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Crown Cruise Vacations | May 25, 2015

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AmaCerto double balconies in ship cabins make for double viewing fun

March 17, 2015 | Heidi

The balcony of my ship’s cabin on any cruise is one of my favorite places to sit and watch the water roll. But sometimes outside temperatures or a drenching rainstorm can make the balcony an unpleasant place to sit.

That’s why I was pleased to learn of AmaWaterways exclusive twin balconies. My AmaCerto stateroom had both an inside balcony and an outside balcony. I could choose to sit inside and watch the river and the sights along it. Or I could sit outside.

The double balconies also meant a whole wall of sliding glass doors for excellent water views from anywhere in my room.

Founded in 2002, the family-owned AmaWaterways gets its name from the Latin word for “love” – Ama. AmaWaterways has 19 custom-designed vessels and will add a new one in 2015, along with even more river cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Resembling a luxurious long yacht, the AmaCerto can accommodate 164 passengers and sails to Austria, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Hungary and Slovakia. Debuting in 2012, AmaCerto looks big enough to be comfortable but small enough to easily dock along the rivers. The ship’s name is pronounced Ama-Cherto. The Certo part is a musical nod as in concerto. The three decks of the AmaCerto are named Piano, Violin and Cello.

Story and Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Louis Cruises announces new Celestyal Cruises with two ships

March 9, 2015 | Heidi

 Louis Cruises has launched a new brand in 2015 that it says will reach for the stars and promises to gives travelers an authentic Greek experience.

“We will give a name to this promise: Celestyal Cruises,” said Kyriakos Anastassiadis, company CEO.

Celestyal stems from celestial, which means “pertaining to the stars” and “heavenly” or “divine,” Anastassiadis said.

“By launching Celestyal, we are expanding the Louis Cruises portfolio thereby reflecting the divine, real Greek experience that one enjoys when sailing with us,” he said.

“We’ve also chosen this name to honor our ancestors, the Ancient Greeks, who were among the first peoples to use celestial navigation,” Anastassiadis said. “By the third century BC, Greek mariners were using the Little Bear to navigate their ships.”

Two ships in the Louis Cruises fleet will be sailing under the colors of this subsidiary brand – Celestyal Crystal and Celestyal Olympia. The two ships sailing out of the Piraeus and Lavrion cruise ports in Athens are now branded Celestyal Cruises.

Louis Cruises said the change is being made because today’s travelers want an authentic experience when they travel. They want unique destinations and a true taste of the culture, gastronomy and history of a place. And, as modern life becomes more hectic, travelers want a travel experience that dissolves their cares from the moment they depart. They want a temporary home in the stars. Thus, the name and the change.

Since 2013, Louis Cruises has kept this idea at the forefront of its efforts, particularly with the inauguration of its “Kalimera!” experience. The word “Kalimera” doesn’t  just mean “good morning” to Louis Cruises. It means “good” in every sense of the word – quality, satisfaction and happiness – and that is what the company has used as its motto.

“We say it,” the Louis Cruises brochures note, “You live it.”

The company plans to bolster its commitment with even more outstanding Greek food and wine, and with themed programs that take passengers deeper into the archaeology, gastronomy, history and music of Greece.

In 2015 the company will continue to build on the promise of “Kalimera!” by sailing to new ports of call in the Ionian and Adriatic seas and along the Dalmatian coast. The Celestyal Crystal is offering 94 cruises in 2015; the Celestyal Olympia is offering 131.

Founded in 1935, Louis Group has over the decades evolved into a leading tourism, hospitality and travel group in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Louis Hotels owns and manages 19 four and five star hotels in all of Cyprus’ resorts, including the Hilton Park Nicosia and the Greek islands of Corfu, Zante, Crete, Mykonos and Rhodes.

Louis Cruises is the only home porting cruise operator in Greece and preeminent cruise line for the Greek Islands and Turkey.

By Jackie Scheckler Finch

Enjoy green eggs and ham with Dr. Seuss at Sea aboard Carnival ships

March 4, 2015 | Heidi

Do you like green eggs and ham? How about moose juice or goose juice?

Chances are your children like them. And youngsters know exactly where such creative food came from – Dr. Seuss.

