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Crown Cruise Vacations | July 31, 2014

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Carnival Cruises: Captain Giovanni Cutugno celebrates 35 years with cruise line

May 22, 2014 | Heidi

Giovanni Cutugno is living his dream as captain of the Carnival Magic.

“My goal always was to be captain of a cruise ship and I love my job,” he said. “I have been with the Magic since she started. She is my baby.”

The man from Italy has been with Carnival Cruise Lines an amazing 35 years. “I have been a captain for 23 years,” Cutugno said. “I am Carnival’s most senior captain.”

It started on Nov. 15, 1978, when Cutugno boarded the Carnival Festivale as a third mate. “I come from a family of seamen which meant it was in my blood,” he said. “But my experience was in cargo and tanker vessels.”

Working his way up in the ranks, Cutugno served on a long roster of Carnival ships – Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Tropicale, Holiday, Jubilee, Celebration, Fantasy, Ecstasy, Sensation, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Paradise, Destiny, Fiesta Marina, Spirit, Pride, Legend and Conquest.

He moved from assistant navigator to third officer, then second officer, then first, safety officer and staff caption. In 1991, he became captain of the Tropicale. The Magic is the fourth new vessel he has commanded.

“Every time it feels like the first time,” he said. “You always learn something new.”

When he was introduced at the Welcome Board Show on the Magic, Cutugno came on stage to the sounds of Maroon Five. That is always his intro music, he said, because that is the GRAMMY-Award winning band that performed for a standing-room-only crowd on the Galveston pier when the Magic arrived in her new year round homeport of Galveston.

As ship captain, Cutugno gave Adam Levine and Maroon Five a tour of the ships’ wheelhouse. I was at the same kick-off concert and the weeklong cruise that departed Nov. 14, 2011, for the Magic’s inaugural cruise.

Small world!

By Jackie Scheckler Finch- Courtesy photo

Holland America announces finalists for ‘Dancing With Stars: At Sea’

April 11, 2014 | Heidi

Shine up your dancing shoes. Holland America cruise line has announced it is extending its partnership with “Dancing with the Stars” for another season.

Through the 2014 sailing season, passengers on Holland America ships can try their skills in the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” program.  The competition will culminate with a Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition for the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy on Dec. 6, 2014, on the ms Nieuw Westerdam.

“Our ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ programming has been wildly popular and a highlight of our cruises,” said  Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs.

One winning dancer from each of the 15 ships in the Holland America fleet will compete for the top title on the Dec. 6 cruise. Finalists will be selected as the winning guest with the highest overall score from the onboard “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea.”

In addition, Holland America also will feature six special “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises featuring the television show’s professional dancers and celebrities.

Currently scheduled to sail on all six theme cruises in 2014 are professional dancers Tristan MacManus and Kym Johnson and television personality Carson Kressley and actress Sabrina Bryan.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Photographer helps make cruise picture perfect

April 9, 2014 | Heidi

Taken by passenger James Ingle, the photograph shows a quintessential New Orleans scene. A wrought iron balcony, strolling French Quarter visitors and passing motorists combine for a lively photo.

But with one click of a button, Joe Restuccia III makes the photograph brighter, more colorful and more concentrated on the balcony. “That’s much better,” James agrees. Read More

A Smurfing Fun Time!

March 26, 2014 | Heidi

ABOARD THE MSC DIVINA - Those little blue creatures known as Smurfs are now delighting youngsters of all ages on the new MSC Divina. The 3,500-passenger ship has a Smurfs-themed Mini Club (ages 3-6) and a Junior Club (ages 7-11) as well as other fun-filled family activities with the ship’s giant Smurf mascot as the guest of honor.

The Smurf mascot will pay a number of key roles such as DJ and sous-chef during family events. Activities include Smurfs Family Disco, Smurfs Live Talent Show and Smurfs Master Chef – a special cooking demonstration held by the head pastry chef in which children learn how to make biscuits and cakes with hands-on experience. Read More