MSC Divina Holiday Celebrations‏

October 21, 2014 on 3:55 pm | In Cruise Boats | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowRelax, Celebrate and Have Fun with 7-night Cruises from Miami to the Caribbean at Unbeatable Prices

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.  – This holiday season, MSC Cruises is encouraging guests to take the break they deserve with a 7-night escape on the stunning MSC Divina, one of the largest and most luxurious cruise ships sailing from Miami to the Caribbean.

With MSC Cruises taking care of the catering, entertainment and clean up, guests have the opportunity to relax and spend time with loved ones while enjoying all the beautiful amenities MSC Divina has to offer and visiting some of the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean.

“The holiday season is really about spending quality time with family and friends,” said Ken Muskat, executive vice president of sales, PR & guest services for MSC Cruises. “We’ve worked very hard to ensure that guests sailing on MSC Divina this holiday season can enjoy the festivities and traditions that come along with the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, without worrying about all the planning details.”

Highlights of MSC Divina holiday celebrations include:

Thanksgiving – Nov. 22nd departure to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas: Spend Thanksgiving Day at sea enjoying festive entertainment, a traditional Turkey dinner and all-day Thanksgiving football displayed on multiple large screens in the sports bar. Kids ages 3-11 can participate in a special Turkey Day cooking class and a Thanksgiving Day costume parade and show. A Thanksgiving scavenger hunt, flash mob and party will take place for children ages 12-17. Prices start at $379.

Hanukkah – Dec. 13th departure to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas:

For those celebrating Hanukkah, MSC Divina will host a nightly Menorah lighting as well as serve traditional Hanukkah foods. Special kosher meals can also be ordered in advance. Prices start at $329.

Christmas – Dec. 20th departure to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas:

During Christmas MSC Divina will be decked out in the best traditional trimmings, with sparkling lights, shimmering decorations and festive Christmas trees. Guests will enjoy traditional Christmas carols, a visit by Santa Claus who will present a gift to every child on board, and special Christmas menus honoring the culinary traditions of the holiday. In addition, kids will delight in Christmas-themed cooking classes, parades, scavenger hunts, and disco dances. A Christmas mass will also be available onboard. Prices start at $599

Bookings made by Oct. 31, 2014 qualify for the line’s National Cruise Vacation Month deal, which includes balcony staterooms at ocean view rates for select sailings in both the Caribbean and Mediterranean, plus kids aged 11 and under sail free. MSC Cruises is also offering a complimentary drink package on these select sailings for those who upgrade to MSC Cruises’ new “Fantastica experience.” Finally, bookings made before the end of the month will qualify for pre-paid gratuities for all MSC Divina seven-night Caribbean sailings between now and December 13, 2014.

About MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is a privately-held, family-owned, Italian cruise line with a fleet of 12 ships. The fleet cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in the Caribbean, Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the French Antilles, South America, South Africa, The United Arab Emirates and the Red Sea. In March 2014, the line announced the construction of two new cruise ships by STX France due for delivery respectively in 2017 and 2019. Two months later, the line announced the construction of two additional new builds by Fincantieri due for delivery respectively in Nov. 2017 and May 2018. For more information, visit

All information believed to be accurate as of the date of issuance. It is the reader’s responsibility to verify its continued accuracy, as all information is subject to change.

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See The Solar Eclipse & Northern Lights With P&O Cruises

October 21, 2014 on 12:28 pm | In Cruise Boats | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowP&O Cruises is offering a rare opportunity to witness two natural phenomenons in one unique holiday; to see a total solar eclipse and, with luck, spot the elusive aurora borealis.

Exclusively for adults, join Oriana’s 14-night cruise departing from Southampton on March 17, 2015 on its scenic quest to the remote Faroe Islands and northern Norway before returning back to Southampton.

With a full solar eclipse taking place on March 20, 2015, Oriana will be berthed in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands and the best place to view the last total solar eclipse for over a decade in Europe.

