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
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.
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.
ABOARD THE CARNIVAL MAGIC – If there’s a cooking class on a cruise ship, I try to be there. Not only are ship’s recipes usually delicious, it is also fun to watch a chef prepare a favorite dish. Then I can take the recipe home to try myself.
Want to book a table at Eataly on your MSC cruise? Forgot what time the next trivia game takes place? Curious about weather in the next port of call? Or maybe you want to check when the aqua cycling class is scheduled?
Now passengers on the MSC Divina will have access to that information and more in the palm of their hand.
No wonder I love tiramisu. I knew it had coffee, alcohol and ladyfinger cookies in its delicious blend. But until I attended a cooking class aboard the Carnival Magic,I wasn’t sure of the other ingredients. Every one of them is yummy.
Nope, it wasn’t my stateroom on my MSC Divina cruise. But I can dream, can’t I?
I did get to see the Sophia Loren Suite (Room 16007) and it is terrific. Just as I would have expected since it was designed by the legendary actress who is also the MSC fleet’s godmother.
Located within the Divina’s famous “ship within a ship” – the MSC Yacht Club – the suite has a rich luxurious red sofa and chairs, plus a lush red carpet topped by a swirly figured carpet in the living room.
Sounds silly but whenever I check into a Carnival cruise ship, I’m always curious to see what little freebies they have put in my cabin bathroom.
An amenity basket in every cabin is filled with an odd assortment of toiletries, free samples and money-saving coupons. One time my daughter Kelly and I got men’s aftershave, some chocolate candy, razors and bottles of sunscreen.
We ate the candy, my daughter took the aftershave and razors home to her son and we used the sunscreen.
On my most recent cruise, the basket on the bathroom counter had two tubes of toothpaste, two packs of motion sickness pills and some hand lotion. My cabin attendant left me several more tubes of toothpaste throughout my week long cruise.
“It’s our way of saying ‘welcome.’ Sort of a hospitality gift,” said Carnival Magic Cruise Director James Dunn.
It is nice. And the small tubes of toothpaste come in quite handy. Since I take only carry-on luggage, I’m always looking for three ounce or less toothpaste tubes. Just another way Carnival Cruise Lines tries to please its passengers. I appreciate it.
By Jackie Sheckler Finch
The first person eliminated in the musical chairs competition aboard the Carnival Magic won a consolation prize of a miniature model of the ship.
The last man standing in the musical chairs also got an award – a miniature model of the ship.
“Everyone wins on the Carnival Magic,” cruise director James Dunn explained. “This is a wonderful prize … We call it a ‘Ship on a Stick.’”
Craving some of that delicious pasta served in Eataly restaurant on the MSC Divina?
Now you can buy some in the restaurant shop to take home and prepare yourself.
I knew that the MSC Divina had a top-notch Italian restaurant known as Eataly and I was looking forward to eating there. However, I was surprised at the restaurant’s mini emporium that sells authentic Italian and artisan products, including olive oils, dried pastas, regional sweet and aged balsamics.
“We want to give you a taste of Italy, not just feeding you but showing you where the food comes from, ” said Enrico Borniotto, general manager of Italia Catering.
“This is dedicated to our American passengers,” he said. “It is like a trip within a trip.”
I can certainly agree with that. Sitting in Eataly restaurant, I could easily imagine that I am in Italy. The décor is simple but elegant. White tablecloth, white flowers, wooden floor, exposed brick walls.
And the food. Oh, my goodness, the food.
After the first two Eataly restaurants at sea proved a big hit on sister ship MSC Preziosa, the cruise line decided to offer one on the new MSC Divina, which is now based in Miami. It is the first MSC ship to sail year round from North America.
The popular Turin-based Eataly chain was founded by Oscar Farinette in 2007 and opened in the U.S. in 2010 in partnership with celebrity chefs Marion Batali and Lidia and Joe Bastianich. Eataly now has 16 locations around the world.
“Much like MSC, Eataly is taking its Italian roots and expanding in North America,” said Ken Muskat, senior vice president of sales and marketing for MSC Cruises USA.
By Jackie Sheckler Finch