Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cruise Industry News's Photos: Prinsendam

Cruiseindustrynews.com provides great coverage of industry topics and the business of cruises. But they also have stuff that appeals to those dreaming of their next trip. Are you a Holland America fan? Cruise Industry News has some exclusive photos of the Prinsendam. You can see the former Royal Viking Sun in docked in Portugal. For more pics, go to cruiseindustrynews.com.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Carnival Pride back in Baltimore

Carnival ended its hiatus in Baltimore and announced the return of year-round sailing out of the Maryland. The Carnival Pride will sail a variety of itineraries from the port. Most coverage focused on the renovations of the ship and its new environmental standards (which were a factor in the hiatus from coastal waters). However, the big picture news is really that Carnival is committed to year-round service in a northern drive market.

Having the renovated and updated Carnival Pride sail from Baltimore is a win-win for the company and passengers. Ten of millions of potential cruisers live within driving distance of Charm City. A driveable cruising option can save each passenger thousands in airfare. For Carnival, the upside of Baltimore is less local competition, the chance to introduce cruising to those who might not otherwise sail, and the opportunity to turn some of those airfare savings into onboard spending.

Given the history and reinvestment, there will probably be more sailings and other ships out of Baltimore. And with continued success, more out of other east coast ports (Philadelphia? expanded options from New York? More in Boston?). All of that is good news for people exploring new cruise options.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cruise Needs' Review: “Disney Dream Cruise with Food Network.”

Friday night, the Food Network aired “Disney Dream Cruise with Food Network.” In the special (sponsored by Disney Cruise Line), Food Network stars Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, Amanda Freitag, and, Melissa d'Arabian, as well as their friends and families, sailed to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Dream. Being the Food Network, the special focused on dining, but also hit many of the highlights of the Disney offering. Based on our DCL experience, here are some of the things the special got right, some they got wrong and a few things we are surprised that weren’t featured.

What they got right

This was a food show, so they certainly showed off Disney’s great dining experiences. While the TV chefs toured the galleys and the storage facilities, the aspect that is relevant to a typical passenger was the rotational dining. DCL regulars know and love this feature -- where you rotate dining rooms with your wait staff -- while people who haven’t experienced it yet might not appreciate how well it works. Disney championed this experience in the industry and it highlights their service and unique experiences. It is the center of the dining experience and deserved its place on the special.

What they got wrong

The Food Network stars raved about the buffet service and food on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. d'Arabian’s experience was very different from ours. We found the service, the crowd management, the taste and temperature of the food on Castaway Cay to be lacking -- well below Disney’s standards in their theme parks and certainly below the standards and food quality of the Disney Cruise Line’s food service on board. Obviously a Disney-sponsored special is not going to degrade their own quality or service, but be warned the meal at Castaway Cay was the worst meal of our DCL experience. Our recommendation is to enjoy the beach and water activities on the island but dine back on the ship.

What they left out

It wouldn’t be a DCL television special without the AquaDuck, but I really think the DCL does itself a bit of disservice by always featuring this one ride on every TV opportunity. The AquaDuck is great and fun, but is it that much better than many of the water and thrill experiences available on most cruise companies newer ships? Why not use some of the special time to highlight the Disney shows (which are outstanding) or some of the other unique to Disney offerings. Based on the lines alone, we would suspect that the character and princess interactions are more popular than the AquaDuck. Maybe DCL assumes people know the characters are on board or maybe that the characters only appeal to their youngest customers. However, there are other sports, entertainment and social offerings beyond the AquaDuck that might attract older kids, teens and cruise fans of all ages. Valuable TV time should highlight those attractions instead of the upteenth ride on a water slide.

"Disney Dream Cruise with the Food Network" airs again April 4. (Being the Food Network, the special will likely air again and again in the coming months.) If you’re a Disney fan, a DCL fan or just someone who likes cruise specials, the hour is well worth your time...as is a cruise on the Disney Dream.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

ICYMI: The New York Times goes behind the scenes on cruise operations

Earlier this week the New York Times published a long piece on the operations of cruise ships with a focus on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. Regular cruisers already know about the tons of food consumed each trip or the thousands of towels washed daily, but this article goes into further detail and explains how Royal Caribbean looked to other industries to improve operations and efficiency.

A few years ago, Royal Caribbean brought in experts in industrial productivity, including DHL and the German carmaker Porsche, to help manage complex flows on the ship. As an example, the efficiency experts helped determine where to locate waiter stations in the main dining room to reduce the number of footsteps needed to serve hundreds of diners simultaneously.

Read the whole article to learn more about how each new generation of ship creates a new set of logistical challenges for the cruise lines.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cruiseline.com Reviews: Carnival Breeze

Cruise reviews are a critical resources as you plan and book your next cruise. However, sifting through the thousands of online reviews can be daunting. How do you find useful tips and get the general consensus on a ship without getting bogged down in the minutia of what one reviewer had at the lunch buffet on the second to last day of their cruise?

Of the many options, we find Cruiseline.com's reviews to provide the right mix of detail and overview. Most of their reviewers are thorough and informative. Yet, you can also just breeze through the summations to get high points, a quick star rating and glimpses into specific aspects of the ship.

Use the reviews of the Carnival Breeze as a example. Cruiseline.com currently has 444 verified reviews and of those reviews, the average rating is 3.5 out of 5 stars. For perspective that rating is above most other Carnival ships. The reviews also tend to emphasize the cleanliness and newness of the ship. To learn more about the Carnival Breeze or other potential cruise options check out other reviews on Cruiseline.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cruise Needs' Instagrams of the Week


A photo posted by Robert Edwards (@mister_edwards) on

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Get a first look at design for Virgin Cruises

For curious cruise lovers, the best part of the ongoing lawsuit between Virgin Cruises and former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch is learning about all the details of the new cruise line. The above picture (via Cruise Hive) offers a glimpse into the new look and sheer size of Richard Branson's latest venture. The ships would be some of the largest at sea and hold over 4,000 passengers.

Regardless of the suit, Virgin Cruises is still going forward and should be sailing in the near future.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Ports Ahead

Travel columnist Peter Greenberg featured new or less-visited ports of call on the horizon for cruise passengers. Expanded options start in the Caribbean, but major Cruise Lines also have plans for stops in Honduras, Norway and less frequented options in Mexico.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Scam advice from Cruise Fever

Earlier this week Cruise Fever posted a helpful piece on common cruise-related scams. For those who have always wondered about a cruise deal being too good to be true, this shines the light on common ripoffs related to social media and even time share presentations. Even those Facebook posts that look really good probably aren't:

It is against Facebook’s TOS [eds. note: Terms of Service] to run a contest where the winner is awarded by liking, sharing, or commenting on a post. Also if you do have a contest, you can not contact the winner through Facebook. If you ever see any contests that violate these rules, you will know they are scams. (Unless the owners of the page do not know about Facebook’s TOS)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Popular Cruising's MSC Divina Review

Popular Cruising posted another one of their great video reviews this week. In this YouTube clip, Jason focuses on MSC Cruise's MSC Divina Review. Check it out and be sure to go to Popular Cruising to see more of their video reviews.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Costa diverting ships from Tunsia

In response to the massacre in Tunis that left at least 12 cruise passengers dead, Costa has altered its future calls to the Tunsian capital. The Wall Street Journal reports:
“The safety of guests and crew members is Costa’s top priority. After what happened in Tunis on Wednesday, Costa Crociere is confirming that all upcoming calls in Tunis for the cruises of Costa Fortuna, Costa Favolosa, Costa neoRiviera will be substituted with alternative calls,” the company said.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Royal Caribbean's "big" plans for Alaska

USA Today shared the news of Royal Caribbean's Alaskan expansion. The company will bring their new Explorer of the Seas to Alaska in summer 2016. The ship is part of the Voyager class series and will be the biggest to sail in Alaska.

The ship can accommodate up to 3,840 passengers and will have all the mega-ship offerings you'd expect. Plus it will have the first ice skating rink in Alaskan waters.

The USA Today feature also includes a slide show tour of similar Royal Caribbean Voyager class ships.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Florida couple sails Carnival Sensation 100 times

Do you have a favorite cruise ship? Are there some itineraries you want to sail again and again? One Florida couple has taken repeat cruising to a new level. Meet the Caffarys. They have now take 100 cruise on the Carnival Sensation. It has become a second home to them, to the point where they barely get off the ship when sailing. 

While many Cruise lines have permanent passengers, Carnival cannot recall another couple that have taken so many separate trips on one of their ships.