Oriana will then cruise to and stay overnight in both Tromsø and Alta, known as ‘the town of the Northern Lights’ where a huge choice of excursions are on offer including a husky adventure, reindeer sledging, snow mobile rides, a visit to an ice hotel and dedicated trips in search of the Northern Lights with an expert guide.

Select Prices for the 14-night solar eclipse & Northern Lightscruise on Oriana (X506N) start from £1,799 per person based on two sharing with £140 free on board spending money per cabin.

To book, visit , call 0843 373 0111 or visit your local travel agent.

Book before November 30, 2014 and Early Saver prices are available from £1,349 per person.

Link to cruise:

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Nova Star Cruises Offers Unique ‘Wine Experience and Education’ Events

October 21, 2014 on 11:39 am | In Canada, Cruise Boats, Nova Scotia | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowThe fastest growing wine region in North America is not Napa or Sonoma, or even the wineries of upstate New York. It’s Nova Scotia, and for the past several months Nova Star Cruises has featured some of the finest, award-winning wines Nova Scotia has to offer at special “Wine Experience and Education” seminars during Nova Star’s voyages between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

“Because of the cooler climate and distinctive terroir, Nova Scotia’s vineyards are producing some premium quality grapes,” said Gillian Mainguy, office manager for the Winery Association of Nova Scotia (WANS). “As a result, our 12 member wineries are increasingly producing award-winning wines that are garnering international acclaim.”

To further the education of international wines, with an emphasis on those from Nova Scotia, sommelier Bill Foster leads the weekly events on Sundays in Nova Star’s upscale restaurant, Currents. The presentations offer insight about the region and the winemakers, and guests partake in tasting and critiquing sessions. In addition to wines, Foster also shares information and samples of beers crafted in Maine and Nova Scotia during the onboard events.

“The Nova Scotia wine region has developed a favorable reputation in the wine industry in a very short period of time” said Foster, President of Edgegraphics, Inc., a Kennebunkport-based firm that cultivates entrepreneurial opportunities by promoting and selecting wines from around the world. “As I educate myself about the wines and the unusual varieties of grapes from which they’re produced, I also find that my audiences are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines, which include a selection of whites, reds, sparkling, dessert and ice wines.”

Nova Scotia Wines Featured On Board the Nova Star


Dusey Seyval Blanc

Domaine de Grand Pré, 2012

Ortega, Luckett Vineyards, 2012

Tidal Bay, Jost, 2013

Vintner’s Reserve Riesling, Domaine de Grand Pré, 2013


4 Skins, Jost, 2012

Vintners Reserve Castel

Domaine de Grand Pré, 2013

Phone Box Red, Luckett Vineyards, 2012

Triumphe, Luckett Vineyards, 2013

Vintner’s Reserve Foch, Domaine de Grand Pré, 2010

Hanspeter Stutz, president and CEO of Grand Pre Wines Ltd., who also gives wine-tasting presentations on board the Nova Star commented, “Nova Scotia is truly an up-and-coming wine destination with seven distinct regions that are producing award-winning wines.” Stutz continued, “Introducing the wines to guests sailing on the beautiful Nova Star is not only enjoyable for them, it’s a great way for them to learn about an emerging industry in the country they are going to visit.”

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Princess Cruises Celebrates 50 Years Throughout 2015

October 21, 2014 on 11:37 am | In Cruise Boats | Comments Off

The 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises will be especially memorable for guests cruising in 2015, as they will be treated to festive onboard celebrations including a themed menu, cocktails and entertainment.

“We love helping our guests celebrate their many milestone occasions aboard their cruises, so to be able to mark our company’s golden anniversary with them in 2015 is very special,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We’ve developed many not-to-be-missed experiences commemorating our 50th and we know our guests will thoroughly enjoy the lively atmosphere found on board during our anniversary year.”

The following anniversary offerings will be introduced across the fleet early in 2015:

Love Boat Disco Deck Party – To honor the iconic role The Love Boat played in the line’s history, a new Love Boat Disco Party will celebrate the beloved program by creating an exciting 70’s theme night with a few surprises.

