Friday, July 31, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time's tips for Disney Cruise Line

Professional reviews always have a different tone than reviews you might find on Cruise Critic or Because of their experience, access to the ship's leadership, and compensation, the writers often don't experience or notice the same things a regular cruiser would. That is why some of the best professional reviews come when the writer is cruising for the first time. That's what happened in this review of the Disney Dream from Time/Travel + Leisure's Stephanie Wu.

Wu mentions the usual cruise tips about packing and carry-on bags. She also knows that some excursions require early booking. With regards to tips and thoughts on this particular ship, Wu writes that the quality of the food was a pleasant surprise and loved the access to the Disney movie library (we enjoyed this same little detail when we took a Disney Cruise).

Like all good reviews, Wu sets the stage, gives some unique details but moves everything along. We're glad she had a good time and glad she shared her review.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kathie Lee and Carnival together again

Outside of the Love Boat, no other TV presence did more for cruising than Kathie Lee Gifford. Throughout the '80s and '90s she served and the face and voice of the growing cruise line in their ever present commercials. Now she's working with Carnival on a different project: her own line of wine.

Now Carnival passengers will be able to buy various wines from her GIFFT wine collection on all ships. The bottles are all under $20.

Gifford isn't moving back into Carnival commercials, but she will be talking about the wine and ships on the Today show and continues to serve as godmother to two Carnival ships.

For old time sake, here is one of Gifford's old commercials.

Monday, July 27, 2015

TheStar.Com: buy your airfare through cruise companies posted a Q&A regarding cruises and addressed one of the most frequently discussed topics: airfare. They advise (and we agree) that you should buy your plane tickets through the cruise company whenever you can. With most of the major cruise lines, the prices will be nearly identical to what you can find elsewhere, plus you get the cruise's commitment to getting you and your luggage to the ship.

If you get to the ship on your own and experience any issues, the cruise company is not obligated to help you out. They will leave without you if it comes to that and won't be too concerned about your bags getting to the next port (if needed).

You might pay a little more for this piece of mind and commitment from the cruise company, but it is worth it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Despite fire, Freedom of the Seas passengers had a great time

The surest sign that a cruise line is delivering good service: passenger still raving about their trip after a fire on board. Sunday, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas made its scheduled return to Port Canaveral. The ship also passed the Coast Guard inspection with no real signs of Thursday's fire. Meanwhile as passenger's disembarked, they had nothing but good things to say about their trip.

Aside from putting out the fire and cleaning up, passengers consistently mentioned how safe they felt during the fire. That is a testament to the crew and Royal Caribbean for handling what could have been a scary and dangerous situation well.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Carnival's Behind the Scenes video Episode 2

Power, paint and propellers are all featured latest episode in Carnnival's YouTube series Behind the Scenes: Carnival Vista.

This Episode still gets a bit too much into the technical and engineering of the ship, instead of just showing Carnival fans what they can expect. However, it does give a sense of Carnival's investment and commitment to new technology. You can infer that if they are implementing cutting edge technology to power the ship, they will also invest in the best possible passenger experience.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Deadspin's Adequate Man series takes on cruising

It is always interesting when a popular site dips its toes into writing about cruises. In this case, Deadspin's Adequate Man column gave some tips on cruises. Considering Deadspin focuses on sports, some of the suggestions were pretty spot on.

Where we agree with Adequate Man
Unless you really plan to load up on topshelf liquor every night and buy bottles and bottles of wine, the drink packages are not worth the money. We also like the writer's suggestion of paying for everything up front and in cash. There isn't built in savings by paying in full early, but there is an added piece of mind.

Where we disagree with Adequate Man
We feel better about the ship's tours and excursions than the columnist. Always do your due diligence, but any premium you might pay by going with the ship's preferred tours, you gain in knowing the vendor has been cleared by the cruise line.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Boarding tips from Royal Caribbean Blog

It is such a simple question: "when can I board my cruise?" Yet there isn't a simple straight forward answer. The Royal Caribbean Blog provide some general boarding tips for first-time cruisers. The blog may be focused on Royal Caribbean ships, but the advice is true for nearly all lines.

The key is to know your ship's departure time and bring what you need until your room is ready. Also make sure you get there in time. You wouldn't want to miss your first cruise. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

TravelPulse's best cruises for days at sea

Days at sea are some of our favorite parts of any cruise. The ship is filled with things to do and there are multiple activities every hour. TravelPulse put together a list of the best cruises if you want to maximize your days at sea. Most of the list focuses on repositioning cruises, but there are regular cruise -- like ones that cross the Atlantic -- that provide plenty of time at sea. They also recommend the slightly different, like alternatives on cargo and sailing ships. Those might be light on amenities, but they are certainly unique experiences.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Crystal announces unique expansion

Crystal Cruises is about to change what they do. The luxury cruise line will still provide one of the best experiences at sea. However, they will soon extend their brand and service to the air.

