ALL POSTS IN [Cruises]

The Norwegian Getaway (Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Planning a cruise this year? Here’s a quick look at 4 new cruise ships scheduled to set sail in 2014.

Costa Cruises’ Costa Diadema
Costa Cruises caters primarily to Italian travelers, but from time to time, its ships sail into American markets and share similar layouts with the ships of its sister companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America Line. The Costa Diadema, launching in October 2014, may likely influence the ships coming in 2015, too.

Dining Options
With 7 restaurants and 15 bars, the Costa Diadema offers a wide array of cuisines and beverages for its guests. Some venues include the Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant, Piazza Pizza Pizzeria, Birreria La Fiamma pub, Bar Bollicine Prosecco bar, Vinoteca Huit-Huit wine bar and Gelateria Amarillo ice cream parlor.

Entertainment Options
A 2-deck gaming area satisfies video and laser game aficionados, while a Grand Prix simulator virtually fulfills the need for speed.  For music lovers, the new Country Rock Club is dedicated to playing American classic rock music. And rounding out the onboard attractions are a 4D cinema, 3-deck theater and the Portobello Market Piazza, an impressive 11,840-square-foot retail complex.

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Waikiki Beach (Photo: Reuters)

Congrats, you survived the holidays. Now it’s time for a real vacation, and here’s the good news: The first few weeks after the New Year are a great time to snag some killer travel deals, says travel deals expert Johnny Jet.

“Not only is it cheaper, but all the resorts are going to be empty — you won’t have to fight for a beach or restaurant chair,” says Johnny Jet. (The other good window for travel deals is the week after Thanksgiving, he adds). “Everyone is offering huge discounts,” says Jet, whose site offers up-to-the-minute listings of post-New Year’s travel deals.
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Photography by Jason Leppert

Love cruises and Dancing With the Stars? Now you can combine the 2 into one great cruise experience.

Holland America Line has partnered with Dancing with the Stars, the popular TV show that has made ratings magic with its signature pairing of professional dancers and celebrities, to create Dancing with the Stars: At Sea. The result is a set of theme cruises featuring select dancers and stars onboard and a fleet-wide dancing competition.

The aim is to promote cross-generational appeal among cruise-goers.

“Of course with anything we do, we hope to attract new guests, whether new to cruising or new to Holland America,” says Erik Elvejord, director of public relations at the cruise line. “Our primary considerations in selecting new partners are finding those that meet the desires and tastes of our guests and that can be delivered successfully onboard.”

So far that vision is paying off. Multigenerational fans — grandparents and grandchildren alike — have packed the house for the dance classes, fashion shows, photo-ops, signings and performances.

Photography by Jason Leppert

“I think what they love so much about it is that they get to be a part of it,” says Carson Kressley, one of the show’s stars. Another contestant and Olympian, Shawn Johnson, adds, “It’s very intimate. We walk around the cruise all week and get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner with all these people.”

If all this sounds like a cruise experience you’d love to have, you now have a chance to hop aboard – and dance away the nights — for free: Holland America is sponsoring a chance to win a free cruise trip on all sailings departing through November 2013.

Here’s how it works: Across the Holland America’s 15 ships, participating passengers will accumulate points with the single-highest scorer per ship winning passage on the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Onboard, a final dance-off will commence to see who will be rewarded a special version of the Mirror Ball Trophy as seen on the show. Only 2 theme cruises remain for now, but the partnership is expected to renew. So make sure you jump into the competition!

- Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based writer, photographer and videographer who publishes his own cruise travel website,PopularCruising.com.

All aboard! Next stop … the sunny shores of South Beach. By saying “yes” to Trip Flip host Bert Kreischer, Austin, TX, locals Nathan and Shannon have agreed to let him take the lead on an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami, with no idea of what’s in store for them. They certainly will not be disappointed.

How would you like to be given a tour of the city by one of the most successful music producers of all time — and husband of famed singer Gloria Estefan — 19-time Grammy award winner, Emilio Estefan? What about partaking in a drag race and drift at the Countyline Dragway, skimboarding in crystal-clear waters or getting turned into sand mermaids by sculpture artist, Victor Leong?

An amazing trip so far, right?

The third day of Shannon and Nathan’s Miami adventure starts at dawn, when Bert gets ready to reveal his biggest surprise of the season. Bert takes the couple to the Port of Miami by speedboat, where he informs them that they’ll also be going on an amazing, 6-day Carnival cruise to the Bahamas.