Movies Under the Stars will showcase video messages from the original Love Boat cast, special montages from the show, a Love Boat sing-a-long and show trivia, ’70s music videos and even a live kiss cam.

The party will also feature a production number, a celebration of weddings and anniversaries of guests onboard, a photo opportunity with a Love Boat life ring and plenty of dancing with a party band.

Festive Food – One night on every cruise, the main dining rooms will present a special souvenir menu, featuring commemorative dishes from the past five decades, including Duck Terrine with Apricot Preserves and Filet of Turbot with Truffle Chive Sauce. Known for offering “the best pizza at sea,” Princess chefs will also introduce a variety of new anniversary pizzas such as Spicy Tomato & Shrimp, Potato, Bacon & Brie and Thai.

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowChocolate Journeys – As part of the new “Chocolate Journeys” experience, renowned master pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love has created two special 50th anniversary desserts that will be served to guests during their cruise vacations – Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with Vanilla Crème Brulee and Crunchy Shortbread or Moist Chocolate Dome with Raspberry Crème Brulée and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse. These two desserts will alternate from one voyage to another.

Cheers to 50 Years – Guests can sip inventive cocktails from renowned mixologist Spike Marchant along with popular drinks through the decades – from a classic martini to a pina colada. A special half-bottle anniversary-labeled Prosecco will be offered and the new Seawitch West Coast IPA craft beer especially brewed for the 50th anniversary will be available.

Let Us Entertain You – A 50th celebration in the signature Piazza will feature a golden balloon drop and some balloons will even feature surprise giveaway items hidden inside. A special anniversary song, “Here’s to Princess,” celebrating the line’s history will also be performed. Guests can also compete in exciting game shows and test their knowledge with the Princess Trivia Challenge – 50th Anniversary edition. Plus, on select sailings, guests can dance to the music of tribute bands – like the Beatlemaniacs – bringing the greatest hits over the decades to life.

50th Anniversary Décor and Guest Giveaways – Anniversary décor and signage will be displayed from the time guests arrive in the terminal (domestic home ports only) and be visible through various onboard touches, including a spectacular anniversary display cake presented in the atrium. A 50th anniversary tote bag and commemorative time line will be placed in each guest stateroom upon embarkation. In addition, guests will notice the 50th anniversary logo on their stateroom key cards and on the daily Princess Patter. A series of videos will also play on stateroom televisions that share the company’s history and milestone moments. Each cruise ship in the fleet will also be adorned with a 50th anniversary flag on the bow.

Commemorative Keepsakes – The onboard boutiques, voted “Best Onboard Shopping” six consecutive years by Porthole magazine, will offer limited edition merchandise and exclusive offers during the anniversary celebration. Plus, the photo department will have commemorative backdrops and folios to capture the memories of guests’ cruise vacations.

The 50th anniversary officially kicks off with the naming ceremony of Regal Princess on November 5, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale by the original Love Boat cast members before she sets sail for her maiden season of Caribbean cruises. Some of the 50th anniversary onboard offerings will be available aboard Regal Princess beginning in November and roll out to the rest of the fleet in early 2015.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at  More information about various 50th anniversary activities, including a comprehensive historical time line and video, can be found here:

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Emerald Waterways’ “Enchantments of Eastern Europe” River Cruise

October 20, 2014 on 2:25 pm | In Austria, Cruise Boats, Europe, France, Germany, Hungary, Lichtenstein, London, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowEmerald Waterways, Europe’s first new river cruise company to launch in six years, announces a brand new itinerary for 2015: “Enchantment of Eastern Europe.” The 10-day voyage travels from Budapest to Bucharest along the Danube, passing through Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Travelers can experience a different kind of beauty in Eastern Europe than they would expect to find on a more typical river cruise through the continent. Here, shadows of the past tell tales of strength and resolution in war-torn villages, towns and cities alike, and travelers gain a deeper understanding of a time before the peace and beauty that now shines through the region’s most popular destinations. Departures on April 18 and July 23, 2015 travel from Budapest to Bucharest, while departures on April 23 and July 28 travel in the opposite direction. Prices range from $3,085 to $5,480 per person, double. Travelers who book by October 31 can save $250 off the price of their trip.