The company ordered a 787 Dreamliner for delivery in 2017. The plane will be configured to carry guests in fully reclining international business class seats. The goal is to provide their unique luxury service to destinations where the major carries no longer service with direct flights.

Crystal's expansion also includes traditional cruise ships, a yacht and a river cruise vessel. This is all good news for fans of Crystal and those who like luxury travel. Crystal has shown great quality and consistency for years. There is no reason to think that their new airline and new experiences won't be a great success.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Facts about Disney on Disney Cruise Line dining

We thought it was a good time to revisit Facts about Disney's reviews of Disney Cruise Line. In this clip, Facts about Disney covers what you need to know about onboard dining.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Royal Caribbean announces 10-story waterslide

Royal Caribbean already announced the planned waterslides for the Harmony of the Seas, but no one knew they would be this big. Cruise Fever has all the details on the ship's 10-story waterslide. When it debuts, the Harmony will be the biggest ship at seas, so it makes sense to have the biggest slide.

In addition to the 10-story "Abyss," the Harmony of the Seas will also have three other twisting slides.

For a company that eschewed slides for so long, it is nice to see Royal Caribbean go all in on the attractions. We think it will pay off as a slide is something that will attract more guests that a rock wall or wave rider ever will.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cruise Needs' Instagrams of the Week

A photo posted by Max ๐Ÿšข (@cruise4kidsncl) on
A photo posted by Rccl Harmony OTS (@harmonyots) on

A photo posted by waitingforella (@waitingforella) on
A photo posted by Cruise Diamond UK (@cruisediamonduk) on

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Samantha Brown Cruising 101 with Carnival

We've been somewhat nitpicky with Carnival's YouTube videos before, so it is only fair to point out this good clip above. Hosted by Travel Channel star Samantha Brown, this video covers most of the common questions of first-time cruisers.

Carnival uses Brown just like the Travel Channel would. The always perky host gives a tour of the ship while working in policies on food, alcohol and activities. If not for the shortened length and the full screen graphics, it would feel just like a typical Travel Channel special.

The final benefit of hiring Brown for this sort of promotion is that it elevates Carnival a bit to new cruisers. The fun ships aren't always known for their elegance or exclusivity, but Brown's usual resorts stops are. Here she makes the Carnival Breeze look like an upscale spa and resort. By focusing on the luxury, Carnival can impress those new to cruising and begin to change perception with frequent cruisers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Celebrity makes history with American female captain

The Captain can often be a relatively anonymous to your typical cruise passenger. You hear the voice once or twice over the address system. Maybe you attend the Captain's cocktail party. But overall, they often seem cut from the same mold and rarely standout (in a good or bad way). Remembering Kate McCue won't be a problem for future passengers on the Celebrity Summit. Starting in August, McCue will take over as captain of the ship, becoming the first American female Captin on a major cruise vessel.

Only 37, McCue quickly rose through the ranks at Celebrity's sister company Royal Caribbean. Her success is also validation of Celebrity's focus on to advancing the role of women in leadership. (The company already has a female CEO.) Good luck to Captain McCue and to all those who sail with her this summer.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Popular Cruising's Disney Cruise Line's Frozen Theme Cruise

There's never too much Frozen for Disney fans. As the above video from Popular Cruising shows, Disney worked in the blockbuster movie into its onboard entertainment, dining and even adult experiences.

This video is a bit different for Popular Cruising. Instead of a longer presentation with narration, Popular Cruising uses just images, music and video to highlight this Frozen cruise. But the shorter clip still makes it clear that Frozen is everywhere.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Travel + Leisure on the Thomas Keller-Seabourn partnership

Celebrity Chefs are not new to cruise lines. But Thomas Keller is not your typical food star. He built his reputation on uniquely prepared dishes from local sources in an extremely exclusive and intimate setting. When he signed his deal with Seabourn, many wondered how he could recreate the French Laundry or Per Se experience at sea. Travel + Leisure has some of the answers.