Bert and the lucky couple aren’t the only ones who got to enjoy the amenities of the Carnival cruise. Trip Flip’s senior producer John tells Travel Channel, “Our crew — who has traveled quite a bit and seen a few things — were so impressed with our VIP treatment, especially getting on and off the ship.  We felt like royalty.”

“Sometimes Trip Flip can be very spontaneous,” John adds. “The ship’s staff, crew and guests couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating.”

Nate and Shannon are quick to take full advantage of all the onboard amenities, such as the top-level sky challenge course, and the on-ship water park, Waterworks. After riding the 300-foot corkscrew slide, it’s finally time to relax, so Bert arranges an appointment at the ship’s spa for an intimate couple’s massage.  And that’s just day 1 of their cruise!

Bert enjoys himself quite a bit, as well, with senior producer John telling us, “Whenever Bert shows up poolside, the party seems to arrive with him.”

To find out more about Nate and Shannon’s amazing Miami trip and personalized Carnival cruise, tune in tonight at 8|7c.

Plus, don’t forget to check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from this amazing Miami Trip Flip.

Want to take your own Carnival Breeze adventure? Go to Carnival.com to start planning your next vacation!

Thinkstock

The once-isolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar didn’t always go by its current name. In 1989, the name “Myanmar” replaced the more commonly known “Burma” by order of the government, and this fascinating nation is now commonly referenced by either of these monikers. It is truly a land of 2 names.

After decades of isolation, Myanmar has now opened their ports to tourism, allowing the curious and adventurous alike to visit a country virtually unchanged by Western influence. A feast for the senses, Myanmar prides itself on ancient temples, unspoiled rainforests and the charm of the people who have inhabited this great land for thousands of years. Sitting on the Andaman Sea, Myanmar has several ports of entry. However, the most popular way to visit is on a river cruise.

Why a river cruise? Imagine winding your way through dense rainforests with a new and amazing discovery waiting around each bend. Visualize silently sailing up a tropical river, and seeing an ancient Buddhist temple appear through the mist.

A Viking river cruise, one of the first lines to serve this emerging tourist destination, starts in the busy international port of Bangkok, Thailand. Here you’ll get the chance to shake off your flight and explore some of Thailand’s most wondrous sites, like the Grand Palace (residence of the Emperor), jewel markets and the famous floating market. Next, you are whisked away to Yangon (Rangoon), the former capital of Myanmar, for the starting point of your river voyage into the interior of the country.

Before sailing on, you’ll see some of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating temples, such as Shwedagon Pagoda, where Buddhist monks move about this storied stupa thought to be over 2,500 years old. Your voyage continues up the Irrawaddy River to Pyay to see an archeological site marking the center of the Pyu civilization and Thayetmyo, famous for the British colonial post that was once there. You’ll also visit Minhla and enjoy views from Gwechaung Hill before sailing to the fascinating cities of Magway, Bagan, Yandabo andAmarapura, which holds claim to the world’s longest teak bridge.

Your cruise ends in Myanmar’s most central city, Mandalay, where you can visit Mahamuni Pagoda and its famous gold-leaf statue of the Buddha. Along the way, you’ll experience all aspects of life in Myanmar, taste local cuisine prepared by master chefs onboard and learn about the rich history and culture of this magical and largely undiscovered part of Asia.

Myanmar, or “Burma,” as many still call it, is the perfect destination for someone looking for an enriching and unique pin to put on their map. Years of isolation have preserved one of the most unique and historically rich cultures in Asia. Now, thanks to the popularity of river cruising, you can see this wondrous place yourself.

By Karolina Shenton, The Cruise Web

Karolina Shenton has been in the travel industry for over a decade as The Cruise Web’s marketing and operations manager.  In her free time she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, dives with hammerhead sharks around Cocos Island or cruises with her family.

 

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Photography by Reuters

Australian mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer has unveiled blueprints to build the Titanic II. The new ship, expected to set sail in 2016, will recreate the original ship’s design and decor, but it will be modified to adhere to current safety rules and shipbuilding practices (thank goodness!).

Pretty much everyone knows that the original Titanic, a British cruise liner, sank in the Northern Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Some 1,500 people died on the super cruise ship’s maiden voyage from Southhampton, UK, to New York City.

Although the contract to build the Titanic II has not been signed yet, Palmer claims the ship will be the “safest cruise ship in the world.” He says the lifeboats will have enough space for every person on board, and that the cruise liner will also include escape staircases and modern technology to avoid icebergs. Construction is scheduled to start later this year in China, according to Reuters.

