It was a historic day for Royal Caribbean International yesterday when the cruise line made its inaugural visit to Cuba with the newly revitalized Empress of the Seas as part of a 5-night sailing from Miami. Adventure-seeking vacationers were among the cruise line’s first guests to explore the island country known for its legendary nightlife, iconic music and distinct culture. Guests participated in curated excursions throughout Havana, including rides in 1950s classic American cars to the city’s most famous locales, including the old quarter and the Havana Club Museum.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of Cuba’s future, ushering in Royal Caribbean’s next big adventure with Empress of the Seas’ first visit to Havana. Vacationers will now be able to experience a destination like no other, with authentic and immersive experiences that bring to life the vibrancy of Havana and its traditions,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
The vibrant Cuban culture extends beyond land to the experience onboard Empress of the Seas. From cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge, guests will enjoy a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life throughout the entire journey.
After returning to Miami, Florida, Empress of the Seas will reposition to Tampa, Fla. for the summer season – the cruise line’s first ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of four, five and six-night sailings, including day and overnight visits to Havana, along with stops in Key West, Fla. and Belize City, Belize, as well as Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Sailings from Tampa are available through Nov. 4, 2017 when Empress returns to Miami for the winter season, adding calls to CocoCay and Nassau in The Bahamas.
Empress of the Seas spans 11 guest decks, encompasses 48,563 gross registered tons, carries 1,602 guests at double occupancy and features 795 staterooms.
Ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea welcomed VIPs and other distinguished guests to Port Hercule in the heart of Monaco on April 19, including His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco; His Excellency Minister of State of the Principality, Serge Telle; His Excellency Archbishop of Monaco Barsi; Peter Greenberg (CBS-TV Anchor and News Travel Editor, Master of Ceremony); Geoffrey Kent (Abercrombie & Kent Founder) and Gerald Lawless (Chairman of WTCC), for an intimate ceremony marking the christening of the latest addition to the fleet, Silver Muse.
The historic celebration, hosted by Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, was honored with incredible performances by the Sinfonietta Orchestra of Rome and renowned violinist Charlie Siem, both of whom enriched the ceremony with sublimely moving musical renditions.
"Silver Muse, the ninth ship in the Silversea fleet, caters to the most discerning passengers at sea, offering the highest expression of elegance and comfort while aiming to redefine the ultra-luxury cruising experience," the company said in a statement.
Over the past two weeks, guests from around the world were invited to preview the new flagship on a number of exclusive voyages in the Mediterranean. Initial feedback from media, as well as trade and industry representatives has been overwhelmingly positive, with the quality of the finished Fincantieri vessel and Silversea’s level of service by the Silver Muse crew exceeding guests’ expectations.
Accommodating 596 passengers, the ship boasts an unrivalled selection of dining options on board, including three restaurants new to the Silversea fleet: Atlantide, a seafood and grill concept representing the ultimate in culinary excellence and creativity by using the finest ingredients sourced from around the world; the Asian-accented Indochine; and an Italian-themed poolside restaurant, Spaccanapoli, which serves homemade Italian pizzas throughout the day. With the addition of these new culinary venues, Silver Muse guests have a choice of eight onboard restaurants and the freedom to dine on “anything, anywhere, at any time" on the ship.
Silver Muse is also home to the unique Zàgara Beauty Spa, which offers a relaxing sanctuary while transporting guests on a journey of the five senses tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
Monaco is not merely the base of Silversea's operations; it is also the home of the company’s proud Monegasque history. Silversea shares the culture, traditions and values of the Principality with the world, with its nine ships visiting more than 900 different ports of call each year.
Attending the christening ceremony, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco said: “On behalf of the Principality of Monaco, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Silver Muse, its crew and passengers. She represents the next generation of cruise ships with respect to both fuel efficiency and energy saving technology. We share with Silversea common values and principles surrounding responsible environmental practices, and the development of sustainable business activities. The preservation of the oceans is a crucial priority for future generations."
Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea Chairman, said: “The close ties between Silversea and the Principality of Monaco reflect not only our commitment to this beautiful region but also to the history and values to which we adhere. Silversea is an Italian, family-owned business, yet our heart will always be shared with the Principality as we continue to move forward. As the home of Silversea, Monaco was always the natural choice for the christening of our new flagship, Silver Muse, and it is with great pleasure that we can share this milestone with both the residents and guests of the Principality.”
Roberto Martinoli, CEO of Silversea Cruises, added: “Silversea is associated with exceptional quality and voyages that leave long-lasting memories of discovery and wonder. As we continue to invest in our entire fleet, Silver Muse offers guests a taste of what is to come. Silver Muse represents an evolution of the Silversea hallmarks that set the company apart from the competition. With eight dining options, offering 28 varieties of culinary delights, Silver Muse has redefined the art of gastronomy at sea. With more open-air spaces and state-of-the-art facilities on board, we are positive that both new and returning guests will enjoy unforgettable memories.”
Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, the 133,500 gross ton Carnival Horizon, will be the first in the fleet to feature Dr. Seuss WaterWorks, a vibrant water park inspired by the whimsical world and words of the legendary children’s author. The 3,934-passenger vessel is set to debut in Europe April 2, 2018.
The announcement was made by Carnival President Christine Duffy and Dr. Seuss Enterprises President Susan Brandt at Cruise3Sixty, an annual gathering of travel agents held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Dr. Seuss WaterWorks builds upon the line’s distinction as the family cruise leader carrying nearly 800,000 kids a year as well as the incredible success of the fleetwide Seuss at Sea program, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises that features immersive onboard Dr. Seuss-themed youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences.
Located on Deck 12, Carnival Horizon’s Dr. Seuss WaterWorks will offer two distinctly different slides each promising their own splash-tastic fun.
Inspired by everyone’s favorite feline, The Cat in the Hat slide will feature an enclosed raft slide offering more than 450 feet of heart-racing twists and turns. The entrance resembles The Cat’s famous red and white hat with the distinctive color pattern carried throughout the slide in alternating translucent and opaque sections.
Sure to be equally fun will be the Fun Things slide, an enclosed body slide with whimsical polka dots and special lighting effects and named after the mischievous duo Thing 1 and Thing 2 and encompassing 213 feet of exhilarating all-ages fun.
Dr. Seuss WaterWorks will also include a 150-gallon tipping bucket patterned after The Cat’s hat, along with a kiddie splash zone with dozens of water spray toys.
Larger-than-life images of famous Dr. Seuss characters – including The Cat in the Hat holding an inner tube, The Grinch sporting a surf board tucked under his arm, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 frolicking atop their namesake slide – will greet visitors as they enter the park, with memorable Dr. Seuss phrases displayed on clear partitions that surround the facility.
”Our ships are designed as the ultimate seagoing playgrounds and Carnival Horizon will take this concept to the next level with the spectacular Dr. Seuss WaterWorks which promises fun for guests of all ages,” said Duffy. “Dr. Seuss is an iconic American brand and we’re delighted to expand our partnership with this incredible top-deck water attraction for our guests.”
Added Brandt, “We’re excited to build upon our relationship with Carnival by introducing our first-ever water park. Dr. Seuss is all about family fun and togetherness and we can’t wait to see our characters come to life in this colorful and exciting space.”
Dr. Seuss WaterWorks is just one of several family-friendly features on Carnival Horizon which will also feature the groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre and the SportSquare outdoor recreation area with a suspended ropes course. A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, which will include a Family Lounge area with large screen TVs, board games and complimentary breakfast, cookies and other snacks.
Carnival Horizon will also feature the Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading and play venue and popular Seuss at Sea activities like The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time.
Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from this port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.
Following a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.
Crystal Cruises' luxury ships are set to undergo their most extensive redesigns in their respective histories, as Crystal unveils the complete plans for Crystal Symphony’s and Crystal Serenity’s dry dock transformations. In what the company is calling the “Evolution of Crystal Luxury,” in 2017 and 2018, Crystal will embark on the multi-million-dollar investment that will see the two ships reimagined to new standards of innovative luxury. The plans for Crystal’s two ocean ships are the latest in its tremendous brand expansion, which will also see new river yachts, new ocean-going vessels and a privately-owned Boeing 777 join the fleet in the next three years.
“Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are the foundation of Crystal and continue to embody the cornerstones of the celebrated Crystal Experience,” says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. “These ships have earned us not only acclaim from the world’s most eminent entities and publications for more than two decades, but more importantly, the loyalty of the world’s most discerning travelers and travel partners. We are committed to continuing their reign as the most luxurious ships at sea by investing in changes and updates that will far exceed our guests’ wishes.”
While the two ships’ refurbishments are scheduled almost a year apart, plans for both are predominantly streamlined, offering guests a consistently superlative experience on board whichever Crystal ship they choose to sail. As part of the extensive redesign, several staterooms will be converted into brand new luxurious penthouse categories to take the place of smaller staterooms; imaginative new dining options will be revealed; ships will be loaded with high-tech perks; and modern, elegant décor updates will be made in many public spaces.
New Penthouses and Penthouse Suites
Both ships will gain more of the spacious, butler-serviced Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Crystal Symphony will see two new categories of accommodations altogether: Seabreeze Penthouse Suite with Verandah (12 new suites added) and Seabreeze Penthouse with Verandah (28 new suites added), both occupying Deck 9, Seabreeze. The new accommodations will boast the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft., respectively), while Seabreeze Penthouses will be connected by a shared an entryway recessed from the hall.
Aboard Crystal Serenity, the 36 additional Penthouses and 2 additional Penthouse Suites will occupy the current Penthouse Deck 10, and will also offer the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (403 sq. ft. and 538 sq. ft., respectively).
Penthouse accommodations offer guests enhanced all-inclusive Crystal amenities, including butler service and in-room specialty dining. Penthouse guests will also now receive unlimited complimentary dining at the onboard specialty restaurants. The conversion of staterooms into the new penthouse accommodations effectively reduces the ships’ guest capacities – Crystal Symphony to 848 and Crystal Serenity to 980 – and increases the per-guest space ratio aboard the ships to 60.2 and 70.3 respectively. Abundant space throughout its luxury ships has long been a cornerstone of Crystal’s platform, and a key distinction between its ships and competitors.
Refreshed dining options
The world-class cuisine served on Crystal ships will also enjoy a revolution, as Crystal mainstays transform into inspired modern venues that still exude the elegant culinary atmosphere for which Crystal is known. Inclusive to the renowned Crystal Experience, the posh eateries feature diverse menus of Michelin-level cuisine inspired by the worldwide destinations Crystal visits.
The Crystal Dining Room, the ships’ centrally located main dining venue, will become Waterside, reflecting the chic décor and sophisticated ambiance of the main dining room aboard Crystal River Cruises’ Crystal Mozart. Additional tables for two and four guests offer expanded options for intimate dining in the expansive space, while a new open seating concept invites guests to dine at their leisure between 6 and 9:30 p.m., eliminating Crystal’s previous format of assigned seating and reservations. Waterside will also continue to serve breakfast and lunch during current timeframes.
The Lido Café, another hot spot aboard both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, will take on new life as the Marketplace by day and Churrascaria by night. Both venues will feature an open kitchen concept with dishes made to order. The Marketplace will continue to serve casual buffet style breakfast and lunch options, and will transition to Churrascaria, a stylish casual dinner venue, from 6 to 9 p.m., creating an additional evening option for guests. Churrascaria will feature a Caipirinha as a welcome cocktail and serve a selection of Brazilian-inspired tapas, ceviche, salads and grilled seafood and meats presented by Crystal “gauchos” on sword-like skewers.
New to the Crystal menu of onboard restaurants on both ships will be Silk, located in the Trident area of their respective Lido Decks. The contemporary space will offer modern Chinese-inspired fare with family-style dinner plates ideal for sharing, and self-service options for breakfast and lunch that include dumplings, Chinois salad, a soup and noodle bar and other Asian favorites. For the dinner hours between 6 and 9 p.m., reservations will be recommended, although open seating will be accommodated. The Trident Bar & Grill will remain in the adjacent space, serving casual grilled options including burgers and sandwiches.
Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, the specialty dining venues by famed Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will be rebranded as Umi Uma – reflecting the Japanese word for Crystal’s eponymous seahorses. The authentic venues will still serve the inspired cuisine of Nobu, prepared by his personally trained chefs, and will remain the only Nobu restaurants at sea. All specialty dining reservations for Umi Uma and Prego will be complimentary for Penthouse guests, while all other guests will enjoy one complimentary evening of specialty dining, with additional reservations available for a modest charge. Reservations are always required for specialty dining venues.
Upon completion of Crystal Symphony’s dry dock in November 2017, guests will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi throughout any Crystal voyage aboard all Crystal vessels. Crystal’s investment in technological amenities for guests will include hardware and software enhancements to enable expanded internet connectivity and doubled satellite speed. Additionally, a new guest portal – Crystal Connect – will be launched and featured on the landing page of onboard internet connections. The portal enables guests to easily access the internet, as well as an array of shipboard information including daily menus from each restaurant, daily Reflections, day and evening activities, Crystal Adventures shore excursions and daily port maps. A number of international newspapers will also be available for digital viewing, as well as a library of box office hit movies, Crystal lectures on demand and much more. Crystal Connect will also be available in a mobile application for use on guests’ personal devices.
In all rooms throughout the ships – in each stateroom and in all public areas – ultra-thin, 42-inch, interactive flat-panel TVs will enable guests to conveniently access their onboard folios, view the Crystal Spa & Salon, Connoisseur Wine Selection, and dining menus, with the ability to make any onboard reservations, reserve shore excursions and order room service. These new interactive TVs will also showcase the latest Hollywood movies and hit TV series. Crystal’s acclaimed Computer University@Sea classrooms will also undergo updates and makeover, further enhancing the technological experience and enrichment for guests.
Reimagined public spaces
Several favorite shipboard spaces will enjoy reimagined designs, while maintaining their inherent function as part of travelers’ onboard experience. The top-deck, forward Palm Court lounge aboard Crystal Serenity will be entirely redesigned to feature more intimate seating, while Crystal Symphony’s mid-ship Starlite Club, a hub for evening dancing and cocktails, will also be refitted, still boasting panoramic sea views.
Crystal Symphony’s redesign is set for September 19-October 21, 2017; Crystal Serenity’s for October 14-November 10, 2018. The dry docks and subsequent relaunch of both ships mark additional milestones for the Crystal fleet, as the company increases its luxury presence throughout the world’s oceans, Europe’s rivers and the skies.
Adds Rodriguez, “Throughout this tremendous expansion, our commitment to setting an unprecedented standard of luxury travel experiences is unwavering. We will continue to place the quality of our guests’ experience above all other priorities, and our exquisitely designed vessels are integral to that experience.”
Silversea's luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer will welcome guests to a stylishly elevated onboard experience starting with her May 20 voyage, sailing from Lisbon to Honfleur.
A comprehensive stem-to-stern refurbishment is scheduled for the end of April and will take place during a nearly three-week dry dock in Las Palmas. Plans call for a complete renovation of Silver Explorer's interior decoration, creating a revitalized atmosphere throughout the ship. As part of its $170 million fleet-wide refurbishment program, the company is making a significant investment to ensure that guests enjoy a renewed sense of luxury and comfort when sailing aboard Silver Explorer.
Highlights of the renovation include:
Refreshed Public Spaces: The ship's overall color scheme will shift to an elegant new palette of blue and beige tones, which guests will first notice in the remodeled reception area. The rich new look will be carried throughout the ship with the installation of attractive new carpets and wall treatments in the corridors, staircases and all public spaces.
In addition to new carpets and wall treatments, the Observation Lounge, Panorama Lounge and Connoisseur's Corner will be updated with all-new furniture. The restaurant's buffet counters, ceiling and walls will get a makeover and the furniture will be refashioned with new upholstery. The theater's bar will be completely redesigned and its banquette seats refreshed with new upholstery. A new boutique will be built in the space previously occupied by the library, while the reference and entertainment materials from the library will be moved to the Observation Lounge. Also set for a spruce-up are the spa and fitness center, which will double in size by taking over the area occupied by the original boutique. Plus, the Outdoor Grill will be enhanced with a new awning.
Elevated New Décor for Suites: The ship's all-suite accommodations will be completely renovated with new carpets, wall treatments, curtains, and furniture, including mattresses, headboards, wardrobes, bedside tables, vanity desks, sofa beds, armchairs, flatscreen TVs and lighting fixtures. In all but the largest suites (i.e., Medallion Suites and higher), the bathrooms will be enhanced with new flooring, granite appointments and rainforest showers (replacing tub-and-shower combinations). Suites with verandas will be outfitted with new veranda furniture. And the eight Expedition Suites on Decks 3 and 4 will be converted into 16 Vista and View Suites, with most featuring a connecting door for the convenience of families and friends traveling together.
The remodeled Silver Explorer will accommodate 144 guests in all-inclusive luxury as she sails to the world's most remote destinations -- from the Arctic, Antarctica and Africa to the Americas, French Polynesia and the Russian Far East. Guests will enjoy sumptuous cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of shipboard amenities included in the fare, such as complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and at least one free hour of Wi-Fi per guest, per day.
In true Silversea Expeditions style, guests will be enriched by an onboard program of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. Exploratory Zodiac excursions and interactive walks ashore, led by experts in their field -- marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists, are complimentary.