In the Q&A, Brooke Porter Katz asks Keller about his plans and when and on which ships Seabourn guests will be able to eat his new creations. Keller gives the sense that he's not just going to slap his name on the Seabourn menus. It sounds as if he will stay involved and assure that Seabourn passengers get a true Thomas Keller experience.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Royal Caribbean rolling out high speed internet to all ships

Things are speeding up with Royal Caribbean's popular Voom service. The program -- which provides high speed internet on board -- will be available on all Royal Caribbean ships in 2016. The basic rate is $15 a day, but there are a variety of discounts and packages available when passengers buy multiple days or use multiple devices.

The service is currently available on all Oasis and Quantum class ships. It will be rolled out to the other ships later this year and into 2016. All reviews of the speed and quality of Voom have been good, so this should lead to a better experience for all Royal Caribbean passengers. It should also lead to other cruise lines improving their high speed services and prices.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cruise Needs' Instagrams of the Week

so calming.... #fish #aquarium #bahamas #atlantis #justkeepswimming #ncl2015 #summergetaway #cruiselife

A video posted by Jonathan Castro (@natnatcastro) on

St. Petersburg, Russia By: @twins_that_travel Follow our SnapChat! ๐Ÿ‘ป BDestinations

A photo posted by BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS (@beautifuldestinations) on

#promotion #new #rank #1st #officer #yeah #cruiseship #instacruise #meinschiff #meinschiff4

A photo posted by Daniel Steinbach (@dan_steinbach) on

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Carnival using Fathom to open up Cuba as a destination

Carnival is coming to Cuba in a roundabout way. The company will sail to Cuba in 2016 from Miami using its brand-new Fathom brand. This makes sense from a strategic standpoint and a political one as well.

First it enhances Fathom's unique selling point. The brand, which is focused on service and environmental oriented travel, can position themselves as one of the first opportunities for many Americans to visit and help in Cuba. The island has welcomed plenty of relief workers over the years, but this will open things to a wider and more diverse group of volunteers. Carnival can also use the smaller Fathom ships to build up its infrastructure on the island in anticipation of its other larger ships coming in the next few years.

Politically, using Fathom works in both Cuba and the United States. The brand is focused on education and giving back. This should work well with the State Department's gradual easing of restrictions. Fathom's passengers won't just be there to drink mojitos and take pictures of old classic cars. This should also appease any Cuban fears of the island being overrun with "ugly" Americans looking to change the country (and politics) overnight.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Travel Yourself's video review of Viking River Cruise

There are numerous video reviews of ocean cruise ships, but not nearly as many of river cruise. That is why the above review of Viking River Cruise from Travel Yourself is so welcome.

Although the video starts in the room (and gives a good idea of the space and special touches), Cailin also shares some of the other highlights from her trip. The clip is short and to the point, yet gives the viewer feel for the experience and sprinkles in Cailin's personalty. It's a good mix.

For more travel videos, check out Travel Yourself.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

MSC Opera calling Cuba home

Everyone knew that cruise ships would start regularly stopping at Cuba one day. However, we don't think many would have predicted a ship would use Havana as its homeport so soon. The MSC Opera will sail out of the Cuban city during the 2015-2016 winter season. The 16 cruises will sail Western Caribbean itineraries.

Because there are still limited flight options for Americans to Cuba, MSC is focusing on the Canadian, European and South American markets for the initial winter tour. Flight packages are available for all those regions.

Even as Cuba grows as a destination, the airport and infrastructure issues will continue to limit its ability to homeport multiple ships. But it is only a matter of time before all the major brands make stops there.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Cruise Needs' Tweets of the Week

Thursday, July 2, 2015

No more Nickelodeon on NCL

Nichelodeon and Norwegian Cruise Line agreed to end their marketing agreement and phase out the various Nick experiences and characters on all their ships. Both companies said the parting was mutual.

NCL can probably find another family-focused partner, but do they really need one? Kids might love Sponge Bob or Dora, but how many families are booking a cruise because of the Nick experience? NCL can still provide great kid and family-friendly activities without official branded characters. If someone is picking a cruise strickly based on character interactions, they are going to book a Disney Cruise. NCL's pitch to families should be that they are not Disney. They can offer a experience that is different from Disney (casinos, family-friendly but not overrun with kids, etc.). And in most cases they can offer a more affordable cruise.

If NCL does sign a partnership with a new children's entertainment company, it will be a nice marketing tool. But ultimately no kid deal is going to be a game changer for the company.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cruise Needs' Instagrams of the Week

Sad to be leaving the ship today @princesscruises #RoyalPrincess #CConboard #ComeBackNew

A photo posted by Cruise Capital (@cruisecapital) on