Another fun fact we learned about the new cruise liner is that passengers will have the opportunity to relive the past by dressing in 1912-style clothing, provided by the cruise. And with the right ticket, passengers can go a step further and visit the first-class dining and smoking rooms similar to the original luxury liner.

According to NBC News, there are already 40,000 applications to take the first trip on the Titanic replica and 12 people are willing to pay $1 million for a first-class trip. Regular ticket prices for a voyage on the Titanic II will be announced at a later date.

In the meantime, Travel Channel has a few cruise vacation ideas to help you plan your next trip on the high seas. Our cruise experts offer advice and tips on the best cruises to see Hawaii, as well as the top Disney cruises, can’t-miss adventure cruises, cruises for GLBT travelers and best restaurants at sea. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t prepare you for your next cruise with a few cruise safety tips and 7 ways to improve your cruise. Set sail and let your cruisin’ adventure begin!

Photo by Dave Vann

Once in a while, a music festival can inspire a road trip. Sure, it’s super-convenient when your favorite bands happen to stop somewhere close to home, but sometimes it’s fun to make the journey to partake in one of the biggest gatherings of music lovers around. So why not take that to a new level? Book a cruise.

Concert cruises aren’t a new idea — there have been the Rock Boat, Jam Cruise and even John Mayer’s Mayercraft — but if you follow travel news like we have, there’s reason to believe that this trend is going to take off.

In fact, the world’s largest passenger ship will set sail for a Beatles tribute cruise next year. Royal Caribbean’s 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas will host the 7-night Cruise for Beatles Fans 2013.A Beatles tribute band will be onboard along with other musicians — all with a Beatles connection — such as Mark Hudson, a producer for the Beatles’ Ringo Starr; Billy J. Kramer, who has recorded songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; Joey Molland, a singer from Badfinger, a band signed by the Beatles’ label.

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by Jimmy Im

When it comes to Belfast, more Americans remember its dark political history and forget that the New York-bound Titanic ship was built and made its maiden voyage from there 100 years ago this month. Belfast is hot on its heels of erasing the repercussions of its late civil war (the city is known as the safest city in all of Europe based on nationwide crime figures), and the Titanic is luring travelers the world over to check out the new and improved Belfast.

Titanic Memorial in Belfast

This month, the $156 million Titanic Building opened its doors, providing the world’s largest Titanic memorial. The museum center stands the same height as the original Titanic — about 10 stories high — and is designed to look like the hull of the ship. And don’t expect tributes to Jack and Rose. The Titanic Building is the real deal, with 9 informative galleries that start with Boomtown Belfast (when the city was at the forefront of shipbuilding) and the launch of the Titanic, ending with the Oceanic Exploration Center. So visitors can explore the wreckage discovered 2 1/2 miles on the ocean floor in 1985. Interactive features allow visitors to feel like they were actually on the ship. READ MORE

Patti LaBelle

Looking for a fun, theme cruises? Then pay tribute to the TV show The Soul Train and its creator Don Cornelius. Book your room on the Soul Train cruise, scheduled for February 17-24, 2013. Holland America’s Westerdam will host the festive cruise that will feature multiple shows and activities simultaneously.

According to Huffington Post, 12 acts have already signed up to keep the patrons shaking their groove thing. Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Kool & The Gang, The Spinners, War, Gerald Alston, George Duke, War and several other artists will help keep things lively with nightly shows held in the Vista Lounge.

The cruise line will stop in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Book now! Cabins run from $1,800 to $7,500 for early reservation, which end on April 31, 2012. Get more information about the hippest trip at sea.

Travel Channel has more cruise information to help you plan your next voyage.

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Costa Concordia Cruise Liner Sinking Off the Coast of Tuscany

Three people were found alive Sunday morning, more than 24 hours after rocks tore a 160-foot gash in the hull of a cruise ship, off the coast of Tuscany. Rescue crews found the purser of the Costa Concordia trapped in the ship’s restaurant, suffering from hypothermia. A South Korean couple was also found trapped in the ship, which was nearly 50 percent submerged in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The ship, carrying 4,000 passengers and crew members, ran aground on Friday, and authorities say up to 41 people are still missing. At least 3 people were killed, and 20 others were found with injuries.  Survivors, some comparing the experience to the movie “Titanic,” spoke of a chaotic and terrifying scene where passengers pushed and shoved their way to get onto lifeboats, while others leapt overboard into the sea.

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