The voyage includes seven nights aboard one of Emerald’s “Star-Ships” and two nights lodging in Bucharest and encompasses some of Eastern Europe’s most historic and enchanting towns. Panoramic views of the cosmopolitan city of Budapest seen from onboard provide an epic start to the journey. In the historic Hungarian city of Kalocsa, a visit to a horse farm showcases the exceptional riding skills of the local Maygar horsemen. Travelers looking for authentic experiences will enjoy a home-hosted lunch with a local family in Vukovar, Serbia, a city that suffered heavy damage during the Croatian War of Independence. A tour of the Serbian capital of Belgrade uncovers a turbulent history to this culturally rich city. Journeying through the Iron Gate—the narrow gorge between the European Alps and Carpathian Mountains, which also forms the Serbia-Romania border—and touring the historic Bulgarian towns of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi provide the opportunity to view spectacular scenery. A guided tour of ancient Silistra in Romania takes travelers to a Roman tomb, an Ottoman fort and a medieval fortress, and two days in Bucharest give guests plenty of time to explore the city’s many historic and cultural landmarks.

Emerald Waterway’s inclusive pricing plan means guests don’t have to worry about daily budget or mounting costs. The Enchantment of Eastern Europe sailing includes two nights at the Novotel Bucharest or similar hotel; seven nights in a stateroom or suite, all with a river view; two shore excursions either by foot or first-class coach; two EmeraldPLUS experiences, including lunch in the home of a local family; 22 meals, including nine breakfasts, five lunches, one special lunch, five dinners and two highlight dinners; complimentary tea and coffee available onboard at all times; complimentary bottled water in suites and staterooms, restocked daily; a variety of onboard evening entertainment; first-class service from an English-speaking crew and knowledgeable local guides; complimentary WiFi onboard; and all port charges and airport transfers within Europe.

Emerald Waterway’s new ships – Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 72 suites and 20 staterooms, including two built for solo occupancy. Unique items include an onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, which transforms into a movie theater in the evening; two restaurants – Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for breakfast and lunch; and a new type of cabin design that replaces the run-of-the-mill French balcony, common to most ships, with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system. The system allows guests to push a button and the upper half of the floor to ceiling panoramic window drops down to allow an open-air opportunity; top suites separate the balcony from the cabin with sliding doors. Ships also feature an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area.

As part of the Scenic Tours Group, Emerald Waterways is backed by the award-winning expertise of the world’s leading luxury river cruise operator. Additional information can be found by contacting your local travel agent; on Emerald Waterways’ website, ; or by calling the US consumer/travel agent reservations line (855-222-3214). Brochure orders may be placed on the website, or a digital downloadable version is available.

Huge Savings on the 2015 Panama and Alaskan Sun

October 20, 2014 on 11:45 am | In Alaska, Cruise Boats, Panama | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowCRUISE specialist has just released a new 34-night cruise tour package for 2015 which takes in Alaska, North America and the Panama Canal with introductory discounted prices of up to 40 per cent, when you book by December 15.

The deal is great value as it includes return air fares, 29 nights aboard the Norwegian Sun, three nights at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Hotel in Tampa, Florida and two nights at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel.

The new price starts from $6489 for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane passengers, from $6739 from Adelaide and from $6859 from Perth and also includes all meals and entertainment on the ship, and all port and air taxes.

After your stay in Tampa, the Norwegian Sun departs on April 19, 2015 for a stop in Colombia before passing through the Panama Canal to Costa Rica. It then makes three port calls in Mexico and calls on Los Angeles and San Francisco on the way to Canada.

The ship then spends several days cruising the waters of Alaska including the Inside passage and Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan before returning to Vancouver.

For more details contact on 1300 369 848 or check-out

Big Savings on Transatlantic Princess Cruise

October 19, 2014 on 7:22 am | In Cruise Boats | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowSavings of more than $4000 per person are now available through on a 33-night voyage on Caribbean Princess’ trans-Atlantic crossing from England to Canada if you book by November 15, 2014.

The complete air, land and sea package of 42 nights is now available from $10,599 per person twin share and includes return economy air fares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as well as three nights’ stopover at Fairmont The Palm in Dubai with daily breakfast and dinner, three nights pre-cruise at the exclusive Savoy in London with daily breakfast and a London City Sightseeing Pass and three nights in Quebec City at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac before flying home.

The cruise departs Southampton on August 29, 2015 and heads to Norway, with day visits to Stavanger, Olden, Geiranger, Hellesylt and Bergen before calling at the Shetland Islands in Scotland.

Experience the unique landscape of Iceland with visits to Akureyri, Isafjordur and Reykjavik. Spend a full day at both St John’s in Newfoundland and Halifax in Nova Scotia before crossing the Atlantic to enjoy an overnight stay in New York City. The ship then calls into Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and onwards to your final destination, Quebec City.

The package also includes all meals with four varieties of dining aboard the modern Caribbean Princess, plus use of the swimming pools, spas and sauna. Other facilities include fitness centre, extensive library, casino, theatres, nine-hole putting course and much more.

Air taxes, port charges and on-board gratuities are included in the price.

Prices from Adelaide start from $10,999 and from Perth $11,159.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises Releases Winter 2015-2016

October 15, 2014 on 2:44 pm | In Cruise Boats | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowToday, Regent Seven Seas Cruises unveiled its 2015-2016 Winter Collection, revealing a lineup that features a variety of destination-rich itineraries that will travel to the mystic lands of Asia and Africa, iconic cities in South America and Europe, and through breathtaking landscapes of the Caribbean and Alaska. In total, the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet will visit more than 150 ports in 50 different countries with its Winter Collection, including several overnight stays in the world’s most desirable destinations.

For sailings in the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is introducing new options for its complimentary pre- and post-cruise land programs which include a free three-night hotel stay, complemented by guided tours that immerse guests in the destination. For example, guests booked on voyages beginning or ending in Bangkok or Singapore can discover the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and explore the jungles of central Cambodia on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, all while enjoying the comforts of five-star hospitality.

Continually recognized for providing guests with the most comprehensive, all-inclusive luxury experience, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is adding to that reputation by offering these three-night land stays complimentary to guests booked in a Concierge Suite or higher. The customized land adventures, valued at $1,999 per person, are also available for guests staying in a Deluxe Suite for a special rate starting at $699 per person.

The luxury line also introduced eight new Grand Voyages, ranging from a 35-night Cape Town to Miami sailing, all the way up to a 72-night South American roundtrip Miami cruise. The 49-night Singapore to Tokyo Grand Voyage introduces two new intriguing ports of call for Regent Seven Seas with Boracay Island, known for its award winning beaches and Jeju, South Korea, home to Hallasan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In total, the just released Winter Collection includes eight destinations never before visited by Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships. The new ports of call include:

• El Guamache (Isla Margarita), Venezuela

• Jeju, South Korea

• Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

• Shimizu, Japan

• Boracay Island, Philippines

• Fort-de-France, Martinique

• Khasab, Oman

• Santa Marta, Columbia

With such an elaborate array of itineraries, the breakdown below outlines in more detail the regions and destinations where the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet will sail in winter 2015-2016.

Seven Seas Voyager

Seven Seas Voyager will sail across three continents with voyages in Africa, Asia and Europe. During its six sailings in Asia, Seven Seas Voyager will offer an extensive number of overnights in exotic ports of call such as Rangoon, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Shanghai, Beijing, Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, and Hanoi. The ship repositions to the Mediterranean with a 21-night Dubai to Barcelona sailing on May 2, 2016 that includes a new port of call, Khasab, Oman along with overnights in Safaga, Egypt (Luxor) and Haifa, Israel (Jerusalem).

Seven Seas Mariner

Seven Seas Mariner begins the season traversing the South African coast before setting off on an unforgettable 14-night sojourn from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro to explore the vibrant destinations of South America, from the wonders of Patagonia to the exotic Amazon River. The ship spends much of April 2016 sailing the Caribbean before heading through the Panama Canal and heading up to America’s last frontier. This marks the first time since 2009 that Seven Seas Mariner will visit the picturesque ports and stunning natural scenery found along the inside passage of Alaska.

Seven Seas Navigator

Guests sailing the intimate 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator in winter 2015-2016 will be able to experience the alluring beauty, colorful communities, pristine beaches and delightful cuisine of the Caribbean islands. In total, the ship will sail 10 Caribbean voyages ranging from 7- to 10-nights in length, with a special 25-night trip to the Amazon being the highlight of the season. After a couple months in the Caribbean, Seven Seas Navigator will return to the Mediterranean and sail the French and Italian Riviera, including a 10-night voyage departing April 13, 2016 that visits Port-Vendres, Marseille, Saint-Tropez, Monte Carlo, Portofino and Cinque Terre.

Seven Seas Explorer is scheduled to join the rest of the award-winning Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet in the summer of 2016. Designed to be the most luxurious ship ever built, reservations for the maiden voyage and inaugural season for Seven Seas Explorer will be available to book in early 2015.

For more specific itinerary details or for general information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, guests can visitwww., call 1.844.4REGENT (1.844.473.4368) or contact a professional travel agent. Guests will be able to book these exciting new cruises starting at 8:30 a.m. EST on Oct. 15, 2014.

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American Cruise Lines Unveils ‘American Eagle’

October 15, 2014 on 2:30 pm | In Adventure Travel, Cruise Boats, Midwest, Plains States, The South | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowAmerican Cruise Lines has named its new 150-passenger riverboat American Eagle. It is scheduled to depart on its first cruise on March 28.

The paddlewheeler, which is similar to the Queen of the Mississippi, will operate on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. It primarily offers seven-night cruises round-trip from New Orleans and between New Orleans and Memphis, at fares from $4,320. From Aug. 22 through mid-September, the vessel will operate three seven-night cruises between St. Louis and St. Paul, Minn.

Of particular note are two longer sailings that explore the entire length of the Mississippi River, between New Orleans and St. Paul. The northbound version departs Aug. 8 and takes 21 nights as it heads upriver to St. Paul. It is priced from $12,180. The southbound option departs Sept. 12 and only takes 14 nights; fares start at $8,420.

“It’s been evident that our guests enjoy cruising more than one portion of the Mississippi River at a time, often purchasing cruises back-to-back,” said Timothy Beebe, vice president of American Cruise Lines. “With this new offering, we provide a unique opportunity to travel the entire leg of the Mississippi River and experience the complete history of the western frontier.”

The 21-night “Complete Mississippi Cruise” will visit 16 ports from the Deep South to the Upper Midwest. Among the ports of call are Baton Rouge, La.; Natchez, Miss.; Memphis; St. Louis; Hannibal, Mo.; Davenport, Iowa; La Crosse, Wis.; and Red Wing, Minn. The downriver 14-night “Grand Heartland Cruise” itinerary includes 12 ports of call.

Although very similar to the Queen of the Mississippi, which entered service in August 2012, there are a few changes on the American Eagle. Both accommodate 150 passengers, but the American Eagle has nine balcony staterooms (including three singles) on the top deck, Deck 5. Another change on the newer vessel — all balcony rooms have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. The American Eagle has 19 single staterooms and all but one have private balconies.

The oversized staterooms all have interior entrances, complimentary Wi-Fi, room service, satellite TV and DVD player, and coffee brewers.