Now children of all ages will enjoy an exciting new partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Carnival Cruise Lines.

“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how,” said the Cat in the Hat in the iconic Dr. Seuss book.

For the funnest fun of all, Carnival Cruise Lines will be offering an industry first with its Carnival Seuss at Sea Program.

Roll-out of the Seuss at Sea program began aboard Carnival Splendor in February 2014 with implementation across the full 24 “Fun Ship” fleet in 2015, as well as Carnival Vista when that ship enters service in early 2016.

The program offers a variety of exciting and immersive onboard youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences featuring the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss.

“Dr. Seuss inspires imaginations across generations and encourages a playfulness and whimsy that is often lost in today’s ‘always on’ society,” said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

“We’re excited to be working with Carnival Cruise Lines to bring some of the timeless magic of Dr. Seuss to the families that sail each year. Seuss at Sea will let kids and parents alike explore their imaginations through the memorable onboard experiences we’re building together.”

The Seuss fun on Carnival will happen for the whole cruise, starting in the main dining room during The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends. Attendees will have the opportunity to kick off their day dining on playful foods straight from Dr. Seuss’s imagination – green eggs and ham, moose juice and goose juice, along with colorful fruit and pancake stacks, funky French toast and more, with traditional breakfast favorites also available.

To help set the tone on the first sea day of each cruise, Carnival’s wait staff will wear Dr. Seuss-inspired uniforms. Popular Dr. Seuss characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam will be joining guests at their tables for fun interactions and one-of-a-kind photo opportunities.

Every ship in the Carnival fleet will have a selection of classic Dr. Seuss books, toys and themed activities for children to enjoy.  Special showings of beloved Seuss movies will be shown outdoors on the giant screen of the Seaside Theater on Lido Deck as part of the cruise line’s Dive-In Movies programming.

At other times during the voyage, children and families will have the chance to meet and interact with favorite Dr. Seuss characters and participate in special photo opportunities featuring colorful and zany Dr. Seuss-inspired artwork, as well as through events and activities such as the Seuss-a-palooza Character Parade where guests can join Dr. Seuss characters in a swirly conga line along the Promenade.

Carnival Cruise Lines estimates it carries more than 700,000 kids aboard its fleet each year — nearly half of the total number of kids carried by the entire North American cruise industry.

Story and Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Crosby, Stills & Nash to serenade passengers on Cunard cruise

February 25, 2015 | Heidi

Remember the words to the beautiful song “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash: “So I’m sailing for tomorrow … I have my ship and all her flags are a’flyin.”

The name of the popular song is a reference to the Southern Cross constellation by which sailors in the Southern Hemisphere traditionally navigated their vessels.

Some lucky passengers are going to get the awesome experience of hearing the Grammy Award-winning trio perform that song and others on a special Transatlantic Crossing cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

“We are excited to welcome Crosby, Stills & Nash onboard Queen Mary 2 during Cunard’s 175th anniversary year. Having these music legends perform will be nothing less than thrilling for our passengers,” said Richard Meadows, president of Cunard Line North America.

“The band’s presence onboard demonstrates Cunard’s continued commitment to providing unique access to some of the world’s most legendary artists, resulting in a truly unforgettable ocean travel experience for our guests.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash will perform three exclusive concerts for passengers on board Queen May 2 during the seven-night cruise from New York to Southampton on Sept. 4-11.

“This will be a unique experience for us,” said Graham Nash. “We’re really looking forward to making music, bringing back memories and creating new ones—and this journey from New York to Southampton, on this beautiful vessel, will do just that.”

The Grammy Award winning trio, who first performed together at the now legendary Woodstock Festival over four decades ago, burst onto the music scene in 1969 with their self-titled debut LP, now one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

The band members are among the few to have been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once with Crosby Stills & Nash, and a second time with The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies.

They have also been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of fame, with the honor recognizing both CS&N as a group and each member as individual solo artists.

During the Queen Mary 2 Crossing from New York , the trio will perform some of their greatest hits including “Teach Your Children,” “Southern Cross” and “Wooden Ships” in the Royal Court Theatre. They will also participate in a Q&A session and special autograph opportunity for passengers on board.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch