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow said: “SkyDome, with its glass roof and temperature control will ensure that guests have an unrivalled viewpoint as the ship sails through the breathtaking vertical expanses of narrow gorges and blue sky and past mountains, glaciers and wildlife.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Enjoy two deck high views of the Norwegian Fjords from Iona’s coffee bar

“Iona has been designed to make the sea the star. With incredible views guaranteed from all over the ship, the whole season of Fjords itineraries will enable guests to have the choice of when they want to travel to this spectacular area.

In all ports of call P&O Cruises has developed a diverse range of excursions and activities for guests.

Olden

Active adventure: For spectacular views over the Fjord landscape guests can take a trip on the dramatic Leon Skylift that carries them up to the summit of Mount Hoven.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – The View from the Loen Skylift near Olden

Epic vistas: From Olden visit the unmissable sight of the Briksdal glacier – part of the famous Jostedal ice field, the largest in continental Europe.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Lovatnet Lake near Olden

Bergen

Active adventure: Adrenaline junkies will enjoy seeing the sights on Norway’s fastest zipline, which soars 300m from Mt Ulriken 643m high to Mt Floyen.

Cultural encounters: From Edvard Munch’s iconic Expressionism to today’s contemporary culture Bergen is the centre of the Norwegian art scene.   History comes alive in Bryggen, Bergen’s UNESCO-listed wharf area where most of the 60 buildings are 300 years old.

Epic vistas: For a different viewpoint guests can enjoy Bergen’s beautiful setting by helicopter. Fly over Fjords, mountains and glaciers and look down on one of Norway’s largest Fjords, the Sognefjord.

Local flavours: A visit to Bergen Fish Market gives a snapshot of Norway’s foodie culture. It has been a gastronomic destination since 1200 when it was a meeting place for merchants and fishermen.

Hellesylt

Active adventure: Guests can take a fast paced rafting adventure along 8km of fast flowing river followed by lunch around a bonfire.

Geiranger

Active adventure: Those in the mood for a two-wheeled adventure can descend the 17km by bike from the shores of a lake more than 1000m above sea level.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Geiranger

Geirangerfjord

Active adventure: Guests can see one of nature’s masterpieces from the water with a kayaking experience that will float them past the amazing waterfalls this Fjord is famous for.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Kayaking in Geirangerfjord with Seven Sisters waterfall

Stavanger

Cultural encounters: known as the ‘Cradle of the Vikings’ this small city is packed full of history and heritage.

Epic vistas: Take a helicopter ride over Stavanger’s most iconic natural wonder – Pulpit Rock (a 604m-high flat-topped cliff rising out of the Lysefjord).

Active adventure: The Lysefjord RIB ride will give guests an alternative and unforgettable view of Pulpit Rock.

Local flavours: Fishing for crayfish is a traditional pleasure for the Norwegians and guests will be able to enjoy this surrounded by stunning mountains.

Alesund

Cultural encounters: Alesund offers visitors views of the best preserved examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Alesund

Hardanderfjord

Epic vistas: Enjoy the beauty of Norway’s second longest Fjord by light aircraft.

Iona has been designed to maximise views from three storey high glass walls in the Grand Atrium, to the innovative Conservatory Mini-suites. Guests are guaranteed an immersive experience as they cruise through one of the planet’s most spectacular regions on a cleaner and greener LNG- powered ship.

Iona will offer seven day holidays to the Norwegian Fjords from May 2020, each leaving from and returning to Southampton.

Carnival Corporation has also been a leader in the cruise industry’s use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – the most environmentally friendly advanced fuel solution available and the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, resulting in significantly reduced air emissions. The company has ordered 11 next-generation “green” cruise ships fully powered by LNG in port and at sea with expected delivery dates between 2018 and 2025.

Over 40 percent of the company’s fleet has “cold ironing” capabilities, enabling ships to use shoreside electric power where available while in port. The company has also implemented broad initiatives to optimize onboard energy usage and innovative hull designs and coatings to reduce fuel consumption by minimizing frictional drag.

Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. Holidays on Iona will go on sale in September 2018.

Recommended Reading: Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

If you read my last post, you will know that cruise photographer Andrew Sassoli-Walker and his family, are currently onboard Emerald Princess cruising around Alaska. It is an honour to be able to bring you Andrew’s stunning images on my blog as you will see they are pretty sensational. So sit back and enjoy a few more photos and a bit of an update in Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2.

Day Three

Our first day at sea started with seeing humpback whales whilst enjoying breakfast. Once the sea fog had cleared, a most beautiful afternoon and evening at sea. Enjoyed the “Movies under the stars” in the evening.

Day Four

Ketchikan, which is one of the wettest cities in the world greeted us with brilliant sunshine! Sea planes, fishing boats and pleasure craft were all out and about very early.

Within minutes of disembarking this wonderful town, we saw bald eagles, seals and salmon in the creek.

Although only a half day visit, there was more than enough time to soak up the atmosphere of this great little Alaskan town.

My expectations of this cruise have been constantly exceeded so far. The crew of Emerald Princess are a happy bunch and nothing is too much trouble.

Read the next instalment: Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3

In case you missed it: Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1


ROYAL CARIBBEAN REVEAL AI TECH – SOUNDSEEKER

ROYAL CARIBBEAN NEWS

Royal Caribbean International has designed and built a first-of-its-kind tool that transforms holidaymakers’ most memorable photos into an original, shareable soundtrack, with a video to match.

SoundSeeker is the latest technological advancement Royal Caribbean have introduced. With a legacy of nearly 50 years of innovation, the cruise line has pioneered many technological “firsts.” These include: VOOM, the fastest internet at sea; Virtual balconies, giving interior rooms a view; a mobile app that boasts smart features like expedited arrival and X-ray vision into behind-the-scenes areas of the ship, such as the navigational bridge; RFID technology, cocktails served by robots at the Bionic Bar and SeaSeeker, a custom-engineered scuba mask for Snapchat Spectacles.

Royal Caribbean teamed up with experts from Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA), Unit 9 (London) and Plan 8 (Stockholm). The innovative tool is specifically designed to use machine learning to seamlessly create original soundtracks based on the content of each photograph.

Users can upload three photos of their choice, and the AI analyses them based on colour, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language and facial expression. SoundSeeker then turns them into a shareable and one-of-a kind soundtrack – virtually DJing life’s most brag-worthy moments. Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s social channels, and by searching #SoundSeeker.

The Technical Bit

SoundSeeker uses machine learning, an artificial intelligence technique that enables computers to simulate human intelligence and make decisions on their own without explicit instructions. The learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 10 moods.

The AI in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colours in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee. SoundSeeker then finds the musical elements corresponding to each mood in the photo to compose a genuinely distinct audio and visual photo album. The Royal Caribbean tool is equipped to generate over one million unique tracks, based on custom base tracks, composed exclusively for the cruise line. The customised tracks take inspiration from a wide variety of music, including 90s hip-hop, rock, modern and electronic dance music.

Berklee leveraged music theory to create a roadmap for the tool that helps determine the musical pairing to photos, accounting for pitch, tempo and instrumental combinations, among others. The contributors from Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) –  an on-campus initiative that promotes entrepreneurialism in part by engaging Berklee students and faculty with emerging creative technologies –  included Electronic Production and Design Chair Michael Bierylo, associate professors Ben Hogue and Michael Sweet, and assistant professor Jean-Luc Cohen.

“We were excited to work with Royal Caribbean International on this new technological innovation, and in the process, redefine what creative collaboration means,” said Panos A. Panay, Berklee vice president for Innovation and Strategy and managing director of BerkleeICE. “The work of BerkleeICE expands our students’ definition of what can be accomplished with music education by pushing the boundaries of creative expression utilising technology. By harnessing AI to develop customised soundtracks for treasured memories, together, we have created a new way for people to share their experiences with one another.”

Give It A Go

I have played around with Soundseeker and here is my favourite video.