The ship’s Grand Dining Room has open seating and can accommodate all passengers at the same time. The Top Deck Café offers beverages, snacks and pastries throughout the day. The American Eagle also has elevators that go to all decks, an exercise area and putting green and six lounges. It has an authentic paddlewheel as well as the latest navigation and safety equipment.

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Caribbean’s Newest Cruise Destination Opening

October 15, 2014 on 2:21 pm | In Beachbooker, Belize, Costa Rica, Cruise Boats | Comments Off

The Caribbean’s newest cruise destination, Banana Coast, will officially open on Oct. 15 when the Norwegian Jewel visits the purpose-built facility on the north coast of mainland Honduras.

The $20 million development is located on the protected deep-water Bay of Trujillo, “one of the finest harbors in the Caribbean, if not the finest,” said Michael Greve, president of Miami-based Global Destination Development, which is a partner in the project.

Eight ships have scheduled 29 calls at Banana Coast during the 2014-15 winter season. In addition to Norwegian Cruise Line, other companies with plans to visit include Holland America Line, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises and P&O Cruises.

Although a ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Oct. 15, the Norwegian Jewel is not the very first ship to call at Banana Coast. That honor went to the Travel Dynamics International’s 130-passenger Yorktown, which visited on Feb. 10. But the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel is the first mega-ship to call at the new cruise facility.

“We finished construction this past spring after a couple of years,” Greve said. “Tenants are still moving in, and that will continue as we build up our business. Tours are fully developed at this point.”

The 10-acre waterfront facility now has a beach and about 20,000 square feet of retail, including a jade museum and jewelry store, CocoLoco’s organic frozen coconuts, duty-free liquor and gift shop, and kiosks offering refreshments and souvenirs crafted by local artisans. The shopping area can build out to 50,000 square feet over time, Greve said. There isn’t a restaurant at this time, but several are within walking distance just outside the Banana Coast welcome center.

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowArriving cruise passengers will be welcomed by local Garifuna performers — who play a unique Central American style of music, including Punta — and dancers in colorful attire. Signage will be in English and Spanish, and translators will be on hand at the port.

Banana Coast Tours offers 15 shore excursions that include active, adventurous activities as well as tours on trams. Among the excursions are a snorkeling trip to a bay populated by starfish, kayaking in a bio-diverse lagoon, a hike to cascading pools of water, an ATV tour through the jungle, horseback riding, hikes through the Campo del Mar nature parks, and tram rides through the historic city of Trujillo.

“Our dedicated cruise center is adjacent to the colonial town of 30,000 people, which offers a plethora of options,” Greve said. “There are all kinds of walking activities very close to the port, which is one of the highlights of Banana Coast. Trujillo was established in 1525, so it’s a really quaint Spanish colonial town. It’s less than a five-minute walk away.”

Christopher Columbus landed in Trujillo in 1502 during his final voyage to the New World. Among the attractions in Trujillo are the 17th century Santa Bárbara Fort, a traditional Spanish plaza, and 19th century San Juan Baptista Church. Historic British, French, and U.S. consulates also are within walking distance.

Banana Coast is about 32 miles south of Roatán, an island that is home to Carnival Corp.’s Mahogany Bay Cruise Center and the facility at Coxen Hole partially owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. But as those facilities have grown in popularity on the Western Caribbean circuit, it sometimes gets crowded.

“They can become quite full on middle days of the week in high season, which is part of the reason some of the lines are interested in our port,” Greve said.

Although there are plans to build a pier, Banana Coast now will operate as a tender port. Ships will use their own tenders to bring passengers about 550 yards to the cruise center. “The water is so calm in that bay, we really don’t foresee that to be a major issue for the guests,” Greve said. “We have plans for a dock but it depends on the growth and the feedback we get from the cruise lines.”

Global Destination Development is building Banana Coast with Grand Trujillo Authority, a partnership that includes Life Vision Properties and the municipality of Trujillo.

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